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Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Pandemic Pantry - Smart Shopping and Food Preparation

This post is designed to help you with your pandemic pantry, and to encourage you to stay home and cook what you have on hand. Read on for help to make sure you have on hand ingredients that add up to delicious meals!

Are you tired of eating the same food over and over? Type your favorite foods in the Google search bar and find new ways to prepare them.

Of course new recipes will require shopping. Maybe you have already honed your Costco shopping skills, or you use a food shopping service? However you fill your bare pantry, here are some keys to smart shopping that guarantee you will have healthy food to eat.

  • Start with a list: This is not the time to browse the supermarket and shop aimlessly for what looks good at the moment.  You are shopping for what will be good to eat in the weeks ahead. Your approach should be targeted so you get in and out fast.
  • Fruits and vegetables: We love fresh and crunchy textures, but most fruits and vegetables need to be converted into items that can be stored in your freezer.  Freeze fruit for smoothies. Prepare blended soups from vegetables. To save time and freezer space, buy canned goods.  Or if you have freezer space, consider bags of frozen fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables should cover half your plate so stock up!

  • Starches:  If you have already eaten too much pasta, consider couscous, rice, dried beans, and quinoa.  Kept in airtight containers, these items have a long shelf life. The potato and most root vegetables, are nutritionally starches and will last for months in a cool place.

  • Dairy:  Back to that freezer, ice cream can be kept there if you don't eat it all at once. You can freeze milk (use ice cube trays)  to use in smoothies and baking. And in the refrigerator, hard cheeses like cheddar, Swiss and Parmesan can be stored for up to six months.  Yogurt is good for up to two weeks in the refrigerator and two months frozen. 

  • Protein:  Meats and fish can be frozen and defrosted when needed, usually for up to a 8 months. Refrigerated eggs last about five weeks. Nuts last as long as you can keep from eating them!

  • Condiments and spices: Not a food group, but it's amazing what a little spice and vinegar will do to improve the flavor of food and they keep forever. Really.

  • Food Budgets:  Determine how much food you can buy at one time and keep in your home and shop accordingly to reduce your trips to the store.

  • Food Preparation: Cooking more than you want?  Consider casseroles, one pot/pan meals, and soups that can be prepared in advance to keep cooking and cleaning at a minimum. Use healthy oils in your food preparation. Click on Healthy Recipes at KnowFoodNow for interesting meal ideas.


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