Consumer Watch: Making the best out of your pantry food

Being cooped up at home makes it really easy to get to snacking. But perhaps now more than ever, it's important to have a healthy diet.

"The foods you choose to eat right now can support your immune system and boost your energy level, so making nutritious choices is really important," says Trisha Calvo with Consumer Reports.

Health officials advise that we stay home as much as possible, and that includes minimizing trips to the grocery store.

Before you go out shopping, take a full inventory. Check the cabinets and freezer to see what you already have.

"You can make whole meals that are pretty tasty from the things you have in your pantry, like canned beans, or canned fish, grains, pasta, and then you can supplement with fresh food that you've got in your freezer," Calvo said.

For example, oatmeal alone makes a good breakfast. But with a little extra effort, you can turn it into something great.

Add some peanut butter and cinnamon, then top it with thawed frozen berries and a little honey.

For lunch or dinner, try your hand at homemade soup. Sauteed onion and garlic are a flavorful start to any soup.

Add several cups of your favorite veggie, frozen if you don't have fresh, followed by four cups of low-sodium chicken broth and you have a very basic soup.

Use your pantry to jazz it up with a can of beans, a handful of dried pasta and your favorite spices.

If nothing else, soups are a great way to use up leftovers.

When it's finally time to head to the store, pick up some other long-lasting staples to enhance your meals. Cottage cheese and ricotta can last one to two weeks in your fridge.

Sturdy produce like apples, winter squash, carrots, and cabbage will last up to two weeks if kept in a cool, dry place.
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