How to Meal Plan in a Pandemic
In the middle of a pandemic, even grocery shopping is risky. Americans are being encouraged to go longer in between grocery shopping trips to reduce exposure and limit the amount of people in the stores at one time. Try to space out your grocery shopping trips a minimum of 1 week, but ideally even longer.
Meal planning is the most important thing to do if you are going to make your groceries last for long periods of time. To write a meal plan:
-Make a list of how many meals you will need. Maybe you plan on using Wolcott meals for lunch and will make dinner yourself. Decide if you want to have leftovers from some meals, and write that down in your plan. Also, don’t forget breakfast and snacks.
-Take inventory of what you have, and then brainstorm meals you can make with ingredients on hand, as well as meals using ingredients you don’t have. Maybe you use a cookbook or Pinterest, or you come up with a simple meal that doesn’t require a recipe. Write down these meals. As you write down each meal, make a shopping list. Now you’re ready to go.
Towards the end of your time between shopping trips, you will be out of most fresh food (if you’re going longer than a week). To reduce food spoilage, and to make sure you’re still getting fruits and vegetables at the end of your meal plan, use fresh perishable food at the beginning of your plan and frozen or canned foods for your meals at the end. Buy a mixture of produce that goes bad quickly (berries, greens, bananas), and produce that stores for longer periods of time (apples, sweet potatoes, oranges) and eat the more perishable foods first.
Examples of healthy meals using frozen or canned foods:
(1) Spaghetti using canned pasta sauce, pasta (have you tried chickpea pasta yet?) and frozen ground beef
(2) Frozen cauliflower crust pizza with frozen veggies, sautéed in olive oil
(3) Smoothie with milk, frozen fruit, frozen greens, protein powder and peanut butter
(4) Mexican beans and rice with taco seasoning, salsa and sautéed onions
(5) Stir-fry with frozen shrimp, frozen veggies, teriyaki sauce and rice
Meal planning is an important and acquired skill to help you eat healthfully, save money, reduce food waste, and stay organized, even when we’re not in the middle of a stay-at-home order. Hopefully, you will find some new favorite recipes and maybe even a new love of cooking. Stay home and stay healthy!