Another week goes by, and very little changes in this perpetual groundhog day that we find ourselves in. Our minds tend to flit between thoughts of boredom, mealtimes, respect and love for our healthcare workers, and then back to boredom again.
Staying at home for two months may not be the most difficult thing in the world to do, but it certainly does challenge even the most resilient of us when it comes to maintaining a positive outlook.
It is thought that the numbers of people suffering from depression will skyrocket during this quarantine, and while this may be inevitable, there is a way for you to not only help combat the blues you may be experiencing, but also that of a vulnerable family member.
Prep their meals for them, and fill them full of foods that help both their physical and mental wellbeing!
If you have an older relative that perhaps lives alone, or are concerned that both your elderly parents are going to have trouble taking care of themselves during the lockdown, providing some pre-made meals for them is not only a great way to show them that you are thinking about them, but also gives you something to focus on yourself.
There is evidence to support the idea that when we do a good deed, it is actually good for our own health too. So if you happen to have access to a few extra meals each week whilst you cook your own, box them up in your meal prep containers, and drop them round to your loved ones.
You’ll feel good about it, they will feel good about it, and it will give you something to focus on during a moment in history when many of us feel we have lost our way.
So what sort of meals should you cook for a vulnerable family member? What sort of ingredients should you use? Is there anything to avoid? Well obviously if you particular loved one has a favourite meal that you can cook, nothing quite lifts the spirits like a well-loved dish from our youth or a family favourite.
But when it comes to cooking for vulnerable relatives or friends in particular, you will do well to make sure all their nutritional needs are covered. Below are some ingredients that when included in your meals, will provide huge nutritional benefits, and keep whoever is lucky enough to be gifted them, fighting fit and as happy as possible.
Salmon, often a staple for many of us throughout the year, is extremely dense in omega 3 fatty acids. The same can be said for other fatty fish, such as sardines, but salmon seems to be a fish that many of us find particularly versatile when cooking.
Omega 3 is extremely important for keeping our bodies in tiptop shape and is linked to lowering the risk of many diseases (such as heart disease), as well as helping to ward off dementia and depression (which is a particularly good thing during a 2 month imposed quarantine).
Salmon also contains vast amounts of other nutrients; it is high in protein as well as vitamins and minerals including (but not limited to) potassium, selenium and B2 vitamins.
With so many recipe options available, and the fact you can find it tins as well as freshly prepared, Salmon is an ingredient that should always be on your shopping list during the quarantine. From simple pan-fried salmon to smoked salmon risotto or salmon with a Japanese teriyaki twist, the options are almost limitless.
Ok, this is an ingredient that is on pretty much everyone’s shopping list at all times, but it is important to understand why potatoes are such a great source of food at a time like this.
High in iron, copper, manganese, Vitamins C and potassium, the humble potato contains almost all nutrients that your body can possibly need. Not only are potatoes extremely high in nutritional content, but they all tend to fill you up more than any other food source.
If we consider salmon to be a versatile ingredient, the potato delivers in this area more than perhaps any other ingredient on the planet. When you sit down to plan your meal prep for your vulnerable loved one, potatoes should be the first ingredient on the list.
It seems almost trite to give suggestions for potato recipes, as all of you will no doubt have your favourites and staples to indulge in, but a quick perusal of these 44 easy potato recipes may provide you with a new string to add to your bow.
Once looked at as old fashioned, liver has made a comeback in some of the more fashionable culinary circles. And a good thing it has too! While in the west we have prioritised eating muscle meat over organ meat, liver is an extremely nutritious ingredient, that luckily many of the older generations still enjoy eating.
High in vitamin B12, B5, B6, B2, and vitamin A, liver also contains healthy doses of copper, iron, zinc, phosphorus, and selenium. When it comes to fueling your body with nutrients, your average steak cannot compete with a portion of liver.
If your vulnerable loved one is of a certain age, liver and onion is almost certainly a recipe that they have been privy to in their time, but if you are looking to spice things up a little, the Great British Chefs website has 21 rather stunning looking creations that are sure to tickle the tastebuds of anyone who is a little distrustful of cooking with this wonderful ingredient.
If you are finding it hard to get your hands on your usual volume of fruit at the moment, do your best to buy blueberries at the very least.
Loaded with antioxidants, blueberries are particularly good for keeping your cognitive functioning as high as possible, while some studies have shown these little blue powerhouses to be effective in fighting the onset of some cancers.
If you can’t get a variety of fruit, a handful of blueberries each day should help provide you with the antioxidants your body needs to remain healthy, and happy.
If you or your family are less inclined to eat fruit as nature intended, why not throw them into a delicious dessert instead? After all, you will still get all the nutritional benefits, and who can say no to a slice of classic blueberry pie anyway?
Unless your loved one happens to be serving their quarantine in the company of a prospective romantic partner, there is no reason why you can’t load some of their prepped meals with garlic.
Garlic, packed full of all kinds of valuable nutrients, can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure (which in turn can help stave off heart disease), while also containing similar cancer-fighting properties that you can find in blueberries.
The great thing about garlic is that not only does it contain so much goodness, it is also a great ingredient to use when you are looking to add flavour to many recipes that would otherwise taste a little bland.
Looking for inspiration in the garlic department? Taste Of Home has you covered, with plenty of variety when it comes to garlic recipes. From garlic and dill soda bread to greek garlic chicken, you are bound to find something that takes your fancy.
Food, the language of love
So, if you are worried about a family member who you currently don’t get to see as often as usual, start meal prepping for them when you cook your own family meals.
An extra portion here and there can be packed away and dropped on their doorstep without the need to actually interact or break any social distancing rules.
It may not feel as good as giving them a hug, but filling them full of as much nutritional goodness as possible is about as close as we can currently get to showing an ageing relative that we miss them, and they are always in our thoughts.
What better way to do that, than with a delicious, pre-cooked meal.