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Being Healthy
Starts at Home

Minimize trips to the supermarket during the pandemic and eat healthy.

Before you shop for Coronavirus preparations…

Plan ahead.

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.