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Ways to save energy when cooking

There are many ways to make your kitchen environmentally-friendly.

Our mothers knew this, though being green was not on their minds then. They used old clothes as rags and recycled used bottles and jars.

These days, to cut waste, not only do I take along my own bags when shopping, but I also look critically at products that I buy.

Is there too much packaging? Can I reuse the packaging?

I am always struck by how quickly my recycling bin fills up with throwaway plastic, bottles and boxes.

But the best green habit I have picked up is to be aware of the power of residual heat when cooking.

After learning this from a friend, I now do not wait for the pasta to soften before switching off the heat.

Instead, when the water comes to the boil again after the pasta is added, I switch off the heat and cover the pot to allow the noodles to soften in the residual heat.

I stir a few times in the first few minutes and then again halfway through the cooking time, which will probably be a couple of minutes longer than usual.

Similarly, when roasting or baking, I turn off the oven a few minutes earlier. The oven will remain hot enough to finish the cooking.

I also boil eggs and pasta in the same pot, as well as steam veggies above the pot when making soups.

I simply sit a steamer pan on top of the pot to cook the vegetables in the escaping steam, which is otherwise wasted.

The size of the utensils matters because it takes more energy to heat a large pan than a small one.

Similarly, to save energy, I use the toaster oven, instead of the big oven, when cooking only a few chicken wings.

Written by Sylvia Tan for The Straits Times