Your kitchen and the items that stock it are going to be very important to your level of success when you are attempting to change your eating habits. Here is a list of must-have items that will make these changes easier.
When you are learning to eat the right portion sizes, nothing is more valuable than a digital scale. A scale will teach you what a 1/4 lb of beef looks like, what 2 ounces of nuts look like, how much a chicken breast weighs, etc. The good news is that once you have used the scale for a while, you’ll be able to eyeball portion sizes with ease, which will come in handy at social gatherings and restaurants where portion sizes tend to be larger than needed.
If you’re a busy parent, work full-time, or have a hectic lifestyle in general that doesn’t warrant you much time for cooking, the slow cooker will be your best friend. Throw dinner in the “crock pot” in the morning, set it to cook while you’re at work, and throw it on plates when you get home. Slow cookers also give meat a different texture than grilling and baking. For those who need to increase protein intake but don’t like the texture of meat, the shredded, juicy texture of slow-cooked meat may be just what you are looking for.
Grill or Stovetop Grill
Nothing makes preparing food much easier than throwing it on the grill. Marinate meat in your fridge all day, toss it on the grill, and dinner is ready in minutes. I also use my grill to prepare my protein for the week. I take a few pounds of marinated chicken breasts, grill all at once, slice them and put them in tupperware for an easy lunch the rest of the week. A stovetop or even a George Foreman grill would work just as well.
My non-stick muffin pan has proven to be an invaluable item in my kitchen: not to make muffins, but to make small portions of things like eggs, meats, sweet potatoes, and veggies all at once. For example, every Monday morning I put a dozen eggs in our muffin pan, bake in the oven, and have a breakfast of hard boiled eggs ready to go for the next six days. Whatever you make, the muffin pan makes the perfect little portion size to pop out and throw in the fridge for the rest of the week.
In the same family as the digital scale, when you first begin eating healthy you need to really pay attention to your portion sizes. Measure out your portions using these cups so that you can accurately keep track of how much you are eating. The one I use the most is the 1/4 cup for measuring out a serving of nuts – otherwise it would be so easy to eat the entire bag.
Eating healthy takes some planning. The number one reason I hear for not eating healthy food is that it is just not convenient to a busy lifestyle. You have to take one extra step to make it convenient by cooking and preparing your food in advance one afternoon a week (more on that in a future article). High quality glass storage containers will keep your food fresh longer, but plastic containers/lids and freezer bags will work too. Make a big, healthy dinner and store the leftovers in the fridge to eat for lunch the next few days.
Food Processor and Accessories
A food processor makes healthy food less boring by allowing you to do all sorts of new things with it. Make edamame into a dip to eat with bell peppers. Turn steamed cauliflower into “mashed potatoes”. Use the shredding blade and make sweet potato “hash browns”. If you are pressed for time, the slicing blade makes cutting up fresh veggies a piece of cake. Anything that makes preparing food easier is a win.
Like the food processor, the blender allows another avenue for healthy food. Make healthy smoothies, add protein powder to it, and you have a complete healthy meal that you can pour into a cup and take on the road for breakfast. Hate veggies but need more in your diet? Blend them with some frozen fruit and you won’t even taste them.
Not so much a gadget, but still an important item to keep in bulk in your pantry, vinegar is another huge help in the preparation of fresh produce. Many people want to eat healthy produce but can’t afford the organic, pesticide-free kind. While organic and local is always preferable, you can wash off pesticide residue and other toxins by giving your produce a warm water and vinegar bath in your sink.
Large Water Bottle
Investing in a good quality, BPA-free, large water bottle is one of the best things you can do for your body and for the environment. I carry mine everywhere, and know that I need to get through 4 of them each day (about 3 Liters). Having a straw makes me more likely to drink more water, and being portable means that I will always have at least 750ml of water on me, so no excuses.
For this week: Go through your kitchen and see what items on this list you own or don’t own. Decide how many would be beneficial to your new healthy lifestyle, and make the small investment in your health.
For next week: We’ll be learning the correct portion sizes for protein, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats and how to fit these into your meal planning.
This article is part of a blog series titled The Steps to Developing Healthy Eating Habits. Be sure to check out the rest of the series.