Despite our current global situation that certainly creates a certain level of panic (which is why I won’t even name it here), there are many reasons to keep certain groceries on hand. Maybe one is not feeling well or you cannot leave the house. Maybe you just have no fresh produce on hand but still want to avoid ordering out food. With these pantry staples you can always make a fresh lunch or dinner and avoid the grocery store for a few more days. I have also added a list of recipes that require little to no fresh produce or can be made with produce from the freezer.
Originally I was not even sure whether to write this post as I really don’t want to add to the panic and hysteria the coronavirus is creating globally right now. I also don’t want this post to look like clickbait. Yet living in an area directly affected by the virus I figured that my experiences these past few days could help some people prepare and be a little stressed dealing with this situation. The media keep talking about avoiding panic yet broadcast about the virus all day long which is certainly not helping the situation. People have been panic buying some things as if the world were about to end and I am not just talking about disinfectant (certainly buy that, it is completely sold out where I live). So here are my tips of what to stock up on so can avoid shopping for a while or have a little stash as these were the things that sold out where I live.
“My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice.” –Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Think about it as a guide in how to avoid the busy, stressful grocery store for a little while. It is to avoid the panic not create more. Let’s be honest we have all not had food at home and not been in the mood to go grocery shopping, right? Even when you want to avoid the grocery store you have to eat, preferably well to support your immune system because it is winter. I have also added a list of recipes which require little to no fresh produce and a list of what to do with too much fresh produce to avoid things going bad.
Pantry Staples to Have on Hand Always
My focus when compiling this list were the things I searched for at the store and I noticed missing, but I also added things you should have on hand to make tasty food when the fridge is running empty. People were very much piling up on some non-perishable food items whilst completely ignoring others. The fresh produce section was well stocked yet they raided the freezer for frozen vegetable mixes (e.g. Asian-style veggies or Mexican-style veggies) especially. You still could find frozen peas and spinach, which you can also make a great meal with. Some stores had not salt or flour others ran out of big tubs of Greek yogurt. They bought all the dried pasta but left all the rice. When you cannot find canned beans you can also buy the dried variety to soak them yourself, which I would always recommend keeping at home. The items on the list below I had to go to multiple stores for because I had conveniently almost run out of salt
• Kidney beans/garbanzo/corn
• Dried pasta
• Tomato paste/canned tomatoes
• Free range eggs
• Frozen vegetable mixes
• Frozen fruit
• Lemon/lime juice (in a bottle a fancy chef would certainly frown upon)
• Fresh protein (to freeze)
• Dried legumes (beans and lentils)
• Stock cubes or veggie stock (I keep homemade instant veggie stock at home)
• Milk/nut milk
• Margarine that can be used for baking (I often use it as I don’t always keep butter at home)
• Oil (olive oil/neutral oil)
With all of these ingredients you can cook a wide variety of things without fresh produce, so think of it as the kind of the end of the week meal-plan when you don’t want to run to the store. Supposedly not going shopping so often can also save you money as you avoid impulse buys. I would certainly still recommend buying fresh produce when you go shopping but people have mostly been leaving that behind.
What to Cook with Little to no Fresh Produce at Home
These are just a few examples of recipes you can make using predominantly frozen vegetables, meat and sausage. Obviously there are many more but these popped into my head.
• Burrito bowls, burritos and tacos can be made with Mexican-style frozen vegetable mix, canned beans and dried lentils (Burrito Bowl, Veggie Tortilla Wrap)
• Homemade flour tortillas (recipe here)
• Asian-style stir-fry (here) or curries (Creamy Coconut Curry, Thai-Style Red Curry)
• Pizza (Spinach Pizza with Garlic )
• Flatbread (here) and Baguette (here)
• Variety of pasta recipes
• Kale and sausage stew (here, replace potatoes with noodles)
What to Do When you Have Bought Too Much Fresh Produce
• Quick pickle vegetables while still fresh (for example Hot Sauce Quick Pickled Vegetables – The Best Cooking Hack (+Bonus Rice Salad Recipe))
• Make a ratatouille (Pisto – A More or Less Traditional Spanish Ratatouille) or chilli (Chili con Carne y Frijoles, also works vegan) with fresh produce that does not look so good anymore. Those dishes you can eat a variety of ways or freeze any leftovers.
• Make homemade vegetable purees (such as chilli paste or Ajvar) or sofrito that can be used as basis for many flavourful dishes such as curries, rice and pasta dishes. Freeze any leftovers in portions to use later.
• Make fruit purees or sauces (such as apple sauce and strawberry sauce here) that can be eaten for dessert or stirred into yogurt. These will keep in the fridge for about a week.
This was certainly a lengthy post and I hope you found it useful. I really don’t want to cause any panic but rather prevent it from happening to you. Now you can go and stock up on things that might be useful before there are cases of the virus in your area and people start panic buying and go a little crazy. This list is just supposed to give you some insight and maybe even inspiration for all the things you can make when you don’t want to go to the grocery store. I often keep these things at home so I can always cook something even when nothing is happening. Have a great day and stay healthy!