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Helpful cooking tools to have on-handWhether you live in the barracks, a small apartment, or a house, having some basic cooking tools will help with easy meal preparations. A few appliance such as a rice cooker, crock-pot or a toaster oven may help with simple meals. If you live in the barracks, check with housing office for specific guidance for cooking devices (rice cookers, crock-pots, etc.).
Pots, pans, and other cooking tools may be available to borrow from Army Community Service (ACS). If you must purchase your own cooking tools and devices, research and shop for the best quality at an affordable price. The next few pages contain an illustrative guide to some of the helpful and common cooking devices and tools. You do not have to purchase every single device pictured on the next few pages! Pick only those devices and tools you think you will use the most often. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions when operating, cleaning, and storing your kitchen devices and tools.
CookingRice cookerSlow-cooker/crock-potToasterToaster ovenFood preparationBlenderCan openerColander(s)Cooling rack(s)Measuring cupsMeasuring spoonsMeat thermometerMini-food processorMixing bowls (various sizes)Oven mittsPots and pans (non-stick)Sharp (cutting) knivesSpatulasStirring spoon(s)Trivet(s)Washable cutting board(s)MicrowaveCeramic dishes/bowlsGlass/Pyrex containersFood storageAluminum foilBPA-free plastic dishes/containers (** Bisphenol A (BPA) is a carbon-based synthetic compound used to make certain plastics and plastic containers.)Glass/Pyrex containersParchment paperPlastic wrapRefrigerator thermometerSealable plastic bags (large and small)Sealable plastic freezer bagsWax paperCleaning suppliesBleachDish-washing soapDish-washing tub and drying rackDisinfecting spray and/or wipesHand-soapPaper towelsWashable dish-rags Common uses for kitchen tools and appliances
(Note: Some appliances may not be allowed in the barracks.)
Kitchen tools and their common uses
Device or ToolPurposeBlenderBlend soups, smoothies, etc.Ceramic/glassBaking casseroles and meats or for microwaving vegetables. Stores and protects leftovers or meats during thawing. Useful to re-heat food in the microwave or oven (remove plastic lid when re-heating food).Cooking scissors/shearsTrim the fat off the meat (poultry) or quickly cut the stalks off of fresh broccoli.Cutting boardsProvide a surface to cut, dice, chop meats, vegetables, fruits, etc. Protects counter-tops.Grill panGrill meats and vegetables on the stove-top.Kitchen knivesCutting, chopping, and slicing. Refer to the knife guide at Kitchen Knives - Blades, Styles and Uses for more information.Meat thermometerUse to check cooked meat to ensure it has reached the correct internal temperature.Mini-food processorQuickly mince or chop raw veggies (onions, peppers, garlic, etc.).Muffin pansBake muffinsNon-stick skillet panCook and heat sauces, eggs, chicken, ground beef, etc.Oven-tempered glass/PyrexBaking casseroles and meats or for microwaving vegetables. Use to safely re-heat foods and/or store left-overs.PotsBoil water, soups, sauces, marinades, etc. on the stove-top.Rice cookerCook white or brown rice, and other grains like quinoa, bulgur, etc.Sheet pansBake or roast foods that won’t run or seep liquid (e.g., baking potatoes, fish-fillets, vegetables, cookies, etc.).Slow-cooker or crock-potSlow-cook soups, meats, casseroles, etc.Wok panStir fry meats and/or vegetables.
Save money with a slow-cooker/crockpot
Slow-cookers can help you turn nearly any combination of ingredients into a delicious, comforting, and low-cost dish with plenty of leftovers.
Purchase cheaper cuts of meat. The slightly tougher, and therefore, cheaper cuts forms of meat are perfect for the slow-cooker. The long hours and low temperature of the slow-cooker will soften even the toughest of meats. Cook meals in bulk. Keep an eye out for ingredients that are on sale and double up on soup, stew, and casserole recipes. Put the extras in plastic/glass sealable containers or storage bags, and store them in the freezer or fridge. You’ll have heat-n-eat meals at your fingertips! Break out the beans. Vegetarian protein sources (like beans) tend to be cheaper and more environmentally friendly than meat or fish. You can use canned or dried beans. Dried beans tend to be less expensive than canned beans and are often lower in sodium. When using dried beans, soak them overnight in water and drain them in the morning before using.Save time when prepping meals for your slow cookerPre-prep your ingredients the night before. Refrigerate them in a covered bowl. Wake up, pour them into the slow cooker, turn it on, and get on with your day.Need to chop an onion? Try using a mini-food chopper or a bag of pre-prepped fresh/frozen onions.Use frozen vegetables in place of fresh veggies.Look for a non-stick surface when purchasing a crock-pot or consider disposable crock-pot liners for faster clean-up.Consider a removable, stove-top safe insert for browning meat. This feature allows you to brown/sear meat or sauté ingredients directly on the stove-top before placing the pot back in the slow-cooker to finish cooking. (Reduces the amount of pans required to pre-prep ingredients for recipes that call for browning/searing meat ahead of time.)Only have canned vegetables* for your slow cooker meal?
Using low sodium canned vegetables is a great time saver for your slow cooked meal. Canned vegetables only need to be heated. Put your canned vegetables in during the final 45 minutes of your cooking time so they retain their shape and texture.
* Note: The above recommendation does not apply to canned beans like pinto beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, etc. You can put these in at the start of the cooking time and their texture will not be diminished.
Get the best results from your blender
Follow these 7 tips to help your blender last longer and still produce a smooth and nutritious beverage!
Cut whole fresh fruits (i.e., apples, pears, peaches, etc.) into smaller pieces – ½ to 1 inch – and discard seeds, core, stems, and/or pits.Tear over-sized pieces of leafy greens into smaller pieces (~ 2 inches) when necessary. Spinach leaves are usually softer than Kale leaves. If using whole, large Kale leaves, be sure to cut out the hard stem before prepping.Defrost your bigger frozen fruits (strawberries, mangoes, cherries) in the refrigerator the night before to make them easier to blend.Always begin by blending your leafy greens and liquid base FIRST, and then add the rest of your ingredients.*Hit the pulse button, if you have one, a few times to break up the ingredients and then gradually move your blender from a lower to higher speed.Add a little more of the liquid (water, almond milk, etc.) you are using to your blender if the motor seems stuck. If your blender ingredients get stuck or the blades get jammed, turn off the machine and unplug it immediately. Call the manufacturer or refer to the manufacturer’s directions for the best guidance.Like it really cold? Pour your smoothie directly over ice rather than using your blender to crush the ice.
*If the above steps are still too hard on your low wattage blender (300 watts), blend your liquid and fruit first (pulse the ingredients first, and then go from low to high speed). After your fruit is sufficiently blended, add your greens in small batches.
Whether you are eating at home or eating out, you can maintain a performance diet with proper planning and tools to help you make the best nutrition choices.
Food is fuel for one of the most sophisticated machines in the world—your body! Properly fueling your body means eating plenty of fresh fruits/vegetables, whole grains, beans, and moderate amounts of lean protein and healthy fats.
Many Soldiers are busy and rely on food that comes from a restaurant (fast-food, take-out, or sit-down). You may also be eating more convenience foods or pre-packaged/highly processed foods because they require very little preparation and cooking time.
Use the My Plate or recommended daily servings guidesMy Plate
Use My Plate to guide your food choices when shopping: Make ½ of your plate fruits and vegetables.
My Plate tipsMake half your plate full of fruits and vegetables.Eat a variety of colorful fruits. Choose mostly fresh or frozen.Eat vegetables raw, steamed, roasted or grilled. Flavor with herbs and low-sodium spices.Eat low-fat dairy options like low-fat milk, soy milk, and yogurt. Limit cheese.Eat whole grains (look for 100% whole wheat). Choose quality carbohydrates; make half your grain choices whole grains. Limit refined (white) bread, pasta and rice.Select lean proteins. Choose mostly protein like fish, lean poultry, beans. Limit red meat, bacon, cold-cuts, and other processed meats.Choose heart-healthy fats (olive oil, canola oil) nuts, seeds, and avocados. Avoid trans-fats (fried foods, many pre-packaged foods).For more help, visit Choose My Plate.GovRemember to:Choose quality carbohydrates like whole grain breads and cereals, pasta, rice, beans, lentils, fruit, milk, and yogurt.Get vitamins and minerals through food first—don’t rely on supplements.Make water your first choice for hydration.Recommended daily servings by food group
** Recommended daily servings based on calorie needs.
* For additional examples of portion sizes by food group, visit Choose My Plate.Recommended Daily Servings by Food Group**Unit of MeasureWhat Counts as a Serving?*8 cups of fruit and vegetables**What counts as 1 cup of fruit?*1 medium-sized fresh fruit1 cup of fresh or canned fruit½ cup dried fruitWhat counts as 1 cup of vegetables?*2 cups of leafy greens1 cup of cooked or raw veggies1 small baked potato3–8 oz. grains **What counts as 1 oz of grain?*1 cup dry cereal½ cup cooked cereal, pasta, rice1 slice of bread½ bun or ½ English muffin5–10 oz. proteins**What counts as 1 oz of protein?*1 oz. cooked meat, fish, poultry¼ cup cooked beans1 egg¼ cup tofu1 tbsp. nut butter½ oz. nuts (11-12 whole almonds, 24 pistachios, 7 walnut halves)3–4 cups of dairy**What counts as 1 cup of dairy?*1 cup (8 oz.) of milk, yogurt1 ½ oz. hard cheese2 slices of processed cheese1/3 cup shredded cheeseAdded oils: Use sparingly (5–8 tsp. /day)**What counts as added oils?*Vegetable oil, margarine, butter, salad dressing, mayonnaise, coffee creamer, etc.1 tsp. = approx. 5 g total fat (3 tsp. = 1 tbsp.)Tips for eating healthier when dining out
Cut calories and/or reduce fat by choosing the following options.
Beverages:Choose water, light-lemonade, unsweetened iced tea, or diet soda instead of regular soda.Choose low-fat milk instead of a milkshake.Limit your consumption of alcohol; alcoholic beverages contain empty calories and can stimulate your appetite which can lead to over-eating.Sandwiches:Choose sandwiches with < 300 caloriesAsk for mayonnaise on the side or skip it all together. 1 Tbsp. of mayonnaise has 100 calories! Substitute mustard for the mayonnaise.Skip the special sauce.Skip the cheese.Order sandwiches with low-fat meat (turkey, lean roast beef, grilled chicken).Ask for extra veggies on sandwiches.Sides:Instead of fries, order a side-salad with low-fat dressing or a baked potato without butter (or, butter on the side).Choose baked chips or pretzels over regular chips.Bring your own side from home (raw carrot sticks, fresh fruit) and save money!Meals and/or main dishes:Choose entrees with < 500 ...