Healthy cooking tips (2024)

Healthy eating

Summary

Read the full fact sheet
  • In many cases, favourite recipes can be modified so they have a lower fat content.
  • Choose to steam, bake, grill, braise, boil or microwave your foods, rather than deep fry them.
  • Use non-stick cookware.
  • Microwave or steam your vegetables instead of boiling them to retain the nutrients.

On this page

  • About healthy eating
  • Shop for healthy food
  • Switch to healthier fats
  • Retain the nutrients
  • Reduce salt
  • Add flavour with herbs and spices
  • Sandwich suggestions
  • Other things to keep in mind
  • Where to get help

About healthy eating

Eating a wide variety of healthy foods helps to keep you in good health and protects you against chronic disease.

Eating a well-balanced diet means eating a variety of foods from each of the 5 food groups daily, in the recommended amounts. Find out more in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.

Eating healthy food doesn’t mean giving up your favourite recipes. Some simple swaps and a little bit of planning can help you make life-long, healthy changes to your diet.

Shop for healthy food

Some shopping tips to get you started:

  • Make a shopping list before you shop and plan what meals you’re going to eat.
  • Keep the pantry stocked with ingredients that are quick to prepare and easy to cook.
  • Stock up on seasonal vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, nuts and seeds.
  • Choose the lower fat versions of a food if possible – for example milk, cheese, yoghurt, salad dressings and gravies.
  • Choose lean meat cuts and skinless chicken breasts.
  • Limit fast foods, chips, crisps, processed meats, pastries and pies, which all contain large amounts of fat.

Switch to healthier fats

Choose lean meats and reduced-fat dairy products and limit processed foods to minimise hidden fats. Nuts, seeds, fish, soy, olives and avocado are all healthier options because they include the essential long-chain fatty acids and these fats are accompanied by other good nutrients.

If you add fats when cooking, use healthier oils such as olive and canola oil. And try these tips to reduce the amount of fat needed in cooking:

  • Cook in liquids (such as stock, wine, lemon juice, fruit juice, vinegar or water) instead of oil.
  • Use pesto, salsas, chutneys and vinegars in place of sour creams, butter and creamy sauces.
  • Use reduced fat yoghurt and milks, evaporated skim milk or corn-starch instead of cream in sauces or soups.
  • Use non-stick cookware to reduce the need for cooking oil.
  • When browning vegetables, put them in a hot pan then spray with oil, rather than adding the oil first to the pan. This reduces the amount of oil that vegetables absorb during cooking.
  • As an alternative to browning vegetables by pan-frying, it is good to cook them first in the microwave, then crisp them under the grill for a minute or 2.

Retain the nutrients

Water-soluble vitamins are delicate and easily destroyed during preparation and cooking. To minimise nutrient losses:

  • Scrub vegetables rather than peel them, as many nutrients are found close to the skin.
  • Microwave or steam vegetables instead of boiling them.
  • When boiling vegetables, use a small amount of water and do not overboil them.
  • Include more stir-fry recipes in your diet. Stir-fried vegetables are cooked quickly to retain their crunch (and associated nutrients).

Reduce salt

Salt is hidden in many of our foods, but a high salt diet can contribute to a range of health problems including high blood pressure.

Suggestions to reduce salt include:

  • Don’t automatically add salt to your food – taste it first.
  • Add a splash of olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice close to the end of cooking time or to cooked vegetables – it can enhance flavours in the same way as salt.
  • Choose fresh or frozen vegetables, since canned and pickled vegetables tend to be packaged with salt.
  • Limit your consumption of salty processed meats such as salami, ham, corned beef, bacon, smoked salmon, frankfurters and chicken loaf.
  • Iodised salt is best. A major dietary source of iodine is plant foods. Yet there is evidence that Australian soil may be low in iodine and so plants grown in it are also low in iodine. If you eat fish at least once a week, the need for iodised salt is reduced.
  • Avoid processed foods such as flavoured instant pasta or noodles, canned or dehydrated soup mixes, salty crackers, chips and salted nuts.
  • Reduce your use of soy sauce, tomato sauce and processed sauces, stock powders and condiments (for example mayonnaise and salad dressings) because they contain high levels of salt.

Add flavour with herbs and spices

Herbs and spices can be used to add delicious flavours without the need for salt or oil.

Here are a few tips you can try:

  • Fresh herbs are delicately flavoured so add them to your cooking in the last few minutes.
  • Dried herbs are more strongly flavoured than fresh. As a general rule, one teaspoon of dried herbs equals 4 teaspoons of fresh.
  • Add herbs and spices to soups, breads, mustards, salad dressings, vinegars, desserts and drinks.
  • Try some coriander, ginger, garlic, chilli and lemongrass with vegetables for a quick, healthy and delicious stir-fry.

Sandwich suggestions

For delicious healthy sandwiches:

  • Switch to wholemeal or wholegrain bread.
  • Include extra vegetables and salad fillings wherever possible
  • Replace butter with avocado, nut spreads, hummus or margarine spreads made from canola, sunflower or olive oils.
  • Choose reduced fat cheese or mayonnaise wherever you can.
  • Instead of processed meats, try alternatives like lean chicken, felafel, canned tuna or salmon.
  • Enjoy toasted sandwiches with baked beans.

Other things to keep in mind

Additional suggestions for healthy eating include:

  • Take time out to enjoy eating, away from screens and other distractions, and eat with others when you can.
  • You are less likely to overeat if you eat slowly and savour every mouthful.
  • And remember small changes, big impact. Making small, gradual changes to your diet (rather than restrictive eating or crash diets) will help you adopt healthy eating habits for life.

Where to get help

This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:

Department of Health - Prevention and Population Health - Food and Nutrition

This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:

Department of Health - Prevention and Population Health - Food and Nutrition

View all healthy eating

More information

Related information

  • Cooking tips for busy people
  • Healthy eating and diet
  • Cholesterol - healthy eating tips
  • Diet and heart disease
  • Diabetes and healthy eating

Content disclaimer

Content on this website is provided for information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not in any way endorse or support such therapy, service, product or treatment and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. The information and materials contained on this website are not intended to constitute a comprehensive guide concerning all aspects of the therapy, product or treatment described on the website. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions and to ascertain whether the particular therapy, service, product or treatment described on the website is suitable in their circumstances. The State of Victoria and the Department of Healthshall not bear any liability for reliance by any user on the materials contained on this website.

Reviewed on: 13-09-2022

Healthy cooking tips (2024)

FAQs

What are healthy cooking tips? ›

17 healthy cooking tips
  • Cook at home. ...
  • Cook with basic ingredients. ...
  • Avoid cooking at high temperatures. ...
  • Avoid deep frying. ...
  • Use low-fat cooking methods like boiling or steaming. ...
  • Measure your ingredients accurately. ...
  • Avoid cooking meat or fish to well-done or browned. ...
  • Minimize added sugars and sweeteners.

What are the healthy cooking tips for better health channel? ›

Retain the nutrients
  • Scrub vegetables rather than peel them, as many nutrients are found close to the skin.
  • Microwave or steam vegetables instead of boiling them.
  • When boiling vegetables, use a small amount of water and do not overboil them.
  • Include more stir-fry recipes in your diet.
Sep 13, 2022

What are 3 good cooking habits? ›

Nutritionist Karishma Chawla shares some cooking tips —

- Veggies should be steamed and occasionally stir-fried. - Meats, fish and poultry should be baked, grilled and occasionally sauted. - Eat whole grains. - Avoid refined flour.

How important is healthy cooking? ›

Preparing healthy meals at home can support your immune system and reduce the risk of illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It can give you more energy, improve how you sleep at night, and help you better manage health problems.

What are 5 healthy eating tips? ›

Top tips
  • Eat a variety of food.
  • Cut back on salt.
  • Reduce use of certain fats and oil.
  • Limit sugar intake.
  • Avoid hazardous and harmful alcohol use.
Dec 26, 2019

What are 6 different healthy cooking methods? ›

Healthy cooking methods
  • Choose healthier cooking methods.
  • Baking.
  • Broiling.
  • Grilling.
  • Poaching.
  • Roasting.
  • Microwaving.
  • Pressure cooking.

What are my 3 tips to consume more healthy foods? ›

Healthy Eating Tips
  • Bump Up Fiber.
  • Increase Calcium and Vitamin D.
  • Add More Potassium.
  • Limit Added Sugars.
  • Replace Saturated Fats.
  • Cut Back on Sodium.
  • Aim for a Variety of Colors.
Jul 11, 2022

What are some tips for making healthy and affordable meals at home? ›

10 tips to get you started on meal planning on a budget:
  1. Make a menu. ...
  2. Plan your meals around foods that are on sale. ...
  3. Plan some plant-based meals every week. ...
  4. Check your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. ...
  5. Enjoy grains more often. ...
  6. Avoid recipes that need a special ingredient. ...
  7. Look for seasonal recipes.
Feb 22, 2023

What are the 4 rules of cooking? ›

Four Steps to Food Safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill. Following four simple steps at home—Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill—can help protect you and your loved ones from food poisoning.

What are the 4 keys to cooking? ›

American chef and writer Samin Nosrat's new cookbook, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, says these elements are key to master the art of cooking.

What are the 4 elements of good cooking? ›

Master the use of just four elements—Salt, which enhances flavor; Fat, which delivers flavor and generates texture; Acid, which balances flavor; and Heat, which ultimately determines the texture of food—and anything you cook will be delicious.

What are 5 benefits of cooking? ›

Cooking allows you to:
  • learn new skills.
  • rely less on highly processed foods.
  • control the amount of sauces and seasonings.
  • make foods that you and your family like and will eat.
  • save money by avoiding extra money spent on meals eaten out.
  • choose healthy ingredients like: fruits. vegetables. protein foods.
Feb 20, 2023

What are 2 ways you can make cooking easier and more effective? ›

Plan your meals and make a grocery list. Keep a well-stocked kitchen. Keep basic cooking equipment on hand. Practice your knife skills.

What are the healthy food habits? ›

Eat a variety of fruits (2 or more servings a day). Eat whole-grain, high-fiber breads and cereals (3 to 6 servings a day). Reduce or eliminate refined or processed carbohydrates; most of the grains in your diet should be whole grains. Drink fat-free or low-fat milk and eat low-fat dairy products.

What are 6 healthy cooking methods? ›

Healthy cooking methods
  • Choose healthier cooking methods.
  • Baking.
  • Broiling.
  • Grilling.
  • Poaching.
  • Roasting.
  • Microwaving.
  • Pressure cooking.

What are 3 healthy eating tips? ›

Build Healthy Eating Habits
  • Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark green, red, and orange vegetables (3 or more servings a day).
  • Eat a variety of fruits (2 or more servings a day).
  • Eat whole-grain, high-fiber breads and cereals (3 to 6 servings a day). ...
  • Drink fat-free or low-fat milk and eat low-fat dairy products.

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