Is a mandatory quarantine around the corner? It’s looking likely. Here’s how quickly things are changing: When I started this post, I wrote this: “Here in Washington State, our governor just banned gatherings of 250 or more, and required gatherings smaller than that to have a 6-foot buffer available for attendees. He didn’t out-and-out mandate that schools close (he’s leaving that decision to county government for now), but that could change. According to the Washington State Department of Health chart outlining five levels of action (shared by The Seattle Times), we’re in the middle of Level 4, meaning that large public gathering shave been cancelled, but there has not yet been an ordered closing of schools and workplaces. Once that happens, we move to Level 5, which is a mandated quarantine with the exception of emergencies.” By the time I finished this post, our governor ordered schools in our three largest counties to close schools for a minimum of six weeks. So now we are at full Level 4.
If a quarantine does happen, what foods should you have on hand? Here are some questions for you to consider:
- What do you already have? Take inventory of the food in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer
- What do you/and your family eat on a regular basis? There’s no point in buying beets if you all hate beets.
- What are your tried-and-true recipes, and do you have those ingredients?
- Do you have an adequate supply of seasonings? A bare minimum for us is salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cayenne and Italian seasoning.
- Do you have an adequate supply of condiments? I always make sure to have mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, sriracha, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and ingredients for dressing (olive oil, lemon and/or lime juice and dijon).
- If you like to bake, do you have baking ingredients — flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, chocolate chips?
- Finally, what is fast and easy? I don’t mean Pop Tarts. A little of that sort of thing is fine, but it’s better to focus on nutrition. But what recipes could you make in your sleep? You may feel like trying out Beef Wellington during this time, but chances are you’re not going to want the stress or mess of a complicated or new-to-you recipe.
Bearing all that in mind, here are the groceries I’m relying on:
- Rice and beans (small red and navy). Together, they make a complete protein, and they’re a staple all over the world
- Split Peas
- Potatoes, raw and tater tots
- Pasta, spaghetti, orzo and egg noodles
- Cheese, fresh and dried
- Cream Cheese
- Spaghetti sauce
- Canned diced tomatoes
- Cream of mushroom soup (a classic casserole ingredient)
- Milk, nonfat dried milk, and cans of evaporated milk
- Chicken — whole and cut into sections
- Stew meat
- Chicken broth, beef broth
- Frozen ham hocks
- Carrots and onions
- Frozen and canned fruit
- Frozen vegetable mix (we love Costco’s stir-fry combo)
- Canned corn and beans
- Olive oil, canola oil, butter
- Ingredients for bread: flour, yeast, cornmeal
- Ingredients for baked desserts: chocolate chips, baker’s chocolate, vanilla, oatmeal, baking soda, baking powder, eggs
- French bread (for the freezer)
Your list may be completely different, but those are the things we eat on a regular basis. And it may look like a big list, but we like a lot of variety. You can make things easier on yourself by selecting 5-7 meals your family likes and making extras of those. Along those lines, one thing you can do to make life easier during a quarantine is to make up a few casseroles now and freeze them for later. Dollar store foil baking pans are perfect for this.
And here are the basic, tried-and-true recipes I will make in the event of a quarantine:
(Remember, you’ll want to make the ones you’re already familiar with! However, if you feel adventurous, maybe some of these will appeal to you):
- Cottage Pie … definitely Cottage Pie
- Red Beans and Always Perfect Dinner Rolls or cornbread
- Dreamy, Creamy Potatoes au Gratin … AKA Scalloped Potatoes
- Split Pea Soup
- Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Tater Tot Casserole (you can substitute sliced raw potatoes for the tater tots, and you can use all cream of mushroom)
- Easy, Creamy Chicken Tetrazzini
- Poor Soup (my Grandma’s recipe)
- Chicken Soup with orzo
- Chicken Chowder (the recipe is for day-after-Thanksgiving turkey chowder, but you can easily substitute a whole chicken carcass) and Cheesy Bread
- Easy Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff
- Creamy Chicken Crock Pot over Rice
- Chicken and Buttered Egg Noodles
- Always Perfect Dinner Rolls
- And if I really get industrious (because it takes 5 hours or so and a big list of ingredients), Bolognese
That list will make 14 dinners (not counting the Bolognese), plus plenty of leftovers you can rotate for lunch. For breakfast, I plan on simple bacon and eggs most mornings, but I’ll also throw in some biscuits and gravy and Dutch Babies.
And for snacks? We’re content with Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies, all day, every day.
Maybe this won’t happen at all … but maybe it will. And if that’s the case, won’t it feel wonderful to be prepared?