As these unprecedented times are navigated, it is important to maintain a nutritious diet at home – something that can be done with simple recipes with common, long-lasting ingredients found in your pantry, said Austin Brooks, project associate in the Virginia Cooperative Extension Family Nutrition Program.

“It’s already a stressful time for everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic, so we don’t want to add any extra stress in feeding and preparing meals at home,” Brooks said. “It’s important to focus on shelf-stable, mix-and-match type recipes that can keep you well-fed."

VCE has a vast library of resources on healthy eating and a full list of publications on health and nutrition at home can be found here.

Some ingredients for a shelf-stable grocery list are:

  • Grains, such as rice, pasta, bread, oatmeal, and quinoa.
  • Proteins, such as canned fish, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, eggs, and chicken.
  • Fruits, such as apples, bananas, dried fruit, and frozen or canned fruit.
  • Vegetables, such as garlic, carrots, potatoes, cucumber, canned or frozen vegetables, and others.
  • Dairy products, particularly milk, can be frozen for longer shelf life.

A variety of other ingredients that don’t add fat, sugar, or salt, such as olive, canola, and vegetable oils, dried herbs and spices, condiments, baking powder, baking soda, yeast, and vanilla extract.

“It’s a good time to have family time in the kitchen and have everyone participate in food preparation, which can also a good learning opportunity for kids. They can measure, stir, wash produce, and contribute to meals in additional ways. Participating gets them invested in the food so they are more likely to eat it,” Brooks said.

With more people at home, there are healthy alternatives to traditional snack food, Brooks said:

  • Instead of the salty snacks, leave carrots or snap peas on the desk
  • Bake kale chips to leave on the counter
  • Eat mixed unsalted nuts
  • Try edamame
- Written by Max Esterhuizen
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