Saturday, September 26 2020 - 12:50 AM
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Food Survival in Hard Times

During the time of any major catastrophe or natural disaster, figuring out food becomes challenging. Most urban folks depend on supermarkets to supply needs. Facing COVID-19 presented us with long lines, empty shelves, and no sit- down restaurants to enjoy food with family and friends. We had to rethink shopping while practicing social distancing and forget getting help from workers behind masks. So… what should we keep on hand to help us stay healthy? Here are a few ideas.

1. Canned goods. Select can goods because they are long lasting, are proportioned to select sizes. Canned goods such as tomatoes, corn, and beans can be added to stir-fried dishes, casseroles, and quick soups. Be aware that canned soups are a good option if the total sodium intake for a meal is 800 mg or less.

2. Dried beans. Dried beans can be rinsed, soaked overnight, and cooked with an array of vegetables. Kidney beans and black beans make wonderful chili. Navy beans or Cannellini beans mixed with kale, onions and garlic make a scrumptious soup. Dried lentils and split peas cook quickly and can be made into soups, a vegetarian loaf, or even sprinkled on salads for that extra boost of protein.

3. Dried grains. Most of us enjoy delicious rice dishes made with white rice or brown rice. Next time, instead of buying the usual, try red rice, pink Madagascar rice, black rice and other varieties. And while shopping, take a look for other grains such as barley- great in soups; toasted buckwheat- works well with eggs, potatoes and toast breakfasts; and rye, a mildly sweet grain that often gets overlooked. Add these cooked grains to stir-fry dishes, casseroles, salads, or they can be eaten as a stand alone side dish with seasonings.

4. Vegetables. We like to buy our vegetables fresh or frozen. If we buy fresh, washing, cutting into bite-sized pieces and placing them in dated storage bags can help us get through these tough times. Frozen vegetables are a good choice because they will keep for an extended time. And dont forget dried vegetables. They are great for soup starters, casserole dishes, sauces and seasonings. If we cannot find them in our local stores, they can be purchased online. These are ways to keep vegetables on hand when we cannot find what we need.

5. Other foods. Buy foods that can be stored for an extended time. Buy treats that we eat in small amounts and keep a stash on hand. Boxed crackers, chips and cookies are a part of our diet but may or may not substantially add health benefits. But storing a small amount on hand keeps us from roaming the neighborhood trying to find that one thing we want.  And lastly, keep other supplies such as seasonings, baking ingredients and water on hand.

One other suggestion: buy a small metal garbage can with a lid to store your dried goods. By adding these foods to our shopping list before a catastrophe keeps us prepared at all times.

Pamela Williams writes from Southern California.

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About Pamela A. Williams, MPH, R.D.

Pamela A. Williams, MPH, R.D.

is a dietitian, photographer, and writer in Southern California.

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