During the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns imposed because of it, you need to plan ahead to deal with a situation where you may be unable to get the groceries and supplies you need for a while.
If you can’t step out of your home to buy groceries, here are a few tips that will help you make the most of your available resources. Also, if you’re ordering groceries online, sanitising your food delivery packages as soon as you receive them is important to keep germs away and keep your family and you safe from infections.
1) Freeze What You Can
Check the instructions on the labels of your packaged food. If it suggests storing in the refrigerator, do so. You can easily store pickles, sauces, vegetables and milk. If something cannot be stored and you don’t want to use it either, donate it.
2) Store Raw and Cooked Food Separately
It’s best to store raw food and cooked food separately. Bacteria from raw food can contaminate cooked, cold food and can multiply in storage. You can seal raw and cooked food completely and store it in separate compartments in your refrigerator.
3) Date and Label Everything
Try to label the edibles with the date of purchase. This will make it easy for you to recognise what should be consumed first.
4) Blanch Vegetables
It’s good to blanch vegetables before refrigerating them. It becomes easy to add these vegetables to soups or a stir-fry when needed. Simply cut them into small pieces and dip into salted warm water. Wait for 1 minute and immediately transfer them into a container of ice-water. This stops the vegetables from cooking further and keeps them firm. Label them and use accordingly.
5) Plan Your Meals Before Ordering Groceries
Plan your meals out weekly. Then order essential groceries, especially items that last a long time, such as dal, flour, rice, beans etc., first, based on the kind of meals your family is used to eating. Leave ordering fancy niche items that are not a priority for regular meals for a later time. Also, cook only as much food as your family needs. Avoid cooking extra food that might end up getting wasted. Consider donating excess food or feeding stray animals.
6) Choose Non-Toxic Food Containers
We suggest you store your food in clean and non-toxic storage containers. Use them only to store food. Make sure the containers have tight-fitting lids to minimise the possibility of contamination.
7) Use the ‘First In, First Out’ Rule
Make sure you use older edibles first. Check for the expiry dates on the packs and use accordingly. Use newer items later.
8) Repurpose Leftover Food
As far as possible, don’t let anything go to waste. For example, use the extra dal from dinner to knead dough to make parathas next morning; use a leftover dry vegetable dish to make sandwiches; mix your favourite veggies and spices with leftover rice to make fried rice, etc.
9) Store Root Vegetables Separately
Vegetables like potatoes, onions, garlic etc. should be stored in cool, dry places. These need not be stored in your refrigerator.
Remember to regularly wash your hands with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based sanitiser before and after cooking, and also after handling grocery delivery packages. It’s also important to clean your food cabinet. You can try using a product such as Cif spray for this. Read the pack for instructions and test on a small area first.
Plan ahead, waste nothing and you will be able to use the groceries you already have in your pantry for a long time.