Life is certainly different. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, you can no longer just pop along to the supermarket to get exactly what you need. With long queues and possible empty shelves – and for some the reality of self-isolation – food shopping and preparation has become a worry for many. As a result, we all need to be a bit more mindful about how to feed ourselves in these challenging times.
So here are our top tips on how to feed your family during the ongoing coronavirus situation.
The best thing for all of us to do right now is not panic. The UK’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, has advised households not to resort to panic buying. Meanwhile, the British Retail Consortium confirms that retailers are working hard to keep shops well stocked and deliveries running smoothly.
The upshot is that there is enough food to go around if we all buy it sensibly. Yes, we may have to change our shopping habits – but the key takeaway is that there is food available.
While there is plenty of food available, it may not be exactly what you thought you needed. Whether it be a different brand or a different ingredient entirely, you may find yourself having to use substitutes.
If you are a cook who likes to follow a recipe to the letter, this advice may seem a bit daunting. But the more you practise, the easier it will become. The recipe calls for shredded white cabbage? Why not try grated carrots instead? Can’t get hold of a regular potato to bake? Maybe branch out and try a baked sweet potato.
It isn’t ideal and it isn’t what we are used to, but maybe look at it as a time to get creative in the kitchen.
Lots of very clever people are sharing their tips on how best to use food at this time. If you are struggling for inspiration, maybe take a look.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has launched a new TV series, ‘Keep cooking and carry on’, which looks to provide viewers with hacks, simple swaps and easy ways to use whatever they have in their cupboards.
Or turn your attention to YouTube, where creators share videos such as that by Kerry Whelpdale on how to make six family meals from just five ingredients.
Finally, check out apps that can help you. For example, there is a free app called SuperCook which provides recipes that you can make using the ingredients you already have at home.
If your kids are anything like mine, then they would eat through your whole store cupboard in just one day if they could get away with it. One thing that has really worked for us is a ‘snack tray’ or ‘snack basket’. Every morning we set aside, in one place, the snacks they are allowed to have during the day. The rule is that once the snacks are gone, they are gone.
This helps kids to think about whether they really do want something to eat. And it has helped us keep our snack supply going that bit longer!
One thing to do in this situation is try to avoid food waste where you can. And one of the best ways to do this is to make use of your freezer. If you have cooked more than you need for one meal, put the rest into a container and freeze it. Or if you have a large pack of meat, like sausages, but only plan to use some, portion it out and freeze the rest.
The closure of schools has unfortunately put pressure on the most vulnerable families in the UK. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised that free school meals will continue for those who need them.
The government has confirmed its voucher scheme in which parents of eligible pupils will receive weekly supermarket vouchers totalling £15 to replace their free school meal entitlement.