Cooking Challenge: ReNew enters the kitchen


For our recent cooking challenge, we asked ReNew readers how they’re reducing their energy use in the kitchen. In true ReNew fashion, we got entries addressing the problem from a range of DIY angles.

As Alan Pears highlighted in ReNew 130, while the kitchen is a small part of energy use in the full food system, it can be a significant part of household energy use, particularly for low-energy-use households. From improving our understanding of the energy efficiency of appliances and cooking techniques to improving the insulation in saucepans, Alan presented a range of things to think about when you get into the kitchen.

The entries in our competition reflected that. Several tackled the topic by looking at equipment, with pressure cookers, solar ovens and haybox cooking featuring. Several looked at techniques, such as not cooking with a half-empty oven, defrosting food in the fridge (or on the bench) and even cooking multiple things in a stack of pots, to use the escaping heat.

And the winner is…
The ATA crew particularly like Jan Heskes’s entry, making that our winner: it’s a practical, simple approach to reducing energy use. We’ve included the winning entry in full, along with parts of several other entries that reflect the range of responses. Jan wins a GoalZero portable solar USB charger kindly donated by Laughing Mind and valued at $169.

Never cook with a half-empty oven
Jan Heskes

Much as we would like to, we cannot always afford to have the latest energy-efficient appliances in our home. However, by using what we do have more thoughtfully, we are still able to significantly reduce our energy consumption.

Our kitchen contains a standard-sized stove with a fan-forced electric oven and gas cooktop. The stove is a few years old and would have been energy efficient for its time. Before turning on the oven I plan and prepare as many dishes as possible to bake while the oven is heated. Surplus food produced is stored in the freezer for future meals. The freezer is also used efficiently by avoiding operating partially empty. With ongoing planning, food is defrosted passively and reheated either quickly in the microwave or, if possible, in conjunction with accompanying dishes. As a result the oven is generally only used about once a week in our house even though nearly all of the food we consume is homemade.

Read the full article in ReNew 132.