What’s for Dinner during a Pandemic?

By Unite Fitness Retreat Dietician, Brooke Bouwhuis

As we are trying to stay home as much as possible, we are also trying to stay out of the grocery store as much as possible.  Making as few trips as we can to the supermarket will reduce the spread of COVID-19.

One of the lunch and learn classes we teach at Unite Fitness Retreat is called ‘Success at Home’. It’s a class filled with ideas and suggestions to keep you on track with nutrition as you transition the momentum you gained at camp into success at home.

The most important take-away from that class is acknowledging the 4 letter P word. Plan. The old saying goes, “If you fail to plan, plan to fail.”  That is especially true as we are planning a weekly menu to keep us full, satisfied and healthy while minimizing being out and about.

A plan regardless of a pandemic or not will also save you time and money.  Two things that both warrant plenty of attention.  The word PLAN is also a huge pain.  Sitting down and devoting time to figuring out what it will take to feed yourself or your people can be overwhelming and cumbersome.

Taking the time to plan will not be as tricky when using resources that will serve you well.

Take for instance Pinterest.  It’s free, a visual dream of beautiful food and is filled with gobs of ideas that can keep your taste buds busy for years.  In the Pinterest search engine try terms like Whole 30, Paleo or meal prep and combine them with terms like crock pot, instant pot, sheet pan, easy, and whatever meat of your choice.

“Whole 30 crockpot easy” will actually pull up anything from Thai Coconut Chicken Curry, Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potatoes to Whole 30 pulled pork.  I love recipes using terms like Whole 30 and Paleo because they are cleaner (gluten and dairy free), very low or no sugar and balance flavor and satisfaction beautifully.  You don’t have to be Whole 30 or Paleo to use these recipes.  They can be modified to include beans, corn, and corn tortillas.

If you don’t want to search recipes for yourself, we adore the menu planning site called realplans.com.  Real Plans allows you to select your diet type (normal, pescatarian, vegan, Whole 30 etc), servings you need – yes one or two serving recipes are out there – and time of year.

This is a subscription service but the cost of the service is easily saved in simply not eating out once or twice a month.  Real Plans allows you to select the recipes of interest to you, you drop them into when you would plan on using them during the week and they provide the recipes and a grocery list.

Which now leads us back to grocery shopping.  If you hated it before COVID-19 you hate it even more now.  Grocery stores are still doing the “click and pick” service where you order online and pick up what you need.  The drawback now is not knowing what is actually on the shelf or not.

Planning, preparing and cleaning up meals can be exhausting when you are already exhausted.  Yes, fast food and pizza joints are delivering but are those foods that will help you be your healthiest?

Here is one of our favorite home recipes that we are using weekly because we can get the ingredients, it’s ridiculously easy and it’s incredibly tasty.

EASY Crock Pot Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup organic salsa
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 limes juiced
  • Cilantro (just before serving)

Put everything in the crock pot, if the chicken is frozen it will take about 8 hours on high.  If it is thawed it will take about 4 hours.  Cook until it shreds easily.

Add a handful of chopped cilantro just before serving and enjoy!  We add a can of black beans to the chicken as it’s cooking and pile our tacos with cabbage, avocado and more salsa.

If this makes too much quantity, simply freeze the leftovers in portions that make it easy to pull out for a single meal.


Stay healthy, we’ll get through this together!