More Green in the Kitchen

One of the quickest ways to save money is to cook at home. Before we embark on a complete series of cooking and saving, let’s look at a few pieces of equipment and some tricks which will keep the money in your wallet.

The first thing anyone thinks about when facing the kitchen and preparing a meal is the heat. Heat is necessary but can be a huge drain on the budget you are saving by cooking in the first place.


Of course there are rules.  Let’s save the most money.


What are you cooking? Use the smallest three.

  1. Smallest vessel.
  2. Smallest heat source.
  3. Smallest number of utensils.
carrot shreds

Steaming in microwave is healthier than boiling on the stove… and cheaper.

1. If your food fits in the pot, pan or bowl with only enough wiggle room not to boil over, you will use less heat to cook. Less heat=Less gas or electricity. When you are done, you will use less water and energy (yours or the electricity for the dishwasher) to clean.

2. If you are using a 1-quart saucepan, use the smallest burner. If you are using a loaf pan, use the toaster oven instead of the wall oven or the stove’s oven. Ovens produce heat which must be dissipated by your air conditioning or vented (along with your cool air), which also requires electricity.

When possible, use the microwave. It produces the least heat waste of your kitchen appliances and will save on air conditioning.

3. While you cook, keep a bowl of water to rinse your utensils. Try to use one utensil to prepare the meal rather than one per dish. Save yourself the time and water of cleaning 18 utensils.

This also applies to the dishes you use to serve. Can you serve in the kitchen straight from the pot? Did you know a salad plate will hold a full meal? If your food covers less than half the plate, the plate is too big. You are going to be washing a half-clean plate.


When choosing a recipe, pick the one which makes the correct number of servings for your table. Only three people eating? Choose a recipe for four or six. Your goal is to prepare the correct amount or enough to have a second dish later in the week or for the freezer.

If you choose a recipe which makes enough for 12 people, you are more likely to tire of the dish and leave the leftovers to spoil. Making only enough for the people you are feeding is also good for your waistline because you are less likely to “finish it off” to keep from putting it in the refrigerator.

Full plate and no overeating!

Full plate and no overeating!

Choosing the correct plate and bowl size to serve is also important. Seeing the plate full is a psychological trick which helps your stomach begin feeling full even before you begin to eat. Serve on the smallest possible plate. Salad plates are an ally when making portion control a priority.


Since you already know you are not feeding an army, buy only the ingredients you actually need to prepare your dishes for the week. Not wasting ingredients is equal to keeping money in your wallet. No?

expiration dateWould you wad up cash and toss it in the bin? That is precisely what you are doing when you throw away ingredients you have not used to prepare meals. Whether the ingredients spoiled or their shelf life expired before you used them, you are throwing money away.

Choose your recipes based on the ingredients you already have in the refrigerator, freezer, pantry and spice cabinet. Not sure what else you can do with what you have? Search “recipes” and your ingredient.

Read the Instructions

Boring. Yes. Necessary? Absolutely. Burning a dish, substituting the wrong ingredient or not preparing or combining ingredients properly means money in the garbage can.

Correct sized pieces means better meals and more satisfaction.

Correct sized pieces means better meals and more satisfaction.

Before you begin, read the recipe. If you do not understand the words, look them up. Watch videos from your favorite food network to learn how to sauté, mince, dice, chop, julienne,… are you getting this? Do you know how to measure? Do you know the difference between dry and wet measure?

Do you have what you need? Right sized vessel, ingredients, utensils.

Do you have any idea when food is cooked? Is your meat the correct internal temperature? Are your veggies cooked through or still partly raw? Start checking at the shortest cooking time. IOW, if the recipe says cook 10-12 minutes, check at 9:30. If your food is overdone, you are feeding the bin or convincing your family they would prefer poverty and fast food to a home-cooked meal.


Cooking is not difficult. After mastering just a few skills, saving money is a breeze in the kitchen. No one is going to bat an eyelash if you spend some of that savings on something outright fun.

Do you use the smallest heat source? Can you answer some of the questions in the last section? What part of food preparation is your favorite? Do you save money in the kitchen by cooking?

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  1. I never thought of the whole pan/burner size issues. Another tip is actually planning meals for a week, so when you make your shopping list every week, you can make sure you have all the ingredients and see where you can share ‘stuff’ – plus it helps to make sure you don’t end up getting take-out because you don’t have necessary ingredients and time planned out to cook in the evening.

    Excellent tips
    Candy recently posted..Flash in the Pan – CrystalMy Profile

  2. I left a comment but it said the page was not available.
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    • Ugh. If it happens again, click the back button and put your mouse in the comment box. It should save your comments.

  3. “A salad plate will hold a full meal”? “Not feeding an army”? Well I can’t say that I agree with you those points. Cooking may not be difficult, but eating is a lot easier.
    Binky recently posted..Wine Gum Factory TourMy Profile

  4. How about….make it yourself? No?

    How about….starve then!

    Just kidding, you are dead on right. I use to cook far more than I do today. I think I miss it.

    • I quit for the longest. Now that I am cooking again with some regularity, I do enjoy it. xxx

  5. Cooking is a wonderful art like writing, it needs skill, creativity, common sense, logic, the basic ingredients and spices in just the right amount. Great article, sounds like what we were taught as we grew up.
    raymond alexander kukkee recently posted..Writing Life: Spiritual Contentment in GardeningMy Profile

    • Sadly, we are a dying breed. I was taught all of these things as well. Around 25 years ago, the knowledge was apparently lost. o.O Great to see you today, Ray.

  6. I love cooking. I always make more and freeze meals, say twice a week. When I have about 3 or 4 different meals in the freezer, times two, I don’t have to cook for ages.

    I have my daughter’s family over once a week so I an cook something special (with freezer leftovers, again). I cringe when people burn, spoil, and trash.
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    • I am a firm believer in cook-one-eat-twice. These days, I have nothing but bottomless pits in the house who think leftovers are sacrilege. 😉 xxx

  7. I often use the toaster oven to bake, broil, or roast instead of the oven in the summertime. Keeps the kitchen/dining room cooler.

    And.. I am the master of the one pot meal and cooking for two or three. Meats – I can touch and tell the internal temperature within 3 degrees. I’m working on that, I’ll get it perfect someday.
    MJ Logan recently posted..Basic Campfire Building is an Adventure SkillMy Profile

    • My digital thermometer (my finger) is also rather accurate. I have always preferred one pot meals. I learned a slue of them when I was growing up. My weakness? Gravy.

  8. Great advice. I always liked cooking enough for leftovers. One shot at cooking for two meals or more. You can’t beat that (unless someone else decides to cook for you).
    C. Brown recently posted..Sorry About That WalmartMy Profile

  9. Hi Red, love any tips on saving on those high energy bills… And yes I love cooking and it seems you have all those tips covered…
    I think I am guilty of using too many utensils.. But faired pretty well on the others..

    Love cooking, but I love my hubbies cooking even better, that saves on ‘My’ energy 🙂

    Sending you a Hug, ~Sue
    Sue Dreamwalker recently posted..Change is the Air and You are It!My Profile

    • So glad to see you today, Sue. We may pull out some money saving energy tips soon when we talk more about the environment this summer. I am 100% for hubby cooking! {HUGZ} xxx

  10. The best part of cooking is being done cooking. It’s just not my favorite thing to do. 🙂
    Great post, Red!
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