Cooking in Quarantine: Staying inspired when you’re sick of cooking

BBQ salmon burger (linked below) and homemade sweet potato fries

Quarantine is stressful for everyone. Cooking in quarantine is an area that even for those of us that love cooking – is getting really freaking old. The New York Times agrees with me, per their e-newsletter yesterday titled “Cook Anyway”. I’m leaning into my frustration nonetheless, by experimenting with new and unusual recipes and seeking to use up odds and ends I already have in my pantry.

I’ve been attempting to only pick up groceries once every 7-10 days now that we are under a safer at home order. It’s been a challenge keeping fresh vegetables fresh and has challenged me to be a little more creative in the use of shelf stable ingredients. I figured I’d share some recipes I’ve been leaning on over the last month, as well as some favorites that I found on my Pinterest.

While you will still need some other ingredients to prepare these meals, they use pantry essentials as their base.

Canned Goods

Pumpkin hummus – modified to use butternut squash (sometimes you don’t know what is in your freezer)

1 can of chickpeas + 1 can of pumpkin puree = Pumpkin hummus (I actually discovered that I had frozen butternut squash puree and used that instead – it was great!)

1 can of diced tomatoes + pasta or rice (I used brown rice) = Cauliflower paprikash

French bread pizza on leftover frozen bread

1 can of diced tomatoes + shredded cheese = French bread pizza

4 cans of salmon + breadcrumbs and seasoning = BBQ salmon burgers

2 cans black beans + shredded cheese + tortillas = Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Avocado lime sauce

2 cans tuna + 2 cans white beans = Tuna and White Bean Salad

3 cans beans (suggested: chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans) + 1 can diced tomatoes = Easy Three Bean Chili


Lemon asparagus risotto

Rice (white, jasmine or traditionally Arborio) + broth or stock = Instant Pot Lemon Asparagus Risotto

Pasta (any shape, I used penne) + pasta sauce + shrimp = Arrabiata Pasta with Shrimp

One of my favorite Indian dishes, simplified in the Instant Pot!

Rice (Jasmine, preferred) + spinach + chicken = Instant Pot Chicken Saag

Pasta (linguine or spaghetti style) + frozen peas = Linguine with Peas and Asparagus

Quinoa (or a similar grain like bulghur or barley) + chicken = Quinoa Bowls with Roasted Vegetables (mix and match whichever veggies you have on hand for this recipe)

Long-Lasting Fridge Items

These ingredients aren’t shelf stable, but they’ll last a really long time in your fridge.

Kimchi + pasta (I used ziti) = Cauliflower Kimchi Mac ‘n Cheese

Turkey stuffed cabbage rolls

Cabbage + ground turkey = Turkey Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

1/2 dozen eggs + whole canned tomatoes = Best Shakshuka Recipe (I stink at poaching eggs, so I make this without the eggs and then fry them and serve them on top)

Butternut squash + 1 can white beans = Butternut Squash White Bean Chili

Green olives + chicken (thighs are best!) = Moroccan Chicken Tagine

And hey, if you don’t have these items in your pantry to use up (or even if you do) sometimes it’s okay to just order takeout.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s