How to make healthier meals at home

Created with the Heart Foundation
mother and daughter chopping veggies

Cooking at home can be an investment in healthy eating, but getting into a home cooking routine can take some planning. Here’s how to get started. 

Plan ahead 

You don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen to get healthy meals on the table. In fact, a bit of forward planning can cut down not only on your cooking time but on your shopping time (and budget!) as well. 

  • Start with a plan: Think about what you can prepare ahead of time – cut veggies the day before, soak legumes overnight, or start a sauce or soup base and pop it in the fridge for the next day.
  • Involve the whole family: Get everyone involved in meal planning and preparation, including getting kids to choose their favourite meals from our healthy recipes. 
  • Shop with a list: Cut down time spent at the supermarket by writing a detailed shopping list. Buy in-season fruit and veg, shop in bulk and keep an eye out for items on special to stretch your budget further. 
  • Cook in batches: Making a big batch of one dish is more efficient than cooking every night. Choose meals that can be packaged separately and frozen or eaten as leftovers during the week.
  • Choose healthy cooking techniques: Minimise fats and salts in your cooking by choosing recipes that call for healthy cooking methods – think steaming, poaching, stir-frying, sautéing, roasting or stewing. 

Build a healthy pantry

Having a well-stocked kitchen makes cooking at home a breeze. Here’s a list of essentials for your pantry, fridge and freezer.

Build a healthy pantry

Fruit and vegetables

  • Pantry

    Fresh fruit and vegetables, tinned fruit (not in syrup), tinned vegetables (no added salt)

  • Fridge

    Fresh fruit and vegetables

  • Freezer

    Frozen vegetables - peas, corn, mixed vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, frozen fruit – berries, passionfruit, mango pieces etc. 

  • Pantry

    Fresh fruit and vegetables, tinned fruit (not in syrup), tinned vegetables (no added salt)

  • Fridge

    Fresh fruit and vegetables

  • Freezer

    Frozen vegetables - peas, corn, mixed vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, frozen fruit – berries, passionfruit, mango pieces etc. 

Wholegrains

  • Pantry

    Rolled oats, wholegrain breakfast cereals, wholegrain bread, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, couscous, quinoa, polenta, soba noodles, wholemeal flour 

  • Fridge

    Fresh noodles, fresh pasta 

  • Pantry

    Rolled oats, wholegrain breakfast cereals, wholegrain bread, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, couscous, quinoa, polenta, soba noodles, wholemeal flour 

  • Fridge

    Fresh noodles, fresh pasta 

Protein

  • Pantry

    Canned legumes varieties (choose no added salt), canned fish in olive oil or water – tuna, salmon, sardines, lentils (choose no added salt)

  • Fridge

    Fresh fish, fresh meats, tofu, tempeh, eggs

  • Freezer

    Frozen fish fillets – tuna, salmon, sardines, frozen poultry and meats

  • Pantry

    Canned legumes varieties (choose no added salt), canned fish in olive oil or water – tuna, salmon, sardines, lentils (choose no added salt)

  • Fridge

    Fresh fish, fresh meats, tofu, tempeh, eggs

  • Freezer

    Frozen fish fillets – tuna, salmon, sardines, frozen poultry and meats

Dairy

  • Pantry

    Powdered milk, long life (UHT) milk 

  • Fridge

    Fresh milk, fresh cheese, fresh yoghurt

  • Pantry

    Powdered milk, long life (UHT) milk 

  • Fridge

    Fresh milk, fresh cheese, fresh yoghurt

Fats

  • Pantry

    Healthy oils – olive, canola, peanut, sunflower oil, nut butters (no added salt), unsalted nuts and seeds 

  • Fridge

    Avocado, olives

  • Pantry

    Healthy oils – olive, canola, peanut, sunflower oil, nut butters (no added salt), unsalted nuts and seeds 

  • Fridge

    Avocado, olives

Flavour

  • Pantry

    Dried herbs and spices, pepper, chilli, garlic, ginger, vinegars

  • Fridge

    Lemon juice, lime juice, fresh herbs

  • Pantry

    Dried herbs and spices, pepper, chilli, garlic, ginger, vinegars

  • Fridge

    Lemon juice, lime juice, fresh herbs

Swap this … for that

Take your healthy eating one step further with these even-better-for-you alternatives. 

Swap this For that
Swap thisFlavoured milk and yoghurt For thatUnflavoured milk and yoghurt varieties 
Swap thisCream For thatRicotta cheese whipped with a little icing sugar
Swap thisSour cream For thatNatural Greek yoghurt
Swap thisGrated cheddar For thatGrated parmesan – the more intense flavour means you can use less
Swap thisButter as a spread For thatAvocado, tahini, hummus, nut butter or margarine spreads made from canola, sunflower or olive oils.
Swap thisButter in baking For thatSpreads made from canola, sunflower or olive oil
Swap thisCoconut cream/coconut milk For thatAdd a little coconut essence to evaporated milk
Swap thisWhite grain ingredients like pasta, bread, flour and rice For thatWholegrain bread, brown rice, brown pasta, quinoa or wholemeal flour
Swap thisShortcrust or puff pastry For thatFilo pastry – brush every 3-4 layers with olive oil, egg white or yoghurt
Swap thisProcessed meats For thatRoasted or grilled lean meats, legumes or eggs


Logo of Coles and Heart Foundation

Coles has partnered with the Heart Foundation to provide this content to you and help Australians live healthier and happier lives.

For personalised heart health information and support, contact the Heart Foundation Helpline 13 11 12.

 

Healthier living starts here

Whether you’re looking for tasty and nutritious midweek dinner ideas or are catering for a range of dietary requirements, we have you covered with our healthy recipe collections

Coles Healthier Living logo