As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, you may have asked yourself: “How can I minimize my trips to the grocery store?” During these times, knowing what the best non-perishable foods for health are is important to maintain diet quality.
I bought some of these items myself to keep my distance, and they served me well. However, as there has been less selection at the store, I had to get a bit creative in preparing meals!
What is non-perishable food?
Non-perishable foods are those that have a long shelf life and don’t need to be refrigerated. These foods can be stored in your kitchen cabinets. It’s important to have non-perishable foods around in case of an emergency such as a pandemic. Non-perishable foods are also useful to have around when you don’t have time to go grocery shopping. If I’m pressed for time, I sometimes turn to my pantry to make my meals.
Non-perishable food can also be useful in other instances, such as when you are camping. Many of the foods I list below can come in handy while camping, such as canned fish and trail mix. You could also eat some of these foods on a road trip. Some of the snacks are super easy to pop open in the car if you need energy while driving.
Non-perishable ingredients for meals
Dried beans and lentils
Dried beans are an excellent meal option if you can find them on the shelves these days. They are rich in fiber to aid with digestion and weight maintenance, and also provide protein and iron. I had some organic coconut milk on hand and prepared a delicious lentil soup. You can pair beans with rice to be sure you are getting in all of the essential amino acids, which is particularly important for those who follow a vegan diet. For lots more on complementary proteins, check out this post on transitioning to a vegan diet.
You can also get the nutrients I mentioned above from a can of beans. You’ll just want to check the sodium content, as this can be high for some canned foods.
I always keep cans of sardines and tuna around. These provide protein and omega-3 fat, which is considered an essential fat. You could have these along with crackers for a meal that doesn’t require refrigeration.
Dried shiitake mushrooms
Mushrooms have been featured in an issue of Today’s Dietitian featured mushrooms, which have been touted for their nutrient content and ability to potentially ward off disease. It is easy to sauté them with garlic to provide you with a serving of veggies.
This is a source of protein, fiber and heart-healthy fat. It will help you to feel full as well. I eat peanut butter with so many foods–I even sometimes eat it with dried fruit as an unconventional dessert!
These are useful to have on hand as a bread alternative. You could spread peanut butter or canned fish on top for an easy meal. Multi-grain are a great choice for added fiber.
Tomato-based pasta sauce is a great source of antioxidants and fiber and is relatively low in calories compared to other options such as cream-based sauce. I have found it to be useful given its versatility–in addition to use with pasta, you can also spread it on a homemade pizza or used in casseroles.
Pasta can be stored in your pantry, and is a good source of carbohydrate. Depending on what type of pasta you choose, you might also get quite a bit of protein and fiber out of it. Lentil pasta would provide this, for example.
I love oatmeal for the ease of preparation. I’ve made it in the microwave, on the stovetop, and in the form of “overnight oats” in the refrigerator. You’ll get some fiber and protein from your oats, and could consider buying them in little single-serving packets as well.
Nuts are an excellent food, with a dose of healthy fat, fiber and protein. You might want to select an option such as walnuts, which provide omega-3 fatty acids. If possible, you may also store in the fridge or freezer to maximize shelf life.
You might enjoy dried fruit as a dessert alternative that still provides fiber, vitamins and minerals. Dried fruit can also be a good source of antioxidants.
If you’d like to combine the two above suggestions, trail mix is also excellent for health. When selecting trail mix, focus on choosing one with little added sugar. You may also want to avoid brands with color additives and preservatives. I have found some high-quality organic trail mix with these features, and it can be a pretty satisfying snack or dessert if it contains dark chocolate.
I munched through a lot of popcorn in quarantine; this is excellent because of the fiber content. It’s a fairly filling snack due to that, and provides some crunchy satisfaction without large amounts of fat, salt, and artificial ingredients that other savory snacks might include. However, there are a few things you should know about microwave popcorn, so be sure to check out my post on that here.
Have questions? Comments? I would love to hear what you think below!
Wishing everyone good health during the pandemic–stay well, stay safe.