It’s National Nutrition Month – an ideal time to focus on healthy nutrition. This year’s theme is “Go Further with Food” to spotlight the many ways we all can incorporate healthy habits to optimize our food choices. While a balanced diet begins with choosing a broad range of nutrient-rich foods, there are other strategies that can help minimize food waste, streamline your budget and save you time while ensuring you’re getting the nutrients you need.
The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that the average American family of four wastes more than 20 percent of the food they buy. Among the most wasted foods are meat, milk, fresh fruits and vegetables. To cut back on wasteful food purchases, it’s important to create a shopping list. It can be as simple as writing down the items you need on a piece of scrap paper. Or, leverage the convenience of a grocery store app that you access from your smartphone. The app provides details on weekly savings, promotions and coupons. It’s all about buying the food you need and not buying items that will ultimately be thrown out.
“When you consider that Americans waste approximately 90 billion pounds of food each year, doing more with the food you buy is a message we should all focus on,” says Marissa Licata, Dietitian with the Katz Institute for Women’s Health. “With a little planning, food waste can be dramatically reduced, saving both time and money.”
Think twice before grabbing that bunch of grapes in the middle of winter. Most likely they were ripened artificially while in transit from another country. Not only are they out-of-season and not freshly picked, they also can be more expensive and not as nutritious. To stretch your weekly food budget, consider shopping local farmers’ markets that sell what’s currently being harvested. Not only will the prices be better, the quality will be superior, too.
After a long day of work, it can be challenging to have the motivation to cook a homemade meal. This is when the temptation of heading to a restaurant or grabbing takeout often hits. One of the most effective ways to reduce the number of meals you eat out is to make meals in batches that you can store in the refrigerator or freezer for use during the week. By taking a couple of hours on a weekend afternoon, you can have a week’s worth of meals ready at your convenience without extra planning or preparation. Soups and stews can easily be made in advanced and stored. Simply heat and serve when you’re ready. Add to your repertoire of quick meals by making pizza dough or a roast chicken that can be used for making salads and casseroles. Make sure to freeze what you don’t plan to use during the week and label all items with the date that they were prepared.
Meals and meal planning should be an enjoyable, bonding experience between family members. Talk about what you will be preparing, as well as ways to prevent food waste. Experiment with new recipes and foods while encouraging kids to help out. Not only will they think more about what they’re eating, but who they’re sharing it with.
Find out more about how to optimize your nutrition. At Katz Institute for Women’s Health, we’re here to answer your questions. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.