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Healthy eating starts with a great kitchen

Modern kitchens serve a multitude of purposes - cooking, eating, entertaining and socialising - and designing a functional and streamlined space that meets all these needs means that you have a great kitchen. Should you want to sell your home in the future, the state of your kitchen is also one of the areas that can add or reduce your property’s potential value.

Let’s look at a kitchen’s primary function - preparing and cooking food. A great kitchen should make these tasks easy and quick. The layout of your appliances and work spaces should fit around how you move when preparing and cooking your meals. Is the sink at the other end of the preparation space meaning that you have to walk further each time you want to wash your hands or rinse some ingredients? Can you open the oven door without it touching other kitchen units and with space to safely walk around it?

Perhaps the most important consideration is whether there is a good amount of counter space and making sure that all useable area is within easy reach when preparing meals.

Other considerations should include:

  • Provision of adequate storage by planning a space for everything that you use - cutlery, china, glassware, baking tins, ingredients, cleaning products, gadgets. Introduce drawers, corner storage, magnetic panels or hooks on walls to utilise space better. Try to keep items used for similar tasks together in one spot so they are to hand when you need them, i.e. keep all measuring spoons near to where you store the flour and other baking ingredients.

  • Ventilation - cooking, especially on a hob can leave lingering smells. Ventilation is important to capture impurities, circulate air and help to keep a kitchen clean.

  • Refuse and recyclable space - hide bins and recyclables in cupboards to help reduce odours and make your space look tidier.

  • Different types of lighting - prepping food requires direct, brighter light than a dining area which can have dimmable lights to create a more inviting ambience. Introduce task lighting when cupboards are open to help you find things hidden at the back.

  • Ensure there are adequate power sockets and in places where they can be used easily, away from sinks to prevent any splashes.

  • Employ experts for wiring, plumbing and ventilation.

A well thought-out cooking space will lead to the whole family enjoying meal times more and should save time if areas used for certain tasks are kept together. Bright and uncluttered spaces will be more appealing to prepare food in and to eat together.

Harvard University carried out some research a couple of years ago and the findings pointed to a certain level of home cooking as being the key to a healthy lifestyle. With the rise in popularity of convenience food in recent decades, appealing to busy families who work and want to spend more time socialising than cooking elaborate meals, there was a decline of functional kitchen design for many years, with microwaves being the focal point of a lot of family kitchens, and less counter space to allow for meal preparation as it was not required often. Avoiding junk food and cooking food from scratch not only makes you healthier but has a beneficial effect on the planet with a reduction in pre-packaged foods generating huge quantities of plastic waste and encouraging composting of food scraps.

If your budget doesn’t stretch to redesigning a kitchen from scratch, here are some simple ideas to improve your enhance your kitchen:

  • Make a still life - bowls of colourful fruit and vegetables, or a platter stacked with freshly cooked low-fat cakes or snacks are inviting to the family and guests, and will encourage them to eat a healthy snack from right in front of them

  • Using similar logic, leave pretty pitchers of iced water out on counters or dining tables as a reminder to consume more water because it’s visible and you don’t have to run to the tap every time you feel thirsty.

  • Add a chalkboard to a wall and commit to planning meals throughout the week presented like a ‘menu’. Try painting one wall with chalkboard paint and let the family be creative too, adding doodles or comments on what food they enjoy.

  • Herb gardens - either outside the kitchen door or on windowsills in pretty pots. Or if there isn’t space or you don’t have green fingers, have a spice rack showing off enticing colours and flavours on display. If you see them, you’re more likely to use them too in more recipes.

  • Music - have a radio or docking station so you can listen to your favourite music or podcasts while cooking, making it a more enjoyable experience, and taking your mind off any cravings whilst you work

  • Display favourite cookbooks so they are easy to reach for inspiration. Put torn out recipes from magazines together in one place in either a drawer or folder so they are easy to flick through when you’re looking for ideas.

  • Inviting seating area - for friends and family, encouraging them to stay for longer than just to eat a meal - bar stools, breakfast bar, social area

  • Lighting - not only bright lighting for cooking, but dimmable options to eat in. It’s an inexpensive upgrade to your kitchen and dining areas. However, remember that more subdued lighting encourages relaxation and makes you more likely to linger and have a second helping of dessert!

  • Colour has been found to affect your cooking habits - blue is best to calm junk food cravings! Green is also a good kitchen colour. You can accessorise with china, tea towels or pots if you don’t want to embrace these colours on walls or kitchen units.

  • Use smaller plates to reduce portion sizes, and if you’re able to, make up batches of healthy food and freeze portions to be consumed during the week to continue healthy eating.

  • Organise your cupboards and fridge so that healthy food and snacks are at eye level, and the tempting chocolates and biscuits hidden in hard to reach spaces at the back of cupboards.

  • Regularly check your fridge and cupboards for expired produce, bringing older fruit, veg and tins to the front for use next and freshly bought items towards the back, so there is less wastage.

  • Only keep the gadgets that you use regularly, and store them close to where you would use them. If a vegetable spiralizer is used daily, then keep it, but if it was bought on impulse and never used, consider donating it friends or family.

Whether you are considering redesigning a kitchen, or just updating your existing one, you'll be surprised at how impactful certain elements will be in helping you live a healthier lifestyle. If you're considering a redesign project, why not get in touch with us to see how we can make your ideas a reality. After all - Better living starts with a Better Pad.


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