Most of the world is adjusting to a new lifestyle, and many people are finding themselves in a predicament: having to cook for the first time, or having to plan EVERY SINGLE MEAL of the day for weeks for their whole family because takeout or going out to eat is not an option right now.
I'll share with you what foods to buy so you always have fresh, nutritious foods at home to cook tasty, healthy meals.
We need to start with buying the right foods. Instead of panic-buying toilet paper or Vienna sausages (like my husband did before Hurricane Dorian last year lol), here is a grocery list of fruits and vegetables that last a long time so you can eat well while self-quarantining.
Please note, this is not a complete grocery list! You should also buy canned foods because those will last for years (and YES, should should buy toilet paper.... if you're running out), but there are definitely lots of fresh fruits and veggies you can eat even if you're avoiding going to the grocery stores regularly.
On top of that, many dairy items last a long time, and meat and fish can be frozen for weeks and months as well. So follow this as a guide and inspiration for grocery shopping!
Fresh and frozen vegetables
You don't have to eat only mushy canned vegetables if you're stocking up! There are so many fresh vegetables that are very nutritious and last for weeks when refrigerated. Frozen vegetables provide as much nutrition as fresh vegetables, so that is a good option as well.
Here are the fresh and frozen vegetables you can buy to get you through staying at home for weeks, please recipe ideas for how to use those vegetables:
- Sweet potatoes (try this sweet potato soup chicken soup or this vegan sweet potato peanut butter soup)
- Potatoes (try this potato and mushrooms side dish)
- Turnips (try this vegetable hash or this potato turnip soup)
- Carrots (try this creamy vegan carrot soup)
- Brussels sprouts (try these Brussels sprouts with turkey bacon)
- Cabbage (try this cabbage and kielbasa stir fry, or sweet and sour cabbage stir fry)
- Butternut squash (try this Butternut Squash Lentil Soup)
- Spaghetti squash (try this spaghetti squash shrimp Alfredo, using jarred Alfredo sauce and frozen shrimp)
- Beets (try this Russian Beet Salad, or this Beet and Butternut Squash Soup)
- Radishes (try Roasted Radishes)
- Daikon radishes (try this Daikon Carrot Salad)
- Frozen peas (for this shrimp fried brown rice)
- Frozen edamame or lima beans
- Frozen corn
- Frozen stir fry veggie mix
Fresh and frozen fruit
- Apples (they last a while and it's nice to have something other than frozen fruit!)
- Bananas (they don't last that long, but hey - an excuse to bake banana muffins... or freeze bananas and make "nice" cream for a healthy treat, such as this matcha banana ice cream, or in this coffee breakfast smoothie)
- Pineapple - eat some while it's fresh and then freeze the rest
- Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries that can also be eaten fresh for a few days and then washed and frozen
- Oranges - they last a while in the fridge or on the counter
- Frozen fruit and berries (use frozen peaches in this grits with peaches recipe)
Here is what I always have in my pantry:
- Beans (white beans, pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans - try this Southwestern White Bean Chili, or this Sweet Potato Chili)
- Chickpeas (make these chickpea sweet potato burgers, or this chickpea chicken salad)
- Corn (whole kernels - use it to make this delicious Cheesy Chicken Corn Dip with canned chicken [another pantry staple])
- Diced tomatoes (I buy these in BULK. They are great for this easy Shrimp in Tomato Sauce, or in this Sweet Potato Peanut Soup, or perfect for flavoring lentils in this Red Lentils with Poached Eggs recipe)
Also make sure to have canned chicken and canned fish. You can make an AMAZING 3-ingredient chicken salad or this spicy crunchy chicken salad from canned chicken.
Canned tuna is always great to have on hand as well - try it in this Mediterranean Couscous Tuna Bowl, which uses pretty much only pantry ingredients!
You can't stock up on fresh milk for too long, but you can still have dairy and dairy protein even if you're avoiding grocery stores. Look for these items in stores:
- Shelf stable milk (cow's milk or soy / almond milk)
- Yogurt (usually has a long expiration date, great for blending into smoothies)
- Cottage cheese (try these cottage cheese bowls with frozen mango or other frozen fruit)
- Cream cheese (make this amazing no-bake key lime pie cheesecake dip for a treat!)
- Butter (for baking, if you're cooped up inside!)
- Cheese (a block of Parmesan cheese, or a package of feta cheese usually lasts a long time and is GREAT for adding flavor to recipes! Try these Parmesan Truffle Potato Wedges or this Cheesy Matzo Flatbread with Olives)
Protein (meat, fish, eggs)
Eggs usually last a really long time in the fridge - look for a package with the furthest expiration date! And luckily, many meats and fish can be frozen without any negative effects on its texture. Obviously, don't stock up on super fresh steak if you don't want to freeze it, but chicken, shrimp and other seafood freezes and thaws really well. My fridge and freezer are always stocked with the following:
- Chicken breast (make this blackened chicken)
- Chicken thighs or wings (follow this honey garlic wings recipe but use chicken thighs instead... so good!)
- Shrimp (use it in this Shrimp with Tomato Sauce recipe, using canned diced tomatoes, or shrimp fried brown rice)
- Salmon (make this blackened salmon with mango black bean salsa)
- White fish fillets (such as swai for these easy swai recipes)
Grains and dried goods
Here are the grains and dried goods I rotate through at home regularly:
- Whole wheat pasta of all kinds
- Buckwheat (try these buckwheat bowls)
- Brown rice (try this Brown Rice Salad with Dried Fruit - mostly pantry ingredients!)
- White rice (try this Instant Pot Vegan Rice Pilaf)
- Couscous (large couscous is a great pasta substitute, such as in this Couscous Shrimp Salad)
- Quinoa (try this Instant Pot Quinoa with Sausage and Vegetables, or this easy Quinoa and Bell Pepper side dish)
What is on YOUR list that is not mentioned here? Let me know in a comment below!
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