Out of necessity, all of us are doing a lot more cooking at home. Whether you have great culinary skills or not, it’s very possible to create simple meals that nourish the body and the soul. Planning is the first step to mealtime success. Since maintaining physical distance and streamlining shopping trips is a priority, this is a step worth spending time on. Planning will also prevent you from making tedious, and potentially risky, extra trips to the store.
Here are pointers for building a grocery list that will ensure you have what you need to create well-balanced and satisfying meals.
- Inventory your pantry, fridge and freezer to see what you have in stock. Create your list to fill in the gaps and to use what you already have on hand.
- Think about recipes and meal combinations you plan to make. Check that you have herbs, spices, broths, sauces or salsas that you may need.
- Take a nutrition first approach. Put fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein sources at the top of your list. Be open to using frozen and canned as well as fresh foods. These will become important if you are unable to leave your home for an extended time.
- Include both more and less durable fresh foods on your list. Plan to use those that are delicate and have a short lifespan before using those that stay fresh longer. Canned, jarred and frozen foods last the longest, so save those for later use. Here is a list to consider with items listed from least to most sturdy and lasting.
- Fruits: bananas, kiwi, berries, melon, apples, citrus fruits, canned and frozen fruits and juices (avoid added sugars), dried fruits (plums, raisins, apricots, dates)
- Vegetables: salad greens including lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, and cabbage; tomatoes, bell peppers, green beans, carrots, broccoli, winter squash, onions, garlic, potatoes, yams. Include fresh, frozen and a few canned options.
- Whole Grains: oats, brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, barley, pasta, breads, crackers, breakfast cereals, granola, popcorn, pita chips
- Lean proteins: fish, poultry, red meats, cheeses, eggs, a variety of pulses – dried beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils. Portion and freeze meats if not using them in a few days. Canned tuna, salmon and chicken are shelf-stable options
- Dairy foods and alternatives: fresh and shelf-stable milk, yogurt, butter
- Healthy fats: avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, other vegetable oils
In just weeks, the way we approach food decisions has changed dramatically. Gone are the days of popping into a store at whim to pick up a couple of items or grab take out for dinner. Running errands has become a test of endurance involving protective gear, strategic distancing, and wiping and sanitizing. Planning ahead to minimize the hassle, leaves more time to focus on fitness, creativity in the kitchen, and doing purposeful things throughout the day.