Having trouble figuring out what to buy at the store that is both healthy and shelf stable? You are not alone! Below are some meal planning and shopping tips during the COVID-19 pandemic!
- My first tip will ALWAYS be to inventory what you currently have. What meals can you make or just need a few ingredients for? Add those items to your list first. (Example: You have pasta but need pasta sauce. To complete meal add in Italian sausage and no salt added green beans. That’s one meal, check!)
- When making your list, aim to shop for at least 1 week to 10 days to minimize your trips to the store. You will use your fresh items first, followed by pantry and freezer items last.
- Maximize your nutrition by increasing the whole grains and fiber and decreasing excess sodium and unhealthy fats.
- Whole grains: Opt for 100% whole grain items such as whole grain waffles, bread (you can freeze a loaf too to last a second week!), oats, crackers, brown rice/quinoa/wild rice/ and whole grain pastas.
- Produce: Buy low salt or no added salt canned items such as vegetables, soups and beans. Fresh produce that tends to last longer are apples, citrus fruits, potatoes, onions, carrots and squash.
- The freezer section has some great choices for vegetables and fruits. (I recommend buying the frozen produce items with no sauces or cheeses).
- Protein: Peanut butter, vacuum packed tuna packets, eggs are great to keep on hand. For other protein choices, I recommend buying fresh meats and freezing what you don’t use. (I.e. Buy fresh 95% lean sirloin, make it into patties to grill vs buying boxed frozen burgers that are MUCH higher in salt and fat.) I store some of my meat purchases in freezer right away if I am not going to make within a few days of purchase. Here is a sample week from my menu:
Monday: Whole grain pasta with broccoli, garlic and oil as sauce, baked chicken breasts.
Tuesday: Use leftover chicken breasts for chicken tacos. (Corn tortillas, salsa, cheese, onions, tomato, low fat sour cream too!). Add some black beans, can of corn or whole grain rice as a side if you wish.
Wednesday: Sloppy Joes. (My fav!). Lean meat, whole grain buns with baked beans and chips.
Thursday: Grill burgers, use leftover buns. Roast some broccoli and serve with applesauce.
Friday: Make your own pizzas using English Muffin or a homemade pizza crust kit. I use leftover veggies to add to pizza from the week.
Get creative! Now is a great time to try a new recipe and practice your menu planning. When the social distancing is a thing of the past, you will be an expert at shopping and planning!