Cooking at Home During the Coronavirus Crisis

Social Distance

The Coronavirus/Covid-19 crisis has put most of us in circumstances like none we’ve ever experienced before. Maybe you’re suddenly working from home. If you have kids, most likely they aren’t in school, and are home with you. For many of us, entire family units are “social distancing”, which means you’re spending a lot more time together under one roof.

This also likely means you’re responsible for more meals per day than you typically make. And quite possibly, you may have to “make do” with a limited amount of ingredients because of the wide-spread shortages in grocery stores.

Like many others, the plans my husband I had for spring break were cancelled. We spent the majority of this week alternating between being glued to the TV as this national health emergency unfolded, and then turning the TV off and trying to find things to do to give our brains/emotions a much needed break.

Supply Shortages

Also like many other families, this week required us to eat more meals at home than we typically do. And, like many of you, we made a trip to the store to buy some supplies and found the shelves empty of many staples.

Making Meals that Maximize Resources

Rather than panic, we’ve instead used this as an opportunity to take stock of what we already had in our pantry and freezer, and create meals that maximized our resources.

It’s definitely a shift in the way we have handled meals prior to this national emergency. We lead busy lives, and before, rather than buy weekly groceries that might end up going to waste if our plans changed, we instead often made our dinner plans one day at time. In the morning, or during the work day through text, my husband and I would touch base about what we had a taste for, if any kids would be joining us for dinner, and if we had any events to attend that night, and then, one of us would just stop at the store on our way home and buy the necessary ingredients.

Minimizing Trips to the Market

Now, going to the store daily is not a good idea. Additionally, many ingredients are not available in the markets right now. And, since we have a smaller number of people in our household, we don’t need to buy alllllllll the things. Instead, we can make use of what we already have, thus leaving supplies for people who may not have as much available to them right now. We have some things in our pantry already, and quite a bit in our freezer, too. Therefore, our meals have been a product of taking stock of what we have, and coming up with a plan of how to use it.

We had a habit, as perhaps some of you do, of things going into our freezer and then forgetting they were there. Our mission this week has been to dig through the freezer to see what we have and how we can use it!

In the past, many of our meal decisions were made based on time, because time was always our biggest nemesis. This week, that hasn’t been a problem. It’s actually been productive and cathartic to make meals that took a bit more time.

This week, we’ve eaten at home for every, single meal. We’ve been cautious with using our resources wisely, and yet we’ve still had very nutritious and delicious meals.

Dinners

King Crab & Corn Chowder (from Costco) with Homemade Artisan Bread

We had this ready-to-eat soup in our fridge from a Costco purchase a couple of weeks ago (before the craziness ensued). It comes with two 20-oz bowls, that are heat-and-serve.

I almost always have flour and yeast in our pantry, because we use it to make homemade pizza dough fairly regularly. Since we were stuck at home all day, I used some of my time to mix up a batch of Artisan Bread to serve with it.

Making homemade bread is pretty easy, but this Artisan loaf is even easier, and it only uses three ingredients, so it’s super frugal. No matter how basic or simple your main course is, adding some fresh-baked bread always makes the meal better. Plus, it’s filling, comforting, and the smell of bread baking in your oven is good for your mood and senses–so many positives from something so simple.

Bonus, since the warm bread is so delicious and filling, we split one tub of the soup between the two of us, and tucked the second into the freezer for another meal later.

Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Artisan Bread

This no-knead Artisan Bread is easy to make, and yields a crusty bread with a chewy inside. It's one of our favorites!
Prep Time3 hrs
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Drinks, Side Dish
Keyword: Bread
Servings: 2 loaves
Author: Niky

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water about 100 degrees F.
  • 1 pkg yeast (1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions

  • Combine the water, yeast, and salt in a 5 quart bowl. Stir to mix. Add all of the flour at once and mix with a spoon until the dough is wet and sticky with no dry patches. This is easy to do by hand, but I usually do it in my stand mixer.
    Cover loosely with plastic wrap, or a dish towel. Let it rise for about 2 hours at room temperature. If you are not using it immediately, refrigerate the dough, loosely covered, for up to a week.
  • To make a loaf, sprinkle some flour onto the surface of the dough. Divide the dough in half and rub with a layer of flour while gently stretching the top around to tuck the sides into the bottom to form a round, smooth loaf. Repeat with the second half of dough to form another loaf.
    Place loaves on a board or pan dusted with cornmeal or flour to prevent sticking. Let them rise, uncovered, for at least a half hour or as long as 90 minutes. The loaves will plump, but not change drastically in size.
  • About 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F. Place a sheet pan cake pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Put the baking stone on the middle rack.
  • Dust the loaves liberally with flour. Slash the tops with a cross or three lines with a sharp knife and slide them onto the preheated baking stone. Carefully pour about 1 cup of hot water into the lower pan and close the oven door to trap the steam. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the crust is browned and the loaves feels light and hollow.
  • Cool for a few minutes on a wire rack before slicing. We like to serve it warm, but it reheats well, too, so can be made ahead for convenience.

Smoked Chicken, Roasted Brussels, Cheesy Rice (from a box) & Leftover Artisan Bread

When we went to the market to buy groceries last weekend, we were able to purchase two, whole chickens. My husband enjoys cooking things on his smoker, so we decided to cook two chickens at once, so that we could use them for various meals throughout the week.

He has this little gadget that allows you to smoke the chicken standing up, kind of like a beer-can chicken. He only had one though, so we spatchcocked the second one and cooked it directly on the grates.

We served Rice A Roni cheesy rice from a box that we already had in our pantry, roasted some fresh Brussels sprouts that we bought from our one market trip, and warmed up some more of the home baked Artisan bread from the night before.

Even after serving this bread for a second meal, we still had a few slices left! After dinner, we removed all the remaining meat from the two chickens and placed it in the freezer for additional meals over the course of the week.

Burrito Bowls with Leftover Smoked Chicken

Burrito Bowls are a regular occurrence at our house anyway, but since we had chicken and leftover cheesy rice from the night before, plus some tomatoes and cilantro in the fridge that needed using, we made a simple burrito bowl. We sliced the few pieces of Artisan bread that were still left and made warm cheesy garlic bread to go with the burrito bowls.

This meal was a great way to use up leftovers and not let any food go to waste. I’ll be honest, that is hard for us on a normal basis. We have the best intentions, but life gets busy and often things get pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten, only to be tossed out a week or two later when it’s spoiled. Right now, we’re planning our meals strategically to use our food responsibly.

Grilled Cheese and Brisket Sandwiches, Home Fries and Leftover Brussels

This meal was comprised entirely from things that came from our freezer and pantry.

A few weeks ago, we smoked two beef briskets for a family barbecue. We only used one brisket that night, and sliced up the second one to put in the freezer. We’ve used it since then for burrito bowls, pizzas and this week we used up the last bit of it for these grilled cheese sandwiches with brisket.

We had two loaves of bakery bread in the freezer leftover from our reuben sandwiches a couple of weeks ago. We used most of one of those loaves to make 3 sandwiches. The last few small slices and end pieces I placed back in the freezer and plan to combine it with other bread odds & ends to make a french toast casserole that I’ll share with you another time.

We also had some odds & ends of various cheeses in the fridge that I combined for the grilled cheese. I used the rest of the cheddar left from the burrito bowls, and some slices of white cheddar left from a charcuterie tray awhile back.

Add in a few slices of the brisket from the freezer and it made a delicious sandwich. We had no frozen fries to serve it with, but we did have some potatoes, so used a few to make homestyle fries.

For lunch the next day, we split the third sandwich and served it with carrot sticks and hummus.

Breakfasts

Acai Bowls with Bananas & Frozen Berries

Breakfasts on work days are typically grab and go. But since we’re home, we’ve been sleeping in a bit later and eating a “real” breakfast. I love acai bowls and always have this frozen puree from Trader Joes in my freezer.

We had bananas that wouldn’t last much longer, so we decided to make acai bowls, so we could use up the fresh bananas before they got too brown. We always have nuts, almond butter, granola and honey on hand for topping these.

Creamy Oatmeal Bowls with Dried Fruit & Walnuts

Oatmeal is another staple we always have in our pantry. I cooked it slowly on the stove in water until it was creamy, and then tossed in some diced, dried apricots leftover from a charcuterie tray, some walnuts and a drizzle of honey. All of this came from the pantry and no trips to the market were needed.

You likely also have oatmeal in your pantry right now. Get creative with bits and pieces of things to top it with. When my kids were younger, they loved a “top your own oatmeal bar” for breakfast. Chocolate chips, various nuts, honey, peanut butter, chocolate syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, sprinkles, are all possibilities to make this breakfast staple fun and use up things you already have.

Homemade Apple Fritters

This is a favorite breakfast treat of my husband’s that his mother used to make. My hubby whipped them up for us this morning, to go with our coffee. This recipe uses very few ingredients and is economical and easy. We had a couple of apples that were starting to get a bit soft, so this was a good way to turn them into something delicious.

Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Mama J’s Apple Fritters

A delicious and easy breakfast pastry or dessert.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pastry
Servings: 6 fritters
Author: Niky

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 large apples
  • powdered sugar for sprinkling on top
  • vegetable oil for frying fritters

Instructions

  • Mix dry ingredients together.
  • Beat egg and milk together, then stir into dry ingredients.
  • Peel and chop apples into small chunks. Fold into batter.
  • Heat oil in a deep skillet on the stove top. Drop spoonfuls of batter gently into oil to fry. You should get 6 fritters from this amount of batter.
  • When fritters are golden brown on one side, gently roll over in the oil to cook the other side.
  • When both sides are browned and batter is cooked through, drain on paper towels.
  • Serve hot, sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Homemade Pizza on the Grill

Tonight, I’m using some more of my flour and yeast to make homemade pizza dough that will be used for a barbecue chicken pizza on the grill. This will use some more of our smoked chicken from earlier in the week.

We have plenty of wine in our wine fridge; we’re always well stocked on that staple. 😂I think tonight will be a good night to make our pizza, pour a glass of much needed red wine, turn off the news for a bit, and give ourselves a break.

I’d love to hear some of the ideas you have for making prudent use of your resources, while we are all “socially distancing”. Because you are socially distancing, right? Right?

Wishing you all health and comfort,

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17 thoughts on “Cooking at Home During the Coronavirus Crisis

  1. 5 stars
    Good tips and the recipes look yummy. I keep hearing about shortages. So far we’ve seen no shortage of food, cleaning supplies, or anything else here where I live in Alabama. Hoping this will all pass and everything will get back to normal. Thanks so much for linking up with me at my #UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 10, open March 1 to 26. All entries shared on social media if share buttons installed. I’d like to invite you to check out my other current link parties!

  2. My neighbor moved just before all of this and gave us whatever was left in her freezer. Between her stash and ours, our freezer is looking good. I am baking a lot more and might bake another bread tomorrow. I definitely have a lot more in my pantry than usual but didn’t go crazy and only went 40 dollars over budget for the 2 week period.
    http://www.chezmireillefashiontravelmom.com

    1. Our deep freeze is proving to be our “friend” during this mess. How fortunate for you to gain some extra from your neighbor! We are trying to use our resources responsibly and leave items it the store for those who don’t have as much back up as we do.
      Take care,
      -Niky

    1. I’m so happy you’re going to try it. It’s practically foolproof and makes a good amount of really yummy bread. I’d love to hear from you after you make it.
      Wishing you the best,
      -Niky

  3. These meals look delicious! Homeschooling my three boys we’re quite used to eating all our meals at home but we’re slowly change how we approach meal times too as our stores are so picked over and restocking supplies just don’t seem to be there. I used to use up foods from our freezer and pantry before shopping but did start stocking up just a few weeks before the craze hit. (Not hoarding– just buying a bit extra here and there). So with our well stocked pantry and freezer we’re making up meals and using leftovers to put together soups and casseroles or lunches throughout the week and always keeping in mind how I can stretch this food to last the longest.

  4. 5 stars
    This is a very good “Stay At Home” post, lots of great food and good tips! Hope you are having a great week and thanks so much for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday,476.
    Miz Helen

  5. Great ideas here! We, too, are trying to think of ways to use what we have on hand and not waste leftovers. Necessity is the mother of invention, right?

    Thanks so much for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace. I’m featuring you this week!

  6. Just stopping by to say I hope you are staying safe and to let you know that your post is part of the Friday Features on Oh My Heartsie Girls Linkup this week!
    Your bread recipe looks so good, I love any sandwich that is grilled or even just a slice of bread!
    Stay safe!
    Hugs
    Karen

    1. Karren,
      Thanks so much for the feature! I love your Linkup Party and enjoy reading all your posts. Wishing you the best!

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