by Amanda Moder, RD, LD
It’s no secret that people have been stocking up on foods, paper products and other necessities. Over the past few weeks, many have found themselves running to the grocery store to prepare accordingly. Shelf-stable products are a natural first choice – items for which the expiration date is long enough to last the length of current cancellations and beyond.
As we approach grocery store and online purchases with a mindset of preparation, nutritional value is another component to consider in order to prevent disease. Aiming for variety in food purchases can help in more ways than one – it can offer our bodies the balance of nutrients we need to stay healthy, and can also help prevent shelves from being “cleared out.” Items such as chips, cookies and frozen pizzas are easy to stock up on. But eating these options exclusively isn’t a sustainable way to prepare for staying well and promoting health (especially for kiddos, who are still growing).
So what are some of the options we could consider instead? Whether you’re choosing from what you already have at home or purchasing through Hy-Vee’s Aisles Online, I recommend a mix of veggies, fruits, protein, whole grains and healthy fats to offer balance. I’ve included below some examples of foods from each category that have a longer expiration date but still offer nutritional value.
Vegetables and fruits:
These are important for our bodies to get a variety of antioxidants to keep us feeling well.
Frozen: Tip: check the ingredients list – your best choices are those where ingredients are just veggies or fruits, without added sauces or flavors.
Ideas for use:
Steamer veggies, microwaveable as an easy side
Blend frozen spinach and frozen fruits in your favorite smoothie recipe to boost antioxidant intake
Canned: Tip: Choose no-salt-added for veggies and options without added sugar or in their own juice for fruits.
Fresh: Tip: Consider freezing fresh options such as berries or bananas (peeled). Opt for longer-lasting fresh choices, such as spaghetti squash..
Dried: Tip: Dried fruits (such as dried mango or raisins) and veggies (such as dry-roasted edamame or kale chips) can be nutrient-dense snacking options. Opt for unsweetened or minimally salted options, when available.
Helpful for muscle repair, transporting oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, and regulating metabolism.
Canned or packaged chicken, tuna or salmon
Pre-cooked frozen shrimp
Prepackaged Greek yogurt
Filtered milk (such as FairLife milk): Tip: This brand of milk is ultra-filtered, and the fridge-life on it is longer than most.
Legume or lentil-based pasta
Offer antioxidants such as vitamin E to help with immune health, soluble fiber for digestion/cholesterol management, and complex carbs for longer-lasting energy.
Frozen quinoa steamers
Nuts or nut butters
How can you prepare to incorporate variety in your diet with limited access to the stores? Choose a mix of canned, frozen, fresh and dry goods. Prepare ahead in an intentional way, rather than a panicked, impulsive approach. This can help by leaving variety for others in the community. Meanwhile, it can also help you maintain balance (in at least one way) during a season of so much uncertainty.
Wishing you and your family wellness, safety and financial stability – wherever you find yourself in this challenging season.