It’s not something people talk about in their weight loss plan but I think where you cook and eat your food has a big impact on how well you manage. By this I mean how organised your kitchen is and how accessible the right food, utensils and equipment are. It doesn’t need an entire kitchen overhaul to make a difference, just little changes that take only a minute. I wouldn’t have realised the impact of kitchen organisation until my friend kindly offered to sort out my own kitchen and I can’t tell you the difference it has made to everyday food preparation and the motivation it has given me to make healthier meals. Here are a few tips that will hopefully help you too.
1. Tidy Cupboards
A pile of pots and pans that practically fall out every time you open the drawer or door is not helpful, especially when it’s happening multiple times every day. Eliminate what you don’t need and keep an average of four saucepans in different sizes with accompanying lids. If you find this difficult ask a friend to help you sort through the pots, an organised person will soon sort the essentials from the surplus. Then do the same for cups, plates, bowls and glasses, getting rid of any cracked or that you just don’t like. Make sure you have decent working utensils, especially a peeler, tin opener, kitchen scissors, set of sharp knives and measuring cups or jug, all essentials on a good weight loss plan. These should be in a convenient place, laid out so that everything can be seen at a glance.
You don’t need to invest in a lot, but I do recommend a nutri-bullet, a steamer, a wok, and an omelette pan. The nutri-bullet is invaluable for making use of those past their best fruits, especially bananas and berries. For getting greens in it’s great, especially for the little ones, as cucumber and spinach leaves can be disguised in the sweetness of the fruit. A steamer cooks food faster and is the healthiest form of cooking. Steaming retains more nutrients so the food provides goodness and tastes a lot better too. Steamed vegetables are never mushy, there is no dependence on oil and you can cook everything at once i.e. meat, veg and meat, chicken or fish.
3. Refrigerator Layout
If you’re buying the right stuff, you should find that the majority of your foods need to be frozen or refrigerated because they are fresh produce. Research shows that the proximity and visibility of food increases your chances of eating that food so fill the centre of the fridge with fresh fruit and veg and natural yoghurt. We’re all ruled by the clock so time is of the essence especially when packing lunches and making breakfast. It is much easier to prep food in advance so that it’s ready to go. I recommend little plastic airtight containers, in which you can store food rather than having to take off plastic etc. when under pressure. For hot water why not slice the lemon or limes in advance and keep in a plastic tub, the same for cucumber, mushrooms, grapes, mandarin oranges, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cheese and mint leaves. Then label the containers and you have a steady supply of basics ready to go. The same for water, one shelf should be allocated to a jug of water infused with fruit and/ or mint as well as bottles of water for taking out and about. Keep any treats hidden behind healthy food, ideally on the top shelf away from eye level.
4. An Ambience of Calm
We know that screens increase stress hormones and should be avoided at meal times, the same goes for cooking time. We underestimate how much time we spend in the kitchen, and so making the environment pleasant and enjoyable is really important. Lighting, sounds, temperature, smell – all these things have a strong effect on how we feel in a particular environment. A little lamp in the corner, a candle on a nice table cloth, some calming music from a radio (not a phone) that you can switch on immediately on coming in. They sound silly, but a study published in Psychological Reports found that a relaxed environment increases satisfaction and decreases consumption by 18% (approx… 175 calories). Lowering anxiety or stress before sitting down to eat means a more mindful calm approach to eating. So turn the kitchen into a sanctuary instead of a room associated with pressure. Then cooking can be more enjoyable and you’re likely to do more of it.
5. Food Rejig
Are your things easily accessible? Just moving things around and having the main ingredients close at hand makes such a difference to meal planning and preparation. Invest in glass jars for pasta and rice, porridge oats, spaghetti, nuts and seeds. Then you can see what you have and don’t have rice packets spilling out onto your larder shelves! If you have enough storage get things like oils, salt and pepper etc. out of sight keeping your surfaces clean and tidy. Place your teabags in marked glass tubs so you can see at a glance what you have and replenish when necessary. Arrange shelves neatly, making sure to rotate tins according to date. Have herbs and spices close at hand, familiarise yourself with how to use these instead of salt to enhance food flavour.
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