Make Peace With Your Plate

You’re probably already trying to reduce your environmental impact by choosing local and organic food. By taking a few simple steps, you can do even more to shrink your “cookprint”—the amount of energy it takes (from farm to fork) to create your meal.

Start with your fridge and oven. Refrigerators use more energy than any other single household appliance. Keep yours set at a moderate temperature (0 to 4°C) and keep it well stocked; refrigerators run more efficiently when full because there’s less warm air to chill. Fill empty shelves with jugs of water.

Ovens typically squander much of the heat they generate, radiating it into oven walls and dissipating it into the kitchen. When buying a new oven, consider the energy rating—gas and fan-forced offer the best efficiency. To save energy, choose cooktop methods instead of baking. With only about five minutes of cooking required, stir-frying is the most fuel-efficient technique.

When you use the oven, try baking several dishes simultaneously. And, for many dishes, such as casseroles and baked potatoes, you can turn off the oven 10 to 15 minutes early; they will continue to cook in the retained heat. When you have something small to bake, try the toaster oven.

Here are more solutions that can make your kitchen greener:

  • Invest in cast iron. Well-seasoned cast iron pans are almost as smooth as non-stick, hold heat better than thin pans and last for generations.
  • Pre-soak grains. When soaked for 30 to 60 minutes, wholegrains such as rice cook in about one-third less time.
  • Use an electric kettle. Unlike cooktops, which allow heat to escape from under the pot, electric kettles save energy and boil water more quickly.