Every March is National Nutrition Month, and 2023’s theme is “Fuel for the Future.” What does this mean? Eating with an eye toward sustainability and protecting the planet while nourishing ourselves–it’s a win win for our health, weight and budgets. The good news is this can be done at every phase of life and no matter what your diet.
How does this translate to your kitchen?
- Enjoy more plant-based meals and snacks.
- Look to purchase foods with minimal packaging.
- Buy foods in season and shop locally when possible.
- Start a container or backyard garden to grow food at home.
Choosing locally sourced, fresh ingredients reduces packaging waste and limits the energy needed to transport them from their source to your plate. Better yet, grow your own food–it only has to travel from your backyard to your kitchen! Supporting local agriculture (including your own small plot) helps protect soil and water resources. Furthermore, opting for plant-based proteins can reduce your carbon footprint significantly since animal agriculture is a major contributor to global warming. And, more veggies and less meat is typically beneficial for our hearts, cholesterol and inflammation levels.
Being conscious of where your food comes from and how it’s prepared can go a long way toward protecting our environment and creating a more sustainable future. With just a few simple changes (Meatless Mondays, anyone?), we can all do our part to ensure that we have access to safe and nutritious food for years to come.
Stay nourished and save money.
- Plan your meals and snacks.
- See what food you have at home before purchasing more.
- Use a grocery list and shop sales when purchasing food.
Reducing food waste by using leftovers or getting creative with recipe ideas will help you make the most out of what’s already been grown, produced or purchased while conserving natural resources in the environment. Instead of composting your carrot ends, onion peels and celery tops, store them in the freezer for later use to throw into a pot to make some vegetable or bone broth. Making smoothies or juices at home? Save some rinds and pulp to zest into a dish or toss into a soup or casserole. Kale and Swiss chard stems can be diced up and added to a stir-fry, soup or vegetable side for added fiber. Even Fido can benefit from a little extra veggies mixed into his dog bowl!
Planning your meals and getting on a schedule to food prep accordingly will help tremendously, but sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. If you purchased a lot of food and end up eating out during the week and watch your food start to get wilty, whip up a soup and freeze it, or store herbs in an ice container and freeze to later add to dishes like stews and soups.
Eat a variety of foods from all food groups.
- Include your favorite cultural foods and traditions.
- Eat foods in various forms including fresh, frozen, canned and dried.
- Avoid fad diets that promote unnecessary restrictions.
- Practice gratitude for your body by giving it the fuel it needs.
Foods like canned beans, dried mushrooms and frozen fruits and vegetables last a long time, and ensure you can always pull together a quick meal. Often frozen foods contain as much of or more nutritional value than fresh foods because they’re picked and frozen quickly, so don’t be wary of those options. They can add a lot of flavor as well, and keep smoothies cold and creamy.
Make tasty foods at home.
- Learn cooking and meal preparation skills.
- Try new flavors and foods from around the world.
- Find creative ways to use leftovers rather than tossing them.
- Create happy memories by eating with friends and family when possible.
Cooking your own meals is one of the best ways to be more environmentally conscious when it comes to food. Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy your meals! Eating sustainably doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor or health benefits — with a little bit of creativity in the kitchen, you can have delicious and nutrient-dense dishes that are good for you and the environment. Trying fresh recipes and new flavor combinations can keep things as interesting as going to a new restaurant, with the satisfaction of knowing you made it yourself. You also have control over the ingredients and know what you’re making is clean and nutritious. Invite friends over for a potluck and share the sustainable love!
Let us know how it goes and what you’ve tried–we’re always curious about what works for our clients!