November 2022 Food Champions Challenge :Energy prices to sky rocket . Time to look at appliances we cook with

With prices due to increase in 2023 for electricity and gas people are looking to save power with their cooking appliances .

In my case I stopped using my Westinghouse gas wall oven to cook my evening meal and purchased an Air Fryer oven . My gas bill dropped from around $250 to under $100 over a 2 month cycle with a marginal increase in electricity cost.

The Air Fryer suits me as I am only cooking for myself .

Let us know if you have plans to counter the expected price hikes in power with new appliances or adapt a more economical usage of those appliances you now use .

Please post your own thoughts below. This thread is to gain impressions of members of what they believe is the most energy efficient based on their usage, and not for arguing why a particular members view may be right or wrong in one’s own eyes.

Thanks to all who contributed to the October Challenge . Badges have been awarded to the following @karenzmcbride @ijarratt @Glenn61 .

The Food Champions @Gaby @phb and @vax2000 appreciate your ongoing support and input to the monthly Challengers .

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I’m a ‘top of the stove’ cook, mine is a natural gas one, but the forecast of 40-50% price increase in the coming year makes me want to look more closely at my usage.

  • I’m thinking of a Pressure cooker, because less cooking time means saving on energy costs.
  • My oven is an electric one and I found it has a separate switch in the switchboard so I’ve been turning that off between usage.
  • Planning to get to know my microwave, it is one of the cheapest appliances to cook with but I’ve been using it only to warm up food.
  • And maybe get a convection/microwave oven.
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My stove top has gas hobs . Rather than use them I purchased 2 portable induction cooking plates from Aldis for $45 each . I placed a wooden cover over the gas hobs and place the induction hot plates on the cover . I have not used the gas for about 2 years .

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We regularly use our microwave to cook our vegetables. It’s also a saving in time when baking or shallow frying potatoes, pumpkin etc if one par cooks those first.

We’ve also found reheating pizza in a frying pan to be better than the oven. Quicker, crisps the base nicely and far less gas required.

With the prices of some fresh foods forecast to escalate further, I can see us being more reliant on the lower cost basics. Rice, pasta, potato/sweet potato, cabbage etc. Most of these require some cooking, as opposed to salads prepared with mostly raw ingredients.

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I’m using my Microwaave oven much more in the past 12 months. Not just for reheating but also for cooking. I’m not that happy with the micro cookng dishes I have, though, and am currently on the hunt for something which would be suitable for meats (esp chicken). Most of my stuff is >30 years old and needs chucking. The AnyDay product is possibly the thing… but hugely expensive… Shop – Anyday Australia

I’ve discovered that I can steam potatoes in the MW and they are at least as nice as other methods. I have a small skillet (electric) for cooking chook thighs but because I no longer use any oil/butter for this, it lacks “something” (but I dont know what that is… the chook remains moist)

I’ve never been an adventurous cook, so replacing the gas stove with smaller appliances has not been a huge impost. I don’t bake, for example, but if I did, I think the microwave would manage (it also does convection and grill). I confess to never having used the gas oven, but I used to use the gas cooktop all the time.

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I do cook with the MW but only veges. Taters, carrots, pumpkin, Chinese veges, frozen peas and corn etc. Mostly this works well but beans don’t, they get tough and dry out.

I have tried cooking meat in the MW over the years and it consistently fails to produce a top result because it does not brown. There are recipes that attempt to remedy this by adding flavour and colour to the meat but that does not make up for the lack of browning. You can sear (say) a leg of lamb in a frying pan before cooking in the MW and with care (and resting) you can get a nice juicy centre and brown outside but it still isn’t roasting and you still have to use the stove and dirty another pan.

[edit] One of the reasons for the problem is smell, or lack of it. If you ever have people follow you into the kitchen when roasting meat who say ‘wow that smells great’ they will not do that if it is in the MW.

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We mostly use microwave safe glass ware or porcelain bowls/dishes. It’s a different topic possibly worth exploring with others in the community. Similar for tips on cooking meats in the MW. Aside from some chicken and fish options not a good choice?

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Using herbs and spices adds flavour to food: make a light marinade of lemon juice, salt & pepper, a pinch of garlic powder, and any dried (or fresh) herbs you prefer (rosemary, thyme, parsley go well with garlic) and just a drizzle of oil if you can but not necessary…spread it over the pieces of chicken, leave for about an hour. Hope you like :slightly_smiling_face:

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Thanks, @Gaby I’ll give it a try with tonight’s chook :slight_smile: I’m not that fond of lemon with meat, but spices, yep. Oil? Yes, might give that a try also. You’d think at my age I’d know this kind of thing, but since my diabetes diagnosis, I have been tediously boring in cooking.

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I’d suggest the lemon juice is there for it’s acidity more than any other value. Some common alternatives, several of which might appeal more.
I’m partial to lime, but note white wine, vinegar and cream of tartar are other options.
Substitutes for Lemon Juice - Tastes Better from Scratch

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Yeah… nah! LOL.

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Soak cheaper cuts of meat in lime juice for a half hour or more . It breaks down the sinew and makes it more tender .

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Another method with wide use that can improve the outcome when cooking meat and seafood for very little extra effort.

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I’m really thinking of replacing my microwave with a convection microwave because the two functions combined result in quicker cooking time plus browning and crisping. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Yep, we use a convection and microwave combination to cook faster and ensure good browning.

Cleaning can be more difficult, a hint to help is put a bowl of water in after finishing. Heat it until it has boiled for a few minutes to create a moist enclosure, leave for about 10 minutes so deposits soften.

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Some porcelain can get hot in microwave. Usually pyrex types of glass is, suitable. Coffee cups can get hot ive found. Microwave can save time to pre cooking things.

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Our change isn’t necessarily about the appliance, but how we cook.

We try to cook when the sun is shining and the house is running on PV. This is easier in the summer than the winter. PV electricity is cheaper than mains electricity.

We also bake/use the oven where possible during the day when the electricity tariff is off-peak.

The other things we do is chop more. Our food is cooked in bite size. Bigger sized pieces take longer cook. The longer to cook, the more energy is used. Examples are making potato mash, cut potatoes into max of 1cm cubes. Carrots, thinly sliced. Broccoli/cauliflower cut into small florets. And the list goes on. It also saves cutting food on the plate. The only downside is it cools quicker on a cold night.

We also tend to eat more stir fry. Meat is partially frozen to allow it to be cut into very thin slices. It takes a very short time (< minute) to cook. Bit sized veggies also cooked quickly until tender. Dinner can be cooked in minutes, a lot faster than boiling or steaming using a stove.

We also select cuts from the butcher which are thin, including thin shags. These also take far less time to cook.

We also use our 1950s retro pressure cooker more as it cooks things significantly quicker. Once it has reached temperature, it can he turned down to simmer. Simmer uses less energy.

Saving time saves energy and cooking costs.

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I realise our solutions to saving energy while cooking may only have a limited application but we have a slow combustion wood heater and since it runs for a lot of the year we use that for a lot of cooking, particularly dishes that need to simmer for a long time (stews and curries using cheaper cuts of meat). For example, I made Korean bbq beef ribs last week ( from Nagi Maehashi’s book) and although the recipe specified cooking in a slow over for 4 hours it was fine in a cast iron casserole on top of the heater. By the way, I can see the gochujang paste she used becoming my go to seasoning for stir fries.
The heater always has two kettles of water on it for cuppas and also washing up.

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We only have electricity, no gas, for cooking
To reduce energy use I try to:

  1. use the microwave rather than the oven and the stove hot plates to heat/cook things
  2. when using pans on the hotplates, ensure that the pan fully covers the hot plate, preboil water in the electric kettle, use the minimum amount of water when boiling eggs, and put lids on the pans.
  3. after cooking in the microwave brown some meals eg quiches with a small gas torch.
  4. defrost bread in the microwave before putting in the toaster
  5. only boil the required amount of water in the electric kettle

My wife has recently bought, and uses quite often, a multifunction cooker that sits on the benchtop. It’s functions include air fryer and pressure cooker. It may use less electricity than the oven and the stove hot plates, but I have not yet compared the actual consumption.

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