I was visiting a co-worker who works primarily with nutrition topics and she had the following mini poster on her desk. It’s from one of the food guidance recommendations during World War I (1917) that just seemed to resonate with me as advice that we could all use as a reminder.
1 — Buy it with thought
Going to the grocery with a list has long been advised as a way to save both time and money. Taking time to plan our major meals, investigate what I have at home and then make a list of those items that are needed would describe the process of paying attention to what we need to purchase. It’s very tempting for us to "pick up the extras" those items on sale or question ourselves "do I need this"? If I make a list, I’m more apt to get the items I need to complete a meal and not spend extra money I may not have. Some people have been successful in using the online shopping and pickup as a way to cut down on their grocery budget and are more mindful of the items needed without the extras that tempt us through the stores.
2 — Cook it with care
Learning to select the best preparation method for the foods we choose is essential to getting the most nutrition from the foods. Whether we microwave, steam, bake, broil, grill or roast the foods, we can take our family member’s preferences into account, use their favorite recipes, and let them help prepare meals to enjoy together. Sharing time in the kitchen is a great way to build skills for life.
3 — Serve just enough
Do you know what a regular serving size is? When you look at the nutrition labels on your food packages it will tell you what your serving size is. While planning meals we often overestimate how much we need to prepare and then we don’t want it to go to waste, so we end up eating more than we should. Check out the package labels and your serving sizes for your next shopping trip.
4 — Save what will keep
When you come home from the grocery, it’s a great time to prepare the fruits and vegetables into serving sizes so they are ready to grab and go for lunches or snacks. Having designated places in the refrigerator and cupboard for family members to grab items when they are hungry is a great habit to get into. When you get down to the bottom of the cereal boxes, combine them with a few nuts and raisins for a great trail mix.
5 — Eat what would spoil
Keeping track of what you have in the refrigerator and utilizing the food instead of it getting pushed back in the refrigerator and becoming a science experiment is a good philosophy to follow. Utilize your leftovers as planned-overs, put them in your menu to take advantage of them and don’t waste food.
6 — Homegrown is best
We are so blessed to live in a community where there’s an abundance of homegrown foods. We can talk with the grower, find out the varieties, the practices and the tips for storage and preparation. When we find what we like, it’s easy to return to the source to continue purchasing the same variety to maintain the flavor, texture and traditions with our families.
Food — don’t waste it. The moral of the story is that just because it’s abundant, we need to take care of each step of the food preparation system. Food is a precious commodity that if we practice the above steps we can have nutritious foods for our families, more dollars in our budget and less waste to discard.
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.