It’s March. Finally. Pat yourself on the back–you’ve almost made it through another very snowy and icy winter! Along with the (hopeful) arrival of spring, there are lots of other reasons to be excited for March, including:
- More daylight (Spring forward on March 11th)
- Spring break (for many of you)
- St. Patrick’s Day
- March Madness
- And most exciting of all…March is National Nutrition Month! Hooray!
The 2018 theme for National Nutrition Month, designated by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, is Go Further with Food. According to the Academy, this theme serves as “a reminder to eat healthfully for ongoing energy and plan meals and snacks in advance to help reduce food loss and waste.”
One of our past dietetic interns, Kelsey Tanner, wrote an excellent piece about reducing food waste, and in it, she too suggested meal planning as an important strategy for wasting less food.
Meal planning used to be something that I found really helpful, but now that I’m a working mom with a 5-month old, meal planning is essential. With much less time and energy after work, in order for my family to eat healthy, balanced meals, it’s critical to have ingredients on hand and something planned in advanced. While I’ve written before about my meal planning tips, since becoming more consistent than ever with my personal meal planning routine, I’ve rediscovered some of my favorite tools that I thought I’d share with all of you:
- Weekly meal planning tear-off notepad. While I received mine as a gift, it’s similar to this one. It’s simple. It’s pretty. It has lots of space to write and make notes. It’s backed with large magnets so it sticks to the side of the fridge where both my husband and I can easily reference it. Each Saturday, I tear off the week that’s gone by, and use the back to write my grocery list for the upcoming week, organized according to how my grocery store is laid out: Produce, Refrigerated, Frozen, Canned/Dry, and Bread.
- Budget Bytes cookbook. I have dozens of cookbooks on hand, but Budget Bytes has been a favorite of mine lately. It’s a great book not only because the recipes are cost-effective, but because they also taste wonderfully, user fewer ingredients than many other recipes, rely solidly on pantry staples, and are relatively quick to prepare. The author, Beth Moncel, has a recipe website too. One of my recent favorites is her Greek Turkey Burgers.
- Cooking Light subscription. Yes, you can find all of the Cooking Light recipes online, but I love the tactile experience of paging through a Cooking Light magazine, ogling over the pretty pictures, and selecting one or two recipes every week to incorporate into my plan. I’ve had some major recipe fails from online blogs, Pinterest, and some cookbooks, but I have yet to make a Cooking Light recipe that wasn’t at least ok. Most are delicious, and they’re good for you.
- Slow cooker. Oh how I love coming home to a house that smells amazing and to a meal that is nearly complete. It’s also nice to have extra time in the evening that would normally be taken up with cooking dinner. I typically plan at least one weeknight meal for the slow cooker. Here are a few slow cooker recipes that I’ve been enjoying:
Roasting pan. Ok, maybe it’s a stretch to call this a meal planning tool, but I’ve been really, really into roasted vegetables lately, so I had to include it anyway! The combination of roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes is amazing, and makes an awesome side for just about anything. Make more than you need for one meal, and you can have roasted veggies on salads, in wraps, as a snack, or even for breakfast.
And with that, I encourage all of you to take moment this week to think about how you can . Perhaps set a nutrition-related goal for this month in honor of National Nutrition Month. Or consider making a small investment into a meal planning or prep tool like the ones above that will inspire you to stay motivated and consistent. It’s amazing how something like a fun meal planning notepad or good cookbook can help turn what might be considered a chore into an enjoyable task.
Also this month, check out your campus eateries for National Nutrition Month happenings! The dining halls and some of the SUB restaurants here in Bozeman have designated each day of the week with a nutrition special. See below for details:
Happy National Nutrition Month!