TRYING to eat well, but keep diving into the snack cupboard?
Or do you find that healthy foods just go off, and you end up chucking away the good stuff and turning to takeaways?
When you’re struggling to make nutritious choices, it could be that it’s your kitchen that’s to blame – from not having the right equipment to not organising and storing your food correctly.
Researchers have worked out that the average Brit could cut up to 4,600 calories a month just by swapping two takeaways a week for home-cooked alternatives.*
So it’s better for both your wallet and your waistline to cook from scratch.
Here’s how you can transform your kitchen into a haven of healthy living…
Train Your Eye
If you put healthy food front and centre, you’re much more likely to reach for it when you’re hungry.
Rather than a biscuit jar being in your eyeline, place a bowl of juicy fruits – think peaches for heart health, apples for warding off type 2 diabetes and kiwis for fibre – on the kitchen counter.
Put biscuits and other non-nutritious snacks in high cupboards or tucked away behind other foods.
Out of sight, out of mind! You may find that after a while, you don’t just forget to eat them, but forget to buy them, too.
Plan Your Meals
“Make a meal plan for the coming week and check which ingredients you already have at home before you shop,” says Penny Weston, fitness, wellness and nutrition expert and founder of wellness centre Made.
“If you plan your meals, it’s easier to stick to a shopping list in the supermarket.
“You need to have a purpose for each item you put in the trolley, so
you don’t end up buying excess.”
Research Portion Size
It might just shock you when you realise how small recommended portion sizes really are.
For instance, a portion of mashed potato should be fist-sized – and it’s not one of your five-a-day.
Try the Calibra 1 Smart Nutrition Scale, £32.99, which doesn’t just weigh your food, but connects to an app, allowing you to also record what you eat and access nutritional information.
It will support your weight-loss goals by keeping you on track.
Also, helpful is the NHS Eatwell guide to what your plate should look like – download it at Nhs.co.uk.
Try Mini Chopping
Can’t be bothered to slice, grate, peel or chop veggies?
“Often people don’t eat many vegetables, as they feel they take too long to prepare,” says health coach Sujata Din.
“Many inexpensive food processors not only chop, but spiralise and grate vegetables, too.
“The versatile gadget can also be used to knead dough and make purées and sauces.
“And instead of buying expensive nut butters, use a food processor to make your own.”
The Kenwood Mini Chopper, £24, won’t take up too much space and has adjustable speeds.
Buy An Air Fryer
Yes, you really should get on the air fryer bandwagon.
“An air fryer is healthier to use than deep-frying your foods, and by marinating with herbs and spices, food tastes delicious when cooked this way,” says Sujata.
“Most importantly, it saves time, as air frying is faster than using the oven.
“Many have the function to roast, dehydrate and reheat, too.”
Try the Vonhaus Vonchef 2L Air Fryer, £39.99.
Snip and Stash
You’re likely already bulk shopping and batch cooking, but often you’ll end up with half a packet of chicken, a fish fillet going spare or yet more herbs threatening to go mushy in the salad drawer.
Don’t miss out on their nutrients – just grab a pair of scissors and some sandwich bags.
“Try pre-cutting your chicken or fish and marinating it, then refrigerate or freeze to use later.
“Fresh herbs can also be cut and frozen to use when needed to reduce wastage,” says Sujata.
You want to maximise freshness wherever possible.
Keep bananas separate, as they produce a lot of ethylene gas that will ripen and spoil other fruits fast.
“If you wrap the crown of the bunch in cling film, it will also help them stay the perfect ripeness,” says Penny.
“Keep ginger in the freezer to help it last much longer, and it will also be easier to grate and peel.
“Celery and broccoli will stay fresher if they are wrapped in foil and kept in the fridge.”
Tend To Herbs
Treat herbs much like you would cut flowers to keep them fresher, longer.
“Put them in a glass of water, place a plastic bag over the top, then pop on an elastic band – it creates a mini-greenhouse,” explains Penny.
“You can do this with asparagus, too.
“You can also dry herbs out, like thyme and rosemary, by hanging them near a window in a dry spot.”
PFAs (AKA per and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are synthetic chemicals found in certain non-stick cooking pans.
They’re often found in everyday items that are resistant to water, oil and dirt.
Some PFAs have been linked to reduced immune function, liver damage, thyroid disease, obesity, fertility issues and cancer,** and the EU plans to phase out “non-essential” products containing PFAs by 2025.
Invest in PFA-free kitchen kit, such as The Original Green Pan Memphis Frying Pan, £30.
Blend It Up
Even if you’re not a green smoothie breakfast convert, a high-speed blender is a great way to disguise fruit and veg so the whole family gets a nutrient top-up without the moaning.
Use it to make pancake batter packed with banana or pear, tomato sauce that conceals onions, courgette, carrot and peppers, as well as tasty green sauces from leftover herbs, olive oil and capers to chuck on grilled chicken or fish.
You can also blitz ice-lolly mixes from fruit and add it to moulds.
If you are tempted to get your smoothie on, Sujata has this tip: “Prepare ingredients the night before, adding fruit, seeds, nuts and leafy greens to the blender jug and placing in the fridge. In the morning, add a base liquid, like coconut water, milk or yoghurt, and blend.”
Try the Breville Blend Active Personal Blender & Smoothie Maker, £24.99.