Microwaves, slow cookers and air fryers
Using slow cookers, microwaves and air fryers when you can, are all great options for low-maintenance, low-cost, low-carbon cooking.
Microwaves: When comes to cooking quickly and cheaply, microwaves are going to be your best friend. Cooking a potato in a conventional oven will use up to 10x as much energy as a microwave! This is because microwaves use less energy for every hour they're in use (fewer kilowatts per hour). There is no heat-up time, helping to make the cooking process quicker. You can cook a jacket potato in roughly 10 minutes in the microwave but it would take almost an hour to bake in the oven.
Slow cookers: Despite needing to cook your food for longer, slow cookers operate at a much lower temperature and use less energy than a traditional oven, which makes them cheaper to run. In fact, they're so energy efficient that they can use less energy than a conventional light bulb! Plus all you need to do is add the ingredients in the morning and a few hours later you have a hot meal ready to serve. Need some inspiration? Here are 10 cheap slow cooker recipes to get you started.
Air fryers: As with slow cookers, air fryers need to heat up a much smaller space than a traditional oven. Therefore, they require fewer kilowatts per hour to heat up to the required cooking temperature, cutting your energy usage.
Ovens - Shut that door!
Using an oven can't always be avoided but our oven loses heat incredibly quickly when the door is open. That means using more energy to get back up to the programmed temperature. Opening the door as little as possible will help save energy, and make sure you use the fan setting if you’ve got one.
On the topic of ovens, another trick is to turn your oven off ten minutes before the end of the cooking time – you won’t notice the difference, promise!
Batch is best
If you’re making something you know you’ll enjoy again, why not double the portions so there’s enough left over to freeze for another meal? Things like chilli, bolognese, stews, casseroles and sauces are versatile, easy to portion and store, and great for freezing. Less cooking time = less energy used.
When the time comes, just take your portion out of the freezer the night before so it thaws in the fridge overnight. Then pop it in the microwave or on the hob while you boil some pasta or bake a potato - et voila! You’ve got a tasty low carbon meal, minus the effort.