As we start a new year, many of us set goals. We might want to strengthen our muscles and heart with a healthier diet and more physical activity. We might want to lose some weight. Maybe we want to save more money for the long term. These are some ideas to consider.
Plan Your Meals a Week (or More) at a Time
Eating at home more often can save money and provide healthier options for you and your family. Plan your menus so you are ready to assemble meals.
- Map out your meals at least a week at a time. Write them on a calendar, note pad or whatever way works for you.
- Use the sales flyers to help you plan your meals based on seasonal produce and sales on protein foods.
- Balance your plate with a variety of foods.
- Fill half of your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables
- Fill one-fourth of your plate with protein-rich foods (meat, fish, poultry, cooked beans or lentils, etc.)
- Fill one-fourth of your plate with grains (especially whole grains).
- Add a serving of dairy or other calcium-rich food to complete your meal.
- Visit www.ag.ndsu.edu/food and click on “meal preparation” for more meal-planning tips and hundreds of recipes.
Save Money on Food
Use money-saving strategies at the grocery store. Sometimes coupons are available as peel-off stickers on the packages, on receipts or available to print out at the door. However, buy foods that you and your family will eat.
- Shop with a grocery list and stick with your list. Keep a running list on your refrigerator, phone or place that is handy for you.
- Look for coupons in sales ads at the grocery store, in newspaper inserts or online. Be sure to check if your grocery store accepts all forms of coupons to avoid disappointment at the cash register.
- Watch your mailbox for coupon packets.
- Swap coupons with a friend.
- Combine coupons with sale items when possible to maximize your savings.
- Keep your coupons organized in a way that works for you. Some people use a 3-ring binder, an accordion-style organizer or a recipe box.
Work Physical Activity into your Day
Physical activity helps keep your heart, muscles and brain healthy. Aim to fit in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week with these tips:
- Make appointments to exercise on your calendar.
- Do at least 10 minutes of activity at a time, such as walking during a break at work.
- Mix up your physical activity. Explore the options in your community for physical activity. Maybe you have a walking club available, exercise classes or dance classes. Have fun exercising!
- Make TV time active time.
- Walk in place.
- Get an exercise DVD to follow.
Check out “The Family Table” at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/familytable for more information about cooking and serving family meals at home.
Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a Food and Nutrition Specialist with the NDSU Extension Service and professor in the NDSU Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.