During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to not only practice precautionary measures but also to eat healthy. With the rising prices of commodities because of the panic buying and the disruption to the food supply chain, and for people who have been financially strained due to unemployment, finding a healthy but low-cost meal can be challenging.
These days, many parents are stuck with their kids at home, continuously tossing employment (if fortunate), child-care, and other responsibilities. Some have resorted to processed and ready-to-eat meals to lessen the strain of competing with parental duties, but there are a lot of other quick and affordable alternatives to eat. A diverse, nutritious diet will go a long way in supporting the growth and development of your children; and help keep their minds and bodies healthy during this global health emergency. Here are a few things to remember:
Make Sure There’s Always Fruits and Vegetables
Parents need to remember to always incorporate fresh produce in the family’s diets. While fruits and vegetables are relatively cheaper, they are also a lot healthier than any food group. It is difficult to purchase, stock up, and cook fresh vegetables in a lockdown because outdoor trips should be limited, but some fresh fruits and vegetables are longer lasting.
Plan your meals for the coming days before going to the grocery. Consume the softer fruits and salad at the beginning of the week before eating the longer-lasting vegetables at the end of the week. Citrus fruits like oranges, clementine, limes, and lemons perish after a good amount of time, as well as apples and pears that can last for a week.
You can also cut and freeze fruits like bananas, berries, pineapples, mangoes, and apples for later or to add to smoothies, juices, and salads, because they still contain high levels of nutrients such as fiber and vitamins. Vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower as well as garlic, ginger, and onion, which add flavor to meals, are examples of nutrient-filled vegetables that can last a long time when stored in a cool place.
Furthermore, meal preparations for a few days allow parents to cook large batches of soups, stews, or other dishes using vegetables; these dishes can be frozen, quickly reheated, and retain most of the flavor and nutrients. Meal preps save plenty of time while also providing healthy meals for the family.
If Fresh Produce is Scarce, Use Healthy Alternatives
Fresh produce is the best option; however, they may not always be available. Whenever this happens, try switching to other healthy alternatives that are still affordable and easy to store and cook. Dried or canned beans, chickpeas, and lentils, for example, can be stored for months and even years and can be prepared in a variety of ways — for salads, soups, sandwich spreads, and stews, adding to the fact that they are also rich in vegetable protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Canned fruits make eating out of season fruits convenient and cheap; just choose fruits in juice whenever possible. When choosing ready-to-eat vegetables, always pick those in water or no added salt to ensure its nutritional value. Canned fish such as mackerel, salmon, and sardines are outstanding protein sources, omega 3 fatty acids, and many vitamins and minerals.
Avoid Processed Foods
Ready-to-eat meals and packed snacks and desserts are highly-processed and are usually full of saturated fat, sugars, and sodium. Make sure to check the label and avoid those that are high in these substances if you are buying because fresh produce may not always come in handy. An abundant amount of these ingredients often lead to chronic diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, high blood pressure, and obesity.
You may also limit sugary beverages like carbonated soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, or coffee drinks. Instead, consume lots of water and just fill it up with fruits or vegetables like lemon, lime, cucumber, or berries to add extra twists of flavor and nutrients.
Let the Children Help
Lessen the burden of preparing meals for the family by using these tasks as a way to create nourishing routines, reinforcing family bonds, and just having fun. Elementary and high school courses or programs also include lessons on preparing and eating healthy, as well as their importance to well-being, which gives the children a heads up on the matter itself.
Parents can involve the youngsters in food preparation, from the simple chores like washing or sorting food items to more complex tasks such as sauteing or preparing the table. These situations help reduce the anxiety and stress in adults and kids alike during challenging and uncertain times like these.