Chopping board with vegetables

Swapping junk food for home-cooked is our number one tip for eating better. Cooking at home means having more control over what’s going into our food - this means less sugar, salt and fat and more fruit and veg.

Tips for cooking healthy meals at home

1. Meal planning

Planning what you and your family will eat for the week can make it easier to stick to your healthy eating goals when life gets busy. It also means less food waste - which is good for your wallet and the environment!

2. Grill, stir-fry or steam

Use healthy cooking methods like boiling, braising, grilling, microwaving, poaching, steaming and stir-frying. When baking, barbecuing or roasting limit the amount of oil used. Olive or canola oil sprays are useful for controlling the amount of fat that you add during cooking.

3. Add extra vegies

One of the easiest ways to make your dishes healthier is to add extra vegetables! Here’s how:

  • Make half your meal vegetables.
  • Add extra vegetables and tinned beans and lentils to pasta dishes, curries, stews, casseroles, stir-fries and soups.
  • Add grated vegetables to muffin and cake mixtures.
  • Use half the amount of mince and replace with tinned lentils and beans or finely chopped carrot, celery and zucchini.
  • Include salad on the side of your meals.
  • Add ribbons of zucchini, carrot or pumpkin to your spaghetti.
Portion plate

4. Healthy swaps

Making a few small changes can make your favourite dishes healthier. Check out our guide!

Swap this For this
Meat and alternatives
Processed meats like bacon, ham or salami
Lean meats like chicken or turkey breast
Tuna in oil
Tuna in springwater
Beef mince
Lean beef mince, chicken or kangaroo mince
Sausages
Lean sausages, chicken or kangaroo sausages, home-made rissoles
Red meat
Aim for no more than 3-4 portions of red meat each week. Fish, seafood, chicken, eggs, nuts and seeds and beans and lentils can be used instead.
Dairy
Cream
Reduced-fat natural yoghurt or reduced-fat evaporated milk (in cooking)
Sour cream
Reduced fat natural or Greek yoghurt
Cheese
Reduced-fat cheese or small amount of a strong tasting cheese e.g. parmesan
Breads and cereals
White bread, wraps or crumpets
Multigrain or wholemeal varieties
White pasta
Wholemeal, high fibre or legume pasta
Rice
Brown rice or a low GI rice e.g. basmati, or try cauliflower rice!
Corn chips
Slice corn tortillas into triangles and bake for 5-10 minutes
Fruits and vegetables
Canned fruit in syrup
Canned fruit in juice
Canned vegetables and beans
Salt-reduced varieties
Coconut cream
Reduced-fat coconut milk
Baking
Sugar
Reduce to as little as ¼ cup of sugar for every 1 cup of flour
Add cinnamon, allspice, vanilla essence and fruit for extra flavour
Butter
Margarine or olive/canola/safflower oil
Halve the quantity and replace the other half with unsweetened apple sauce or apple puree, low fat natural yoghurt or mashed banana
Shortcrust or puff pastry
Filo pastry brushed with low-fat milk or a light spray of olive or canola oil between sheets
Bread makes a good substitute for pastry in a quiche
White flour
Wholemeal flour or use a mix of white and wholemeal
Icing, edible decorations or cream
Fresh fruit
Ice cream
Freeze bananas and blend in a high powered mixer
Flavourings
Salt
Herbs, spices, lemon, chilli, ginger, garlic
Don’t add salt when cooking pasta or rice
Stock or stock cubes
Reduced-salt commercial stock, home-made stock (no added salt) or water with herbs and spices
Sauces
No-added-salt or reduced-salt versions, or swap for fresh herbs and lemon
Salad dressings
Make your own using olive oil and vinegar, tahini or low-fat yoghurt