So you want cook clean everyday…
Awesome! The first step is deciding to make the effort to cook clean. And yes, it will take effort. Especially if your household is used to processed, packaged foods, or take outs. But don’t worry! Just because it takes effort doesn’t mean it’s hard.
There’s more to clean cooking than just going out and buying all organic and natural food items. If you’re cooking and processing your food with toxic items in your kitchen, it kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?
The key is that you’ll just have to be overall more mindful of what you’re cooking with, what you’re consuming, and what you place your food in. It just takes some planning. And once you get the hang of it, it’s like second nature.
The thing is though, it will take time. And that’s ok! Unless you can go out and replace every single potentially toxic item in the kitchen, this will be more of a slow transition than an instantaneous change in your kitchen.
Most of us are really busy. And while we want to have everything in our kitchens be clean and non toxic, we have to find ways to make it easy for ourselves or we’re probably just going to revert to frozen meals, fast food, or other “easy” options.
If you set yourself up with a plan and several clean cookware options, this will almost trick you into cooking and eating clean without you realizing. You’ll just be using what you have on hand!
This is a foolproof way to be consistent when trying to clean up your cooking. It will take some trial and error and will differ from kitchen to kitchen. But once you get your routines down, you’ll be cooking and eating clean every day without much of a second thought.
I’m going to share some guidelines that worked for me in my kitchen and hopefully they will spark a game plan for you to get your kitchen producing consistently clean foods!
What are your favorite clean foods?
Starting off with the easiest question first:
What are your favorite things to cook and eat? It’s much easier to cook clean if you are making things that you enjoy!
Pick 5-10 healthy dishes that you and your household eat regularly and fit them into your weekly menus. Based on these dishes, it’s easier to figure out which cookware items in your kitchen are going to be used regularly, need updating and what you’ll need to replace.
Not only do you want to take into account the foods you like to eat, but you want to think about the foods you like to cook too.
Everyone gravitates towards certain kinds of dishes. What types of recipes do you enjoy to make or find the easiest? For example, it will be much harder to stick to clean eating on weeknights if you’ve chosen difficult meals that require a lot of preparation, steps, and time.
Simple and quick recipes might be best for you. Or one pot meals. Or maybe you do Sunday meal prep so that your meals just need to be reheated for the week.
What are your cookware needs?
Every household is also different. There’s a different number of people. There’s possibly different diet restrictions. Different preferences. Different cooking expertise.
Take into account your favorite meals that you’ve chosen in the step above. Is the cookware needed for those meals clean in your home or do they need some updating?
Take a few minutes and determine the nonnegotiable needs for your kitchen that you cook with most often. These are the cookware items you should replace first, if needed. That way, most of your meals will be cooked on clean materials going forward.
Another example: if one of your favorite meals is say… omelettes. But you only have a Teflon non-stick pan in your kitchen, there’s your first item that you can replace!
A household with a lot of people will need larger cookware for multiple portions such as a 7 qt slow cooker. A single or 2 person household might only need a 3 qt or 4 qt slow cooker. Same goes for baking sheets and pans. Some homes may need a full sized baking sheet to feed everyone while another might only need a quarter sized one.
If you tend to prepare your meals ahead of time you’ll want to make sure your food storage game is on point too. You don’t want to store and reheat too many things in plastic, so make sure you have some good storage options. Pyrex is a must in most clean kitchens.
Clean cooking swap outs
Here are some common cookware swap outs you’ll want to think about for your kitchen. This list doesn’t encompass everything, but it should get you started:
- Nonstick/Teflon pan for:
- Cast iron
- Stainless steel pan
- Safe non-stick
- Aluminum pots for:
- Enameled cast iron
- Stainless steel
- Aluminum baking sheets for:
- Stainless steel baking sheets
- Ceramic sheets
- Plastic storage containers for:
- Glass containers
- Silicone containers
- Aluminum baking pans for:
- Glass casserole dishes
- Ceramic casserole dishes
Supplements to cookware until you can replace them
When you aren’t in a position to replace your cookware just yet, there are some disposable options that can help you out in the mean time.
For oven baking, parchment paper is the best! It’s nonstick, non toxic, inexpensive and can create a barrier between aluminum baking sheets and your food.
While aluminum foil can be used for the same purpose, I generally try to avoid aluminum. I only use it when I need to bake a dish covered and the foil won’t be actually touching the food. Even then, I usually use a layer of parchment paper under the aluminum foil to avoid aluminum leeching (and to make a tighter seal).
For storing leftovers, BPA free plastic wrap is great. You do have to be careful with anything plastic though. Even though a product doesn’t contain BPA, it could contain other similar toxins. I try to make sure it doesn’t come in direct contact with the food or that the food isn’t too hot when sealing with the wrap.
Clean cooking going forward
Hopefully this guide can help you get started on your journey to clean cooking and eating. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Just one step at a time. And you know what? Every little bit helps get you to a healthier and non toxic life.
As you get used to cooking clean consistently, you’ll come up with all sorts of dishes and new ways to make sure your household is eating and cooking clean. It’s a process. But the sooner you start, the better!