Although the nation is slowly opening up, we’re nowhere near operating at the “normal” we all knew before COVID-19. You may be at a stalemate for what to cook, what to buy and how to continue fixing your meals at home.

Here are some tips to help you continue to navigate this new lifestyle with your family.

» Continue to plan your meals. Focus on the foods you have in your freezer, your pantry and your refrigerator. Not only will you save money but you’ll also prevent spoilage and make room for new purchases.

» Chop up leftover meats and vegetables for soups, salads or sandwiches. Make a hearty salad with hard boiled eggs or canned fish, or add vegetables and leftover poultry to beans, and wrap in a corn or whole-wheat tortilla for tacos. You can even use leftover quinoa spiced with taco seasoning in a taco.

» Get healthy. This is a great time to take control over what you’re eating. Choose fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy in every meal.

» Make a meal with tomorrow in mind. If you make a soup or casserole, portion out some of it to freeze for a lunch or dinner later.

» Use your fruit — fresh, frozen or canned — to whip up a smoothie with low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt or a nondairy alternative. A parfait with fruit, yogurt, a sprinkling of granola or a spoonful of nut butter can serve as a snack or as part of a quick breakfast.

» Try a new recipe — or one you haven’t made for ages. It’s fun to look back through a cookbook or recipe box and think about the reason you loved a recipe enough to write it down.

» Keep your time at the grocery store to a minimum by organizing your list by sections of the store. Group together produce or frozen items so you minimize backtracking. And be sure to follow state guidelines for using face masks. Most stores offer disinfectant wipes or hand sanitizers to clean cars and basket handles.

It’s also important to practice social distancing, even while shopping. My favorite grocery store offers arrows to help keep traffic flowing smoothly.

» Be sure to wash your hands when you come home. There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food or food packaging, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agriculture Department.


Q: Are frozen vegetables as nutritious as fresh?

A: Yes, yes, yes. When researchers compared the Vitamin C, beta carotene and folate in various types of veggies, both fresh and frozen, they found that frozen vegetables were nutritionally on par with, and sometimes even better than, their fresh counterparts. The study was published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis.

Spinach Salad with Yogurt-Poppy Seed Dressing

I’m always looking for another way to get some leafy greens on my plate. Here’s a recipe for a spinach salad with a yogurt-based dressing. It’s from Cooking Light.


» 1 medium orange

» ¼ pound spinach leaves, washed and trimmed

» ½ cup sliced water chestnuts

» 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions


» 3 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt

» 3 tablespoons reduced calorie mayonnaise

» 2 teaspoon honey

» ½ teaspoon grated orange rind

» 1 teaspoon poppy seeds


For salad, grate ½ teaspoon orange rind; reserve for use in dressing. Peel, seed and section orange. Place spinach leaves on a serving platter. Arrange orange sections in a circular pattern on spinach, overlapping the sections. Combine water chestnuts and green onions, and place in center of salad. Top with dressing.

To make dressing, combine all ingredients; stir with a whisk until smooth. Cover, and chill.


Yield: ⅓ cup

Salad serves 4

Per serving: 90 calories; 2.2 grams protein; 13.4 grams carbohydrates; 3.7 grams fat; 4 milligrams cholesterol; 116 milligrams sodium

— Charlyn Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee in Springfield, Ill., and the media representative for the Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Contact her at, or follow her on Twitter: @NutritionRd, or click here for additional columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Charlyn Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian with SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois, and the current president of the Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Contact her at, and follow her on Twitter: @NutritionRd. The opinions expressed are her own.