Before you shop for Coronavirus preparations…
Visualize breakfast, lunch, and dinner for at least 5 days. What will you serve? What do you need? Consider the foods your family likes, your food preparation methods, interests and skills, and the time and energy you will have for preparing meals. Working from home may not mean there is more time to cook—especially if you are now responsible for teaching your kids and doing the work your employer expects.
Think nutrition. The healthiest meals emphasize whole grains, vegetables, and fruits—serve them in the greatest amounts. Meat portions should be smaller—this will save money and help keep dietary saturated fat in check.
Make a shopping list—and use it! You’ll be less like to forget items or buy impulse items.
Stock up on nutrition-packed foods that will stay fresh for a week or longer.
Breads—corn tortillas, whole grain English muffins, bagels, breads, wraps, frozen whole wheat waffles
Grains—instant oatmeal, quick cooking pasta, frozen brown rice, couscous, refrigerated pizza crust
Fruits—sturdy fresh fruit (apples, citrus), dried, plain frozen, canned in juice or water
Vegetables—sturdy fresh veggies (celery, broccoli, onions, potatoes), plain frozen, low sodium canned, sun-dried
Sauces—tomato pasta sauce, salsa
Soups & Broths—canned, frozen, shelf-stable cartons
100% Juice—refrigerated, frozen, canned, boxed
Milk—fresh, canned, shelf-stable packages
Eggs—fresh eggs, egg whites in cartons
Cheese—sliced, cubed, shredded, crumbled, grated hard cheese
Beans/Legumes—canned beans (black beans, chickpeas), dry beans
Nuts and seeds—bagged, canned, nut butters
Chicken—frozen or canned
Seafood—frozen ready-to-cook fish fillets, frozen shrimp, canned tuna, salmon, and sardines
Beef—pre-made frozen lean ground patties or meatballs
Flavorings—add zing with dried herbs & spices, vinegars, mustard, hot/steak sauces, lemon/lime juice, light dressings, honey, Greek yogurt
Go easy on the frozen dinners—most are high in sodium, fat, and calories. Limit purchases of tempting foods like chips, sodas, cookies, and ice cream. They are high in empty calories and run up your grocery bill.
Keep costs down—consider low cost alternatives. Instead of buying ready-made hummus, pureed a drained can of chickpeas to make your own. Try a meatless meal, like chili with beans instead of beef. If fresh fruits and veggies are too costly—remember, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables provide the same nutrients as fresh. Best bets are plain frozen veggies and fruits. Go for low sodium canned veggies and fruits canned in juice or water—if these are in short supply, buy regular canned fruits and veggies—drain and rinse before use.
Think about friends and neighbors, especially older adults or those with health conditions. Could you save them a trip to the grocery store? Try online shopping—it will save you time and let you keep your social distance. Be sure to plan ahead, many stores need a day or two from order to delivery or pickup.
*Article originally appeared on Nutrition, by Carol Byrd-Bredbenner, PhD, RD, FAND, Kaitlyn Eck, PhD, RD, and Jaclyn Maurer Abbot, PhD, RD
Nutritional Sciences Department, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.