By Chef Selwyn Richards
Preparing food in your toaster oven not only saves you time, it also saves on your energy bills. The average oven takes approximately 20 minutes to preheat to 400 degrees. The average toaster oven takes less than half that amount of time.
Because the capacity space is smaller in a toaster oven, your food will be sizzling hot and ready to serve in approximately 3/4 of the amount of time it would take in a regular oven. Over time, this saved time amounts to a good bit of saved money that can be used elsewhere.
Next time you are thinking about turning on your oven, think green. Dust off your neglected toaster oven, put it where it is easily accessible and start saving money, right away. In most cases, if the food will fit inside the toaster oven, it can be cooked in it as well. The newest models are tall and feature 2 baking racks!
Here are 10 money saving uses for your toaster oven:
Frozen Packaged Food — Anything you buy frozen that is prepackaged, can be cooked in the toaster over. Here are some examples.
* Personal pizza
* Chicken fingers, nuggets
* Meat Pies
* TV Dinner
* Fish sticks
* French Fries
Roasting — Anything you can roast in the oven, you can roast in the toaster oven. If it is a food that drips juices it needs to be put into a small roasting dish. Disposable pans are cheap at the dollar store.
* Nuts, seeds
* Small size meats
Baking — Your toaster oven bakes a cake just like a regular oven.
* Any Pillsbury type rolls, biscuits, croissant
Melting — Good for melting an extra topping for another dish
* Garlic spread
Defrost — Most toaster ovens have a defrost setting. Defrosting in the microwave can sometimes cook half the food, especially if one end is thinner than the other. Toaster ovens defrost your food, evenly. Defrost anything that is frozen and needs to be defrosted before cooking. You can’t make homemade hamburger patties out of frozen hamburger.
Warmer — Toaster ovens have the ability to warm at a much lower temperature than a normal oven.
* Dinner plates
* Serving containers
* Homemade bread
Broiler — Some foods can be nicely seared on the outside, while preventing the inside from over cooking.
* Meat of any type
* Cheese on top of garlic bread, onion soup
Reheating — Microwaves, many times, destroy the foods texture when reheated (soggy, hard). They also cook the foods unevenly, cold in the middle, hot on the edges. A toaster oven will reheat foods evenly leaving their original texture intact. You can reheat any type of food in your toaster oven.
Crisping — If you like your food crisp then the toaster oven does a good job of it. Foods that were originally crispy can be reheated in the microwave bringing the crisp back to life.
* Garlic bread
* Breaded meats
Other advantages of having a toaster oven on hand
* You can always use it for a second oven when planning larger dinner parties.
* You can whip up an entire mean breakfast in no time at all.
* Toaster ovens don’t project the heat that a regular oven does. If temperatures are already soaring in your dwelling you don’t want to add more heat from your regular oven.
* Toaster ovens are affordable for just about anybody.
As you can see, you can use a toaster oven for all the same things you would use your regular oven for. The only limitation it has is its size. 20lb turkeys will have to go in the oven.
A toaster oven is far more economical and an excellent cooking source for those living in tight quarters such as college dorms. Toaster ovens are also portable if you’re heading to the cottage or having to stay in a hotel for any length of time. People who use them on a regular basis, often wonder how they managed without them.
Selwyn Richards is an award-winning master chef. He is also the President and Executive Chef at The Art of Catering Inc. and is the author of “The Art of Cooking: Soul of The Caribbean”. Chef Selwyn can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone — (905) 619-1059.