4 more tips for learning how to cook healthy
For some, cooking comes naturally. Those culinary aficionados just seem to instinctively know their way around a kitchen, whipping up elaborate and nutritious meals with ease on a seemingly daily basis. For others, trying to cook a meal is like fitting a square peg through a round hole — no matter how hard you try, it just doesn't work.
This kind of discouragement is what leads to so many people resigning themselves to nights of fast food, frozen dinners and, to put it bluntly, junk. But don't give up! Healthy cooking may not be learned overnight, but taking baby steps to gradually ease your way into that lifestyle will have you slowly but surely eating better, more nutritious meals in no time.
- Have a freezer? Take advantage of it: Many people tend to neglect their freezer for food storage. Usually we keep our ice cream and ice cube trays there and not much else. But a freezer is prime real estate in a kitchen. After taking a buy-in-bulk shopping spree at your local grocery store, make sure to store the excess food items in your freezer so that they remain as fresh as possible for whenever you're ready to thaw them out and chow down.
- Keep convenient, but healthy, options on hand: Even the most skilled chef needs a night off every now and then. Nobody wants, or has the energy, to cook every single day of the week. Keep this in mind the next time you pay a trip to the supermarket. It's fine to keep convenient choices like frozen meals, prepackaged items and canned soups and other goods on hand for those nights where you simply don't have the strength to put together a meal from scratch — just make sure that they're low in fat and sodium!
- Make your meals last: If you cook more food than you need in a single night, you can repurpose the leftovers for a second dinner or even a third. The side dish from one meal can become the basis of a casserole for another. Leftover chicken? Turn it into a stock for soup or chop it up and toss it into a salad. Your freezer can especially come in handy with this step, as you can split up your bigger meal into smaller portions, freeze them for preservation and then take out and thaw whatever you want on a given night.
- Or opt for one-and-done dishes instead: "For quick and simple cooking, choose a dish that serves as the whole meal," the Mayo Clinic writes. "Look for dishes that include items from several food groups, such as meats, whole grains, legume and vegetables. Healthy examples include beef, barley and vegetable stew, vegetable and rice casserole, turkey and bean casserole and vegetarian chili."
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