The recent pandemic of COVID-19 has certainly changed our eating habits. Restaurants and cafes have been closed. Many places have restricted home deliveries and even going outside can be a risk.
At times like, this running out of food can be a scary thought; but don’t panic. All you have to do is sit down, make a list and plan how you can stock up your kitchen during the coronavirus lockdown.
First, you need to consider a few things. You have to figure out what you need and how much of it do you need. Thoughtful shopping is certainly the way to go. Yes, you should stock up but stocking up does not necessarily mean mindlessly overstocking your pantry and fridge.
Think of it as the perfect opportunity to brush up your domestic skills. The first thing you would want to do is:
Make a fourteen-day list of foods and supplies
You would not want to run to the nearest supermarket every couple of days because it is best to minimize going out during the lockdown. This is why a 14-day list helps you stock up perfectly, avoid waste, and reduce the need to go out too frequently.
In this 14 day list, you would want to have fresh, frozen and non-perishable items. This includes dry grains, proteins, canned foods, pasteurized milk for babies if you have children, fruits, vegetables, cooking oil, frozen meat, and some snacks.
Some of us might be okay with seating chips and frozen pizzas every day. That would be a bad idea since you won’t be getting too much exercise during the lockdown. Instead, you should opt for superfoods that are packed with nutrition.
You can find a comprehensive list of superfoods on Superfoods Online.
All this food is stored in different places. Some go in your pantry, some go in the refrigerator, and some go in the freezer.
Now we will be going into details about what goes where.
Non-perishable staples for the pantry
This is not the best time to experiment with your cooking skills and make dishes you might regret in the end. It is better to go for the common foods and recipes you know you will like.
The pantry is the place where you will be storing canned and dry foods.
Canned foods have a long shelf life which makes it ideal to store and they are readily available in supermarkets – even during the pandemic. Canned foods include canned fish, canned soup, sugar-free canned fruits, and canned vegetables.
Canned foods packed in liquids like canned tomato, tuna and beans double up in their use as the liquids can be used to cook rice or even pasta.
Dry Grains and Spices
Dry grains are your usual rice, pasta, lentils, quinoa, and beans. Dry grains are packed with nutrition, inexpensive, and easy to cook. Bagged beans are way cheaper than canned ones. Nowadays, you have enough time to soak them overnight before using them.
Dry grains can be stored for a long time and they don’t need refrigeration. So be sure to stock up on dry grains. Spices include your average cooking ingredients like salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder, etc.
Tea and Coffee
As we spend more time at home, our consumption of beverages like tea and coffee will go up. So, stock up on your favourite tea and coffee.
Oil and Sauce
Cooking oil, olive oil, vinegar, cooking wine and soy sauce are very important and are essential for pretty much any recipe or salads.
Don’t forget to add snacks to your list. The lockdown will make us reach for our comfort food like chips and cookies. Treat yourself, but do it sensibly.. You probably won’t be getting that much exercise while you are at home. It’s better not to tempt yourself with too many cookies or candies. You can try granola bars, popcorn, and dark chocolate as healthy snacking alternatives.
Store food in the refrigerator but don’t overstuff it
Beth Somishka, sanitarian with the Bethlehem Health Bureau advises not to overstuff the fridge with food as it will block the airflow making your fridge work harder to keep your food safe. There is also a chance of developing bacteria if the foods are blocked from reaching the proper storing temperature.
As for what to keep in the fridge. First up we have:
Fruits and veggies
You can store fruits and veggies in plastic storage bags. Now frozen ones are a good alternative since fresh fruits and vegetables don’t normally last that long. Apples last a while in the fridge and bananas can be frozen, but not all fruits will last.
As for vegetables you can store corn, peas, beans, spinach and of course the obvious ones like cucumbers, carrots, zucchinis, cabbages. Avoid storing tomatoes in the fridge as refrigeration alters its taste. Make sure to pack them t in plastic bags before putting them in the produce boxes in the fridge.
You probably would not want to stock up on too much milk as it has a short shelf life and you shouldn’t freeze dairy.. However, there are alternatives to milk such as cashew or soy or even oat milk that store well. You can also try lactose-free milk which is ultra-pasteurized and has a refrigerated shelf life of more than 60 days.
You can also keep butter and yogurt for a long time in the fridge if it is sealed properly.
Whole-grain bread can be kept in the fridge for a few days but it is best to freeze bread.
Eggs last more than two weeks in the fridge. . Eggs are very versatile and can be had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Eggs are also essential for baking. So you probably would want to stock up some eggs.
Properly wrapped cheese also lasts long in the fridge and lastly, a few chocolates can be stored in the fridge.
Put your freezer to good use
Freezers are great for long term storage of food. Not only can you freeze ingredients in your freezer, but you can also freeze leftovers and make-ahead foods. So, let’s explore how to put your freezer to good use during this pandemic.
Here are some items you can freeze:
While you shouldn’t rely too much on frozen foods, sometimes, it is just easy to take them out of the freezer and cook them at a moment’s notice. There are a variety of frozen foods from pizzas, tortillas, nuggets to even frozen fruits, vegetables and much more.
USDA recommends that a healthy adult consume about 46-56 grams of protein a day. So, you are going to need to stock up on some protein. Animal protein is an excellent source of protein. Meat is also a perfect item for freezing. You can stock up on ground beef, other cuts of beef, chicken breasts and whole chickens, and pork for protein options for dinners.
You can also store frozen filets of fish and shrimp in proper freezer bags. Be sure to package frozen foods in freezer proof bags to avoid freezer burns.
You can also freeze sliced bread. Eggs can also be stored in the freezer for later use. You can also store whole and ground spices in the freezer if needed.
What not to store
Yes, dairy products are good in the fridge but not in the freezer. Milk will curdle and cheese will crumble if you freeze them.
You should only store dry fruits in your freezer and not fresh fruits. While bananas and mangoes are exceptions, not all fruits should be frozen.
Some frozen foods require frying before eating. Never refreeze these foods once you have fried them. Noodles and pasta just get mushy after defrosting and coffee catches a weird freezer smell that kind of ruins the overall taste.
We have provided a list of all the food items you would need to get through the lockdown time. Be sure to make a proper list of things you would personally need according to the number of your family members. Remember to socially distance yourself, wear protective gear where appropriate, and wash your hands as soon as you come home.
Because the virus can last for hours to days on surfaces, it is always best to disinfect the packages and cans of food as soon as you get home. Most importantly be a thoughtful buyer. Plan ahead and stock up. However, don’t ever hoard – be mindful of the next shopper who may need that food item as well.