Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sponsors a national campaign highlighting the importance of nutrition. National Nutrition Month® is marking its 50th anniversary this year, and the theme is “Fuel for the Future.”
When thinking about nutrition through the lens of fueling your future, what comes to mind? For me, it’s about eating an overall healthy diet — not only to fuel myself today, but to build healthy habits for my future self.
With that in mind, here are five ways to “fuel your future” in honor of National Nutrition Month®: meal plan, try a new recipe, minimize food waste, learn a new skill in the kitchen and connect over a meal. Trust me, your future self will thank you!
1. Meal Plan for the Week
If you don’t already plan your meals, try creating a meal plan for just one week to see how it benefits your life and well-being! Eating out frequently, especially when using delivery services, adds up quickly in terms of both spending and creating habits. Planning your meals at home using products you have on hand, items you bought on sale and seasonal fruits and vegetables helps financially. As a bonus, planning helps you quickly answer the dreaded question each evening: “what’s for dinner?” Use these tips to get your meal plan started:
- Keep it simple. My weeknight formula for meal planning is easy to follow (protein + carb + vegetable = dinner). Pick something from each food group, plan them out for each day of the week and ta-da — you have a menu!
- Take it one meal at a time. Use a notepad, your smartphone or sticky notes on the fridge to write down your plan and create your shopping list from there. Find what works for you!
2. Try a New Recipe
Getting into a rut with repeating recipes happens to everyone. For National Nutrition Month®, my goal is to incorporate one new recipe each week. With so many ways to find new recipes, these are my personal favorites:
- Friends – One text message to a group of friends should yield at least a week’s worth of options. I love this avenue because, most of the time, your close friends are in the same life stage as you. If you need fast and easy weeknight recipes, they might need them too.
- Social media – Pick your favorite platform from Pinterest to TikTok, and you can find recipes everywhere. Get specific, and look for #slowcookerrecipes, #kidfriendlyrecipes or any type of recipe that fits your needs. The possibilities (and hashtags) are endless.
- Food companies – Find the brands of your favorite staple items in the pantry, fridge or freezer, and visit those brand websites to easily find recipes for all dining occasions!
- Family – You can also recruit help from your family by asking each person to pick a new recipe to try!
3. Minimize Food Waste
I saw a funny meme recently that said, “The drawer in the fridge … where good intentions go to die.” Relatable, right? You bought fruits and vegetables, took them home, put them in the fridge and forgot they were there. Or maybe your schedule changed, and you ended up eating out. Either way, sometimes our intentions and our healthy foods get wasted. In honor of nutrition month, be a part of the food waste solution. Try these tips to help minimize food waste at your own home:
- Prep your fresh fruits and vegetables the day you bring them home. Wash, chop and store foods in clear containers for easy grab-and-go access.
- Plan your leftovers. Since you’re planning your meals now (wink, wink), take leftovers in your lunch or plan one night of the week to use leftovers instead of cooking.
- Utilize your freezer. Freeze fruits or vegetables before they go bad, and use them later in smoothies or soups.
4. Learn a New Skill in the Kitchen
Whether you’re a beginner, home cook or a seasoned chef, there’s always room to sharpen your skills in the kitchen. Pick a skill you want to conquer (one your future self would appreciate) or focus on a skill you want to teach (one that could save your future self some time). There’s no better time than the present to teach a little one in your house age-appropriate kitchen skills or how to pack their own lunch. Make it fun with a themed day, such as “Try it Tuesdays,” and introduce a new skill for everyone to learn or practice.
5. Connect Over a Meal
Try disconnecting from technology and connecting with family and friends this month. Maybe that’s a family meal around the dinner table, phone and television free, or an invitation to connect with friends over brunch. Sharing a meal is a wonderful way to spend time with others, feel more connected and research continues to grow highlighting the health and social benefits of family meals.1
- FMI.org. Family Meals Movement. https://www.fmi.org/family-meals-movement/#research Accessed March 9, 2023.