And just like that, we are in lockdown. Now what? Worry not, use our tips for cooking through the coronavirus lockdown.
As we busy ourselves with cleaning and organising (has your oven ever sparkled so much?), we’re getting to grips with cooking EVERYTHING at home. But it’s not just that, there are extra challenges: the supermarkets are bare, we have to make do with fewer trips to the supermarket and online delivery slots are more desirable that diamonds. That’s why we have shared our top tips for cooking through the coronavirus lockdown.
Our 12 tips for cooking through the-coronavirus lockdown will not only help you put consistently good food on the table whilst spending less time in the kitchen, we also share tips to keep it interesting and stress free.
1. Ration food
This is a good time to exercise moderation and because it is so hard to get food right now I’m finding it easier to exercise willpower. I know it is for a bigger cause – I am more motivated because I am ensuring I have enough food to get me through until the next shop and minimising supermarket visits to protect the health of myself and my family. For example, I have reduced the amount of cheese I use for cheese on toast. I’ll use one slice of bread instead of two and fill up on foods where I have a plentiful supply.
2. Make things go further
Add tin tomatoes to baked beans, bulk out meat dishes with veg, pulses and lentils, replace some of the milk in recipes for water. Not only is this frugal, it can actually be a hell of a lot healthier if you use it as an excuse to pack in the veg and whole grains.
3. Cook from scratch as much possible
You can make a hell of a lot more breakfasts by cooking savoury pancakes from scratch that from a loaf of bread. See my daily lockdown cooking blog post for my savoury pancakes
4. Use alternatives
If you don’t have all the ingredients you need you can often substitute with other ingredients. Recipes are incredibly versatile e.g. don’t have chopped tomatoes? Use passata, plum tomatoes, fresh tomatoes or even tomato puree. Substitute different flour – you just have to observe the behaviour of different flours. Look out for a post coming out soon on how to work out what ingredients you can use as substitutes. Items that can be substituted include tomatoes, flour, herbs, seasonings, fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, grains, pulses, dhals
5. Batch cook
Even the keenest of cooks don’t want to spend hours everyday cooking good food from scratch. At times when you’re in a rush or just feel like a break, having a home cooked ready meal in the freezer that just needs heating up is a godsend. Batch cook a load of portions, keep some in the fridge and the rest in the freezer. This is super important at times like this – if you get ill you may not be able to cook so having homemade ready meals will ensure you have nutritious food when you most need it. You can batch cook all sorts of meals – soup bases, casseroles, pasta bakes, curries, flatbread, rice, pakoras, rice dishes, roasted meat, dumplings, lasagna, fishcakes, potato cakes…the list goes on. Tip: freeze in portions so that you can take out just the amount you need.
6. Stock up on storecupboard essentials
Flour (different types for variety), pasta, dried herbs, seasonings, spices, sauces, grains, pulses (tinned or dried), onions, garlic, ginger, chillis, tinned tomatoes. Having these items to hand means you can always rustle up a delicious meal. And because they last for ages you don’t need to worry about them going bad. Some of these items have been difficult to get your hands on lately but hopefully as the supermarkets are becoming better stocked it will be easier to get get them over the next week or so.
7. Fill your freezer
Homemade ready meals, shop bought ready meals (especially whilst you are building up your stock of homemade meals), different types of frozen veg, bread, cheese, milk in ice cube trays for adding to tea, portions of rice, cuts of meat ands fish, leftovers, fruit and veg that is on the turn. At times like this when we are trying to minimise trips to the supermarket, having a well stocked freezer will be a game changer.
8. Refashion your meals
Pasta sauce is a great example. It can be used for pasta but equally with meatballs, fish, meat and ratatouille. You can take this a step further, if you leave the herbs out of the tomato sauce you can also use it as a base to make curries. Simply fry chopped onion and garlic until translucent. Add tin tomatoes and cook until reduced to the desired consistency. Turn it into a pasta sauce add fresh or dried herbs and season. To turn it into a ratatouille, cook chopped veg then add the tomato sauce with fresh or dried herbs. Make a casserole by adding it to seared meat and veg in a casserole pot, add the tomato sauce and some stock or wine. To turn it into a curry fry some mustard seeds, cumin seeds and ginger for a few seconds, if you have curry leaves add them in too. Add the curry spices/curry powder for a few seconds then add your main ingredient e.g. chicken, fish, vegetables, paneer. Then add some tomato sauce and a bit of water. Let it simmer until it’s done. If you want to speed things up you can use our ten minute curry kit.
9. Variety is the spice of life
We may like familiarity and routine but we also crave variety. Mix it up so you’re not having the same food all the time. But use the tips above to make your time in the kitchen as efficient as possible. If you batch cook, have different meals in between the batch cooked meal, if you have spicy food, make the next meal simple, if you load up on carbs for one meal, load up on protein or veg for the next.
10. Embrace nose to tail eating
Use up all parts of the food – if you have roast chicken, use the carcass to make chicken stock. But this waste not, meant not ethos doesn’t just apply to meat – if you have cauliflower use the leaves and stalk, make croutons or breadcrumbs from stale bread, refashion leftovers into a new meal e.g. leftover broccoli soup makes a good alternative to cheese sauce for mac n’ cheese.
11. Have an organised kitchen
Put everything in neatly labelled jars, put similar items near each other e.g. keeping all grains together makes it easier to find ingredients and also remember to use up what you have. It also helps with finding alternatives if you don’t have a specific ingredient for a recipe.
Don’t overdo trying to be good and frugal – it’s hard to keep it up for more than a few days…and who knows how long the lockdown will last. We mustn’t deprive ourselves – it’s better to eat in moderation. Keep calm and carry on 🙂