We’re living through an unusual time. Our local grocery stores are struggling to stock their shelves, while governments assure us about the uninterrupted food supply chain. Whatever the truth, regular trips to the supermarket, butcher, or green grocer are not being recommended. Social distancing measures, and the general fear of falling ill, remind us about the value of being prepared. Be vigilant but not afraid, is the general advice.
The question is: how do we make our food supplies stretch further, last longer? I’m definitely not recommending panic-buying. But be prepared to feed your family; at the present time, this requires some extra thinking and ingenuity.
The general message is: simplify. Being stuck at home with the kids means plenty of hungry mouths to feed, and three square meals a day. It’s amazing how hungry we get doing so little! Breakfast can be easy enough with cereal, oatmeal, etc.; sandwiches and/or soup for lunch (boring, but easy and filling). Dinner is still something to which I look forward, though, so it’s important for me plan a little and get creative with the ingredients around the house. After all, I’m not exactly time-poor at the moment, and cooking is a pleasant distraction. It’s also a good opportunity to get the kids involved.
I’m also conscious about maintaining a healthy balance in my family’s diet. A self-imposed (or government-imposed) restriction exacerbates a sedentary lifestyle. This brings some negative effects. I’m definitely not eating as many fruits and vegetables, for example, because I’ve been focused on filling my pantry with non-perishable items. And I’m not as creative in my meal planning, because the ingredients around my house are driving my decision-making.
But we still need to eat. To that end, here are a few ideas to keep you going between shops:
- Use what you have. Get creative. Experiment.
- Don’t let anything go to waste. Keep an eye on expiration dates, and plan your meals around what’s available in your fridge and pantry. Prioritise meals with ingredients that need to be used first: e.g., milk, cheese, yoghurt, eggs, vegetables that are beginning to wilt, etc.
- At the same time, try to ration your most important ingredients. Stretch their use to maximum capacity.
- Stock up on canned goods like soups, beans, lentils. These can be a meal itself, or the basis for something filling and nutritious, like a salad or side dish.
- Rice and pasta. Enough said.
- Divide and freeze your protein (chicken, beef, fish, etc.) into appropriate serving sizes.
- Consider alternating your dishes. Diversify the menu so that you and your family aren’t eating the same thing every day.
- Buy frozen fruits and vegetables. These will go a long way.
- While we all crave maximum flavour, maybe sustenance should take priority. At least for a few weeks!
- If you can, reward yourself and support your local restaurants with a take-out/delivery. This won’t work for everyone, but so far I’ve found this to be the only semblance of normalcy in my life.
The positive: I’m starting to realise how much excess surrounds our daily lives. After just one week of isolation, I’m surprised by how little I and my family actually consume, how far my groceries are going, and how little we need to spend in order to maintain a balanced diet. When this is all over (#WhentThisIsOver), I won’t soon forget the lessons I’ve learned.