Right now, we’re not supposed to go to the grocery store unless we absolutely need to—and even when we do go, they’re sold out of all the good stuff. Plus, everything is kind of up in the air, and we’re all trying to save money where we can.
So, now’s the time to get a little creative.
My friend Jenna Waters is a registered dietician nutritionist and mom of four, and I love how she makes cooking on a budget super simple. Maybe you’ve seen her cook with me before, but this time I asked her to help me create a bank of recipes you could already have ingredients for in your home . . . because, coronavirus.
Our recipes will use staple ingredients you probably have already, or you can customize them based on what you do have on hand. Here’s what we came up with!
Rethink What Your Plate Will Look Like
If you look through your kitchen and feel like you have nothing to make, remember that this time of quarantining looks a little different—and so will your meals.
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Your protein isn’t just meat anymore. If you’re out of meat, check your pantry for beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. And remember, eggs, deli meat and cheese will check this box, no matter which meal of the day you’re on.
If your family is used to meat being the main attraction of your meal, you might want to adjust their expectations. During this time of cutting back and making do, it’s perfectly acceptable for your protein to be more of an accessory.
Your carb can be any number of things hiding in the back of your pantry—potatoes, rice, quinoa and pasta, to name a few. Remember those wheat spaghetti noodles you bought during your health kick last year, but your husband hated them, so you never made them again? Time to suck it up, buttercup!
Your vegetable serving will also have you thinking outside the box, especially if you do go to the store and can’t find anything you normally buy. But check in the back of your freezer for the frozen veggie medley you bought ages ago. The more vegetables you eat, the more satisfied you’ll feel. Jenna says, “The nutrients make our bodies feel satisfied with less.”
9 Recipes to Get You Through the Quarantine
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White Bean Chicken Chili
You guys. This is the best chili recipe you’ll ever make. A bold claim, I know—especially with Jenna’s chili recipe still to come. But you’re under quarantine, so you’ve got time to make them both and decide for yourself! I stand by my statement.
Rachel’s Favorite Pizza
What would a recipe collection from me be without pizza? This one is flavorful and has lots of toppings and pretty colors. Ask your husband to lend his muscles rolling out the dough and get your kids to help with the toppings. You can commit to the eating. It’s fun for the whole family!
Rachel’s Go-To Spaghetti
Just because you can’t go to Olive Garden doesn’t mean you can’t have Italian. Spaghetti is quick, easy and super cheap. Better yet, you can use some of the same ingredients in my taco recipe and several of Jenna’s recipes.
Who doesn’t love Taco Tuesday? And when you’re stuck at home all week, any day can be Taco Tuesday. Stretch the taco meat out over several meals and just switch up the toppings to make it feel different each time!
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Jenna’s Hearty Mexican Chili
Jenna says: “The veggies, herbs and bone broth make this chili delicious AND an immune-boosting powerhouse! Each serving has more than 100% of the daily recommendation of Vitamin C and one-third of the daily recommendation of Vitamin A—both vital nutrients for immune function. This recipe can be customized based on what you have in your pantry and freezer already—and it’s a great freezer meal too.”
Jenna’s Chicken Scampi
Jenna says: “Chicken scampi is a quick and easy two-pan, weeknight comfort dish. It's also really versatile based on whatever you have. Don't have chicken? Substitute shrimp! Don't have bell peppers? No worries—substitute a different veggie or leave them out altogether. Don't have spaghetti? Just use another kind of noodle. I think this will become a family favorite!”
Jenna’s Chicken Burrito Bowls
Jenna says: “These are a family favorite and weeknight staple in our house. They’re easy to throw together with the ingredients we have available. I like throwing in leftover roasted veggies (like sweet potatoes) as a healthy and satisfying filler!”
Turtle Black Bean Brownies
Jenna says: “In case you have an extra can of black beans laying around, why not make some fudgy turtle brownies? Nobody will ever guess they're made out of black beans and have 8g protein and 5g fiber. They’re a perfect, gooey chocolatey treat! Your kids will love them.”
Jenna’s Stuffed Potatoes—3 Ways!
Jenna says: “Stuffed potatoes are one of the easiest and most flexible meals. It's a great way to reinvent leftovers (trust me, your fam will never know it) and save time! You can use regular white potatoes or sweet potatoes and stuff them with things like BBQ chicken, Hawaiian chicken or chili with tons of yummy toppings!”
TIP: If you scrub the potatoes before baking, you can eat the skin on both sweet potatoes and russet potatoes for a major boost of fiber and nutrients.
3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Food During the Quarantine
Jenna also wants to make sure we all remember these three things to take your quarantine kitchen time a step further:
1. Make extra of what you have and freeze it.
You’ll thank yourself later! This also eliminates food waste.
2. Reach out to farmers in your area.
If you’re not finding what you need at the grocery store, or want to avoid it altogether, buy from your local farmers. This is a win for you and them, and you can find them on localharvest.org.
3. Keep your pantry organized.
Take advantage of all this extra downtime at home by organizing your kitchen. This will set you up for success immediately, and for when coronavirus is nothing but a distant memory. Jenna has an awesome guide to get you started.
I hope this helps you guys enjoy healthy and delicious meals you love!
Remember, this quarantine is only for a season. It’s a season of making do and making it up as you go. And that’s okay! This will pass. It’s only temporary. We won’t have to live like this forever. But my prayer is that while we’re here in it, we make the most of it—and make the most of our food too.