By Kathy Milley, DeCA public affairs specialist
FORT LEE, Va. – The new year is always an exciting time of review and recommitment, especially when it comes to wellness. Whatever health goals you have resolved to meet in 2022, the commissary is here to help steer you in the right direction with tips, ideas and resources to improve nutrition.
“Health and wellness is a key priority for our patrons, so it is vitally important to us,” said Bonita Moffett, the Defense Commissary Agency’s sales director. We work diligently to offer our patrons the right mix of products and resources to support their wellness objectives all while saving big at the checkout.”
According to Deborah Harris, DeCA’s dietitian and health and wellness program manager (who holds a master of Public Health degree and is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist), when committing to a healthier lifestyle and wellness goals, the commissary strives to keep patrons motivated by offering easily identifiable high-performance foods and easy-to-use, quick meal solutions and wellness resources.
• Dietitian Approved Thumb (DAT): The “Thumbs Up Dietitian-Approved” tags on shelves makes it easy for patrons to quickly identify high-nutrition-quality foods to incorporate into a healthy eating pattern. DAT uses unique software that analyzes and identifies products in most of the commissary food categories based on up to 86 of the FDA-defined health attributes. The attributes analyzed vary by food category, but will better identify dietitian-approved foods that limit added sugar, sodium and unhealthy fat while offering whole grains, healthy fats, fiber or lean protein as well as identify items that qualify as USDA Organic. Once these products are identified, they are marked on the commissary shelves with a “Thumbs Up Dietitian-Approved” tag.
• “Thinking Outside the Box” recipes: Preparing nutritious food at home does not have to be difficult or expensive. With “Thinking Outside the Box” recipes, your commissary continually offers meal solutions that are quick, healthy and economical with ingredients typically offered at enhanced savings to our customers. The recipes are always accessible on commissaries.com under the “Healthy Living” tab. This library features quick and easy, dietitian-approved recipes for appetizers, entrees, salads, side dishes and even desserts.
• Commissary CLICK2GO: Use Commissary CLICK2GO, the commissary’s online ordering service, to instantly add the ingredients of your favorite dietitian-approved recipe to your virtual grocery cart. When doing your Commissary CLICK2GO ordering on Commissaries.com, click on the Recipe link (https://shop.commissaries.com/recipes), select the recipe you would like to add to your meal plan for the week and simply click the “Add to Cart” button beside each of the ingredients you need to prepare the meal. Preparing nutritious food at home has never been easier.
• Fueling stations: The Dietitian-Approved Fueling Stations, located near the front-end checkout aisles in over 170 commissaries, offer convenient, tasty, nutritious meals and snacks to give patrons the convenience they need without the high-calories or high-cost of a fast food restaurant meal. Customers can expect to see products that offer protein, healthy fat, complex carbohydrates and a low-calorie form of hydration like low-calorie waters and sports drinks, deli sandwiches, single-serving hummus, ready-to-eat lean protein, fruits and cheese, no-added-sugar yogurts, low-sugar protein bars, or prepared sliced fruits and salads.
• Quick home-cooked meals: Lack of time shouldn’t prevent patrons from preparing nutritious home-cooked meals. DeCA has prepared a list of no-fuss entrées (https://commissaries.com/sites/default/files/2019-09/no_fuss_entrees.pdf) chosen from the many dietitian-approved “Thinking Outside the Box” (https://www.commissaries.com/healthy-living/healthy-eats) recipes featured on commissaries.com. The list is designed to minimize preparation time with quick and easy meal solutions featuring ingredients that will save money at the commissary. It features links to quick-prep recipes using a slow cooker, microwave or pressure cooker; make-ahead freezer meals; one skillet meals and entrees using prepared protein like rotisserie chicken and canned tuna.
• Meal planning: To take the work out of meal planning, DeCA has created two dietitian-approved dinner menu plans including weekly shopping lists, each for an entire month of family meals. These monthly menu plans are available on commissaries.com at these links: Meal Plan #1 (https://www.commissaries.com/sites/default/files/2021-02/nutrition-month-calendar-2b.pdf) and Meal Plan #2 (https://www.commissaries.com/sites/default/files/2021-09/Meal-plan-calendar-with-links.pdf) . Choose your preferred plan and simply print off the shopping list for the week, add breakfast and lunch items and your shopping list is ready. You will have everything you need for the week. If you would like to create your own menu plan tailoring it to your family’s preferences, use our easy-to-follow planning aids, the Dietitian-Approved Menu Planner (https://www.commissaries.com/sites/default/files/2019-02/Dietititan_Approved_Menu_Planner.pdf) and the Weekly Meal Plan Worksheet (https://commissaries.com/sites/default/files/2020-06/Weekly_Meal_Plan_Worksheet.pdf).
“Make fruit and veggies your go-to snack, experiment with nutritious substitutes like cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles for starchy rice or pasta or try a new fruit or veggie each month,” said Harris. “All these ideas coupled with our programs which identify high performance foods, our easy-to-use, quick meal solutions and our many wellness resources give our patrons a head start on meeting their wellness goals while stretching their food dollar.”
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.