Quarantine Meal Planning
During a quarantine, in isolation, preparing for the possibility of these events, or trying to extend the time between grocery trips to reduce risk of exposure to viruses, you may face some new challenges when it comes to stocking your kitchen. Having to learn to cook because of restaurant closures or learning to cook without fresh vegetables or with limited resources due to grocery stores’ limited stock are all things that can cause stress during a crisis. This article will be outlining some tips for cooking out of your pantry and freezer.
There’s nothing worse than getting through all your other vegetables but still being left with 5 cans of carrots and some powdered eggs for your last few days. If you really want to make food last and eat real meals, make a plan that takes into consideration expiration dates, your taste, all three meals, snacks, and your lifestyle.
Shelf life is the next thing to consider and it’s worth noting that you don’t have to cut yourself off from all fresh vegetables, fruit, and dairy. Potatoes, onions, cabbages, carrots, radishes, peppers, and apples are some examples of vegetables and fruit that have a long shelf life when properly stored. They should still be on the front end of your meal plan if you plan on staying in for quite a while, but using these instead of fresh greens and berries, which sometimes expire in under a week, can give you some fresh ingredients to work with. Eggs can last 9-12 months if you coat them in melted coconut oil and store them in a cool, dry place. Eggs can also be cracked, whisked, and frozen, or you could get powdered eggs and milk. Cheese and milk can both be frozen for around 6 months.
While you can freeze milk, you should also be considering how to make good use of limited freezer space. There are a myriad of options for storing canned or jarred goods, but most of us have small freezers, and if you’re quarantining/isolating for a while, you may want to use that space for your meats, cheeses, bread products, and berries. A gallon of milk will take up a lot of room in your freezer, but making almond milk or oat milk is something you can do as needed in less than five minutes without taking up any freezer space. Just add water to almonds or oats, blend, and strain, and you can have milk for your cereal or recipes.
So what is a good use of your freezer space? Flat items like bacon, tortillas, pizza crusts, and sliced cheese are great for making limited freezer space go a long way. One slice of bacon will help to make any bean or lentil soup taste amazing and can also enhance most potato recipes. Tortillas and pizza crusts are pretty easy to make from scratch using just masa or flour and water, but it’s nice to have some premade ones to cut down on cooking times or for when you’re in a rush. You can also freeze some fresh greens like spinach and kale for smoothies in order to make sure you’re getting those nutrients when your fresh vegetables have run out.
The staples of your quarantine diet can be more varied than you might think. Brown rice, whole wheat pasta from couscous to penne, powdered potatoes, oats, grits, dried beans, and dried lentils are all great bases for many recipes. You can supplements those with refried beans, canned chicken, canned tuna, canned veggies, pickled onions, freeze dried peppers, freeze dried berries, dates, nuts, and nut butters. Putting together a meal plan with all these items can help you to eat a healthy, well balanced diet without having to go out as much.
Last but not least, you can always grow sprouts for your greens as they are packed with nutrients, grow in just 2-3 days, and don’t require light or soil. Sprouts go great on tacos, in chicken salad, on sandwiches, on top of soups, and anywhere else you would normally use greens like kale or spinach.