How to Cook Healthy Foods
We’ve discussed how to shop for healthy food, so now let’s talk about how to cook healthy food. You can save time cooking healthy food by trying these tips:
- Clean as you cook. There’s nothing worse than having a big mess to deal with after you cook and eat.
- Cook large batches of items that freeze well, like sauces, stews, and casseroles. Store them in your freezer. Check out more info about batch cooking!
- Cut up vegetables or fruit in advance. Store them in your fridge or freezer.
- Make the meals and snacks you planned for the week.
- Measure out single servings of snacks, like air-popped popcorn and put them in bags or containers for portion control. Use a slow cooker so you won’t need to stir as much.
- Use leftover vegetables and meat in an omelet, pasta or rice dish, stew, soup, salad, or burrito. This saves money as well as time.
You can also cook healthy food that you enjoy:
- Change your favorite dishes to make them healthier or serve a small portion of the original recipe.
- Choose items with a variety of flavors, textures, scents, and colors.
- Cook vegetables like green beans and broccoli lightly so they stay crisp and colorful. Check out how to make veggies tasty!
- Dress up food with herbs, spices, low- fat salad dressing and gravy, lemon juice, vinegar, hot sauce, plain nonfat yogurt, and salsa.
- If your healthcare provider says to limit your salt, look for items that are low in sodium.
- Grill or roast vegetables and meat to bring out the flavor.
- Experiment with new cooking styles and techniques!
Finally, you’ll want to find ways to cut back on calories when you cook. Cooking with less fat is a great way to do that. Consider these tips:
- Bake, grill, roast, or stir-fry in a small amount of healthy oil.
- Coat pans with healthy cooking spray or use nonstick cookware.
- Simmer in water or stock.
- Steam or microwave food, instead of frying it.
- Take the skin off chicken and trim the fat off meat before you cook it.
- Learn food prep techniques such as how to easily cut an onion. It makes cooking much more enjoyable!
Action items for the week:
- Come up with one or two balanced snacks to keep on hand.
- Plan and log your meals.
- Shop for and cook a healthy meal you’ve planned.
- Get physical activity at least four days this week.
Reviewed by Emily Matson, MS, RDN
on June 9, 2020. Emily is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and is one of our Brook Experts.