With the on-going West coast drought and new water restrictions in California, it seems like there couldn’t be a better time for everyone to do their best to conserve water in the kitchen. There are lots of easy ways to save water that will actually reduce the time you have to spend cleaning up in the kitchen after dinner.
1. Use your pots and pans as serving dishes as well as cooking vessels. There’s no reason you can’t serve risotto, pasta, or curries out of the pots you cooked them in. Just set a few extra hotpads on the table for heat protection. Already you’ve eliminated the need to wash any sort of serving dish, which saves water and time.
2. Use a dish squeegee to scrape food off plates rather than rinsing them. It’s a small, flexible spatula that efficiently removes leftover food from your dishes. This one from Amazon is inexpensive and very intuitive to use.
3. Try to use the dishwasher rather than hand-wash your dishes, and only run full, efficiently-packed loads.
4. Avoid using the garbage disposal, which requires large amounts of water to run, and scrape waste into the trash can.
5. When washing fruits or vegetables, fill a bowl with water to wash them in rather than using a lot of running water. This way all of your produce for one meal is washed in less than a quart of water rather than multiple gallons.
6. Use the water left over from washing vegetables (see #5) or using the salad spinner to water your flower or vegetable garden.
7. Repurpose leftover drinking water for other uses. Pour water leftover in your drinking glass into your dog’s water bowl, or use it to water your garden.
8. Cook pasta water in half the normal amount of water; instead of using 4 quarts for every pound of pasta, use 2 quarts. Just stir more often and the pasta will be fine. As an added bonus, the pasta water will be extra-starchy and will really improve the texture of the sauce.
9. Better yet, cook pasta or grains in the “one-pot method” popularized by Martha Stewart. Just enough water is added to cook the pasta without needing to drain off any excess liquid, and there’s one less pot to wash since the sauce is made along with the pasta.
10. Experiment with ingredients that use less water than mainstream foods. 1800 gallons of water are used to produce one pound of beef, while only 302 gallons of water are used to produce a pound of tofu. Lots of nuts require huge amounts of water–almonds use nearly 2000 gallons of water per pound–so try substituting nuts in your diet with fruit like oranges, that only need 67 gallons of water to grow one pound. Other low-water foods are broccoli and potatoes (34 gallons per pound each). (Source)
Source: Jewish National Fund