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Extension: How to build a healthy plate using non-perishable items
Beans

Considering the current COVID-19 crisis, we are finding ourselves in a situation of wondering how to eat healthy while remaining at home. Fewer trips to the grocery store means our foods need to last us longer. People are at a loss for what items they should stock up on. Using MyPlate, www.choosemyplate.gov, as a guide, you can make nutritious choices by adding some of these non-perishable (don’t require refrigeration) food items to your diet.


Grains 

Grains, particularly those that are whole grains, are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and provide energy. Whole grain pasta, whole wheat flour, whole grain cereal, brown or wild rice, quinoa, barley, amaranth, farro, oats, granola, tortillas and popcorn are all excellent choices. When choosing pre-packaged items, aim for items low in sugar, high in fiber. For foods with several ingredients, like breads and cereals, look for the first word in the ingredients list to be “whole.”  


Protein 

Beans and peas, whether canned or dried, are always a great go to source for protein and fiber and have no saturated fat or cholesterol. When choosing canned beans and peas, select items that are reduced sodium or no-salt added when available. Rinse beans and peas in a colander to further reduce sodium. Dried beans and peas require soaking before conventional cooking but do not require pre-soaking if using electronic pressure cookers.

Canned meat and seafood such as chicken, salmon or tuna are convenient ways to still add meat to your diet. Select those packed in water rather than oil and choose items with the least amount of sodium. Nuts, seeds, and nut butters (without added sugars) are another great way to get protein and are full of heart healthy unsaturated fats.


Dairy 

Calcium and vitamin D, necessary for strong bones, healthy teeth, and prevention of osteoporosis, are most often found in dairy foods. A great alternative to refrigerated items is to have on hand dry milk, Ultra High Temperature (UHT) pasteurized milk, and shelf stable plant-based milk beverages. 


Fruits 

Dried, canned, or fresh, fruit is full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Fresh citrus (full of vitamin C) can be kept at storage temp (50-70 degrees) for up to 10 days. Choose canned fruits in water or their own juice. Those canned in light or heavy syrup should be avoided as these are high in sugar. Dried fruits can be enjoyed on their own or mixed with whole grain cereal and nuts for trail mix.


Vegetables 

The beauty of canned vegetables is that you can enjoy your favorite regardless of the season. Vegetables are packed with fiber, vitamins and various important minerals. When choosing vegetables, be sure to select those low in sodium or with no salt added. Draining and rinsing will also further reduce the sodium content.

For more information on food safety, nutrition and healthy living, contact us at 770-887-2418 or visit ugaextension.org/county-offices/forsyth.html


Barbara Worley is the UGA Family and Consumer Sciences agent for the Forsyth County Extension.