A healthy eating plan gives your body the nutrients it needs every day while staying within your daily calorie goal for weight loss or management. A healthy eating plan will also lower your risk of heart disease and other health conditions. The key to achieving all of this is good planning and healthy cooking.  Here’s how to do it.

Healthy eating habits

Eating healthy need not be a crazy, overnight process. Be patient with yourself. It’s all about being smarter about the food that we eat and slowly transforming our not-so-healthy habits into more nutritious options that will keep us fuller for longer and feeling fantastic. If you’re worried that improving your eating habits will take up a lot of time, you definitely need these meal-prep tips.

The key rules for healthy cooking

  • Make sure your kitchen has more fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in it than other food items. Visit your local farmers’ market and buy regularly. Don’t be afraid of routine and preparing the same food week after week, alternating on days. Routine helps hone your skills. Also the more you cook a dish, the better you will get at it.
  • If you eat animal protein, go for lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Leave processed meats out of your kitchen, they may be convenient, but they are seriously unhealthy.
  • Limit saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars
  • Control your portion sizes. This is really key to weight loss and management
  • Choose to cook with healthy oils, like olive oil or coconut oil, which have lower heating points
  • Go easy on salt while you are cooking, rather add it afterward if you have to.

Keep your pantry stocked with essentials

Let’s start with something simple – your pantry or food cupboard. There are so many ways to stock up on items that last longer, are budget-friendly, and have the potential to transform any meal.

Consider staples that you should always have on hand – frozen veggies, chickpeas, canned tomatoes, and whole grains – these are all simple ingredients you could use to create a healthy, delicious meal on the go. With a well-stocked pantry, there’s no excuse to reach for the takeaway menu when you can whip up an easy one-pan chicken bake?

Try this easy, healthy cooking idea

Even if you don’t have much time, you truly dislike cooking, or think you are awful at it, anyone can make this easy meal inspired by Herbalife.

What to do

All you need to do is take some chicken pieces, which you pre-cook gently in a pan with olive oil. Then add some canned tomato mix.  Prepare some wild brown rice in a separate pot. Once cooked, take all of these, mix them in an ovenproof dish. Season with a Mediterranean spice mix and let it bake for 30 minutes on moderate heat.

The take-out is to think ahead and buy smart

A simple rule to cooking healthy is not to leave ingredients shopping until the last minute. Start planning weekly, so your food is fresh and your time well-spent shopping.  Have a list, have a plan, and be habitual about it. Some foods, like veggies and salads, may have a shorter expiry date and should be purchased weekly. However, pantry staples like wild rice or quinoa can be purchased on a monthly basis.

Keep it simple

Hands up if you enjoy spending hours cooking dinner every night. No one? Right! So if you’re like us and would rather have a quick fix, use the shortcuts that are available to you.

We’ve already mentioned using pantry staples to quickly whip up a dish, but there’s so much more you can do to save time.

Another easy, healthy cooking idea

Buy some ready-made chicken at your local grocery store. You can serve it as is or cut it into pieces and add it to any dish. There may even be enough to also make a sandwich or a wrap for lunch the following day. Pre-cut veggies are also a good way to make sure you get your five-a-day and still have time for all the things you really want to do.

healthy cooking

Photo by nrd on Unsplash

Double up

When it comes to planning your meals, try to think of ways that you can double up on ingredients to make tomorrow’s meal easier. This way, you can save time prepping ingredients and reduce your food waste.

Whether that means doubling your recipe and freezing half of it for another day, or chopping extra onion tonight for tomorrow’s dinner, think about ways you can be more efficient with your cooking – and time.

Cook in bulk and freeze in right-sized portions

A lot of food lends itself  to being frozen. This is a really helpful approach to ensuring you always have healthy food on hand. When you are cooking, you may as well double up and freeze. This is a huge time saver. You can pre-cook a hearty butternut soup or a healthy Moussaka. Then divide the food into portion sizes and place them in plastic bags. these bags can be popped into the freezer. When you need a meal, you need only remove the number of portions required. This approach also helps with portion control. It works like a bomb. Try it!

Take notes

When you start experimenting with healthier options, winging them often pays off. However, what happens if you wing it, your family loves it, and then you can’t remember how you made it? We recommend buying a notebook dedicated to recipes and making notes as you cook up a storm. Take note of what works and what doesn’t. Who knows, you could be the next Jamie Oliver!

Get help from the World Wide Web

There are some amazing blogs and websites that provide healthy cooking ideas and recipes. Here are just a few ten to get you motivated:

  1. 101cookbooks.com
  2. theyearinfood.com 
  3. sproutedkitchen.com
  4. greenkitchenstories.com 
  5. Cleverful Living
  6. Plant-Based on a Budget: Delicious Vegan Recipes for Under $30 a Week, in Less Than 30 Minutes a Meal.”
  7. http://preventionrd.com
  8. http://somethingnewfordinner.com
  9. http://thestonesoup.com
  10. http://www.acouplecooks.com

In closing

Cooking healthy and eating healthy doesn’t have to be a drag. If you plan and buy in advance you will be able to ensure you and your family are eating well every day. This way, you will reduce your food expenses, cut down on junk and add years to your lives.

Healthy cooking is also about sharing home-cooked food together. It goes a long way to bonding with family and friends. Follow our helpful guidelines to build healthier habits while still living your best life.

Main picture credit: Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

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Em Sloane

I am an introverted nature lover, and freelance writer. I love sharing new insights on how to live a healthier life using nature's gifts. Be kind. Be generous. Love. Peace. Humanity.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.

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