Over the past few weeks, there have been a lot of changes made across the world in an effort to stop the spread of the virus Covid-19. Where once we might have picked up breakfast on our way to work, or went out for brunch on the weekend, we’re now spending our time at home cooking three square meals a day.
With most businesses on hiatus and families self-quarantining, there’s been a dramatic uptick in home-cooking, making a well-stocked pantry more important than ever. Here is our list of kitchen essentials to keep you, and your family, well-fed throughout self-isolation.
Beans and Rice
First on the list is unsurprisingly beans and rice. Dried beans yield roughly 2-3 times their weight in cooked beans, and rice yields as much as 2-4 times its dried equivalent. Be sure to buy these staples dried, not only because they're cheaper than the canned alternative, but also because they'll save you quite a bit of room in the pantry.
Use rice as a base for saucy meats and vegetables or spicy stir-frys. Cook it in stock and finish it with butter for a rice pilaf or add cheese to make a velvety risotto. Dress beans simply in olive oil and freshly ground black pepper, or use them in bean-based pasta sauces. Load them into soups and chilis, or grind them up with a little garlic for homemade falafel or hummus. The options with two such versatile and delicious ingredients are practically endless, making them a true pantry essential.
Even in times of global unrest, meat is essential. Invest in a few crucial cuts and plenty of ground meat to add a little flavor and some protein to your diet. Skirt steak freezes beautifully, and portions out into a surprising amount of meat. Ground venison and pork add delicious flavor to stews and chilis. Bison, elk, and of course grass-fed beef, make delicious hamburgers, gravies, bolognese, and ragus. A little meat goes a long way, heck, if you’re creative, you might not even have to break into the canned goods.
With lots of time spent at home on the couch, binging whole seasons on Netflix, you’re bound to get a little snacky. Be sure to stock your cupboards with a few nibbles and sweets to enjoy with the family during your next episode. Marcona almonds are addictively good and make a great salad topping as well. Dried fruit and nut mixes are a nutrient rich snack that is also filling. For something a little more self-indulgent, chocolate, with its long shelf life and delicious taste, chocolate is the obvious choice. Frozen desserts that are portioned and you can keep in the freezer for a long time are great allies as well. Armed with these sweets and snacks, you’ll be ready to binge-watch for the rest of the month.
This may come as a surprise, but one of our favorite recommendations when stocking the pantry is to load up on smoked, canned, and frozen seafood. Smoked salmon is a great topper for eggs, bagels, or bread. Canned seafood like tuna, cockles, and fresh-cured sardines are excellent on their own or incorporated into pasta and salads. A serving of fish and some grains or pasta can be extremely versatile, and there’s a lot you can do using the spices and condiments you already have in your pantry.
Jarred Sauces and Concentrates
Perishables like cream, eggs, and other fresh ingredients will eventually run out, that’s why we like to have some jarred sauces on hand. Elevate simple dried pasta premade restaurant-grade pasta sauces, like a creamy bearnaise, drizzle pre-made hollandaise over anything for added richness, or simply crack open a jar of marinara to make hearty dishes like baked ziti and spaghetti bolognese. Concentrated pastes like truffle or mushroom sauce is great to have on hand to incorporate into dishes. Super concentrated, pastes like these are packed with flavor so a little goes a long way, meaning and a single jar should get you safely through quarantine.
With grocery stores, boasting shorter hours and shelves that aren’t exactly overflowing with goods, make things a little easier on yourself by ordering the essentials online. Though none of us are going out anymore, there’s no reason why we can’t still enjoy delicious meals, and that starts with high-quality ingredients. Thankfully, we have it all, from the necessities to the luxuries.