Covid-19 and Meal Planning:

Shopping and risk of COVID-19

Many people are worried about how to manage their shopping and the risk of COVID-19. These guidelines outline how best to minimise risk.

Face coverings are now recommended in crowded workplaces, places of worship and in busy or crowded outdoor spaces where there is significant congregation.

Guidance on safe use of face coverings is available here


Top Tips for shopping with diabetes:


  • Try to reduce any stress around shopping by taking time to plan and organise your meals for a full week. This means working out each meal and putting all the information together.
  • Then, check off what you already have in the fridge, freezer and cupboards and write a shopping list to ensure you have all the ingredients you need for the week ahead.
  • First up is breakfast: consider cereals you may need, remember to try choosing higher fibre options like porridge Weetabix or similar higher fibre choices. Add fruit to meet our recommend intake of 5-7 portions daily or high fibre breads for variety.
  • Follow this with lunch and dinners; it may be a good idea to stick with family favourites as you will be more familiar with quantities required. We produced a shopping guide for people with diabetes which covers exactly how to put shopping lists together with lots of suggestions for each mealtime.



Store Cupboard Staples 

Take Stock: Check what you already have and think about how much fresh, frozen and tinned ingredients you need for a week. Have you been over buying and needing to throw out spoiled food recently? Check you have enough storage space and try to avoid panic buying as you may end up with an amount of food waste.


See the table below for a list of store cupboard ideas –

• Wholegrain Cereals
• Porridge Oats
• Pasta/Spaghetti/Couscous/Rice
• Pitta Pockets (Store in Freezer)
• Eggs • Tinned Tomatoes
• Tomato Puree
• Frozen Vegetables
• Baked Beans
• Tinned Fish – Mackerel, Sardines, Salmon, Tuna
• Pulses – lentils, Chickpeas, Kidney Beans or Butter Beans
• Fruit Tinned in Natural Juice
Sugar Free Jelly
• Stock Cubes (look for Reduced Salt Varieties)
• Low Fat/Fat Free Salad Dressing
• Mixed herbs
• Artificial sweetener
• No Added sugar Squash/Cordial
• Olive or Rapeseed Oil
• Seeds such as Linseed, Flaxseed, Pumpkin, Sesame or Sunflower
• Nuts e.g. Almonds, Walnuts, Cashew, Peanuts – Choose Plain Unsalted Varieties•



  • All fresh foods and staples such as potatoes and vegetables are widely available.
  • Check your cupboards for spices and herbs that can be added to tinned tomatoes to bring flavour to meals.
  • Pulses such as lentils, beans and chickpeas are low cost and nutritious. They help to bulk up on fibre and protein – use in soups, stews, casseroles and family favourites like cottage pie.
  • If you find yourself with less money than usual or are worried about future income see the link below produced by the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) in conjunction with safefood where they have a free “101 square meals” book: these are easy to prepare meals aimed at families who are shopping on a budget.

  • Remember to support local shops and producers such as your local butcher, fruit & veg shop where possible
  • Try out new recipes especially if you have children at home – maybe make one new recipe a week and get children to pick and plan something they would like to try. We have lots of recipes on our website from family meals such as our chicken curry or shepherd’s pie to kid’s favourites like pancakes and carrot and pineapple squares, there’s plenty to keep them busy while school is off.


What if I don’t feel like eating?


For those of us who eat less in times of uncertainty, often this change in appetite is subtle, resulting in unplanned weight loss. Alert your GP if you or someone you care for has unintentionally lost weight.

  • Are your clothes fitting the same way?
  • Is your belt, watch strap, or are rings looser than usual?
  • Are you lacking in usual strength, or energy when carrying out daily tasks and activities?
  • Have you noticed any change to hair or nails?
  • Has anyone commented that you appear to have lost weight?


How do we eat well with a small appetite?

Good nutrition is vital to protect people’s muscles to help keep our strength up. It is important to try and eat regularly during the day, keeping to your normal mealtimes where possible. It is fine to have smaller portions when you don’t feel much like eating and including nourishing drinks or snacks between meals can help keep energy levels up. Dietitians advise ‘food fortification’ as a first step, which means adding extra calories (energy) into the foods and drinks you are choosing.


Here are some ideas:

  • Make porridge on milk, or add cream/jam/honey before serving.
  • Have a snack of cheese & crackers (buttered).
  • Choose either full fat Greek yoghurt, thick & creamy yoghurt, or custard style varieties of yoghurt as a snack/dessert.
  • Have a small cup of coffee or cocoa or cup-a-soup made with milk.
  • Add extra butter or mayonnaise to mashed potatoes or vegetables.

The HSE has a great general factsheet here with more ideas to make the most of every bite:


HSE ‘Making the Most of Every Bite’ leaflet.  And, The Making the Most of Every Bite Cookbook by Dr Aoife Ryan, UCC also provides lots of recipe ideas here.


I’m worried these foods will affect my diabetes:

When we have diabetes, we have an extra consideration with minding our blood glucose levels. People often express concern at using butter/cream/jam as outlined above, as this goes against healthy eating advice generally advised. Remember, small appetite advice is usually a short term and is intended to help prevent unintentional weight loss and preserve a person’s strength. For individual advice, especially to talk through concerns around blood glucose levels or medications, please seek advice from your GP or diabetes care team.


The Diabetes Ireland helpline can be contacted on 01 8428118 or by email [email protected]


Overeating in times of stress


In periods of uncertainty, we all react differently when it comes to our eating habits. For some, appetite is greatly increased, whereas for others the opposite happens, and they find they have little to no appetite. It is worth thinking about how either of these scenarios might impact on us when we have diabetes and having a plan in place to ensure we stay well-nourished during a difficult period.


The solution might be having healthy foods to hand. That may mean writing a shopping list and planning out what our meals and snacks are going to look like for several days at a time. If you have extra time on your hands and enjoy cooking this is an ideal opportunity to take the time to try out new dishes. If on the other hand cooking is more of a chore or you are time poor, be sure to consider meals involving minimal preparation.


For a person with diabetes, the broad nutrition advice is generally to follow a nutritionally balanced diet in line with the national healthy eating guidelines. This means including lots of vegetables, salads and some fruit daily, being mindful of portion sizes of carbohydrates and choosing wholegrain varieties where possible and keeping the high sugar/fat/salt foods to a minimum.


See for further advice on eating well with diabetes. For individually tailored plans for people with diabetes such as carbohydrate counting or low carbohydrate diets, a CORÚ registered dietitian is best placed to guide dietary advice.


Along with planning our meals, the HSE has some great tips to help us all manage our stress. See




Looking after Ourselves and Each Other


Advice for those over 70 years or medically vulnerable

Continue to think about your neighbours – is there anyone more vulnerable or elderly that you could help. Similarly, maybe you are that vulnerable person yourself. Don’t hold back on asking for help or indeed offering it.

If you are over 70 or medically vulnerable, please use your judgement to decide how best to apply the following health guidance:

  • stay home as much as you can
  • maintain social distancing with visitors/those whom you visit and use face coverings
  • use the times specially allotted for shopping
  • use face coverings when attending shops or busy public areas.


See for the most up to date information.