We are all feeling this quarantine situation.
The kids are home from school.
We’re working from home.
We are fighting our way through the grocery stores.
We are only allowed take out foods.
We are preparing meals much more than we ever have before!
And unfortunately, there are many of people who don’t cook on a regular basis!
So as our home environments become the hubs of our work AND family lives now and for the foreseeable future, let’s talk about how to cook some easy, healthy meals that you can create in bulk, the kids will love and with food that you can stock up on easily from the grocery stores.
Because now is the time to learn how to cook at home!
Easily Stockable Food – Multiple Meals
Spinach (big container)
Carrots (small ones, in the bag)
Sure – stock your kitchen with as many fruits and veggies as you can, depending on your tastes and space, but these are my recommendations for the most versatile and healthy fruits and veggies. They will work for meals and snacks.
Cans of beans (or bags of dry beans, but canned are much easier)-Garbanzo & White Northern
Healthier cereals (not to processed or sugary)
I will recommend you try to stay as whole grain as possible (ie: brown rice vs. white rice), but frankly, now is not the time to dicker about that. Kids probably like white better. If you are not used to cooking, go with the easiest version of all of the above. Just stay away from premade sides. You won’t need them, I promise.
Chicken Breasts / Chicken Thighs
Ground Beef / Ground Turkey
Chicken / Turkey sausages (you know you’ve always wanted to try these!)
Bacon (this is great for adding flavor to things – which will make your kids eat more)
All of the above are easily freezable (well, except the eggs), very versatile, and healthy.
Milk (I would totally encourage you to take this opportunity to try Almond or Coconut milk!)
Cheese (you know you won’t get away without having some cheese in the house!)
Crumbled Blue Cheese, Crumbled Feta, Parmesan
Just the basics here.
Veggies (Get a few bags of frozen pepper/onion mix)
Sure, fries/pizza/ice cream would be nice, but they take up a lot of room and don’t serve much more than one serving. Maybe some ice cream if you have to – after all, we’re in quarantine.
Other Important Items
Soup (try to get some lower sodium styles)
Spices – the basic salt/pepper but maybe some fun ones too!
Peanut Butter (or try some different nut butters! If not now, when??)
Bread (please do try to get a whole wheat/whole grain healthier like bread)
Sparkling Water (use to replace your usual Starbucks afternoon run)
Pasta sauce/canned tomatoes
Now let me tell you a bit about what you can do with this food. All suggestions will be kid friendly, mostly healthy, easy to create, and serve multiple meals.
Chicken Sausage with Peppers and Onions
You can use frozen peppers and onions if you want to, easier
You can serve this by itself, over rice, with pasta or in a hot dog roll (that’s 3 meals!)
For picky kids, get a package of hot dogs instead, but you eat the sausage
Make it fun – maybe grill the sausage outside! Everyone loves a BBQ
Leftovers are easy to heat up for lunch
Chopped Salads with Protein
This is a healthy favorite for me/Rj. Simply chop up romaine, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber, add some crumbled bacon and chickpeas, toss with crumbled blue cheese (or dressing) and top with:
Baked Chicken, Broiled Chicken, Grilled Chicken – Breast or Thighs
Easy for lunch or dinner, and you can make this every night of the week using different ingredients in the salad or topping with different proteins (this also tastes great with some steak on top)
OMG – there are soooo many things you can do with chili! Make yours with the ground beef/turkey/chicken, beans and canned tomatoes and serve with:
By itself with cheese on top
Good to make for dinner, then heat up for lunch for the kids with some corn chips on the side. You can also do a fun ‘top your chili’ night and set out loads of toppings (plain greek yogurt, cheese, chopped cherry tomatoes, peppers, onions, avocados). And, seriously, this tastes great on top of a chopped salad.
Tuna (sandwiches or on salad – spinach is a great base here)
Peanut Butter and Jelly (healthy! really!)
Green smoothie (use the spinach, cuke, frozen fruit, peanut/nut butter and maybe some protein powder if you have it – also a great staple to have if you do protein powders)
Soup – with the above, or alone
Peanut/nut butter on toast
You can defrost your frozen fruit the night before and put it on top of your oatmeal or cereal in the morning. The fruit will be a bit soft and juicy – yum!
Peanut/nut butter bites (just spread on bread/toast and cut up into small bites)
All of these can be precut/pre-popped and set out where the kids can find them. If they are hungry, that’s what they’ll eat. If they don’t want to eat that, well….these are tough times for us all, right?
I’ve just scratched the surface with some ideas, but have fed you and your family for two weeks easily! If you add some fun items around the edges, you are in for three weeks!
You CAN do this! And for those who don’t cook that often, you may find you really enjoy it! (or not – that’s OK too, but these recommendations will at least get you through this time).
Here are a few of my favorite, go-to, healthy, easy, family friendly resources. Check them out for other ideas.
Gina focuses on cooking healthy and easily for a family. Her recipes are kid approved. She does a lot with slow cookers (and insta pots and air fryers), so if you’ve got any of those in your cabinets, now might be a fun time to try them! Cooking once and eating multiple times is a skill that will keep you alive AND sane during this time.
Sarena’s site is actually Domesticate Me (more recipes than just Dude Diet recipes). I found this years ago when trying to find food that is easy to make, healthy AND that Rj would eat. We now own both of her cookbooks and Rj is the one who usually cooks from them.
I don’t know about you, but hell ya! Rj cooks! Maybe that will be an outcome of your quarantine experience – your kids/partner/spouse will cook more!
The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs
Get the kids involved! During our usual every day lives, things are too busy to get kids to focus on picking recipes and then cooking them. But these quarantine times gives us time! Make it fun. Get them involved. This could be a brilliant time to even introduce some new foods to them.
Use your quarantine time to create some new healthy (and fun) food habits for yourself and your family!