March is National Nutrition Month®, sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals).

Every National Nutrition Month® I try to highlight the Registered Dietitian. Everyone eats. For that reason you may commonly hear nutrition advice from just about everyone you meet. While you can definitely learn something from someone who, for example, has been successful losing weight and keeping off, or from a person with diabetes who does a great job controlling blood sugar, that person shouldn’t be giving people medical advice. What worked for him may not work for you. My advice: Don’t relay on non-trained, non-educated diet advocates to assess your diet and health – ask for a referral to a registered dietitian nutritionist.

It’s always a good idea to check in with yourself about your personal health. We all get busy or get off track with our diet or exercise, and we always have room for improvement.

How Can You Go Further with Food?

The theme for National Nutrition Month® this year – Go Further with Food – aims to increase awareness about food waste. Eating well isn’t just about what you eat – it’s also  about knowing how to grocery shop, keeping your kitchen organized, storing food properly, using leftovers or what’s left in your pantry, or knowing that it’s okay to eat something with an expired “best by” date.

Waste Not Want Not

My mother used to say “Waste not want not”. By this, she meant that if you limit waste (whether is was food or other resources) you will need less. We have a food waste problem going on in our country. Think about your own kitchen. How much food do you throw away every week? How can you do better? Here are some ideas.

  • Don’t throw away food because the “best by” or “use by” dates are passed. Foods such as bread, rolls, rice, pasta, and canned goods are still safe to eat even if the “best by” dates are passed. The quality in some cases, may be less than perfect, but safety isn’t an issue.
  • Consider what’s in your pantry or freezer before you stock up on more items from the grocery store.
  • Get creative. Restaurants are famous for reusing ingredients. If there’s ham or grilled chicken leftover from a large party, it’ll get repurposed into soup or tacos the following day. You can do the same. If you have a half a loaf of bread at home in your breadbox that’s past date, make a French Toast casserole or bread stuffing with it.
  • Sour cream is two days expired? Bake it into a cake.
  • Store foods correctly. We all get busy and forget about the yogurt cups that get pushed to the back of the fridge. Check your fridge every week, and do your best to keep it organized.
  • Learn more about use by and sell by dates.  Sell By and Best By only indicate that the food is at highest quality by that date. It does not mean you should throw away the food, or that the food will no longer be safe to eat after that date. So if you have a package of buns, a box of rice, or a condiment, in which the “Sell By” or “Best By” date is passed, you can still consume it.

    This mustard was “best by Sept 2017” but it’s still in my refrigerator. It’s acidic and not very perishable, therefore it’s fine. It’s quality may be reduced, but in the case of yellow mustard, not by much.

  • The “Use By” date may be indicative of food safety (in products such as milk for instance), so it’s a good idea to pitch any food that’s passed the “Use by” date.

Consider how much food you waste. Do your best to avoid over-buying, use what you have on hand wisely, only pitch food that has passed the “Use By” date, and waste less.