KZN and Gauteng looting: Dietitian’s tips on creating nutritious meals with minimal options

KZN and Gauteng looting: Dietitian’s tips on creating nutritious meals with minimal options

Every home has its own stash of go-to food items in their cupboards, whether for quick meals or snacking any time of the day or night.

But with the ongoing civil unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, many shops are closed and those that are open have supermarket shelves are running empty.

It is therefore best to practice some prudence and restraint in our consumption to extend whatever limited resources we have for the long haul. After all, the best protection one can have against this invisible enemy is keeping a healthy body while being safe.

Below, dietitian Mbali Mapholi shares her tops tips on how you can create delicious and nutritious meals when you are pressed for food options..

Mapholi says a lot of people fear canned food items, legumes, frozen and bottled food items. She says during these unprecedented times in many parts of South Africa, we must go back to basics as fearing these foods is a luxury.

Mapholi adds that the biggest advice is to not panic buy so that everyone is still able to at least get basic food items.

Do not fear frozen vegetables and frozen protein sources

Frozen vegetables are as nutritious as fresh vegetables if not more nutritious. This is because frozen vegetables are harvested and quickly frozen which preserves a lot of nutrients that are normally lost in fresh vegetables during transportation and handling. Frozen vegetables are versatile, you can steam, stir-fry, boil in a little water or even add frozen vegetables into your casseroles and stews.

Doing so we help stretch your animal protein sources e.g., chicken, meat, fish as these are become harder to find at the shops. If you have fresh vegetables which you are worried would be damaged, you can preserve them by lightly cooking these and freezing in airtight containers or bags.

Here is a fun fact – you can freeze fresh tomatoes for months. All you do is to run them under cold water to remove skin if you want or chop them up like that without thawing.

Alternatively, can also make a pot of a hearty vegetable soup which you can divide in smaller quantities and freeze.

Do not fear frozen crumbed protein sources e.g., crumbed chicken or fish. These items can be grilled in the oven. Air-fry or in a little cooking oil to add the protein component of main meals.

Capitalise on canned food items as well (non-perishable).

Canned food items can be incorporated into your daily meals quick and easily as they are somewhat already cooked. If you are worried about high-salt quantities in canned legumes e.g., beans, place them in a sieve or coriander and wash under cold running water to remove the brine.

You can add these to your shopping list without fear. Some examples: canned pilchards, canned tuna, canned beans – all types, canned lentils, canned chickpeas, canned vegetables e.g., tomatoes, mixed vegetables, chakalaka.

You can add canned beans into the stews, soups and casseroles like in the minestrone soup above.

Other great nutrition tips during food scarcity:

Full-cream milk powder and or UHT milk products are a great alternative when fresh cow’s milk products are unavailable. These alternatives are not suitable for people with cow’s milk allergy or sensitivity.

Breakfast cereals and porridges: Add fortified maize-meal products, sorghum meal. Adding peanut butter or margarine to porridge is a good idea. Cereals need milk which can be difficult to find during this time.

Corn kernels – if you can find corn kernels to make popcorn, buy them. Make yourselves stove pot popcorn which is a nutritious and healthy snack option for kids and adults.

Having a quick brew may seem like the perfect way to relax while having a break at work.

Capitalise on teas e.g., rooibos tea. Rooibos tea is a healthy beverage which can be served hot or cold in much fun ways that adults and kids can enjoy during this time.

If you can get your hands on baked premix food items e.g., bran muffin premix – buy them. Preferably the options that only need water and oil to mix not eggs or milk. These can be served as snacks or breakfast options with hot beverages.

Canned and dried fruits – Canned fruits e.g., peaches, mixed fruit, or any canned fruit you can find. ¼ cup canned fruit counts as 1 fresh fruit serving – remove them in the canned syrup. Canned fruit can be served with UHT custard or as they are as a fruit serving which adults and kids can enjoy. You can add dried fruits such as raisins to cereal or have them as snacks as they count toward fruit servings for the day too.

Eat fresh meats in moderation. You can expand your meat dishes by adding legumes e.g., canned lentils, vegetables, potatoes. Aim to use all parts of the chicken including chicken organ meats. We eat more meat than we need so this is a good time to reduce meat intake.

Dry food items – You can cook and freeze-dried legumes e.g., beans in advance so that it is quicker to prepare meals. Dried products such as instant noodles, can come in handy during this time as a quick starchy part of the meals.

Close up of broken bread and crumbs that can be used to illustrate hunger or famine

Bread – you can freeze bread upon buying it so that it can last longer. You can serve bread with non-perishable healthy protein sources such as peanut butter, canned fish with mayonnaise or jam.