As countries are taking stronger measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, self-quarantine and the temporary closing of businesses may affect normal food-related practices. Healthy individuals, as well as those showing acute respiratory disease symptoms, are being requested to stay at home. During this time people may find themselves more inclined to eat emotionally during these unprecedented times. While we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves right now, we also don’t want to throw all the rules out the window, because this is the time to stay as healthy as possible.
Good nutrition is crucial for health, particularly in times when the immune system might need to fight back. Limited access to fresh foods may compromise opportunities to continue eating a healthy and varied diet. It can also potentially lead to an increased consumption of highly processed foods, which tend to be high in fats, sugars and salt. Nonetheless, even with few and limited ingredients, one can continue eating a diet that supports good health.
We know what you’re thinking: What’s the point in meal-planning if you’re gonna be in the same place for the next 2 weeks, with time to spare?
Well, it’s a great habit to get into, and it can help ensure that you’re strategically using the food you have. Here are three easy steps you could knock out in an hour or less to meal-plan for a 2-week quarantine:
- Identify the foods you have that will spoil while you’re quarantined.If they can be frozen, put them in the freezer. (Hint: A lot of things can go in the freezer, even fresh veggies — just cook them first.) The fresh food that can’t be frozen (like salad greens or fruit) is going to be first up on your meal plan.
- Map out your meals. How many do you need to prep per day? How many snacks? For most people, it’s easiest to eat the same thing every day for breakfast and lunch and mix it up for dinner. On the other hand, since you have some extra time, you may not mind doing more cooking. Nothing wrong with that!
- Choose the meals you want to include. Use a tool like Pinterest and include some comfort-food recipes, family favorites, and maybe some new recipes you want to try, if you have those ingredients on hand.
It doesn’t have to be perfect, but try to plan each meal with a protein source (meat, eggs, or a vegetarian protein like tofu or peanut butter), a veggie (even if canned), and a starch (like potato or bread). If you’re low carb or keto, skip the starch and double up on the veggies.
Some super-easy meals that have a lot of wiggle room as far as ingredients go (and big veggie potential) include stir-fries, soups, sandwiches, frittatas, omelets, and casseroles. And if all else fails, just put everything in a pot and call it goulash.
Sticking to a routine of cooking and eating meals that are as healthy as possible — given the circumstances and what you have available — will help your body in huge ways, keeping you feeling the best you can to tackle the coming days.