Food & Fitness After 50: Eating Well in the Time of Coronavirus

keep-calm-and-eat-healthy-125Coronavirus is everywhere…on the news, in our social media feeds, on our minds, and, most worrying in the air! Good nutrition and feeding your family is never old news but now might be a good time to plan to:

  1. clean out your pantry, freezer, and fridge to use up those hidden gems or toss those that have gone bad,
  2. manage your supplies so you don’t have to run to the grocery store,
  3. think about what staples you should have on hand in case things get worse before they get better.

refrigerator-22592466Let’s start with #1. Many of you are food hoarders. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but you might have more food hiding in the cupboards or the freezer than you realize. I am sure we’ve all bought cans of tuna on sale only to realize that we had plenty of it on hand. So, start with a thorough inventory of what you already have. I like this comprehensive approach from Real Mom Nutrition, registered dietitian, Sally Kuzemchak. She has tools to help you inventory and organize everything from your pantry to your freezer. While you are taking everything out of pantry, fridge, and freezer, take time to clean the spaces. We are concerned about the spreading the coronoavirus, we often forget basic food safety practices, including cleaning food storage spaces. Toss anything that is old (I found a box of granola that had a 2017 date; clearly time to toss!)

Next step, rotate food by “use by dates”, just like they do in the grocery store. Then, get creative. Find recipes or assemble meals based on what you have on hand. Today I am making a lighter version of sweet and sour chicken in the crockpot because I had a couple of chicken breasts, a red bell pepper, half an onion, and 2 carrots that I wanted to use. I added some chicken stock, low-sodium soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and Thai chili paste for the sauce. I will stir in some pineapple juice mixed with cornstarch to thicken the sauce and serve it over steamed rice for dinner. If you struggle with meal assembly, go online to any of the hundreds of websites to help you find a way to use the foods you have on hand.

Managing your supplies means keeping track of what is in your fridge, freezer, and pantry to plan meals. I know, planning sounds like a lot of work, but many of us have a little more free time right now and planning saves you money and reduces food waste. Did you know that up to one-third of all of world’s food is wasted? That food could feed 3 Billion people….or the equivalent to 10 times the population of the USA! 

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Lastly, if you do need to restock, consider keeping these staples on hand (personalize as needed for preferences, allergies, etc.)

1389969431643For the pantry:

  • Canned beans, black, kidney, garbanzo, baked beans (I am partial to Bush’s Beans because they keep their texture in soups, stews, etc.)
  • Chicken, beef, and vegetable stock
  • Canned soup
  • Pasta
  • Rice and rice mixtures
  • Canned tomatoes and/marinara sauce
  • Canned tuna and salmon
  • Dry lentils and split peas
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly or Jam
  • Crackers
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Oatmeal
  • Shelf-staple milk
  • Potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Yeast

For the freezer:

  • Chicken (whole, parts, breasts, etc)
  • Lean ground beef and turkey
  • Pork loin
  • Lean beef (flank steak, strip steaks, top round, Tri-Tip roast)
  • Fish fillets
  • Shrimp
  • Frozen vegetables (I prefer bags to boxes)
  • Frozen fruit
  • Veggie patties (I like MorningStar Farms Spicy Black Bean Burger and Original Chick Patties)

For the fridge

  • Cheese
  • Yogurt or kefir (good for gut health!)
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Apples, Oranges, Mandarins
  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Carrots

This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list, just the basics with longer shelf life in case you aren’t able to get to the store. Take some time to learn some new culinary skills…I plan to learn to perfect pizza dough (hence, the yeast on this list) instead of the cardboard crusts found in most grocery stores and take out pizza!

For more tips on eating well check out Food & Fitness After 50.