March is National Nutrition Month, a time when we are encouraged to take a look at what we’re eating and strive for healthier eating habits. What’s a simple way to make meal planning and preparation easier? Keep a well-stocked kitchen! The main benefit is that you’ll be able to make more nutritious meals at home, which will save you both time and money. Before you go shopping at your local grocery store, keep these following basic rules in mind:
Know What You Have On Hand
Rotate older items to the front of your pantry or freezer as you buy new products to replace them. Keep an eye on package “best by” dates or use a sharpie marker to write the date on packages before storing them. Foods that are kept frozen will stay safe but over time the quality can deteriorate. Check out optimal refrigerator and freezer storage times at https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html
Create a Meal Plan, Especially for Fresh Product
Fruits and veggies provide great nutrition but not if they spoil and are discarded. Create a meal plan and shopping list and purchase only the produce you need for the week.
Don’t Over-Crowd Your Pantry
Avoid over-crowding your pantry and freezer so items don’t get hidden and spoil before use. Inspect your pantry and freezer regularly, especially when you’re putting together your meal plan and shopping list.
Plan Your Meals
Plan your meals around what you have on hand and only purchase what your family will be consuming in the next four to six months. Look for basics such as canned beans and vegetables, canned and dried fruits, pouch or canned fish and meat, whole grain pasta, and products that help you create easy meals like recipe-ready soups.
Download the above kitchen stocking list here for your next trip to your local independent supermarket!