We’re a couple months into social distancing, and especially if you’re working from home, it’s likely that your everyday routine has begun to feel a bit mundane.
Perhaps you started out the lockdown by cooking up fancy new recipes and baking all sorts of delicious breads. But at this point, it may be difficult to come up with unique and tasty options — especially when you can’t go to the grocery store frequently.
Getting takeout or delivery is great because it helps support local restaurants during these times, but it’s not healthy or feasible for most people to do every night. That’s why we’ve put together our tips and tricks for cooking with limited access to fresh food and easy, nutritious recipes that use minimal ingredients.
By preparing your own food, you’ll be able to control the nutritional content and ensure you’re getting all of the proper vitamins to keep your immune system strong. It’s also a great way to zone out and relax, especially after being stuck in front of your computer all day.
Stock Your Kitchen For Quick Meal Prep
Having a stocked kitchen is key to being able to whip up wholesome meals on a whim without making a last-minute trip to the grocery store. Here are some of the more important items to keep in your kitchen.
Stocking up on non-perishables and foods that last a while will make meal prep quick and easy. Some of our favorites include:
- Canned beans and lentils (black beans, chickpeas, cannellini beans)
- Pasta (regular, whole grain or even chickpea pasta)
- Canned tomatoes/sauce
- Grains (rice, quinoa, oats)
- Potatoes, onions and garlic
- Nuts, seeds and nut butter for snacking and recipes (walnuts, pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, coconut)
- Flours (regular, whole wheat, almond, coconut)
- Natural sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, agave)
- Pancake/waffle mix
- Canned fish (wild tuna, salmon)
- Spices (basil, oregano, garlic, parsley, sea salt, crushed red pepper)
- Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil
- Lemon juice
- Crackers and pita chips
- Canned coconut milk
Long-lasting fridge basics
When you make a shopping trip, stock up on foods that can last a while in your refrigerator, such as:
- Apples, oranges, melons, lemons
- Cage-free organic eggs
- Ultra-pasteurized organic milk or milk alternatives
- Greek yogurt or coconut/almond yogurt
- Cured meats (turkey bacon, pancetta, turkey pepperoni)
Stock your freezer
Purchasing frozen vegetables and fruits, as well as freezing meats and other items helps you ensure you always have access to fresh healthy food, even when you’re stuck at home. Especially if you live alone, buying frozen over fresh can help you avoid wasting food by having it go bad before you can eat it. Some of our favorites include:
- Berries and other fruits for smoothies, oatmeals, yogurt and more
- Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, peas, spinach)
- Cauliflower rice & hash browns
- Veggie burgers (black bean, chickpea or meat alternative)
- Frozen fish (salmon, tilapia, tuna)
- Bread (sourdough, whole wheat, rye)
- Sausages (turkey, chicken)
If possible, we’d suggest planting a small herb garden on a sunny windowsill. Fresh herbs can really brighten up a meal, especially when cooking with frozen and non-perishable items, and make you feel like you’re eating at a fancy restaurant even at home. We suggest growing herbs like basil, parsley and rosemary for maximum flavor payoff.
Easy Meals To Cook While Stuck At Home
Here are some of our favorite easy meals using items you’ll find around your kitchen:
Acai smoothie bowl with cauliflower, berries and banana – Pour about a cup nut milk or water into a blender. Add a tablespoon of almond butter and one banana (fresh or frozen). Add a handful of frozen mixed berries, frozen cauliflower rice and frozen acai packet. Blend until smooth, adding water or nut milk as necessary. Pour mixture into a bowl and top with granola, additional fruit, nuts and/or seeds for a nutritious and satisfying treat.
Eggs with hash browns, peppers and onions – Sauté onion and pepper in olive oil until translucent. Remove from the pan. Prepare hash browns as directed. Mix in onion and pepper mixture. If desired, sauté turkey bacon or sausage in a pan until cooked. Prepare eggs as desired and place on top of hash brown mixture. Add hot sauce to taste.
Tuna melt – Prepare canned tuna with mayo, red onion, lemon juice and salt and pepper. In the meantime, toast bread of choice. When bread is toasted, place tuna mixture on top. Top with sliced tomatoes and cheese of choice (we like pepper jack). Place under broiler and cook until cheese is bubbly. Serve with veggies and hummus.
Tofu and black bean tacos – Drain tofu well and pat dry. Cut into cubes and season with olive oil, cumin, salt, pepper and garlic. Sauté tofu in a preheated cast iron pan for about 3 minutes on each side and remove from skillet. In a small pot, heat up canned black beans on the stove until warmed through. Add cumin, chili, garlic, salt and pepper to the pot. In the meantime. dice half a small red onion and half an avocado if available. Warm corn tortillas on a hot cast iron skillet for 15 seconds on each side. Place tortillas on a plate and top with black bean mixture, tofu, salsa, red onion, hot sauce and avocado if available. Serve with tortilla chips and additional salsa.
Pesto pasta with chickpeas and spinach – Prepare pasta and reserve 1 cup of water. Drain pasta and pour in a large mixing bowl. Mix in chickpeas, fresh or defrosted frozen spinach, and top with pesto sauce. Thin out sauce with reserved pasta water as needed and mix until everything is coated. Top with parmesan and serve. Want extra protein? Prepare a chicken breast or chicken sausage on the side and mix into pasta at the end.
Pan-seared salmon with baked potato and roasted broccoli – Defrost salmon filet or other fish. Take frozen broccoli and coat with olive oil, garlic, salt and crushed red pepper flakes. Roast for 25 minutes at 450°F (use parchment paper for easy cleanup). While broccoli is cooking, wash a potato, poke with a fork several times, and place in the oven to cook until the flesh and inside are soft. In the meantime, prepare fish. Preheat a cast iron skillet, melt butter in the pan and season fish with sea salt, garlic, pepper and any other preferred spices (dill and parsley are great). Cook fish filet on medium heat for about six minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove fish from pan and add lemon to juices in pan. Pour over cooked fish, roasted broccoli and baked potato.
The video below features more easy recipes that you can make with food already in your pantry.