Energy efficient cooking

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energy-efficient-cooking-on-woodburnerOver on Reduce Footprints this week we’ve been challenged to cook in an eco friendly way!

Yep, that’s right, for our change the week Wednesday challenge we’re to forget our conventional methods of cooking and see what we can do to green up our cooking routine and avoid the stove and oven.

I might find this easier if it were summer because I’d probably cheat and opt for salad!

However, with frost on the ground it’s time to get creative.

I consider myself lucky because I have three options:

Slow cooker

First on the list is our slow cooker (crock pot). These are fantastic labour and energy saving devices and what I love most about it, is it’s almost like having a resident cook in the house! You prepare your meal – anything from soup to porrage to an entire roast chicken and leave it to cook. You can come down in the morning or home from work to a ready prepared meal, made using the same amount of electricity as a light bulb.


A steamer is another method of cooking an entire meal using minimal energy. You can cook vegetables, rice and meat or fish in a steamer and it plugs in to one electric socket. It’s a fast method of cooking too – a meal takes around 1/2 hour. I like the convenience – you don’t have to wait for pots to come to the boil before turning them down to simmer; you can simply plug in and leave.

Wood burner

While I’m aware not everyone has the luxury of an open fire or wood burner, we’re one of those lucky families who does! We’ve just upgraded our wood burner to a more energy efficient one and I deliberately chose one we could cook on. There is room on top for 4 saucepans which is great for reducing my reliance on our electric cooker. The thing about cooking on a wood burner is you have to plan in advance. It’s not a quick method and neither is it particularly convenient (no controls except how much wood you burn) but it is FREE!

Save 20% energy

Here;s my bonus tip: If you don’t have a slow cooker, steamer and you’re not about to make a campfire, I have a bonus tip for you. It doesn’t get away from the stove or oven completely, but it will save you around 20% on your total energy bill. Check out my “Reduce fuel consumption and save money” tip and let me know what you think!

What a great challenge! I’m going to utilise all three of these tools for a day:

breakfast: porrage made overnight in the slow cooker
Lunch: Rice and veggies cooked in the steamer
Dinner: Casserole done on the wood burner and if I’m lucky, jacket potatoes too (but usually they turn out black on the outside and not cooked on the inside!)

What about you – how could you reduce your reliance on your hob or oven today? I have plans for the summer of experimenting with a hay box, solar oven and rocket stove – if you have any experiences or advise to share, please get in touch!


  1. Leah on January 24, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Great article with some useful tips. On a similar note, in the “One Tonne Life” project, a family is challenged to reduce their carbon footprint from the global average of seven tonnes per person per year to just one tonne

  2. Mrs Green on January 25, 2011 at 8:49 am

    @Leah: Hi Leah, thank you for teling us about the one tonne life project – it sounds really interesting – are you aware of the No IMpact Man? You might be interested in his story too.

  3. Janet Green on February 23, 2011 at 4:10 am

    So, with steel cut oats, you can toast them with cinnamon in a large saucepan, then add your water and whatever else you add, bring to a boil, put the lid on tight and turn off the burner. Oh, you do this at night before going to bed. When you are ready for breakfast, mix your cereal as your sweetners are probably on top. Then reheat on your woodstove, adjust flavor and enjoy! Very little energy used. I too cook on my woodstove. Bison skirt steak braised, takes less than an hour, you don’t have to marinate the steak and turns out delish!

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