Stop Panic Buying… How to Eat Well When You Can’t Buy Your Usual Groceries

Now more than ever a lot of us are focusing on trying to get nourishing foods, however I’m really disappointed by the number of influencers and magazines promoting ‘immunity boosting’ foods and recipes.

‘You cannot “boost” your immune system through diet. No specific or supplement will prevent you catching COVID-19/Coronavirus’ British Dietetic Association.

A healthy immune system thrives on a balanced diet, with plenty of fruit & veg, wholegrains, protein and healthy fats. WE want to support ‘normal’ gut and immune function.

The only supplement worth taking is Vitamin D.

Especially as we are all spending a lot more time indoors than usual. A 10mg diary dose is adequate for most people. You can also get it from your diet, including oily fish, egg yolks, offal, milk and fortified cereals.

I also contributed to TeriLyn’s blog on Coronavirus and how maximise your health  where she shares some tips on looking after yourself, helping to reduce the spread and shares some foods you could consider including as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

How to Eat Well When You Cant Buy Your Usual Groceries

I know I’m not the only one that’s frustrated by the decimation of our supermarkets by those stocking up at home. However, even for those of us that are shopping only for what we need, it’s hard to know if we should be doing a big weekly shop and only venturing to the supermarket once but risking leaving other people unable to purchase what they need, or doing smaller shops but increasing our exposure/interaction.

I would urge you to meal plan as much as possible to reduce the amount of time you’re spending in the shops and hopefully the number of trips you need to make out of the house.

If you find yourself in a supermarket with less than stocked shelves, don’t panic (and don’t bulk buy what little they do have left). Use this as an opportunity to try different meats, fish and vegetables than you usually do. It might also be worth choosing items with a longer shelf-life, smoked and tinned fish, tinned veg, fruit and frozen options where possible. Similarly, go to your corner shop, greengrocer, butcher or independent store. Many of the cafe’s around us are selling fresh baked bread, eggs, homemade cakes and jams too.

How to Eat Well When You Can’t Buy Your Usual Groceries

Here are some options to what you might normally be buying…

Pasta – dry pasta is fully out of stock at every supermarket I’ve been to in the last three weeks. However, I did have some old lasagne sheets in the cupboard, and have managed to buy both fresh pasta (which can be frozen if you don’t eat it all) and gnocchi.

Rice – dry rice was also out of stock everywhere however most shops I’ve been to have had microwave rice packs which you can heat on the hob with just a splash of water.

Grains – look for other grains that you don’t normally use, try Freekah, Pearl Barley, Spelt, Giant CousCous – if there are limited dried options, then have a look for microwavable mixes. In most recipes, grains can be interchangeable!

Beans – there were no baked beans left when I shopped on Saturday, however there were butter beans, black beans and a selection of dried beans/lentils. This is a great time to experiment with different beans and pulses beyond chickpeas, kidney beans  and baked beans. They’re a great source of fibre, protein and count as one of our five per day.

23.Cook, Eat, Run taco 2

How to Continue to Get Your Five Fruit & Veg Per Day 

Whilst it may be more difficult to get our usual food shopping done, and we might have to be a little more creative when it comes to meeting our 5-a-day.

Fresh

Most shops are still selling fresh fruit and veg, it might also be worth checking out what your corner/local shop or greengrocer has in stock. Now is the perfect time to support local businesses! Whilst the stock might not be your usual fruit/veg options, try something new or what you can get!

Frozen 

Spinach, broccoli, peas, sweetcorn, berries, pineapple, bananas etc – they all freeze really well. Spinach can be thrown straight into a sauce, stew, curry etc from frozen. Peas and sweetcorn are great additions to many meals or as a side of veg, whilst frozen fruit can be baked into deserts, stirred into porridge or blended into a smoothie.

Dried

30g of dried fruit counts as a portion, stir into your breakfast, add to your grains for a middle-eastern vibe, or enjoy as a snack.

Tinned

Tinned tomatoes are usually a store cupboard staple in my house. But they are perfect for homemade sauces, stews and curries. Tinned fruit and veg are just as good as fresh and perfect if you’re on the 7-14 day isolation.

Juice

Although it only counts as one of your five a day, it still counts. I’ve been mixing orange juice with sparkling water to increase hydration and reduce portion size of the juice! Keep your serving to 150mls and ensure it’s not from concentrate for it to count.

I’m going to be sharing weekly recipes to utilise your storecupboard staples with suggestions of swaps to make if you can’t get hold of the exact ingredients.

My cousin text our family WhatsApp group on Saturday to say that she’d just been to the supermarket and only managed to get tinned peaches, soy chocolate milk, cucumber and chickpeas. I love putting together meals out of random ingredients so with a few staples from her cupboard, she could make a tabbouleh with couscous, sultanas, walnuts, and a random tomato in her fridge! DM me if you’re ever stuck 🙂

How to Eat Well When You Cant Buy Your Usual Groceries

Deconstructed Lasagne 

I’ve included spinach and carrots (although actually didn’t in the photo because I didn’t have any!) BUT frozen peas, frozen sweetcorn, finely sliced mushrooms, roughly chopped peppers, grated parsnips or courgettes. It’s all about working with what you have in your fridge/local shop or cupboard.

1tsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped 

400g lean mince (beef, turkey, Quorn all work) 

1tbsp tomato puree 

2 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes or 600g jar of tomato pasta sauce or large jar of Passata 

dried herbs (I used basil and thyme) 

4-5 lasagne pasta sheets (or use any pasta you have to hand) 

2 large handfuls fresh or frozen spinach 

2 carrots, coarsely grated 

ball of mozzarella or pack of mini mozzarella balls 

Method: 

Heat oil in a large, ovenproof frying pan over low heat and fry onion until softened, about 10min.

Turn up heat and add mince or Quorn. Fry until browned, about 5min (if you’re adding chopped mushrooms, add these in now too).

Stir in lasagne pieces, chopped tomatoes/tomato sauce/passata, vegetables (whichever you choose)  and 250ml (7fl oz) water. Cover the pan and allow to simmer for 15min, until pasta is cooked through, stirring occasionally.

Dollop the mozzarella evenly over the top. Replace lid and cook for a further 5-8 mins, or until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

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5 Comments

  1. Marianna
    24th March 2020 / 1:20 pm

    This is such a useful post. Calm, practical, knowledgeable. Thanks for using your influence and knowledge responsibly!

  2. 24th March 2020 / 2:33 pm

    Thanks for the really helpful post. The smaller, more local shops is a very good point. They seem to be doing better with stock/deliveries that the bigger supermarkets. People also don’t/can’t fill their cars stockpiling from these shops.

  3. Amanda
    26th March 2020 / 12:50 pm

    Made this last night! I love lasagna so this couldn’t have been easier for a weeknight meal! Loved the addition of shredded carrots too!

  4. 17th April 2020 / 4:35 pm

    It’s at times like these that I’m happy to have lots of dried beans etc in my cupboards as I cook a lot with them anyway.

    It’s true about being able to make recipes with substitutes and when it tastes amazing then that’s even better!