Healthy eating during the COVID-19 pandemic
You can eat a variety of healthy foods every day to feel good and maintain your health, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On this page
- Healthy food choices
- Healthy eating and the immune system
- Food to buy during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Healthy meal and snack ideas during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Healthy takeout during the COVID-19 pandemic
Healthy food choices
Healthy eating is a good habit to keep up or start during this time. Healthy food choices include:
Limit highly processed foods. If you choose them, eat them less often and in small amounts.
Healthy eating and the immune system
Although a healthy eating pattern is important for your overall health, there are no specific foods or supplements that can prevent you from catching COVID-19.
Learn more about what you can do to prevent coronavirus.
Food to buy during the COVID-19 pandemic
Many people are wondering what food items to buy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Buy healthy choices like:
- vegetables and fruits that have a longer shelf life:
- frozen or canned vegetables and fruits
- whole grain foods:
- tortilla wraps
- dried herbs and spices
- canned chicken with little to no added sodium
- nuts, seeds, nut butters or non-nut alternatives
- canned fish such as tuna and sardines with little to no added sodium
- dry or canned chickpeas, beans or lentils with little to no added sodium
- lean meats and poultry, fish or shellfish that can be stored in the freezer
- eggs, lower fat and unsweetened yogurt and milk, skimmed milk powder, lower fat cheese
Buy items that have a long shelf life to prevent food from spoiling.
Check the best before date. Best before dates give you information about the freshness and potential shelf life of the unopened food you are buying.
Learn more about how to read food date labels and packaging.
Healthy meal and snack ideas during the COVID-19 pandemic
During the COVID-19 pandemic, your food options at home may be limited. Get creative with the items you have at home for meals, snacks and leftovers.
Use ingredients you already have at home or change a recipe to use ingredients that are on sale. For example:
- If a pasta sauce calls for fresh tomatoes, but all you have are canned diced tomatoes, use the canned tomatoes instead.
- If a recipe calls for chicken, and you already have canned tuna at home, try the recipe using canned tuna.
- If you usually use noodles for a stir-fry, but don’t have any at home, try using brown rice, quinoa or bulgur instead.
- If a recipe calls for fresh fruits, and you have frozen fruits, use the frozen fruits instead.
- If you usually add diced chicken to your salad, but want to save it for another day, try using canned chickpeas or beans instead.
- If a taco recipe calls for lean ground beef, but you have frozen shrimp at home, try the recipe using shrimp instead.
Healthy snack ideas
Try different snack combinations with what you have at home:
- Vegetable + fruit + nuts or seeds
- Lower fat yogurt + fruit + nuts or seeds
- Lower fat cheese + whole grain crackers or an English muffin + vegetable or fruit
Find recipes online or learn more about healthy meal and snack ideas using staple ingredients.
To save time on food preparation, use leftover ingredients to make a whole new meal. For example:
- Add leftover steamed, roasted or sautéed vegetables to a variety of meals. Try making this Fun Flatbread Pizza with leftover roasted vegetables as a topping. Or add your leftover steamed or sautéed vegetables to pasta, such as this Mac and Cheese with a Veggie Twist, or to this Eat Your Greens Frittata recipe.
- Use leftover meat like chicken, beef or turkey in wraps, salads or sandwiches for a simple home-made lunch. Try this Turkey Veggie Stuffed Pita recipe and use any meat you have leftover for the filling.
- Add leftover cooked or canned beans, chickpeas or lentils to salads or wraps for a simple lunch or combine with rice, fresh tomatoes, avocado, salsa and hot sauce for a quick and easy burrito bowl. Try mixing in leftover beans or lentils to your next meal with ground meat, like in this Shepherd’s Pie recipe.
- Shred leftover cooked fish such as salmon into fillets and make into salmon cakes or burgers. You can also try serving it with rice and vegetables for a balanced meal, or make salmon sandwiches on whole grain bread. Leftover fish can also be used to make cold salads or sandwiches. Try this Lunch Box Tuna Salad Wrap recipe and substitute any leftover fish you have.
- Add leftover potato to a frittata or salad. Or you can slice and sauté it in a pan with a small amount of oil to use as a side dish.
- Reheat leftover whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat pasta to use in a stir-fry or as a side dish at your next meal.
Healthy takeout during the COVID-19 pandemic
Ordering takeout may seem like an easy and appealing choice right now. Whether you pick up your food or have it delivered, remember that it is still important to make wise menu choices.
Choose healthy menu options
Whether you are ordering from fast food outlets or restaurants, foods served in these places may not have many vegetables, fruits or whole grain foods. They can also have a lot of:
- saturated fat
Many fast food outlets and restaurants offer healthier menu options. Find out how items are prepared and if the nutrition information is available on the restaurant’s website.
Try these ideas to make your choices healthier:
- Drink water instead of ordering sugary drinks.
- Choose whole grain options, such as whole grain pizza crust.
- Choose options where half of the meal is vegetables or fruits.
- Ask for sauce and dressing “on the side” so you can control the amount.
- Choose foods cooked in healthier ways such as baked, grilled, broiled or poached.
- If the meal you want is only available in a large portion, save some of it as leftovers.
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