By Ashley Martens
Whether you are a well-seasoned top chef or you are just getting familiar with at-home cooking for the very first time, cooking meals at home does not have to be limited to frozen microwave dinners and take-out meals ordered in. Here are ten tips to make cooking at home even healthier.
#1 Add Vegetables
We are all about finding creative ways to add more vegetables to recipes, so see how you can include more greens in your meals. Some simple ways to sneak in more veggies can be as easy as adding hearty vegetables like mushrooms to homemade hamburgers or going grain-free and ditching the burger or sandwich buns and using large collard greens or lettuce leaves instead of traditional bread-based buns.
#2 Buy Frozen
Many shoppers are hesitant to buy frozen produce, but frozen fruits and vegetables are picked and flash-frozen at the peak of their freshness. If you cannot make a trip to the farmers market once a week, do not be afraid to stock your freezer with frozen produce items like blueberries, broccoli, carrots, corn, peas, and strawberries.
#3 Choose a Cooking Method
When it comes to cooking at home, consider the cooking method. The summer season is the perfect season to head outdoors and grill, so take advantage of the warm weather and get your grill on. An even more delicious way to grill is to use a homemade marinade or savory sauce.
Other more mindful at-home cooking methods include boiling, sauteing, or steaming. These methods all require fewer cooking oils or sprays so you can enjoy your food without having to include any additional ingredients.
#4 Consider Cooking Oils
Once you have selected a cooking method, choose an oil that will best work for your cooking technique. Avocado oil and coconut oil are best for high heat cooking like grilling and roasting, while bacon fat, beef tallow, or pork lard works well for sauteing. The ever-so-popular extra virgin olive oil is great for raw recipes like homemade salad dressings and sauces.
#5 Cook Ahead of Time
Cooking at home is a lot easier when the meal is already made, so do your best to plan and prepare meals ahead of time. Bake and cook bigger batches so you have plenty of leftovers to freeze and enjoy later. Maybe even consider hosting a meal prep party with family, friends, and neighbors.
#6 Go Raw
If cooking is not your thing, consider going raw. Think of foods like fresh fruits or hearty handcrafted salads. You can even whip up a chilled soup like gazpacho.
When shopping for salad toppers like nuts and seeds, look for nuts and seeds that are labeled raw. These are free from any extra ingredients like canola oil, sodium, or sugar.
#7 Make Substitutions
If you cannot imagine your favorite chicken dish without a crispy breaded crunch, make a substitution. Instead of using white flour to create a breading for your dish, substitute it with another type of flour like almond meal or coconut flour. You can even crush up your favorite nut and use it to add a delicious crunch to any protein.
#8 Plug It In
A classic crock-pot is a great tool to make delicious dishes like buffalo chicken meatballs, pulled pork, or short ribs. At-home cooking does not get any easier than plugging in the kitchen slow cooker. In a rush? Use an Instant Pot instead.
#9 Select Seasonings
Ditch the salt and all of that extra sodium and instead, add a burst of flavor with fresh herbs and spices. A squeeze of citrusy lemon or lime can give your dish exactly what it needs to make it a family favorite. Try some chopped herbs fresh from the farmers’ market like cilantro and mint.
If you are looking to give your dinner a touch of Mexican flair, opt for a bold combination of cumin, garlic, onion, oregano, and Spanish paprika. Feeling like Italian instead? Combine fresh basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme.
#10 Swap Out Starches
Swap out simple starches like pasta, white potatoes, and white rice for more complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, or substitute vegetables that mimic the real thing. Think of foods like cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles. If you do not feel like making them yourself, these items can usually be found in your grocer’s fresh produce section. All you need to do is heat and eat!
At-home cooking can be way easier than you think. Incorporate these ten tips the next time you cook at home and give those homemade meals a more mindful spin with these ten clever cooking ideas.
Visit the Discover Blog for more tips and tricks from Ashley Martens.
Meet The Author
Ashley Martens is a Health and Wellness Writer based in Chicago, IL. With a background in digital marketing coupled with her knowledge of general nutrition and a lifelong passion for all things health, wellness, fitness and nutrition, Ashley offers a healthy alternative to traditional writing. You can learn more about Ashley and her writing on her portfolio.