We have been called to action as our communities have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently, Americans have been asked to self-isolate for 15 days to prevent the spread of the virus and to keep our health care system operational and able to meet demands. Nutrition is of the utmost importance to help keep us nourished and well at this time. How should we prepare to feed ourselves during a quarantine while maintaining both our composure and nourishment?
Back to Basics
Meals during a pandemic necessitate minimal trips to the market. This calls for a different approach to the usual recommendations of fresh, nutrient dense foods, which can quickly go bad. Though leaders continue to reiterate that supplies are consistently being restocked, consider having a two-week supply of food and other essentials on hand. Keep things simple and think “My Plate” protein, fruit, vegetable, grain and dairy.
Here are some ideas for your pantry that you won’t spoil quickly:
Ready-to-eat canned meats (like tuna, chicken, salmon and sardines)
Nuts and nut butters
Dried or canned beans and lentils (remember to rinse excess sodium off of canned items!)
Non-perishable pasteurized milk
Canned fruits packed in water
No sugar added apple sauce
Canned vegetables or vegetable juices
Low sodium vegetable juices
Whole grain pastas
Other whole grains like quinoa, barley, brown rice, farro, and oats
Whole grain crackers, breads and tortillas
Dry cereals or granola
Produce That Does Last
Keep in mind that potatoes, sweet potatoes, squashes, carrots, beets and onions are fresh vegetables that tend to keep longer than others while apples are the go-to fruit for shelf longevity. You can also make your own bags of frozen fruits and vegetables, as you may be noticing a limited stock of frozen and canned produce in your local grocery store, but plenty of fresh options available.
It is also recommended that you continue to have some comfort foods to help keep things normalized, especially for children. A good example is macaroni and cheese. In the current scenario, most of us have access to utilities so cooking dried pasta, grains and legumes is possible. Staying calm is important to help children cope with the dramatic and abrupt changes we are all facing. If you have trouble accessing the food you need, visit Feeding America for resources near you. Learn more about meal planning, staying well and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.
Written by: Jennifer Messer, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern