Our world is a very different place than it was just a few months ago. For many, our whole lives have been upended: work, socializing, and home — everything has changed. Maybe you are working from home or are under- or unemployed; you might be socializing less or online. Home life is different, too. We’re spending more time with our families. While this might be making some of us go a little crazy, there are many positives to the situation we find ourselves in. More time with loved ones; more time for hobbies or home improvement projects; maybe more time for soul searching; but don’t forget more time in the kitchen. While some of you may be delighted to finally get more time to prepare home-cooked meals, others may be learning how to cook for the first time. Wherever you are, you might be wondering what to stock up on and what to make. Following are some ideas on how to shop and eat well to nurture yourself during this challenging time.

Dry goods

Choose your nonperishables wisely. Head for the bulk aisle and stock up on whole grains, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, and seeds, if you tolerate these foods. Stored in airtight containers in a cool, dry place, these foods will last quite a while. If you can, don’t forget to soak them overnight and even sprout (or soak and dehydrate) for an added nutritional boost. Think split-pea and ham soup, lentil-veggie stews, make-your-own granola with nuts, seeds, and rolled oats, homemade nut milks, to name a few ideas.


If you have a freezer, frozen foods are a great way to add fruits and vegetables to your repertoire when limiting your trips to the food store, co-op, or farmers market. Thawed frozen veggies make for quick stir-fries or nice additions to soups, pasta sauces, or even quiches if you are baking. Frozen fruits like berries go well in smoothies or thawed and added to yogurt. You can also freeze your own fresh berries if you have them or freeze bananas (peel them first). Frozen banana slices make a nice dessert on their own and are great in smoothies and, of course, in banana bread.

Canned food is another option. Think canned beans, vegetables, and soups — look for ones with reduced salt and sugar (watch the sugar in baked beans in particular). Don’t forget canned fish: tuna, kippers, sardines, and wild salmon are all high-quality sources of protein, good sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, and even calcium if you eat the bones (they are soft). Adding a bit of healthy mayonnaise or olive oil, parsley or dill, and a grated carrot is fairly quick and makes a nice smaller meal or snack when combined with sliced raw veggies and/or healthy crackers. Canned salmon in particular also makes delicious fish cakes (see recipe below).

Fresh food

Many fresh foods will last quite a while, especially if you have a cool place to keep them, like a basement, garage, root cellar, or even just a cool corner of your living space. Local produce will be fresher and last longer. Think squashes, cabbage, kohlrabi, and root vegetables like carrots, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, parsnips, and turnips, for example. Many of the root vegetables taste wonderful chopped and roasted in the oven, but don’t forget they can also be delicious raw. This can reduce taste fatigue and helps to keep things interesting when you are using the same foods over and over again. Carrots, beets, turnips, cabbage, and kohlrabi all taste great raw: sliced, chopped or grated. They can add much-needed color and flavor to salads, on their own with cheese slices, or with dips like hummus or tzatziki.

Don’t forget to look to your backyard for food. Many early spring perennials are coming in now, including chives, garlic chives, scallions, Jerusalem artichokes (Sunchokes), and dandelion greens. Not only do these foods taste great after a long winter without them, they are also wonderful sources of prebiotics — fibers that help feed our microbiota (beneficial microorganisms that live in our intestines). Having a healthy microbiome is the foundation of good health — so dig in!

Following is my own recipe for fish cakes. Benefits are they are fairly easy to assemble and quick to cook, in addition to the nutrition reasons listed above. The eggs are also a great source of protein and choline, a nutrient important to brain health that many, especially children, are deficient in.

F I S H   C A K E S

1 14.75 oz. can salmon (wild), drained
2 eggs, whisked
1 handful chives, chopped (or scallions)
3 Tbsp. quinoa flakes (or bread crumbs/diced rolled oats/quick oats) (Can add more if needed)
1 Tbsp. dried parsley (or fresh to taste, diced)
1 Tbsp. dried tarragon
pinch hot pepper flakes
Coconut oil for pan
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Stir well to combine. Assemble into small patties. Set aside on a plate. Warm a skillet on medium high heat. Add 1 Tbsp. coconut oil and melt. Place cakes in skillet. Using a small spatula, rotate after 1 to 2 minutes to lightly brown evenly. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

Serve with your favorite sides. Hopefully this includes some colorful vegetables. Enjoy!