With many restaurants closed temporarily and grocery store shelves looking emptier than usual, it might feel like you can't enjoy the same healthy and convenient meals you're used to. Our food supply chain is strong and hoarding food is not chill (there's plenty to go around!), but many people are also trying to make due with simpler foods that they have on hand to avoid making multiple grocery trips. At the same time, many pantry staples like rice and oatmeal aren't an option for those who don't tolerate grains well.
Here are a few tips and an easy grocery list that will ensure you have plenty of meal options made with real, whole foods no matter what.
- Reach out to local farms and CSAs first. If you're trying to practice social distancing and want to help support local businesses, why not get your food directly from the source? Many local farms offer CSA or farm share boxes that you can pick up at designated times and locations without coming into contact with others. Many meat producers and even dairy farms offer direct purchasing options; our local goat dairy offers a goat cheese and yogurt CSA! Sustainable food producers get financial support, and you get healthy local food without the hassle of the grocery store! Win-win!
- Do a food inventory. You might be surprised what treasures are lurking in the back of the pantry or the bottom freezer drawer! Now is the perfect time to pull everything out, toss anything expired, donate anything you know you won't use, and then take stock of what ingredients you have.
- Get creative with what's on hand! Once you've done your inventory, you might be surprised at what meals you can pull together using what's already in your house! Substitute ingredients where you need to, or try out new combos. (Googling "what can I make with [insert name of food]" is surprisingly effective!) Even basics like a bag of lentils, a jar of leftover curry paste, and a can of coconut milk can turn into a simple, hearty meal. As a bonus, you can save a lot of money by building your meals around what you already have.
- Reduce your food waste. A lot of the scraps you'd normally toss can have new life with a little extra effort. Toss any veggie scraps (besides cruciferous veggies like broccoli or brussels sprouts) into a bag in the freezer. Once it's full, use them to make a yummy veggie broth. If you have bones or scraps leftover from meat, you can also throw those in to make bone broth or a flavorful soup. Bread going stale? Toast it then pop it in the blender to make a crunchy topping for a salad or pasta!
- Shop the bulk section. If your local store or co-op has bulk bins, they're a cost-effective, sustainable, and pantry-friendly way to pull together a huge variety of meals.
Healthy (Grain-Free) Pantry Staples List
With these items on hand, you'll only need 2 or 3 extra ingredients to throw together a quick meal. Stock your pantry with these goods, then just grab a few fresh veggies, fruits, and eggs/meat depending on your preferences each week to enjoy a variety of easy, efficient meals!
- Canned diced tomatoes
- Canned beans - any kind you like (black, garbanzo, great northern, kidney, etc.)
- Canned coconut milk (look for one without any added gums or thickeners)
- Broth/stock (or make your own and freeze)
- A few varieties of nuts and seeds
- Grain-free noodles such as red lentil- or chickpea-based
- Raw local honey and/or real maple syrup
- Olive or Avocado Oil
- Apple cider vinegar
- Coconut aminos
- Salt, pepper, and a few good quality seasonings - they'll transform any dish!
- Line-caught sustainable smoked or canned fish (if you're a fish eater)
- Quinoa if you can tolerate pseudo-grains
- GF flour of choice (almond, coconut, etc.)
- Nut or seed butters of choice