That is the strangest title I’ve honestly ever written! But – so relevant. Not just for the current Coronavirus, but really any kind of local or global happening that could have a similar effect on our human way of life, bringing us to some sort of quarantine. Good thing I’ve got some tips for you to shop and eat as efficiently as possible – hopefully one or two connect for you!
It’s only been one week for us here, but MAN I have learned a lot. It’s put into focus our own habits, good and bad. And it’s made me think of what kind of human I want to be in a crisis – thankfully, it’s not a COMPLETE hoarder even though I tend to be one in regular life LOL.
Hubby tends to live on the “low” side of necessities, only buying more when we’re RIGHT out. I prefer to think about re-stocking when we’re halfway down, grabbing what I know we’ll need soon whenever I see it.
A few things are being hi-lighted to me as CRITITAL in my kitchen that I didn’t even realize I can’t live without. I’m making notes on what they are, and how to stay STOCKED up at all times of these staples.
- Flour > stores ran out of fresh bread FAST! Time to make your own. I just used this recipe and it turned out 2 loaves of French-style bread PERFECTLY. I added Thyme to mine!
- Canned Tomatoes > especially the Diced ones. These are SO versatile for anything you’re making, and being canned they’re long-lasting.
- Propane > NOT a food, obviously, but realizing that a few extra tanks (they last 12 years!) on hand can’t hurt in case of any power failures…
- Lemon > I CANNOT live without lemon in my food! I might have to start looking into preserved lemons, or freezing a few here and there peeled and thick-sliced
- Parmesan > I didn’t realize how MANY dishes I sprinkle Parm on for flavor and a saltiness! Unopened, it lasts for a long time, so next time I’ll stock up a block or two
- Flavorings > I keep some of our fave flavors in the freezer at all times, and they’ve sure come in handy! Like grated ginger, cuts of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, Tbsp cubes of tomato paste…
I’m seeing glazed eyes at our tiny local grocery – what do you do when the shelves are half or almost empty and you still need to cook meals for your family because most of the restaurants are closed? How do you create something delicious out of the bits and pieces in your freezer?
PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!
Planning is hard when your options are suddenly only foods you’ve never used before. BUT it’s doable! Take stock of what you have, google a few options, and if you’re ordering in some groceries try to work with what you have.
SAVE leftovers to re-create the next day. Plan ahead for it. All kinds of bits and pieces can suddenly become a meal when it’s planned right. Yesterday at lunch I made Portobello Pizzas. Instead of overstuffing them, or throwing the extra stuffing (mushroom bits, steak/bacon bits, parsley, tomato etc), I saved it and added it to a soup the next day. Big venues do it all the time, from what I hear – whatever didn’t go at breakfast it re-imagined for lunch, and then for dinner, and so on.
Perishables go bad at different rates – be sure to use the trickiest ones first, freeze what you need to keep it longer. PLAN, Baby, plan!
GET OUTTA THE BOX
I was at our tiny grocery the other day, and all that was left were Chicken Feet in the entire meat department (other than heavily processed deli meats).
None of your favorite fresh vegetables are available? Try something you’ve never eaten before! Every veg on our usual grocery shelves are edible in SOME way. Time to put some creative hats on, and who knows – you might find a new favorite!Rather than walk around blankly wondering where the Steaks have all gone, why not get out of the box and try something new?
- Who knew, but they actually have a lot of nutrients! I knew they’re good to add to your soup stocks, but did you know you could also fry them up? Maybe it’s time to try it.
- Everyone goes for fresh meats, but cured salami from a good, responsible butcher not only will last longer, but are far more versatile. You can add slices, cubes or shreds to so many other dishes to get your protein on. Not typically someones first purchase-reaction, but definitely a good buy.
- While all the dried pasta (and rice) was gone, Gnocchi was in abundance. I find it more filling than pasta, and it’s Gluten free if you’re into that, so a great option to carry a ton of other random ingredients. It also has a great shelf life. Russet (baking) potatoes were also aplenty, so you could always try making your own Gnocchi, too!
- Drinks are tricky, too. We’re suddenly ALL home ALL the time and water gets tired. Pop, Kombucha and even – GASP – wine will become harder and harder to keep in stock, so we’ve purchased a few packs of Vitamin C + Mineral powders in a variety of flavors to keep us hydrated AND healthy. A win-win!
- Do you own a dehydrator, or game to learn w your oven? Extra veg, fruit, meat – anything – can also be dehydrated to last longer. I LOVE dehydrated tomatoes, and oddly it’s a fresh food that was in abundance at our local tiny grocer. Green and red peppers, also still fully stocked, have more Vitamin C than oranges, and are also a delicious snack dehydrated.
Are you GAME to try something new??!
Are you usually a late-night binger?! My Hubby and boys for sure are! But we can only stock so many snack foods around here – meals take priority, and we’re suddenly conscious of not over-eating.
- It’s times like this a bag of popcorn kernels and a few flavor salts will go a LONG way. I feel like my one kid eats popcorn ALL the time yet we never seem to run out LOL.
- Apples can be more versatile than you might imagine! Sliced with a thin shaving of parmesan, stewed up with some butter and cinnamon to go on sweet or savory dishes, sectioned to share with a tiny sprinkle of Tajin salts… I could go forever, and I don’t even like apples HAHA.
- Oddly (NOT) Cottage Cheese is one of the last things to leave the shelves, but it’s healthy, delicious and can be sweet or savory. Great snackable substitute to ice cream!
- Have a bag of dried beans? Try roasting them with a touch of salt + pepper and dried lime rind. DELISH and healthy for snacking.
USE IT ALL
In cooking school and now in life, we’ve practiced a ‘head to tail’ approach to our food. That just means using the animal or vegetable or fruit from END TO END, getting as many benefits out of whatever you have to the best of your ability. It’s a great way to honor an animal OR a vegetable for sustaining you and your loved ones.
- Have citrus? Zest the skins and let them dry out to use as flavor in other dishes. Better yet, keep the zest AND the inner bits left after juicing and make your own marmelade! You can also freeze the inner bits into ice cubes to freshen up your water consumption.
- Got a whole chicken or whole fish? Use the bones to make a stock and get a whole extra meal (or two) out of them. Use scraps to make a second dish, like pasta salad.
- Did you know you can keep your old, stale bread and pizza crusts to make PASTA?! Massimo Bottura has a great recipe here I learned in his Masterclass.
- Making a dish that involved a lot of vegetables? Keep the ends and bits that you would normally throw out. Roast and make a vegetable stock with them. A perfect broth to go with your Breadcrumb Pasta (above).
- Did you know you can save the ends of your Parmesan blocks and use them to flavor soups and stocks? I also put them in my Risottos while they’re cooking, then remove the very ends once it’s ready to serve.
Did anything help? I sincerely hope so. We’re all in this together, after all!
I’ve been giving “tips on what to do with weird ingredients” in my Instagram Stories and will save them in my @alisonkent_HOME hilights under FOOD.
GOOD LUCK! Stay strong – at HOME.