COVID-19 has drastically changed many of our lives in the last few days. Most of us are socially distancing ourselves in efforts to #flattenthecurve and doing our part to protect our community. With many of you working from home, or just spending more time at home and trying to avoid grocery stores, I thought it would be the perfect time to do a recipe round up! Below you’ll find recipes that are pantry friendly and can be converted into also being freezer friendly ! Most of them use staples like rice, beans, pasta and lots of spices (obviously) but feel free to improvise with what you have! Any time a recipe calls for fresh veggies , you can swap in any frozen vegetables or get creative with what you have. It’s a great time to experiment in the kitchen, so have fun with it! I’ve tried to include my tips and advice with each recipe I’ve listed below to help you think outside the box! I do also understand it can be exhausting cooking every single meal so below I’m sharing some tips on making meal time and clean up easier!
Tips On Meal Planning & Prepping:
Sit down with a calender and choose a realistic amount of meals you want to cook. If you’re ok with a routine breakfast & lunch- no need to get fancy. Take a break where you can !
I write out each meal, ideas for quick snacks and a list of ingredients that I need to use up rather quickly (highlight these). At the end of the week do a little audit and see if you planned well, could’ve used more or less recipes and make notes so you can readjust the following week!
Consolidate Prep Work:
If tomorrows recipe calls for some of the same ingredients as today’s recipe, chop it all up today- nothing is going to go bad in the fridge in 24-48 hours! Bell Peppers, Veggies, Chicken- chop it up, store it in an airtight container and use when you need it !
Ingredients like garlic, ginger, green chili can be thrown in a food processor, placed in ice cube trays and frozen! Pop out one cube at a time as you need it!
Choose One Pot Meals:
If you really want to save yourself from having to do a ton of dishes, try choosing one pot meals like this One Pot Mexican Rice or Instant Pot Lasagna Soup.
Repurpose & Reuse
Every time you make a recipe, try to come up with two different ways you can re use some part of it. If you’re making quesadillas, perhaps you can make extra filling and re use it in a panini the next day. Think outside of the box and get two meals out of one!
If you’re making any sauces, double or triple a batch and store them in a squeeze bottle to use throughout the week!
If the meal your making is freezer friendly, make extra, label it and pop it in the freezer! Put a reminder in your phone for a day you want to defrost and enjoy it again so you don’t forget!
Tips on Cleaning
Take a look at your recipe and see where you might be able to use the same pots, utensils with just quick rinses in between (unless anything has touched raw meat).
Try to measure and set out all of the ingredients for your recipe as if you were on a cooking show. I find this makes much less of a mess.
Start & End With a Clean Slate
Before you even begin the cooking process, empty the sink and start with a clean slate! Put away dried dishes, clean up any clutter on the countertop and at the end of the night, do the same so you don’t wake up to an overwhelming mess.
Clean As You Go
Use a paper plate, a large pitcher or just lay down a paper towel to rest all of your spoons or utensil you use through out the cooking process. This way it’s all in one place and not making a mess all over the counter
Have a prep bowl and a trash bowl. All the prepped items go right from the chopping block to the bowl and the scraps go in the other bowl.
While your food is cooking, give any dishes in the sink a quick rinse and drop them in the dishwasher, set the table, take out the trash etc.
Set a bowl or large tupperware filled with hot soapy water in the sink and drop in utensils as you’re cooking to help them soak before you rinse and pop in the dishwasher
If you used blenders, food processors- drop in a few splashes of water and blend it up to help get off as much residue as possible before washing
Delegate Delegate Delegate
Everyone pitches in! We’re ALL tired but things move a lot quicker with more hands on deck. If you’re kids are old enough, let them set the table or do tasks they can easily achieve. In my household, my husband cleans the countertops, vacuums and puts away all the food while I clean the table and do the dishes!
Make a rule that no dishes go in the sink! If you use it, you rinse it and put it right in the dishwasher.
Make it Fun & Relax
Remind yourself that you’ve done a wonderful and necessary task for your family by providing them with a home cooked meal! You are doing great!!
Sometimes its easier to prop up your iPad with your favorite netflix show, or listen to a podcast episode after the kids are off to bed. I’ve been obsessed with Grace & Frankie on Netflix!
Pro Tip: Freeze the refried beans into cubes in a freezer tray and pop one cube out at a time as you need them. This is a great filling for enchiladas, quesadillas or throw a scoop or two of beans into any of your soups as a great thickener and flavor booster!
This recipe uses cavatappi but you can use any pasta you have on hand and sub the bell peppers for frozen veggies! Canned coconut milk can also be replaced with heavy cream, milk or half and half (this will result in a slightly less thick sauce).
This is a great way to use up your jarred pasta sauce or mix half of the called for pasta sauce with canned tomatoes/tomato sauce. Drop in some cheese, and use just about any kind pasta for this recipe too! It’s so so satisfying. Take it a step further by adding in some frozen chopped spinach and canned kidney beans!
Pretty sure everyone has quinoa in their pantry- even people who don’t eat quinoa. You can make this recipe with just about any veggies and it will be delicious!! Try cooking the quinoa in vegetable broth instead of water to impart more flavor.
Here’s a recipe that gets made in one pot and uses up all that rice you probably have! It also calls for pantry essentials like tomato paste! Make it heartier by adding in a can of pinto beans and doubling up on the frozen corn!
This recipe “put me on the map” and is one of my favorites to make because its SO packed with flavor. Any type of pasta will do but my favorite is to make it with macaroni. Make it super creamy by doubling up on the milk and adding some cheese !
Considering my supermarket was completely sold out of any type of chickpeas- I assume you all have some stocked up! These wraps are SO easy and filling to make. Serve it with my cilantro jalapeño chutney and add in some sliced cheese and you have a delicious easy meal! I make them with frozen Kawan Paratha but you can also make these into pizzas by using pizza crust as a base and topping it off with mozzarella cheese!
Here’s a rice that I could eat over and over again. Whip it up with frozen mixed vegetables, add some depth with tomato paste and when you’re prepping garlic for this recipe, make a ton extra to use throughout the week!
You can skip the fresh spinach in this recipe if you don’t have it and double up on the cilantro instead but this is such a great way to use up all that pasta you have in your pantry! Its a lot more interesting than your typical red sauce spaghetti!
I know this might not necessarily be a pantry or freezer staple but with all the carbs we’re shoveling down, it’s nice to add in some fresh greens ! Plus the dressing for this salad can be used on ANY salad (tastes delicious on roasted veggies or a beet & arugula salad) and lasts in the fridge upto a week!
Got a lot of quinoa but need to make it interesting? This recipe is similar to a greek salad and is made fresh and bright with the addition of cherry tomatoes and crisp cucumbers! Great as a side or snack!
This is by no means a “quick” recipe but it is one that is worth the labor of love. Paneer lasts forever in the fridge so you can book mark this recipe for a day that you’ve got some extra time in the kitchen. This recipe also freezes incredibly well. You can also just make the oven baked paneer and skip the gravy part!