In the throes of the global coronavirus pandemic, many people started stockpiling food, cleaning supplies, toiletries, and various sundries. This excessive panic is a fairly common way for people to try and resolve their anxiety. The common thought process helps people regain a sense of control over a situation that is otherwise out of their hands. It's as if we think to ourselves, "As long as I have enough food and toilet paper, I can get through this!"
Unfortunately, the stockpiling means that the rest of us will struggle to find those items that we all need, which can feel frustrating. Whether you're currently experiencing a pandemic, an illness, job loss, or another difficulty, it helps to get creative with ingredients and cooking. Are you looking for ways to cook simple, wholesome meals you can make at home -- without sacrificing health and nutrition? Look no further than items you might already have in your pantry.
1. Mac-n-Cheese Bowl
Have a box of mac-n-cheese in your pantry? Create healthier meals by adding canned or frozen vegetables like peas, corn, broccoli and carrots. Adding protein can also up the nutrition value. Consider mixing in canned chicken, tuna or crumbled frozen veggie burgers.
2. Spinach Tortellini Soup
Not sure what to do with boring tomato soup? Transform it into a mouth-watering Italian dish by adding frozen spinach and a filling pasta, such as tortellini. Sprinkle some garlic powder or salt on buttered toast for a complimentary slice of simple garlic bread.
3. Legume Quesadilla
Load up on protein while you unload your pantry with this simple bean and cheese quesadilla. Use whatever cans of beans you have in your pantry with canned or frozen corn, tomatoes and a sprinkle of dried cilantro. Sautee on the stovetop for a crisp and toasty quesadilla.
4. Soup and Sandwiches
Use up cans of soup by paring them with delicious toasted sandwiches. Use anything you have in your fridge. Keep it simple with grilled cheese or add some depth of flavor and go Mediteranairn with hummus cucumbers and feta cheese. Here are a few sandwich upgrades you can try out.
5. Brinner (Breakfast for Dinner)
Pantry stocked with oatmeal? Bread? Everyone gets excited with breakfast for dinner-- AKA brinner! Make warm oatmeal with eggs and bacon or pancakes with leftover flour and a butter and brown sugar crumble. Bake vegetables and savory meats in a bowl with eggs for a homemade frittata.
6. Skillet Rice
No matter what kind of rice you have in your pantry, you can heat it up in a skillet with a bag of frozen vegetables and a mixture of different spices. The healthiest rice to use is whole grain, but any grain will works, such as quinoa, barley or couscous. This healthy fried rice recipe uses scrambled eggs to add in some protein. Don't have soy sauce? Here is a simple substitute you can make that is wheat and gluten free.
7. Empty-the-Pantry Stew
Pull out the slow cooker or the instant pot and create a delicious and filling homemade stew. You can use soup or stock as a base and put in just about anything--really, anything! Look for things that can complement each other based on the spices you have, like potatoes with rosemary or chicken with sage. Or just mix and match to see what comes out of your own empty-the-pantry stew.
The whole world is dealing with the new normal of distance and isolation brought on by the novel coronavirus. People who are used to placing same-day food delivery orders now have to wait days or even weeks, and essential items are frequently out of stock. Grocery store shelves are becoming increasingly bare as more of us are social distancing and cities enact curfews or stay-at-home orders.
Oddly enough, despite the social distance, we aren't alone; there are many displays of solidarity and unity. Food, for example, can be a way to celebrate having more time with your family. Cooking can be a new hobby to explore with more downtime at home, or you could schedule virtual cooking nights with long-distance family and friends. Regardless of which recipe you choose, the first ingredient you'll need is a positive attitude and an appetite for adventure.