As the old cliche says, the kitchen is the heart of the home. But hearts, and kitchens, can become unhealthy and impact on every part of our lives. The good news is the reverse is also true. Improve your heart and everything else follow.
A few small, cheap changes to your kitchen and the food you prepare can make a big difference to the well being of you and your family. These are my personal tips for making a healthier kitchen on a budget.
Blender + Fruit + OJ = Smoothie
The health benefits of fresh fruit are well known but most of us struggle to incorporate them into our daily diet. Smoothies are an easy way of doing this and big companies have wasted no time promoting smoothie machines and similar gadgets for the home. The truth is you do not need one. A simple blender does the trick just as well and they cost £10 from Tesco. While you are there, pick up orange juice, a few bananas and whatever fruit is in season (or on discount). Chuck everything into the blender, press the button and 30 seconds later you have a smoothie. Get into the habit of making a smoothie every morning and you will take big a step towards eating your ‘5-a-day’.
Slow Cooker / Crock-Pot
After a hard day at work that pizza menu or tv-dinner becomes very tempting. The solution is to prepare everything in the morning when our energy levels are higher and use a slow cooker. These are the forgotten kitchen gadgets. A basic slow cooker model costs approximately £20 and they, well, cook your food slowly. Don’t stress over fancy recipes. Chop whatever vegetables you have, throw in chicken thighs or stewing beef, add a pint of stock, spices and herbs to taste and turn it on. The slow cooker will heat everything gently over the course of the day and when you return in the evening, a hot, healthy meal is waiting.
If you don’t already own a wok, buy one and buy the most basic wok you can find. You don’t need a lid or even a non-stick coating. What is important is you can pick it up easily because cooking in a wok is about speed and moving the food around the pan. This cooks without destroying the flavour or nutrients and it’s fast. A cheap, healthy meal full of fresh vegetables can be cooked in under ten minutes.
The kitchen is focused on the needs of the body. A place where we prepare food and drink to sustain our physical form. Often forgotten is our mental health which is as important to our wellbeing as our bodies. Combat this by having things in your kitchen which make you smile and remind you of the good times. These can be nik-naks or pictures on the fridge but I suggest something practical. For example mugs featuring pictures of the family or placemats with photos from your holidays. This way, you are reminded of the good times and loved ones every time they are used. There are numerous products available via the internet and it really doesn’t matter what you choose as long as it makes you smile.
A Shopping List (And A Little Planning)
Everyone wants to eat healthier and save money and one little trick which can do both is using a shopping list to plan your meals. The average family throws away around £700 worth of food a year and spends over £500 a year on take-aways. By planning your meals with a shopping list a family can ensure they have enough easy-to-prepare, healthy food in the house. This stops waste and helps resist the temptations of a take-away meal. Cut your food waste and take-aways in half and you will save £600 per year and be healthier. It just takes a piece of paper, a pen and five minutes of planning before heading to the supermarket.
The Low Budget, Healthy Home Kitchen was written by Chris Tregenza on behalf of Fitted Kitchens, Nottingham.