13 Best Affordable Food Staples for Self-Isolation
The whole of the world is not in a good situation now due to this Coronavirus Pandemic and most of us are in isolation whether its government mandated or voluntary. This self-isolation plus the whole pandemic pushed us to our limits and is putting a big toll on the global economy, I guess all of us are aware and feeling it, especially now that most businesses are tightening their belts or worse closing down. In order to survive this pandemic we all need to eat healthy and boost our immunity but without enough finances it will be hard. Don’t worry there are many options out there and that what I will be listing in this article, the Best Affordable Pantry Staples for Self-Isolation which hopefully will help you in this dire situation.
If your country’s isolation rule is not that restrictive where you can still go to a supermarket at certain times, or if there is no isolation rule yet then better prepare for the worse, because if it turns into a lockdown mode in your town then you will have to just rely on relief good, but while you are still not in that situation better to stock up just enough pantry items for you and your family for the next couple of months.
What we will be listing here are affordable items with a long shelf life that needs minimal preparation and will give you enough nutrition to survive this next few months.
Rice – This is a no brainer and it is cheap; this can act as a filler for most items that will be mentioned below. This is a staple in most Asian households, and this is widely used in impoverished countries to fill that hunger with carbs. Having said that take in moderation and with something else. Added bonus this has a very long shelf life.
Affordable dishes to make are arrozcaldo, goto or fried rice, these dishes just need water, some sort of protein alongside garlic, onions and ginger.
Fresh Meat (Cheap Cuts) – Yes that’s correct but take note to freeze it immediately in small batches so you can thaw what you only need. Frozen meats can last between 4 to 12 months, so stock up on these. While it would not taste as good in 6 months’ time, they are still edible and is a good nutrition source as freezing them does not lose its nutritional value. No need to get the expensive cuts, choose the meaty cheap cuts as much as possible and this will vary depending on where you are. If possible, get the boneless cuts as they take up extra space on your freezer.
What you can do with this? stews, soups or just fry or grill them on its own.
Potatoes – For variety this can be a replacement for rice or can be used on soups and stews. It keeps well in the refrigerator and expect a three-month shelf life it’s on your veggie bin. It is a good source of important nutrients like folate, vitamins B1 and C, and potassium.
Good and simple potato recipe can be baked potatoes and if you don’t have an oven you can just boil them. Also a good filler for soups and stews, just add a few grams of meat that you had frozen earlier.
Eggs – This gives you a lot of choline which makes acetylcholine, which is responsible for nerve, brain functioning and memory, basically a brain booster. It is also a good source of Vitamin D which is needed for bones, teeth, muscles and a strong immune system. While this does not have good shelf life what you can do is beat yolks and whites together, add one-half teaspoon of salt for every cup of beaten eggs, then freeze in small batches.
Once thawed you can use it in omelettes
Canned fish – Once all of your non-processed food above are depleted this is your next item on your arsenal, one of the most convenient food, no need to cook, it’s very inexpensive, just open the can plus the shelf life is quite long. A good source of omega-3 essential fatty acids specially canned salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel, they are also rich in vitamin D
You can top this in noodles or rice, of if you want to go a bit fancy and have a can of coconut milk then cook your canned mackerel with garlic, onions and chillies and you have an instant Ginataang Tulingan
Frozen, Dried or Canned Vegetables and Fruits – Fresh vegetables have a short life span but vegetables are needed to have complete nutrients on your diet. Next best thing is get some of the Frozen, Dried or Canned stuff, any vegetables will help. Common ones are peas, carrots and sweetcorn but nowadays you can get spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, green beans and capsicum. Some might speculate they don’t have the same nutrients compared to the fresh ones, trust me it has the same amount of nutrients as the modern freezing and canning processes lock in nutrients as vegetables and fruit are harvested at their prime and packaged quickly after picking.
There are many ways to use this, but the simplest ones will be steamed or buttered. It won’t be as good as the fresh ones but at least you get the right amount of nutrients.
Dried Beans, Lentils, Dry Peas, Lupins, Mung Beans, Chickpeas and Vetches – We had learned a lot from the Indians on this one, they do make good curries plus since most of them are vegetarians this is one of their sources of protein, fibre and iron. It also can help reduce further cost because they are inexpensive, and it can be an extender to red meats. Yes, they do also have a very long shelf life.
You can use this in curries, soups and stews. Just a bit of meat and a lot of this will extend your budget and stocks a long way.
Nuts – Yes and grab the healthiest ones like Almonds, Pistachios, Walnuts, Cashews, Pecans, Macadamia Nuts, Brazil Nuts and Hazelnuts. They contain a lot of fat, the healthy ones of course and they also pack a number of vitamins and minerals, including magnesium and vitamin E. Good thing you don’t need to cook this, just snack on it.
Just eat them no need to cook.
Canned Meat – Like Corned Beef and Luncheon Meat, I know these are bad, but they do have some nutritional value in them. Last item you can get from your arsenal as they last really long. It contains a lot of sodium so eat with caution, a small portion of it can be used with the Lentils and Dried Beans, which can give tons of flavour.
You can also cook it with potatoes or in pasta
Dried Pasta – Yes you can have pasta in these dire situations, worse comes to worse as long as you have some tomato sauce or ketchup in some parts of the world, you have an instant spaghetti. Another good source of carbohydrates, so if you want to feel full then this is your best bet.
Pasta with garlic and olive oil, Pasta with Tomato Sauce or Pasta al Tonno is the simplest ones you can make out of these.
Bonus: If you have some extra budget grab these as well but it’s not a necessity.
Dried Spices, Bottled Garlic, Bottled Ginger, Frozen Onions, Dried/Frozen Chillies and Peppercorns – I know self-isolation can be boring as hell, last thing you don’t want is to have a bland and boring food so best to stock up on these items as well as spices can really give a flavour boost to anything you will cook from above. While you cannot eat this on its own, it will liven up those boring dishes. Whether is canned, frozen or dried these can spice things up. With most items above try a sauté of a mix of these then cook with your favourite vegetables and/or meat.
Evaporated Milk, Coconut Milk and Chopped Tomatoes in Can – Like above these can be bases of sauces you might need, gives a lot of flavour to any dish.
Oil – Not essential but fat is a carrier of flavour, will definitely be used in sautés or fried items.
There you go, hopefully this list could help someone out there looking for some Best Affordable Food Staples for Self-Isolation. With that you will also have to take note since this are extraordinary circumstances so do not over indulge as you may create some really good recipes out of this. Take in moderation, keeping in mind that its uncertain when this thing will last and if you think you have some spare share some to your neighbors who might not have anything, we are all in this together and be safe everyone!