There are lots of ways in which money, time and carbon can be saved with very little effort. Here are just 5 that I regularly employ in my home and think you might find useful, especially in these stretched economic times. Some may seem obvious and simple but they really do work. You get to help the environment and yourselves.
1. Get a slow cooker. In mine I make home-made baked beans, stews, casseroles, soups, stock, rice puddings and other delicious dishes. They have a lot of advantages. For one thing they use very low amounts of electricity and work out much cheaper than switching on the gas or electric oven because you’re only heating the dish, not a whole oven. Not only that, but on a low setting you can go out or to bed and forget about them for hours. Nothing will burn. Plugging a slow cooker into a timer to switch it off for you will also ensure you don’t forget and leave it on longer than you intended.
Making my own beans started due to allergies, but they’re more carbon friendly anyway. No tins of you-know-whose from the supermarket. I buy dried beans in a cellophane wrapper, onions and (admittedly tinned) tomatos and mustard. Much less packaging waste and the slow cooker means very low-cost food results. In a later post I’ll put up the recipe.
2. Get a pressure cooker. Boiled potatos and carrots (they’re more steamed in a pressure cooker) are done in six minutes instead of twenty and can be cooked all in one pan. Think of the gas/electricity savings. You can also make soups, stews, casseroles, boiled ham, steamed puddings etc in one. The modern ones are very easy and safe to use and a boon when you’ve little time to spare. Nutrients in the food are also preserved better due to less cooking time and less water used. (you only need 1/2 pint for potatoes/carrots etc.)
3. Grow your own sprouting seeds. Have you seen the prices lately of fresh sprouted greens? And you have to carry them home in their packaging then dispose of that. Just buy your dried seeds and put them in your pocket, go home, put them in sprouter, wait a few days and eat them at their very best and freshest. Blog post coming up on growing these nutrition packed foods. You can buy sprouters but a jam jar will do the same job with a piece of muslin or an old stocking over the top to drain the water away.
4. Use old toilet tubes to sow your sweet peas or French/runner beans in. Just line them up in a seed tray and fill with compost, pushing one seed in each. The roots will grow down into the compost and you can plant the whole thing out without root disturbance. The tube will rot down. Free plant pots!
5. Re-use your margarine tubs in the freezer. Two tips for the price of one here. When cooking, double the quantities you need for one meal. Then freeze the half you don’t need that night. Use margarine tubs, on which you can write the contents, to freeze your extra batch. Just remember to tip the contents into a glass bowl for re-heating as these containers won’t be microwave/oven safe. You save time, carbon, money and effort.
You might have noticed the photo. That’s a bonus sixth tip. Try growing strawberries on the patio like this. What can you recycle? I’d welcome your tips to share with everyone. Let’s do it together. Just leave your tip in the comments box. I’m waiting to hear from you.