How to Be Water-Wise in the Kitchen

Whether or not you live in South Africa’s drought-stricken regions, it’s time we all learnt to use water more sparingly. Here are a few tips and tricks to conserve water in the kitchen.

Only about 3% of the earth’s water is freshwater, with 2% of that frozen at the poles. That leaves only 1% left for the rest of the living organisms on Earth, plus an ever-increasing human population. South Africans are more aware of this than ever, as we experience one of the worst droughts in our history. If you’d like to do your bit to reduce water use, especially in the kitchen, here are a few handy tips.

Braai, grill, pan-fry and roast

The ultimate South African tool is the braai. It requires very little clean up and can cook everything from meat to veggies and fruit. Not up for a braai every night? Use the oven to roast and grill, and your pans to sear, sauté and fry. Non-stick pans reduce clean up, and a properly pan-fried chop is just as tasty as a braaied one. Rethink your dishes: try sautéed potatoes instead of boiled or mashed, grill broccoli instead of steaming it (you’ll never look back!). Roasting something? Throw a few whole, foil-wrapped spuds in or a whole butternut to get extra bang for your roasting buck, and you can then use these in other meals.

Use just one dish or pot

‘Tis the season for one pot wonders! Whether you mix up a giant salad in a bowl, or cook a one-pot pasta, use as few dishes for cooking and serving as you can get away with. Consider one pan frittatas, instead of a full English breakfast. Reduce your use of steamed, soaked or boiled foods. Check out local blogger Ilse van der Merwe’s list of water-wise recipes to try.

Clean up clever

Food stylist, blogger and mom Leila Saffarian shared some clever clean up tricks with us. She suggests keeping a spray bottle filled with water at the sink to spritz dirty dishes, followed with a wipe to speed up cleaning. If a roasting dish needs soaking, add an ice cube to the dish with a drop of dishwashing liquid or white vinegar and leave it to melt.

Ditch the sink, not the dishwasher

Use your dishwasher for as many dishes as possible, but only put it on once full. According to a Health24 article, the average household will have to do upwards of three handwashing sessions per week, but just one dishwasher load. This amounts to about 63 litres on handwashing and just 29 litres in the dishwasher (less if you have a new, eco-friendly model). And stop rinsing plates before loading! Modern dishwashers are designed to use the dirt on the plates to help scrub the dishes clean. Rinsing before loading hinders that process and wastes loads of water.

What to avoid

Using disposable crockery and cutlery might seem like a good way to reduce water used for clean-up. However, single use plastic is the cause of some of the world’s worst environmental disasters. Unless you can afford compostable crockery and cutlery, try to avoid using them – reusing things is still better, even if you have to use water to do so.

Conserving water in the kitchen is mostly about rethinking your habits and changing your actions. You can still enjoy your favourite dishes – and use your favourite plates – by just tweaking a few things.


  1. 12 Tips for Saving Water While:
  2. 10 water wise recipes that’ll help you save:

How much water do you use per day?:

Choosing the right medical aid is no joke, but we’ll leave you smiling.