During this COVID-19 PANDEMIC, when it is not easy nor is it advisable to go grocery shopping every day, eating healthy food and budgeting can be a task.
Also, with people hoarding up on supplies, and stores running out of them, you don’t always get what you pantry needs.
Since the lockdown has taken a toll on the economy and many people have lost their incomes, it becomes a financial challenge to manage food shopping.
We often feel tempted to just cook some processed or packaged foods or eat junk which is half in nutrition but double in calories.
It is imperative that we understand our body needs during these times and feed it well.
Preparing for a meal in advance goes a long way and will save you a lot of time.
So, here are 10 tips that might come handy for your next grocery shopping trip and meal prepping.
PREPARE THE MENU A WEEK IN ADVANCE:
Sit with your entire family and write down the menu of the entire week according to everyone’s preference and choice.
Always include first whatever is available in your pantry while menu planning.
Try to include variety during the week and during the day. Avoid using the same ingredient 2 times during a day, try using that ingredient on alternate days.
If you have children at home, include their choices in your meal plan. Once the entire week’s menu is ready, make an ingredient list and go grocery shopping once a week.
KEEP A BUDGET:
Plan a monthly or weekly budget for groceries depending on how much you spend every month.
If possible, lower that budget for groceries during the pandemic in order to save some more, provided it doesn’t affect nutrition.
TRY AND LOOK FOR SALES OR DISCOUNTS ON FOOD SUPPLIES:
Search for coupons giving discounts on groceries or if there’s any sale going on in your nearby grocery store.
Also look for cheaper varieties of a particular food like a different brand of milk, eggs or bread.
BUY FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES IN BULK:
It is important to eat food quality fruits and vegetable during these times to enhance your immunity.
When buying fruits and veggies, without hoarding, buy in bulk and store them in your freezer for a week.
MEAL PREP IN ADVANCE:
Cook something which you can make a large batch of and store in your freezer for a couple of days like stews, meatballs, pasta, rice dishes.
When you buy fresh fruits and vegetables, you can divide them up in small batches sufficient for a meal and freeze them in a ziplock bag. In this way, you can even prevent overcrowding in your freezer.
LOOK FOR HEALTHIER OPTIONS AND ALTERNATIVES:
Now is the time when you need to start looking at the labels of your favourite foods to know what their nutrient content is.
Some packaged foods who claim to be “diet” are actually loaded with calories.
Go for whole wheat flour instead of refined. Try using natural and organic sweeteners like honey or stevia instead of sugar.
Make your own snacks at home like fruit-cups, chopped dried fruits, homemade granola, wheat crisps, sweet potato chips etc.
IF A FOOD ITEM IS NOT AVAILABLE IN THE STORE LOOK FOR SUBSTITUTES:
It is really common right now that the store is out of something due to panic hoarding. You should know the substitutes which you can use.
For eg, wheat flour, if not available can be substituted with almond flour or oat flour.
Eggs can be substituted with homemade apple sauce or bananas. Dairy milk can be substituted with coconut or almond milk.
USE UP LEFTOVERS:
Using up leftovers avoids wastage of food and even saves money. Properly store your leftover dinner and use it up as lunch the next day.
This can save a whole lot of kitchen work. Or, if you’re bored of eating the same thing again, you can make an interesting and delicious recipe out of your leftovers.
TRY TO MAKE AN EXOTIC AND NEW RECIPE WITH WHAT’S AVAILABLE IN YOUR PANTRY:
No need to be too fancy.
There are dozens of unique and simple recipes you can make with the most basic ingredients available in your pantry.
Don’t stress too much about cooking and just go with whatever is available and easy for you.
INVOLVE CHILDREN AND OTHER HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS IN THE COOKING PROCESS:
Since everyone is at home right now, cooking can be a fun and interesting activity for the entire family.
It can create a bond between the family and also take off some pressure from the ladies of the house to cook 3 meals a day.
Small children can help with washing vegetables and other basic tasks. This time can also be utilized to teach them about basic food hygiene.