FORT LEE, Va. – In the past few years, many of us have made great strides in preparing more home-cooked meals. However, the now manic pace of our post-COVID-19 lives seems to usher in a new level of busyness, tempting us to grab a quick, less nutritious bite at a drive-through.
Throughout the year, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) urges its customers to refocus on preparing home-cooked meals and sharing those together around the dinner table. Using your commissary benefit will amplify the many nutritional, social and financial benefits that go hand in hand with preparing more of your meals at home.
“Engaging the family to prepare a home-cooked meal and share it around the dinner table can have overwhelmingly positive benefits,” said Deborah Harris, DeCA’s health and wellness program manager, MPH, RD, CDE (Master of Public Health, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator). “One of the most significant benefits is improving the nutrition quality of the family diet.”
Preparing and eating meals at home is a better choice for many reasons:
• Control the nutritional quality, portions, and preparation methods of your food.
Meals can be more nutritious and may taste better since there is more control and awareness of all the ingredients going into the meal. If you want to choose organic or whole wheat products, ensure maximum nutrition or simply reduce the amount of preservatives, calories or sodium you eat, it is much easier when you choose the ingredients. You can also choose the preparation methods to help reduce fats and preserve the nutritional value of your food.
• Control the value and cost of your food.
Dining outside the home can be expensive. When you buy your own food to prepare meals at home, you control your food expenses and the value you get for your money, especially if you use your commissary benefit. Take advantage of the spring and fall sidewalk sales stateside commissaries host to buy in bulk, saving you even more. Also check for special savings deals at your overseas store.
• Learn about food and making better nutritional choices.
Knowledge is power. When you prepare meals at home you learn more about the food as you prepare it – preparation, nutrients, health benefits, variety – making it easier to make informed nutritional choices. For children, healthy habits seen at home will translate into their adulthood. Taking part in preparing meals will teach children how to plan, prepare, serve and learn the importance of eating nutrient-rich foods leading to healthier food decisions.
• Improve the cohesiveness of the family.
Preparing and sharing a meal around the table has benefits beyond nutrition. It builds deeper relationships, develops communication skills and teambuilding, encourages family time and creates memories.
• Save time.
It may be surprising but you can actually save time by preparing your meals at home. By the time you drive to a restaurant or wait for the food delivery to arrive, you can have a quick, nutritious meal on the table, especially if you have done a bit of planning. Use the Thinking Outside the Box recipes on commissaries.com for quick and nutritious recipes. Double the recipe and save for later in the week to save even more time.
“Our commissary patrons are at the center of everything we do. Personal and family health and wellness are key priorities for our patrons, so it is vitally important to us,” said Bonita Moffett, DeCA’s sales director. “Throughout the year, we work diligently to provide the products and resources that will support those priorities all while saving big at the checkout.”
In Hawaii, authorized patrons have four commissaries they can shop at:
- Marine Corps Base Hawaii Kaneohe
- Pearl Harbor (at the NEX)
- Schofield Barracks
About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.