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Thread: Frugal Holiday Kitchen
12-06-2006, 01:26 PM #1
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Frugal Holiday Kitchen
Save heat and water costs while doing holiday cooking
The holidays mean a lot of activity in the kitchen for most of us. Baking special goodies, making food gifts and cooking big holiday meals can be expensive! While we should pay attention year 'round of course, paying closer attention right now will help keep costs in line. Higher utility bills seem to be normal for the holidays, but don't let them get out of hand in the kitchen!
Never heat up your oven for just one thing, unless it's so big that nothing else will fit! Make two roasts, and/or bake potatoes, heat vegetables, or bake a pie, at the same time.
If you're using the oven anyway, put whatever you can that you would otherwise heat on the stovetop, into the oven. There's no sense in paying to heat both the burners and the oven.
Plan a meal or baking session so that you don't have to turn burners off and on continually.
For instance, if you know you will need to melt butter, time it so that you can melt it in the residual heat from when you cooked another food.
When looking for new recipes, take cooking times into account. It's more frugal to bake a pie for 45 minutes than for 60. You may not be able to convert traditional recipes, but if you look for something different, let the cooking time be a part of your choice.
The microwave is a great timesaver in the kitchen, and generally cooks food with less energy and heat waste than a conventional oven, but don't put off thawing foods just because you can do it faster in the microwave. It's still more frugal to thaw meats in the refrigerator (or, in some instances, in water).
When you have a choice, use heavy pots and pans for extended cooking times; lighter weight to heat or cook something quickly. Light weight pans heat up faster, but heavy pans hold the heat longer and will cook more evenly.
Turn the oven or burner off a few minutes ahead of time, allowing the food to finish cooking with the heat held in the pan. If you use an electric stove, be doubly careful about overusing it. You can turn off the oven up to a half hour early for roasts or other long cooking dishes. Electric burners stay hot for several minutes after turning them off, too, so take that into account.
If no one else is in the rest of the house while you're busy in the kitchen, turn the heat down a few degrees. Heat from the kitchen stove will keep you warm.
To save on dish detergent and water, keep a pan of water in the sink to rinse dishes. You can wash as you go, but dishwater gets cold and needs to be changed often. If you just rinse dishes and stack them, then wash when you have a stack (either by hand or in the dishwasher), you'll save water, soap, time and aggravation. You won't need to change the rinse water until it gets pretty soupy.
Keep the floor from getting too grungy by keeping a mop and broom at hand and using them whenever they're needed instead of waiting until the floor is a complete disaster. (I have done this, can you tell?) The frugal part is that you may be able to get by with a damp mop later instead of a full assault with water and detergent.
Keep your spirits up while working in the kitchen! Decorate it for the holiday with the same care as you would the living room. Put on some music and an apron and begin the frugal holiday magic!CC,
Yeah, This is my life now!