See how much you could save on power. Upload a recent bill and get a free estimate.

See how much you could save on power. Upload a recent bill and get a free estimate.

These days, humans generally fall into two distinct categories for the preparation and catering of weekly meals: those who plan and keep a list and the other group - probably right brain thinkers - who wing it and only cast their mind to what dinner might be just five minutes before the household’s ready to eat. No prizes for guessing which of these two scenarios saves more money in the long run!


The secret ingredient to saving

Now that we all carry smartphones, there’s absolutely no excuse not to keep a running total of your weekly food needs. A quick check on your phone’s app store shows  numerous apps to simplify keeping a list for grocery shopping. Some efficient time managers will even scout out the bargain buys and specials and front up for the associated savings. This is some pretty hardcore thriftiness though, and mostly it’s easier to simply plan the required meals for the week and write a list based on that. There are apps for that too and some will even pull the ingredients from the meal plan and pop it on the list – cool huh? With affordable ingredients and stringent list-following you could have a little extra something for the treats on the way through the checkout.   

The steeper costs of a supermarket trip

Checked the price of petrol lately? The whole world is doing it tough at the pump. There’s nothing like seeing the readout after filling the tank to make you think twice about a trip anywhere including the supermarket. Before you to head to the supermarket for the weekly shop, take stock of what you have and what you need to buy. Make sure that you stock up on all that you need as return trips are a hidden cost that stack up on top of food expenses. Many people will combine their town-and-around jobs to save on time and money, so looking at ways of making this work will be worthwhile. Can you make it a regular fixture to call in on the way home after the kid’s sport on a Saturday? Tacking a supermarket shop onto any other trip will accrue savings.  

Special delivery – cost effective?

The outbreak of Covid in 2020 also triggered another escalation: that of home delivered groceries and pre-prepared meals. Avoiding supermarket queues and staying safely at home meant that many people got invested in the concept. During lockdowns we adapted to having the food come to the front door through the well sanitised and gloved hands of a friendly delivery driver. Since then, many households realised how easy and convenient it was and continued with the arrangement. In the competitive home-delivery industry, there are even deals where customers can sign up to a monthly subscription and enjoy unlimited deliveries – just one less car trip and cheaper than ad hoc delivery payments!

Home deliveries and the explosion of meal kits has been a game changer in the way we take delivery of food and prepare it. No longer dominated by the elderly or diet conscious, the convenience of this method of getting goods from warehouse or store to our pantry shelves along with recipe instructions is being embraced by more and more Kiwis.


The great leftovers debate

Anyone with parents or grandparents who lived through war rationing or the Great Depression will have heard about the way nothing was ever wasted - especially food. There’s even some scientific evidence about why certain leftovers taste so good the next day! Whether it’s post-Christmas ham done four different ways for 10 days straight, or a Sunday roast leg of lamb that will grind down for a shepherd’s pie, making ends meet is easy on the budget. If you buy food that has “use-by” longevity and therefore good for “another outing” from fridge to family dinner table, then it’s going to be saving you money and preparation time too. 

Finding meals to please the crew

The ongoing challenge of shopping for and preparing meals that everyone in the household will eat may have the chief cook lying awake at night. In a house-share situation, at least, everyone labels their own stuff for the fridge and takes care of their specific dietary preferences. But family mealtimes can be a minefield with three different menus – a newly vegan teenager, a toddler who only eats chicken nuggets and parents who want a nice juicy steak with their beer – how to juggle all-comers? Planning is key and pitching to the middle ground could also stop your blood pressure going up when the protest flags come out. Stocking up on some pantry staples and recipes that win the whole household’s seal of approval will be a sanity saver and avoid wastage – especially when there’s one fussy diner who’s rejecting what’s on offer. 

Oven preheating times

Multitasking is a superpower that many parents are admired for the world over. When the dinner is being prepared, turning on the oven is often the first task on the checklist. It can take 10 to 15 minutes to preheat depending on whether you have an electric or gas oven and the make and model or the age of the appliance can also have an impact. A set and forget mentality may see the oven preheated and humming away without cooking anything as you get distracted with other jobs. Don’t let the oven sit for too long like this as while it sits all warmed up and waiting, you’re paying for power you’re not using.

Non-stick cooking times a no-no 

The manufacturers of food products and writers of recipes have determined the correct length of cooking times, so you don’t have to. The instructions for time spent cooking on the stove or in the oven have been set for a reason. Leaving things too long or removing a dish too soon only to find it needs to be put back in a fast-cooling oven is not only annoying but also adds to your power bill. Stick to the recommended cooking times ensuring you have followed the correct procedures for a hassle-free family meal.


Try not to use more ingredients than needed

Probably the most hilarious waste of ingredients is the famous Swedish chef on Sesame Street.  But occasionally we all overshoot and make too much rice/pasta/mashed potato or overdo it on the chili sauce. We can always hold onto extras for leftovers and in the case of rice if we don’t aim to be as accurate as possible the kids are going to be getting fried rice the next day! There are a few handy tips for cooking the perfect rice and measuring the water ratio is a critical part of the process. Keeping “less is more” top of mind and checking online for measurements, you’re more likely to eliminate waste.

Give the oven a break 

Unsurprisingly, modern households are more likely to cook dinner in the oven than lunch or breakfast. According to surveys the oven is also used mostly around the early part of the week. Oven cooked meals are also favoured more in the winter and on cold days as we opt to stay in and hunker down – sometimes with the oven door left open to share the leftover warmth!  Clearly nothing comes close to a roast pork with crackling done in the oven but save the roasts for Sunday, then make Wednesday’s salad night and have a few other no-oven meals across the week. The cost benefits to giving the oven the night off a couple of days a week are worth considering.

Summertime? Have a barbecue

Humans have been cooking on open fires for 1.8 million years. But it was in the 16th century that the Spanish conquerors observed  indigenous South American tribes cooking meat on a stick over a fire and calling it barbacòa. The popularity of the barbecue as it became known, literally spread like wildfire to the rest of the world. As a Kiwi institution, the BBQ dictates the terms with most homes having a space set aside in the back yard to crank up the coals for the humble sausage or a marinated steak. In the mid 1960’s, as gas barbecues took off, the option to conveniently cook outdoors for mealtimes really got traction. These days in neighbourhoods up and down the country the night air is filled with the heady aromas of a barbecue doing its dinner duty. Not only is this a much-loved social experience but giving your oven or stove a break and deferring to the charcoal or gas bottle can be a saving on the power bills.    

What are the energy efficient ratings of your appliances? 

No more are the humble two slice toaster and basic electric jug combo the only labour-saving kitchen gadgets you own. The expansion of the vast range of kitchen appliances continues at pace. If it can be plugged in to speed up the process, the manufacturers are onto it. From bread makers to elaborate coffee machines, modern kitchens are crammed with loads of fun, new appliances.  Before you commit to purchasing though, it pays to stop and check the energy efficiency rating. Online calculators are an invaluable tool to make the comparison and establish whether the appliance is power hungry or not. It could be false economy to go for a cheaper option if the cost of running it is higher than its pricier counterpart on the retailer’s shelf. Always-on appliances can be energy vampires so checking their energy efficient ratings and typical power use is worth the research. The more stars displayed on the label, the more efficient it is, and your running costs will be lower. 

Keep kitchen appliances well maintained

Most appliances are expected to last  for up to 10 years so keeping them in tip top order is essential if you want to get the best performance and bang for your buck. As a rule of thumb, small appliances will wear out faster than bigger items like a fridge-freezer, but any faulty or poorly maintained appliance could be a potential hazard in the kitchen and will cost more to run. Some actions you can take to safeguard appliances and lengthen life spans are to read and follow manufacturer’s instructions and warranties from day one, clean them regularly, and check cords and plugs for wear and tear. Be kind to your kitchen appliances and they’ll be kind to you and your pocket.  

Check if your current electricity plan is giving you the best price

When you’ve done all the economising and cost-cutting measures you can poke a meat skewer at in the kitchen, check to see that the power plan you’re on is not undoing all your hard work. Getting the best price for your power supply underpins any belt- tightening measures. Call Powershop today for a chat and find out how to have all the ingredients for a power plan that’s best for you. 

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