August in Maryland is hot and humid, and its a great idea to keep the heat out of the kitchen!
Cooking in your kitchen during the heat of summer means you need to use more air conditioning.
The truth is, A/C can be 50% or more of your electrical bill. So the cooler your keep your house, the less money you waste.
Here are four great ways to keep the heat out of the kitchen and keep your A/C costs down!
1 – Don’t cook
When it’s hot out, a cold meal is welcome. Delicious cold meals are easy to prepare when you are surrounded by fresh local produce.
Salads are easy and so delicious when made from in season ingredients. Add a homemade dressing and some leftover chicken and enjoy!
Sandwiches require even less time to prep (unless you are baking your own bread). Cook up some extra meat or eggs to use as leftovers for sandwich fillings, or go vegetarian and use bean spreads or cheese to add some protein.
Gazpacho, a cold vegetable soup, is great to keep the heat out of the kitchen and cool you off.
Ceviche is raw fish, “cooked” in acid. It is fabulous with tortilla chips, bread, or on it’s own.
Make a cold appetizer plate for yourself. Add cheese, olives, fresh vegetables, fruits, and enjoy.
Toss some zucchini noodles (zucchini is plentiful right now!) in a vinaigrette or other cold sauce.
2 – Cook with appliances that don’t create a lot of heat
Not feeling a cold meal? You can keep the heat out of your kitchen by using appliances that won’t put out a lot of heat.
That means avoiding the oven, and using the stove sparingly. However, slow cookers, pressure cookers, microwaves, and toaster ovens give off much less heat.
If you plan to use a slow cooker, put it in the garage or basement to keep the heat out of the kitchen as well!
3 – Cook earlier in the day, and make leftovers
If you have to use the oven or stove, cook earlier in the day before it gets too hot. Then you can heat things up later for dinner or eat them cold.
Roast up some meats to add to salads, or sandwiches. Simmer some soups or sauces for later. Make some pasta for a cold or hot pasta salad.
If you do use larger appliances, make sure to make enough for a few days. Meat for tacos, for sandwiches, or for salads means more meal options that are quick to make.
4 – Take it outside
If you want to get serious, set up a simple outdoor or summer kitchen. A grill is a great start, but you can add a place to put outdoor burners, a pizza or bread oven, or simply plug in a slow cooker so all the heat stays outside.
Traditional summer kitchens were built to keep the heat out of the kitchen and house, before air conditioning was invented. Outdoor kitchens can also keep the heat outside.
Outdoor kitchens can be really fancy, but they don’t have to be. A small bar height table or recycled cabinetry with a cheap counter can be great for prep work. Set up a sink connected with a hose that drains to a bucket or straight to your garden!
I plan to build an outdoor kitchen next summer. I’m hoping to use recycled materials for a prep surface, a sink to wash off garden produce, and add a trellis or awning for shade.
We already keep our electrical bills down by keeping the house at 80F. Keeping the heat out of the kitchen is a must for us!