Keeping up with healthy eating habits may seem daunting under the restrictions of COVID-19, but there are still ways that you can sustain yourself cheaply and efficiently.
Colleen Kvaska is a Nutrition and Foods instructor at Fullerton College and she gave The Hornet advice about boosting the body’s immune system, which is especially important to do during a global pandemic. Increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, 30 minutes of exercise a day and good rest is key. Kvaska explained that these two food groups in particular are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and the phytochemicals that act as antioxidants to rid the body of cell-damaging free radicals.
But getting to these foods at times like these can present a challenge. When staple foods like bread and milk are in short supply, there are many alternatives available to get the job done. “Bread can easily be replaced by any other whole grain. A sandwich can be made with whole wheat tortillas, flatbread, or pita,” said Kvaska.
As for milk, many of the substitutes at the grocery store lack the calcium, vitamin D and B12 provided by real cows milk. She chose soy milk as the alternative with the closest nutritional profile to the real deal, most notably with similar protein levels.
Pointing out how meat is also in short supply, Kvaska explained how eating a variety of beans can provide us with the protein we need. “They are just as nutritious and are a good source of many vitamins and minerals. Half a cup of cooked beans equals seven grams of protein. People could make burritos, put them in salads, make hummus, soups, etc.” Black, garbanzo and pinto beans are inexpensive and plentiful options. Though if you were to purchase them canned, she advised to rinse them out in a colander to remove up to 40 percent of added sodium. She also recommended giving tofu a try. It’s cheaper, versatile, and picks up seasonings like a sponge.
When seasonal produce is out of the question, frozen fruits and vegetables are a viable option. “Frozen fruits and vegetables (without added sauces or sugar) are just as healthy as the fresh version, and can be used in smoothies, stirred into yogurt or oatmeal, or steamed and mixed with brown or wild rice to make a quick, healthy and filling meal. Look for those that are on sale to get the best price,” Kvaska said.
As for how you access your groceries, Kvaska recommended using grocery delivery services so that those at risk can maintain their social distance. She also recognized the importance of washing your hands with warm, soapy water after handling deliveries.
“I’ve used Instacart already and it is a convenient method to get groceries delivered to you. They do charge a fee, though, and it’s always nice to tip your shopper so those added costs may not be for everyone,” Kvaska said. In this case, she credited Trader Joe’s as being reliable and reasonably priced.