End of the World Meal Planning & Recipes
So you’re stuck inside for foreseeable future, the grocery stores are insane, and any sense of normalcy or routine is out the window. While a pandemic is not on anyone’s favorite things to encounter, we can make the best of it. Use this time to create the routines you’ve always wanted, spend one on one time with the kids before they drive you insane, do some arts & crafts, spring clean like crazy, finish that 1000-piece puzzle, and binge that show on Netflix you’ve always wanted to start. Make all the yummy foods you can, fill your bellies & hearts with deliciousness, and use this time to slow down & fill up with as much positive vibes as you can muster up.
My therapy happens to be all things food. Cooking, pantry organizing, meal planning. My love of food and cooking goes deep, and if I can share that passion with you, if I can help eliminate one aspect of insanity during this madness, if I can help one person find a new meal to fall in love with, then we’re off to a good start. I like to throw down in the kitchen – if I could, I’d probably make a homecooked meal 3-4 nights a week. Most Sundays you can find me in the kitchen for a few hours baking something new to try, and with a crockpot or big meal ready to go. I loooove for my house to just smell good all day knowing that we’re ending the weekend filling up with something delicious.
What I want to share is my rotating fave meals, links to some recipes to try, and a version of my Food Baby recipe collection to keep on hand when you just don’t know what to eat. I love lists and organizing and I’m pretending this is in the least bit exciting while secretly I cannot wait to make an excel spreadsheet of all current ingredients in my house. I love a good tear up your kitchen meal, and truly feel like it can be therapeutic to just go balls to the wall with recipes for baking, cooking or whatever!!!
Before I begin, you have to know that Kris & I always have a pantry & fridge stocked to the brim. We’re not intentionally prepping for the end of days, but we have 3 kids, continuous gatherings here, and we love food. We’re obsessed with all things Trader Joe’s & Costco, and neither of us know how to ‘shop small’. Well I do – I always go to the store with a very specific list, I stick to it etc…. I just don’t know how to buy less than 4 of the same item at a time. You just never know how many people you’re going to feed, what’s going to sound good to make at any given time, and I always want to have what I want on hand for the spur of the moment I need it most. Kris on the other hand – just stocked up on our end of world preparations – his items included four bottles of wine, 6 cans of baked beans I refuse to eat, and 8 packs of some spaghetti from a brand I’ve never heard of. Anyway that’s balance right?
So here’s what I’ve been up to. I literally took every item out of my pantry, made an inventory list, and assessed it for what kind of meals I could whip up with what I had. I did brave the store this morning, and I have to say it was surprisingly pleasant – it was not a mad house and the shelves were stocked with the in between things I needed.
I’m not saying you need to rush to the store, in fact I’m hoping the meals attached will encompass the items you already have on hand to avoid any madness or anxiety that is probably happening during the next few weeks.
Word of advice. If you go to the store (I totally praise you), please be so kind. Treat everyone you encounter with as kind as you possibly can. Treat the people working with the most compassion. Tip if you can. As tough as it is to imagine walking into a store right now, I can’t imagine working at one. Treat the other shoppers with love and understanding. We’re all in this craziness together, and I hope we’re all looking out for one another. This is going to be a time in our lives we’ll all remember, it’s going to be brutal and we’re in this together people – we can only get through it if we keep others in mind and we’ll be on upside of it all if we can go into it with a grateful, positive heart with a mindset of compassion and grace.
Use this time to break out those kitchen appliances wasting space – bread maker, mixer, crock pot, AIRFRYER, etc. Assess your next week or so – what days will you realistically want to cook, and how much effort do you want to put into it? Assess what you have in your pantry, fridge & freezer. Now’s the time to use those hunks of frozen meats we put away for ‘another time’ and still end up buying another when we’re at the store.
Check what kind of produce you have on hand – fresh, canned or frozen. Keep these in mind for easy side dishes.
Check your staples – seasonings, oils, condiments, flour etc. Do you have onions & garlic handy? Those are usually my main starters for any dinner! Do you have any frozen lasagnas on hand? Frozen pizza? A pack of meatballs? Frozen potatoes – fries/tots etc? Keep those in mind for the nights you truly don’t want to mess with any more dishes or hard work in the kitchen.
Sides, snacks & munchies. I always have nuts, cheeses & deli meats on hand for a quick snack, wrap or sandwich in a pinch. Start with a theme/meal type – crockpot, mexi night, sandwich night, breakfast night… etc. Keep in mind which meals will make the most leftovers, and/or meals that have similar ingredients so you can utilize both sets of recipes within the week and avoiding a waste of food or extras. So now put together – how many big ol meals are you wanting to make this week? how many quick meals can you throw together?
Get creative – use the crap out of Google & Pinterest and see what sounds yummy. My go-to recipe queens are the Pioneer Woman & Danielle Kartes/Rustic Joyful Food. If you’re not following Danielle on Instagram, please do so immediately. Her sense of humor will get you by, and her food is out of this world delicious.So ok, I organized my pantry, stocked up on some essentials – and here’s the items I would say I 99% of the time have on hand at any given moment.
- Alcohol. (This should not be an ingredient in any recipe and is solely just essential for survival)
- Rice, noodles, tomato sauces, jarred pasta sauce – and all pastas. Lasagna, macaroni noodles, spaghetti, tortellini.
- Assorted fresh fruits & veggies
- Onions, Garlic, Oils, Seasonings
- Nuts & snacks
- Baking ingredients – brownie mix, sugars, flours etc.
- Canned veggies & fruits
- Eggs, Milk, Cheese
- Meat that freeze well: Chicken, pork roast, chuck roast
- Tortillas, and all canned mexi anything
- Easy Freezer Snacks & Meals from Trader Joes aka the cheese wheel x 5.
- Salami logs, deli meat, pepperoni
Click here for all the recipes and meal ideas!