Rana-brand tortellini with broccoli with text overlay: Making Your Quarantine Foods Healthier

[Wellness] Making Your Quarantine Foods Healthier

Hi everyone, and welcome back to Wellness Wednesday! Have you been participating in the ‘One Thing for Wellness’ challenge with me? If not, there’s still plenty of month left. You can join in on my Facebook page, https://facebook.com/hopereclaiming. You can also download the challenge calendar by using the form below. Speaking of challenges, have you found it challenging to eat healthy during these last few weeks?

If you’re anything like me, you may be eating some things you wouldn’t normally eat. To avoid going out as often, I’ve been filling my freezer and pantry with things that will last for awhile.

These days, we have more healthy choices when it comes to some prepared foods, but even with those things that might not be quite as healthy, we can still improve their nutritional profile with a few additions or little tweaks.

Although some things are opening up more, some of us may still choose to avoid going out unless it’s absolutely necessary. I thought I’d share some tips to help make our quarantine foods a little healthier.

Stocking Your Freezer and Pantry

Having some healthy options to begin with can help us build meals that are good for us. Remember, junk food isn’t the only thing we can stock up on. There are lots of healthy options out there.

Let’s start with the freezer. What many people don’t realize is that frozen foods can be as nutritious as fresh ones. In the case of fruits and vegetables, some can be even more nutritious because they’re frozen almost immediately after they’re picked. This preserves freshness and nutrients.

The Well-Stocked Freezer:

Some of the things you may want to keep in your freezer:

  • Frozen vegetables (go with plain veggies, not the ones swimming in sauce)
  • Frozen fruits
  • Fish filets (you can find wild-caught salmon, halibut, and others in your grocer’s freezer)
  • Lean meat
  • Poultry

You can also freeze some of the healthy meals you cook if you have extra.

The Well-Stocked Pantry

Some great pantry staples to have on-hand are:

  • Canned wild-caught seafood
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Whole grains and seeds (things like oats, quinoa, brown rice, chia seeds, etc.)
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Beans and legumes **
  • Canned vegetables **
  • Pasta (whole grain or gluten free pasta are some great options)
  • Fruit in 100% fruit juice (this cuts down on the added sugar you get in the heavier syrups)
  • Healthy oils, vinegars, and condiments
  • Spices
  • Dried fruit (dried fruit is good in moderation, but does contain more sugar than fresh fruit)
  • Whole-grain or nut flours

** Canned vegetables and beans can have a lot of sodium, but if you rinse them, you can reduce the amount of sodium by about half.

‘Doctoring Up’ the Not-So-Healthy Ready-Made Meals

Let’s face it – sometimes we just need something quick and easy to fix, and we may turn to some ready-made meals.

Rana-brand ravioli with tomatoes, spinach. garlic, olive oil, and a sprinkle of feta cheese

For example, one thing we use in our house are the Rana pastas. These are pre-made refrigerated pastas. You just pop them in some boiling water for a few minutes, drain, and then add sauce or whatever you want.

When you use these types of meals, you can always ‘doctor them up’ (that’s a southern term that loosely means to improve things in some way) to make them a little healthier.

Some ways to add nutrition to ready-made meals:

  • Add vegetables. Whether fresh or frozen, vegetables added to a dish can make it more nutritious immediately. If you have children who don’t like veggies, a little trick I used to use is to put some cooked veggies in the blender, puree them, and add them to spaghetti sauce for your pasta. They can’t see or taste the veggies, so they eat it right up.
  • Add healthy oils. A little drizzle of high-quality olive oil can not only add flavor, it can give you some healthy fats that your body needs.
  • Add fruit and nuts to things like oatmeal or cold cereal.
  • Reduce portion sizes. Sometimes we want those things that are easy to prepare, or comfort foods, and that’s fine. We may just need to eat a smaller portion size than we’d use for some other things.
  • Add a side salad. This is a fantastic way to add some freshness and nutrition to a ready-made meal. Just remember to go light on the toppings and dressings.

There are always going to be times that we don’t have the ideal conditions for healthful eating. Sometimes we just have to be a little creative and find ways to improve the nutrition of what we have available to us. These are just a few ideas to do that.

Have you had to get creative with your meals lately? What are your tips for making our quarantine foods healthier? Please share!

Blessings,

~Terri

24 comments

    1. Ha ha Bar! Thanks for your kind words! One thing I’ve noticed about this situation is that it’s reignited my love of cooking and forced me to become more creative with it. Stay safe and well sweet friend! Hugs!

  1. We’ve limited eating out to only Saturdays and coming up with 3 meals a day to keep everyone fed and happy is tough! This makes it a lot easier to know what to be stocking up on. Thank you!

    1. I’m so glad you found this helpful Michelle! I’m sure it’s not easy to come up with all those meal ideas. There’s only my hubby and me here, so it’s much easier for us. I have been cooking at home more – we had gotten into the habit of eating out more often than we should have – so that’s been a positive for us. Hope you’re staying safe and well sweet friend! Sending hugs your way!

  2. We rarely eat out and have not eaten out since this whole thing has begun. It was very hard to eat healthy in the beginning because we couldn’t get out and when we did so much food was missing from the shelves. We are now receiving weekly deliveries of fruits and veggies. It costs more but for us, it is worth the price.

    1. Thanks for sharing Wendi! I love the idea of weekly deliveries of fruit and veggies. Do you mind sharing what service you use? We’re growing some of our own veggies, but the only thing we’re getting out of the garden right now is lettuce and spinach. I hope you and your family are doing well sweet friend! Hugs!

      1. We use Green Bean Delivery. I am not sure in which states they delivery but we have had very good luck with them…….when we had had a problem, it was taken care of immediately.
        We are going to try to grow some of our own food this year too……we usually don’t have a lot luck but we will give it ago again. 🙂 Hope today is being good to you.

  3. We are lucky to be able to access all foods, fruit and veg as normal except we now do our big shop once every two weeks instead of weekly and then shop local for more fruit and veg to stock back up again. The only items hard to get now are bakery items! Everybody’s become a baker!

    1. Thanks for sharing Marie! It’s wonderful that you have access to everything. We’ve been ordering and doing curbside pickup, but our grocery stores are out of a lot of things. At this point, I try to be grateful for what I can get and not worry about what’s NOT in my order. The only thing I might get cranky about is my bread making supplies. We have the same problem with baking items – I’ve had a hard time getting flour and yeast. I’ve been making all our bread for the last year or so, and if I can’t get flour to keep my sourdough starter fed, it will die. Hopefully things will settle down with all of the panic buying soon and we’ll be able to get everything we need. If not, we’ll adjust. 😁 Sending hugs your way!

  4. With all the things in this world we have no control over, we forget we do have control of our diet. (And exercise) I feel better when I eat better. Thank you for your encouragement.

    1. Thanks for sharing Wanda! You make such a great point about us having control over our diet and exercise, even when we can’t control a lot of other things. Like you, I feel much better when I’m eating well. I hope you guys are still staying safe and well. Sending lots of love and hugs your way!

  5. We have been doing much the same thing. Groceries delivered 4 times with an another order going in soon. They leave things on the porch by the front door. The local service keeps us abreast every step of the way, including each item as it is selected. Then you can track their car as it travels.
    Is all this working? My weight is up a bit, but I understand I might be doing better than many. We can all try our best, and you have some great ideas. Thanks!

    1. Wow, George, it sounds like your service has it down to a science! We haven’t tried delivery, but we’ve been using the curbside pickup at two different stores since this happened. I’m so grateful that we have options that let us stay out of the stores. I’m glad to know you guys are doing well and staying safe. Thanks for sharing! Blessings to you!

  6. The wellness challenge for May is doable and beneficial. Just a few tweaks each day and I feel successful that day. Then the next day I am ready to try the next challenge.

  7. Terri! I needed this wake up call! I do need to get a handle on my eating! My hubby is very fit, I am not! So What do I do when something doesn’t go my way??? I eat. Happy, sad, scared, doesn’t matter, I EAT. I’m willing to change up what I eat… except jalapeño poppers. I love them. So, we will just go with portion control! 😉💜

    1. I’m glad you found it helpful Kim! I think a lot of people are emotional eating right now. I’ve seen a lot of memes on social media about the ‘quarantine 15’ so I suspect it’s not just us…. 😁 As far as the jalapeño poppers, I figure everything in moderation. I hope you’re staying safe and well sweet friend. Hugs!

  8. I loved this Terri. With what our supermarkets had left, we had to be creative and try things that we’ve never bought before. I do notice though that my family has been eating a lot healthier since we did stock up on a lot of canned fruits and vegetables.

    1. Thanks so much Mark! I think a lot of us are having to get creative with our supermarkets not having so many of the things we’re used to buying. I’m glad your family is able to eat healthy during all this. Blessings to you!

  9. I love making side salads, it’s so much more versatile and flexible to add what you want and have it the way you like it (or need it). And it balances things out when you pair it with chips (another vegetable 😉). I knew I was going to add something to my shopping list last week and totally forgot what it was until I read this… frozen fruit! I’ve never used it before but I thought it could be a good way of keeping some in and having it last for longer, and it’ll be good to give the blender a whirl (once I wipe the dust off!) I do find it harder with the current situation in getting the healthier options, especially as I go for a lot of fresh fruit, veg, salad, which I either can’t get regularly or can’t get at all because the shelves are empty. Great tips, Terri. xx

    1. Thank so much Caz! I really like the side salads (or salads for a meal, for that matter) also. It’s such a good way to get several types of veggies in one dish. We’ve been finding it harder to get fresh fruits and veggies too. I’m glad we grow some of our own. Of course, right now all we can eat from our garden is lettuce and spinach, but we’ll have tomatoes, zucchini, and cucumbers in a couple of months. At least we know they’re coming.😁 I love using frozen fruit for smoothies or even just whirled in the blender to make an icy, fruity treat. I hope you’re feeling better sweet friend. Sending hugs!

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