Creativity is the third in my series of 5 essentials to help you to eat well. This week I’m sharing the 5 things that you can put in place to improve your eating habits and your health, no matter where you are with your eating at the moment. I hope that everyone can pick up something from this series that will help them or someone they know to improve their eating, so check in each day for the rest of National Nutrition Week to see if you’ve got these 5 essentials down pat. Master these 5 things and you’ll be well on the way to a healthier eating pattern – make sure you check out the other essentials through the links at the bottom of this post.
#3 – Creativity
While cooking can feel like nothing more than a chore to some, to others cooking can be a creative outlet that allows them to express themselves and show their love for those nearest to them. For most of us, it is actually a mix of the two and some days it is somewhere in between.
I think most of us can think of a time when someone has wowed us with their creativity with food – whether it’s a meal you’ve had in a restaurant or a home cooked meal that someone else has made for you (or, you may have even surprised yourself with something you’ve managed to pull off!). While at other times we are so pushed for time that just getting anything on the table can feel like a gigantic effort!
Now, I’m not saying that we need to be making an artwork out of every meal, there are always going to be times when we just need to get a meal on the table quickly, but some creativity in the kitchen can help to improve not only the quality of your food, but your enjoyment of it too.
Why creativity in the kitchen is important:
- Keeps things interesting - If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut and eating the same meals all the time, switching it up a little but can get you excited about food again.
- Increases your food variety - Having similar foods all the time can limit your intake of nutrients. Trying new things means you will be more likely to get in all the nutrients that the body needs.
- Reduces food waste - Being flexible and using up the bits and pieces in your fridge/freezer/pantry can help to reduce food waste, which is good for the environment and your wallet.
- Improved health - Making healthier switches can turn any recipe into a healthier version packed with more nutrients and you may be surprised how good it can taste too.
- Gets kids excited about food - Letting the kids roll up their sleeves and get involved in the food prep can help them have more confidence to try things at the table, helping them to become healthier eaters too.
How to ignite your creative food spark:
- Challenge yourself to try something new each week - Whether it is a new recipe, vegetable, cuisine or cooking method, choose something to challenge yourself with each week. We are lucky to have such a diverse range of foods available here in Australia, so there is no excuse for eating the same old boring food all the time! Be realistic about your timing though, if you’ve only got half an hour to cook mid-week it may not be the best time to try that new time-intensive recipe, but Sunday afternoon might give you a few hours to really let your creative side out. Do what works for you.
- No-shopping challenge week - If you want to encourage yourself to get creative with what is already in your pantry/fridge/freezer, challenge yourself to come up with a week of meals from what you already have on hand. A lot of us buy ingredients to cook something and don’t use it or have some left over. Make a list of all the things you’ve got to cook with and get creative thinking of ways to use them together. In our house we call this ‘Budget Week’ and we are only allowed to buy the absolute bare essentials at the supermarket – it saves us a whole week of grocery money to go towards our other monthly expenses and more of our food ends up in our stomachs rather than in the bin. It’s a win-win.
- Fridge freestyle - If you looked in your fridge right now, could you come up with something to cook from what you already have? Surveying your fridge contents with a new set of eyes may uncover a whole new world of possibilities. Recipes are great, but we don’t always need to follow them to the letter (or at all).
- Book in for a class – Want to try a new cuisine, but have no idea where to start? Going to a themed cooking class, or even buying a new cookbook can help to get your creative juices flowing.
- Improve your favourite recipe – Got a favourite recipe that could do with some healthy tweaking? While enjoying a treat every now and then is absolutely fine (and encouraged!), if you want to have something a bit more often it may only be a matter of a few changes here or there to get it looking a bit more ‘everyday’ rather than ‘sometimes’. Add some vegies, swap out the cream for some natural yoghurt, change to a wholegrain variety or add some lentils or legumes. For some starting ideas, try the ideas from my healthier soups post. There’s always a healthier alternative to try – and you may just be surprised with the results!
Think you’re pretty creative in the kitchen? Check out the other 4 essentials to eating well:
What’s the most creative thing you’ve made in the kitchen? Share your stories in the comments below!
Image source: Alex J. Jefferies