By Abi Townsend
According to a study done by The Water Research Foundation in 2016, the average American household uses more than 300 gallons of water each day. That adds up to over 100,000 gallons per year!
I recently had the unpleasant experience of having a plumbing issue that resulted in my household’s water needing to be turned off for 3 days. Nothing makes your daily water usage more apparent than having to get all your water from jugs and bottles.
We already know that spending money to upgrade your appliances will save you money, water, and energy in the long run. It is not always easy or feasible to pay the extra money on the latest and greatest models.
As tennis legend Arthur Ashe said, "Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can."
Here are 8 tips that can help lower your water usage in the kitchen and won't cost you a dime.
1. Keep Water in the Fridge
If you are among those who prefer their drinking water to be chilled, join the club. There are few things as refreshing as a crisp, icy cold drink on a hot summer day.
The average water flow rate of a standard kitchen faucet is 2.2 gallons per minute. So, running the water until it gets cool enough to drink can send tons of water (and money) straight down the drain each time you get a drink.
A great way to have that crisp drink at any time is to fill a pitcher or reusable water bottle and place it in the fridge. Doing this can save you time, water, and money.
2. Give Your Plants a Drink
Repurpose water when and where you can. When you no longer need that drink of water rather than sending it down the drain, look for another use for it.
If you have houseplants, you know that different plants have different watering needs. If you have plants that love to be watered frequently, adding your unused drinking water into your plant can solve 2 problems at once.
Alternatively, if you are a pet owner you can also top off their water bowl.
Get creative. By being mindful about how you use water, you can find many creative ways to repurpose leftover drinking water.
3. Compost Your Scraps
In the average household, garbage disposals use about 8 gallons of water per day. Bypassing your disposal and adding your food scraps to your compost is a great way to help enrich your garden soil and lower the overall water use for your kitchen.
If you would like to learn more about the basics and how to get started with composting. The EPA has a great guide for beginners here.
4. Catch Your Rinse Water
Cooking at home can help you stay in control of your nutrition by letting you choose what goes into each of your dishes. However, it is easy to unintentionally waste tons of water when rinsing your produce. Be aware of how much water you actually need to get the job done and avoid letting the water run when not needed.
Instead of letting the water run continuously while scrubbing your produce, place them in a bowl or pitcher to catch the water before it goes down the drain. This rinse water can then be recycled by using it to water houseplants or your garden.
5. DIY Vegetable Stock
There are a lot of methods for cooking vegetables. Steaming and boiling are among the healthiest options and retain more of the natural nutrients.
If you choose one of these, do not let this opportunity pass you up! Save the water to make your own tasty vegetable stock for your next soup. To do this, just place your colander inside a bowl roughly the same size or larger and catch the water before it goes down the drain.
For another option, you could recycle it by letting it cool and use it to water your houseplants or garden. The added nutrients can help improve your soil.
For more ideas of ways to reuse vegetable water check out this link from Spoon University 6 Things You Can Make With the Water Used to Boil Vegetables.
6. Pan Size Matters
This one is probably pretty obvious to everyone, be sure to use the right sized pot (or tool) for the job.
For example, if you want to cook 2 cups of noodles, you will not want to use a large stock pot full of water. Grab a medium sized saucepan and only fill it with what is needed to cook the noodles evenly.
7. Reduce Your Dirty Dishes
Making a meal plan can make mealtimes less stressful. There are so many amazing one-pot meal recipes available on your favorite recipe websites. When doing your meal planning add more meals that only use one pot like casseroles, slow cooker meals, and stovetop creations. You can search for alternative versions of your favorite meals that could be done with less dishes without sacrificing what you love most about it.
Prepping for meals in bulk can help reduce your dishes too. You can choose to either prepare whole meals to freeze for later, or your most used ingredients. Rather than pulling out your cutting board, knife, or frying pans out multiple times during the week, when planned right, you can precut or precook for many meals all in one go.
One of my favorite ways of doing this is with onions. While I have the cutting board and knife out, I pre chop an entire 3-5 lb bag of onions all in one sitting. Since onions are freezer friendly, I freeze what I will not need immediately. Then, as I am cooking meals, when my recipe needs onions, I can just open the freezer and have some already chopped and ready to go.
Fewer dishes used means fewer dishes to wash. Fewer dishes to wash, means less water and time used for cleaning up.
8. Get Fully Loaded
Even if your dishwasher is top of the line and as water and energy efficient as they come, waiting until you have a full load to run your dishwasher will save you money, water, detergent and electricity.
Additionally, you can usually find more information about maximizing the efficiency of your appliances in the owner’s manual. Nowadays, most of these manuals are available to download for free from the manufacturer.
By being aware of your water usage you can get creative with ways to catch and reuse water around your home.
We'd love to hear from you. Have you tried any of these? What ways do you save water in the kitchen? Please leave a comment.