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Healthy eating tips during the pandemic

During this time of uncertainty, it can seem even more difficult to eat healthy foods. Not only are you most likely on a reduced budget, but you also have to limit your trips to the store, and there may be fewer options available to you. In a way, these times can help us learn how to better plan healthy meals and be much more resourceful with our food. 

Since you can only go to the store on occasion, it forces us to plan ahead – a key to healthy eating. As you are planning your store trip, think about what meals you would like to eat over the next two weeks. 

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A simple way to do this is to list out dinners, lunches, breakfasts, and snacks you want to cook/eat. Next to each meal, write the individual ingredients you will need. From that, you can make your grocery list. 

A friend told me that she also makes sure to plan for at least one sweet treat for her family to bake each week – I can’t argue with that! When you know what you will make each day, and only buy enough for that, you limit unnecessary snacking. It also helps you be more efficient with your shopping and with your cooking. 

This will be a wonderful thing for you to continue even when things return to “normal.”  With the decreased frequency of shopping, fresh fruits and vegetables are hard to keep around. Buy fresh or frozen fruit, or both; whatever is cheaper. Buy spinach in bulk. You can portion these into freezer bags and throw them in the freezer for smoothies. My family has been getting most of our fruit and some of our veggies each day in smoothie form. 

My personal favorite – tropical blend fruit, almond milk, spinach, peanut butter, Greek yogurt and whey protein powder. YUM! Instead of all fresh vegetables, buy some frozen as well. There are some great frozen veggie blends out there. Another way to stretch your budget is to buy meat in bulk. You may have one trip that costs more, but it will pay off in the end. 

Turkey burger, ground beef, fish, chicken breasts – a lot of these are cheaper at places like Sam’s Club or Costco, if you buy large portions. As soon as you get home, separate them into the amount you would cook at once, and freeze those portions into different freezer bags. This is also really helpful when you are planning your meal. Just pull out the meat that you need and it is portioned out and ready to go. 

It is more important than ever for us to remain healthy, feed your body accordingly. Hopefully, with these tips and tricks, it will be easier for you, and you will learn to love it! 

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Molly is the fitness director for the DeWitt and Oak Park YMCAs. Reach her at (517) 827.9656.

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