A Well-Stocked Pantry; Part 3

Does your family meal plan include enough vegetables and fruit?

Does your family meal plan include enough vegetables and fruit?

The USDA recommends that 50% of our dinner plate be filled with vegetables and fruit. But can you guess what percentage of the average grocery bill goes towards fruit and veggies?  Americans spend only about 14% according to a Huffington Post Article.  In this third part of the “Stocking Your Pantry” series, we’ll give you some ideas about what veggies to always have in your pantry (food storage areas).

lunch meat

Lunch meats usually are loaded with fat, salt and preservatives

Each year between 1982 and 2012  Americans spent about 14% of their food dollars on vegetables. But the alarming statistic revealed that money spent for processed foods rose from 14% to 23%.  Shoppers spend less on nutritious foods like vegetables, fruit, nuts and whole grains.

Nearly 44% of food budget is used for Processed food & meat.

Meat, a complete protein, is a major source of heart-clogging saturated fat and high in calories.  Processed foods, like breakfast cereals, snacks, soda and TV dinners are usually stripped of their nutrients during production only to be fortified with simple sugars, vitamins and fats later. These foods can be included in your meal plan when used sparingly but we believe there are better options. Locally, the Family meals project is engaging people to share ideas for adding more nutritious foods like fruit and vegetables to their meal plans. What is happening at the National level?

Choose My Plate guidelines would have you eat more leafy greens and cut back on simple sugars and saturated fats,

Choose My Plate guidelines: “Eat more leafy greens and limited simple sugar & fat”.

Since being introduced during the Obama administration, The Choose My Plate model is taking hold in the schools. It suggests limited amounts of meat & processed food and lots of different fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. This campaign should influence our younger generation to seek healthier foods. When kids are included in  planning they can influence the family to serve healthy natural vegetables.

Families serious about encouraging healthier eating habits can start by having lots of vegetables stored at home to be used for snacks or meals anytime. So, which types veggies and fruit should you keep on hand? Here is a list to get you started.

  • Leafy greens like kale, spinach, Swiss chard, Romaine lettuce
  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Bok choy and cabbage
  • Other above ground veggies like tomatoes, celery, squash, bush beans and snow peas
  • Roots & bulbs like sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, onions and radish
  • Legumes like pinto beans, peas and lentils
  • Fresh or canned Vegetable sauces like salsa, pizza and marinara sauce
  • Canned or frozen veggies like green beans, peas and mixed veggies
  • Fresh, frozen or canned fruit like peaches, berries and pineapple

This list  is not complete. Meet with your family and build your own list. Remember to stock a variety of veggies and fruit with lots of colors. For more information visit the data base at Fruit Vegetables More Matters

Some vegetables are packed with necessary phytochemicals that help fight disease. To find out more visit our post at https://familymealsproject.com/mom-said-eat-your-veggies-but-are-some-better-for-you/  and join the discussion on the best vegetables to include in your pantry.

 Visit other parts of the pantry series:

Pantry Series: Pt I Salad Makin’s

Pantry Series: Pt II Soup Stock

Pantry Series: Pt IV Sauces, Condiments & Marinades

Pantry Series: Pt V Final Thoughts