Healthy home cooking

Why you just can’t beat good old-fashioned cooking at home

The Dietitians Association of Australia recently surveyed 200 women aged 18-24 and found that while 76 per cent of those women surveyed said that they enjoyed cooking to some extent, they still regularly ordered takeaway or fast foods such as pizza or fish and chips.

So why are we opting for takeouts? One of the reasons given by the women surveyed for ordering fast food was that they associated fast food with convenience when compared to home cooking.  With so many options available to us today, from Thai food to Indian, Italian cuisine to Chinese dumplings, it’s easy to understand how so many people fall into the trap of regularly reaching for their delivery menus instead of their pots and pans.

The benefits of cooking at home

But here’s the good news – cooking a healthy meal at home can be just as quick as ordering and waiting for a take out. That’s right, it is completely possible to make a healthy and nutritious meal in 30 mins or less – some guy called Jamie has actually made a career out of doing just this! So there goes that excuse for ordering take out tonight – sorry. If that wasn’t enough, there are also plenty of easy-to-make healthy recipes out there that are very affordable too, so now you’re really out of excuses!

Perhaps most importantly however is the fact that a home cooked meal is often much more healthy and nutritious when compared to store-bought, ready-made meals or takeouts. DAA Spokesperson Professor Clare Collins says: “With Australia in the grip of an obesity epidemic, and younger women particularly prone to weight gain, cooking a proper main meal at home could be the answer to improving diet and weight problems in this age group.”

When cooking at home, you have a lot more control over what ingredients are going into your meal than you do when ordering in or buying a pre-packaged alternative. You can ensure you use lean cuts of meat, fresh vegetables and you can choose your own choice of herbs and spices to make your dish tasty and flavoursome. By doing this you’re ensuring you get important nutrients, like protein and calcium without the saturated fats, added sugar and salt that are often hiding in take out and ready-made meals.

Tips for home cooking

Hopefully by now we have convinced you that home cooking is quick, affordable, not that hard to do and with so many benefits, it is definitely worth a shot!

If you are already au fait with cooking home-made meals but could do with some tips to make sure that the food you’re plating up is healthy as well as tasty, here are some tips for ensuring just that.

1. Organisation

It’s easy to fall into the trap of ordering takeaway when you have no food in the fridge for dinner. Try to plan for the week ahead. Shop for the ingredients you will need for your meals and make sure you always have some staples in your kitchen.

2. Swaps

Substitution is key! You can easily swap certain food items for healthier alternatives – here are some examples that are easy to incorporate:

• Swap frying for grilling

• Swap butter/oil for cooking oil spray (like canola or olive oil)

• Swap oily salad dressings for home-made salad dressing using balsamic, lemon juice, herbs or mustards. 

3. Balance

When cooking a healthy main meal, it’s important that you get the balance of foods right. The DAA recommends that you fill one quarter of your plate with good-quality carbohydrates, one quarter with lean protein and the rest with vegetables.

For those of you who still feel you are missing out unless you have some form of fast food on a Friday night, try these healthy alternatives to fast food favourites instead. If Saturday night is pizza night, that’s OK too! You can still enjoy a yummy pizza that’s a healthier alternative to your usual Domino’s order with these recipes for homemade pizzas.

Still need more inspiration? For a huge range of healthy recipes, visit the DAA. Now go forth and embrace your inner domestic god/dess! 

The Dietitians Association of Australia is hosting Australia’s Healthy Weight Week (AHWW) from 17-23 February 2014. The theme for the 2014 campaign is straight forward: to motivate all Aussie men and women to kick-start healthy eating habits.  For more information on Healthy Weight Week events in your area, nutrition tips or healthy recipes, visit: healthyweightweek.com.au

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