If you’re anything like the rest of Americans right now, you’re probably loading up on items for the current COVID-19 quarantine. Have no fear- there are so many foods out there that have a long shelf life while also providing great nutritional value for our bodies! Here are a few of my favorites, and some tricks for using them!
Tip #1: Don’t forget about the fresh produce!
Studies are showing that consumers are buying less fresh produce right now, and instead going for frozen or canned options. While it’s still great to have those on hand for later, you can still include fresh produce a few days at a time! Shop as you normally would for a few days at a time, then look for items with a longer shelf life, like these:
· Oranges & clementines
· Sweet potatoes
· Kale & leafy greens (I love spinach but it doesn’t last as long as other greens!)
· Celery (tip: even when it starts to wilt, cut it up and put in a bowl of ice water to make it crisp again)
Tip #2: Make the most of canned goods
But please don’t hoard them (especially if there is a WIC label by the price tag!)
Some things to keep in mind when shopping for canned items:
Try to find a “no salt added” or “low sodium” option if possible, otherwise know that you can rinse out up to 40% of the sodium content at home.
A few of each item will do- but there’s no need to load up on 12 cans of black beans right now.
Canned items have a long shelf life and are going to be your most affordable option- they’re also a great item to donate to food shelves right now!
Here are a few of my favorites:
Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans: rinse, let dry, season, and toss in the air fryer or oven for a crunchy snack
Black Beans or whatever beans you prefer: a great source of fiber and protein to add to a meal or use as a meat extender (increases volume) with ground beef for tacos!
Diced tomatoes: great in chili or for an impromptu pasta sauce
Low sodium broth: for homemade soup or to add flavor for many recipes
Tip #3: Don't just shop the perimeter
People ask me this all the time. While there are so many great items around the perimeter of a grocery store, there are so many nutrient-dense options that would be missed if you skip the center aisles! Whole grains, nuts and seeds, healthy snacks, olive oil, etc. would all be lost if you follow the well-known “only shop the perimeter” rule.
Here are a few shelf-stable items that provide so much fiber, protein, heart-healthy fats, and satisfaction to your body:
Whole grain bread (I love all of the Brownberry breads because they’re hearty & delicious for toast)
Tumaros Wraps (Only 60-80 calories compared to most that are >200 calories, higher fiber and protein to make you feel full)
Mission Carb-Balance Tortillas (high in fiber, very filling, great for tacos & quesadillas)
Rice- Great for a stir fry or burrito bowl
Pasta- Whole grain when possible or try Banza Pasta (made out of garbanzo beans, high in protein, iron and fiber)
Quinoa (keen-WAH): Fun fact: it’s a complete protein and easy to make! Rinse before cooking. It goes GREAT in my Enchilada Quinoa Chili recipe!
Oatmeal: Old fashioned oats for overnight oats, baking, etc.
Quaker Oatmeal Squares
Kashi cereals (simple ingredients, whole grain, higher in protein and fiber- also makes a good snack!)
Kodiak Cakes (if you know me, you know how much I love my Kodiak Cakes!!!)
Whole grain, high protein pancake and waffle mixes, muffin in a cup, oatmeal, etc.
Rice Cakes: not good plain, but throw some peanut butter, hummus, or Laughing Cow cheese wedges + berries and you’ve got yourself a crunchy, delicious snack
Nuts: take your pick for a heart-healthy option!
Crackers: whole grain when possible, I also love Nut Thins and Wasa Crackers!
Harvest Snaps Pea Crisps: eat regularly or crunch up for a crouton alternative on salads
Nature Valley Protein Bars: lower in sugar, higher in protein and fiber than most bars
EPIC bars (few ingredients, like RX bars but I like the flavor & texture better!)
Bada Bean Bada Boom Snacks: broad bean crisps that are delicious!
Chia seeds/flax seeds: add a ton of healthy fats, fiber, and protein to snacks & meals
Olive oil or avocado oil: olive oil for dipping or salads, avocado oil for cooking
Granola: a whole grain option to add to yogurt (my local favorite is Gustola Granola!)
Lentils: great source of fiber and protein, throw in homemade soup!
Tip #4: Consider high-quality protein sources when building meals
I’ve heard comments and seen things on the internet about people worried about the “Quarantine 15” and to be honest, I hate the way diet culture addresses these concerns during a world pandemic. Snacking on your favorite foods can be comforting in this time of uncertainty, and you should never feel guilty about enjoying your favorite foods. However, there are some ways you can help stay on track to reaching your health goals and still enjoy your treats.
People are always surprised when I tell them they can eat chocolate, bread, pasta, and pizza while still maintaining a well-balanced diet. Consider portion sizes and snack composition when building snacks and meals around this. Protein and fiber have a huge role in keeping you full and feeling satisfied. In the rest of the grocery store, here are a few high-quality protein options that build a great base for snacks and meals.
Eggs: cooked your way for breakfast or hard boil some for a snack with fruit
Milk: My favorite is Fairlife when it’s on sale (higher protein, lower sugar, lactose-free, and their chocolate milk is AMAZING)
Greek Yogurt: great for yogurt parfaits! Look for a brand with <9g of sugar (Chobani Less Sugar, OIKOS Triple Zero, Siggi’s, and Dannon Light & Fit are a few of my favorites)
Cheese: block cheese & Feta cheese or mozzarella pearls for salads & pastas
Cottage Cheese: A great high-protein snack, throw some fruit on top!
Meat & Seafood
Salmon, shrimp, tilapia, cod
Lean ground beef, chicken breast, pork chops, lean ground turkey
Tip #5: Stock your freezer with quick meal options
While this is a hard-hit item at the grocery stores right now, I always try to have some of these on hand for emergencies. They last a long time and come in handy when you have nothing else that sounds appealing. One of my go-to quick meals is shrimp stir fry because it cooks in less than 8 minutes!
Vegetables: Brussels sprouts, stir fry veggies, broccoli, asparagus
Ice cream 😊 Halo Top ice cream (higher protein, lower sugar, easier to monitor portion sizes)
Cauliflower crust pizzas: I love making homemade pizza!
Morning Star Spicy Black Bean Burgers (Great to have on hand for an easy meal, cooks fast in the air fryer!)
Frozen shrimp (peeled & deveined for fast prep time)
Birds Eye Steam Fresh Protein Blends: love the flavor of these and how many beans & veggies they use for a quick meal!
Use this time at home to start healthier habits, build new routines, find new hobbies, and get projects done that you’ve been procrastinating on. As always, stay well-fed, relaxed, and try cooking new foods! Get creative in the kitchen and make some fun new recipes!