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Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all been made aware of the importance of limiting our trips to the grocery store as much as possible. But how can we maintain good eating habits while following these guidelines?
In collaboration of Mylène Duplessis Brochu, nutritionist at Fondation Olo, here is some advice to help us choose the right foods to promote healthy eating habits and simplify our lives in these times of uncertainty.
Buying frozen fruits and vegetables is a great way to have fresh produce on hand at all times. Also, did you know that frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as those in the fresh produce section? In fact, since they are generally picked when they are ripe and frozen within 24 hours, they retain their maximum nutritional value.
In some cases, it may be more cost-effective and tastier to opt for frozen foods, especially out-of-season field berries. Since they are mostly pre-cut and prepared, you can incorporate them into a recipe in no time!
Canned foods are very practical and can even be stored for up to two years after purchase. However, they sometimes get bad press because they can contain significant amounts of added sugar and salt. It’s important to read the labels carefully when shopping for groceries, and to choose the options without salt and with no added sugar, when possible. Also, before cooking, rinse canned food in order to remove the excess salt and sugar. When purchasing them, do not choose damaged, bulging or rusty cans.
First of all, what do we mean by ultra-processed foods? All prepared foods that contain a long list of ingredients (many of which are not found in our pantries) and often an excessive amount of salt, sugar and saturated fat. ;
The list of ultra-processed foods includes:
Even if these ultra-processed foods are very practical for quick meals from time to time, home made meals, are always better. They will be much more nutritious, and you will be able to better control your daily sodium and sugar intake. Pre-made meals often cost much more per serving than their homemade counterparts.
Of course, if you like the taste of some of these foods, don’t stop buying them completely! As with any good thing, moderation is key.
Prepare your own frozen meals, which you can divide into convenient portions and take out on busy days as needed. Make sure, however, that the recipes you prepared freeze well, because not all dishes will be as delicious when thawed!
Remember to never thaw your food at room temperature, as this can cause harmful bacteria to proliferate. Get more tips for freezing and defrosting meals.
Root vegetables have several benefits: they can be preserved for a very long time, they are full of good vitamins and minerals, and they are often produced locally as well as being available all year round. By filling your basket with root vegetables, you will have easy access to fresh produce every day of the week!
To preserve them, make sure to store them in a dry, cool place (most don’t like humidity!), and away from light.
Some root vegetables to have in your fridge or pantry:
Practical and cost-effective, legumes are an excellent source of fiber and protein. It is also a good way to replace meat in several recipes. In their dry form, they are much more cost-effective, and they can be stored for a very long time after opening the packaging, provided they are stored in a cool, dry place, away from light. However, they require more preparation, because they must be soaked several hours before cooking (sometimes even overnight!).
Some legumes to have in your pantry:
As we are encouraged to limit our trips to the grocery store, food preservation plays a key role today, however it is also something to maintain long term. To keep your food fresh and reduce food waste, make sure to:
Of course, planning your meals is probably the best way to maximize your trips to the grocery store by making sure you have all the necessary ingredients to prepare your meals for the week. It will also help make your life easier, avoid food waste, better control your budget and maintain a balanced eating routine.
However, given the limited availability of certain foods, it is also important to be flexible, and to plan for substitutes in case you cannot find the ingredients you are looking for! This way, you will not be caught off guard, and you will still make sure to have a meal that meets all your needs.
The mission of Fondation Olo is to give families an equal chance of bringing healthy babies into the world and to introduce them to healthy eating habits early on.
See how you too can make a difference in pregnant women’s lives during this difficult and uncertain time by making a donation to the Fondation Olo COVID-19 emergency fund.
Scientific review: Mylène Duplessis Brochu, nutritionist, Dt.P., M.Sc.