BATON ROUGE, La. — The COVID-19 public health emergency can be a tough time for those with limited food dollars. Some are now in situation where their income has been drastically reduced.
Sandra May, LSU AgCenter registered dietitian, said many people may be concerned about making multiple trips to the grocery store and finding empty shelves.
She stressed that it is important to keep yourself and your family as healthy as possible.
“Choosing foods that are nutritious and healthful is one way to make sure that you and your family stay healthy by keeping your immune system strong,” she said.
Here are some tips on how to stretch your food dollars and stay healthy during this public health emergency:
1. Take inventory of what you have already.
Before going to the grocery store, check your cupboard, refrigerator and freezer for items you have on hand.
2. Plan all meals and snacks for the next 14 days.
Sit down with your family and make a menu for each meal and a list of snacks that everyone can enjoy. Keep in mind the foods you already have at home. Include leftovers in your menu planning.
Check out the sales online for the grocery store you frequent the most. Use sale items to help you plan your meals and snacks.
Look for recipes that allow you to cook once and eat twice. Check out these videos for some ideas:
- Cook Once, Eat Twice (beef), https://youtu.be/8zUbDULKKXg
- Cook Once, Eat Twice (chicken), https://youtu.be/25FM6_Si5hQ
3. Make lists before going to the grocery store.
Make a list of the foods that you will need for the next two weeks based on menus and snacks you and your family planned.
When shopping, stick to the list. Avoid impulse purchases.
Keep a running list of things you will need on your next trip to the grocery store.
4. Stock up on fruits and vegetables to boost your immune system.
If you feel uneasy about buying fresh fruits and vegetables right now, choose prepackaged or bagged produce such as potatoes, spinach, celery and carrots or fruit in cartons, such as blueberries and strawberries. As usual, wash your hands and the produce thoroughly before eating, cutting and cooking.
Stock up on canned or frozen fruits and vegetables. Store brands may cost less than name brands and taste just as good. Choose fruits packed in water or their own juices and low-sodium canned vegetables.
5. Choose healthful snacks.
Limit items that are high in calories, fat and sugar, such as sodas, chips, candy, cakes and cookies.
Make smoothies with overripe fruit. Drink water instead of juices or sodas.
Choose foods such as popcorn, baked chips and pretzels, nuts and seeds, cheese sticks, hummus with celery or carrot sticks, and fruit bars.
6. Vary your protein.
Eggs are a great source of protein, inexpensive and very versatile. Check out our microwaveable frittata recipe at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V98ZyTXldx8.
Try going meatless a couple days a week. Choose dry beans and peas. Eat over rice, or make soups and even dips with them. Try this bean soup recipe: https://youtu.be/eY2Au3vHJEw.
Turkeys aren’t just for Thanksgiving. Buy a whole turkey or chicken and bake it. Debone it to make other meals such as stir-fry or casseroles.
Buy canned fish, such as tuna and salmon, and chicken.
Nut butters, such as peanut butter, are a great source of protein.
7. Make it yourself.
Can’t find bread or pasta? Make your own. With a couple of basic, low-cost ingredients, this is a great project for kids to do.
8. Save at the checkout counter.
Check the clearance shelves for deals. Be sure to check expiration dates.
Don’t forget to use your rewards card or points at the checkout counter.
Look for phone apps that save money on groceries or will earn points or money back on your purchases.
Use coupons on items only if you already purchase them.