Although you might already have cut out eating at restaurants in an attempt to eat healthier, you should also consider the type of food that you are cooking at home and whether this could be made substantially healthier for both you and your family. Therefore, here is a guide to some of the best ways that you can start to cook healthier at home.
Look for High-Quality Ingredients
The top step that you can take to cook healthier meals for yourself is to look around for high-quality ingredients to fill your store cupboards with. Although it might seem easy to simply choose the first ingredients that you see on the supermarket shelf, these might not always be the healthiest, and may contain preservatives and other ingredients which you might not realize. Therefore, you should instead look for companies who try to offer fresh and high-quality ingredients to add to your cooking. For instance, Mornflake steel cut oats are an excellent option for those that love to eat porridge and muesli every morning. This is because they can help to lower your cholesterol, while providing you with the fiber and protein that you need to thrive.
Add Fruit and Vegetables
When you are cooking from a complex recipe, you may want to abandon the added hassle of fruit and vegetables, especially if you do not have enough pots, pans, and cooktops to accommodate them. However, fruit and vegetables are an easy way to make your meals healthier, even if the meals are filled with not-so-healthy ingredients themselves. Therefore, you should always think of what fruit and veg go well with every meal before you decide to cook it, and simply throw these into your mixture while you are cooking, with many vegetables able to be fried, boiled, roasted to perfection, depending on the dish that you are making. When you are buying these fruit and vegetables, you should also consider shopping for fresh options rather than frozen, although frozen options are still nutritious if you are worried that your fruit and veg will go off before you get round to cooking with them.
Think About Your Cooking Method
Often, home chefs take a perfectly healthy meal and decide to deep fry it, leaving them and their family with a meal that can only negatively impact their health. You should always think about the way that you are cooking your meals and whether these methods are particularly healthy. Instead of deep-frying your meals, you should instead consider boiling or cooking them in the oven, as this will ensure that you leave them as nutritious as possible. You should also try to steam your veg rather than boil it, as this could ensure all of the vitamins and minerals that your vegetables contain so not disappear into the water. This will then ensure that all of the goodness of your meals is not counteracted by cooking methods that do more harm than good.
Choose the Right Oil
You should also think about the type of oil that you are using to cook your meal, as margarine or butter can be bad for your heart health. It is not necessary to cook using butter or margarine, though, unless you are looking to achieve a certain flavor. Instead, you should try using alternatives, including sunflower or vegetable oil, which can often even be cheaper than using butter. You should use as little of these as possible, or even look for sprays that can stop your mixture sticking while not adding any extra unhealthy ingredients to your meal. This will allow you to cook the same meal with the same taste, but without the negative effects on your health.
Consider Your Portions
When you are cooking for yourself, it can be difficult to keep any control over your portion sizes, especially if you are eating alone. If you cook too much, you are likely to eat the entirety of the food that you make, regardless of how much is on your plate. Therefore, it is a good habit to develop to measure out all of the ingredients that you will need exactly, instead of simply hoping to judge this by eye. This is especially the case with foods like pasta, which many people struggle to measure out – but 75g of dried pasta should be enough per person. This will then stop you from wasting food, or from leaving you feeling bloated and overfull after your meal.
Avoid Adding Sugar or Salt
It can be tempting to keep sprinkling unhealthy flavorings onto your meals to improve their taste. However, many of these toppings can be incredibly bad for you. Therefore, instead of cooking your vegetables in salt or adding sugar as a topping onto cakes and biscuits, you should instead leave them plain, or add an alternative seasoning or spice into the mixture to give your meal flavor without finding that you are damaging your health by doing so. This will then prevent you from eating too much sugar and salt without you realizing just how much of each you are consuming.
Make a Daily Meal Plan
Lastly, the simplest step that you can take toward cooking healthier at home is to make a meal plan that details all of the meals that you want to eat in a week and the ingredients that you need for them. You can write a shopping list based on your meal plan. This meal plan can then ensure that you always have ingredients for a healthy meal in the cupboard, and that you do not end up getting a takeaway or going to a restaurant just because you have no food in your home to make into a decent meal. However, you should always make sure that this meal plan is varied and interesting enough that you do not feel tempted by less healthy options throughout the week. You should also try not to feel guilty if you sometimes ignore the plan entirely in favor of treating yourself to a meal that you are craving.