Is one of your resolutions to “eat better” this year? Help make it a reality by cooking at home a little more often. Here are 9 ways to help set yourself up for fun, success, and balance on your menus!
Make a plan. Do you know how much you need from each food group? Which ingredients can you swap out of recipes and still get a good result? As the year begins, take a moment to think about favorite meals you’ve made in the past and which ones didn’t turn out the way you hoped. This way, you can be confident in the kitchen in the future, knowing what works and what to watch out for from previous experience. Check out the sales before heading to the store so you can honor your food budget, too.
Organize what you already have. It’s a great time of year to look through the food you have and find recipes that use up those tasty tidbits. Take pictures of recipes so you have them with you on your phone next time you shop so you can fill in any gaps in ingredients that you may have.
Build balance in. There are five food groups to choose from – fruits, veggies, dairy, grains, and proteins. If you keep a goal in mind of three per meal, and two per snack, this helps automatically build a nice variety of taste and nutrition.
Master sell by/use by dates and proper temperatures for storage and cooking. These can be handy guides for maximizing the meal. Be confident in your use and don’t throw away good food if you don’t need to. Food safety is an essential part of cooking, from keeping food out of the danger zone to reading packages like a pro.
Master the Nutrition Facts Panel. Serving size? Check. Calories and nutrition per serving? It’s all right there. Use it to your advantage and compare similar products. It’s fun to save calories while maintaining taste. Labels can help with that.
Cook ahead when you can. Our lives are busy. When you are planning work or school weeks, look for a window of time to cook and block it off. Whether a weekend or week day works best, it’s up to you. Get it on the calendar so it becomes a normal part of your scheduled routine.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Adventures on the plate can lead to new favorites, fresh flavors, and fun in the creation of them.
Don’t be afraid to work favorite standbys in. It’s okay to like what you’ve always liked. This keeps the meal planning comfortable as you venture into cooking more.
Eat seasonally. Changing out your fruits and veggies is an easy way to keep simple menus interesting, it adds freshness to the menus, and it adds bright colors to enjoy with every nutritious bite.