Cooking from scratch and trying to adopt healthier eating habits can take a little extra work, a little extra dedication and a willingness to change, but it isn't difficult or expensive. Putting together delicious healthy meals can be much cheaper and definitely more satisfying than eating out of a frozen box. You may need to channel your inner Jamie Oliver, exercise some creativity and learn a few new cooking skills, but your family, friends and stomach will thank you for it.
Here are my top 6 tips on how to eat healthy when you’re short on time and money.
1. Stock up your pantry
Use a coffee grinder to grind whole spices
Having basic ingredients in your cupboards and in the freezer really helps with meal preparation. Some key items you’ll want on hand include:
- Dried or canned beans and legumes
- Dried pasta and rice
- Oils (olive oil, grape seed oil as basics, others you like to use)
- Dried spices and herbs
- Vinegars (balsamic, apple cider, others of your choosing)
- Canned, diced, or pureed tomatoes
- Bread crumbs
- Frozen stock (veggie, chicken, beef)
- Flours (all purpose, oat, whole wheat, others you like to use)
2. Invest in a collection of good tools
A quality chef's knife is an essential tool for
any home cook
There are hundreds of kitchen gadgets out there, most claiming to save you time in the kitchen. I say avoid the clutter and narrow your kitchen arsenal to a
few essential items:
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- Food processor
- Hand blender
- Rasp or zester
- Slow cooker
- Vegetable peeler
- Salad spinner
3. Make room in your freezer
You may already know that buying ingredients in bulk, making large batches of meals, and
freezing the extras can help you save. But did you know you can also freeze prepared ingredients? Freezing things like soaked beans, stock (beef, vegetable, chicken), and chopped vegetables will save you a lot of time when making your meals.
4. Buy frozen fruits and vegetables
Although I prefer cooking with fruits and vegetables that are in season and grown locally, when that’s not an option I go for frozen. Most of the time these ingredients are picked at their peak ripeness and frozen immediately. Very little of their nutrients are lost and they taste great.
5. Learn to cook with inexpensive cuts of meat
Remember, the price of the product does not refer to the quality. With meat, it usually refers to the convenience. Some of the most delicious cuts of meat are usually those that are cheapest in the grocery store. The key is to be patient when preparing them, such as using low heat and for a longer amount of time. Your patience will be rewarded, both in taste and in your wallet.
A slow cooker can be your best friend in the kitchen. Set it in the morning, and braise some of the cheaper cuts like pork shoulder, beef brisket or chicken thighs. By the time you get home, you’ll have a delicious meal waiting for you.
6. Keep your kitchen tidy and organized
You will save a lot of time if your kitchen counter is clear and all your tools are organized and easy to access. This tip applies while you’re cooking too. A clear workspace makes the cooking process less stressful, and there’ll be less to clean up once you are done.
I invite you to be creative and inventive in the kitchen. View recipes as more of an inspiration rather than a rule book to be strictly followed. Getting creative in the kitchen allows you to be more versatile in terms of what you can cook, and how you can use the ingredients that you have on hand. Try using some of the
ELLICSR Kitchen recipes as a source of inspiration for your next meal. Let us know how you personalized them, improved them and made them work for you by tweeting us @ELLICSRkitchen.