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Eating Healthy at Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With many of us generally confined to our apartments and homes during the coronavirus quarantine, finding ways to eat healthily can be challenging, especially with grocery stores having reduced hours, limited items, and in some cases pick-up or delivery only.

Many people are making a larger percentage of their meals at home during the Covid19 Pandemic. Some are even taking the initiative to try new meals and attempt to eat healthy foods, perhaps in place of less healthy habits for those used to eating fast food or restaurant portions. This trend to primarily cook at home has not come without its challenges, as stores have inconsistent stock and certain products are even unavailable online.

But there are ways to work around most of these problems and eat healthy, balanced meals.

First, some recipes that use minimal ingredients – and the fewer ingredients you need, the fewer possibilities there will be to have an ingredient you cannot find. (For example, there are lists like this one on Bon Appetit). Recipes that simply use chicken, oil, some spices, and your choice of vegetables are great options – you can make stir-fries, chicken tacos, chicken over rice, etc., depending on what you have on hand. Most stores have kept vegetables in stock, for the most part – and you can also chop and freeze many vegetables without losing quality, such as bell peppers, onions, etc.

Another option some are turning to are meal boxes. These can be local from farms or delivery services. While the boxes from farms are usually more vegetable-based, the delivery services are often complete meal kits that allow you to select your meal to some degree. You could try many of the various subscription boxes available as trials until you find one you like the best even! These do take a little time to prepare, but you’d spend as much time or more driving to get take out or waiting for a delivery.

If you have ingredients in your pantry and frozen meat in your freezer, but you just aren’t sure what to make still, or you’ve been having a lot of repeated meals lately, you could try a meal planning app like Supercook or What’s In My Fridge. These apps take the ingredients you input and create meal suggestions.

In case it has been a while since you’ve reviewed the recommended nutrition guidelines, here are some things you can aim for as you consider various meal options:

  • 3 or more servings of vegetables
  • 2 or more servings of fruit
  • 3-6 whole-grain servings (avoid white flour when possible)
  • Low-fat milk and dairy products instead of whole milk
  • Low-fat protein sources such as eggs and nuts
  • Watch the salt content – less than 1500 mg a day is recommended for those over 50
  • Avoid a habit of soda and other drinks and foods with added sugar

Take advantage of whatever time you must experiment with new recipes and create habits of healthy eating that will last past this time of social distancing and inventory constraints. Perhaps you are still working whether at a facility or from home and/or perhaps you have children at home full time right now.

You can still make a new goal – maybe have a goal of one new recipe a week that you throw into a slow cooker and go on with your day.

Perhaps you can spend 30 minutes researching a few new recipes to try around some easy favorites, and then make a calendar for the next 14-21 days so that you can buy things accordingly on your next shopping trip (with some alternatives listed in case they are plain old out of things). Perhaps you can use a delivery service such as Shipt or Instacart to save time looking for specific ingredients. You might find new recipes you love – and you also can take the time to perfect them now so that when the busyness of life comes back full swing, these habits will be fully second nature.

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