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News | March 5, 2024

Munson Dietitian shares how to meet nutritional goals and save money through meal planning

By Maria Christina Yager

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kansas -- March is National Nutrition Month and Munson Army Health Center’s registered dietitian, Marcy Sedwick, discussed the value meal planning provides for your health and your wallet.

“It is too easy these days for families to grab fast food, which can be less nutritious and more expensive, when you don’t plan ahead,” said Sedwick. Instead, meal planning can help make dinners less stressful, more nutritious, and save service members and their families time and money by bringing down the amount spent on dining-out, getting take-out, and delivery fees.

Make a Plan

Meal planning involves getting organized with your kitchen space and writing out menus weekly. If that seems overwhelming, try planning just three dinners a week to start. Write your menu out on notebook paper and post on the fridge for all to see, suggested Sedwick.

“You deserve to eat healthy and prioritize eating at home,” said Sedwick.

When menu planning, Sedwick suggests starting with a protein, like seafood (aim for twice a week), meat, poultry, eggs, or a plant-based protein such as beans or tofu for meatless meals.

Meat and poultry choices should be lean or low-fat, like 93% lean ground beef, pork loin, and skinless chicken breasts. Choose seafood options that are higher in healthy fatty acids (called omega-3s) and lower in methylmercury, such as salmon, anchovies, herring, and trout. Then add a starchy side such as a whole grain pasta, wild or brown rice, or starchy beans or potato.

“The vegetable and fruits should be the largest portion, or half of your plate. Go big with vegetables by eating two vegetables. Try a salad and cooked vegetables with your main meal. Plan for fruit as dessert or snack,” said Sedwick. The protein and starch should take up approximately one-fourth each of a 9-inch plate.

Sedwick said that you may balance out your meal by adding a low-fat dairy option such as a glass of 1% low-fat milk, a serving of yogurt or serving of cheese.

She suggests that including family members in the meal planning process can help all eat healthy and get excited about mealtime.

“Involving children helps them to learn about nutrition and establish life-long healthful habits,” she said.

One you’ve written your meal plan, check and see which items you may already have around the house and which you’ll need to pick up from the store.

“This is a great way to help you choose healthy options, get organized, and save money,” said Sedwick.

Finally, she recommends enjoying mealtime by sitting down at a table without the distractions of television and other electronic devices.

“Dinner should be a time for families to connect,” said Sedwick, “Share details about the day, discuss current events, or talk about things you would like to accomplish and what steps you’ll need to take to reach those goals.”

To learn more about healthy eating and get helpful resources visit
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