there are still many food options available for those concerned about dwindling food choices …
In a manner of days, the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has completely changed the face of grocery stores as people topple over each other to grab every necessity. As an insider in the food industry, I’ve seen firsthand the shortages of food and home products throughout several major grocery stores. I visited Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, Publix, Trader Joe’s, Food Lion, The Fresh Market, and international stores such as E-Mart, and there are glaring trends of supply shortages and surpluses. Depending on where you live in the United States, food and supplies are in high demand because of all of the panic buying and hoarding.
While people have the right and obligation to be concerned and prepared, some markets are getting their supplies cut short in order to meet demand nationwide. Despite this, we can still approach the situation calmly because there are still many food options available for those concerned about dwindling food choices. While taking weekly and sometimes daily trips to the 7 supermarkets mentioned above, I was able to consistently find the same kinds of foods over the course of 4 weeks and counting. Just so that you have an idea of where I looked, these supermarkets are in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.
To get you started, here are 20 Foods Still Available at Grocery Stores
1. Dry Beans (Starting at $1.29 per LBS)
While most shelves have been cleared of the canned beans, dry beans are still available by the pound in bags. Some suppliers even sell them in bulk. Many people are intimidated by them because they don’t know how to prepare them, but cooking them is very simple: submerge them in water and let them soak in your refrigerator overnight. The next day, they should be swollen. Drain the beans and submerge them in a new batch of water. You can cook them on your stove in a large pot with a lid for 4 to 6 hours, or in a slow cooker for 4 to 8 hours. Since you may have nowhere to go, you can easily keep an eye on them. For basic beans, season with garlic, salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste. Try them in a homemade Burrito Bowl.
2. Dry Rice (Starting at $0.75 per LBS)
While some reach for boxed rice, dry rice by the bags are still in abundance. My local international store still sells them in bulk on pallets. You can still find white, brown, and jasmine rice in large supply. Specialty rice such as Arborio, Jasmine, and Forbidden Rice are also still available, but they can be pricey. Bagged rice is also far more economical, with some stores selling them in bulk departments. If your neighborhood still has meat and tofu, try a Spicy Hoisin dish.
3. Wild Rice and Wild Rice Blends (Starting at $5.00 per LBS)
Like dry beans, wild rice is often underrated because many people do not know how to prepare it from scratch. Like beans, soak the wild rice overnight before cooking. At a ratio of 1 cup of drained rice to 3 cups of water, cook the rice in a large pot on stove top for 45 to 60 minutes.
4. Whitefish (Starting at $12.00 per LBS)
There’s almost zero meat where I live! But, there is still plenty of fish! In my house, we’ve had to ration chicken, so our diet now consists mostly of white fish, which is still widely available. Although $12.00 per LBS might seem pricey, it’s actually a good deal considering you can get anywhere between 6 to 10 fillets depending on the fish. Flounder, tilapia, catfish, and cod are still for sale at a fraction of the cost unlike salmon, mahi mahi, or red snapper. They’re tastiest fried, but are also succulent when stewed in butter with some chopped herbs and Old Bay Seasoning.
5. Grass Fed Ground Beef (Starting at $6.00 per LBS)
Grass fed ground beef is starting to gain in popularity because, let’s face it: Americans are addicted to burgers. But, you can still find packs of grass fed ground beef with some stores selling it for as low $6.00 per pound. Considering a pound of ground beef makes 3 to 4 burgers, it’s still a decent buy; and it’s healthier to boot! It’s not entirely economical, so I would suggest purchasing this no more than once every other week and just limiting your beef intake.
6. Bacon (Starting at $4.00 for 12oz)
Most days when I go to the grocery store, the only meat in abundance is bacon. You don’t have to have bacon and eggs every day (especially since eggs have disappeared from the shelves), but since there’s still a surplus of leafy greens, a BLT sandwich is the perfect way to offset this sometimes unhealthy meat.
7. Green Beans (Starting at $2.00 per LBS)
Why is everyone afraid of green beans? So long as you don’t overcook them, they’re quite delicious! Stir fry them with some peppers until bright green! These guys are absolutely everywhere and can be found fresh, canned, and frozen.
8. Broccoli (Starting at $3.50 per LBS)
Broccoli is another veggie no one wants to buy, but is quite delicious when roasted or steamed. If you have chicken (haha!), try it in Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad or in a Pesto Pizza. You can always omit the meat or substitute the chicken with fish or tofu.
9. Stir Fry Mixes and Slaws (Starting at $4.00 per LBS)
There’s loads of this stuff lining the walls of produce shelves. Personally, I’ll wait until I’m starving to eat the slaw mixes, but stir fry mixes are perfect for those who are dusting off those kitchen counters and cooking for the first time in ages. Cook them in a skillet with garlic, ginger, and a splash of soy sauce and serve it on top of rice. Add your choice of meat or tofu (if you can find it, that is).
10. Orange Carrots (Starting at $1.50 per LBS)
I get it. Americans hate vegetables! But, we need to start liking them to fend off the Coronavirus! Carrots are fantastic roasted with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Best of all, they are crazy cheap!
11. Sweet Potatoes (Starting at $0.80 each)
For those meat and potatoes people, I think sweet potatoes are far superior in flavor as they are in nutrition. I was happy to see shelves loaded with sweet potatoes because they’re absolutely glorious roasted or cooked and baked with marshmallows.
12. Grapes (Starting at $2.00 per LBS)
There are ALL sorts of grapes: green, red, Thompson, and soon we may have the seasonal cotton candy and muscat varieties available! Why is no one buying these? Perhaps I’m biased because I love grapes in general, but this is the perfect, cheap, and healthy candy for a time like this.
13. Fruit Preserves and Jams (Starting at $2.00 for 12oz)
I’m surprised that there are so many jams and fruit preserves available when the bread isle next to them has been licked clean―except for the wheat breads. There’s barely any peanut butter, but every jam flavor in sight is still available. Aside from spreading it on your breads, they can be added to plain yogurt or used as cake fillings if you plan to do any intense baking over your quarantine.
14. Vegan Butter (Starting at $5.50 per 8oz)
Seriously, vegan butter is very good! In particular, Miyoko’s Creamery and Earth Balance are wonderful butter alternatives if all of the butter has been picked clean at your store (it certainly has at mine). Miyoko’s brand is great for cooking while Earth Balance is great for baking.
15. Egg Noodles (Starting at $3.00 for 8oz)
With all of the disappearing soup, I’m surprised no one reached for the egg noodles. Egg noodles are a must if you plan on making large batches of homemade chicken noodle soup at home during this pandemic. If there is no chicken, you can still have a hearty soup with egg noodles mixed in so that the dish sticks to your bones. Add your favorite protein to make it hale and hearty.
16. Gnocchi (Starting at $1.70 per LBS)
I can’t believe no one bought this! Gnocchi looks foreign, but it’s delicious pasta that goes well with super saucy and creamy dishes. It only takes a few minutes to cook and can be mixed with marinara and pesto. If you can’t find spaghetti, linguine, ravioli, tortellini, or any other familiar pasta, I highly recommend you try gnocchi.
17. San Marzano Tomatoes ( Starting at $4.00 per LBS)
While you put that gnocchi in your shopping cart, grab a few cans of San Marzano Tomatoes. Even though everyone took all the tomato sauce, you can still make your own with these specialty tomatoes. Cook them with onion, garlic, and herbs for your own homemade sauce that out-tastes the Ragu your parents are hoarding. If you’re quarantined with family, gather them all together to make pizza. If you’re vegan, try this sourdough pizza.
18. Cheese Bars and Specialty Cheese (Starting at $4.00)
Shredded cheese is gone. We’re going to have to deal with it. But luckily for us, large blocks of cheese and specialty cheeses are still available. Even though they seem pricey, the cost is actually about the same as shredded cheese when you factor in the labor involved as you shred your own cheese. This is your chance to try something other than deli cheese from Boar’s Head. There are plenty of blocks of cheddar, but you if you haven’t tried them already, give cheeses such as Havarti, Gruyère, Gouda, Asiago, and Swiss a chance. You may even want to try some of those small cuts of marbled mysteries. If they are available at your local market, try specialty cheeses such as Humboldt Fog, Windham, or Vampire Slayer Cheddar. They are more expensive, but you use less of it and they add tremendous character to your homemade dishes.
19. Packaged Muesli (Starting at $4.40 per LBS)
Although not as inexpensive as oatmeal, muesli is wonderfully delicious because it also has other ingredients such as dried nuts, fruits, and seeds. It’s very versatile since you can eat it cold or cook it up as if it were oatmeal.
20. Plain Yogurt (Starting at $2.00 per LBS)
We’re quick to grab the sugary yogurts off the shelf, but plain yogurt is still very available, very affordable, and very versatile. There’s even plain Greek yogurt left if you prefer it. If you absolutely love the fruit at the bottom of your yogurt cup, place a tablespoon of fruit preserves at the bottom of a cup and top it with some plain yogurt, some granola or muesli, and a drizzle of honey. It’s an instant snack.
I hope you all stay both smart and safe throughout these times! PIN THIS IMAGE BELOW and share with your friends and family.
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