How to make healthy food at home easier with these 6 techniques

  • 3 Minutes Read
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

Are you looking for tips for making healthy foods at home as smooth as possible? Learn some kitchen set up ideas to equip yourself for cooking success!

How to make healthy food

Yes, home-cooked meals are usually healthier and home prepared food portions are often much more in line with healthy eating guidelines and calorie needs. If you are tracking calories and nutrients with MyNetDiary, you have probably figured this out. I'd like to share tips for making home cooking as streamlined as possible!

How to make healthy food easy

Here are some of my favorite kitchen set up ideas for healthy eating, ease and hopefully some fun.

1. Set up your kitchen so it flows well

Can you quickly find and access the tools and equipment needed for meal prep? Are pots and pans near the stove? Are seasonings convenient? Are glasses by the refrigerator? Are plates, utensils, napkins near the table?

2. Equip yourself in the kitchen

Do you have basic kitchen equipment? You don't have to go to fancy cooking stores to find decent kitchen equipment. Shop around at garage sales, thrift stores and discount stores. Who cares if you have different brands? Department stores often have deals on sets of utensils and pots and pans. Gradually building up your kitchen equipment can be fun. Jot down a list of items to make cooking easier, and make it a point to check out the kitchen section of stores to find deals. Most people who cook regularly find that you end up having "go to" kitchen tools. There is no need to get bogged down with a clutter of kitchen gadgets.

Important kitchen basics include knives, peelers, cutting boards, measuring spoons and cups, mixing bowls, cookware and bakeware, cooking utensils, storage containers, potholders, and towels. Yes, you do need a little more than a can opener and plastic eating utensils. If you are new to cooking, ask a friend who cooks what kitchen equipment they use or go to the kitchen section at the store and explore.

3. Stock the staples

A stocked pantry is a key element of successful home cooking. A kitchen staple is a food item that has a fairly long shelf life and is usually bought in a sizable quantity for multiple meals. It can help to go through some recipes to see which items you might use fairly often. It is so much easier and more efficient to buy these items in quantities that last several weeks or longer. Add items close to empty on a standing grocery list. With the staples in stock, you can buy perishable foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, tofu, cheese, yogurt and milk to complete the weekly meals.

Pantry staple examples: assorted pastas, rice, beans, quinoa, couscous, oats, baking soda, baking powder, flour, sugar, low sodium broth, pan spray, vegetable oil, onions, spices, canned tomato products, packaged tuna and salmon.

Freezer staples might include: a variety of frozen vegetables, a variety of frozen fruits, frozen chopped onions and peppers (either your own prepped or store-bought), and cooked meats (prepared and frozen for another recipe). Also, freezing items like nuts, seeds, breads, cooked grains, bread crumbs, and wheat germ can keep them fresh longer. You can easily pull these items out as needed. Keep freezer tape and a permanent marker handy so you can date items.

Refrigerator staples to consider: eggs, soft tub margarine or butter-oil blend spread, hot sauces and other favorite condiments, minced garlic, lemon juice, lime juice and salad dressings.

4. Make healthy food tasty and adventurous

Set up your kitchen with seasonings and flavor enhancers that make food taste great while keeping it healthy. Stock a variety of herbs and spices, salt-free seasoning blends, a variety of mustard spreads, hot sauces, lemon or lemon juice, lime or lime juice, a variety of vinegars, salsas and salad spritzers.

5. How to make a healthy food plan for the week

Plan ahead and pick out a few recipes for the week. Use recipes that can do double duty. For example, cook chicken breasts in the slow cooker for one meal. Make extra chicken to shred for another meal of chicken tacos. Another example - brown 2 pounds of ground turkey, one to use for a pasta dish on Sunday and the other pound for soup at the end of the week. Cook extra quinoa and roasted vegetables for dinner and have the extras on a lunch salad that week.

Get family members involved by having each person commit to making one meal a week. Day of the week themes can make it fun and easier for planning, like Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays or Homemade Pizza Fridays. Try to make home meals as appealing as eating out.

6. Keep it simple and have fun in the kitchen

If you are a newbie in the kitchen, start simple and build your skills. Find simple recipes on the web or get a basic cookbook to help you build confidence. Above all, have fun and make your kitchen an enjoyable place where you can unwind, be creative, and take care of your health.

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Updated: April 3, 2020

Meal Planning & Diets->"Plan, Shop, Prep, and Cook"
Apr 3, 2020

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