6 Affordable Ways to Make Healthier Meals
There are many ways you can change your lifestyle that may benefit your health, and paying attention to what you’re eating should be at the top of your list. Your diet does, after all, have a huge impact on both your physical and mental well-being.
Don’t worry if you don’t have the money to buy trendy (and expensive ingredients) or subscribe to those ready-made meal programs. Eating healthy can be done on a budget too.
With a little bit of care, research, and an understanding of cooking techniques and ingredients, you can create and make healthy recipes for the whole family to enjoy. You don’t have to be a chef—all you have to do is follow these tips to start creating healthy recipes:
1. Use more Fruit and Vegetables
There are so many great recipes out there that make such good use of fruits and vegetables. Whether for a snack, breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even dessert, fruits and vegetables are more versatile than you think. From apple turnovers to vegetable soups and broths, not only are there recipes specifically meant for these foods, but they can often be used as meat substitutes in vegetarian or vegan meals too.
The benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables are numerous, and it’s important to remember that variety is just as important as quantity. There is no single fruit or vegetable that has every nutrient you need, let alone in the required amount, so you should aim to include a variety in your daily diet.
2. Healthy Substitutes
A great way to create a healthy recipe is to start with an existing one, then alter it by using different cooking methods or by substituting ingredients. Check the existing ingredients for those that are high in saturated fats, salt, and sugar. Then you can choose different substitutes, for example fish in place of chicken, whole meal bread instead of regular white bread, or polyphenol rich olive oil in place of butter or less healthy oils.
3. Change Prepping/Cooking Techniques
Changing how food is prepared or cooked can make a huge difference in its quality and health rating. Simply boiling or steaming something rather than deep frying or cooking it in oil can be beneficial. Or take the cooking step out entirely because eating certain foods raw is also a great way to improve your diet. Some methods of cooking help to amplify the health benefits of certain foods. A simple online search can help determine what you should cook and what you can eat raw.
Other techniques you can use include:
- Using low-fat milk or low-fat yoghurt instead of cream when making sauces or soups.
- Instead of browning vegetables in a pan, heat them up in the microwave then crisp them under the grill for a couple of minutes.
- If you’re cooking them in oil, try using extra virgin or cold pressed olive oil, as they are healthier alternatives to other oils.
4. Know your Ingredients
When you know better, you’re more likely to do better. Whether you’re working from your own recipes or buying pre-made meals and foods, it’s a good idea to be aware of the ingredients being used. Do some research and ask your nutritionist about the difference between red meats and lean meats. Look into the reasons why you should eat fish at least twice a week and the benefits of choosing the right type of cooking oil.
5. Cut back on less healthy ingredients
Whether you’re using a recipe’s original ingredients or substitutes, you can always try cutting back or halving them. For example, if you’re baking, you can cut back on the amount of sugar you use.
This can’t be done across the board as you still might have to find a substitute for the amount you are leaving out. You can also cut down on portion size and work on eating better food in smaller amounts.
6. Cook from Scratch as Much as Possible
Buying pre-prepared food might save you time, but this is probably where the benefits stop. Most of the time, pre-prepared foods actually cost more than the ingredients it takes to make them. They’re generally higher in salt and sugars and saturated fats, and they also lack the freshness of a truly home-cooked meal.
When you create your own foods and cook your own recipes, you are in control of what you put in and what you leave out. The fresher the ingredients, the healthier the food; and the healthier the food, the healthier you are. You don’t have to be a chef to do this on your own either, as there are so many different recipes you can find online that have all the information you need.
Eating well doesn’t have to cost a fortune or take up too much of your time, but it can be the ticket to leading a happy and healthy life. Hopefully the tips above will help you in the kitchen to create and make healthy recipes for you and your family. Happy cooking!