Break Out of Your Shelter-in-Place Cooking Rut

Cooking during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) shelter-in-place has forced many of us to rely on pantry staples to get by these next few months. If you're like me, you are avoiding unnecessary trips to the supermarket. One problem I'm encountering is that I'll come across an ingredient that's missing from my pantry for a recipe, so I'll resort to using substitutions. (I've also discovered that you can usually skip some ingredients all together.)

My sister came across this quandary the other night when she tried making these (somewhat healthy) incredibly delicious (trust me), carrot cake muffins. She used the following substitutions: regular all-purpose flour in place of wheat flour, light canola oil instead of applesauce, light sour cream mixed with low fat milk for the Greek Yogurt, and the ginger was omitted altogether.

You can get the recipe here: Healthy Carrot Cake Muffin Recipe from the Eating Well Website.

Some tips I've learned during this pandemic is to ensure my food pantry is well-stocked with plenty of staples and non-pershiable foods like rice, pasta, and canned tomatoes. Also conduct frequent inventories of your pantry and freezer. I am not sure how I ended up with 5 cans of baked beans yet only 2 cans of tomato sauce!

Another dilemma I'm encountering is that I am stuck in a pantry-cooking rut. I have been perusing San Jose Public Library's digital content including ebooks and emagazines, and looking to other online cooking websites and food blogs and even social media for inspiration and ideas.

eBook Cookbooks Featuring Tips and Quick and Easy Recipes

Incredible New Online Weights And Measures Equivalents and Ingredient Substitutions For Baking And C, book cover
Baking Answer Book Solutions to Every Problem You'll Ever Face; Answers to Every Question , book cover
5 Ingredients Quick & Easy Food, book cover
5 Ingredients Cookbook Pioneer Woman Cooks Come and Get It! Simple, Scrumptious Recipes , book cover
Half Baked Harvest Super Simple More Than 125 Recipes for Instant, Overnight, Meal-prepped, and Easy, book cover
Skinnytaste Fast and Slow, book cover
Painless Vegan Slow Cooker Recipes For Lazy People , book cover
Smitten Kitchen Every Day, book cover
30 Quick, Easy and Delicious 5 Ingredients Meals, book cover
One Pot Comfort Make Everyday Meals in One Pot, Pan or Appliance, book cover
The Everything One-pot Cookbook Delicious and Simple Meals That You Can Prepare in Just One Dish, book cover
WeightWatchers Cook It Fast 250 Recipes in 15, 20, 30 Minutes, book cover
Hack Your Cupboard : Make Great Food With What You'Ve Got, book cover

Pro tip, you can also narrow your search to items available for immediate checkout:

Cooking eMagazines (from Flipster)

Every Day With Rachael Ray, book cover
Allrecipes, book cover

Websites that Feature Easy and Quick Recipes from the Pantry

  • Allrecipes - You can narrow your search by ingredients.
  • Cookie and Kate - Vegetarian website that focuses on real food ingredients with an easy to navigate website. This food blogger has recently focused on providing quick, easy meals without multiple trips to the grocery store; helpful during these shelter-in-place times.
  • Food Network: Cooking from the Pantry - Food Network has an entire section devoted to this subject. Topics include recipes using canned goods, marinara sauce used 50 ways, 40 easy pantry meals, and so on.
  • Gimme Some Oven - Features easy and delicious meals. There is also a section dedicated to easy pantry recipes.
  • Kitchn - Offers quick one pot dinners, easy 15 minute recipes, cooking tips and tutorials, recipe reviews and more.
  • Sally’s Baking Addiction - Lots of quick grab and go meals. I made the mini-quiche (crustless version) and they are delicious and perfect for storing in the freezer for a quick breakfast meal.

Social Media

I've been following the hashtag #pantrychallenge, #pantrystaples, or #freezermeals on Instagram for ideas on quick and easy meals from your freezer or pantry. Some chefs include how-to-videos in these threads.

Videos Featuring Quick and Easy Meals

These recipes may not be the healthiest or most appealing to look at, however they are fun to watch and may spur some creative cooking ideas from your own pantry.

How about you? Feel free to comment below with any cooking resources or tips that you have found useful during this shelter-in-place.