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Coronavirus: tips for shopping and eating at home

Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19), many children and parents are home from school and work. Families should plan to prepare healthy meals and snacks during this time. To do this, you should keep your kitchen stocked with nutritious options. It is a good idea to have enough food on hand to last about two weeks so trips to the grocery store are limited.

Shopping Tips

Create a shopping list. Making a shopping list and sticking to it will help you avoid spending extra money on impulse buys. Also, going into the grocery store with a list will limit your time in the store, which is important during an outbreak. To start a list, find a few recipes to make and also plan for basics like sandwiches. Organize a grocery list around different food groups to ensure you have a variety of healthy foods on hand to easily put together meals.

Beverages. Aim to have at least one gallon of water per person or pet per day. However, if you drink tap water or filtered water at home, there’s no need to stock up on bottled water. Limit purchasing other beverages such as soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit punch, and flavored milk. These beverages contain added sugars and calories that can add up throughout the day. They can also cause small children’s stomachs to fill, making them too full to eat more nutritious foods at mealtime. Sugary drinks also cost money that could be budgeted for other things when money is tight.

For more tips shopping for food during this outbreak, see the Extension content pieces Healthy Shelf-Stable Foods and Helpful Food and Shopping Tips.

Eating at Home

For many families, eating at home together is a rare occasion. This will now become the norm during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Eating home-cooked meals together as a family has great health and relational benefits for families and children. If you have children who are growing bored and anxious, getting them involved in the kitchen can be a fun bonding experience. Plus, research shows that kids are more likely to taste foods they helped prepare. Now is a good time to try new or unfamiliar foods like vegetables and whole grains.

When being at home for an extended period of time, it is easy to return to the kitchen throughout the day to grab a snack, especially with children in the house. Setting a schedule for meals and snack times can help create a routine and limit mindless grazing. You can use a few simple tricks for storing food in a way that makes it easy to choose healthy snacks.

  • Store cut-up fruits and veggies in see-through containers and place them front and center in the refrigerator. Keep a tasty dip, such as salad dressing, hummus, or salsa, nearby.
  • Keep a bowl of fresh apples, bananas, or oranges on the counter.
  • Keep low-fat string cheese, boiled eggs, and other healthy refrigerated snacks in a drawer kids can reach if they want a snack.
  • Store “sometime foods,” such as chips or sweets, out of sight and out of reach instead of on the counter or at eye level in the pantry.

Live Well Alabama, a SNAP-Ed initiative developed by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System at Auburn University, has a variety of inexpensive, kid-friendly, easy-to-prepare recipes that incorporate many shelf-stable fruits and vegetables. Visit www.LiveWellAlabama.com for these resources.

Remember to follow food safety and handwashing guidelines during meal preparation to limit the spread of germs among family members.

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