The Government have now told us that healthy people should reduce contact with others, while the over 70s and those classed as vulnerable should self-isolate for several months to reduce their chances of catching Covid-19.

Millions will now face weeks at home. So, what can you do to ensure you and your family stay fit and well during the lockdown period? Alison Kyle, Registered Dietitian has given us some tips on how to cope with what to buy and how to make the best use of what’s in our cupboard. 

Your cupboard during Coronavirus

As we are all told to avoid any unnecessary trips out, or if you need to self-isolate, you may find yourself relying more on what you have in the store cupboard.  Here are a few tips to buy sensibly and still ensure you have as healthy a diet as possible.

  • Make a list of what you have to start with- you may be surprised just how much you have and remember this includes the cupboards, home baking items and the freezer.
  • Once you know exactly what you have work though each food group to stock up:

Starchy Carbohydrates

Bread, breakfast cereals, oats, rice, pasta, potato, couscous.

Buy a few wholemeal, white or sourdough loaves and freeze so you can take out the required number of slices every day.  Different types of bread give you variety rather than all the same every day.  Most other starchy foods have a long shelf life (including potato) so keep a variety of these as well as frozen potato products.

Fruit and Vegetables

We always try to encourage fresh fruit and vegetables as part of a healthy diet but remember that frozen varieties are just as nutritious. If you are able to ‘grow your own’ this would be an ideal time to get started as access to fresh fruit and vegetables could be significantly affected in the coming months and also tending a new vegetable plot could be a welcome distraction!  Tinned fruit in juice (or in syrup* if this is all that is available), tinned tomatoes and vegetables are all good choices to have in the cupboard.

Meat, Fish, Pulses

All kinds of tinned fish like tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines are healthy store cupboard items that can last for months.  Also don’t forget tinned ham, pate, red kidney beans, baked beans, chickpeas or soups such as lentil, pea and ham, scotch broth or chicken and vegetable as protein foods.  Frozen meat including good quality sausages, fish and poultry are also good choices and remember to defrost thoroughly before use.

Dairy Foods

Milk, cheese and yogurt tend to be used as a fresh food but remember cheese is matured for many months and so long as wrapped well and kept in the fridge it can last quite a few weeks.  A few cartons of UHT milk are useful if your fresh milk runs out and once opened it needs to be stored in the fridge and used as fresh milk.  UHT yogurts are available, though generally not widely, and so a few good alternatives could be ready-to-use UHT or tinned custard, rice pudding or sugar free jelly.

Home-Baking

Don’t forget home baking – keep a supply of flour, caster sugar, margarine, eggs and you can make sponge cakes, cupcakes, flapjacks, fruit crumble and pastry for sweet or savoury dishes.  This could also be a good time to remember all those old cooking skills we have lost, as everything is so easily available ready-made, and you may rediscover how much you can enjoy cooking.   * be careful with sugar if you are diabetic and drain syrup from tinned fruit.

If you need to self-isolate, you may find that you are not as active as usual.  Try and ensure you can get some exercise walking round your garden, joining exercise groups online, dig out that old keep fit DVD and also watch that you don’t snack too much if you are bored sitting around.  Use all this unexpected free time to do all those jobs you have kept putting off for a rainy day like tidying cupboards, sorting photos – prints and digital ones, sort out your wardrobe and keep in touch with friends using technology- online Scrabble is great!!