AIR fryers can be a smart way to tackle rising meal preparation costs.
These appliances can be cheaper to use than an oven, especially if it’s an electric oven or for cooking a small amount of food.
Using an air fryer rated at 1,550 watts costs 53p an hour.
This equates to 71 pence per hour for a stove with an average power rating of 2,100 watts.
These machines use hot air to cook food, as opposed to oil, and are faster and more efficient.
This means that you not only save on energy costs, but are also healthier than deep frying.
As an added bonus, you get all of this without sacrificing a crispy fried finish.
Many Airfryer owners rave about how the device has completely changed the way they cook.
But you need to use your air fryer properly — or it could cost you more instead.
We spoke to Jenny Tschiesche, nutritionist and author of the Air-Fryer Cookbook, to find out the most common mistakes to avoid.
Waste of time and money on preheating
The air fryer fan told The Sun: “One of the most obvious things people often do wrong is thinking they always need to preheat their air fryer.
“For some foods, such as B. those that are frozen and for baked goods this is recommended.
“However, with other items, you may waste time and energy preheating.
“In order to use your appliance more efficiently, you should include preheating in the actual cooking time whenever possible.”
Overfilling your air fryer
According to Jenny, you have to be careful not to over-stuff your device.
“Make sure the air can circulate,” she said.
“Air has to move everywhere to cook everything properly. This is not possible if the objects are too close together.”
If in doubt, check the manufacturer’s specifications for capacity.
“The spacing between foods is especially important when you’re preparing frozen foods,” she added.
“An air fryer is more efficient than an oven at cooking food from the freezer, but you have to make sure they don’t stick together.
“If so, the process takes longer and you use more energy.”
Don’t use the space while cooking
When preparing a roast, don’t make the mistake of thinking you need to use your air fryer two or three times.
“If you’re cooking a small chicken in a 5 or 6 liter air fryer, you typically have to leave it in there for about 40 to 60 minutes,” Jenny said.
“There should be space on the tray for vegetables like parsnips and carrots.
“Preparing these with the chicken can save you time, energy and money.”
If the cooking times are different, wait until the end to add these ingredients. The key is to use the space.
Use of an unweighted liner
Many people use liners to protect their air fryer, but you must not leave them loose in your machine.
“Liners are light,” Jenny said.
“If you start your air fryer with a liner inside but no contents, it can move and affect the heating element.
“This can cause the liner to burn and make your air fryer less efficient.
“It’s also a fire hazard. You have to make sure whatever liner you use is always food weighted.”
Forgot to shake the basket
If you have a basket, remember to shake it a few times while the air fryer is in use.
“You have to do this to ensure even cooking,” Jenny said.
“Certain items may need to be turned to get an even browning.”
If you’re in danger of forgetting, set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself.
“Otherwise you end up wasting electricity and money on cooking utensils unnecessarily,” says the energy-saving champion.
Don’t keep your air fryer clean
A surefire way of wasting energy with your air fryer is by not keeping your machine clean.
“If you don’t take a few basic steps, your gadget won’t work as efficiently,” Jenny said.
“All you need is a microfiber cloth and a bowl of warm, soapy water.”
You can pick up a pack of four microfibre cleaning cloths from Asda for £2.
“Spend a little time cleaning out the basket and any trays you have,” Jenny said.
“You also need to carefully clean the heating element. However, always remember to unplug the device from the mains first.
“Hopefully, if you’re using your air fryer efficiently, there shouldn’t be too much dirt and grease to remove.”
With a low-calorie spray
Jenny definitely advises against using a low-calorie cooking spray that contains an emulsifier called lecithin.
“Using any of these sprays can damage your air fryer’s non-stick coating, causing it to perform much less efficiently,” she warned.
“You want your air fryer to last a long time. Instead, opt for olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil as all of these are good to use.”
When you don’t use your air fryer to reheat
Today, an air fryer is so much more than just preparing crispy fried food.
“One of these devices is a great way to reheat food like pastries,” Jenny said.
“When reheating, you should do this until the center of the food or dish is about 70 degrees Celsius for two minutes to ensure the food is cooked through.
“It’s worth investing in a food thermometer to make sure the food is safe.”
Only use your air fryer
While an air fryer can feel like a life-changing device, don’t neglect your other gadgets entirely.
A combination of the methods might make more sense.
“There may be occasions where it makes sense to use both the microwave and your air fryer, since the combination of the two can help you save both energy and money,” Jenny said.
“For example, if you want to cook a baked potato, it makes sense to first microwave it for about eight minutes until tender.
“Once you’ve done this, place it in the air fryer for a similar amount of time to finish cooking and crisp it up. I would suggest a high heat of around 200 degrees.”