Saving Money In The Kitchen
Saving energy in the kitchen is easier than you think. Here we look at the different ways to save cash when cooking, storing and buying your food.
What's the best way to cook and save money?
Cooking food in a microwave is a lot quicker than cooking in a conventional oven. They are great for reheating food and they use a lot less energy.
Fan forced ovens also use up to 30% less energy than a conventional oven.
Regardless of what oven you do have, don't keep opening the oven door, as that wastes valuable heat.
Use a timer to ring a few minutes before you've finished. That way your oven‚Äôs residual heat can finish cooking at no extra cost.
Top 8 tips to save food and stop food waste
Food is energy. Getting that food to your plate also consumes a lot energy, including fossil fuel-based fertilisers, processing and packaging, transport and storage.
When you throw out food you haven't used, therefore, you are wasting energy as well as money.
About one-fifth of all food we buy isn't eaten and gets thrown away. According to figures compiled by the Australia Institute this translates to about $600 worth of food being wasted by the average household each year.
Reducing your food waste won't save you much on your energy costs directly but it will help to save energy and reduce the amount of food waste going into landfill, where it will decompose and generate greenhouse gas. So here are some simple tips to be more food-wise.
- Don't shop while you're hungry; you'll probably buy more food than you can eat. That doesn't matter so much for non-perishable food items, but for fruit, vegetable, meat and bread, it will increase the chances of you having to throw it away before you get around to eating it.
- Don't over-serve. Food left in the pot becomes leftovers. Food left on the plate become scraps for the bin.
- Use air-tight containers. Even 'throwaway' fast-food plastic containers can help preserve your food and leftovers longer. Putting vegetables in snap-lock bags or airtight containers before going into the fridge will help them stay good for up to a week.
- Plan for when you are going away. There's no point throwing out perishable foods either before or after returning from a holiday. If you find yourself with food you can't use prior to a trip, make some meals that you can freeze and eat upon your return. You'll appreciate the effort you made.
- Be firm with fruit. Buy only what you can use in a few days. Don‚Äôt just choose perfectly ripe fruit; select just-ripe and almost-ripe fruit too. Eat the ripest ones first and by the time you get to the other fruit it will be ripe rather than rotting. Apples are just about the only fruit that can be kept in the fridge without losing their flavour, but like pears or bananas, also produce gas will accelerate the deterioration of other fruit and vegetables. So store them separately.
- Deli goods: sliced meats, marinated artichokes and eggplants look good but can be really expensive. When it comes to sliced meat, buy only what you know you can use within a day or so - it won't last longer than that. The same goes for marinated vegetables, which can start to go mouldy after three days.
- Grow your own herbs: fresh herbs cost about $3 a bunch from the supermarket; a pot costs about the same from your local fruit market, so grow your own and have freshly picked herbs when you need them.
- Be cheesy: real Parmigiano-Reggiano, if wrapped well, can keep in the fridge for up to a year (and also be frozen). Parmesan is a versatile ingredient that can be used on pasta, rice dishes, sauces and in salads. The flavour is very strong, so you only need to use a little. A block costs about $5 from the supermarket.
Tims Tips: Today Show nutrionist Joanna McMillan Price and Suzanne & Kate Gibbs from The Thrifty Kitchen
How to save money when buying a new fridge or freezer
If you're buying a new fridge or freezer, you can compare the running costs of the different models available on this page at EnergyRating.gov.au - if you choose the most energy efficient appliance, this free Government service can save you a lot of money.
You need to bear in mind the following when getting a new fridge or freezer:
- The energy-efficiency rating of the fridge (more stars means more money saved on your power bills)
- The size (smaller fridges are cheaper to buy and run) and
- Whether the unit is self-defrosting; a non-defrosting model will require more attention but will usually use less energy
- As a general rule, when you get a larger fridge, it will cost you more to run than a normal fridge, so it pays to look closely at how many stars a fridge has and how much it's going to cost you to run.
- However, if a larger fridge has the same number of stars as a smaller fridge, then the larger one is more energy efficient and will keep more food colder for the same amount of electricity.
- Fridges that have automatic ice-makers tend to cost more to run (although you should check the star rating label to see exactly how much extra they will cost).
- Although they are less convenient to use, chest freezers are usually more economical to run than vertical freezers. So if you're on a tight budget, they're often a good way to go when buying a freezer.
There are plenty of fridge and freezer money saving tips in the Cutting Fridge & Freezer Costs.
How to solve common pantry problems and save money
Australians are spending an estimated $7billion on food that they buy but don't eat. Australians are throwing out millions of tonnes of food. Here are some great tips and tricks on how to reduce food waste with handy solutions to some common pantry problems.
- Holiday Hints - Before you go on holiday, don't throw out your veggies and perishable foods. Turn them into pasta sauces, curries, bakes and other meals that you can freeze in Tupperware. Don't buy fresh groceries in the days before departure, and before you go make extra meal portions to freeze and eat on your return.
- Bread Crumbs & Croutons - You can make croutons from stale bread. Just cut the bread into pieces and place them in the oven to dry roast. Alternatively, you can throw them in the food processor and turn them into fresh bread crumbs - these can be stored in the fridge.
- Stock - Make your own stock by using your leftover vegetables and chicken. To make veggie stock, just simmer a carrot, a celery stalk and half an onion in a couple of cups of water for 10 minutes. To make your own chicken stock, add chicken scraps/bones to the veggie stock and cook for an additional 20 minutes.
- Spray Oil - Spray oil costs about twice as much as olive oil in a bottle. Get some good olive oil and a hand-pumped sprayer or even simpler, a brush. The simplest method is of course to use your fingers!
- Bottled Salad Dressing & Marinades - Save money and reduce waste by making your own salad dressing. Take some good oil and vinegar (or lemon juice) and combine them with salt, pepper and mustard. For a wonderful dressing it's three parts oil to one part vinegar.
- Fresh Herbs - Fresh herbs can be used across a number of dishes and will keep for at least a week. Herbs sell for about $3 a bunch from the supermarket but pots of each herb can be bought for about the same price from your local fruit market. If you keep these herbs on your kitchen window, you don't just get freshly picked herbs, you reduce waste and save money too.
- Fresh Cheese - If it's wrapped well, real Parmigiano-Reggiano keeps for a year and can be frozen. Parmesan is a very versatile ingredient and can be used on pasta, rice dishes, sauces and in salads. The flavour is very strong, so you only need to use a little. A block can be bought for about $5 from the supermarket.
Joanna McMillan Price Channel 9 Today Show - http://www.joannamcmillanprice.com
Saving money with your dishwasher
Many households have dishwashers, but they're often used in ways that waste money. Use our simple tips below to clean up your act!
- Wait until your dishwasher is full of dishes before washing. In most cases running your dishwasher with a full load will use less water than washing the same number of dishes by hand.
- If your appliance has an eco or energy saving setting, then use that. If not, wash on a 55 degree cycle.
- You can also dry your dishes after washing them by leaving the door ajar overnight.
- If you're in the market for a new dishwasher, buy the most energy and water efficient one that you can. You can check the energy rating of dishwashers here and the WELS water efficiency ratings of dishwashers here. You'll save water and energy and it will save you on running costs.
- According to the WELS web site, "the most efficient dishwashers use half the water of average models," so you'll save money if you check out their site.
- You can also check out the CHOICE guide to dishwashers at this page.
Do Something!, CHOICE and Sydney Water
How to make fresh produce last the week
Making Fresh Produce last the Week
- Apples are just about the only fruit that can be kept in the fridge without losing their flavour. With most other fruit, buy only what you will use in a few days.
- Stone fruit - when buying nectarines, mangoes, peaches or plums, choose perfectly ripe, just-ripe and firm ones. Eat the ripest ones first and leave the firm ones to ripen on the windowsill, and you'll be eating ripe fruit all week.
- Lettuce - buy a whole lettuce and store it, unwashed, in a snap-lock bag or airtight container in the crisper for up to a week. Keep it away from gas-producing fruit such as apples, pears or bananas, which will accelerate its deterioration. Wash and dry leaves thoroughly as you need them.
- Meat portions - keep in mind that 150-180g of meat, chicken or fish per person per meal is sufficient, so stick to these quantities or use leftovers for another meal.
Suzanne Gibbs and Kate Gibbs from The Thrifty Kitchen
Saving money by buying food in season
When you want food that's not in season, it's often flown here from other countries. When that happens, some reports estimate that the carbon emissions are 177 times higher than when you ship it by sea.
When it comes to these food miles, and as the cost of fuel goes up, so will the price of your food. A far better option is to buy in season from a grocer or co-op who stock locally grown food.
That results in less environmental impact and more income for Aussie farmers.
Food waste + worms = free fertiliser
The best way to deal with your food waste is to compost it, or get a worm farm.
- A worm can eat its own weight in food every day and they give you high quality worm castings (this is a polite phrase for worm poo!).
- These nutrients are great for your garden, and that saves you money on fertiliser!
What's a low-cost way to enjoy sparkling water?
A lot of Australia's sparkling water is shipped here from Europe. Transporting fizzy water from the other side of the world makes no sense for you, or your wallet - it often costs more per litre than petrol. So what's the alternative?
- A good bet is to get yourself a Sodastream. You can fill their reusable bottle with tap or filtered water and at the touch of a button, you get cheap, homemade, carbonated water.
- Each litre only costs only about 70-75 cents.
- Every time you use your Sodastream, it's also one less water bottle that needs to be made and shipped.
- Every Sodastream gas cannister can carbonate 40 litres of water - so that's 40 less one litre bottles for every gas cannister you use.
- With most empty water bottles ending up as litter or landfill, it's a great way to save money and cut down on waste!
- In addition to reducing waste, the Sodastream's gas canister is reusable - you have to return it before you can buy a new one.
- A SodaStream unit also has no batteries and uses no electricity - its power is derived from the power supplied by the compressed air in their carbonators.
- One of the best things about having a Sodastream at home is convenience. You can have fresh sparkling water whenever you want it and you no longer have to lug home heavy bottles of sparkling water from the supermarket.
Do Something! and Sodastream
CHOICE Tips For Your Kitchen
Kitchen appliances can be some of the biggest energy consumers in your household, so their energy-efficiency should be a major part of your purchasing decision.
CHOICE has been testing fridges, ovens, dishwashers, cooktops and a range of smaller appliances for more than 50 years now – and we’ve been measuring their energy consumption for more than two decades. The following information is crucial to your purchasing decision if you’re serious about reducing that power bill:
- For more information on energy efficiency in kitchen whitegoods see our most recent Fridges Review and our Dishwashers Review
- For more information on which fridges were recently awarded a Green Buys stamp by CHOICE see our Energy Efficient Home Guide
- More information about the CHOICE Green Buys stamp can be found on page one of the home guide