The kitchen uses a large portion of your total energy consumption with things like dishwashers, ovens and microwaves, and especially appliances that are always on like refrigerators.
One of the best ways to reduce your energy consumption in the kitchen is to trade in older appliances for new energy-efficient ones. When buying a new appliance, you can compare each model’s energy efficiency by checking the yellow tags that display the energy rating.
Other methods of saving energy include unplugging appliances that are not in use, using pot lids to avoid losing heat unnecessarily and using the right size of burner for large or small pots.
Along with being more conscious of how you use your energy, however, the type of tools you use in your kitchen may also be having an impact on the environment.
These days, there are countless tools designed to make things “easier,” from electronic lemon squeezers and can openers to breadmakers, egg cookers and rice cookers. Not to mention those vegetable-specific tools like avocado slicers or onion choppers that just take up space in your drawers.
If you really want to make things easier on yourself (and the environment) you should stop buying unnecessary gadgets that clutter your counters and cupboards and invest in these seven good old-fashioned tools that can actually get the job done faster and save you money.
1. A good knife
The main reason that most people find chopping and slicing to be such a chore is that they usually have some kind of tiny, old and blunt knife that couldn’t even cut through an orange.
Forget the egg slicer and onion chopper. Just invest in a good quality all-purpose knife that can be re-sharpened and will outlive you and your grandchildren.
2. An oven
Most people already have an oven, and if you are one of them, there’s just no excuse for buying things like bread makers, cupcake makers, pie makers, pizza makers and any other “makers” there may be.
An oven is a big investment initially, but you can make everything and anything in it, the food will taste better, you’ll save space, wash fewer dishes, and in the long run it will outlast any of those made-in China kitchen gadgets that serve only one purpose.
3. Wooden cooking utensils
Wooden spatulas and cooking spoons are far more durable than plastic ones, they are eco-friendly and they won’t melt when exposed to heat. Alternatively, you could invest in some good stainless steel ones, but they still aren’t as multipurpose as wooden ones because they may scratch certain pots and pans.
4. A few good pots and pans
Again, one of the main reasons so many people find cooking unpleasant is that they aren’t investing in quality cooking tools. Using miniscule thin-bottomed pans and pots that prevent food from cooking evenly, burn food and boil over all the time can certainly be frustrating, but that doesn’t mean you need an egg cooker, soup maker, self-stirring pot (yes it exists) or electric nonstick grill.
Once you invest in one or two good stainless steel pots (with lids that fit), and one heavy-duty iron skillet for frying, you’ll never spend another dime on cheap, low-quality, plastic junk that uses far more electricity than it should.
5. The immersion blender
A regular blender is great, but the immersion blender is so much more convenient. First of all, it is small and can be put away in a drawer rather than left to stand out on the counter. Secondly, it is perfect for making everything from soups and sauces to milkshakes, and you can blend right in your pot without having to transfer boiling hot liquids into a blender or food processor.
Another added benefit is that it’s super easy to clean. You just pop off the bottom half instead of having to take apart a complicated food processor or blender.
6. A rolling pin
These days you can find gadgets like quesadilla presses, pizza dough presses and pie crust makers, but if you’re going to go to the trouble of making a crust or dough from scratch, is it really that difficult to roll it out with an old-fashioned rolling pin?
The rolling pin is eco-friendly (it’s normally made of wood and requires only human power) and will outlast any complicated machine that is put together with screws and bolts. Of course, it also fits in your kitchen drawer.
7. Cloth towels
Paper towels may be more convenient as you can just pop them in the bin without having to wash them, but they put a big strain on the environment. Invest in a stack of highly absorbent cotton kitchen towels for wiping up spills and drying dishes by hand.
If you want to go all the way, you can even switch to durable linen napkins that look sophisticated and also spare the environment.
At the end of the day, spending a little more money on high quality, reusable and durable kitchen tools and appliances will save you, time, money and space, and is also a more responsible way to enjoy all your favorite culinary treats.
Joyce Del Rosario works as a Community Outreach Specialist at Open College of Art and Design, one of the leading providers of interior design courses. She is also an interior design blogger.