Meal Prep: Pantry EditionMar 23, 2020
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries are facing a lack of food availability, being that from lockdowns or panic buying. I understand that when there's limited variety and next to no fresh produce on shelves, meal prepping and planning meals may be more challenging than usual.
It can be frustrating to adjust to the current situation and to be missing many of the familiar foods. How do you know what meals to create using non-perishable ingredients? How to shop when all fresh produce is gone?
Not to worry! I am here to help you figure out what staples you need during this time and what delicious meals you can create with those ingredients. Below you will find a list of nutritious food staples I recommend you have handy in your pantry!
Nutritious Food Staples
- Fruit - opt for no added sugar/syrup options where possible
- Vegetables – corn, tomatoes, peas, green beans, carrots
- Lentils, legumes, beans
- Fish – salmon, tuna, sardines
- Shredded chicken
- Rice cakes
- Stock or stock cubes
- Nuts/seeds and nut butters
- Muesli bars/protein bars
- Long life milk
- Meats - can be frozen in bulk
Longer-lasting perishable items
- Cheese - can also be frozen
- Onion - diced onion can be frozen
- Breads/bagels/wraps - can also be frozen
Below, you will find quick and easy recipes to create using these food staples!
I have created a full day of eating with 3 main meals and 2 snacks for your convenience. Please note I didn't emphasise calories or macros, as these may vary depending on what's available to you. These simple, nutritious, cost-effective options are life savers for times when macro tracking is not a priority!
BREAKFAST: BISCOFF OVERNIGHT OATS + PROTEIN SHAKE (optional)
INGREDIENTS - Biscoff Oats:
- 60g Rolled Oats
- ~ 200mL Unsweetened Plant-Based Milk
- 10g Biscoff Spread
- ½ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1-2 teaspoons Sugar Free Maple Syrups (optional)
Protein Shake (optional):
- 15-30g Whey or Plant-Based Protein Powder
- 50-80g Frozen Fruit of Choice
- ~250mL Water
- Handful of Ice
DIRECTIONS - Biscoff Oats:
- Combine all ingredients in a tupperware/container. Stir until biscoff spread is evenly mixed throughout oats.
- Close container and refrigerate overnight (or at least 1 hour). Serve cold.
*Biscoff can be swapped for another spread such as almond or peanut butter.
Protein Shake (optional):
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
SNACK #1: ROASTED CHICKPEAS
- 1 can Chickpeas (400g can)
- 2 teaspoons Olive Oil
- 1-2 teaspoons Lime Juice
- 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
- Salt, to taste
- Preheat oven to 190°C and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
- Drain and rinse chickpeas. Pat dry with a cloth.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine chickpeas with olive oil, chili powder, lime juice, and salt. Mix until chickpeas are evenly coated. Spread chickpeas evenly over baking sheet.
- Bake for about 35 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Flip chickpeas half way through roasting.
*Store left-over roasted chickpeas in a container at room temperature for 3-4 days. These are stored best without being tightly covered (place lid on container but leave slightly open), so that they remain crisp.
LUNCH: TUNA PASTA
*Recipe makes 1 serve
- 150g Pasta (raw weight)
- ¼ medium Onion
- 1 clove Garlic
- 100g Canned Diced Tomatoes with Herbs
- 1 teaspoon Dried Chilli Flakes
- 1 teaspoon Dried Basil
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- 95g Tuna (Canned, In Oil)
- Prepare pasta as per packet instructions.
- In the meantime, prepare vegetables: dice onion and mince garlic. (Other vegetables such as spinach, zucchini, etc. can be added to this recipe if available to you).
- Heat a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat and drain oil from tuna into pan. Once hot, add in onion and sauté for about 2 minutes, until softened.
- Stir in diced tomatoes, minced garlic, chili flakes, and dried basil. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Flake tuna into sauce and stir to combine. Simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Drain pasta and stir into sauce. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
*This meal can be stored in an airtight container and kept in the fridge for 3 days.
**I recommend swapping regular pasta for a pulse pasta or protein pasta if you wish to increase your protein intake.
SNACK #2: CHOBANI YOGURT/GREEK YOGURT (NO FAT)
*Yogurts can usually be stored in the fridge for 2-3 weeks, making them a great staple to keep with you during this time. Greek yogurts, like Chobani, are a super convenient high-protein and low-calorie snack!
**Add some honey, ground cinnamon, nuts, fruit, etc. to your yogurt for extra flavour!
DINNER: VEGGIE CHILI CON CARNE
*Recipe makes 4 serves
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 medium Brown Onion
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1 large Capsicum/Bell Pepper
- 1 packet (35g) Con Carne Spice Mix (or 2 teaspoons Ground Coriander, 2 teaspoons Sweet Paprika, and a pinch Dried Chilli Flakes)
- 1 can Kidney Beans (400g can)
- 1 can Diced Tomatoes (400g can)
- 1 can Condensed Tomato Soup (~400g can)
- 100g Sweet Corn
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
*Extra vegetables can be added depending on availability such as grated zucchini, carrot, etc.
- Prepare vegetables: finely dice onion, mince garlic, and dice capsicum.
- Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Once hot, add in onion and garlic. Sauté for about 2 minutes, until softened.
- Add in diced capsicum and cook another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add Con Carne spice mix to pot and continue stirring for about 1 minute, or until aromatic.
- Drain and rinse kidney beans. Pour condensed tomato soup, diced tomatoes, and kidney beans into pot. Stir to combine. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil and then reduce heat to a gentle simmer.
- Stir corn into chili and cover pot with lid. Let chili simmer for an additional 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
*This can be served with a side of corn chips, if desired.
**This meal can be stored in an airtight container and kept in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Meeting macronutrient requirements
During this time, hitting your macros perfectly may be challenging. What can you do if you can’t hit your macros perfectly, for example protein? Here are some tips and tricks to keep your nutrition on track!
- Try adhering to your overall calorie goal, as this will keep your daily intake consistent.
- It's ok to manipulate your macro split to match available foods.
- For most of us, protein intake will be on the lower side than usual - and that's ok! The typical recommendation is to consume 1.6 - 2.2g of protein per kilogram of body weight. You should include a source of protein in every meal. This will help preserve muscle mass and promote satiety.
- Carbohydrates and fats are interchangeable within reasonable limits, meaning you can allocate calories to the either in your preferred way after protein intake is determined.
There you have it - some tips and tricks to keep you nutrition on track whilst keeping safe from the spread of COVID-19!
I hope this helps you with concerns about what to do if you can’t hit your macros, what to buy, and what to cook.
This is a difficult time that may be inconvenient for our goals, but we need to remember not to give up and prioritise our health! Keep moving however you can, stay safe and eat nutritious foods.
If you have any other questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
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