You may encounter some new obstacles when it comes to filling your kitchen during a quarantine, in isolation, preparing for the potential of these events, or trying to stretch the time between grocery excursions to limit the danger of viral exposure. Learning to cook owing to restaurant closures, or learning to cook without fresh veggies or with restricted resources due to grocery store stockouts, can all be stressful during a crisis. This post will provide you some pointers on how to cook using what you have in your pantry and freezer.
Nothing is more frustrating than eating all of your other vegetables but still having 5 cans of carrots and some powdered eggs left over for the next few days. Make a plan that considers expiry dates, your taste, all three meals, snacks, and your lifestyle if you truly want to make food last and eat actual meals.
It’s Important To Stock Up
Many people, including ourselves, are rushing to the grocery store right now to stock up on pantry products, dry goods, and other long-lasting components. However, it’s a good idea to develop a strategy before going to the store! Not only will some forethought save you money (trust us, panic-buying all the pricey cheese and the entire olive bar is not recommended), but it will also ensure that you have plenty of meals to make and eat for many days to come. Isn’t it true that no one wants to eat PB&J for two weeks in a row? Right.
However, when we advise “you should develop a food list and meal plan in case of self-quarantine or anything,” we mean that we’ve already done so! We understand you have more important things to do right now. This may be referred to as our ‘coronavirus is a thing, and I guess we’ll just have to remain home for a long time’ grocery list. If you have a large household, you might simply refer to it as a shopping list for stocking a well-stocked pantry. This list appears to be lengthy, but we’ve broken it down into categories, so you should be able to simply walk to the shop and handle it aisle by aisle.
Consider Food Shelf Life
The second factor to consider is shelf life, and it’s worth mentioning that you don’t have to exclude all fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy from your diet. When properly stored, potatoes, onions, cabbages, carrots, radishes, peppers, and apples are just a few examples of vegetables and fruit that have a long shelf life. They should still be on the front end of your meal plan if you intend on staying home for an extended period of time, but substituting these for fresh greens and berries, which can go bad in less than a week, can provide you with some fresh components to work with. If you wrap eggs in melted coconut oil and keep them in a cold, dry place, they can last 9-12 months. Eggs can also be cracked, whisked, and frozen, or powdered eggs and milk can be purchased. Both cheese and milk can be frozen for up to six months.
Use Your Freezer Wisely
While milk may be frozen, you need to think about how to make the most of your limited freezer space. There are many alternatives for storing canned or jarred items, but most of us have tiny freezers, which you might want to utilize for meats, cheeses, bread products, and berries if you’re quarantining/isolating for a time. A gallon of milk will take up a lot of freezer space, but you can make almond milk or oat milk as needed in less than five minutes and it will not take up any freezer space. Simply combine almonds or oats with water, drain, and you have milk for cereal or recipes.
So, how can you make the most of your freezer space? Flat products like bacon, tortillas, pizza crusts and sliced cheese help make limited freezer space go further. One slice of bacon will enhance the flavor of any bean or lentil soup, as well as most potato recipes. Tortillas and pizza crusts are simple to prepare from scratch with only masa or flour and water, but it’s convenient to have some readymade ones on hand to save time or when you’re in a hurry. You can also freeze some fresh greens like spinach and kale for smoothies to ensure you get the nutrients you need when your fresh vegetables aren’t available.
Your quarantine diet can be a lot more diverse than you might believe. Many recipes call for brown rice, whole-wheat pasta ranging from couscous to penne, powdered potatoes, oats, grits, dried beans, and dry lentils. Refried beans, canned chicken, canned tuna, canned vegetables, pickled onions, freeze-dried peppers, freeze-dried berries, dates, nuts, and nut butter are all good additions. Putting together a meal plan including all of these items will help you eat a healthy, well-balanced diet while reducing your reliance on eating out.
Finally, you can always produce sprouts for your greens because they are high in nutrients, develop in just 2-3 days, and don’t require light or soil. Sprouts are delicious in tacos, in chicken salad, on sandwiches, on top of soups, and anywhere else greens like kale or spinach are used.
Great Foods To Keep On Hand During Quarantine
Shelf-stable food is always great to have on hand no matter what!
For those who are adhering to a paleo/AIP template here’s what I suggest-
- Cooking oils (avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, etc.)
- Vinegar (red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, etc.)
- Sweet potato glass noodles
- Canned coconut milk
- Canned fish (salmon, tuna, sardines)
- Plantain chips
- Pork rinds
- Snack sticks like Chomps
- Pasta sauce and/or canned tomato
- Gluten-free pasta
- Dried beans
- Grain-free tortilla chips
- Hard squashes (spaghetti squash, butternut, etc.)
- Citrus fruits
- Sweet potatoes
- Frozen products
- Frozen vegetables (spinach, green beans, broccoli, etc.)
- Frozen fruit for smoothies and snacks (berries, mango, etc.)
- Ground beef
- Ground turkey or chicken
- Chicken breast
- Chicken thigh
- Whole chicken