Thanksgiving is one of those special days where we're prepared to spend a little extra money for the people we love. We want the table to look beautiful, so we buy new placemats and napkins and create colorful place cards for family members. We want everyone to have their favorite dish, so we make the expensive oyster stuffing as well as three different kinds of pies. And we want the best-tasting turkey so we buy a local, free-range, organic bird that's guaranteed to wow the crowd.
Is it a lost cause to try to save some money on Thanksgiving? Absolutely not. Some of the easiest ways to save money are by saving energy in the kitchen while you're cooking the big dinner. Follow these tips and you'll be grateful for the savings on your November energy bills.
Get the right sized bird. While the oven is going to be on for several hours when you're roasting a turkey, it doesn't need to be on longer than necessary. An overly large turkey will take a long time to cook and may be wasteful in the long run if your family doesn't eat it.
Defrost the bird in the fridge or get a fresh bird. Don't waste water thawing out the turkey in the sink. Start a couple days ahead of time and thaw the bird in the refrigerator. Or, buy a fresh, non-frozen turkey that doesn't need to be defrosted.
Don't stuff the turkey. Stuffing the turkey requires extra roasting time, more than just cooking the dressing on its own.
Don't preheat the oven. When slow roasting food for several hours, it's not necessary to preheat the oven.
Cook dishes together. While the turkey is in the oven, add side dishes that can be cooked at the same temperature. If there's a slight difference in temperature requirements, simply adjust the cooking time to accommodate the different temperature.
Cook dishes in the microwave. Try steaming vegetables or precooking potatoes in the microwave. This saves considerable time and electricity.
Cook in glass or ceramic. These materials hold heat much better so they require less cooking time.
Use flat bottom pans. Make sure your pot or pan is not warped and sits snugly on the burner. The more contact between burner and the pan, the more efficient cooking is.
Size the pan to the burner size. Make sure your pot or pan isn't too big or too small for the burner. You'll either take more time trying to warm up the pan or waste energy heating the kitchen but not the pan.
Use the dishwasher. Unless you're using delicate china, throw the dirty dishes in the dishwasher rather than washing them by hand. The dishwasher is a much more efficient use of water.
Make sure foods are cool before putting in the refrigerator. Warm foods make the fridge work harder to cool them down. On the other hand, don't wait too long before putting leftovers away. Food should be left out for no more than two hours so it doesn't spoil.
Freeze leftovers. If you have too many leftovers in the fridge, you might get sick of them before you finish them off. Then they get pushed to the back and forgotten, wasted. Freeze them instead – in a couple weeks, that turkey sandwich will be welcome!