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Life Performance Blog: Kitchen Essentials

The right kitchen gadgets can make healthy meals easy.

The more confident you feel in the kitchen, the more confident you'll feel with your meal planning.

Many things can improve your kitchen coolness:

  • The right equipment

  • A regular preparation system or ritual

  • A "can-do" attitude and willingness to experiment

Essential kitchen equipment

You don't have to have all of these . . . but they sure do come in handy.

  • Slow cooker Set it and forget it. You can easily make enough food for several meals in one batch, with only minimal prep time.

  • Blender Helps you whip up protein shakes, salad dressings, soups . . .

  • Good cookware You don't need much. A simple non-stick omelette pan and a thick-bottomed sauté or frying pan will do the trick. Pair those up with a slow cooker, and you’re good to go.

  • A quality chef's knife A good chef's knife makes chopping your veggies and slicing your meats a breeze. You can get a good knife for $35 or so, but if you're looking for something other than steel, check out the super-sharp (and slightly more expensive) ceramic knives.

  • A silicon spatula Perfect for scrambled eggs, omelettes, and anything in a skillet.

  • A wooden spoon Great for stir-fry and general stovetop cooking.

  • Cutting board To be extra clean when working with raw meats, and because you don't want to hack up your countertop.

  • Food containers Cook and prep in bulk; save your meals in the fridge or freezer. It might not sound like much, but these will take care of 99% of your cooking needs. Really.

Your trusted food prep system

Unless you love cooking from scratch and have lots of free time, don't make all your meals on the spot.

Make your own meal prep simple and easy by having a food preparation system.

Find a day that you have a little extra time for planning and prepping the week ahead (Sunday Prep-day?). You can also do "mini-meal-prep rituals" at any time, such as first thing in the morning, or in the evening as you make dinner.

Here are some ideas of what you can do as part of your "food prep system" activities.

  • Chop veggies for stir-fries, soups, chilli, or to eat raw. You can also buy prewashed, pre-chopped or baby veggies.

  • Cook bulk protein like ground beef, chicken, or tofu. You can use a countertop grill (such as a George Foreman grill), an outdoor BBQ grill, or a roasting tray in your oven. Boil up a pile of eggs. Whatever works for you.

  • Make a large quantity of easily frozen or refrigerated dishes such as soups, stews, and chilli. We give you a couple of ideas on what to throw in a slow cooker below.

  • Pop some ingredients for Super Shakes (protein powder, oats, etc.) into containers so you can grab and go.

  • Do some extra food prep while you're waiting for something else to cook. For example, while dinner is simmering or your breakfast oatmeal is in the microwave, chop a few veggies, wash some extra salad greens, make a protein shake, etc. to have on hand for later.

  • Make extra of whatever you're cooking for any given meal. Pop the leftovers into smaller containers, and you've got your meals for tomorrow. It takes almost the same amount of time to scramble 4 or 6 eggs as it does to scramble 2. Shop and cook in bulk and think about how to create an "assembly line" that works for you and your own lifestyle.

If you're truly slammed for time but have a little extra cash, consider a healthy meal delivery service. Even having someone else prep a meal or two a day can help a lot.

Cooking 101: what you need to know

You don't need to be a super chef. All you need is some confidence in the kitchen so you can continue to live healthy for life.

And really, you only need to know three things:

  1. Cooking isn't really that hard. All it takes is practice.

  2. Start with five basic "go-to" meals and build up from there.

  3. Mix and match with ingredients and spices for world-cuisine flavours.

Cooking isn't really that hard. All it takes is practice.

If you can follow instructions, you can cook. Set the oven to 375 degrees? Done. Chop your veggies into cubes? Easy. Season two chicken breasts? Uh-huh.

Do those three things and you've got a perfect baked chicken ready to go into the oven. Just like learning your new exercises in the gym, cooking just takes a little consistent practice.

And after a while of following instructions from cookbooks, you'll start to develop the confidence to ad-lib and make stuff up on the fly. Cook every day. Experiment. Have fun.

Start with five basic "go-to" meals and build up from there.

A lot of cooking is simply adding to existing meals.

Know how to cook scrambled eggs? Then you have all the skills you need to make a delicious egg and veggie scramble. (Toss in some bell pepper, mushroom, green onion, and tomatoes with a little basil, salt, and pepper.)

Know how to cook a chicken breast? Then you know how to make an awesome stir-fry. (Cut the chicken into cubes, chop some vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, and red pepper, and toss them in a large pan with some coconut oil and low-sodium stir-fry sauce.)

You're only limited by your imagination.

So, write down five "go-to" meals you feel confident cooking. Maybe that's scrambled eggs, oatmeal, grilled chicken, spicy vegetable soup, and beef burgers. Whatever they are, write them down.

Once you have your five things, do a quick Google search to see how you can change it up a little bit by adding different herbs, spices, veggies, or sides.

Chris, myHealthCoach

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