20 home-cooking swaps to save you thousands of calories

Changing the way you cook your food at home – even if it’s just through tiny changes – can have a big impact on your overall calorie intake. Dietitian Melissa Meier shares 20 tiny tweaks to make your meal prep count. 

Trying to lose weight? In contrast to popular belief, it doesn’t require a drastic lifestyle change, a silly fad diet or out-there detox.

Instead, what I think is most important when trying to shed kilos is the small, sustainable changes you make to your day-to-day life, not the overly ambitious, unmaintainable periods of restriction you put yourself through.

The best place to get started is in the kitchen – so to give you a helping hand, here’s twenty do-able cooking swaps that will save you a stack of calories.

1. Dip into homemade hummus instead of a commercial variety

One tablespoon commercial hummus = 54cal (224kJ)

One tablespoon homemade hummus = 38cal (158kJ)

Save = 16cal (66kJ)

2. Spray veggies with oil rather than free-pouring from the bottle before roasting

One tablespoon oil = 177cal (740kJ)

One spray (2g) oil = 13cal (53kJ)

Save = 164cal (687kJ)

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3. Swap mayonnaise for Greek yoghurt in creamy sauces and dressings

One tablespoon mayo = 139cal (582kJ)

One tablespoon Greek yoghurt = 16cal (65kJ)

Save = 123cal (517kJ)

4. Substitute half of the potato in your usual mash with cauliflower

One potato = 87cal (363kJ)

½ potato + ½ cup cauliflower = 62cal (259kJ)

Save = 25cal (104kJ)

5. Swap half of the pasta in your spag bowl with zucchini noodles

200 grams of cooked pasta = 244cal (1020kJ)

100 grams of cooked pasta + 100 grams of zucchini = 144cal (603kJ)

Save = 100cal (417kJ)

6. Poach eggs rather than serving them scrambled in butter

Two scrambled eggs with one tablespoon of butter = 298cal (1245kJ)

Two poached eggs = 153cal (640kJ)

Save = 145cal (605kJ)

7. Sweeten home-baked goodies with banana instead of sugar

Half a cup of sugar = 478cal (1996kJ)

One banana = 138cal (578kJ)

Save = 340cal (1418kJ)

8. Trim the fat from cuts of meat before cooking

100 grams of untrimmed rump steak = 195cal (815kJ)

100 grams of fully trimmed rump steak = 122cal (511kJ)

Save = 73cal (304kJ)

9. Try avocado instead of butter

One tablespoon butter = 145cal (605kJ)

¼ avocado = 52cal (217kJ)

Save = 93cal (388kJ)

10. Add herbs and spices to meals instead of flavouring food with sauces

One tablespoon of BBQ sauce = 35cal (148kJ)

Herbs and spices = virtually kilojoule free

Save = 35cal (148kJ)

11. Dress salads in lemon juice and balsamic vinegar instead of oil-based dressings

One tablespoon of oil = 177cal (740kJ)

One tablespoon of balsamic vinegar = 16cal (66kJ)

Save = 161cal (674kJ)

12. Enjoy a lighter homemade burger with a lettuce bun instead of a bread roll

One bread roll = 202cal (846kJ)

One iceberg lettuce leaf = 1cal (6kJ)

Save = 201cal (840kJ)

13. Remove the skin from chicken before eating it

100 grams baked chicken breast with skin = 187cal (781kJ)

100 grams baked skinless chicken breast = 152cal (637kJ)

Save = 35cal (144kJ)

14. Add fresh fruit to porridge instead of honey

One cup of porridge + 2 tbs honey = 434cal (1813kJ)

One cup of porridge + half a cup of blueberries = 347cal (1450kJ)

Save = 87cal (363kJ)

15. Poach chicken rather than pan frying it in oil

100 grams of chicken breast fried in oil = 233cal (975kJ)

100 grams of poached chicken breast = 143cal (596kJ)

Save = 90cal (379kJ)

16. Opt for mustard on a sandwich instead of mayonnaise

One tablespoon mayo = 139cal (582kJ)

One teaspoon of mustard = 4cal (17kJ)

Save = 135cal (565kJ)

17. Satisfy your sweet tooth with ‘nice cream’ instead of ice cream

Two scoops of ice cream = 264cal (1103kJ)

One frozen banana (blended) = 138cal (578kJ)

Save = 126cal (525kJ)

18. Try fresh tomato instead of tomato sauce

One tablespoon tomato sauce = 21cal (87kJ)

One sliced tomato = 13cal (56kJ)

Save = 9cal (31kJ)

19. Substitute half of the rice in your stir fry with broccoli rice

200 grams of cooked rice = 321cal (1342kJ)

100 grams of cooked rice + 100 grams of broccoli = 199cal (831kJ)

Save = 122cal (511kJ)

20. Swap butter or margarine on a sandwich for Tzatziki

One tablespoon butter = 145cal (605kJ)

One tablespoon of Tzatziki = 13cal (53kJ)

Save = 132cal (552kJ)

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at www.honestnutrition.com.au or on Instagram @honest_nutrition.