Once you’ve returned from the grocery store with bags full of healthy foods, it’s time to start cooking smart and healthy. With the right ingredients and tools in your kitchen, preparing nutritious meals can be quick and easy.

To start preparing healthier foods, follow these tips.

Choose the right preparation method

Even vegetables can be unhealthy if you prepare them in unhealthy ways. Avoid cooking methods that add too much fat, like frying. Better methods include:

  • Baking
  • Boiling
  • Sauteing with olive oil
  • Steaming

Add a veggie every time

With every meal you prepare, add a serving of vegetables. You can go for a classic side salad or look for new ways to prepare vegetables. Root vegetables like carrots are great for roasting, while other crunchy vegetables are better steamed. You could also add a healthy veggie appetizer, like hummus and peppers.

Look for other ways to incorporate vegetables into your meals, too. A pasta sauce may benefit from some diced vegetables, or a pizza may become more flavorful with vegetable toppings.

Be aware of your serving sizes

Plate sizes have grown dramatically in the United States since the 1950s and 1960s. You may be tempted to fill a larger plate, but that often means eating much larger serving sizes than you need.

The correct serving size for meat, for instance, is only 3 or 4 ounces, or about the size of a deck of playing cards. Choose smaller plates to help control serving sizes. Another option is to serve vegetables first, filling up most of the plate, before serving other items.

Try new spices

Many people find healthy foods bland because they don’t use much spice or flavor-packed ingredients like vinegar or soy sauces. Add different spices to your foods to find new and delicious ways to eat classics.

For instance, when roasting vegetables, add paprika, garlic and onion powder for a more flavorful mix. You can also try international cuisines like curries or stir-fries. Not only will your food taste better, but it will also make eating healthy more fun and exciting.

Take it slow

It can be overwhelming to try a new recipe. As you learn to cook healthier, try just one or two new recipes per week, and rely on old staples for the rest of your meals. This way, you’ll avoid frustration and won’t be left eating meals you don’t enjoy. Over time, as you get used to cooking in new ways, you can incorporate more and more healthy recipes into your routine.

This advice applies when you’re trying new healthy foods, too. Too many new ingredients in a dish can be hard on your palate. Add in new food options slowly to make sure you really enjoy and appreciate the new flavors.

Get the right equipment

You don’t need to go crazy and purchase an expensive new food processor in your quest to eat healthy. Invest in quality multipurpose items that make food preparation easy:

  • A quality set of knives
  • A wooden spoon
  • Cutting boards
  • Reliable pots and pans
  • Sturdy spatulas

Over time, as you discover what you like to cook, you can add more equipment. For instance, if you love making healthy soups, invest in an immersion blender. If you hate dicing vegetables, find a good food processor.

Remember, learning to cook smart and healthy is a journey. Take your time to avoid feeling overwhelmed, and don’t forget to have fun on your way to better nutrition.

Blue Ridge Risk Partners is a top 75 independent insurance agency in the United States. With 21 offices throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia and access to hundreds of carriers, we are able to meet your unique insurance needs.