Five steps to healthy home cooked meals

Want to be healthier? Cooking at home more often is one of the simplest changes you can make to boost your health.

Just in time for Australia’s Healthy Weight Week, the Dietitians Association of Australia has put together their top five steps to healthy home cooked meals. And they particularly want to inspire blokes, including Dads, to ‘man up in the kitchen’. Get cooking!

We all want to be healthy, and cooking at home more often is one of the simplest changes you can make to boost your health. At home, you have control over what goes into your meal and how much you serve up, and numerous studies show people who cook at home more often have healthier diets.

Despite the benefits, a survey by the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) of more than 800 men found Aussie blokes enjoy cooking but need to do more of it, with men almost twice as likely as women to eat three or more takeaway meals a week.

According to DAA Spokesperson Themis Chryssidis, cooking at home is absolutely key to maintaining weight and improving health, but it also has other benefits.

‘Not only is cooking at home healthier, it’s also more affordable and a great way to relax and socialise,’ said Mr Chryssidis, an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Australia’s Healthy Weight Week ambassador.

He said most blokes consider themselves grill masters, but there’s more to cooking than just the odd barbecue in summer.

‘Too often, men cook the meat and their partners prepare the salads. Gents, you can whip up a delicious salad and, if you do it well, people will talk more about your salad than your perfectly-cooked steak,’ said Mr Chryssidis.

Try these five tips for healthy home-cooked meals:

  1. Stock your pantry with smart staples: Keep a good supply of shelf-stable, budget-friendly staples like legumes (kidney beans, chickpeas), pasta, rice, noodles, canned tomatoes, pesto, curry paste, tinned fruit and vegetables. This means you’ll always have the basis of an easy home-cooked meal.
  2. Plan weekly meals: Set aside some time to organise meals throughout the week (you’ll thank yourself later!). Planning takes away the stress of arriving home with no ideas for dinner, so you’ll dodge the temptation to pick up the phone and order in.
  3. Stick to the perimeter of the supermarket: Trawling through the inner aisles of supermarkets can be tempting – this is usually where the chocolates, chips, and other enticing ‘extra’ foods live. Stick mainly to the outside aisles to stock up on whole foods like fruit and vegetables, breads and cereals, meat, fish and eggs, and dairy foods.
  4. Make friends with the freezer: Cooked too much? If you’re not going to eat it soon – freeze it! That way you’ve got a meal on hand when cooking is the last thing you feel like doing.
  5. Make smart short cuts: Cooking from scratch is great if you have the time, but look out for time-saving solutions like microwave brown rice, tinned rather than dried lentils, and store-bought curry sauces to cut preparation time.

Australia’s Healthy Weight Week (AHWW), run by the Dietitians Association of Australia, is the perfect time to kick-start healthy eating habits. This year (13-19 February) marks its tenth anniversary. The week is all about educating Australians that there’s a healthy weight that’s right for them, whilst raising awareness of the support that Accredited Practising Dietitians can offer in inspiring everyday Australians towards good health. This AHWW the dietitians are encouraging home-cooking, as a way to eat better and feel healthier. More inspiration at