‘Eat right’ theme for March nutrition month

News You Can Use Distributed 03/06/09

Even though most people agree that healthy eating is important, doing so may seem almost impossible when money is tight and time is short, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.

A recent American Dietetic Association consumer survey found that most people consider convenience to be the biggest factor in selecting a meal. Now, however, the economic recession also is causing people to limit the amount of money they spend at restaurants.

During March, the ADA has chosen “Eat Right!” as its theme for National Nutrition Month.

Reames offers a number of ideas to help people eat right this month and any time.

– Make a menu plan. Include meals that are quick and easy-to-prepare, such as one-pot meals. Ask family members to help you write a menu plan for a week, then make your grocery list and stick to it when you go to the store.

– Use the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPyramid to plan nutritious meals and snacks. Healthy foods give you more value for the dollar. Choose a variety of foods from MyPyramid food groups, including grains, vegetables, fruits, nonfat milk, lean meat, fish, poultry, beans and nuts.

You can still keep your costs low when shopping in the meat section. MyPyramid recommends 5-6 ounces of meat or other protein each day for most people. A portion of meat is 2-3 ounces, about the size of a deck of cards. Many people are surprised to learn they're eating twice (or even more) the recommended amount. A pound of chicken breasts could last for two meals if you follow portion control.

– Try meatless meals. Less expensive substitutes for meat are dry beans and peas and nuts. Include high-protein meat substitutes such as red beans, lentils or peanut butter in meals and snacks more often. Mix ground meat with whole-grain bread, brown rice, oatmeal or grated vegetables, such as carrots, onions or squash.

The nutritionist also offers shopping tips:

– Check the sale ads before you go shopping to see what’s on sale. Use coupons for items you would regularly buy anyway.

– Know the regular prices of items you generally buy. This way you will recognize when

an advertised special is really a bargain.

– Buy fresh fruit and vegetables in season; they taste better and usually cost less.

– If you have freezer space, stock up on specials, such as large packages of meats or frozen vegetables, and freeze them for later. Be sure to label frozen foods with the name of the food and the date it was frozen.

– Avoid buying convenience or "instant" foods, which are often more expensive than made-from-scratch foods.

– Plan the use of leftovers for another meal or in casseroles and soups, for snacks and in lunch

boxes. Keep leftovers safe by refrigerating them quickly, and use them before they go bad.

– Use rice and pasta to help stretch out a small amount of leftovers. For example, mix leftover chicken with rice for a stir-fry or with a pasta sauce over spaghetti.

– If possible, shop alone and after you've eaten. Family members may put pressure on you to buy items not on your list. If you go to the store hungry, you might buy things you don't need or can't afford.

For related nutrition and food safety topics, go to the Food and Health link. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.


Editor: Mark Claesgens 

3/6/2009 9:25:19 PM
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