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.
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
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
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
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
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.