Food you need to get to Prepare for the Second Wave of COVID-19: Stock Your Kitchen with These Foods
Inspired From : Samantha Cassetty, RD
As coronavirus cases continue to rise in the United States, people are preparing for the next wave of the pandemic. Data from retailers and online shopping platforms suggests that people are already stocking up on basic items.
If you plan to spend more time at home than in previous weeks, buy accordingly, but don't over-buy. That said, if you're going to be taking less frequent trips to the store, it helps to have nutritious fresh, frozen, and pantry foods on hand at home. With a combination of each, you can prepare a variety of meals and snacks, including easy options when you want to lighten your cooking load.
How to stock a healthy kitchen
While most Americans base their meals on meat or poultry, fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods are actually the foundation for a healthy diet and immune system. These foods provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other critical bioactive compounds, so now is a good time to try to address family intake. Here are some must-have foods, mostly plant-based, to have around the house, along with pro tips on how to use them.
Fill your cart with a mix of fresh fruits and vegetables (as well as frozen, canned, and dried versions, described below), focusing on some of the longer-lasting ones. The perimeter of the grocery store is also where you'll find seafood, poultry, eggs, and dairy products, so take stock of what you need. Eat perishable foods first, then move on to longer-lasting foods. For meat, poultry, and seafood, you will need to freeze anything you don't eat within two days. Here are a few to look for:
such as clementines and grapefruits, are excellent sources of vitamin C that supports the immune system. Try lighting up a salad with wedges or drizzle half a grapefruit with honey and grill it for a healthier snack or dessert.
such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, contain a plant compound, sulforaphane, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Also, these vegetables keep for up to five days in the refrigerator. Batch roast them to serve alongside meals throughout the week.
Red and orange bell peppers contain vitamin C, while baby carrots contain vitamin A. Both nutrients are important for a healthy immune system. Snack with a dip, like hummus or guacamole.
such as milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese, as well as eggs, provide protein, which is essential for the production of immune system cells. Look at the expiration dates, which are often a few weeks in advance, but keep in mind that this date is not the last. Unopened milk that has been stored properly (below 40 degrees Fahrenheit) can be safely opened and consumed a few days after that date (even longer for eggs) as long as nothing seems strange.
You can find nourishing gems in the central aisles. The focus should be on minimally processed foods. Here are a few to try.
Legumes, like canned chickpeas and black beans, provide a host of key nutrients like iron, magnesium, and fiber. Studies show that people who eat half a cup of these foods each day have more nutritious diets with higher levels of these and other nutrients. Make a bean chili, add black beans to tacos or roasted chickpeas to eat as a crunchy snack.
Legume-based pasta, like the chickpea or lentil versions, has a lot more protein than regular pasta, which means you can cut down on your meal prep by skipping the protein portion (like meat in your sauce). These varieties also have more fiber, which improves your gut health.
Nuts and seeds (and their butters) have unique superpowers. Walnuts, for example, are high in anti-inflammatory omega-3s and polyphenolic antioxidants, making them a good choice for gut health. Good gut health is linked to better immune health. Additionally, these foods add interest to meals. Mash to use as a topping for fish or chicken or use to garnish canned soup. Add nut butters to smoothies, drizzle on pancakes, or add savory seasonings, like cumin or chili powder, to make a vegetable marinade, dressing, or sauce.
Dried fruits, such as mangoes, prunes, and figs, have important nutrients, such as fiber and antioxidants. Pick up some freeze-dried fruits and vegetables (think kale, carrot, and beet chips) for healthy additions to your snacking repertoire.
Whole grains, such as quinoa, oats, and whole wheat, include all parts of the grain and therefore all of the grain's natural nutrition. The benefits of eating these foods instead of their refined counterparts include a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. You will want to have several to eat as side dishes. Be sure to buy whole grain breads, cereals, and crackers as well.
Healthy, low sodium canned soups are sure to come in handy. Look for vegetables and legumes for additional nutritional benefits.
Canned seafood, like tuna and salmon, are great pantry staples. Seafood is a good source of selenium and zinc, which are minerals necessary for your immune system. Seafood is also rich in omega 3. Try canned seafood in pasta salads or burgers.
Condiments are a must-have at home, so take a quick inventory and buy what you need. Some ideas: unsweetened jarred marinara, salad dressing, Dijon mustard, and hot sauce.
The frozen section has many healthy options that will keep you nourished as you run out of perishable foods. Here are some to have at home.
Frozen and canned fruits (ideally in 100% juice) are healthy options that can brighten up cold, dark days, and provide the same nutrients as fresh versions. You can also trade in fresh perishable berries for their frozen counterparts. Just use frozen fruits as you would fresh ones.
Frozen vegetables are also just as nutritious as fresh ones and help reduce fatigue when preparing meals. Keep some varieties in the freezer to make sure you don't run out of products. You can always sauté them in extra virgin olive oil for an easy side dish.
Frozen meals, when made with whole food ingredients like whole grains, legumes, and vegetables, can be healthy and easy options for Zoom's school day lunches. Look for varieties with less than 600 milligrams of sodium (the less the better).
The healthiest frozen pizzas have a cauliflower or whole grain crust (even if not 100%) and vegetable toppings. We have a long way to go. You'll be grateful to have a break from the kitchen every now and then.