Kitchen Tips for Frugal Living in the Summertime

family dinner

Note from Cathy: Next in our guest series while I’m away on vacation, is a timely post from Clair. Great advice!

Kitchen tips are welcome all year long, but energy saving tips are especially welcome during the heat of summer when we’re trying to stay cool by minimizing unwanted heat in the kitchen. Here are six kitchen tips to help you conserve energy. If you’re using less energy, you’re generating less heat in the kitchen.

Stay cool, lower your energy bill, and reduce the challenge to your air conditioning system by taking advantage of these tips. They’re easy to implement.

Use the stove top. Instead of heating up a large oven, try making one pan dishes on the stove top. You’ll use less energy and reduce unnecessary heat in the kitchen just when heat in the house is most unwelcome. If you use a high-sided fry pan with a lid, you’ll heat a much smaller volume and that will require less energy. Many casserole recipes that you’d otherwise cook in the oven can be prepared on the stove top using low heat and a large fry pan with a lid.

Match the pot to the burner. Are you putting a small pot on a large burner? If so, you’re heating up the kitchen and wasting energy at the same time. If you match the size of the pot to the burner, you’ll get energy delivered to the pan instead of wasting a portion of it that escapes around the sides.

Most stove tops offer two sizes of burners so you can match the burner size to the pot or pan. Some electric stoves feature a dual burner that allows you to use it as a small burner in the center, or engage the outer ring as well for heating larger pots. Make use of heating element sizes to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of your stove top cooking.

Use the microwave. This is one of the kitchen tips especially useful for leftovers. It saves time and energy because a microwave delivers energy directly to the food instead of heating up the entire volume of the appliance. This is a good approach to meal preparation if you create meals in a “batch process” and refrigerate them so they can be reheated over the next several days.

Try no-cook recipes. Make use of your summer garden harvest while minimizing use of the stove and oven. Here’s an easy no-cook recipe that you can adjust to taste.

Slice tomatoes, onions and cucumber, and lay them out in rows in a shallow casserole dish or plastic food storage container with a lid. Mix up a few cups of water, a healthy splash of cider vinegar and a handful of sugar, and use the mixture to completely cover the vegetables. Sprinkle on a little salt, cover and refrigerate for at least several hours.

The result is a nice lightly pickled summer dish that is delicious and refreshing, without the need to fire up the stove or barbecue.

Enjoy sun tea. Instead of boiling water on the stove, let sunshine do the work. Keep the heat outdoors, and let sunlight make your tea. Any clear glass gallon jug with a lid will do just fine. My neighbor uses an old pickle jug. And, if you need to have an official sun tea gallon jug, they can be had at garage sales for less than one dollar.

Fill the jug with water, pop in your tea bags, and set it in the sunshine. After sitting several hours in the sun, you can put the jug in the shade to cool it off before placing it in the refrigerator. This approach makes great tea without using the stovetop, but you’ll want to consume the tea within a few days to avoid spoiling.

Prepare everything on the gas grill. If you want to keep excess heat out of your home, one sure way of doing this is to cook your meal outdoors. Gas grills are highly efficient when compared with charcoal fired barbecues, so if you simply plan your entire meal to be prepared on the grill, you’ll save money and keep from generating heat indoors.

How about grilled onions, grilled corn, hamburgers and toasted buns? A favorite of mine is grilled skewers of meat and vegetables. If the grill has a side burner, you can boil and fry outdoors as well, thus giving you additional flexibility with respect to preparation of the entire meal.

So there you have it, six easy ideas for saving money, keeping yourself fed, and beating the heat. Enjoy these kitchen tips and enjoy your summer meals.

Clair Schwan believes in living well, and well within your means, and he offers additional where he and his team of writers tackle many and varied subjects associated with a self-directed life, such as personal finance, frugal living, energy conservation, and cooking and recipes.

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