By: Natasha Archary
If there’s a few positives from the lockdown and all this social distancing, it’s that it has given South Africans a new appreciation for homecooked meals. Well that and being resourceful, *cough cough*, home-brewed beer.
Sustainable food is another strong plus. Because daily trips to the stores were not advised and we had to make do with store cupboard staples to feed the family. And we managed well during the crisis, didn’t we?
Granted, we don’t all have a huge plot to start a garden with fruit trees and fresh produce, let alone have the time to make almond milk or churn our butter, but we can start somewhere.
If space is a problem, then start a potted herb or salad garden. These are everyday items we need to consume and cook with and we should be limiting our shop cycles to avoid spreading or contracting the virus.
Minimize waste. If you can use the leftovers as a side or spruce it up with a few more ingredients to create something new entirely.
Have an idea of what your family’s meal plan for the week will entail, from breakfast, to dinner, snacks included. Taking into consideration the foods your family enjoys. Get your family involved in the planning and have someone take note of ingredients you already have.
This will not only save you money at the end of the month, but it will also help with the multiple trips to the store. Have a meatless meal by replacing the meat protein with a veg or legume such as chickpeas. Canned foods can be stored for months on end and are a cheaper way to feed your family healthily and in volumes. If you’re worried about the sodium content of canned foods, rinse and drain before use.
Cut out unhealthy items
It might not be a good idea to stock up on junk foods and snacks when there’s a virus that is attacking people, healthy or with existing health conditions. COVID-19 does not discriminate and it might be a good idea to boost your immune system with healthier choices.
Cut fizzy drinks and sugary juices from meals. If you can invest in a juicer or blender and have your family sip on nutritious smoothies or juices instead. Eliminating these addictive high-sugar items and processed foods will not only improve your overall health but it will mean fewer trips to the store.
Preserve fruits and vegetables
If you have fresh produce that is about to spoil and you’re not sure what to do with them, salvage whatever you can and preserve them in one the following ways:
- Vegetables in pickles
Mix vinegar, olive oil, salt and a little sugar in a glass bottle that has a secure lid. Throw in the veggies and store in a cool place or the fridge. It will keep for up to 2 months. But chances are your family will eat it up before that.
- Fruit in syrups/sauces/jams
Stew fruit on the stove over a low heat. Add a little sugar if needed. Allow to cool and then transfer to glass jars with lids for storage in the fridge. To be used on toast, over ice-creams, waffles, pancakes, or other desserts.
- Freezer bags
If these don’t work for you simply cut them up, according to your preference, and pop them into freezer bags. Label and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. These can then either be added to your morning smoothies, straight out of the freezer or defrosted for soups, or jams, etc.
Make whatever you can
While we’re urged to support local small businesses and save a restaurant, in a time where our health has never been more important to prioritize, stick to homemade.
Bake with your kids and create your own healthier alternatives. Pre-packaged foods offer little to no nutritional value, other than an excess of sugar and unhealthy preservatives. Unless, you’re buying organic, gluten-free kale cookies, sweetened with coconut sugar, and made with almond milk. Doesn’t that sound appetizing?
Try online shopping
If you have to stock up on goods, try online shopping. It minimizes contact and is a far more convenient option. Be sure to plan ahead as some stores may need up to a day or two from order to delivery or pickup.
In these tough economic times, try to keep your costs down and consider low-cost alternatives.