Chances are, if your state has stay-at-home orders, you’ve made a run to the grocery store a number of times over the last few weeks because it’s one of the only places you can inhabit. Those trips can be quite frustrating though, because with everyone running in and out of the grocery at all times of the day and night now, many of the things you want or feel you need are gone. But the truth is, if you shop at the right time and shop right, you shouldn’t need to make frequent trips. The trick is to shop smart, getting things that don’t perish so fast and buying in bulk without hoarding so that there is always something in your fridge and freezer to cook and eat. So we came up with a list of 10 essential types of food you should stock up on next time you’re at the store so that you don’t need be there every few days in the midst of this pandemic.
If you’re not a vegetarian, pescatarian or vegan, don’t buy meat for that one meal you have in meal to make this week. Instead, buy meats you can freeze and thaw out that can make some versatile dishes later. We are personally a fan of buying chicken drumsticks that can be used in stew, as well as chicken breasts that can be sauteed in a pan and served with a side of veggies. Also a must? A ground turkey or beef that can be used for burgers, a rice or chili dish, or maybe even meatballs.
If you can get your hands on a box of pasta or two right now (the veggie-based options are still heavily in stock at my local market), make it happen. A large batch of spaghetti that can be eaten over a span of days is always delicious, as are rotini, penne and more pasta-based dishes that you can use for something like a huge pot of chicken noodle soup. Compared to other meals, pasta dishes can last for a while and are relatively cheap and quick to make.
Hey, if you can get get some affordable fresh fish, go for that as well, but canned fish can be used for a variety of meals and snacks, and it can be used without perishing fast or needing to be thawed out. Get some canned tuna to make an old-school tuna fish sandwich, or for tuna and crackers when you want something not so heavy. Get creative with canned salmon for some delicious fried or baked salmon croquettes. Canned smoke salmon with scrambled eggs is also pretty tasty and easy to do.
We’ve noticed that people have been going haywire buying up all the water and bottle packs in certain stores. If you are able to get a gallon or two of water, they can be an annoyance to lug home. This is the perfect time when next you’re at a store like a Target or Walmart or shopping online, to look for a water filter. It can save you some money in the long run and will allow you to drink more often without worrying about having to go back out for more or drink unfiltered tap water.
A very useful carb, we’re big fans of stocking up on a few for various dishes. Get a few sweet potatoes so you can make sweet potato soup (and grab a can of coconut milk to help with that). You can also use whatever potato you like to make fries as a side for a dish you’re concocting, as well dishes like a baked potato, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, potato salad, baked potato skins and more.
A cheap and simple meal is always a sandwich. Have some handy for toast to go with your breakfast. Throw some bread in a pan for some old-school grilled cheese. Cut one slice in half to use for the bun of a homemade burger. Avocado toast is also delicious. If you want go more intricate, you can try bread stick pizza, a breakfast bowl, French toast or toasted bread and beans.
Eggs, if you’re not vegan, are a must and not only for breakfast dishes like omelettes, scrambled eggs and the simple boiled option. Quiches are simple and yummy, as are fried or baked egg on toast. Throw a fried egg in some fried rice, go fancy with frittata muffins, or make some deviled eggs if you really want to experiment. There are a dozen eggs in a cart so you have a number of options to try.
The Right Produce
Only you really know what types of fruit and vegetables you like to consume, but we are fond of having tomatoes and peppers on hand for stews and scrambled egg dishes. Always have some onions and garlic in the house, as they are a staple in any dish. As for fruit, we recommend oranges and apples, which last a lot longer than beloved bananas and berries. But if you really want to make your fruits last, especially if you plan to use them for juices and smoothies or as a topping, frozen fruits, just like frozen greens (i.e., spinach, collard) go a long way.
Nut or Lactose-Free Milk
Now would be the perfect time to switch to something like a nut-based milk. While whole, reduced fat and skim milk can last around a week or so and you can see them going bad. Almond milk for example, can go for about 10 days once opened. As for lactose-free milk, due to the pasterurization process, it can last for weeks without being opened. When opened, it can last a week past its expiration date.
Have a taste for something sweet? Make sure you pick up some peanut butter. You can make a simple peanut butter bread snack, or peanut butter and jelly if you have the latter. You can also put some on a piece of apple, on banana, crackers, or pretzels. Get real jazzy and throw it in a fruity smoothie or blend it into an almond milkshake. If your favorite junk food is a no for you, peanut butter is a perfect substitute.