Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Expert Advice For Smarter Grocery Shopping And Maximizing Nutrition During COVID-19

While all of us are trying to limit our trips to the grocery store as much as possible, you might be wondering what should you be buying and is it even possible to consume a nutritious diet? The good news is – Yes! You can still maintain a healthy and balanced diet during this time.

It might look a little different, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Investing a little more time in planning prior to a trip to a grocery store can help keep your diet healthy and minimize stress. Now more, it’s important to make healthy eating a priority as nutrition plays a huge role in the health of our immune system.

The first thing is to stock your pantry with a supply of nutrient-dense foods that will last for two weeks.

Smart strategies for stocking your pantry

Preplan your meals

Start by making a list of dishes for each meal and the ingredients it takes the make them. My go-to breakfast these days are overnight oats with frozen fruit, chopped walnuts and Greek yogurt. Also working from home and having a little extra time I love scrambling a few eggs with frozen spinach and adding some grated cheese. A good staple dinner is chili con carne with rice. I typically save this meal for week two and add any vegetables that might not be as fresh anymore.
For example, this week I diced in carrots, celery, peppers, zucchini and eggplant. Meat has been a little harder to find consistently so a great alternative is to use a can of lentils for the same hearty dish. Lunch could look like a tuna salad wrap with some sliced carrots and cucumber on the side. Carrots are a great vegetable that lasts at least a few weeks if stored correctly in the fridge. Once you have your list of dishes and required ingredients to make them, you can now use this to make a two-week meal plan and the shopping list to go along with it. By listing the ingredients for your meals, you are less likely to forget something! Don’t forget to add in snacks to the meal plan. Apples last a long time in the fridge and pair well with nut butter for a satisfying and tasty snack

Try batch cooking

Once you have got into the groove of meal planning for two weeks at a time, you can take it up a notch and add in some batch cooking. Going along with the chili example – while you are already taking the time to make one batch – simply double the ingredients to make twice as much (remember to factor this into your grocery list). Pack the extra chili into individual containers for freezing, this way in the future you can take out just what you need. Other foods that freeze well include soups, stews, omelet muffin cups, French toast, spaghetti sauce, falafels, stuffed peppers, taco filling, cabbage rolls, beef or bean burgers, lasagna… The list is endless.

Minimize food waste

Your grocery haul might be much larger than it was before. To help ensure that food isn’t wasted, start prepping foods right away. Take the time to wash and store your vegetables correctly so that you are more likely to eat them. Add a paper towel into your salad mix to help absorb moisture so they can last a little longer. Precut a few days worth of sliced carrots and peppers to use for quick snacks or vegetable sides with meals.

Make getting protein easy

Sometimes even with a meal plan set out, we don’t always feel like following it. For days like these, always have some easy proteins on hand. Things like canned tuna or salmon, sardines, beans, lentils, or frozen shrimp. These are simple ingredients that are very versatile. No chicken? Try shrimp tacos with some shredded cabbage and spicy salsa for a quick last-minute meal idea that requires minimal prep. Cottage cheese is a great high protein alternative you can eat sweet with some frozen fruit or savory in a salad. Either way, you have a quick lunch alternative.

Be mindful

Try not to overbuy and then end up wasting food. What happens a lot is people buy foods they think they “should” eat instead of what they “want” to eat and this can lead to unnecessary food waste. Keep a running grocery list and add to it as soon as something runs out. By doing this you will have a better idea of what your family uses most frequently and what quantity lasts well for 2 weeks. Just remember that there’s no need to buy out the stock at your local grocery store. At this time, there is no indication that food retailers will be unable to meet the demand of consumers.

My grocery list staples include:

  • Fresh produce – zucchini, carrots, eggplant, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumber, potatoes, squash, avocado, green onions, leeks, iceberg lettuce, banana, berries, apples, lemons and limes, peppers.
  • Frozen produce – spinach, broccoli, fruit, stirfry mix.
  • Proteins, such as canned lentils, chickpeas and bean variety, canned tuna, frozen salmon fillets, frozen shrimp and frozen chicken breasts. If available, fresh ground meat and poultry. Other proteins – firm tofu, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, aged cheddar and eggs.
  • If needed, crackers, a loaf of whole-grain bread, pasta, olive oil, tortillas, naan, oats pumpkin seeds, nuts, and any herbs/spices for flavour.

This can be a time to bring your family together. Let everyone pitch in and help. Perhaps make it fun and try one new recipe per week, with each person taking turns to find a new recipe. If you are in separate households, share a recipe and cook it together over a video call so it still feels like you are together. With a little bit of pre-planning, you can decrease the stress and anxiety of preparing meals and also decrease the frequency of unnecessary trips to the grocery store.

Are you looking to help optimize your health and nutrition through what you eat and drink? Registered Dietitian services are available through Shoppers Drug Mart at shoppersdrugmart.ca/dietitians.

Jemma Besson is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator who works for Shoppers Drug Mart®.

The information provided is for personal use, reference and education only and is not intended to be a substitute for a Physician’s advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific information on personal health matters. Please note: Dietitian services are currently only available in Ontario. Please contact your store to learn more. ®/TM 911979 Alberta Ltd. ©2020 Shoppers Drug Mart Inc

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