April is National Nutrition Month, a time to reinforce the four food groups, nutritional information, clean eating and a healthy grocery list. This week I attended an information session with dietitian, chef and author of Clean Eating for Busy Families, Michelle Dudash, as she offered tips on how parents can shop using a healthy grocery list, practice clean eating and provide kids with items in each of the food groups, even on a strict budget.
This is an important issue, since according to the CDC, too many Americans are not making a well-balanced diet part of their daily routine. In fact, only 25% of adults and even fewer children eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day.
Michelle has joined forces with the Walmart Foundation to raise awareness about the importance of breakfast for school-aged children and overall nutrition education. The Walmart Foundation is giving $6.7 million in grants to five national nonprofits that are providing thousands of students access to school breakfast and nutrition education to people of all ages.
Clean foods are ones that have not been processed, as often that is where the excess salt, sugars and chemical ingredients are added. However, there are some wonderful convenience products out there that have been processed, so it is important to read the ingredient list and know what is in the food before purchasing it. Concentrate on buying foods with ingredients you recognize and are not loaded with added sugars or salt.
At the grocery store:
- Plan weekly trips for getting fresh produce and proteins for the week.
- Pay attention to the ingredients and nutritional information on the labels. Don’t purchase items with too many added ingredients which sound like they come from a lab.
- Buy in-season produce for the best value. If it’s not in-season, look at the frozen options.
- Brown rice, whole grain pasta, canned tomatoes, olive oil, herbs & spices, etc. Grab whatever you need to get you through the whole month. Stock your pantry!
- For those who shop at Walmart, look for “Great For You” icons. Those products have been checked out for sugar, sodium, fat and meet the FDA guidelines for healthy foods.
In the kitchen:
- Get rid of expired and unhealthy ingredients which get in the way of finding and things in your refrigerator and cabinets.
- Showcase your produce in your fridge or on your counter instead of forgetting about them in the produce drawer.
- Organize your pantry, fridge and freezer so you know what’s in there and can utilize what you have.
- Keep healthy foods within arm’s reach to make healthy snacking easier. For example, keep a fresh bowl of fruit on the counter at home or on your desk at work.
- Keep a running grocery list out in a place where everyone in the family can add to it.
- Think of the rule to cook once and eat twice, saving you time and money. For example, cook a big batch of chicken to make dinner but use what’s left for tacos, soup or to throw in a salad.
- Plan your meals for the week so you can stock your kitchen properly and shop accordingly. Include your family in the meal selections.
- Revive the slow cooker by finding healthy recipes with vegetables and whole grains. One pot meals save both time and money. Make a dish that contains a protein, vegetable and grain.
For the kids:
- Kids are more likely to eat what they have helped prepare. Get kids in the kitchen early and helping with age appropriate tasks.
- Pack lunches the night before in containers with compartments. Give them choices when you can and make it fun for them.
- Think about how you can make their favorite dishes healthier, such as using whole wheat or whole grain bread and natural nut butters.
- Boil eggs once a week. Eggs are a strong protein source and very economical.
- Use leftover veggies from dinner in scrambled eggs, frittatas, breakfast burritos and salads.
- Breakfast sundaes are quick, easy to prepare and travel well. Use Greek yogurt, frozen fruit, granola and/or almonds.
- Make a homemade breakfast snack mix by combining different healthy cereals, nuts and low-sugar granola. Pre-portion it so you can grab and go.
- Make a big batch of a hearty salad once a week using quinoa or whole grain pasta and vegetables which can be eaten throughout the week.
Many thanks to Michelle Dudash for these great tips. Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite ways to shop using a healthy grocery list, practice clean eating or provide your kids with items in each of the food groups?
Many thanks to The Motherhood for inviting me to be a part of this compensated campaign in honor of National Nutrition Month.