Whether it’s starting the day off right with a healthy breakfast, packing a brown bag lunch, or enjoying a family supper, the foods you choose can make a real difference. “Go Further with Food” is the theme for National Nutrition Month. The theme highlights how our food choices impact not only on our own health and well-being but also the community.
Conversations around food often revolve around weight, health, or the environment. But people rarely talk about the foods we toss out. It is estimated that Americans throw away up to 90 billion pounds of food each year – either at home or when eating out. This amount doesn’t include food that goes to waste at the grocery store.
While many families struggle to get enough food to feed their families, the amount of safe food wasted in the United States is on the rise. By making small changes in how we plan meals ahead of time, we can help reduce food waste and save money. Planning ahead can also set you up for success with healthy eating goals.
While not all food that is thrown away could be saved and eaten, there are ways we can prevent food from being thrown away, especially at home:
Plan meals around the foods you already have on hand.
Check the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry for foods that need to be used up. Only buy fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products that can be eaten within a few days. Buy more frozen fruits and veggies that are ready to use quickly and keep longer.
Learn about date labels.
Many dates on food packages refer to the food’s quality, not food safety. Easily find out if it is time to toss foods by using the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ “Is My Food Safe” app or accessing the USDA’s FoodKeeper App online.
Get creative with leftovers.
Plan to use leftover meats and vegetables in soups, salads, or sandwiches later in the week. For example, use leftovers from the following recipe on top of salad greens or rolled up in a whole-wheat tortilla.
Pesto Salmon (or Chicken) Sheet Pan Dinner
1 pound salmon, skin and bones removed
1 pound zucchini and/or yellow summer squash (2 small), cut into 1” pieces
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes
1 cup spinach leaves
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup pine nuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 servings cooked brown rice or whole grain pasta
Notes: Substitute boneless chicken breasts or thighs in this recipe for the salmon. You can also use pre-made pesto.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. On a sheet pan, arrange the salmon in the middle with the cut veggies and cherry tomatoes in a circle around it. Set aside.
3. In a food processor, combine the spinach, basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil, and garlic. Blend until smooth. Spread the pesto on top of the salmon and spoon remainder on top of the veggies.
4. Bake until the salmon is done (no longer pink in the middle) and the vegetables can easily be pierced with a fork, about 18 to 20 minutes. Serve warm, with rice or pasta on the side.
Recipe used with permission from 100daysofrealfood.com.
Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics focuses nationwide attention on healthful eating through National Nutrition Month. For more reliable nutrition information, visit www.eatright.org/nnm.