7 steps to prepare food in a healthier way

Aside from having workout routines, preparing your food the healthier way is a major factor contributing to your wellness. By choosing healthy ways, you are lowering your risk of developing obesity, cardiovascular diseases and more.

Not to mention, eating a good diet can also help in bettering your mental health. There are certain ways where you can simply achieve much more healthy sustainable food habits. 

7 Steps you can follow when preparing food

1. Follow food preparation guidelines 

Food preparation is an essential step before cooking. In fact, without proper procedures you may get foodborne illnesses, not just from food in restaurants, but from your home-cooked meals, too. Some crucial food preparation guidelines you must follow are: 

  • Wash your hands before and after you use any utensils or food, most especially raw meat, fish, eggs, poultry, fruits and vegetables. 
  • Wipe your kitchen surfaces with hot and soapy water to keep your kitchen clean. 
  • Don’t mix raw, cooked and ready-to-eat foods. You must keep raw meat, fish, eggs and poultry in their separate containers to avoid cross-contamination. Ideally, you must have separate cutting boards when you prepare them. For sure, cutting boards can be one or two in a house, if that is the case, you can just prepare them one at a time and wash the cutting board after each batch. 
  • Ensure to have your food fully cooked because uncooked ones can cause you diseases. 
  • In keeping your foods, you must consider the temperatures. For hot ones, it should be above 140 degrees, and for cold foods, they must be below 40 degrees to prevent the growth of bacteria. 
  • Remember that when you are in doubt, you should throw it out. When you are not sure whether what you’ll be eating is clean and safe, just throw it in the bin [1]. 

2. Shop for fresh food and alternatives 

The famous celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay always says: “Great food demands fresh ingredients” – and so too does healthy food. The following are some tips you can follow in shopping for fresh foods:

  • Create a shopping list before you shop. Planning your meals every week can be a good idea as well. 
  • Maintain your pantry with fresh ingredients that you can use for your meals. 
  • Check the appearance of the fruits and vegetables that you will be buying to see if they are in good shape. 
  • Choose the lower-fat versions of the food you intend to buy, such as milk, yoghourt, cheese, dressings and more. 

When you visit and shop at local markets, you may notice that the available vegetables and fresh meat are usually seasonal.

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You can always opt to buy those that are available but still nutritious, such as dark leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Upon shopping for your groceries, you must refrigerate foods within two hours and one hour if the temperature is higher than 90 degrees [2]. 

Grains are an essential part of our daily meals, and choosing whole grains is a way better, healthier option. Whole grains are low in fat and high in fibre which is good for your digestion.

Plus, they also have complex carbohydrates or crabs that can help you feel full for a long period of time, preventing you from overeating. Take note that products that claim to have enriched or contained other types of grains must be avoided as they don’t provide essential nutrients. 

Eating hot and cold cereals is also ideal as they are low in fat, while instant cereals with cream contain high-fat oils or butterfat content. In addition, granola cereals may also give you high-fat oils plus added extra sugars, so you should avoid these in your meals. 

Fat and calories are your main enemy in becoming healthier; hence, you should not eat foods that are rich in sweets, like doughnuts, rolls and muffins. Instead, you can take lighter options. 

When buying organic produce, you can refer to this table on choosing the healthier for you: 

High pesticide residueLow pesticide residue 
• Apples
• Celery
• Cherry tomatoes
• Collard greens
• Cucumbers
• Grapes
• Hot peppers
• Imported nectarines
• Kale
• Peaches
• Potatoes
• Strawberries
• Spinach
• Sweet bell peppers
• Summer squash
• Avocado
• Cabbage
• Cantaloupe (domestic)
• Eggplant
• Grapefruit
• Onions
• Sweet corn
• Pineapples
• Sweet peas
• Asparagus
• Mangoes
• Kiwi
• Sweet potatoes
• Papayas
• Mushrooms

3. Switch to healthier fats

In preparing your food the healthy way, you must switch to healthy fats. You should select lean meats or reduced-fat dairy products. Processed foods must also be limited to minimise hidden fats within your meals.

Consider adding fish, soy, olives, nuts and seeds, as these contain essential long-chain fatty acids and good nutrients. Also, some other good alternatives for cooking are olive and canola oils.

Moreover, you can try these tips to decrease your unhealthy fat intake whenever you are cooking: 

  • Try to cook in liquids rather than with oil; some of these liquids can be wine, lemon juice, fruit juice, vinegar, water or stock.
  • Instead of sour creams, butter and creamy sauces, you can use pesto, salsas, chutneys and vinegar. 
  • Creams in sauces and soups should be prevented as well. You can use yoghourt and milk that have reduced fat. 
  • Having non-stick cookware is also the best move to cook your food healthy, as this may reduce the use of cooking oil. 

4. Reduce salt

High salt intake can give you a wide range of health problems, most especially high blood pressure. Hence, you must reduce salt in your cooking in these simple ways: 

  • Taste what you are cooking first before adding salt; this is to estimate the salt you are putting. 
  • Adding a splash of olive oil, vinegar, or lemon juice to what you are cooking can enhance your meals, similar to salt. 
  • Lessen the use of canned and pickled vegetables as they have packaged salt.
  • Processed meats, such as salami, ham, corned beef, bacon and smoked salmon, have high salt content, so better avoid these. 
  • In choosing a type of salt, iodised salt is much better. 
  • Prevent eating instant pasta or noodles, canned or dehydrated soup mixes, salty crackers, chips and salted nuts. 
  • Your extra addition of soy sauce, tomato sauce, processed sauces, stock powders and condiments on your food must be lessened, as these contain high salt. 
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5. Stock your pantry wisely

Stocking your pantry wisely can be another factor in keeping your food healthy. Healthy food preparations don’t just apply to fresh ingredients but to dry ones, too. You can add dry staples to your pantries, such as quinoa, lentils and chia seeds. 

Some protein and veggie kinds of pasta that provide more fibre and protein compared with traditional pasta can also be a great addition to your pantry. Add jarred wild sardines or anchovies as well as jam-packed with omega-3 protein [3].

6. Add vitamin C to your food

Foods that contain vitamin C, like citrus fruits, lemon juice, red pepper and tomatoes, can increase the absorption of iron from plant and animal sources.

Moreover, iron has many roles in your body, and it is a significant component of protein and enzymes – contributing to the energy production process, so having a decreased amount of this in your body can cause fatigue, weakness and tiredness. 

When you put black pepper on your food, you are helping your digestion as it contains an active substance capable of breaking down fat cells. So, it enhances your absorption of food components by the walls of the intestines [4]. 

7. Air-frying

Air-frying is hitting the headlines – and it’s a real case of less is more. Air-frying offers a more healthy way of frying without the use of oil. The number of oils being used when you fry foods is undeniably unhealthy, but air-fryers, it gives less fat and fewer calories. 

This new cooking technique or appliance works by circulating hot air in cooking the food, resulting in a fried finish with little to zero oil. This cooking method can actually retain more nutrients from the food being cooked. Plus, it fries food quickly. 

Furthermore, cooking leftovers can be a good practice if you have a fast-paced lifestyle. With leftovers inside your refrigerator, you can have a readily available set of foods whenever you need them during your busy schedule.

Ensure these leftovers are packed with essential nutrients, like vitamins and minerals. You are also ensuring you eat a home-cooked meal rather than ordering elsewhere with your little time at hand [5].

Cooking meals at home is recommended as you control which ones to put and consume on your food. You can help yourself look and feel better, boost your energy with the right products and stabilise your mood. 

All about healthy food preparation

There are many nutritious foods out there to add to your diet; however, without proper food preparations, you can still get health issues and chronic diseases.

The key is eating a well-balanced diet following general safety guidelines, picking up the right produce and cooking in a healthier method.

You don’t really have to give up tasty and delicious recipes; you just have to find perfect healthy alternatives to such ingredients that are endangering your wellness. Simply switching ingredients and avoiding unhealthy eating habits can do more than you think. 

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[1] https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/prepare-food-health-and-safety 
[2] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/healthy-cooking-tips 
[3] https://www.vogue.com/article/healthy-cooking-guide 
[4] https://www.jpost.com/health-and-wellness/nutrition/article-723528 
[5] https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/cooking-at-home.htm

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