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Mary-Linh Tran

Junior Food Editor at Kitchen Stories

These days, it seems all anyone is talking about is coronavirus. It can be overwhelming, especially  with the thought of quarantines, closures, and travel restrictions looming over us. As we thought of ways we could help quell some of that anxiety, we of course turned to the kitchen. Why not do a quick refresher on pantry staples and how to cook with them? Having a well-stocked pantry is always a smart move, and since we can’t rule out the possibility of being stuck at home for days on end, knowing you have enough food in the kitchen can be a source of security and comfort, too.

Before we rush to the recipes, here’s a quick run-down of pantry essentials you should check for and restock if you’re currently out. Knowing how to store ingredients will extend their shelf-life and broaden the scope of flavors and textures of your dishes, so that you don’t find yourself in a Groundhog Day pickle, eating the same meal day after day. It might seem impossible now to make three interesting and delicious meals everyday, for several days with the same ingredients, but I’m here to tell you otherwise.

What are you stocking in your pantry these days? Tell us in the comments!

Your cupboard is your best friend

Dried pasta and whole grains (quinoa, oats, rice, barley) are the obvious stand-outs, but hearty legumes like dried and canned beans (chickpeas are one of the most versatile), lentils, and nuts should also have a place in your cupboard. Next up are root vegetables like beets, potatoes, parsnip, garlic, and onions—some of which you can sneak into your baking! Spices and condiments are vital if you want to switch things up flavor-wise. Whether it’s for seasoning or cooking, having a variety of dried herbs, seeds, oils, peppers, nut butters, honey, soy sauce, tomato paste, and mustard will pay off. Stocks, broths, canned tomatoes, canned fish, and coconut milk are non-negotiable non-perishables. Trust me, all of these will enrich and liven up any stir-fry, pasta, curry, soup, roast, or braise you plan to make. And last but not least, baking ingredients (flour, sugar, chocolate)because nothing passes the time better than baking projects. 

What about the fridge?

Luckily we’re not bracing ourselves for a natural disaster, which means we don’t have to worry about power outages. With the bulk of your groceries tucked away, it’s worth learning which perishable items have somewhat long fridge-lives. Things to keep cool include eggs, butter, hard cheeses, cured meats, and jerky. Lemons and limes are a must, because you’ll want something citrusy and acidic to brighten up robust dishes, salad dressings, and baked goods. Pickles and fermented foods like miso and kimchi store exceptionally well and are fantastic sources for umami.

Reserve the freezer for meat and bread

This one is a bit obvious, but I should also note here that frozen fruit and vegetables are always nice to have for smoothies and desserts, and retain more nutrients than their canned counterparts. Other things that do well in the freezer include fresh herbs, sauces, milk, cookie dough, wine, and of course, left-overs. Check out our guide to 8 Foods You Can Freeze in an Ice Cube Tray for more inspiration.

Are you corona-equipped?

If the city you live in suddenly shuts down and you lose access to the outside world, here are some recipes to throw into your rotation for any meal of the day.

Breakfast

5-ingredient bacon and egg risotto

5-ingredient bacon and egg risotto

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Banana bread porridge bowl

Banana bread porridge bowl

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Easy potato and onion tortilla

Easy potato and onion tortilla

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Cinnamon buns

Cinnamon buns

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Sweet potato pancakes

Sweet potato pancakes

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Lunch

5-ingredient spicy peanut soba noodles

5-ingredient spicy peanut soba noodles

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Hasselback potatoes with sun-dried tomato aioli

Hasselback potatoes with sun-dried tomato aioli

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Vegetarian parsnip soup with beetroot chips

Vegetarian parsnip soup with beetroot chips

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Epic quinoa veggie burgers

Epic quinoa veggie burgers

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5-ingredient pearl barley and roasted carrot salad

5-ingredient pearl barley and roasted carrot salad

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Dinner

5-ingredient sweet potato lentil curry soup

5-ingredient sweet potato lentil curry soup

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Spaghetti with lentil Bolognese

Spaghetti with lentil Bolognese

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5-ingredient Italian sausage ragu with polenta

5-ingredient Italian sausage ragu with polenta

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Chana masala

Chana masala

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5-ingredient pasta e ceci (Pasta with chickpeas)

5-ingredient pasta e ceci (Pasta with chickpeas)

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Dessert

3-ingredient Calabrian walnut cake

3-ingredient Calabrian walnut cake

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Double chocolate beetroot cake

Double chocolate beetroot cake

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Honey caramel and salted peanut cookies

Honey caramel and salted peanut cookies

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Spiced parsnip cake with cream cheese frosting

Spiced parsnip cake with cream cheese frosting

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Easy brownie cookies

Easy brownie cookies

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Have a great pantry recipe of your own to share? Use our recipe uploader to share your own dish with the world. Happy cooking!

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