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Do you need to preheat your oven?

preheating your oven

It was a lazy Saturday night, and we were just going to heat up a frozen pizza for dinner.  A lot of times with things like a pizza, a homemade casserole, lasagna, etc, I stick the food directly in the oven while it's heating up.  My husband noticed me do the with the frozen pizza and he was horrified.  "But, you didn't preheat the oven!  You always need to preheat the oven!"  

I usually do this due to impatience (I figure the food can start cooking as the oven is preheating) but it got me wondering about the energy consumption factor.  And, is preheating the oven really necessary?

And so, I did a little Googling to see what I could find.

Preheating the oven IS necessary for breads and pastries.  For other things, you may not need to.  Roasts usually don't need to be put into a preheated oven.  For dishes that will cook for over an hour, preheating is also not always necessary.   I've personally never noticed any problems with forgoing the preheating process with things like a baked ziti.

One problem with preheating is that people will often preheat too early, so the oven sits there fully heated way too early while you're still chopping and prepping.  So, when you DO need to preheat, make sure you pay attention to timing.

Oh, and quit openeing the oven door to sneak a peak...that can make the oven temp drop by 25 degrees!!  Talk about a waste of energy!  Use the oven light and little window.