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How to Food Shop During COVID-19

Rachel Lett

Chief Care Officer

By now, we all understand that we need to take extra steps to avoid close human contact — that's how COVID-19 is spread.

In an effort to contain the virus, the government has recommended that anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19, has been in contact with anyone with COVID-19 or is a high risk individual (elderly or immunocompromised) should self-isolate.

In preparation for isolation, the nation has hotfooted it to the supermarket and swept the shelves clean. The supermarkets are now struggling to meet the demand of panic buying and stockpiling. Much of this hoarding is due to worry and uncertainty of food supply, and whether or not shops will remain open.

I hope I offer relief in telling you that if your area goes into lockdown, food shops, pharmacies and essential stores will remain open — as we have seen in Italy. Supermarkets have also reassured us that there is enough food, but asked that we only buy what we need, so that there is enough food and groceries for everyone — especially for vulnerable and elderly. Food shops are working closely with suppliers to get food into the warehouse and onto shelves, but before we see a bounty of food in stores, it's up to us who are healthy, to stop blitzing the shops — panic buying is unnecessary, as we will have access to food.

This can be an unsettling time for anyone who is vulnerable to COVID-19 and self isolating. Public health has advised that anyone who is high risk should use online shopping if they can, and supermarkets are taking action to assist them as much as possible. Some stores have set aside the first few hours of opening for elderly and vulnerable people, and online food retailers are giving these individuals priority for food delivery.

It's also worth thinking about other online food retailers (other than supermarkets) that might be able to deliver to your area. In the US, there is Instacart, Thrive market, Amazon fresh/pantry, Fresh direct and Local harvest. In the UK, you can try Amazon fresh/pantry, Farmdrop, Abel & Cole or other health food retailers like Dolphin Fitness, Keto Source, Real Food or Natural Collection. Also have a look online to see if there are any local suppliers like meat or veg boxes that can deliver.

Knowing what to buy in such circumstances can be a bit of a minefield. Baked beans first come to mind, but as we know, this isn't low carb and won't help build health (which is particularly important during this time.) Below is a list of food items that will last a while, and most importantly, keep your body and mind sane.

Long lasting low carb foods

Meat and fish

Meat and fish can either be stored in the fridge or freezer.

Also think about long life meat and fish products like tinned fish, beef jerky and pork scratchings.

If you have meat bones, make sure you make a bone broth. This nourishing elixir can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. Alternatively store in the freezer.

Avoid panic buying highly processed meat products with many additives like products like Spam or corned beef.

Eggs

Eggs have a natural protective shell and will last up to two weeks or more in the fridge or counter (depending if you live in US or Europe).

You can also freeze eggs if you want to keep them for longer. Crack the egg into a muffin tin, cover with film and freeze.

Cheese

Most cheese will last a long time in the fridge. As a general rule of thumb, the harder the cheese, the longer it will last. Some cheeses like blue will also improve with age.

Cheese can also be stored in the freezer. Soft cheese like cream cheese may have a grainy texture when defrosted, but these can be used for cooking.

Cream

Heavy cream, creme fraiche and sour cream will keep well in the fridge. Unopened containers will often last longer than their expiry date.

For a longer shelf life, store it in the freezer. Sour cream and creme fraiche can become grainy after thawing — mix well and use for cooking

Butter

Butter will last for months in the fridge, but can also be stored in the freezer. Butter is extremely good at absorbing smells, so cover well to maintain quality and taste.

Yoghurt

Cultured yoghurt is a fermented food and will normally last longer than the expiration date. Unless you intend to cook with yoghurt, don't freeze, as it will thaw into a grainy texture.

Vegetables and fruit

With the exception of salad, most low carb vegetables are pretty resilient to spoiling when stored correctly in the fridge — remove from packaging, wash, dry and store at the bottom of the fridge, in the vegetable drawer. Low carb fruit like lemon, lime and avocado will also last well in the fridge.

You can also use frozen fruit and vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, zucchini noodles, herbs, avocado and berries.

Most vegetables can be fermented, giving them an extra long expiry date and a healthy boost of probiotics. If you haven't already tried fermentation, then isolation might be the perfect time to turn your hand to it — your gut health and immunity will thank you!

Storecupboard

  • Oils like coconut, avocado and olive
  • Salt, pepper and spices
  • Nuts, seeds, tahini and nut butters
  • Ghee
  • Olives
  • Tinned fish
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Coffee and tea
  • Mustard
  • Fermented food
  • Nut milk
  • Mayonnaise (ideally made with olive oil and without additives)

It can be tempting to "grab all you can' when you see food available, but please bear in mind that this will only exacerbate the problem. Take only what you need and have consideration for those who really can't get to the shops everyday. We need to come together as a nation, by being apart, but supporting each other.

This is a particularly challenging time, both mentally and physically, but I urge you to try and focus on boosting your health as much as possible. This will help you overcome the pandemic of COVID-19 and any viruses you encounter in the future — viruses are no match for a health immune system!

If you're having difficulty eating healthy or feeling particularly confused and anxious about COVID-19, please feel free to reach out and book a free consultation. We'd love to offer reassurance and support during this particularly difficult time.

Take care everyone,

Rachel

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