If you are quarantining at home for the next couple weeks because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), here are some meals that you can make to feed your family when you run out of fresh produce.
Happy Friday everyone! I know you all might be feeling a little on edge today because of the Coronavirus. I live in Sacramento and our district is shutting down the schools Monday-Wednesday next week to do a deep clean; they said to stay tuned if things change. (Update before I even published this: our district is closed for two weeks.) Eric is working from home. My church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has shut down all meetings globally.
I’m glad things are shutting down. We can save a lot of lives by self quarantining and slowing the spread (check out this interesting mathematical explanation about exponential growth). We can make a huge difference by washing our hands a lot and not attending large gatherings.
I hope you are feeling okay and not panicking! I’m praying for peace for those who are feeling very stressed about it. The virus is here, and the best thing we can do is stay calm, stay proactive, and be prepared.
The basics I’m buying to keep on hand:
- bread (bread freezes beautifully)
- frozen and canned vegetables
- canned beans
- meat and fish (to store in freezer)
That’s about it. This is in addition to the regular stuff I buy. It’s not like we’re going to be on lock down, and the food industry is not going to stop producing. I just want to minimize trips to the store.
Recipes you can make from your pantry and freezer
These are tried and true recipes that I have made in my kitchen. With some adaptations, you can make these recipes without fresh items from the store. You can click on the link or the picture to get to the recipe. Spoiler alert: I’ve included way more than 10 recipes. Turns out I had a lot more recipes like this than I thought!
Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff
This is one of my favorite meals to make when I’m out of food and have been meaning to grocery shop for a few days. You can skip the onion if you don’t have one, or use frozen onions. Unopened cream cheese will last in your refrigerator for several months (really.)
Steak Foil Packets (Hobo Dinner)
This is a super tasty meal to make from your food storage. Rice keeps forever of course, and you can keep the meat in your freezer (thaw before baking.) You can add any kind of frozen veggie to your packets, no need to thaw.
Crockpot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili
This is one of my favorite pantry meals! I’ve been making this easy chili for many years. Use chicken from the freezer and like I said before, cream cheese will last in your fridge unopened for a very long time. Everything else is nonperishable. (Besides the avocado and cheese garnishes, of course ;)
Easy Parmesan Tilapia
I need to update the photos on this very old post, but the recipe is solid. (And super easy.) Buy frozen tilapia and tuck it in the freezer. The recipe calls for lemon juice; you can either use shelf-stable lemon juice or replace with your choice of vinegar. I wouldn’t call myself a fish person, but I’ve always really loved this recipe.
Brown Sugar Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
This is another recipe that I’ve had on the blog forever. Just throw a pork tenderloin in the freezer and pull this out when you need it. The spices, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar you need are all shelf stable. Pair it with some frozen veggies and bread from the freezer.
Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowls
This is a really easy crockpot meal. It calls for garlic, but you can use the jarred garlic, usually found in the produce section. It also calls for onion. Onions will keep for a couple weeks if stored in a cool dry place. Or you can buy frozen onions, or chop up the fresh ones you have and store in ziplocks in the freezer. Serve this with rice and frozen veggies.
Slow Cooker Raspberry Balsamic Meatballs
I love these meatballs, and often serve them with rice or over pasta for dinner. They would also be good with mashed potatoes, if you have potatoes. Everything is shelf stable except the fresh ginger (The green onions are an optional garnish). I like to buy fresh ginger and chop and freeze myself, it freezes just fine for cooking. Or you could use this ginger in a jar that would last much longer than fresh. It would work great for this recipe.
Traditional Tejano Carne Guisada (Braised Beef for Tacos)
This recipe is a family favorite from my brother-in-law’s Tejana grandmother. It is classic Texas food. Everything is shelf stable except for the onion; use frozen onion or you can omit it in a pinch. Serve it on tortillas with guacamole and cheese and rice. Serve these Traditional Tejano Pinto Beans on the side, it’s another slow cooker recipe. The beans are a good pantry meal all by themselves too, actually. You will need an onion and fresh jalapenos, but you can use frozen onions and canned jalapenos, no problem.
10 Minute Wonton Soup
I like to buy the frozen wontons from Costco and tuck them in the freezer, then make this soup as a last minute dinner. It comes together really quickly, and is cheap if you have a well stocked pantry for Asian cooking (you need rice vinegar, sesame oil, and Sweet Chili Sauce.) It also calls for fresh ginger (use this ginger in a jar), fresh spinach (use frozen; you can freeze a fresh bag of spinach no problem), and cilantro. Use dried cilantro or skip it entirely. (Aren’t like 50% of people cilantro haters anyway?? ;)
Ham and Mac and Cheese Soup
I love this soup for a last minute dinner. It’s quick to make and everyone loves it, including picky kids. I usually keep a ham steak in my freezer, no need to buy a whole ham. Butter keeps for months in the fridge, and the half and half called for will also keep several weeks in the fridge if you don’t open it. Cheddar cheese in a block will keep in the fridge for weeks also.
Saucy Pork Chops
My mom made this ALL the time growing up. It’s from the 1950s I think! Long live canned soup. Cream of chicken soup is not usually my first choice for dinner, but it sure does taste good in a sauce, and it’s easy to put together without going to the store. There are sliced onions in the recipe, you can omit them if you don’t have any. Serve over mashed potatoes, rice, or egg noodles.
Asian Pork Tenderloin with Ginger Ginger Glaze (Slow Cooker)
This is one of my favorite meals on the blog, and it’s super easy to put together. It does call for fresh ginger, you can either use this ginger in a jar or use powdered ginger. The lime is a garnish and is delicious but not necessary.
Chicken, Mushroom, and Cream Cheese Stuffed Rolls
These are a great last minute dinner. Cream cheese lasts forever in the fridge (unopened), and you can omit the onion (sprinkle on some onion powder instead if you want). The recipe uses canned buttermilk biscuits, which will last unopened in the fridge for a few weeks despite what the expiration date might say. Trust me, I’ve had them in my fridge for quite a while and still used them!
Slow Cooker Honey Balsamic Ribs
Ribs are a great freezer meal. They become ultra tender in the crock pot, and you can almost always season them with pantry ingredients. This recipe calls for lemon juice; you can either use shelf-stable lemon juice or substitute with a little bit of vinegar. Serve with frozen veggies, rice, mashed potatoes, etc.
Easy Baked Pesto Chicken
This chicken is super moist and flavorful! Basically all you need is chicken, mayonnaise, pesto, and panko bread crumbs. It’s a great last minute dinner and there are no fancy ingredients necessary to make it taste amazing.
More meals you can make from the pantry and freezer:
I have so many recipes on my site that you can make from the pantry and freezer, or with a few vegetables that last a really long time, like carrots, onion, and celery. Use the tips from the recipes above to make substitutions where necessary.
I went way back into my archives, so forgive the poor photography on some of these, and also forgive the lack of recipe card.
Baked Black Bean Taquitos << this recipe is a no brainer, make substitutions where necessary.
Cafe Rio Sweet Shredded Pork for Burritos << skip the cilantro sauce and just use ranch. Tortillas keep well in the freezer. Serve with rice and beans.
French Dip Sandwiches << an easy pot roast. Freeze the buns you need for the sandwiches. Provolone will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.
Spicy Sausage and Broccoli Pasta <<you can freeze the cheese called for in this recipe. Use jarred garlic.
Mediterranean Pork with Couscous << I love this meal. Very flavorful.
Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce << Use frozen onion. Use canned jalapenos. A top recipe on my site.
Healthy Slow Cooker Spaghetti Meat Sauce << you can skip the carrot and zucchini
Barbacoa Beef << great for tacos of burrito bowls
Slow Grilled Mustard Chicken << My favorite way to grill chicken, and this sauce is bomb.
Fire Roasted Tomato Soup << a really easy tomato soup that uses cans not fresh. Serve with grilled cheese! It calls for milk or cream. Cream will last for several weeks in an unopened carton.
Cowboy Pinto Bean Soup (Slow Cooker) << use canned green peppers and canned tomatoes.
Poppyseed Chicken Casserole << this recipe calls for sour cream, but you can sub it for a block of softened cream cheese.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peanut-Lime Sauce << this recipe calls for orange juice, use frozen concentrate to make orange juice. It also calls for lime juice, but you can omit it. (or plan ahead and freeze some lime juice. Or use shelf stable lime juice.)
Ham and Potato Soup << you need potatoes, onions, and celery, all of which take a long time to spoil.
Garlic Lime Chicken << this is a really easy and tasty way to prepare chicken last minute. You can try using shelf-stable lime juice.
Easy Cheddar Cauliflower Soup << I haven’t tried it, but I’m fairly confident you could sub frozen cauliflower in this soup.
Bacon Blue Cheese Brisket << Blue cheese lasts a long time in the fridge, especially if it’s in a block.
Chicken and Broccoli Casserole << this has sour cream, you can sub softened cream cheese or just increase the mayo called for.
Chicken Parmesan Pot Pie << keep store bought pie crusts in the fridge or freezer.
One Skillet Chicken Pot Pie << Store bought pie crust, and you can use a frozen veggie medley instead of the fresh ones called for.
Split Pea Soup << one of my favorite soups. Uses onion, celery, and carrot, which all last a long time in the fridge.
Cheesy Ham and Broccoli Frittata << eggs last for WEEKS in the fridge. Use whatever veggies you have.
One Skillet Beef Meatballs with Rice and Peas << this is a classic, and so tasty.
30 Minute Pea Soup (From a Bag of Frozen Peas) << you need onion and celery. And there is a sour cream garnish but you can use cream, which lasts a long time in the fridge.
Beef Barley Soup << Celery, onions, potatoes, and carrots, which will last a long time in the fridge.
1770 House Meatloaf << You need onion and celery. Skip the fresh herbs and use dried. You can use evaporated milk in place of the regular milk called for. (NOT sweetened condensed milk)
Chili Mac and Cheese Recipe << I love this stuff. Velveeta will last forever :)
The Best Chili Recipe I’ve Ever Made << You need onions and celery. Use canned jalapenos.
Cream Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf << if you are out of milk, use an equal amount of EVAPORATED milk.
One Skillet Shepherd’s Pot Pie << You can sub any fresh veggies in this recipe with frozen ones.
Easy 30-Minute Pasta Frittata << you can skip the onion and fresh herbs, use dried.
Stay safe everyone! I will be back in a day or two with a recipe for Cherry Pie Bars that I’m super excited about. Grab two cans of cherry pie filling when you’re at the store (and butter, flour, sugar basics) if you want to make it this weekend. (UPDATE! Here’s the recipe.)