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What tips can you share for grocery shopping and cooking while social distancing?

Social distancing and stay at home orders have affected the way we shop, cook and eat. What are some tips that you can share on how you have shifted these past weeks?  Are you buying more dry goods and less fresh fruits and vegetables?  Are you shopping online?  Share any tips about cooking or grocery shopping

AARPTeri
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Now is the time to empty your pantry and try to use up all the items you bought and forgot about. 

This would be a good use of time and would keep you out of the grocery store by using up the stuff you already have.  Could make for some interesting and creative meals.

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Bought lots of eggs because they were on sale probably because of low Easter sales. I made egg salad, something I haven't made in years. Had boiled eggs, something I hadn't had since last Easter and made deviled eggs which I love but don't make very often. I don't have high cholestrol so I'm probably OK with eating several versions of eggs over a four day period but at least they didn't go to waste!

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I am taking this opportunity to eat everything in my freezer and get it cleaned out. Also, eating from the panrty to lessen the amount of canned goods I have and will only buy what I know I will eat in the future. THis way I won't have out of date canned goods or out of date food in the freezer. 

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While I prefer to pick out fresh food items myself, I am now taking advantage of online shopping and free pickup offered by one of the local grocery stores.  Even though the stores are doing their best to keep everything sanitized, there are just too many customers who don't follow distancing and proper hygiene guidelines.  Online shopping and pickup therefore eliminates that source of possible contagion since I don't even enter the store; at the same time, I can still have milk, bread, fresh fruits and vegetables in addition to the canned and packaged pantry goods that I already have.  Because of that, we're staying healthy and enjoying our usual fare, at least so far!

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I guess I am lucky. Both my Husband and son are big eaters of Pasta and Rice. There are so many thing you can do with them. I always keep Chili in my Cupboard and my Earthquake kit. I have enough Pasta, Rice, Chili, (also everything to make Chilie with) canned Veggies and my Freezer is always stocked. I keep 4 Gallon Jugs of water in the bottom of my freezer so if the power was to go out it helps keep things cold. Chicken Noodle soup is also something I keep stock. I do coupon shop so my pantry is always full of goods that do not expire.I have Instant Rice and Whole Grain Rice. I was a girl scout for years and we took a class on how to survive a Disaster and food you can keep on hand. I still have the books. One thing I am going to make this year that I wish I had is a herb garden. Herbs can make anything taste good. Luckily I had just bought a jar of Minced Garlic so I have that and a cupboard shelf full of spices. I wanted to keep powdered milk but Hubby said no but I always keep some Cans of Pet milk in the back of my cupboard for recipies that call for Milk. They came in Handy when at first you could not get milk when this Pandemic started.If you have an Earthquake or Disaster kit depending on where you live I suggest getting some camping cook books. they usually show what can be substituted by what and it helps if Staples are hard to come by. Also Schwans was a lifesaver for quick and easy meals. My Husband was an essential so he had to work so I had quick and easy meals to send him with to work.

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We have a medium sized upright freezer (13 Cu.Ft.), and I have found that keeping a list of it's contents really helps me to decide not only what I need to defrost and cook, but helps with my grocery list as well. My freezer list is divided into 5 sections: Beef, Pork, Chicken, Fish, and Misc. I write the date I purchased each product, what the product is, and how many servings (or the size - ex. 4/20, pk chops, boneless, 2 pkgs, 4 in ea., or 2/20, chuck roast, 2.5 lbs.).  Some meats I take out of the store packaging, wrap first in plastic wrap, then in foil, and use freezer tape to write the same information on each package. (Especially if I bought a family size package and want to split it up into meal sizes.)  Easier to find that way. I also keep all the beef on 1 freezer level, pork on the next level, chicken on the third, and fish on the bottom. The door's side compartments keep the misc. (french fries, frozen waffles, etc.) This sounds like a lot of work, but once you've made your form (which is easy to do on your computer - print out several of them), it goes quick if you write the info. on the form when you get home from the grocery store. I keep this list, along with a pen hooked to it, on the front of the freezer door with magnets, and every time I get something out, I cross it off the list. If it's the last of the, say, chicken breasts, then that goes on my grocery list. This keeps you organized, and really only takes a few minutes to do. Now, if I could only get my husband to remember to cross off an item when he takes it out of the freezer!

Periodic Contributor

To KymW117317

What a great idea to make a reality game out of dinner! Clever and fun and interesting results, I'm sure. Besides, gets EVERYONE cooking, not just Mom and/or Dad. Good skills to learn for life.

 

To lj9807492

First - how I wish I had a big freezer! Just a small apartment freezer at bottom of small fridge.

Second - WOW! I wish I was so organized. I congratulate you on such a complete system. I try (putting like foods in sections, writing on outside of packages what it is and when it went into the freezer, etc.), but it's one small "basket" wire drawer and hard to keep things separate. Gotta take out everything on top to get below. Still, thanks for writing in detail about organizing and keeping track of what you have. REALLY helps in preventing waste. And, as with coupons, organizing takes some time initially, but maintenance is pretty easy once the system is set up.

My mother had a huge freezer in the laundry room and we were able to feed an extended family of 10-15 (Christmas and everyone was visiting) for over a week when we all got stuck at their house after a surprise blizzard! And she hadn't even stocked up for a crisis.

Enjoy the fruits of your excellent organizing!

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I definely use my scooter when shopping in any store.  Fast in, fast out.

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Distance yourself, wear your gloves and your mask. Be quick, and be thorough. Make a list, and get what you need. Then get out, and stay home! This is an air born thing, and we need to not incourage it's growth by spreading it around!

Newbie

I like to use a combination of four spices on the meats I cook for my family weather it is beef, chicken, or pork. I use garlic,  dry or diced onion, parsley, and cinnamon. Spices have so many healthy benefits for you; from diabetes to arthritis and so much more. A large salad, and a nice veggie makes a wonderful filling meal. Then any left overs in a day or two can be a smorgasbord lunch. Which gives you kind of a break from cooking.

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My husband and I share the house with my three adult kids. He loves to cook daily while I'm at work. That has changed to weekly cooking while I work from home. We bought staples like large bags of rice, dried pinto beans & black beans, oatmeal, canned tuna and chicken.

 

Each week he cooks a big pot of rice & beans, roasts veggies (bell peppers, onion, carrots, sweet potatoes) in the oven and we have delicious veggie bowls/wraps. We can add whatever protein we have. Some weeks we have pasta for variety.

 

For breakfast, he cooks a pot of steel cut oats (enough for the week), store individual portions in covered bowls in the fridge, and we add fresh fruit (berries, bananas) and walnuts. Lunch is usually a tuna sandwich or veggie wrap. We switched to oat milk and almond milk which has a longer life than dairy, so we add that to our cofee and cereal. We can buy enough to last a few weeks at a time, so we don't have to go out too often. We order what we can online at Target and go out for the rest. When we shop, only one of us goes out, wearing a mask and gloves, and washing hands first thing upon returning.

Periodic Contributor

Mmmmmsurvival pinto beans and rice sound really yummy

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I've been doing this for years but it's great for money saving and repurposing!

 

I save all the ends and peels from carrots, celery, onions, potatoes and herbs in a large zip bag in the freezer. I use this to make my own stock. 

Use bone in chicken parts or beef bones in the crockpot with the peels, water and salt for 12 hours. 

Cool, drain and freeze in plastic containers or ice cube trays and use for recipes. 

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I'm 78 with 2 heart stents & type A blood;and my partner is immune compromised and has MAC lung bacteria and a lot of food allergies. I go 2x week for groceries & prescriptions. Luckily I was a hoarder even before the pandemic so we have toilet paper and cleaners.

  1)  outside I wear mask & gloves and take extras because I keep ripping them.

2) the shopping list is broken down to conform to the store aisle numbers. It gets me to the cashier faster.   I use wipes on whatever I touch.

3) apart from veg.& fruit, every thing else is frozen or cans, and rice products for Arlene.

4) the stuff is left on the doorstep. I then change clothes. I use disinfectant wipes on the cans and containers, and rinse the fruits &veg. I take the bags & cartons to the outside garbage. Wash hands before and after doing anything.

5) wemainly use the microwave since it might and wipe off all surfaces and knobs.kills germs.  Add rice vinegar and olive oil.   I take Echinacea and olive leaf.

6) we talk to our many doctors by phone.  Put on hold is looking for affordable housing since our lease will be up in Nov,. Saying alive is first priority. If we get the virus, we're goners.          Good luck to everyone.   Sam Kleinberg 

Trusted Contributor

You are a super star! You are doing everything possible to stay safe and healthy. Best wishes to you and Arlene. You will get through this.

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Cooking tips I have given to friends is keep it simple. Some of my single friends don't do a lot of cooking. My advice was to keep dishes to what they already know and to keep new dishes to 3-4 ingredients. Once comfortable with being in the kitchen more stretch and try new recipes of favorite dishes from family holidays, comfort food and fun foods.

My family and I play a game - each person picks 3 things out of the pantry and refrigerator. We then draw a name to see who is the "chef" and has to use all the ingredients to create a full dinner.

We've has some very interesting meals!

Periodic Contributor

I've always been a preppier, I try to be aware and prepared. So when the first info on Covid 19 came out I did a bulk shopping of the basics so that we would have a good variety of foods to make our favorites. 
Now shopping is a breeze I only need fresh veggies, milk products and some meats. 
our grocery store has early 7am shopping for an hour for seniors, I take advantage of that. I also use internet and curbside pickup when possible. 

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So the secret is to keep it simple. If you need a lot of spices and a variety of different ingredients you're going to be dissapointed if you can't get it delivered, or the shelves are empty. I like to make my mother in law's recipes from Italy. You always need to have on hand... salt, peper, garlic, parsley, tomatoes and olive oil for practically every single dish. I keep pasta, rice, flour and a variety of dry beans stashed in the pantry. We only drink wine, water, and coffee so that's easy. Desert is fresh fruit,I buy fresh and frozen vegtables and I'm done. We've gone towards a vegetarian diet and found we feel healthier and with more energy.  As far as social distancing goes... keep it simple too. I haven't gone out except to walk the dog , a garden clean up,drop off meals to my kid's front door steps and a nature walk in the woods with my household. When I want to see the grandkids, my son packs them up in the van and park on my driveway so I can wave and blow kisses to them. We face time and video chat some dinners too. I seem to find so many things to do in my home everyday, and now that I discovered AARP's rewards..... I happy to participate and learn something new everyday! 

.  

 

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To save time we take advantage of programs like special allocated shopping hours for specific groups like senior citizens and their extra discounts. We get extended on expiration dates for store rewards programs and points. Our group rotates who shops next so we can all have an opportunity to share our creativity and resourcefulness. This avoids the crowds and encouages social distancing 

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When it looked like a lockdown would be called, I surveyed and filled in the holes in my pantry and freezer. Now it takes only a few fresh items to keep us well stocked with healthy options all week. Oh! and, be sure to include a few treats or luxury items. That helps to prevent unnecessary, impulsive trips to the supermarket. We're in it to win it!

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Since many are working from home (I am), on Furlough, on unemployment, etc. this is a good time to prepare weekly instead of dailly meals.

 

My Easter Dinner: Baked Turkey Meatloaf, Beef Lasagna, Beef Liver, String Beans with Slice White Potatoes, Candied Sweet Potatoes, Garic Mashed Potatoes, Mustard Greens, Chopped Caesar Salad, Homemade Ice Tea and Brown Rolls from Cheesecake Factory.  

 

Multiple meats and vegetables elimimates the need to eat the same items every day and everyone is able to design their meal. 

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My husband does the grocery shopping,  he always has his sanitizer on him , I have made chili. potato soup, navy bean soup with ham hocks   l make hearty dishes and pasta with Cascones bold and spicy sauce and garlic,  eggplant parmesan , I'm Italian so I make a lot and always have left overs. I eat a clove of garlic daily and it helps to lower my cholesterol. I pray that they find a cure for this pandemic.. I pray for universal healing. 😑

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As soon as you get a delivery or pick up order, start a new one cart.  It is getting increasingly hard to get a quick delivery or pick up time or date. First put on the items that did not make it on your just received order. 

 

Be Careful!

 

If you do not want your item substituted make sure you indicate that on yor order.  This is not the time to change your good eating habits. (We are low sodium) 

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We live in South Florida, and with all the eateries closed, the local produce distributors are selling their stock by the box full to the public, They have drive thrus, M-F. $10 a box, never get out of the car! I have gotten corn, lettuce, red/yellow tomatoes, squash, peppers, avocados, apples, oranges, lemons, radishes.... I bring it home, clean it, chop it. I usually roast the peppers/onions together. Potatoes/Onions and then a tray of mixed squashes. We have fresh, oven roasted veggies all week. I have made salsa, guacamole, ceasare salads and grilled corn! I feel badly for all the restuarant owners and workers, but this $10 a box deal should be ALL the time! It really helps stretch the food budget dollars and for alot of families puts fresh food on the table.

Jacqueline Keen Evans
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jaquiekeen - great idea! Many of the RESTAURANTS here in Denver are ALSO offering ingredients for sale, not just the farmers/producers. I haven't tried it yet, but seems like a great way to get veggies, help the restaurants, AND help the farmers/producers! The latter don't have to set up a new "pipeline" for selling their produce/products - they can just work through the restaurants, where they've already been selling those products for the restaurants' use. Sure sounds like a win/win/win to me! The producers get their product sold/distributed, the restaurants have another income stream (though no replacement for their usual business), and the people get fresh food without having to go to the crowded grocery stores The product is frequently BETTER than what you can get in stores. (restaurants get the best, freshest product, as they are basing their reputations on EXCELLENT dishes!) Service varies from restaurant to restaurant. Some offer boxes of various foodstuffs - no individual choices per box, some offer single items in large quantities (well, larger than ONE steak or a couple of breasts of chicken!), some let you customize your box with a few choices. Check with each restaurant to see what they offer. "Mile High On The Cheap" is a website for the Denver/Colorado area, run by people who gather info on all the deals available and act as a clearinghouse for the deals. They don't OFFER deals- they just let us know EVERYTHING in one convenient website. They have a running list of restaurants here that are doing this type of thing. Check around your area for a similar organization/website. I know Seattle has one (my siblings live there) - it's a great source ALL the time for us frugal folks. They are WONDERFUL during these trying times!

Periodic Contributor

Quick addition - restaurants in DENVER are allowed to do take out and delivery, so they can offer ingredients. IF your location has the restaurants TOTALLY closed (no takeout, no delivery), they probably can't do this ingredients offer either.

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I get Gods Love We Deliver. Don't worry about grocery shopping!

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We plan 1 x week for groceries, to include fruit, milk other short shelf life items. Also using older canned goods, before restocking from the store. Also 2-3 x a week supporting local food biz, takeout and gift cards. : )

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Purchase many frozen dinners which are on sale.

Help some of your favorite restaurants by using their delivery service (hopefully free).

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Getting creative since I'm trying not to go shopping. I've been using all those canned goods in the cabinets. Made some great chilie using two cans of black beans, three can of dice tomaotes, green chilies and of course sauteed onion and ground beef and if you have it some graded chesse on top. Fast and yummy!

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