The pandemic has significantly disrupted our jobs, our non-work related activities, social engagements and how we choose to nourish ourselves. Many people have seen their personal income take a hit and are trying to be creative and innovative in getting the most from the least when it comes to feeding oneself and family.
How can we be safe and efficient when we shop – and proficient when we prepare food at home? Is it possible to maximize nutrition while minimizing costs?
Think About How You Shop
As a starting point, think about the way you shop and what you spend your money on when it comes to food:
- Do you buy in impulse, or do you plan?
- Do you buy foods that are ready to eat or do you cook from scratch?
- Do you choose foods based on the dollar value or nutritional value?
- Do you spend a lot on snacks, beverages and desserts?
Planning and Stocking
We don’t all know on Monday what we want to eat on Friday, but in our new COVID-normal, it is safer to minimize the frequency of supermarket excursions, so we may want to keep some foods around that lend themselves to quick preparation. For instance, frozen ravioli can be jazzed up with pesto or a puttanesca sauce (tomatoes, olive oil, olives, capers and garlic). Then throw in some frozen broccoli for a quick, delicious and nutritious meal.
You can also batch cook and then makeover your leftovers by changing the sauce, the presentation or the add-ins:
A batch of chili could be the base of several different meals:
- In tacos.
- As Spanish rice.
- Sloppy Joes.
- Over a baked potato.
- Mixed with mayo, apples and celery for a chicken salad.
- Mixed with BBQ sauce for a pulled chicken sandwich.
- Sautéed with veggies and served over rice for a stir-fry.
- Chopped and added to a cheese quesadilla.
- Covered with sauce, cheese, sausage or veggie crumbles and extra veggies.
- Folded over into a calzone.
- Rolled thin and baked crispy for a bruschetta.
- Brushed with olive oil and garlic and served with greens and beans.
Breakfast for Dinner
For the budget and time conscious, breakfast is always a great dinner choice. Eggs are high in nutritional value and low in cost. They can be scrambled, served as an omelet, an egg bake, a frittata. A quiche made with eggs, evaporated milk and leftover veggies – crustless or in a crust.
French toast, waffles and pancakes are all lower cost foods and can be prepared quickly and the batter can be enriched with added protein (nonfat dry milk powder or yogurt) and canned pumpkin or applesauce to add more produce.
Cereal is a great breakfast and snack choice but also works as a breading for meats or vegetables, as an ingredient in a trail mix and DIY energy bites. You can make your own energy bites with cereal, oats, dried fruit, honey, nut butter and powdered milk.
Snack hacks can put money back