Like millions in Canada, my family and I are now learning how we can make the most of a reduced income because of the pandemic.
During these times, it is beneficial to know how wholesome foods like eggs, butter, and milk help us get the most from our nutrient dollar when adhering to a budget. In our home, milk is consumed at meals and snacks, and used in many favourite and nourishing recipes like pancakes, crepes, waffles, French toast, soups, and muffins.
Our family of five can easily drink one 4 L bag of milk every other day, and it’s not uncommon for people to comment when they see me and my three kids walking out carrying 4 L apiece. In fact, I was a little embarrassed at the check-out during my first pandemic grocery shop after learning I had missed the sign stating the limit of two items per person.
Milk is also one of the easiest things our children can consume in the morning with breakfast when I’m out for a run and my husband is working from his home office. It provides them with:
- Vitamin D, which is vital for maintaining healthy bones
- Protein to build and repair tissues
- Calcium for proper functioning of the heart, muscles, and nerves
These nutrients are needed for their active and growing bodies. Sometimes it’s in a smoothie, a bowl of cereal with fruit, or as a side. For my husband and I, it’s also added to each and every mug of coffee throughout the morning, latte in the afternoon, and cup of tea with a sweet treat in the evening.
While we Registered Dietitians have been clear no magic food will “boost” the immune system, consuming dairy and other nutrient-dense foods is one way to help keep it functioning optimally. Another benefit of being dense is how milk can slow down gastric emptying, helping one feel full and satisfied for longer.
As an Olympian who is currently aiming to maintain a decent level of fitness for a hopeful fall marathon season, milk has always been in my go-to recovery drink that I can easily consume after training. Why?
- Milk hydrates as good or better than water
- Milk has more protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and phosphorus per calorie than any other food
- Milk protein (whey) is superior when it comes to repairing and enhancing muscle growth, which is key when running 180-190 km per week in peak training
With every family facing its own challenges, and many truly struggling just to survive, it is more important than ever we all try to focus on what matters most. This covid-19 pandemic has taken my family back to a simple life, back to the basics. No longer are dinners scheduled around the kids’ sports activities or permission forms being signed for school field trips. My husband and I no longer feel like two ships passing in the night, and our to-do lists are finally getting shorter than longer. We are spending quality family time together within our own four walls, connecting with others via group video chats, learning to do school and work from home, and experiencing the meaning of a need over a want while reflecting on life and what’s really important.
So if you got away from drinking milk pre-pandemic, you may want to consider returning to this basic, wholesome, nutrient-dense staple, especially if you can’t pay more for less-nutritious substitutes. There are countless ways to include it in your diet, it can help nourish you and your household, and tastes wonderful with that favourite homemade cookie fresh from the oven.