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Take stock of what you have and be sensible about what you’re buying writes Indra Balaratnam

ONCE upon a time, we would not have thought twice about eating out.

But as we are required to remain indoors to respect the Movement Control Order (MCO) and our budgets are tighter, it makes sense to go back to the basics - cooking our own food.

Here’s what you can do to sensibly stock your kitchen with nourishing food during this time and avoid over buying:


Do an inventory of the foods that you currently have in your pantry and fridge and throw away expired items. This helps you free up space and also to take stock of what you presently have.

You may find that you already have quite a number of food items. This will give you clarity to refrain from overstocking.


You want to keep a manageable supply of food so that you need not go out often and minimise your exposure to others. If previously, you shopped every other day for provisions, now stock up a bit more so you only need to go out once or twice a week to shop for food.

Consider a neighbour who may find it difficult due to their age or health to grocery shop for themselves. Any form of help in this time will definitely be much appreciated.


Think of easy to store food choices from each food group so you will have an array of options to make nutritionally balanced meals:


Eggs, fresh/frozen meat and fish that you can keep in the freezer; canned tuna/sardine/meat, dried anchovies (ikan bilis) and dry/canned beans, nuts (including nut butters) and seeds.


Dry grain food options like rice, mee hoon, dry noodles, pasta and oatmeal can keep for long.Breakfast cereals are convenient and quick to serve with milk. Wholegrain crackers are a good substitute for bread. Keep flour on hand as you can make pancakes (lempeng), cekodok (fritters) or bread.

Do stock up on dried food such as pasta and noodles. Picture: Designed by Freepik
Do stock up on dried food such as pasta and noodles. Picture: Designed by Freepik


Leafy vegetables can’t be kept for too long. They must be cooked within a day or two of purchase.

Sturdier vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, celery and French beans last longer in the fridge.

Frozen vegetables like peas, corn and mixed vegetables are just as nutritious and a good alternative in times like these.

Root vegetables like potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes and yams are longer lasting choices too.

Dried mushrooms are highly nutritious too.


Buy fresh fruit that can keep long in the fridge such as guava, apples and oranges. Dried fruit like prunes, raisins, dates and apricots are also easy to store and last long.


Milk powder has a long shelf life while UHT milk can be kept at room temperature and only refrigerated once opened. Fresh milk has the shortest expiry date. Hard cheeses last longer than soft ones. When buying yogurt, do look for the longest possible expiry date you can get.

Be mindful of what you buy. Picture: Designed by jcomp / Freepik.
Be mindful of what you buy. Picture: Designed by jcomp / Freepik.

*The writer is a consultant dietitian.

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