National Nutrition Month - Fuel for the Future: Sustains Us Today and Beyond
By Alta Dunning, Holy Rosary Healthcare Registered Dietitian
March is National Nutrition Month, and we are looking toward the future this year. Although we are still in the midst of a long winter's nap, spring is in the air. March provides new life from the farming and ranching communities, from new babies to new seedlings awaiting the sunshine. How we nurture our herd, flock, or crops affects their future potential. And how we nurture ourselves affects our future. This brings me back to our theme for nutrition month, "Fuel for the Future."
At Holy Rosary Healthcare, we highlight how and what we eat sustains us daily and beyond. The choices and changes you make today can have a lasting impact. This could include incorporating balanced meals and snacks to nourish our bodies, reducing food waste and packaging, finding an approach to eating that is satisfactory versus limited, or reducing intake of animal-based options. The takeaway is that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to how you "Fuel the Future." As registered dietitians, we encourage individuals to choose a lifestyle that allows flexibility and meets their needs.
With that in mind, I wanted to share a few ideas for eating well on a budget. I often think about how the cost of food has soared in the last two years, and it pains me to think that access to nutritious foods may take a step back when cost is a concern. Fortunately, there are some 'tricks to the trade" for fueling ourselves and our well-being while keeping an eye on our budgets.
- Eat at Home. As food costs are on the rise, extra money can be put toward the quality of ingredients in your kitchen.
- Build and Maintain a Pantry. Shelf-stable foods can be healthy and serve as a foundation for building a quick meal. Stocking up on dry or canned beans, canned vegetables, fruit, rice, quinoa, barley, lentils, canned chicken, or fish can save time and allow you to take advantage of sales for reduced costs. Frozen foods with little processing (fruits, vegetables, chicken breasts) are foods to consider if space allows in the home. Look at labels for reduced sodium and no added salt or sugar.
- Invest in the Tools for the Job. Cooking from home can be done with basic tools to help prepare meals. Crock pots, sheet pans, spatulas, hand mixers, measuring cups and spoons, and reusable containers are a few items that come to mind.
- Search out the Sales. Grocery stores often run weekly ads online or in their storefronts. Are you tech-savvy? Stores often have apps with member deals online for shopping. Know your local store's senior discount days or seasonal bulk sales to stock up on your everyday items.
- Plan, Plan, Plan. Inventory your kitchen pantry before your routine trip to the grocery store. Use a list to reduce impulse buying. This can save money and food waste. If time is an issue, plan for a food pick-up or delivery.
- Utilize Food Programs. If you are having trouble making ends meet, consider options such as SNAP, Senior Commodities, Food Bank, Soup Kitchen, or Food Pantry.
These are just some of the ways you can improve your nutrition and health today and beyond. Remember, how we care and invest in ourselves today affects our health and the health of our community. So, let's "Fuel the Future" in the spirit of National Nutrition Month.