Handy tips for stocking your pantry and preparing tasty meals while "social distancing"

by Ashley Thomas

With the concepts of "social distancing", “self-isolation”, “quarantine” and “shelter in place” becoming commonplace in our daily lives, we need to learn and understand how to cope in a world where trips to the grocery store are more challenged and where eating out may no longer be an option. 

 

What are the best products to have on hand at all times and what are some easy meals and snacks to make?

Non-perishable items are going to be your new best friend under this new regime. Thankfully there are plenty of high quality, non-perishable products out there and we are sharing with you some quick and easy meals that you can prepare with pantry staples. 

Be prepared for a new outlook on canned and frozen foods and learn about a few other long-lasting ingredients… it might just reduce your grocery expenses during these stressful times and beyond!

 

Best non-perishable items to stock up on and why

Canned tuna/salmon: Great source of omega-3, protein, calcium (eat the bones!), Vitamin B6 and selenium.

Canned Beans and Legumes: Good source of protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber. 

Frozen fruits and vegetables: Did you know that they have almost the same nutritional profile as their fresh counterparts? They are great sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber, water, antioxidants and carbohydrates.

Potatoes: Fresh sweet or white potatoes stay fresh a lot longer than many other fruits and vegetables due to their low water content. They are a great source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins and minerals. 

Frozen meat: You can buy frozen or purchase fresh and then freeze to extend the life of your purchase. Lean meats such as chicken, pork, lamb, turkey, red meat are great sources of protein, Zinc, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6 and Iron.

Oatmeal: Oatmeal or rolled oats are a great source of complex carbohydrates and fiber and can be used in porridge, pancakes, muffins and even for workout snacks such as “protein balls”. 

Eggs: Eggs are a great source of protein (the egg white is actually a 100% complete protein), Omega-3’s, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Zinc and Iron. If you store eggs in the fridge, they will last longer.

Nuts and nut butters: Nuts are great as snacks or you can use nut butters as a spread on whole grain bread, rice cakes or really any vehicle of your choosing, including fresh fruits and veggies! They are rich in unsaturated fats, protein, fiber and minerals.

Ancient Grains: Ancient grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, spelt and brown rice are high in complex carbohydrates and fiber. They are as easy to cook as rice but offer some great variation for lunches and dinners.

Long Life Milk: Don’t overlook long life milk. Depending on which variety you choose e.g. skim, almond, oat, lactose free, rice milk, you will be getting a different nutritional profile. All have benefits but it’s best to select one that is unsweetened.

Sauces, Pastes and herbs: These add great flavor to meals. Make sure you look for brands that are low in sugar (less than 5g/100g), low in saturated fat (less than 2g/100g) and lower in sodium (less than 300mg/100g).

Olive oil: Great source of unsaturated fat, adds flavour to meals. Choose spray variety to reduce over consumption.

 

Non-Perishable recipes

Breakfast

Overnight Oats

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup traditional rolled oats
  • 2/3 cups of unsweetened almond/skim long life milk
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yoghurt (If you don’t have this increase milk to 1 cup)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp of vanilla extract or 1 scoop of whey or pea and brown rice plant protein powder

Method:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Spoon into a bowl or container with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. Close and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before eating.

 

Lunch/Dinner

Chicken or Vegetable Thai Green Curry

Ingredients:

Makes ~4-6 servings.

  • 2 cups brown rice (uncooked)
  • 2 cans (275ml) light coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp Thai green curry paste
  • 2x 400g cans of chickpeas or 500g chicken breast
  • 5 cups of frozen veg e.g. broccoli, zucchini, carrot, peas, cauliflower

Method:

  1. Cook rice according to packet or in a rice cooker.
  2. If making the chicken version, cut the chicken into 2” strips and saute in a skillet until white or the internal temperature reaches 165f
  3. In a separate skillet, spray olive oil on pan and then add frozen veg to defrost and cook.
  4. Add the light coconut milk and curry paste into the pan of veggies
  5. Stir well and cook for ~5-7 minutes.
  6. Add chickpeas or chicken into the pan and stir well. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.
  7. Cover and simmer on low heat for another 5-7 minutes.
  8. Divide rice and curry mixture evenly into containers/bowls. Cool in fridge before freezing.

 

Snacks

  • A handful of nuts with ½ cup frozen berries 
  • Can of tuna/salmon with light cheese and wholegrain bread or rice crackers
  • Sweet potato chips (thinly sliced sweet potatoes baked with extra virgin olive oil and salt. Add cinnamon for flavor) – maybe add some more details on how to make these?
  • canned beans or lentils heated through with a pinch of cumin, salt & pepper.
  • 2 boiled eggs with nut butter, cheese or hummus
  • Protein balls made with rolled oats, protein powder, nut butter, and long-life milk 
  • 1 cup of frozen vegetables, defrosted with pesto, hummus, light cheese or nut butter
  • A glass of long-life milk with a handful of nuts or light cheese 

 

Ashley Thomas is an  APD Dietitian and nutritionist, specializing in athletes. She has worked with Australian Football League (AFL) and basketball teams and now focuses on endurance athletes. Ash is also an avid triathlete and a teacher. Find her at ashthomo-nutrition.com or follow her on instagram for tips @ashthomo_nutrition