Meal Planning During COVID-19
Normal tasks like grocery shopping and making meals are different now that we are dealing with the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As we try to slow the spread of the virus by staying home, planning what we need before we leave the house can help. ChooseMyPlate.gov has suggestions to help you stay healthy and plan meals for your family, including:
- what to buy
- how much to buy
- preparation tips
Check what you have at home first
Take a look at the foods you already have in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry; make sure to look at expiration dates. This can help you plan meals around what you already have, and will help you limit the number of trips to the grocery store and avoid spending money on items you do not need.
Make a shopping list
Shopping may feel more stressful at this time. Make a list ahead of time to stay focused, get the items you need, and keep your shopping trip short. Since stores may not have some specific items, create a list with general items like “fruit” or “bread.”
Explore your shopping options
Many grocery stores offer in-store pickup, curbside pickup, or delivery. Third party options also exist for grocery store delivery. You may find these services helpful during times of social distancing. If you are older, check if your store delivers or has early shopping hours for older Americans only.
How much should I buy?
Buy what you and your family need at this time, and resist the urge to buy in much larger quantities. Prepare a shopping list that will cover you and everyone in your household for 2 weeks.
Include fresh, frozen and non-perishable items
Plan for a mix of fresh, frozen and shelf-stable foods. Eat your fresh food first. Stock your freezer and pantry with items you can eat in the second week and beyond.
What foods should I buy?
Choose a mix of shelf-stable, frozen and fresh foods. Examples of shelf-stable foods include:
- nut butters
- dried and canned goods
Frozen options to think about might be
- fruits and vegetables
With fresh foods, buy a variety in quantities that you would normally buy. Remember to include the special needs of all family members, including pets, infants, or those with dietary restrictions.
What should I make?
While everyone is home together, you may feel inclined to try a new recipe or experiment with new flavors to keep things interesting. For others, sticking to simple items or familiar foods and tastes provides comfort. Plan what works for you and your family.
Access to food while school is closed
Many school districts across the country are continuing to provide meals to students in need during school closures. Check for local programs in your area, such as Meals to You. Contact your local school to learn about meals that may be available through pop-up food systems, grab-and-go meal pickups, or school bus routes.