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Making trips to the grocery store more strategic in the time of COVID-19

Written By: Laura Frnka-Davis | Updated: May 7, 2020
grocery shopping and COVID-19

The pandemic is forcing us to change our habits, including how we grocery shop. An expert provides tips on how to make the most out of your trips to the store.

Grocery shopping may have been a chore we took for granted until COVID-19 came along. Instead of leisurely strolling through the aisles or running to the store for a last-minute ingredient, we’re now having to be more strategic to make our food (and dollars) stretch further.

Monique Dorsey, a registered dietitian with UT Physicians, provides some helpful tips for making the most out of trips to the grocery store, starting with the types of food you should have in your pantry or freezer during this time.

“Having frozen and/or canned goods on hand, including protein sources such as frozen meats or canned fish or beans, will help you reduce the frequency in which you’ll have to go shopping because these foods can be stored for a relatively long period of time,” said Dorsey. “Additionally, buying food that can easily be rationed and stored for later, such as rice and dried pasta, will help limit your outings.”

When you do purchase these items, look for “low sodium” or “no salt added” options. If those aren’t available, be sure to rinse your canned vegetables. When buying canned fruit, Dorsey says to make an effort to select items that are packed in juice rather than sugar-laden syrup.

Other great options to stock up on are oatmeal, yogurt, eggs, nuts, nut butter, whole grain bread, and of course, lots of fruits and vegetables.

To make the most out of the groceries you have on hand, there are several things you can do. Instead of storing bread on the counter, store it in the refrigerator to prolong its life. This can also be done with potatoes and most fruits.

Another idea is to dice up vegetable scraps and add them into a quick and easy stir-fry. You can also boil the scraps to create a vegetable broth that can later be used as a base for soup.

As always, it’s important to be mindful of your portion size when eating and to freeze leftovers promptly.

While limiting your trips to the grocery store is important right now, at the end of the day it’s the choices you make that impact your overall health – during this pandemic and when it’s over.

“There is currently no evidence to support that a certain food can prevent illness or act alone in ‘boosting’ immunity. However, we do know that maintaining a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrients can help support your immune system,” said Dorsey. “This balance can be achieved by regularly incorporating foods into your diet from the five major food groups, which include vegetables, fruits, grain, lean meats/fish/poultry, and dairy.”

For more resources and facts on COVID-19, visit our information center.

As the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, UT Physicians has locations across the Greater Houston area to serve the community. To schedule an appointment, call 888-4UT-DOCS.