6 Simple Ways to Save Water While You Cook

Grim news from the US Drought Monitor: 40% of the state is in exceptional drought, and that includes all of L.A. County as well as the Central Valley. It's especially alarming as all indications lead to a fourth year of drought, and regulators will likely tighten restrictions on residential water usage with a very dry summer looming.

Many Californians have already taken measures to conserve water in the home, from ensuring their dishwashers are always running full to installing low-flow aerators on their faucets. In fact, the State Water Resources Control Board announced that the statewide urban water conservation rate climbed to 22% in December after a rainy close to 2014.

But don't let that make you complacent. Water is often wasted in ways that are not readily apparent to us, and much of that occurs in the kitchen while we cook.

What are some ways we can save a little water each time we prepare a meal?

#1 Think ahead! Thaw in the fridge.
While putting frozen food under running water will help it defrost quickly, it's also a needless waste. When you think you might want to roast a chicken for dinner, put it in the fridge the night before to let it thaw safely and slowly.

#2 Use a bowl instead of a colander.
Since a bowl is only so big, you're limited by how much water you can fill it with. Use it to soak, swish, and rinse vegetables before cooking, and then...

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#3 Save the water for your houseplants.
You can reuse the water for not only indoor plants, but also outdoor plants. And instead of putting your houseplants in the bathtub or under a faucet to wash the leaves, you can shower them without using an extra drop of water.

#4 Peel your vegetables.
Potatoes and carrots tend to be dirtier than most vegetables, so rather than rinsing them, you can simply peel away the dirt before you cook them.

#5 Use less water when boiling food.
Fill your pot with just enough water to cover the pasta or potatoes. As a bonus, you can place a steamer basket over the pot while it's boiling and steam some vegetables over it, effectively shortening your prep time!

#6 Instead of boiling, try steaming.
If you're used to throwing everything into a pot of water to soften it up, try steaming your food next time. It works for potatoes, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, carrots, and parsnips; it retains all of the nutrients in the vegetables; and it uses only an inch of water in the pot rather than a few quarts.

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