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Preparing a Green Thanksgiving Meal

Posted: Wednesday, November 25th, 2009 at 6:13 am

Alliant Energy has prepared a list of tips to keep energy costs down while preparing Thanksgiving meals. It includes using lids on while cooking on stovetops, using glass or ceramic pans rather than metal and cooking as many items together in the oven as possible. The utility company also says because of all the cooking and the increased number of guests, you can usually turn your thermostat down by 3-5 degrees.

Full List of Tips

· Use the ‘lids-on’ approach to stove top cooking. Tightly fitted lids help keep heat within pots and pans, which permits the use of lower temperature settings and shorter cooking times.

· When cooking on top of your range, match the size of the pan to the heating element. More heat will get to the pan and less will be lost to the surrounding air.

· Coast to the finish: Food keeps cooking even after you turn off the burner. When food is almost ready, turn off the oven or burners and let existing heat finish the cooking for you.

· Always cook on the highest heat until liquid begins to boil. Upon boiling, lower the heat control setting and allow food to simmer until fully cooked.

· The turkey is traditionally stuffed early in the morning and roasted for hours. Since it’s a long, slow cook, there’s no need to preheat your oven, even when the recipe suggests it. This also holds true for a holiday ham. In fact, unless you’re baking breads or pastries, you may not need to preheat the oven at all.

· When using an electric oven, cook as much of your meal in it at one time as possible. Foods with different cooking temperatures can often be cooked simultaneously – variations of 25 degrees Fahrenheit in either direction still produce good results and save energy.

· Shut the door: Admit it. You like to watch food cook. This Thanksgiving, resist the urge to open the oven door, as doing so will decrease the temperature inside by 25 to 30 degrees. Use your oven light and look through the window instead to keep the oven hot and the kitchen comfortable.

· Use glass or ceramic pans, they heat faster than metal pans and the cooking temperature may be lowered by 25°F. The benefit is the foods will cook in the same time with less energy.

· Don’t overlook the other cooking appliances at Thanksgiving. Fast and efficient microwave ovens use around 50 percent less energy than conventional ovens.

· When cleaning up after dinner, do not use your oven’s self-cleaning cycle unless you have a major cleaning job on your hands. Wipe up minor spills and splatters with a damp cloth.

· When using the oven’s self-clean feature, start the cycle right after cooking, while the oven is still hot, or wait until late evening hours when use of electricity is lowest.

· In addition to your stove, your refrigerator and freezer also get a real workout over the holidays. Help your refrigerator and freezer operate efficiently and economically by keeping the doors closed as much as possible so the cold air doesn’t escape.

· If all your holiday cooking doesn’t heat up your house, your guests will. Turn your thermostat down 3 to 5 degrees — no one will notice the difference.