Best Of-Kitchen Tips to Stay Cool

by Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on June 9, 2009

Last night’s Frugal Coast2Coast show on how to keep cool during the summer heat (don’t forget, you can listen to the podcast!) reminded me of this article from last year on how to stay cool in the kitchen. Since I’m on the road driving home today, I thought it would be great to entertain you all with this “Best Of” article :)
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When we talk about cooking frugally, we are usually discussing the cost of ingredients, but when it comes to cooking in the summer it’s all about the heat.

Photo from stockXchange

Cooking, as we all know, creates heat. If you have air conditioning that is heat that your AC has to use additional electricity (and thus incur additional cost) removing from the air. If, like us, you don’t have AC, then that is just heat that gets added to the air and makes a warm (or hot) house even hotter (or totally unbearable!).

Anything you can do to minimize the amount of heat that goes into the air as a consequence of your cooking in the summer is a good thing. It reduces your electric bill or makes your home more comfortable

The most classic way to do this is to chose meals that don’t require any heat to make. Sandwiches are the staple summer lunch for a reason you know! There are other meals that fit the same criteria-cold cereal and salads immediately come to mind.

Photo from Mourgefile

Another way is to cook outside. The grill can be used not only for hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken and steaks, but also for grilled veggies and even pizza! Many propane grills today even have a single burner added on the side. This can be used to cook anything that you would cook on your range inside

But the grill isn’t the only way to cook “outside”. Remember, the main point is not to add heat to your living spaces-that can be done by plugging your crockpot, rice-cooker, toaster oven, or breadmaker in out in the garage, or even with an extension cord run to the back porch or deck. If you do cook using an unattended method outside, make sure that it isn’t accessible by animals or children. I have a feeling that having your crockpot roast attacked by the dog or your toddler scalded by the toaster oven would not be a good thing. . . .

Oh, and don’t plug the crockpot into the outside electrical outlet that the hot tub is already plugged into. It will trip the breaker and your hot tub will cool down, making it no fun to get into that evening. Ask me how I know this. . ..

The microwave is of course the ultimate in the “cool cooking” inside. There are entire cookbooks all about microwave cooking. Recipezaar, and RecipeGoldmine both have entire sections devoted to microwave recipes.

You can plan your cooking for the hours when the house is coolest, and then just reheat the meal before serving. In my house that would mean cooking after 8pm most nights, or first thing in the morning when we get up (around 630). Personally I prefer the evening-my eyes are actually focusing, and the house has all night to continue to cool down after I’ve added the cooking heat.

Some final tips for if you have to run the stove and oven in summer’s heat

If your stove’s fan actually vents to the outside you may as well run it while you are cooking on the stove top. It may not draw off much of the heat, but it will draw off some of the heat.

When you can’t avoid running the oven in the middle of the day, try to combine it for as many uses as possible. Can you cook a casserole for tomorrow night at the same time you are baking tonights chicken? Cooking two dishes doesn’t use any more heat than one. Does your dish cook for more than 30 minutes? Then you really don’t need to preheat the oven-pop the dish in while the oven is cold and fire it up.

And this last one doesn’t really keep your house cooler, but does save a tiny bit of money on electricity. Will your oven be on for over 45 minutes? You can turn off the oven for the last 1o minutes or so of cooking-the oven has enough heat built up that it will continue to cook.

I hope these ideas, tips and tricks help you to stay cool in the kitchen this summer!

Some other articles that may be of interest: Summer Schedule and Unusual Uses for Your Grill

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy @ Goo Goo Buy Buy June 9, 2009 at 8:58 pm

I grilled today just for this very reason — to avoid heating up my house. Nevermind that I got sweaty slaving over the hot grill.

Your post had some great tips and it reminded me of a post I did last summer as the temperature sweltered here in North Carolina. I shared some recipes for some no-cook meals that we really like.

http://www.googoobuybuy.com/2008/06/no-sweat-no-cook-recipes-to-help-beat.html

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Jay June 10, 2009 at 7:59 pm

We use the oven as little as possible in the summer. But some things require an oven. I have found that I can bake a chicken, casserole, breads, etc in the morning and get them done before noon. It’s a great feeling to have dinner all ready and cooling in the fridge before the hottest part of the day begins!

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Denise June 11, 2009 at 2:10 pm

We use the waffle maker in the summer! We make waffles and put fresh strawberries and whipped cream! Delicious! It is our variation of strawberry shortcake without having to heat up the oven on the super hot nights! Plus it is usually so hot we aren’t as hungry or want to eat as much!

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