One of my 2014 personal goals is to improve our family’s diet. I’m a “from-scratch” cooker and generally avoid canned soups and convenience foods because of their high sodium, preservative-laden ingredients, and, frankly, I don’t like them. However, recent bouts with
morning all-day sickness have quashed my desire to cook, eat, or do anything food-related lately, and I’ve fallen prey to those convenient jarred sauces, frozen dinners, and quick-fix meals to get my family fed.
I’m not condemning anyone who relies on prepackaged meals because sometimes that’s all you can manage, but I do know the health hazards that come with regularly eating those foods and the long-term consequences — high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes — are not pretty.
I want my husband to live a long life. He has high blood pressure, so it’s imperative that I read the nutrition labels of the foods we eat and monitor his salt intake closely. That means no canned soups, lunch meats, processed foods, or meats with nitrates.
I also want my children to know what a healthy diet consists of, so they will choose “grow foods” over “junk.” A healthy diet for our family consists of whole grains, lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and high-quality dairy. To say that we’re actually eating a healthy diet at every meal is certainly not the case, but as I have the energy, I’m working diligently towards that goal.
One way that I’ve found to eat healthy and save money is to buy seasonal produce. While we’re fortunate to live where foods are shipped from all over the world to our local grocery stores, those fruits and vegetables are not necessarily the best for us nutritionally, nor are they the most cost-effective.
However, each month, depending on where you live, you can find certain fruits and vegetables that are growing in or near where you live. You can tell what’s in season a lot of times by what’s on sale each week at your grocery store. For instance, here in Tennessee, asparagus is $1.99/lb. That’s a great price but it’s because asparagus is currently in season.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables are not only your best economical choices, but they’re also at their nutritional peaks, meaning that when they’re picked, the fruit or vegetable has the optimal nutrients. Seasonal produce, therefore, saves money, boosts your health, and is an easy and practical way to improve your family’s diet, adding new foods to the palate.
Each month I hope to share with you a list of U.S. seasonal produce that you can use to help you plan and prepare healthier, homemade meals and save a little money too. You can print out the March Seasonal Produce Chart by clicking here: March Seasonal Produce Chart PDF.
I will also be posting recipes periodically that incorporate one or more seasonal fruits and vegetables for inspiration.
I want to improve my family’s health a little this year, and I hope you too will benefit from my journey.
Do you buy or grow your own seasonal produce?