COVID-19 epidemic is the time when you need to limit your trips to the grocery store. It may be difficult, but I got you covered. Here are some tips to help you plan your diet in quarantine, make healthful decisions and reduce your trips to the store.
Planning is the key
First of all, you need to have a plan ahead of time. This is what I teach my clients in terms of any diet. Now it is even more important. Be aware of the food that you have in your pantry. Make a list of your items and note their expiration dates. Do a separate list for your fridge and freezer. Then, keep this handy list in mind as you planning your meals.
When you need to go to the store
Create a shopping list. Review some recipes online and note what you need to buy. Then, organize the list according to the section of the store they are located, so you don’t have to run around the store. Buy perishable items, meat, poultry, dairy and frozen food in the end of you shopping trip to reduce the time they spend at the room temperature.
The lockdown is a good opportunity to get in the habit of minimizing waste. Choose one day during the week to eat any leftovers you store in the fridge. Another way to limit food waste is organizing your food using the first in, first out method. Locating newly bought foods at the back of the cupboard or fridge will encourage you to use the food in the front row first, which will ensure freshness and reduce waste. Also, boiling excess vegetables, peelings, and other scrapings can make a hearty vegetable broth.
Grocery must haves
A well-stocked pantry can help you reduce your trips to the store and still have a well-balanced and healthy diet. During the quarantine you need to stock up on the following items.
Whole grains are great sources of complex carbohydrates and some key vitamins and minerals. They are our main source of energy. Stock up on high-fiber varieties such as whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats, buckwheat, millet, farro and more. While some of these grains may be sound not familiar, this is a great opportunity to introduce new foods into your diet. You may switch up your typical mac and cheese with a more fibrous and nutrient-dense quinoa pasta or try buckwhat or farro instead of your typical bowl of white rice.
Canned and Dried Beans
Beans are not only a source of complex carbohydrates but protein as well. They have a lot of fiber, vitamins, minerals and immune-boosting phytonutrients, which are very important in this time! A lot to choose from: black, red, pinto, kidney, garbanzo beans, lentils.
According to the USDA, canned foods can be stored for up to five years. (1) So don’t be afraid that you will buy too much, just make sure that your items are not approaching expiration. What is more, they are cheap. Much cheaper than meat and full of fiber, makes them a perfect protein alternative.
If you want even more economic version, opt for dried beans. A typical 16 oz bag of dried beans yields 10-11 servings per bag, while a 16 oz can only holds 3.5 servings. While the dried legumes take more time to prepare, that won’t exactly be an issue while under quarantine. Add them to soups, salads, make hummus and dips, sandwich spreads, or healthy burger patties.
Canned fish provides a great source of protein, minerals like zinc, vitamin D, B12, iron, iodine, magnesium, potassium, selenium plus heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids.
There are a lot of nutrient-rich, canned fish products for you and your family to explore: tuna, salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies, trout, clams.
Fresh fish can be expensive, it can range between $10-$25 per pound. But, the typical canned fish only costs $1-3. That is a great deal. Choose the low-sodium options and try to buy fish canned in water than in oil.
Although, some of the fish are high in mercury and pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid them. Fish with the highest amount of mercury are: swordfish, Bluefin, Bigeye, & Albacore tuna, mackerel and cod.
Canned fruits and vegetables
Most canned fruits and vegetables contain the same amount of nutrients as fresh and frozen produce. They are inexpensive and convenient. They can help cut down on food preparation and make it easy to get healthy, home-cooked meals fast.
Select low-sodium or reduced-sugar options for a heart-healthy and nutritious choice.
Keep the immune system strong by eating 2 fruit servings and 3 vegetable servings per day. Add drained cans of corn, green beans tomatoes to soups, sauces or salads, serve canned fruit as a dessert topped with low-fat, no sugar-added yogurt.
Long-lasting fresh produce
To reduce you grocery trips you need to be strategic and know what produce you should buy. The trick is to buy long-lasting fruits and vegetables.
If strategically selected and kept under proper storing conditions, it’s possible to maintain fresh produce much longer. (2)
- Potatoes: 4 weeks; cool, dark place
- Beetroots: 2-3 weeks; refrigerated
- Cabbage: 2 weeks; refrigerated
- Onion, dry: 4 weeks; cool, dark place
- Carrots: 2 weeks; refrigerated
- Citrus fruit: 2-6 weeks; refrigerated
- Apples: a few weeks; refrigerated
Hint: Don’t store potatoes next to onions, the gases that they each emit will cause the degradation of both vegetables.
Seeds and nuts
Pumpkin, sunflower, chia seeds, almonds, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts. They are all great if you are looking for a nutrient-dense snack. Add them for a boost of healthy fats to Greek yogurt, oatmeal or salad. If someone in the family has a nut allergy, stick to sunflower, flax or chia seeds. Also, a toast topped with almond butter and banana slices can really stave off a sweet craving when there are no sweets at home. Opt for raw and unsalted ones. Salted nuts are fine, if you eat less than an ounce. Be aware that all seeds and nuts have high fat content and if you eat more than one or two handfuls of nuts per day, you’re adding probably too many extra calories. (3)
With the proper preparation, shopping in quarantine doesn’t have to be stressful and overwhelming. Try these strategies in the next few weeks, I hope they will make it easier to plan your diet in quarantine. If you need more nutrition support, contact me to schedule your free virtual consultation.