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8 Ways to Go 'Green' in Your Kitchen

How can you create a more environmentally friendly kitchen?

2. Cook Smart continued...

There are also a couple of foods that can finish cooking by themselves. For example, bring a saucepan of water and ears of corn to a rolling boil (with the lid on). After one minute, turn off the stove and let the corn continue cooking in the hot water for about 10 minutes.

You can do the same for a casserole with a cheese topping. Instead of pulling it out of the oven, sprinkling with cheese and then baking for 10 more minutes, just turn off the oven, sprinkle the cheese over the top, and place it back in the still-warm oven for 10 minutes.

Speaking of the oven, you really don't need to preheat it if you're broiling or roasting, or if you're baking something for a long time, according to the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative. When you do need to preheat, try to minimize the time. If you know it takes 10 minutes to preheat your oven to 350 degrees, turn the oven on just 10 minutes before your dish will be ready to bake.

3. Don't Be Fridge Foolish

Don't browse in front of the refrigerator. Keeping the door open for long periods wastes energy.

Also, make sure your fridge door closes securely. To test the rubber-like seal around the door, just close the door on a dollar bill, and then see how easy it is to pull out. If you get your dollar back easily, your refrigerator door is probably leaking cold air. See about getting the seal repaired or replaced.

Is there an old refrigerator or freezer in your garage? Older appliances can be real energy hogs. Think about exactly how much extra fridge or freezer space you need, and get an energy- efficient model that fits your needs. And maybe you don't really need that extra fridge space. Keep in mind that running one large refrigerator is usually more energy-efficient than running two smaller ones.

4. Bring Your Own Shopping Bags

Instead of answering the obligatory question, "Plastic or paper?" why not invest in some reusable canvas bags? The key to this, I've found, is keeping the bags in your car. Once you've unpacked your groceries, leave the empty bags by your front door and the next time you go to your car, take them with you.

Even if you opt for the plastic or paper grocery bags, you can still bring them with you on your next trip for reuse.

5. Buy Products With Less Packaging

The less packaging you buy, the less garbage you create. So look for ways to avoid excess packaging. For example, buy large bottles of juice or frozen juice concentrate instead of juice boxes; get large sizes of products rather than individually wrapped ones (portion them out into reusable containers when needed); and consider buying items like nuts and beans in bulk from a health food store or a market like Whole Foods.

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