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March is National Nutrition Month

Nancy Gessner owns and operates her own weight loss business in Hastings. She can be reached at ngessner@comcast.net.

Finally, it's March!

Pat yourself on the back — you've almost made it through a very snowy, cold and icy winter. Along with the (hopeful) arrival of spring, there are lots of other reasons to be excited about March including: More daylight, spring break, St. Patrick's Day, March madness and most exciting of all ... March is National Nutrition Month. Hooray!

The theme of National Nutrition Month this year is "Go Further with Food." Whether it's starting your day off right with a healthy breakfast, planning meals and snacks ahead of time to reduce food waste, or learning how to read a nutrition facts label, the foods you choose daily can really make a difference.

There are several ways to explore a healthy lifestyle. Each day, challenge yourself to become a healthier you and experiment with ways you can incorporate a healthy lifestyle into your everyday life. National Nutrition month encourages you to experience the benefits of healthy eating habits and cutting back on food waste as you go further with food.

The first step to making your food go further begins at the grocery store. Even though grocery shopping can be as enjoyable as a root canal, with a little planning you will soon be on your way to making better choices that will save you time, money and extra calories.

The following tips are just a few ways you can go further with food:

• Plan, plan, plan!

Before you head to the grocery store, plan your meals for the week. Include meals like stew, casseroles, or stir-fries, which stretch items into omoe portions. Check to see what foods you already have and make a list for what you need to buy.

• Cook once ... eat all week.

Prepare a large batch of favorite recipes on your day off (double or triple the recipe). Freeze in individual containers. Use them throughout the week and you won't have to spend money on take-out meals.

• Get your creative juices flowing.

Spice up your leftovers — use them in new ways. For example, try leftover chicken in a stir-fry or put over lettuce, or make a chicken chili. Throwing away food is throwing away your money.

• Buy in season.

Buying fruits and vegetables in season can lower the cost and add to the freshness. If you're not going to use them all right away, buy some that still need time to ripen.

• Stick to a list.

Make a shopping list for all the items you need. Keep a running list on your phone, on the refrigerator, or in a wallet. When you're in the store, do your best to buy only the items on your list.

• Patrol Portions.

Your budget and pantry can be devastated by portion sizes that are way too large. By monitoring your portions, your food goes a lot further and may even help you drop a few pounds.

Your trips to the grocery store will be much easier when you plan out your meals and planning also saves you money.

The possibilities of healthy eating are endless. Get started now to Go Further With Food.

Happy March and Happy Spring!