To say that times are hard is an understatement. Businesses are struggling, schools are closed, and most of us are stuck at home. However, as dire as the situation feels, there is comfort in knowing that we are all in this together. Everyone is struggling, and with time, this too shall pass.
Our current situations might look different. Some people are single and working from home, some are working from home with kids, some are out of work and home with or without kids, and some are unfortunately sick at home.
Regardless of which category you fall into, now more than ever is the time to start thinking about your health and how to maintain or improve it. Learning to cook through COVID-19 can help you and your family improve, build, and sustain good health so that if or when you do get sick, you will be nourished to get through it.
Cook for your Health
At To Taste, we believe that the best way to take control of your health is through cooking. When you cook, you get to choose what goes into your body. We believe in cooking with real, whole foods and focusing on plant-forward meals.
Proper nutrition won’t prevent COVID-19, but it can help your body heal faster and ward off other ailments. Now is the “perfect” time to get back to cooking. Try out new recipes that you wouldn’t normally have the time to make, or even better, focus on mastering the skills needed to cook without recipes.
Collect Essential Cooking Tools
In order to cook through COVID-19, you’ll need some essential cooking tools. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to chop, dice, and mince with a dull chef’s knife or wanting to make a new recipe and realizing that you’re missing a key piece of equipment!
Stock the Pantry, Fridge, and Freezer
Hopefully you were able to stock up on plenty of food (and toilet paper!) before mass chaos ensued.
But if you are looking for more recommendations for what you should have on hand in case of mandatory quarantines, check out the list below. If you plan to try new recipes as you cook through COVID, be sure to include special ingredients.
Order enough food to get you and your family through until the next time you can get more, but there is no reason to hoard! The CDC recommends a two-week supply of food and other essentials.
Also, plan on the possibility of getting sick; cook and freeze some meals beforehand or stock up on prepared freezer meals that are ready to heat and serve. Whole grain muffins, cooked beans, and chilis are a few of our favorites to have on hand. For more details on the ingredients listed below, refer to our Healthy Pantry Staples and Fridge Essentials article.
Healthy Pantry Staples:
- Whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, oats, etc.
- Pasta: whole grain or bean/lentil varieties
- Dried and canned beans
- Canned tomatoes
- Dried and canned fruit
- Canned fish
- Nuts/nut butters
- White and/or sweet potatoes
- Onions and garlic
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Dark chocolate
- Beverages: coffee, tea, sparkling water, wine
- Shelf stable milk: nut-based or ultra-pasteurized dairy
- Condiments: soy sauce, honey, etc.
- Baking supplies: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, salt
- Kid friendly snacks: look for minimally-processed and whole foods-based ingredients
- Yogurt or Kefir
- Heartier fruits: apples, oranges, avocados
- Heartier vegetables: kale, carrots, beets
- Ultra-pasteurized dairy milk or nut-based milk
- Condiments: mayo, mustard, hot sauce, etc.
- Frozen veggies
- Frozen fruit
- Whole grain bread and/or tortillas
- Walnuts and flaxseeds
- Lean meat/poultry
- Shredded cheese
- Homemade freezer meals
- Pre-made freezer meals: look for minimally-processed and whole foods-based ingredients
Freeze, Freeze, Freeze!
Cook and freeze some basic foods, like dried beans, marinara sauce, and whole grains that can be used in a variety of ways.
Make and freeze some of the following breakfast items:
- Whole grain pancakes or waffles
- Breakfast sandwiches
- Ready-to-blend smoothie packs
- Mini egg frittatas
- Whole Grain Muffins
- Oatmeal cups
- Energy bites
For lunches and dinners, make and freeze:
- Quesadillas (try our black bean corn salad with goat cheese on corn tortillas)
- Bean and cheese burritos
- Chili (try our four bean chili or sweet potato black bean chili)
- Pasta dishes
- Shredded chicken
Even if you don’t get sick, you are likely to get tired or overwhelmed and will be thankful for a break from cooking!
Cook with Your Kids
If you have kids, you’re probably looking for activities to keep them busy. The kitchen is a great place to teach kids about food and culinary skills, as well as math and science.
They can help you make basic staple foods, like granola, trail mix, freezer meals, etc. When you cook with kids, they are more likely to try new foods, and now is a great time to help them expand their palettes!
As you learn to cook through COVID-19, we wish all of you health and wellness. As registered dietitians and chefs, we want to make your relationship with food and cooking easier and as stress-free as possible!
Let us know which foods you find challenging to cook, skills you are struggling to master, or nutrition questions you need answered; we will do our best to help!
To YOUR Taste!