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Healthy pantry staple meals with the pros

Easy pantry staple meal ideas from two Canadian record holders

Canadians are currently limiting their grocery store trips to help stop the spread of COVID-19. In order to hit the store once a week, this probably means you’re cooking with pantry staples more than usual (and also cooking more than usual in general). If you’re struggling with meal ideas, Sage Watson and Natasha Wodak have some suggestions to keep you inspired and eating well during social isolation.

RELATED: What Natasha Wodak eats in a day

Watson is living with her family in Alberta right now, and says they’ve been eating lots of pantry staples. She’s got some key ingredients she keeps on hand to eat well, while limiting trips to the grocery store.

Watson’s meal ideas:

Dried beans or lentils
These can soak in water overnight and be used to make meals like chili, soups, bean salads or side dishes.
Diced tomatoes (in cans)
Use these to make a delicious homemade pasta sauce by adding sautéed veggies or spices.
Mushroom soup
Runners can make sauces out of canned soups and add meat or serve over veggies.
Homemade broth
Boil down root vegetables and leftover bones from roasted chicken or beef bones to make a soup or sauce base.
Condensed milk
Put this in coffee, baking or other recipes that call for milk as a substitute, if you don’t have any in the fridge.

Wodak’s social isolation nutrition advice:

Wodak says her keys to nutritious eating while limiting grocery trips are: meal delivery services, buying from smaller stores and purchasing hearty vegetables. “At the beginning of all this, we had a few meal kits scheduled for delivery, so those got us through about four dinners. After we were through those, I did a big shop at the superstore to stock up on essentials.”

Those essentials were: pasta, rice, quinoa, yams, potatoes, cans of tuna, beans (throw on a meal for extra protein), chickpeas, soups, granola, cereal, oatmeal, olive oil and baking essentials. “I’ve been baking a lot lately. It’s a great thing to do with your time because it uses things you already have, it’s creative and it keeps you busy. Yesterday I made this Earl Grey loaf that Dayna [Pidhoresky] recommended. It was awesome.”

After doing a big shop, she stocks up on fresh protein and vegetables from her local grocer periodically. “It’s practically empty, and just around the corner from me, so it feels better than going to the superstore all the time. The busy superstore is only for the main staples.”

In terms of purchasing vegetables, some last longer than others. Wodak recommends runners buy heartier vegetables that will last longer in the fridge. “Broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts all last a long time. I’m actually making broccoli tonight.”