If I'm just cooking for myself, should I buy a smaller oven?
February 17, 2012 11:06 PM   Subscribe

If I'm just cooking for myself, should I buy a smaller oven?

I have a standard sized oven/stove unit; the oven has a 2' x 1.5' x 1.5' interior with bake/broil functionality. Since I usually cook small portions, I sometimes wonder if a smaller oven would save cooking time and electricity. Is this accurate? What kind of oven would I want to substitute?
posted by lunchbox to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
A kitchen top toast/convection oven is really quite handy. Something like these.
posted by ZaneJ. at 11:08 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Seconding the toaster oven. Ours is a really big one we got for our wedding, but I think even a smaller/basic one would be super useful. Ours sees plenty of use, from melting cheese, to roasting small quantities of meat. It did get very hot behind it, though, so be careful of that.
posted by thylacinthine at 11:29 PM on February 17, 2012

Thirding a toaster oven, but get a decent model. The cheapest models are inaccurate at best - the one I have to deal with now has a wonky thermostat, time limited to 30 minutes, and takes forever to toast.

If you can spend $200-$300 on a countertop convection toaster oven, you'll only ever use the main oven for things too big to fit in the toaster oven. I loved mine while I had it.
posted by WasabiFlux at 11:44 PM on February 17, 2012

I have a combi microwave - microwave, grill, oven. It's not the most fantastic oven, but fine for single person portions. Also saves space in the kitchen.
posted by Coobeastie at 1:41 AM on February 18, 2012

I wouldn't bother. I don't think the electricity saved would be substantial in terms of money. The power you save stands against the power wasted in building a brand-new oven. In a full-size oven you can make a larger potion and put the rest in the fridge or freezer; that way you save money as well as electricity. Having a real oven encourages you to cook more often. You don't want to get rid of the big oven because what if you want to make a full-size roast every once in a while? I can't imagine the cooking time would be reduced - actually I'd expect it to increase because a small oven isn't as "serious" a cooking device. That's just me though.
posted by faustdick at 2:06 AM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I used to have a benchtop fan forced oven about the size of a microwave and it preheated so much quicker than a large oven. I didn't have a microwave at the time, but used the fan setting without heat to defrost things (which is about all I used microwaves for). It was made by DeLonghi, but I can't remember the model number. I could do roasts, cakes and all kinds of culinary fuckery in there.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 2:45 AM on February 18, 2012

I have this and love it. I can bake, broil, roast etc. in it, and I haven't used my huge space-/ energy-waster oven since I got it.
posted by trip and a half at 3:11 AM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

The size of the oven really doesn't have that much effect on the amount of energy you're using. This is because the specific heat of air is pretty low. It takes four times as much energy to heat water one degree as air.

What might matter is how well sealed and insulated your oven is, but I would expect a smaller oven to actually have worse insulation than a larger one for the reason Faustdick cites.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:35 AM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Before I got a combination microwave/grill/oven I had one of these, which is fantastic. I mothballed it when I got the combi microwave because I use the convection oven in the microwave instead and don't have the counter space for the two appliances. If you already have a microwave, I'd recommend the halogen oven. If not, I'd recommend you get a combination microwave/convection/grill. They're not cheap, around $250 for a decent one, but definitely worth having.
posted by essexjan at 4:10 AM on February 18, 2012

I have a fantastic toaster oven that I use all the time...for toast. I find putting things in the larger oven tends to cook them more evenly, and since I like things really crispy (not everything...crispy cake isn't so fantastic), I like the bigger oven's results.
posted by xingcat at 4:57 AM on February 18, 2012

One thing you could do to make using your oven more efficiently is to cook multiple things at once. You can always cook a few different casseroles at the same time. If you're making a meatloaf you can throw some potatoes in there to bake and use for lunches later (reheat in the microwave). Lots of quickbreads, cornbreads, and cookie bars bake at about the same time and temperature so they can go in together. If you make you own breadcrumbs or croutons you can multitask those alongside another dish.
posted by Miko at 6:57 AM on February 18, 2012

Use your regular oven, that's what it's for. The electricity you save would never offset the money and enviromental impact involved in obtaining a second device to do what your oven already does. Plus no countertop device will match your oven's consistency, accuracy and capability.
posted by Cosine at 9:36 AM on February 18, 2012

You aren't going to save much time at all in a smaller oven, and realistically, since you don't cook a lot, there is probably no way you are going to save enough in electricity to offset the amount you will spend to buy a decent toaster oven. If you buy a cheap toaster oven (as we did in the past), you won't end up using it, because it won't work well.

If you really want to save time and energy, plan your meals so that you can cook several at the same time.
posted by markblasco at 12:37 PM on February 18, 2012

I love my Breville countertop convection oven. I'd never heat up my big oven (or my house) to bake a half dozen cookies (frozen cookie dough). It perfectly crisps frozen waffles and does wonderfully with frozen pizzas. I use mine every day, multiple times a day. You can even do a whole chicken or a casserole in it!
posted by PorcineWithMe at 2:49 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

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