A Covid-19 Coffee Date (All About Food)

A man and his daughter watching tv in a living room, surrounded by two dogs.

Life feels a little wobbly right now, doesn’t it? Holy smokes.

The news is changing every day with updates on the novel coronavirus, and now that it’s reached us here in the United States, and here in Minnesota, everything that used to be far away now feels a whole lot more real and uncertain.

School closures, job losses, and economic instability are all a lot to handle on top of the main event of a very real public health crisis.

One thing that remains predictable in all of this?

You need to eat. ♡

Your kids need to eat. My dog needs to eat. We all need to eat.

People need food, for their physical bodies, and I think also for nourishing their souls. And in a time when so much feels like it’s just hanging on by a thread, making and eating food can be centering. A small way to focus, provide, create joy.

It puts our feet back on the ground. It takes us out of the hypotheticals and brings us back to caring for ourselves and others in real-time. It is not rooted in the future but in the now. It is very present and fully human.

As is obvious, I’m not a doctor or an expert, so anything I say – it’s just me, okay? Just Regular Person Me, sharing my ideas and experiences. Read, absorb, and let me know what is working for you in the comments. I am writing this post in hopes that it gives us a place to talk and connect and be there for each other.

Our Approach, Generally Speaking

We are not in full blown quarantine mode exactly, but I would say Bjork and I have been in pretty serious social distancing mode by choice since last Thursday, March 12th.

We have been, well, just staying home. Not eating out, not going to events, not hanging out with groups of people. Is that completely necessary right now? Maybe not. Does it feel a little weird? Yes, especially as a lot of other people go on with normal life as planned. But will it make an impact for us and others? Oh man, we sure hope so.

Instead of our normal out-and-abouts, we’ve been going for walks, baking, reading, watching TV, and playing with Solvi. And for the foreseeable future, this is our plan.

This is in an effort to do the MOST GOOD for our family, for our healthcare workers, and for those most vulnerable in our community.

Bjork and I have been labeling normal life activities as green, yellow, or red in terms of what we’re comfortable with and what we’re not. Travel is red, for example. Going to crowded places is red. Having our full team in the office is red. We normally do a weekly date night, but that is now in the yellow category as we try to avoid restaurants. Quick grocery store runs are still green, but to be honest, all of this changes almost daily depending on what the CDC and the state of Minnesota is recommending.

Here is a detailed look at what’s happening in our kitchen as it relates to COVID-19 and food for the near future.

What’s In Our Fridge

A fridge full of groceries.

This more or less looks how my fridge always looks, but the noteworthy things that I wanted to make sure I had extra to last us at least a few weeks are:

  • Milk (not pictured, it’s in the door)
  • Orange juice (also not pictured, also in the door)
  • Yogurt
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Cheese

There’s also some sturdy produce I bought that I knew would last well:

A variety of fruits and vegetables on a table.
  • Kale
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Pineapple
  • Onions and garlic

What’s In Our Freezer

Bags of foods on a white table.

(It’s impossible to see in the freezer itself so I pulled a few sample items out. Also, I keep a little chalkboard inventory of what’s in our freezer so I don’t forget.)

These are the essentials that do really well in the freezer that will help me build some meals.

  • Mango
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Mushrooms
  • Chicken
  • Bread
  • Tortillas

But also, with not eating out as much, I wanted to have some fun, different, pre-made things to try that could FEEL like an eating-out adventure without actually going out to a restaurant. For example:

  • Orange chicken
  • Mozzarella sticks
  • Pizza
  • Potstickers
  • Pretzels
  • Gnocchi

I’ve been so grateful to have a few random, wouldn’t-usually-buy, fun things to munch on when we’re not going out during the weekend. It makes weekend eating feel a little more exciting than… like, lentils.

What’s In Our Pantry

Grocery items arranged in the cupboard.

My pantry is just a cabinet in my laundry room, so really, it’s not a pantry and it makes for a bad picture. But here’s what we’ve got (mostly overflow from the normal Costco trips we’ve done over the last few months).

  • Peanut butter
  • Flour
  • Nut milk
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Pasta
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Canned beans
  • Canned coconut milk
  • Canned or jarred “flavor extras” – roasted red peppers, chipotles, capers, curry paste, etc.
  • Rice / quinoa / oats / other grains
  • Mac and cheese “for Solvi”

I also have some baskets with random grains and beans – mostly half-opened bags that are probably a little too old, but it’s what we’ve got.

A tub full of packets of corn, lentils, peas and other food items.

What We’re Going To Cook with All This

It’s time to get really creative and flexible with recipes.

I’m viewing this season of cooking as heavy on the reverse recipe building, where rather than starting with the actual recipe, I’ll start with the ingredient I have to work with. Example: we have sweet potatoes and cashews. I’ll roast them and put them in tacos, with a cashew queso sauce.

Which is exactly how I like to cook and I’m excited to be stretched to get really resourceful with our food.

Here’s my game plan – it is LOOSE and that is the whole point.

  • Tacos: most everything can be rolled into a tortilla and made into a taco. For this I am grateful. Examples: buffalo chicken tacos, or brussels sprouts tacos.
  • Curries: We are well-stocked on curry paste and coconut milk. Again, most anything you can find in a freezer or pantry can somehow get converted into a curry. We also have A LOT OF RICE. Bless it. Examples: sweet potato curry, or red curry lentils.
  • Soup and Stew: Onions, garlic, vegetables, and go. Add some grains, add some beans, and voila. Examples: detox lentil soup, or golden soup, or wild rice soup.
  • Pasta: We have a Costco-sized package of spaghetti, so bring it on. While I have several jars of spaghetti sauce, I also plan to make spaghetti that is… not regular spaghetti. Examples: Garlic herb spaghetti, or pumpkin spaghetti.
  • Baking: Bread, yes, but also muffins, cookies, and other things that just help to lighten the mood a bit. Examples: no knead bread, or 5-ingredient banana muffins, or the best of all time chocolate chip cookies (also, 2-person deep dish cookie bowls! which will be posted very soon).

Flexibility is key. The whole point here is making do with what we have so as to avoid unnecessary trips out. And the only way that works is by being a little bold and a little scrappy with some of the ingredients we have. Luckily, scrappy is my middle name. Let’s do this.

A staircase with various grocery items.

As we think about our own Covid-19 situation and food, my encouragement to all of us food lovers (including myself) is also think about our friends and neighbors who might need a little extra support to keep themselves and their kids well-fed, either due to health or financial stresses. This is a really good time to be watching out for others – those more vulnerable to the virus, those who work in healthcare, those who run small businesses.

Idea list, and things I’ve been working on myself:

  • Contacting teachers to see what food needs their students might have during remote learning, as many of them rely on school lunches
  • Buying gift cards to your favorite local restaurants or small businesses as you’re staying home more often
  • Taking five minutes to leave a review for your favorite restaurant or small business on Google or Yelp
  • Checking in with your neighbors who are elderly or have compromised immune systems to see if they need help getting groceries
  • Making a donation to your local food shelf

Alright. How we doing, team?

What is happening in your life as it relates to Covid-19?

What changes are you making, whether by choice or not?

What does your pantry look like, and of course, what are you eating?

Take care out there! ♡ Things might be up and down and different day to day, but we’re here, we’re in this with you, we’re not going anywhere, and I look forward to seeing you around here whether that’s in good times or weird times. And right now it’s weird times. Time to be our best selves.

We can do this. xo

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