Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Don’t panic – the kids may be off and you may be now working from home unexpectedly because of the precautions around the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Let’s eliminate fear and uncertainty and focus inward, taking control of what we can to help ourselves a little.

We can re-frame the situation and take it as a good opportunity to sort our food store cupboard, and bring it up to speed to work for us. We can do some planning about what foods would work for you and your family to have should you need to go into self-isolation – or even just working from home. But in the longer term, and without fear being involved, it could be the beginning of a really practical approach to healthy, easy and quick meal planning on a day-to-day basis. Bear in mind that food shops are unlikely to close so this is about being organized, and not needing to do massive shops all the time and confidently knowing that you can always whip up something to eat at the drop of a hat.

For me, eating well is about getting the best versions of the essential macronutrients into us – protein, carbs and fats – but making sure it tastes great and with the benefits of micronutrients (think vitamins and minerals). Things like, lentils, chickpeas and beans are a great sources of protein with lots of fibre and slow release carbs. Wholegrains, oils, pulses and legumes, herbs, spices, bouillon are all jumping out as great things to have in a food store cupboard.

Here are my tips to getting your store cupboard in order:

1.What’s in your food store cupboard?

When you go through the cupboard, take note of anything out of date that you are throwing out and ask yourself if it’s because you don’t like it, or you’d like to use it but never found a recipe. Only put in there products that you know you’ll use and use often.

2.What dishes does your family eat regularly?

Have you got the key ingredients in your cupboard? For instance, if Bolognese is a big hit in your house, have you got a good supply of tomato passata, tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, dried herbs etc. Then you only ever need a few ingredients to make any dish you want – mince or lentils, the fresh veg.

3.What quick meals could you make?

Baked beans on wholegrain toast is a great, quick, go-to meal. Now you’re not going to want it every day, but it’s high in fibre, protein and carbohydrates and is very handy if you’ve already had a good mix of fruit and veg that day. Hummous is another quick and easy to make dish, so having chickpeas and tahini is always good.

4.Have you got the flavor?

Having a good stock cube or bouillon will really help add flavor to dishes and means you can always make a soup if you have a few pieces of veg hanging around. Being well-stocked with herbs and spices means conjuring up a dish is easy, whether it’s a simple curry or a delicious Mediterranean dish. Start having fun and being experimental with some of your ingredients.

5.Long Lasting Fresh Ingredients

Eggs, garlic and ginger…. These are the fresh ingredients that I always have in the house. Eggs are such a versatile product. There are just so many ways to cook them, and incorporate them into dishes. They are an amazing source of protein and healthy fats. And if you have flour it means you can always bake anything you need from pastry to bread, to biscuits with the kids. Also, having fresh herbs, such as basil, means you can whip up a pesto when you are ready for it and not buy a plastic container of it.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Here’s my top 15 store cupboard essentials list:

1.Tomato passatta

2.Porridge Oats

3.Bouillon or good quality stock cubes

4.Canned beans - Organic Baked Beans, cannellini, chickpeas, kidney

5.Coconut milk

6.Flour

7.Eggs

8.Oil – olive oil, coconut oil

9.Dates (great snack and addition to snacks)

10.Mustard

11.Apple cider vinegar

12.Whole grains selection - Brown rice, wholegrain or brown rice pasta, quinoa, Bulgar wheat

13.Nuts & Seeds – almonds, walnuts, cashews, pine nuts (and nut butter) and chia, flax and mixed seeds

14.Lentils – green and red

15.Selection of dried herbs & spices – mixed herbs, oregano, dill, tarragon, cinnamon, turmeric, garam masala, Good quality sea salt or himalayan pink salt, Pepper corns

You can look at getting fresh veg delivered to your home too from some great local shops out there. And start doubling up dishes when you cook and freeze them in batches so that you always have a good meal in the freezer to grab.

If you found this useful and want to delve a little deeper you can check out our ‘3-Steps to Meal Planning’ online programme which will have you planning and prepping like a pro!