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Stocking up for Balanced Meals with Dietitian Kelly Jones

by ZwemZa on May 14th, 2020

Hi, I’m Kelly Jones, a sports dietitian and mom who spent many days growing up at the pool as a member of USA Swimming.

While COVID-19 has brought stress and some challenges, food is one thing that can bring people together. It’s a great time for families to start cooking together and build the foundation for a performance-focused eating pattern before heading back to the pool.

Since people would like to make fewer trips to the grocery store, I’m here to help swim families feel confident in stocking their pantry and freezer.

Before covering these nutritious pantry foods and what meals and snacks to make from them, lets cover what we need to include in balanced meals.

Even with lower activity levels, growing swimmers still need plenty of energy from nutrient-rich carbohydrates and healthy fats, on top of quality protein. Aim to have each as a part of every meal, while also including a fruit or vegetable as well as flavors your family loves to boost satisfaction and enjoyment.

My family’s been able to make it two weeks or more between grocery trips by stocking our kitchen with nutrient-rich foods that won’t spoil quickly.

Here are some items in each category:

For carbohydrate foods, oats and whole grain pancake mixes help get the morning off to an energizing start. For the rest of the day, stock up on nutrient-rich potatoes and sweet potatoes, whole-grain pasta and rice. You can also grab double with whole-grain bread and tortillas so you can freeze half for later. When you have one of those days and need a meal on the table quickly, pre-cooked rice pouches and quinoa cups can help get meals together in minutes. For more variety, quick-cook farro and bulgur are excellent options to have on hand.

When it comes to long-lasting proteins, eggs in all their forms can last up to four weeks after purchase in your refrigerator. It’s also a great time to try incorporating more plant-protein with items like beans and lentils from dry or canned and edamame from frozen. Legume-based pastas are a staple product. Some can provide as much protein in one cup as you would get in a serving of chicken. And don’t forget canned tuna and salmon, which also provide healthy fats.

In addition to fatty fish, peanuts, nuts and seeds (and nut and seed butters), are easy shelf-stable items to enhance nutrition at any meal or snack. While you can actually peel and freeze avocados for later, it’s even easier to buy prepackaged guacamole that freezes and thaws well, too.

When it comes to fruits and veggies, fresh items that last a while include citrus, apples and kiwi, as well as carrots, onions, cabbage and winter squash. And don’t fear frozen, jarred or canned! Because they are processed and packaged within hours of harvest, they sometimes retain more of certain nutrients than fresh. Dried fruit is a great option to add to many breakfast dishes, salads, and snacks.

Now, here’s is a day’s worth of nutritious meals to make before heading back to stock up on fresh items.

For an easy, balanced breakfast that kids can make too, try quick oats in the microwave with milk or soy milk, as well as seeds. Then, top with dried or frozen fruit as well as some nuts or seeds and a drizzle of honey or pure maple.

For a lunch that swimmers of any age will enjoy, make some legume-based mac and cheese to boost protein, fiber and nutrients, and pair with a frozen vegetable.

Come dinner time, grab frozen peppers and onions and as well as long-lasting tempeh or your favorite protein. Cook them in a large skillet with a chili powder blend. Then warm the tortillas that you’ve stored in the freezer to serve the fajita mixture on, and top with a packaged guacamole.

For more tips and recipes to nourish your busy swim family, search here at USAswimming.org or head to KellyJonesNutrition.com. I’d love to hear your questions and suggestions for future swim videos, too!

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