Lighten up the contents of your fridge with these six tricks!

As most of us are going into our third or fourth weeks of home isolation, meal planning is becoming quite a chore. Plan ahead and try some of these easy hacks next time you cook.

1. Sneak veggies into family favorites.

Chili mac, spaghetti sauce, soups, and stews all easily mask the addition of finely or grated chopped zucchini, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes. Next time you're making something with a red sauce, give it a try.

One of my favorite combinations is a beef and bean chili recipe with an extra heaping cup of corn, chopped squash, and a pint of mushrooms, finely diced. The leftovers are amazing!


2. Buy all the fruits you love.

Start with basic bananas and add a tangy pineapple or a quart of berries. Grab a bag of clementines and you'll always have a sweet, healthy snack on hand. If your bananas get a little too ripe, peel and freeze them for some smoothie bowls later. Better yet, have you ever tried banana "nice cream" as a frozen dessert?

If you're worried about spoilage or waste, watch for what doesn't get eaten. Chop it up and hide it in some salad or experiment with a homemade jam recipe.


3. Make your own fries.

Experiment with fresh potatoes and yams instead of relying on frozen fries. Simply scrub and slice them into thick steak fry-shaped spears. Toss them with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake in the oven at 400 degrees until crisp around the edges. These make a great side dish and you'll be saving a ton of fat by making your own.

fries, potatoes

4. Have a salad bar dinner.

For one meal a week, put out a big, family-style salad bar with all the fixings like shredded carrots, boiled eggs, broccoli florets, and sliced radishes. Open a can of beans, corn, beets ... whatever you usually favor at a restaurant.

Don't forget a bowl of croutons, some shredded cheese, and a giant bowl of chopped lettuce or spring mix. Finish it all off with a sprinkling of sunflower seeds and a variety of dressings. You'll be surprised at how much fun salad can be when you have it all spread out like this!


5. Make your own soup.

Not only will your house smell amazing, but making your own soup will save you money, calories, and salt. Start simple with bean and bacon soup and serve it with grilled cheese sandwiches. By the time you get to more complex recipes like Flu Chaser, you'll have your own favorite recipes to add to the family cookbook.

Don't forget to save the scraps from a rotisserie chicken to make your own stock. You can even add vegetable ends from onions, carrots, celery, and herbs for an extra layer of flavor. Simply strain the final product and refrigerate or freeze for future use.


6. DIY snacking is easy and fun.

Apple chips, beef jerky, and kale chips are all incredibly easy to make. You don't even need a fancy dehydrator; just use your oven on its lowest possible setting and prop open the door with a wooden spoon. You can also make your own granola bars in a pinch!

granola bars

While we're all stuck at home, this is a great time to start eating a little healthier. Now that we're over the initial hump of gobbling down everything in sight, try to devote some time every week to discovering your own favorite light recipes.

*The photos in this article are courtesy of Pexels.

What kind of healthy stuff are you making right now? Drop us a line in the comments and let us know!