On March 15, 2020, my husband and I put ourselves into self-quarantine to help flatten the COVID-19 curve. This means we were staying home all day save for one long walk with strangers always at 6 feet away.
Our goal was to go a full two weeks without going to the local grocery store while still limiting how much we order in. I thought other folks might want some tips on how to achieve this. Here's some tips I think could help. I'll be adding as I learn from the experience and from others. Quarantine might be over for most of us, but spikes happen!
problems & solutions
Fresh is always best when you're trying to get all your nutrients, but produce doesn't last all that long.
Solutions: Plan your meals out for the next two weeks. Schedule to use the produce that goes bad quickly first. Where we are during March, items like bell peppers and zucchini go bad quickly. Items like carrots, potatoes, mangos, apples, and citrus seem to last forever.
Do not buy things pre-cut. Yes, buying sliced mushrooms saves you time, but the mushrooms will go bad faster.
It sucks, but buying things in plastic will help, too. I usually buy my spinach from the salad bar where I can the greens in a biodegradable container, but the greens in the plastic tub last longer than a week.
Finally, there's just no way you're going to be able to keep enough fresh veggies through the end of two weeks. Stock up on frozen and canned vegetables. And take your vitamins!
When you can't eat fresh, it's easy to add a lot of sodium to your diet. A lot of canned and jarred goods are just doused in sodium.
Solutions: Pay close attention to nutritional facts. A lot of "reduced sodium" name brand products are still quite high in sodium. Try store brand cans and look for "no salt added" products.
Consider bagged options. Canned chickpeas make life easy, but buying bags pretty much eliminates the sodium problem. Sure you have to think ahead and soak the beans, but it's better for your health.
Make veggie broth from scratch. Pre-made broths are usually a sodium storm. Save your onion, garlic, and mushroom scraps in the freezer and boil them down into broth for your soups.
Carbs keep for months. They fill us up. They also make us fat.
Solutions: Buy frozen veggie noodles and rice. A lot of brands offer zucchini and butternut squash noodles and cauliflower rice.
Get cauliflower based pizza crusts. They usually make for an easy meal.
Feel fuller with beans and lentils.
Grocery stores keep getting cleaned out. Odds are you won't be able to find everything you need for your planned meal.
Solutions: Add replacement options to your grocery list before you go, and generally be flexible. A recipe is not going to be ruined because you can't get the exact type or potato or apple you want.
Pre-packaged food has a lot less flavor than fresh.
Solutions: Learn to love your spice rack. Cook things in veggie broth instead of water (when it makes sense).