Ten Foods to Have on Hand when You’re Quarantined
For your own sake – for everyone’s sakes – stay home. That includes severely limiting grocery store outings. Here’s an offering of healthy, versatile, inexpensive, long-lasting foods (and recipes) you may want to keep at home during this time – because, really, it’s time to give those chips a rest:
- Beans & Other Legumes
- Frozen vegetables & fruits
- Healthy grains – pasta (see note), brown rice, oatmeal
- Carrots & other root vegetables
- Apples & citrus fruits
- Nuts & nut butters
- Canned fish
- Stir-fry &/or tomato sauce
- Dark chocolate
And now for the details:
- Beans & Other Legumes
Beans, a member of the legume family, are incredible – they’re cheap, they’re versatile, they keep for a really long time, they’re loaded with protein and fiber, and they’re really, really filling. Dried beans are cheaper; canned beans are more convenient. They’re great either way.
A common worry for people who are increasing the amount of beans is intestinal gas. If you find that it’s a problem, start out by eating fewer beans until your intestinal tract adjusts. Here’s another trick: soak dried beans for a longer time and change the water every so often—you may have less gas.
Other legumes, such as peas, and lentils, share all the beneficial properties of beans. Also, many legume-rich recipes, such as the one for lentil vegetable soup that I offer here, freeze really well. Consider freezing individual portion sizes.
Eggs are not just for breakfast! Frittatas, for example, can be made with all sorts of vegetables and meat. They can serve many people at one time or can keep in the refrigerator for a few days.
- Frozen Vegetables & Fruits
For the most part, the nutritional content of frozen fruits and vegetables is the same as that in fresh. Do stock up on them.
- Healthy Grains
There are so many varieties of high-protein legume pastas out there (my favorite being red lentil pasta). Give them a try.
Oatmeal is wonderful for breakfast. I’ve found that it’s also a wonderful, comfortable afternoon snack or evening dessert. I add cinnamon and raisins (and sometimes a dash of nutmeg if I’m feeling wild and crazy) for sweetness. Especially at breakfast time, I add chopped nuts to get a little dose of protein.
Brown rice makes any stir-fry vegetable dish more fiber-filled (and therefore filling). You can even use it to make a delicious dessert (see below)
- Carrots and Other Root Vegetables
Root vegetables are great because they’re filled with vitamins and fiber, and because they keep a long time.
I single out carrots because everyone loves them, they’re always available, and they’re so versatile. They’re a great snack, of course (especially dipped in hummus, which is so healthy and delicious). They’re also wonderful roasted and in soups with other vegetables or all by themselves (check out my carrot soup recipe, below):
- Apples and citrus fruits
These fresh, long-lasting, healthy, sweet treasures are wonderful to have on hand, both for themselves and in other foods. Add chopped apples to your oatmeal, orange segments to a salad. Bake some apples, and top with a dollop of yogurt and maple syrup or honey, and you’re in heaven.
Nuts are healthy and crunchy. While they’re not low-calorie, they’re actually associated with weight loss when they’re eaten as part of a Mediterranean diet (the only diet, in my opinion, that’s neither a fad nor a fraud – you’ll find all the science references my book, The Permanent Weight Loss Plan). Nuts hit the spot (almost) when I’m longing for a crunchy cookie.
If you like nut butters, please avoid the ones that are hydrogenated and that have added sugar.
Recommended recipe: (which can be used as a dip to permanently put an end to raw vegetable boredom):
- Canned Fish
Canned and fresh fish are pretty much the same nutritionally. In fact, wild fish, which contains more heart-and brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, is usually easier to find in the canned form. Canned salmon and sardines also contain soft, edible bones that are a wonderful dietary source of calcium.
- Stir-Fry or Tomato Sauce
Sure, sauces are usually better and healthier when you make them yourself. But when you just want something to throw over pasta or rice or to use with whatever vegetables you have in the refrigerator, you can’t beat these handy friends.
- Dark Chocolate
Well, because you’ve got to live a little, don’t you?