Quick and healthy meals when stuck at home during Covid-19
By Katy G. Wilkens
Getting to the store in the midst of Covid-19 concerns can be stressful. With a little planning you can minimize your trips to the store, maximize the return on your food budget and be sure you are eating healthy.
Forget the frozen dinners. Many healthy foods last a long time, are easy to store and can be made into healthy meals. Canned vegetables or fish can be rinsed to remove the salt. Frozen veggies without sauces are usually low in sodium, and frozen fruits and veggies are good sources of vitamins.
- Brown and white rice
- Canned fish, like tuna and salmon
- Canned and dried beans
- Canned tomatoes
- Coffee, instant coffee, and tea
- Frozen berries and fruit
- Frozen vegetables
- Olive oil, corn oil and butter
- Peanut butter
- Powdered milk
- Quinoa, faro and bulger
- Regular and whole wheat pasta
- Rolled oats
- Your favorite sweet or candy
Cook ahead: Make a big pot of your favorite chili or homemade soup. You can use pasta, rice or canned beans, plus canned or frozen veggies. Freeze in individual containers, and then when you need a meal but don’t want to cook, you’ve already done the work.
Fresh foods first
Use fresh foods before using frozen or shelf-stable foods like canned foods, pasta and dried beans.
When getting to the grocery store is a hassle, you don’t want anything to go to waste. These foods will keep at least two weeks, some up to a month, in your refrigerator. Menu planning will help you save money and time at the store.
- Green or Red Peppers
- Swiss Chard
Expired verses “Use by” dates
Check the dates on the food in your cupboards. Many foods are fine to eat after the printed date, although they may not be at peak flavor and freshness. Confirm the printed date is a “use by” date, not an expiration date.
Take salt seriously
Many packaged, canned and frozen foods have lots of added salt, but there are always lower sodium choices so check the labels. For main courses, try and stay below 400 milligrams of sodium per serving. For side dishes, stay below 250 milligrams of sodium, and below 150 milligrams of sodium for snacks. Aim for no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day.
When flavoring foods, use dried herbs or salt-free seasoning blends instead of salt. Check Northwest Kidney Centers’ website, www.nwkidney.org for great recipes.
Broccoli Rice Salad
1 can rinsed or low-sodium tuna (optional)
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped broccoli, or fresh cooked
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cups cooked long-grain brown rice
1 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing, more if needed
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon low-sodium seasoning, such as Dash salt-free seasonings (formerly called Mrs. Dash)
Cook rice according to package directions. Rinse with cold water to chill. If using tuna, rinse in a colander with cold water and drain. Mix all ingredients. Chill. Serve with crusty bread or crackers. Serves 4.
Calories: 325, Carbohydrates: 30 grams, Protein: 4 grams, Sodium: 174 milligrams
Without tuna: Calories: 356, Carbohydrates: 30 grams, Protein: 11 grams, Sodium: 288 milligrams
[Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. The National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition has honored her with its highest awards: the Susan Knapp Excellence in Education Award and