How prepared are you? Store shelves are empty of soap, hand sanitizer and toilet paper because of coronavirus concerns. But what about food? Do you have enough food on hand for your family if you have to stay home a few days?
How prepared are you? Store shelves are empty of soap, hand sanitizer and toilet paper because of coronavirus concerns. But what about food? Do you have enough food on hand for your family if you have to stay home a few days? How about a couple weeks? Can you prepare three meals a day for a week without going to the grocery store? Whether you are worried about being quarantined or not, it is a good idea to have a well stocked pantry that you can use to make easy meals without having to leave the house. Use this guide to help stock up.
Proteins: Allow about 4 ounces of meat per person, per day. Chicken and lean ground beef are versatile meats that freeze well. Keep a supply of canned meats, like tuna, salmon, chicken and sardines, on hand for quick meals. Nut butters, nuts and seeds are also good sources of proteins that are shelf stable.
Grains: Pasta is cheap, pairs well with just about any meat or vegetable, and is a great way to stretch a meal. Rice, quinoa, barley or other grains are also good ways to fill up a family. Taco shells and tortillas have long shelf lives and are handy to have in your pantry. Keep cereal and oatmeal on hand for breakfasts and crackers, granola bars and popcorn for snacks. Bread doesn’t usually last for two weeks, but you can keep an extra couple loaves in the freezer.
Fruits and vegetables: Fresh vegetables that can keep for a couple weeks or more include potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots and sweet potatoes. Apples and oranges keep well, especially if refrigerated. Stock your freezer with a variety of frozen fruits and vegetables. Fill your pantry with canned or dried fruits and vegetables. Beans especially are a good meal extender or can be a meal by themselves. They are full of fiber to fill you up and are a good source of protein. Keep plenty of canned tomatoes and pasta sauce on hand for easy meals.
Dairy foods: Yogurt and cheese should be good for two or more weeks. Eggs are good up to three weeks after you buy them. Buy several dozen and you can use them for breakfast, to make hard boiled eggs for snacks or egg salad for lunch, and for baking. Butter will keep several weeks in the fridge or freezer. Milk is the tough one to keep on hand for any length of time but there are options. Look for some specialty milks that have longer shelf lives such as ultra-filtered milks or plant-based milks. You can freeze milk and thaw when needed. You also can keep powdered milk on hand, especially to cook with.
Other items you may want to stock up on for easy meals include: oils, chicken and beef broth, canned soups, coffee, tea, spices, condiments and basic ingredients for baking.
Now for some easy pantry meal ideas: Black beans and rice Tuna or egg salad sandwiches Tuna noodle casserole Soups — potato, chicken noodle, vegetable and minestrone are all easy to make with pantry ingredients Bean or beef and bean burritos Tacos Spaghetti with or without meat sauce Corn and black bean quesadillas Macaroni and cheese Salmon patties Scrambled eggs Chicken and rice casserole Loaded baked potatoes, sweet or white
If you don’t currently have a well stocked pantry, you will be surprised at how nice it is to be able to make several meals without having to stop by the store. Sketch out a meal plan using your family’s favorite foods and stock up. Don’t forget your pets! Make sure you have enough food on hand for them too.
Anita Marlay, R.D., L.D., is a dietitian in the Cardiopulmonary Rehab department at Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach, Mo.