Sheltering in place? Quarantining? Self-isolation? All synonymous with your local DoorDash directory. While we love eating great food, too much takeout often leaves us feeling less-than-stellar. When enough is enough, it’s time to take the matter into your own hands.
Just because your family is stuck at home doesn’t mean dinner can’t be a major event. Here are our favorite ways to get creative with what we have on-hand, morning, noon, or night.
1. Pantry pasta
Few can deny the appeal of a huge plate of pasta after a long day. The best pasta recipes all have one thing in common: simple, shelf-stable ingredients, with plenty of room for anything in your fridge that needs to go ASAP.
Bon Appétit’s seminal, pandemic-inspired Kitchen Talk series covered this concept extensively in this awesome video—it’s a must-watch if you’re interested in something great to try.
2. Home café
Does your family live for a great breakfast or brunch? Weekends are the perfect time to make your mornings a special time to share together. Scones, homemade jam, macarons, or anything else you like are all awesome ways to fuel your free days (with plenty leftover for the week!).
The reigning champs in this area are, surprisingly, a small band of Korean housewives who share their favorite recipes online. Yedy101 and Hanse are two notable stand-outs—we love their videos on soufflé pancakes, cinnamon rolls, and, of course, coffee and tea of every possible type.
3. Vegetarian taco night
Tortillas? Check. Sour cream and cheese? Done. A build-it-yourself taco platter is always a sight for sore eyes, even if you’re out of beef until grocery day.
For the most tender beans of your life, wash them thoroughly and soak them for at least an hour in filtered water. Toss them on the stove with some salt and your family’s most-loved spices, or anything else you have in stock—some onions you need to use, or perhaps a bit of pancetta in the back of the fridge.
For the sake of posterity, we’re trying to keep these meals as pantry- and budget-friendly as possible, but you’re free to sub in your favorite protein for the beans. A couple of green onions growing on your windowsill to sprinkle on, and you’re basically made in the shade. It’s a great time for everybody.
4. Homemade cookies
Nothing beats the pandemic blues like a fresh cookie or a gooey brownie. For a fun after-dinner activity that the whole family can enjoy, we can always recommend this wholesome treat.
Things like butter, nuts, and chocolate freeze very well. If you’re one who tests frequently and may be quarantined on a dime, it always pays to have these baking staples on-hand. It’s party time.
At-home bread bakers had their heyday at the height of the pandemic. It’s not too late to get in on the action yourself—homemade bread of any kind is one of the most satisfying and versatile things you’ll ever make, and coming up with your own sourdough starter makes the ritual even more special.
This is actually such a great project for those with kids of any age. Joshua Weissman’s tell-all guide on cultivating a sourdough starter from scratch is exceeded only by his awesome break-baking tutorial. Anybody can do it, including you.
All that you need is good flour, filtered water, and salt. Why not give it a try?
How to eat well in quarantine or isolation
It doesn’t take a lot to create something healthy and delicious at home. All you need are a few simple pantry staples and just a bit of creativity.
And, if you’re really down to the wire, a solid grocery delivery haul will certainly see you through. Can somebody please get Instacart on the line?