Food & Fitness After 50: Want to save money on food?

I hope that got your attention! I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to save money on food. While there are many strategies to save money, such as buying in season, checking the weekly specials, and using discount shopping cards, did you ever consider wasted food as throwing away money?

At a recent conference, one of the sponsors was General Mills, discussing sustainability. A featured speaker was Lindsay Boswell, the CEO of FairShare in the UK, whose mission is to fight the twin challenges of hunger and food waste. (As part of their sustainability platform, General Mills is major supporter of organizations, like FairShare.)

I learned some startling facts about food waste:

• 40% of all food produced in the U.S. is wasted.
• The average American throws away 50% more food today than we did about 50 years ago.
• Today, the average American throws away 300 pounds of food each year.
• While there is food waste along the whole food chain, consumers lead the way on food waste; throwing away 15-25% of all food purchased.
• For more details on of food waste, here’s a good article.

That got me thinking, what could I do to reduce food waste and save money at the same time. So, I started my spring cleaning a little early by taking inventory of everything in my pantry and kitchen shelves to uncover what was hiding in the cabinets. As I did, I made a list on my tablet of everything I had on hand.

Next, I tackled the freezer; that place where many leftovers go to die. After my inventory, I realized that I had enough food in my house for meals for the next month! The only thing I will need to pick up at the grocery store is milk, yogurt, and some fresh veggies and fruit.

Some of the meals on my menu will include:

• Quinoa and chicken skillet (thanks to my niece, Sena, who gave me a jar of black quinoa).
• Grilled quail and roasted red potatoes with frozen green beans (thanks to my brother-in-law, Steve, who brought quail from a hunting trip in South Georgia).
• Spaghetti and turkey meatballs (left over meatballs from New Year’s Eve appetizer).
• Honey-ginger pork with carrots and apples (I remember when that pork loin was on sale, but forgot it was in the freezer!)
• Sweet and sour chicken bowl (this uses pouches of ready rice, which I had several of in that corner cabinet that is hard to reach)
• Peanut butter noodles with spicy orange shrimp (frozen shrimp, of course, and who doesn’t have peanut butter?)
• Pesto over hot noodles (I bought a jar of pesto at gourmet shop in Anderson, SC and never opened it).
• Peri-Peri turkey tenderloin (spice brought back from trip to South Africa last fall).

And, I’m ready for Super Bowl snacks with black bean and corn salsa with toasted pita bread wedges and Bush’s “hummus made easy” roasted red pepper pouch, blended with can of garbanzo beans.

So, you get the idea; it was worth the couple of hours to inventory and get creative with meal planning. One other thing I did was check the dates…this can get confusing, so here is quick primer:

• The “use by date,” “best by,” or “best before” dates are found on pantry staples, like canned foods and condiments and refer to the best quality of the food. If unopened, these foods are still safe to eat.
• The “sell by” date is the day your grocery store must sell the product. But, it is still safe to drink the milk or eat the cheese for several days after the sell by date, if you’ve stored it correctly (that is, did you keep in the fridge?)
I must confess I had to toss a can of mandarin orange slices that was wedged in the back of a shelf with a “use by date” of October 2015, but I blame that on my dumb cabinet design, well, that plus my forgetting to make that chicken-mandarin orange salad I had once upon a time planned.

So, whether your goal is to save money, help the environment, or help reduce hunger (or hopefully, all three), start at home to reduce food waste. I would love to hear your creative ideas or ask a question about food waste here, on my website.

And, for information on reducing food waste and saving money check out let’s talk trash.

Chris Rosenbloom is the author of Food & Fitness After 50, with co-author Bob Murray. For more information on the book see our webpage.


Food & Fitness After 50: Running Away from Diabetes

“What are you taking for your diabetes?” was the question Bill was asked when he had a physical exam for his employer’s insurance. He almost fell out of his chair and replied that he didn’t have diabetes, but the blood test showed otherwise. After a momentary “freak out,” his doctor said he could try changing his diet and start exercising but if that didn’t lower his blood sugar level than medication was on the horizon.

Bill Pratt 1Bill, now age 60, had that wake-up call 4 years ago. Today his blood sugar is normal, and diet and exercise did the trick. But, he had a lifetime of poor eating and sedentary behaviors to overcome.

Bill has always struggled with his weight; as a kid his not-so-nice nickname was “Fat Albert.” As an adult, his weight reached a high of 220 pounds and on his 5’10” frame, that equated to a body mass index (BMI) of 30.1, putting him in the obese category. (To learn if your BMI is in a healthy range, plug your height and weight into this online calculator).

After his diagnosis of diabetes, Bill started running 2 miles every day. Exercise is one of the pillars of diabetes management, with diet being the other. But, Bill said he “was afraid to eat so he just stopped.” His wife was concerned he would suffer from of malnutrition, so she called upon a neighbor, a former registered dietitian. (She was profiled in an early blog post; to read about her, click here.)

Bill said that today he is reminded to practice good health by thinking of the quote, attributed to baseball player, Mickey Mantle; “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”

His strategies for aging well include exercise. “Running is not only good to manage my blood sugar, it is a great stress reliever and my ‘epiphany’ time. I get my best ideas when my mind is free while running.” He has also come to appreciate the value of rest and a good night’s sleep. “I’m a proponent of the 20-minute power nap!” And, he also stays young at heart by learning from his sons, ages 29 and 26, who keep him abreast the latest trends, cool new music and bands, and exposing him to new influences that he would not otherwise get in his circle of friends.

His advice for others is to get and stay on a path to healthy aging by planning. “Planning when I can fit running into my day and what to eat helps me execute my wellness strategy.” This is great advice, too often we think we lack will power but what we really lack is advance planning as a tool to help us with weight loss or managing chronic diseases. This is summed up nicely in a tweet by registered dietitian, Jill Weisenberger:

Jills quote

Bill reminds us to take a hard look in the mirror and ask, “Am I living a sustainable lifestyle?” Bill’s answer four years ago was “no,” but today it is “yes.” He wants to be around for his wife, kids and future grandchildren. “Just be committed; that and have a supportive spouse like I do!”




Food & Fitness After 50: Lessons from a Nurse on Healthy Aging

Carol became a nurse because she was always “fascinated with illness and disease.” She laughs as she says this, realizing it may sound odd to those not in a medical profession. But, she loves being a nurse because she likes the holistic approach. “Nurses treat the whole person. Doctors treat the arthritis or the heart disease, but nurses care for the well-being of people and want to make them feel better. Sometimes, just listening to a patient goes a long way to making them feel better.” In her nursing career she has done everything from bedside, hospital-based nursing to home health to teaching high school students to be certified nursing assistants. Today, she is an independent nursing contractor with activities as varied as teaching CPR to firefighters to working at flu clinics to provide immunizations.

Carol and BRTAbout ten years ago, she found another career she never planned on….as a dog breeder. While attending a dog training class with her German Shepherd puppy, she saw a “fluffy, hairy dog” and fell in love and said she had to have one. The fluffy, hairy dog turned out to be a Black Russian Terrier and she got a male and female and learned the technique of artificial insemination (“a combination of doing research and applying my nursing skills”) to produce a litter of nine pups. She has also trained dogs for “protection.” Running dogs through obstacle courses is one of her favorite activities. “Obstacle training bonds owner and dog by building trust and discipline. It is hard work and keeps both the dog and the handler in good shape, and it is done outdoors, which is another plus for me.” Carol training BRT

Carol’s path to healthy aging, now that she is in her mid-50s, includes being active every day. “I vary my activities…dog walking and training and going to the gym keep me moving.” Being a nurse has taught her the benefit of preventative health. “You can pay for your health up front by getting screened for disease, joining a gym, and buying healthy foods, or pay later when disease and illness sets in.” She advises everyone to get regular dental check ups and vision checks, as well as vaccines for the flu, pneumonia and shingles. “We should all know our blood pressure, blood lipids, and blood sugar to help us keep them in check with food and fitness.”

She also eats well, but forgives herself when she eats something unhealthy. “It is OK to eat some unhealthy foods once in a while and don’t beat yourself up when it happens.” She eats well for herself, but also to set a good example for her three daughters. “When they were growing up I was careful to be a role model for my girls as mom’s have a big influence on a young girl’s body image and risk for eating disorders.

Lastly, Carol pays attention to her mental health. “Reading a good book or watching a favorite television show helps me relax and de-stress.” Being well is just as important at eating well and moving well.

Final advice from the nurse is “stay active and keep moving, because you will lose it if you don’t use it!”

Food & Fitness After 50: The Value of Life-Long Learning

Elizabeth CarlsonWe often hear about the value of life-long learning, but how many of us are stuck in our daily grinds and tell ourselves that someday we’ll get around to reading that book or taking an online class to improve a skill that has eluded us? Well, not Elizabeth, who at age 89, is still learning. Recently, she enrolled in financial planning courses so she could manage her own investments (which she does quite well from her laptop!) Elizabeth had to learn to do for herself at an early age. Her husband died when she was just 43 years old so she set her priorities: get a job, raise her three children (who were in high school at the time), and make sure she had enough money to help her kids get to college. From a research librarian to working in consumer affairs for a regional grocery store chain, she did whatever she needed to do to support her family.

When asked about her path to healthy aging, Elizabeth recounted how her parents set a great example on healthy eating, which she has passed on to her children. “My father had a garden and we always had fresh vegetables on the dinner table. I learned to can what we grew so there would always be vegetables in the house, even in the harsh New England winters.” Her parents also raised chickens and had fresh eggs, and they encouraged her and her three siblings to choose “colorful” foods, long before the dietary mantra to do so came to be popular. She became a canning leader for the local high school to teach boys and girls how to preserve food. She thinks that Americans have “come full circle,” enjoying gardening and shopping at Farmer’s Markets and trying to choose healthier foods.

As for exercise, she was always active. “I grew up before the Internet and screen time was a thing; we were just outside all of the time. My dad played baseball so there was always a game going on in the field near our house.” Today, she belongs to the local YMCA, but hasn’t exercised as much as she would like as she recuperates from a broken wrist, but she knows she will get back to it soon. “I love group exercise for the social aspects; my fellow exercisers are my friends, even if I never see them outside of the gym.” She loved riding a bicycle, but she gave that up 3 years ago (at the age of 86), because she didn’t feel “safe” on the bike any longer.

Elizabeth worries for many older adults who live on a fixed income and can’t afford healthy foods. Indeed, food insecurity, the lack of money to buy food, is estimated to affect 5 million older adults in the U.S. Elizabeth admits she is a “worrier,” but she is learning to relax and urges everyone to “enjoy their life.”

I am sure that Elizabeth will celebrate her 90th birthday in February, surrounded by her children and 5 grandchildren and will be setting her next learning goal, while enjoying her life. Thank you for sharing your journey, and keep on inspiring us to be life-long learners.


Food & Fitness After 50: Good Genes + Good Health Habits = The Path to Healthy Aging

This guest blog post was written by Dr. Bob Murray

After high school, Linda stopped competing in gymnastics, but since then has led a physically active lifestyle, including 10-K road races and a handful of marathons. Now at age 56, road races are in her past, but her competitive instincts are still evident: she is fully engaged in a competition against Mother Nature. Linda’s over-arching goal is to look and feel younger than her age, although she knows Mother Nature may have other ideas. Blessed with the right genes and a lifelong commitment to eating well and staying physically active, Linda is happy with the way she looks and feels, but knows that she will have to double down on that commitment as she ages.

There is no doubt that genetics play an important role in how gracefully we age, but our genes are not the only determining factor. Our lifestyle habits also play a critical part in how we look and feel as we grow older. Fortunately, it’s never too late to eat well, move well, and be well, so even if we haven’t paid as close attention to our health and fitness during our first half-century of life, there is still plenty of time and room for improvement.

Linda D
Linda on a 12-mile day hike in Idaho backcountry

The three tips for aging well that have worked for Linda are: 1) get enough sleep every day, 2) eat and drink in moderation (no deprivation, no binging), and, 3) stay physically active.

On those occasions when Linda has gained unwanted fat weight, she sheds the pounds by increasing her daily physical activity—including the time she sets aside for exercise—eliminating snacks, reducing alcohol intake, and eating calorie-controlled meals. All of these changes are simple extensions of Linda’s usual routines, so losing weight never feels like a major life change.


Linda rarely sits or naps during the day and is constantly moving around her house, yard, and neighborhood, burning extra calories that aid in long-term weight control. She does not follow a set exercise schedule—although she knows that would be a plus—and she prefers to exercise on her own, opting for the occasional spin or body-pump class with friends. When it comes to exercise, Linda likes the familiarity of a set routine and doesn’t mind repeating the same workout multiple times.

Linda does cardio exercise for heart health and weight control, along with strength exercises to protect her muscle mass and stay toned. For cardio, she enjoys hill walking in the neighborhood or on the treadmill, interspersed with short jogs. When the weather permits, she and her husband like to ride their bikes in the country. Linda has done a 65-miler and would like to retain the stamina to do be able to cycle 20-30 miles without the effort being a major hardship. For strength training, Linda focuses on her arms, back, chest, and core, relying on 15-20 repetitions of relatively light weights (10-20 lb.), moving quickly from one exercise to the next in 20-minute sessions that she tries to accomplish four times each week. Whenever she’s able to keep that schedule, she quickly notices the changes in muscle size and tone.

“I’ve been fortunate to have good health and habits over the years,” Linda said. “Now that I’m in my 50s, it’s time for me to be even more diligent—but not crazily so—about getting enough exercise to keep my strength and muscle mass. I want to continue living an active life and staying strong is so important to that goal. I’m hoping that my understanding the benefits of good eating and exercise, combined with my vanity, will keep me on the right path!”

Dr. Bob Murray and Dr. Chris Rosenbloom are co-authors of Food & Fitness After 50, available in paperback on Kindle edition for E-readers at Amazon