Cooking your own meals as often as possible is a great way to make healthy food choices. Use mostly whole foods or less-processed ingredients. For easy, fast and affordable meal ideas, see the Healthy Kids website.
When cooking and preparing foods
- Limit highly processed foods (eg, ‘heat and eat’ meals like pizza).
- Remove the chicken skin after cooking.
- Add flavour to food using herbs, spices and lemon or lime juice instead of using salt.
- Use fruit to replace sugar on your breakfast cereal.
- If you are adding salt, use iodised salt and try to use less salt over time.
- When roasting or baking, place meat on a rack so that fat can drip off.
- Choose foods with the least amount of salt. Avoid high-salt foods with more than 600 mg of sodium per 100 g of food.
- Choose meat with little visible fat or remove the fat before cooking.
Choosing healthier options
|Instead of this||Use this|
|Butter||Margarine or other plant-based unsaturated spreads|
|Lard and/or dripping||Water (for roasting meat), small amount of plant-based monounsaturated oils, eg, canola, olive or rice bran oils|
|Coconut oil||Small amount of plant-based unsaturated oils – if using oil for cooking, choose monounsaturated oil like the examples given above|
|Full-fat milk||Low- and reduced-fat milk|
|High-fat cheese, eg, mild, Colby||Reduced-fat cheese, eg, edam|
|Coconut cream||‘Lite’ coconut cream or milk, or use half water and half coconut cream|
|White bread||Higher fibre, dense whole grain bread|
|High-fat takeaways||Healthier option takeaways, eg, kebabs or wraps with plenty of salad, non-fried Asian rice or noodle dishes with plenty of vegetables|
|Sugar-coated breakfast cereal||Whole grain cereal, eg, porridge or whole wheat breakfast biscuits|
|Muesli bars||Fresh fruit or a small handful of unsalted nuts|
|Chippies and a cream-based dip||Raw vegetable sticks and hummus, or homemade popcorn (go easy on the salt)|
|Sugary drinks||Water. It is nice chilled, with fresh mint and/ or a slice of lemon|
|Fruit juice||Glass of chilled water and a piece of fruit|
|Dried fruit||Fresh fruit|