How Air Fryers Can Help You Lower Your Cooking Costs During a Cost of Living Crisis
As you know, the cost of energy has risen steadily, and even with the government energy support scheme, we are all still finding the costs of heating our houses and cooking our food, which is causing a significant headache for many people.
The planned rise of the Energy Price Guarantee to £3,000 (for a typical home) will now be delayed to July, removing extra pressure for billpayers. It's expected that by July, energy prices should fall below the typical £2,500 Energy Price Guarantee level, which should mean we all will be paying less for our energy needs; however, the monthly £67 credits from the Government we have been receiving on our energy bills, over the winter have come to an end, so realistically we're all likely going to paying more per month until current prices fall.
So we all need to look at ways to lower our energy costs again; we've all become semi-experts on energy-saving techniques since the increased pricing kicked in, and we've covered lots of tips in a recent blog post so I won't go into lots of detail on this post, however, that said I'm going to focus on one particular energy saving product our family have adopted and love, which is saving us money on our energy bills - Air Fryers!
Air fryers have become popular household appliances since they debuted in 2010. This popular kitchen gadget offers a healthier alternative to deep-frying while retaining the taste and crispness that people love. Compared to deep-fried food, air-fried food has a different flavour but still offers a fried quality. Sales of air fryers have exploded since the cost of energy price increased and the cost-of-living crisis kicked in.
Now I've had a Ninja air fryer and pressure cooker, all in one machine since the first lockdown in 2020, which I bought on a whim, used, but didn't really make proper use of if I'm honest. Still, since the energy crisis, I've used it pretty much every day, and it's really helped keep our energy costs down.
Air fryers are versatile and can prepare a wide variety of foods such as chicken, chips, roasted vegetables, falafel, fish, pizza, and baked goods. They are also a great way to crisp up frozen foods and snacks such as fish fingers, chicken nuggets, spring rolls, and pies. I like to have jacket potatoes for lunch, and microwaving them to reheat results in a soggy skin, so I microwave them to reheat them and then throw them in the air fryer to crisp up, and they are really good as that hot air crisps them up at high speed, and it doesn't use much energy, and therefore does costs much money!
Air fryers can save you money on your electricity bills, especially if you have a small household cooking single batches of food. An air fryer can help you avoid switching on a conventional oven several times a week to cook a meal for two. Our family is 3, consisting of 2 adults and a six-year-old, and we find we can normally utilise our Ninja to cook for all 3 of us without needing to turn on our energy-hungry oven, so it is much better for energy efficiency.
It's not always suitable for everything, of course; there are times when several times need to be cooked at the same time, and with the style of air fryer we have, we can only really fit in a couple of different items at the same time, and some of the best air fryers, and the often the large ovens come with separate drawers so you can cook several things at once.
If we have to use the normal oven at the same time, I'll try and maximise the oven space and cook something else there at the same time, maybe jacket potatoes for lunch the next day, so I'm making good use of the energy being used!
An air fryers energy consumption for a 1,000W air fryer costs about 17p to run for 30 minutes and 34p to run for an hour. the average wattage air fryer of around 1,500W will set you back 26p for half an hour and 51p for an hour's use. This is about 10 to 15 per cent cheaper than using a regular oven (depending on the type you have), but the key with an air fryer is the cooking time; it takes less time to cook food, so instead of cooking a frozen pie for 60 minutes in a regular oven, you may find it's cooked in just 40 minutes in an air fryer, so not only is it using as much electricity for cooking that pie, it's cooking it faster, resulting in an even more significant energy saving, and that's where the energy savings add up.
Also, you don't need to pre-heat an air fryer, so if, like me, you have to fire up your standard oven for 20 minutes before you use it, the air fryer will remove that extra time your using energy! Small changes like that can help you save more money.
So If you're considering buying an air fryer, consider the capacity, worktop and storage space carefully, as it makes a big difference to ease of use. One of my tips is to look at the capacity you need.
The size of the air fryer to buy depends on how many people you're cooking for and the space you have. The smallest air fryers can hold up to 800g of food, so about four portions of chips, so they are fine for smaller meals. The bigger air fryers can start getting expensive but are better for cooking bigger meals. You could look to get two cheaper ones, which you can use as and when needed, as it will likely save you money initially, and even in the long run, it may still be more affordable than firing up the oven to cook unless you have a much larger amount of food to cook, or need to do some batch cooking.
Air fryers start from around £60, but models with extra features, such as control via a phone app or multiple compartments that allow you to cook two foods at once, can cost well over £200, so look at if you need the larger versions or the ones with extra benefits such as intelligent control, for use with smart plugs. Now I do love a gadget, so a smart air fryer sounds excellent, but if you do not need that extra technology, downgrade to a machine without it; after all, you are cooking chips, not sending a man to the moon; you probably don't need a phone app to whip up some quick chips!
Air fryers have a bit of a reputation for only being able to cook junk food, and this isnt the case at all! These appliances can cook a wide variety of foods such as chicken, chips, roasted vegetables, fish, pizza, and baked goods. They can also cook and crisp up frozen foods and snacks such as fish fingers, chicken nuggets, spring rolls, and pies.
I often cook a whole chicken in mine, and medium-sized chicken is about 55 minutes from fridge to table; it's cheap to cook, fast and stays lovely and moist, and still has a crispy skin; it's just a case of being creative! There are thousands of recipes and ideas online, have a Google and see what takes your fancy!
So which one should I buy?
Air fryers are everywhere these days, and the prices vary massively! You often see £30 machines being advertised online, and special deals in Aldi & Lidl get plastered all over social media, and it can be hard to figure out which one to buy!
So you need to think about the following points, and this will help you to understand what you might need:
Capacity: Consider the size of the air fryer and whether it will meet your cooking needs. If you're cooking for a larger family or hosting dinner parties, you may want a larger-capacity air fryer. Look at the size of your kitchen; if you only have a small kitchen, buying a massive air fryer may not be sensible!
Wattage: Air fryers have different wattages, typically ranging from 800 to 1800 watts. A higher wattage will generally mean quicker cooking times but higher energy consumption, so if you want to use less electricity, smaller air fryer ovens maybe a better option.
Temperature range: Make sure the air fryer can reach the temperatures you need for the types of food you want to cook. Some air fryers have a temperature range of 180°C to 200°C, while others can reach up to 230°C.
Functions and features: Some air fryers have additional features, such as a rotisserie or dehydrator function. Consider what other functions you might need and whether they are worth the extra cost.
Brand and price: Consider the brand's reputation and the air fryer's price. While you don't necessarily need to buy the most expensive air fryer on the market, buying from a reputable brand is essential to ensure quality and safety.
Customer reviews: Read customer reviews to see how the air fryer performs in real-life situations. Look for reviews that mention cooking time, ease of use, and overall satisfaction.
Warranty: Ensure the air fryer has an easy-to-take-care-of warranty in case of any defects or malfunctions. A typical warranty period is one year, but some brands may offer more extended warranties.
Which air fryers get the best reviews?
The top 3 air fryers, by reviews, needless to say, are the more expensive ones:
NinjaFoodi MAX AG551UK - Cheapest we found at the bigger branded retailers (that we know and trust and had in stock) was at Currys for £219.00
TefalActifry Genius XL 2in1 YV970840 - Cheapest we found at the bigger branded retailers (that we know and trust and had in stock) was at Amazon for £199
Ninja OL750UK Ninja Foodi MAX 15-in-1 SmartLid Multi-Cooker - Cheapest we found at the bigger branded retailers (that we know and trust and had in stock) was at Currys for £224.16
But on the cheaper, budget end of the scale, here are the top 3 machines, going by reviews. These will have smaller capacities and fewer functions than the more expensive machines listed above, but they will likely be perfect for someone needing less capacity and functions!
1. Russell Hobbs 26500 SatisFry Small Digital Air Fryer - Cheapest we found at the bigger branded retailers (that we know and trust and had in stock) was at Amazon for £59.00
2. Tower Vortx 4L Manual Air Fryer Black - Cheapest we found at the bigger branded retailers (that we know and trust and had in stock) was at Iceland for £49.99
3. Salter 3.2 Litre EK2818 Air Fryer - Cheapest we found at the bigger branded retailers (that we know and trust and had in stock) was at Wilko for £53.50
There were other retailers offering cheaper prices, on some models, some massively cheaper, which always sets off alarm bells, so it's worth shopping about, and if you do buy from a smaller, less known company, always use a credit card or PayPal to make sure you get financial protection from the payment provider, just in case!
Whichever brand and size of machine you may buy, you'll likely be converted pretty quickly to the convenience and energy-saving benefits of air fryer cooking!