CCE Onondaga Eat Smart NY- March 2018
March is National Nutrition Month! A perfect time to celebrate the healthy and wholesome meals that bring us together with the people we care about. Healthy family meals can be low cost and easy to prepare. First, check out the food that you have on hand. Then make a list of additional ingredients needed to prepare recipes with foods that are readily available and best yet, in season. Bring family and friends around the table to create meaningful memories over a nourishing meal.
The theme for this year’s National Nutrition Month is “Go Further with Food”. The message reminds us to be mindful to choose health promoting foods and to reduce the amount of food we waste. Reducing food waste saves money, protects the environment and saves valuable nutrients that our body needs for energy, growth and to repair itself.
Wasting food is expensive. Not all food that is wasted can be saved and eaten, but a lot of food waste could be prevented. One of the obvious reasons to reduce food waste for many people is that it costs money. However, wasted food also results in wasted nutrients. Fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and seafood are often the foods that are wasted.
We are faced with higher food prices and lose money when food spoils at home or gets thrown out as plate waste. In addition, much of the food that is tossed out winds up in landfills, and over time this can cause negative changes in the earth’s climate.
Did you know that about 1,200 calories of food are wasted daily in the United States? When we think of the nutrition these foods provide, that amounts to losses of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and vitamin D.
Ways to help prevent food waste:
• Buy only the amount of food that can be eaten or frozen within a few days.
• Place foods that spoil quickly within sight.
• Store produce properly.
• As with other foods, to prevent spoilage only buy the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables you can use within a few days.
• Produce should always be washed before using, but some produce may spoil more quickly if it’s washed too far in advance.
• Refrigeration is recommended for a lot of produce, especially fruits and vegetables that are conveniently packaged or already cut up. Plus, some produce will last longer when refrigerated, such as apples and oranges. Whereas, other produce like onions and potatoes are best stored outside of the refrigerator.
• Because some produce, like apples can cause other fruits and vegetables to ripen more quickly it’s best to keep them in a separate crisper drawer.
• Regardless of the date stamped on the food or drink packaging, don’t risk eating or drinking anything that you suspect has spoiled. In some cases a food will not look or smell any different. That’s why it’s important to eat leftovers within 3 to 4 days (or freeze for up to 3 to 4 months).
• Always remember to practice good food safety!
• For more food safety information, visit www.homefoodsafety.org or check out the “Is My Food Safe” app.
• The USDA’s FoodKeeper app is another good resource. It helps you determine how long items may be kept in the refrigerator, freezer, or pantry. Knowing this information will help you identify what needs to be used up when planning meals or deciding what to do with leftovers.
Save money and reduce food waste by:
• Planning meals based on foods you already have.
Look in the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry first for foods that need to be used up. These items will give you ideas about what recipes to make for the week.
Find recipes that use those ingredients.
Write a list of the food items you still need.
• Planning meals and snacks in advance is a good place to start and will help you use the foods you already have on hand.
• Another way to prevent food waste is to get creative with leftovers.
• A meal doesn’t always need to be eaten in the same way as a leftover. A lot of times, it can be transformed into another meal, a soup, salad, or even a sandwich.
• Roast a whole chicken or turkey for dinner. The leftovers could be shredded, reheated and added to a soup on Monday night or wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla with low-fat cheese and veggies for lunch.
• Other ways to Go Further with Food include being mindful of portion sizes. Over the years, portions of most foods and drinks have increased in size.
• Choosing smaller portions will not only help to reduce food waste, but it will also help you stay within your calorie needs, as MyPlate recommends.
• If it’s not possible to request a smaller portion when eating out, just ask for a to-go container at the start of a meal. This will help you eat less. Plus, you’ll have a leftover to enjoy the next day.
For tasty, low cost recipes, tips and more go to www.eatsmartnewyork.org.
Southern Tier Eat Smart NY is funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program- SNAP. SNAP Provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. To find out more go to www.myBenefits.ny.gov or contact 1-800-342-3009. This Institution is an equal opportunity employer.