Gone are the days of dining out at your fav restaurant or ordering a pizza when you’re not up for cooking — well, at least for now. Thanks to COVID-19 we’re all experiencing the joys of home cooking, seven long days a week. And with the lockdown rules and the need for social distancing, it’s best to keep grocery shopping to a minimum. Now, that doesn’t mean you need to panic buy or hoard food — it just means that your grocery shopping needs a bit more planning.
Registered Dietitians and ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa) spokespeople, Jessica Byrne and Retha Harmse tell us how you ensure that your family is getting the nutrients they need while still adhering to social distancing and lockdown rules.
Time to Marie Kondo your cupboards
First things first, take note of what you currently have in your kitchen. Look at the use-by dates of foods in your cupboards and freezer and discard anything that is no longer safe to eat or won’t be eaten, recycling whatever you can.
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Next, take a look at how and where you store your groceries so that you can be sure not to buy more than you can properly and safely store. “Aim to use your fridge and freezer space optimally; for instance, fresh produce such as whole butternuts, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic and tomatoes should rather be stored in a cool, dry place,” says Retha.
Have a weekly menu
Keep in mind easy recipes that use a variety of simple ingredients and focus on healthy, nutrient-dense foods. Jessica advises that you prioritise the foods you know your family enjoys and will eat so that you can minimise food waste and make the best use of your resources. If you are going to be experimenting, just be sure that it’s something that your family will be willing to eat and won’t result in any waste of ingredients.
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She also advises planning for opportunities to cook in bulk soon after you shop so that you can freeze meals for later, especially if it’s meals that contain perishable foods.
Make your shopping list
Maybe it’s not something you usually do but a list can really help to keep you on track when you’re under the stress of lockdown shopping.
Here are some foods to consider:
Aim for higher fibre grains such as brown rice, barley, bulgur wheat, oats, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat noodles, high fibre crackers, quinoa and couscous. Whole-wheat wraps can be stored in the freezer to extend their shelf-life.
Fresh fruit for a week or two — choose fruits that last longer such as apples, pears, unripe bananas and citrus fruits. If you have the freezer space, you can also look for frozen fruits.
If you’re buying fresh vegetables such as spinach, peppers, brinjals and marrows then be sure to eat them within the first days of buying or use for your home-prepared frozen meals. Retha and Jesicca advise going for fresh produce that lasts longer, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, whole butternut, gem squash, ginger and garlic and other root vegetables. Frozen and canned vegetables can be stored to use once the fresh items have been used up.
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Dairy and protein sources
These include canned fish such as salmon, tuna or sardines, canned or dried beans, lentils, chickpeas or split peas; nuts and seeds, including nut butter; eggs; cottage cheese; yoghurt or maas, and long-life milk. Store chicken pieces in the freezer, and lean mince which can be turned into bolognese sauce and then, portioned and frozen.
Herbs and spices
Having a range of herbs and spices on hand provides more variety in your meals and can help boost the flavour of foods without needing to add extra salt.