1. Don’t throw it away. Breathe new life into those sad looking veggies at the bottom of the crisper by using them to make stock. Stock is like a magic potion. It turns your carrots, onions, chicken leftovers, and the stray celery stalk into a flavor (and nutrition) powerhouse. Pro tip: add a splash of vinegar if you’re using chicken or beef bones. It draws out the minerals, enhancing the nutritional value. Stock is a flavorful foundation for everything from soup to rice to pasta sauce. You can use it – or some ready-made stock – to make Chicken Pot Pie Soup. It’s just the kind of hearty dish that’s perfect for these times.
2. Embrace the casserole. Do you have some frozen or canned veggies, noodles, flour, spices, and some dairy? Congratulations. You have a casserole. Some assembly required. Comforting, one-pot dishes, casseroles are long on flavor (and memories) and short on clean up. You’re likely to have some leftovers, too.
3. Open the can of beans. Supplying protein, fiber, flavor, and body, beans pair with nearly anything, and most of us have a few forgotten cans hiding in the back of the panty. Beans make a hearty soup or luscious dip and form the base for taco Tuesday.
4. Gather the gang. This is prime time to anchor yourself and your family in the comforting ritual of a shared meal. Eating as a family improves our sense of connection to one another and nourishes both our bodies and minds. Eating together is a chance to share our lives, learn from one another, and help our children develop healthy habits.
5. Host a virtual dinner party. Family togetherness is good for the soul, but so is time with friends. The Japanese have developed a new tradition called the om-nomi – a virtual happy hour. Give it a shot, but while you have the video chat up and running, why not take things one step further and gather your friends or extended family for a virtual dinner party? You can catch up, try to outdo one another with your pantry creativeness, and feed your spirit with friends and loved ones. The connection with others will do you and your family good, and you just might learn a new pantry-raiding recipe in the process.