Cooking During Coronavirus: Pantry Staples and Shopping Tactics
Feeding kids three meals a day is a challenge on a normal week. During the crisis of the Coronavirus, it’s even more pressure.
Many parents are doubling or tripling their normal grocery store budgets, knowing that they will be spending more time at home than ever before. Though take-out is still an option, families in Tulsa are no longer going out for meals at restaurants. And with schools closed, lunch and breakfast at school is also no longer an option. That means even more meals will be prepared at home.
And while that’s more work for caregivers, it’s also an opportunity to provide some reassurance and familiarity to daily routine.
Many will be housebound for the next few weeks, with limited trips to the grocery store. What we know is that grocery hoarding isn’t necessary, but that we do need to stock up with enough food to feed our families for this time of social distancing.
Here are some tips and resources to help during this time.
What to buy:
For the pantry:
Canned beans: A can of beans can go a long way to stretch a meal or can be the star of the meal. Create a rice and bean bowl with your favorite rice, black beans and whatever you have leftover in the refrigerator – grilled chicken thighs, ham, roasted sweet potatoes. Beans are also great added to broth for a simple soup or stew, or to a salad for protein.
Canned tomatoes: Sauté diced tomatoes, garlic and onion, and you have dinner. Serve over pasta, eggs or French bread. While you’re in the canned tomato aisle, grab some jarred spaghetti sauce, tomato paste and tomato sauce.
Canned fruit: It’s nice to have fresh fruit every day. Apples and bananas are an inexpensive luxury, but they can eventually go bad or be eaten quickly. So go ahead and purchase some canned peaches, crushed pineapple and applesauce. If your kids aren’t used to canned fruit, it might taste like a real, sugary treat.
Peanut butter: So simple and good to have on hand, peanut butter is great on bread for a sandwich, on waffles for breakfast or on graham crackers for dessert. You can blend it into a smoothie or make nutritious peanut butter balls for snacktime. Buy the biggest jar on the grocery store shelf if your kids love peanut butter.
Oatmeal: Old-fashioned or steel-cut oats are of course great for breakfast, providing a good deal of fiber. You will also want oats for oatmeal cookies on days when it’s raining and you can’t play outside.
Pasta and rice: Both pasta and rice are inexpensive, so buy a few more bags or boxes than you normally would. Most kids like both, and they’re great for side dishes or as main meals with protein, vegetables or cheese added in.
For the freezer:
Bread: Buy an extra loaf or two of bread for the freezer. If you go through a lot of bread, you don’t want to be stuck without it after just a few days at home.
Pizza: Frozen pizza is easy and nearly universally loved by kids. It’s also good to have if you’re avoiding take-out and delivery all together.
Burritos: If you’re not much of a cook, you’ll want to fill the freezer with some good foods that can be easily warmed up. Frozen burritos are fine on their own, but can be made even better with a can of decent canned chili, grated cheddar cheese or fresh avocado.
Frozen veggies: Choose a few bags of your favorite frozen corn, edamame, shredded potatoes or carrots to add to main dishes or to use as sides.
Bakery goodies: Surprise the kids with a store-bought treat from the bakery. Individually wrap and freeze pastries, iced sugar cookies, cupcakes or even doughnuts, and pull them out when it feels like everyone needs a pick me up.
When you need help:
If you’re unable to provide food needed to feed your family, resources are available. Go to hungerfreeok.org for help.
Cilantro-Lime Chicken with Rice and Black Beans
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 3 limes
- ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- Cooked rice
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic, cumin and salt. Add zest of 1 lime. Add juice of 2 limes. Add half the cilantro.
- In a large Ziploc bag, combine chicken and marinade. Let sit in refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
- Remove chicken from marinade and grill on an outdoor grill or indoors in a cast-iron pan or grill pan on medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes per side.
- Place white rice on a large platter. Top with black beans. Top with chicken thighs, either whole or cut into pieces. Top with remaining cilantro and lime wedges.
Adapted from Simply Recipes, these scrambled eggs have great flavor from canned tomatoes. This is a good one to make when there’s not much left in the pantry. Little kids may not love the veggies, but older kids and teens will likely enjoy this one.
Tuscan Scrambled Eggs
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 6 eggs
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Heat olive oil on medium heat in a nonstick skillet. Add the onions and cook until translucent, just starting to turn golden in color, about 6 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and cook over low heat until the liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes.
- Whisk the eggs in a bowl until well blended. Season with a little salt and pepper. Add the eggs to the tomato and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, and scraping from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat as soon as the eggs begin to set, but are still moist, about 3 minutes. Turn out onto a serving plate. Serve immediately.
If you’ve been on the baking aisle of the grocery store, you may have noticed the flour running low or completely gone. Until it’s restocked, here’s a good flourless peanut butter-oatmeal cookie.
Simple Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies
- 3/4 cup old-fashioned or quick oats
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup natural creamy peanut butter
- 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix oats and baking soda together, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, blend together peanut butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add in dry ingredients, mixing until combined. Add in chocolate chips if desired.
- Roll into 2-inch balls or use a cookie scoop. Place on cookie sheet, and gently flatten top – just to make sure top of cookie isn’t rounded. Bake 9-11 minutes, until golden brown. They may look slightly underdone, but will continue to set up as they cool. Cool 5 minutes on cookie sheet before moving to a cooling rack.