Meal Planning & Shopping Tips
During the Covid-19 Pandemic, British Columbians are facing many challenges, one of them being managing how much food to buy, how much food you need for the week and how much to store in case of shortages. Now that the panic buying is over, we are facing other challenges such as supply chain disruptions and certain product shortages. It is a good idea to have a supply of non-perishable foods in your pantry and your freezer stocked with a selection of meat and bread in case of shortages but do continue to use the first in-first out principle so that you are not storing excess meat for months in the freezer or keeping canned goods past their best before dates.
Meal planning helps you and your family be prepared, which is especially important in these times. By planning your meals and snacks, you can limit trips to the grocery store to once a week. Fewer people in the grocery store also helps maintain physical distancing so try to shop alone. Planning can also help save money, reduce food waste, and make healthy eating easier.
1. Plan what you are going to eat
- Check your fridge, freezer and cupboards for foods you already have
- Think of meals you can make using these foods
- If you overstocked on canned tomatoes, consider making chili, spaghetti or tomato soup. If you have extra tins of tuna try a tuna broccoli casserole with cream of broccoli soup. Make a stir-fry with frozen vegetables and serve canned peaches for dessert.
- Make meal planning a family affair and get the kids involved.
- Consider doing different themes such as Italian or Indian or recreating your favourite dish from the restaurant you miss the most.
- Get inspired by recipe ideas online from Health Canada and www.cookspiration.ca
2. Write a grocery list
- Take note of the foods you need for each of your planned meals
- Be sure to add breakfast foods and lunch ingredients too
- Keep a grocery list handy and add items as you run out
- Organize your grocery list by headings that match the sections of the store such as produce, dairy, meat, bakery, freezer, etc.
3. Shop for your items
- Try to grocery shop at off-peak hours; Fresh St. Market is offering special shopping hours for seniors on Wednesday and Friday mornings from 7AM-8AM
- Try to visit the store only once a week
- Disinfect your cart and your hands when you arrive and when you leave the store
- Try to stick to one-stop shopping instead of visiting multiple stores
- Stick to the items on your list to avoid impulse buys
- Use your list to navigate the aisles of the store quickly
- Stay home if you are sick. Ask someone to pick up food for you or buy your groceries online.
- Offer to help an elderly neighbour by collecting their groceries too
4. Cook your meals
- Use your menu plan
- Plan to make meals with the most perishable items first. If you bought fish, eat that first. Freeze the meat you plan to use for the end of the week. If you have berries eat them for breakfast in the first few days and keep the apples and oranges for the end of the week.
- Post your meal plan where everyone can see it so others know what there is and what they can help prepare
- Give everyone a job to help such as set and clear the table, load and unload the dishwasher, take out the garbage and recycling. Many hands make light work!
- Remember to practice food safety and keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Wash your hands before food prep and avoid cross contamination of raw meats with vegetables and fruit. Use hot soapy water to keep cooking surfaces clean.
Source: Health Canada