Kitchen Essentials: Quick tips for saving money and time in the kitchen

It is officially summer in Alabama and that means more weekends spent enjoying boat rides on the water and hosting friends and family for barbeques. Whether you are hosting a simple lakeside dinner or entertaining a crowd for the weekend, your kitchen will be at the center of it all. Here’s how you can save money and energy in these warmer temperatures and with more kitchen use than usual.

The kitchen is the heart of the home. Much like you strive to exercise and eat the right foods to keep your heart healthy, there are plenty of easy tips you can follow to keep your kitchen appliances working properly and save you money.

How to manage your dishwasher’s appetiteD3S_6406.JPG_Shorelines 5969 by Billy Brown
• Dishwashers use an average of 15 gallons of hot water per load plus the electricity needed to operate the machine. Washing and rinsing dishes
by hand three times a day uses more hot water and energy than one load a day in an automatic dishwasher.
• Operate your dishwasher only when it is filled to capacity but not overloaded. This will cut the costs of energy, water and detergent.
• Use special features designed for energy savings and convenience, such as partial-load, rinse-only cycles, mid-cycle turnoff and delay start.
• Be sure to scrape off heavy food accumulated before loading dishes into the dishwasher.
• On hot days, wait to use your dishwasher until night. You will avoid adding heat in the house during the hottest time of the day.

When it comes to ranges, make every degree count
• Warming foods, plates and platters with the oven’s stored heat after baking or broiling requires no energy. If the food must be kept warm for an extended period of time, set the oven no higher than 140 to 200 degrees. A food warmer built into a range usually requires less energy than an oven or surface unit when keeping food heated.
• Consider using a microwave oven, small portable electric frying pan, grill or toaster/broiler instead of the oven. These small appliances use about one-third of the power of an oven broiler.
D3S_6363.JPG_Shorelines 5969 by Billy Brown• Cook by time and temperature. Precise timing eliminates repeated opening of the oven door to check on cooking progress. Each time the door is opened, the temperature drops 25 to 50 degrees.
• When cooking fresh or frozen vegetables, use only enough water to produce steam and prevent sticking. This will keep your stovetop from overworking to boil unnecessary water. Reduce to simmer and cover tightly so vegetables retain vitamins and minerals – and taste better, too.

Working out your refrigerator the right way
• For best operation, keep your refrigerator’s temperature between 37 and 40 degrees and your freezer’s setting at 0 degrees. These settings are recommended by the Food and Drug Administration and will prevent rapid bacterial growth.
• Cover all liquids stored in the refrigerator. Moisture can be drawn into the air, making the unit work harder.
• Opening and closing refrigerator and freezer doors often – or holding the door open too long – causes the unit to use more energy than necessary. Decide what you want before opening the door, and remove several items at once.
• Be sure to keep the floor in front of the refrigerator clean and clear of items, such as rugs, to optimize air flow so that the unit does not have to work harder.

— Katie Bolton

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