Atina Rozhon Extension Educator Health and Human Sciences
Most, if not all of us, have experienced some kind of change in the last couple of weeks. One of those changes might include the way you shop for groceries. The change might also have you wondering what you should purchase. It is a good idea to think about foods you or your family enjoy prior to making the trip to the store. Having those foods on hand will be important; but it will also be beneficial to have other items that are versatile ingredients. The following are some examples you might want to consider:
Canned food items are often what one might think to purchase, based on the long shelf life. And, in fact that is a good idea; however, they should be one of the items you try to use last to maximize on the fact that they are shelf stable. When selecting canned items try to choose ones that have little to no sugar or salt added. Think beyond fruits and vegetables that are canned; also consider items like salsa, nut butters, and canned meats.
Dried beans are a nutritious food to have on hand and can be used in many ways. Consider purchasing dried beans instead of canned beans; your pocket book will appreciate you. If you have never used dried beans, now is a perfect time to try them. Beans can be used as a thickener in soups/stews; as a main protein, to make hummus (chickpeas); or just simply consumed by themselves.
Rice and pasta are good options to have for dishes you may prepare. Cereal can be consumed for any meal; but can also be used to make other snacks and even dessert items. Consider purchasing a variety of different kinds.
Dried fruits are a good idea to have on hand, as well. If you have children, utilizing dried fruits with cereals to make their own trail mix is a healthier option than many of the prepackaged snack options available.
Pancake and or biscuit mix can be used for the purposes listed in their name; or to make cookies or muffins. In a time of needing bread; having one of these items on hand can make for a yummy alternative. You may even come up with some new recipe ideas when you have to try to use what you have on hand!
It is also important that you pick up some fresh produce. Some produce will last longer than others; just take that into consideration as to when you will use which items first. Items like apples, oranges, potatoes, cabbage, and onions will last for a while and can be used after other fresh produce items. Many produce items can be purchased in the freezer section of the store. Selecting some frozen fruits and vegetables that can be added to dishes or used as side items for a meal will also save time when preparing meals.
Purchase a variety of meats. Larger cuts and prepackaged might not be what you normally would select; but now may be a time to consider these options.
And, don't forget to get the basics - milk, eggs, bread! Start by thinking of meals you plan to make, write the ingredients on a list. The list will save you time when you go to the store to stock up your pantry.