Published July 25, 2020
With the world leaders gradually starting to discuss how we’re all going to safely emerge from the lockdown measures, there is hope on the horizon for those of us still abiding by the rules and staying at home.
But as it stands, we’re still only allowed to leave our homes for work, exercise or essential food shopping, so many of us are finding it difficult to think of healthy but simple meal ideas that we can make with the ingredients we may have in the cupboards.
Since the frequency we can shop for food is restricted, we’re also finding that we’re running out of fresh ingredients between food shops. It’s tempting to stock up on fridge essentials, fruit and vegetables, but to avoid food going to waste, which is bad for the planet as well as our pockets, we can’t fill up enough to last if we’re only shopping every other week. Not to mention the lack of fridge space!
So the freezer has become a saviour like never before. Our meal ideas make use of frozen fruits and vegetables (as well as frozen herbs) along with cupboard staples found in tins and jars. Meals can also be made in batches and frozen, so that you have a supply of homecooked food when all that’s left is an uninspiring tin of chopped tomatoes.
If you’ve been lucky enough to find pasta in your local shops, then one of the most simple, filling yet nutritious meals is pasta with that tin of chopped tomatoes. Add flavour with dried or frozen herbs (basil and oregano work well) and add protein in the form of a tin of chickpeas or cannellini beans.
Many of us have a jar of curry sauce lurking in the cupboard, so turn this into a satisfying meal by adding chopped carrots and cauliflower (frozen veg works perfectly in a curry) with a tin of chickpeas. This meal is great for batch cooking and freezing too.
Another meal that works well cooked in batches and frozen is mince. Using either real mince or a vegetarian/vegan substitute, fry it up as normal, with onions and garlic (celery past its best works well here too). Then it can be eaten as a spaghetti bolognaise with spaghetti or turned into a chilli by adding dried or frozen chilli flakes and a tin of kidney beans and serving with rice.
If you can’t get hold of pasta or rice, think about using this time to discover tasty ancient grains such as quinoa, freekeh and buckwheat. They can all be served with the meals that pasta and rice would normally accompany, and provide vitamins, minerals and protein. They’re all found in the dried pasta and rice sections of the supermarket.
Even a roast dinner is possible during lockdown. Potatoes are still in plentiful supply and kept in a cool, dark cupboard, they’ll last for a week or so. Then add frozen veg to your hearts’ content and if you can’t find any meat (or you don’t eat meat) a dried packet of nut roast that you bring to life with water is much tastier than it sounds. Failing that, frozen pies make a good roast joint substitute.
There’s no need to panic at the sight of an empty fridge and a cupboard full of plain ingredients. Stock up on frozen vegetables, fruits (a fruit smoothie using frozen fruit makes a healthy breakfast) and herbs, and lockdown mealtimes will have a whole new lease of life.
Written by Hannah De Gruchy
Health, Wellness & Environmental Writer | Human Biology BSc (Hons)
I have an extensive knowledge of diet, health and wellbeing topics and consistently produce high quality, fully researched content for blogs, features and articles.
I’ve always loved to write, and after spending the first ten years of my career laboratory based, embarked on a career change in 2009 by joining an innovative and first to market online doctor. I was responsible for managing all online and printed content including articles, product descriptions and marketing materials, and now have extensive knowledge of what it takes to write engaging, imaginative pieces.
In 2013 I had a major role in setting up https://www.emmbie.com and have had overall responsibility for all content (including the blog and product descriptions), social media and printed materials. Emmbie is an online health, diet, fitness and lifestyle company selling natural, organic, vegan health food supplements.
I also have experience in proofreading and editing content written by doctors, making sure it reads well as a non-doctor and am fully versed in being consistent with editorial guidelines.
I’m motivated and well organised for freelance working, my desk shares a space with a running machine, which often comes in handy when I’m told by my watch I’ve been sitting down too long or need some inspiration away from the screen!
I try to live a simple life, always conscious of my impact on the environment and have recently taken a keen interest in Buddhism. I choose natural beauty and household products and eat local, organic produce when I can. Staying true to both my way of life and my scientific background, I have a passion for writing on these subjects that is evident in my work.