Eating Healthy During a Pandemic – Start with a Healthy Pantry

eating-during-a-pandemic-start-with-a-healthy-pantry

 

We are entering into week four ( or is it week 5?….) of our “self isolation” over here at The Gut Nerd household. We have finally found our groove when it comes to homeschooling, which is great, because for me, this has been the hardest part! I am no teacher…. let me tell you!

Like most people, I have decided to make my weekly grocery shopping trip into a bi-weekly supply run. This means, more meal planning and strategically looking at what foods to buy. We are all now having to be very strategic and thoughtful about what we buy for our families, how much we buy and WHEN we buy it.

As a nerd of all things to do with the gut, I want to make sure that what I am buying is still healthy and supportive to my gut health AND my family’s gut health.

If you are reading this post, then you too are wanting to help maintain a healthy gut through this pandemic.

Allow me to share with you what to stock in your fridge, freezer and pantry. A healthy pantry filled with gut friendly foods will help to keep your immune system strong and supported. Now, more then ever, it is important to eat foods that help nourish and maintain a healthy immune system.

Meal Plan

 

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Before I even begin making sure my pantry and fridge are properly stocked, I make a two-week meal plan. Having this meal plan allows me to see exactly what I will need for the next two weeks.

I will then walk through my entire house and add on any other items I may need, like laundry detergent, paper towel, body wash and of course…..toilet paper!!

Healthy Grocery List

I will then go about writing out my grocery list based on what I need for my meal plan…..plus any extras I want to add. You know, an extra can of beans here, an extra bag of frozen veggies there.

Since this pandemic began, a lot of items in the stores are very low in stock and some shelves are literally empty. Therefore, I will grab an extra item or two when I’m out.

Healthy Pantry

Items found in the pantry are items that will last from a few months to a few years. These items can be versatile AND healthy, believe it or not!

There is NO need to stock your pantry full of boxed macaroni and cheese, or prepackage ramen noodle bowls. Both of these items have zero nutritional value and will only cause inflammation in your gut, and feed the opportunistic bacteria.

This opportunistic bacteria in our guts, LOVE sugar and processed foods are high in sugars, chemical preservatives and unhealthy fats. Eating a bunch of these foods will only weaken your immune system, and NOW is when we really need to support our immune system and keep it strong, not weaken it!

Here are some ideas of what to stock in your pantry.

Canned Goods

When buying canned goods, make sure you read the labels. Whenever possible, choose canned goods that are low in sodium or have no added salt and few to zero preservatives.

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  • Plant Based Proteins: Canned beans such as kidney, black, navy and garbanzo are high in protein and fibre! If you don’t want to buy canned, you can always buy the dried beans and then soak them and cook them when needed. Dried beans will last in your pantry for up to 2 – 3 years. Canned beans will last for 3 – 5 years.
  • Canned Seafood: Canned seafood is also another way to get in those healthy omega 3’s and protein! Tuna and salmon are the most common type of fish to buy canned. When buying these items, try to buy them in water instead of oil.
  • Soups: Find organic soups if you can as these tend to have less sodium and preservatives. If you are unable to buy organic, then check the labels and do your best to buy lower sodium canned soups. Choose water or broth based soups instead of cream based soups whenever possible.
  • Canned Vegetables: Believe it or not, canned vegetables have just as much nutritional value as fresh veggies. Some canned vegetables can also taste just as good.

More Pantry Items

We all have more then JUST cans in our pantry! Here are some other healthy items that you can stock up on for your pantry.

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  • Legume Based Pastas: These types of pastas are gluten free and usually have double the protein and fibre of regular pasta. However, if you have kids and they prefer the “regular” pasta, then be sure to stock up on these too. Just remember to limit how much refined carbohydrates you eat.
  • Oats: This grain is versatile, high in fibre AND protein! It can be cooked on the stove or in the microwave. Oats can be added to muffins, smoothies and used for overnight oats! It is a filling grain and will leave you feeling full and satisfied.
  • Quinoa: Another grain that is rich in fibre and protein. This grain is a great substitute for rice and can be used as a base for a variety of meals. Keep in mind that this grain can be inflammatory for some.
  • Pancake Mix: Making pancakes from scratch is really easy, however, with flour being a hot commodity, purchasing a few bags of pancake mix is a good idea. When shopping for pancake mixes, be sure to look for brands that are high in protein and low in highly processed flour.
  • Jarred Foods: Look for jarred foods like an organic marinara sauce or salsa. If organic is not an option, then look for jarred sauces that are lower in sodium and preservatives.
  • Nuts and Nut Butters: Stock up on unsalted and raw nuts, plus natural nut butters….unless you are allergic to all nuts, then disregard this one. I suggest unsalted nuts and/or raw nuts as these will be the least processed. The same goes for nut butters. The all natural nut butters usually only have one ingredient in them. The fewer preservatives the better for inflammation and your gut. Also, nuts and nut butters are high in protein AND heart healthy fats.

Healthy Freezer And Fridge Items

Let’s not forget that there are a lot of items we can buy that will stay fresh in our freezers and fridges.

Frozen Food

From frozen fruit and veggies to frozen meals, there are many gut friendly healthy frozen options to choose from and stock up on during your next supply run!

 

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Photo by Christiann Koepke on Unsplash
  • Frozen Fruit: Fruit that is frozen is great for making smoothies and ice cream! Plus frozen fruit is yummy to snack on as is. Don’t forget that frozen fruit is also just as nutritious as fresh fruit!
  • Frozen Vegetables: There are endless varieties to frozen vegetables. You can use frozen vegetables in soups AND sauces. Riced cauliflower is a great alternative to use for rice and making mashed potatoes. Plus, like frozen fruit, frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh veggies.
  • Frozen Proteins: There are lots of frozen proteins that you can purchase. Frozen chicken breasts, wings, frozen chicken burgers, frozen turkey burgers, frozen beef burgers, frozen veggie burgers and even frozen seafood. Keep in mind the sodium and preservatives in the frozen burgers. Preservatives can cause gut inflammation.
  • Toaster Waffles: Most frozen waffles are full of preservatives and highly processed ingredients, however there are brands of frozen waffles that are healthier versions. Some of these brands even have fibre and protein in them.
  • Frozen Cauliflower Pizza Crusts: If you want to get away from refined carbohydrates but really love pizza, then buy some of these frozen cauliflower pizza crusts. Keep in mind though that anything pre-made will have preservatives in it and that goes for these pizza crusts as well. They are convenient and will be good to have around in a pinch, but they may cause gut irritation or inflammation due to the corn starch in the product.
  • Frozen Treats: Keeping life in balance is important and enjoying a treat here and there is a must! Be mindful of the preservatives and sugar content of the treat you want to buy. Arctic Zero is a great brand of frozen treat to try. With only 9 Grams of sugar and 1 gram of fat per serving, it’s a great treat to indulge in when stuck at home.

Longer Lasting Perishables

Certain fruits and vegetables will last longer then others. Here are a few you can buy and stock up on.

 

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Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash
  • Eggs: these will last 3 – 5 weeks in the refrigerator, plus they are versatile and high in protein and Vitamin D.
  • Cheese: you can buy this in a block, slices, sticks or even shredded. However, store bought shredded cheese contains inflammatory preservatives. These preservatives are used to keep the cheese from clumping together. A better idea would be to buy the block cheese and then grate the cheese as needed.
  • Fruits: some fruits last longer then others. Apples, oranges, lemons, limes, uncut melons: these fruits can last up to 10 days in the refrigerator.
  • Vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, onion and garlic will last longer if stored in a cool dry place.
  • Olive Oil: this oil will last for 6 months if opened and for YEARS if left unopened.

Our Health Is Of Utmost Importance

A diet which supports gut health will help to support your immune system. This is ALWYAS important but even more so during this pandemic.

These perishable and non-perishable items will help you on your continued journey to obtaining and maintaining a healthy gut.

Making healthy food choices when out shopping or meal planning for the week, will help you to feel in control. These healthy actions are good for your mental health!

Did you find this article helpful?

Comment below and let me know! I would love to hear from you!

Anna – The Gut Nerd.

xo

8 Replies to “Eating Healthy During a Pandemic – Start with a Healthy Pantry”

  1. I have lost count as well! This time is very difficult to stay on track. I am super disciplined but lately, I am tempted to drink more wine and eat more just because of boredom. I am doing home workouts but they just are starting to get redundant and I am losing motivation.

    Thank you for all the tips regarding grocery shopping. I mean, if we buy the right things, we have no choice but to eat the right things. You can not get tempted to eat something that is not there! LOL Eating too much is another story… but that just requires being very mindful.

    Thanks for the great post!

    1. Hi Cynthia,  Yes, home workouts are great, but they can get tedious. I use the Beach Body Online Workouts! There are tons of workouts there so no way for me to get bored. Maybe give them try.

      Yes! I try to buy just what we need and the odd “healthier” treat. That helps to stop the junk food binging. Also, practicing intuitive eating (which can be challenging!) helps with the overeating!

      Thank yo so much for your comments!

      Anna

  2. Hi Anna,

    Some great items there to keep the gut healthy in these troubled times. I’m a big fan of frozen fruit and veg too, and also oats and quinoa.

    Might I also add dried lentils to the mix? They’re really filling, last a long time before cooking and a good source of prebiotics; great for the gut!

    Kimchi is also high in prebiotics. If you like your spicy fermented cabbage, this is a good one, and it lasts for ages too. I love it!

    1. Hi Chris! OOOOOhhhhh YES to Lentils!! And YES to all the fermented foods! I should have added that! I love sauerkraut, but I have’t tried Kimchi yet!

  3. Thanks, Anna for the healthy and informative post. My family has been planning our shopping list bi-weekly and really try to avoid going out. I like how you describe the ways we can take to have a healthy diet, it is really detail and reasonable. I will share this post with my family and be thinking more about eating healthy and think twice when doing grocery shopping.

    1. I’m so glad this post was helpful to you! I hope you can take some tips from it during your next grocery adventure!

      Anna

  4. Now health is very important and especially with the effect of the covid 19 pandemic which has sent panic across the globe and causing lock downs. It is important to improve our immune system and we can do this with the healthy food we eat. thank you very much for this article.

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