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Energy-Saving Meal Ideas and Cooking Tips

Following on from our energy-saving webinar held last month, in the build up to the school May half-term, and the upcoming national celebrations for the Queen’s platinum jubilee in a couple weeks- we’re all about to be having a lot more meals to make for more people than we would in a typical week. We thought it’s a good time to talk about some energy–saving cooking strategies and meal ideas.

Since the announcement earlier this year of the rise in council tax, national insurance, as well as the increase in the home energy price caps and increases in food costs/availability, etc; there has been a significant raise in requests for room temperature food and items that can be eaten without having to cook it.

In the colder, winter months it’s a bit harder, as people do really need a more hearty hot meal. So in that time of year, it’s an idea to make things like chili and stews in a slow cooker, which will cook the meals for a longer time on a low heat, so it’s a cost effective way to cook healthy balanced meals without facing the high expense of running your oven or hob for an extended period of time. Another idea would be tray bakes that could be all cooked together at once quickly in a tray in the oven. Another cooking strategy that could be considered in the winter months is to start off a dish at a higher temperature on the hob, but then covering it and reduce the temperature to low to allow the meal finish off cooking using less energy. Some examples of these one-pot meals are a Penne Bolognese, or this Vegatable Pasta Recipe:


Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 litre vegetable stock

400g punnet cherry tomatoes, halved

1 small red capsicum, seeds removed and diced

500g Vetta High Fibre Corkscrews

2 cups baby spinach

1/2 cup cheddar cheese

Parmesan, to serve


Directions:

  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, fry the onion and garlic until soft. Add capsicum and fry for 2 minutes.

  • Add stock and tomatoes, bring to a boil, then add the corkscrew pasta. Return to boil, then reduce to a simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes or until pasta is cooked

  • Season, add spinach and stir through cheese. Serve and top with parmesan if desired

This time of year, with the weather getting warmer, it’s a great time of year to save energy by making salads and similar type of dishes. With a number of fruits and vegetable coming into season in the UK, the availability and cost tend to be lower for these items this time of year than other times of the year. You could make traditional leafy type salads with plenty of raw fresh veg with your choice of dressings, or you could make a quick coleslaw by grating any variety of cabbage and carrots with a mixture of vinegar and mayo. A popular summer dish are buddha bowls, which are fairly well balanced meals in themselves. The typical components of buddha bowls are:

  • whole grains (ie rice, quinoa, buckwheat),

  • Tofu, beans, legumes or other plant based protein

  • Fresh or roasted vegetables

  • Greens, microgreens or sprouts

  • Fresh herbs

  • Sauce or Dressing

  • Nuts or seeds


Whatever you decide to make in the upcoming weeks for your friends and family, we’d like to recommend you try our current favourite recipe- Egg-free mayo:

Ingredients:

Water from one 400g can of chickpeas (Keep the chickpeas for another recipe)

1 teaspoon mustard

1 tablespoon vinegar

1/2 teaspoon of salt


Directions:

Blitz all the ingredients using an immersion blender, then gradually add 300ml sunflower oil, or you can use light olive oil until you reach the consistency of mayonnaise.

Optional- you could try adding a juice of half a lemon and half a teaspoon of onion powder at the end for some extra added flavour.

Keeps in the fridge for up to a week.


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