For most of us, these times have become especially difficult: Not only are some of us forced to stay at home because they show symptoms of the COVID-19 disease, most of us are asked to stay at home full time. Because of the fear of infection, going out to go grocery shopping is a challenge on its own. Naturally, minimizing exposure is a great strategy to lower the infection risk. But hoarding frozen instant meals isn’t for everyone. Isn’t there a way to make it through this on a healthy, sustainable diet?
How to prepare for the quarantine situation
Of course, for many of us it is too late to prepare because they already are in quarantine or in areas with a curfew in place. Still, there are things we can do to improve the situation:
- Buy fresh veggies and make your own frozen instant meals: Use grocery deliveries, if you can’t go out anymore, and use your free time to get cooking. This will provide you with healthy options even when your fresh veggies are gone and is a great opportunity to test new recipes for meal prepping! There are loads of recipes out there for tasty vegetable stews, which can easily be frozen and reheated later. Lentil curry is one of my favorites.
- Make sure you have drinkable tap water options at home. If you don’t like the taste or are worried about the quality of your tap water, check options for water filters. In most countries like all over Germany, tap water is of fantastic quality and you don’t need to stock up on bottled water. And of course, it is much more environmentally friendly and does not contain any traces of plasticizers! If you prefer fizzy water, consider investing in a soda maker – it is more environmentally friendly and will save you money in the long run!
- Grown your own things: Lockdown hopefully won’t last until you have grown your own veggies, but potted herbs will at least give you some fresh add-on for your meals even if fresh ingredients are long gone!
What to buy for a longer lockdown period
Buying fresh veggies every week naturally is not an option is this situation, so instead we have to be a little more creative.
Before you go out shopping, it is essential to make a meal plan and derive a shopping list from that! Especially if you want to prepare your own frozen food, you should make it list of what you might need for that. Don’t just go out and hoard whatever you might get! This is what causes the supply problems in the supermarkets and it is really antisocial to everyone else. We can’t make it through this on our own, we have to stick together!
Buy as much fresh fruit and veggies as you can use (for eating or meal prepping) in the first week! A typical grocery haul for a normal week includes:
- Cheese, eggs and meats, if you are neither vegan nor vegetarian
You can make some great, easy meals from this selection. Our favorite easy dinners include one-pods with rice and vegetables, a quick casserole from potatoes and broccoli or noodles with fresh tomatoes.
The cauliflower and potatoes typically last also until the second week. But after all this is gone, you will rely on other ways to make healthy food. For this time, it is essential to buy some more durable groceries such as:
- Frozen or canned fruit (such as berries, mangoes, melons…)
- Dried or canned legumes: Lentils and beans are great sources of protein!
- Other canned veggies such as tomatoes or corn
- Pasta and rice
- Shelf-stable milk (vegan options last a month if unopened!)
- Oats (for overnight oats or porridge which can be freshened up with frozen fruit!)
- Canned fish and sausages for the carnivores
- Frozen instant meals as a backup
This list provides you with options to cook fresh, healthy meals after your fresh vegetables are gone. If you have precooked meals from the first week, you can mix them in to have more variety during your lockdown. Even though I don’t like instant meals too much, I have added these to my shopping list to have a backup solution. There are some healthy options for instant meals these days, e.g. the company Frosta makes some great frozen foods without additives!
Last but not least, make sure you add your comfort foods to the list. Yes, I mean it, even if that means chocolate, sweets or even alcohol! This time takes a toll on all of us, therefore it is essential to have something nice every once in a while – you might need it! Coffee and tea are also good to keep you happy, anything to brighten up your day!
How to make your grocery haul last longer
After you went on your grocery haul, it is essential to make sure that none of it goes to waste. Food waste is not only really bad for the environment, it will make your groceries last for a shorter time – which means you have to go out again and risk infection. Here is some advice to minimize your food waste:
- Make sure that you store your fresh food correctly. Use the different temperature zones in the fridge!
- Use containers for loose foods and leftovers. If possible, use clear containers so that you can easily see what you still have there.
- Order it inside the fridge so that you use the oldest things first.
- Don’t rely on “Best before” dates, try and taste it – it might still be good, even if its over its date!
- Make sure to eat the things first that will spoil easiest. Check your fridge regularly to make sure nothing goes bad undetected!
With all of this advice, you can make it though a longer period of time without any grocery shopping trips. Still, you should go out every once in a while (only if you are still allowed, of course!) to get some fresh air and movement. But please make sure to keep a distance and to watch the hygiene regulations like watching your hands! Especially right now, running helps me to remain sane and gives me some precious alone time. I am sure it will help others, too!
How are you holding up? Do you have advice and tips to stay in a good mood? Share in the comment section or on social media! And most of all, stay healthy!