Social Distancing - how has your cooking changed?

Most of us aren’t accustomed to cooking strictly from our fridge, freezer, and pantry, but desperate times call for changes. I’ve seen estimates from the WHO and CDC that COVID-19 may peak in around 45 days, and others are predicting a year of social distancing. :open_mouth: When you can’t get out (much?), get creative.

Has your approach to making meals changed? How are you managing your inventory with an eye to variety, stretching out what you have, and working with what you’ve got? What other considerations are at play?

With (potentially) extra time on your hands, are you embarking on any new cooking projects?

Very timely thread. I was about to start one on this topic as I could only get frozen onions. I’ve never used them before. I’m assuming browning them is out given the moisture issues. I will be using a lot more tinned beans than usual that’s for sure. Luckily I have a lot of spices so it should be tasty whatever is made.

While being stuck at home I am carefully observing the recommended six foot minimum distance from home improvement projects, spring cleaning and healthy eating.


So far, we are not really planning any changes to how we cook, as such.

That said, we are following UK government advice to folk with certain health conditions (basically those who have conditions that mean they also have an annual flu jab). That’s a situation of isolation from places where there are others - and includes supermarkets, of course. We have been able to schedule home delivery from one supermarket chain for next week and the week after. We usually plan our meals and shop twice a week but we’re now going for once a week. It’ll mean meals that are using more perishable items, like salads, will appear early. The , erm, interesting aspect of this is that the supermarket will substitute items if they are out of stock of what has been ordered. That could be a significant issue, as panic buying has certainly reduced stocks on the shelves and, presumably, stocks in the regional warehouse facilities.

Mrs H took up baking when she retired but, in the last couple of years, hasnt felt she’s had the time. That’s now changed over the last few days and we’ve enjoyed bread, scones, a lovely Victoria sponge cake. I shall need to be careful as, undertaking less activity, I could easily balloon.


I find that I am hoping my “choicy” family ( mostly husband) will adapt to fewer choices. I think I can make almost anything work; eat almost anything, but have narrowed my palate significantly when I’m trying to please others.

Couldn’t find TP but I found a “five for 5”($5 each for 5 packages) deal on boneless loin pork chops at my buddy Lucky’s today.

Not my favorite, but I love figuring it out. With you guys, of course.


Good topic @ChristinaM.

No substantive changes. Part of what my company does is yacht delivery. There aren’t groceries at sea. Whatever we leave the dock with is what we have, and if something turns unexpectedly early we do without that thing. Most of my trips are a week or two. The longest have been six weeks.

A freezer is a glorious thing. You have to manage the space. Label everything. Commercially canned, home canned, and dehydrated goods are a big help. Home canned is my favorite shelf stable - complete control over ingredients and lasts a year. I have a lot canned and labeled (including prices so when I take something on a trip I know what my cost was and my price is). Some foods are really good dehydrated. Dried bananas and dried apples are good snacks. Much cheaper than buying commercial and no chemicals. Dried mushrooms, rehydrated, are much nicer in my opinion, than canned.

With a little planning it doesn’t take much longer to make a lot of something rather than a little. I don’t make one lasagna - I make three. Or five. For things like casseroles I either use disposable foil pans or a layer of plastic wrap between the food and a permanent casserole dish. Once the food is frozen hard I can pop it out of the casserole and either wrap it in foil or vacuum seal it. That way I get my dish back.

Always pay attention to shelf life. If you have a ripe avocado, a head of Boston bibb lettuce, three heads of romaine lettuce, and two heads of cabbage you eat them in that order. That doesn’t mean you don’t eat potatoes, onions, and other root veg until the end - it does mean you eat the fragile stuff first and fastest. Rotting food tossed over the side does no one but fish any good.

Substitutions are a big deal. I read Harold McGee’s On Food & Cooking about every other year. Absolutely my best resource for substitutions.

Many foods that have limited life are made from ingredients that last a very long time. Bread is the most obvious example. Salad dressings.

Living products provide a lot of flexibility. Sprouts. Windowsill herbs. Lettuce in a sunny room.

We did a lot of canning in December and January and cooking to “feed the freezer” in January and February. We raised our restock thresholds. We’re running on my offshore processes here at home. No hoarding and in fact our food waste is down.

I have a trip leaving next week and for a few days I was really uncertain about how I was going to feed everyone. Panic buying on the heels of the Maryland state of emergency seems to have settled out and I’m feeling better. I have 26 person-days and a 14 person-day margin for delays to provision and that’s all looking better now than three days ago. I have another trip on the heels of that one 20 person-days and a margin and I’m feeling okay about that one also. The one after that I have non-food related concerns about. We’ll see.

I have more canning lids and disposable foil coming from Amazon. Their recent email saying deliveries may be delayed is a concern. Kitty litter showed up today so maybe they are just being careful. grin

Those chops are a workhorse in our kitchen. Slice horizontally, flatten and crumb -> schnitzel. Slice very thinly vertically -> all kinds of stir fries: with various and sometimes surprising veggies, or seared and tossed with Shanghai or other noodles. Have one defrosting on the counter as I type and will soon go ask dh how he wants it addressed.


Ready for a sleep!

After conversations with a friend outside of SanFran whose parents live in Taiwan, two weeks ago I started prepping more seriously and got plenty of pantry items, staples, and extra groceries for the fridge and freezer. I just took a detailed inventory of our fridge and freezer so I can plan meals for variety, stretch certain ingredients, and minimize waste. It’s going to be tough on my toddler when we run out of his favorites like fresh fruit, tortillas, and certain cheeses. I did manage to find several PET boxes of shelf-stable milk for him, so once our 1 3/4 gallons of refrigerated are gone, we’ll switch to that. My in-laws actually brought us a ton of frozen locally-raised beef when they visited a few weeks ago, which has been incredibly helpful. I am trying to rotate between different kinds of protein and cuisines so we don’t burn out on any one type or flavor. Mostly I feel grateful to have had time, money, and enough and warning to prepare, and a work situation that allows us to socially isolate. Many are not so fortunate.

It still sucks though.


Main way my cooking has changed is I’m doing more of it. Working from home the last two days (and for the next two weeks or so), I have 1.5 to 1.75 hours that I would normally have spent on commuting. Made a big pot of lentil soup last night. Frittata tonight. Delivery remains an option here in shelter-in-place land, but I expect we’ll use it less than we do when I get home exhausted and defeated from work every day.


Same here - every meal eaten at home. We are running a dishwasher load just about every day!

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Tonight, split pork chop, mash, pan gravy


Not really changed. I have my small grocery store which I shop at 6 days a week. Plenty of great meats and veggies available. Along with the other staples . I have a couple other secret stores I can go to if it comes to that . Shopping for dinner almost every day is part of my life and will continue to do so . Picked up a locally made 5 lb. Corned beef today .And you know I need my wine also. Cheers. :wine_glass:


Yeah I don’t know why all the chicken is being bought up but plenty of pork and red meat (and vegan burgers) left on shelves. Why no love for the pig? I BBQ’d some St. Louis style pork ribs for one meal then made a large batch of BBQ’d pork fried rice with the leftovers.


Hmm, well…doesn’t really sound like you’re social distancing, then.

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I am . Under 5 people a day . Even in the stores . Been going on since I lived here . I was never a social butterfly.

Ooh, gotcha. Very different situation to most of us! :slight_smile:

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Working from home,and heaven knows I have a freezer and a pantry full. No chicken at the stores, but no problem picking up a corned beef and even tuna.

Bars are closed completely, most restaurants are at 50% capacity irntakeout only.

If anything, I’m actually cooking again!

Oh, a dishwasher…that sounds nice…

(Only two of us, though, so it’s not a ton of dishes.)

Same as you, dishwasher runs more often, even the 2 of us. More cooking too, as H is eating lunch at home as well. So far, not too much change on cooking, less meals using prepared recipes, as availability in stores is unknown. I’m used to adapt to whatever H bought, and find recipes afterwards. Our last shopping was Monday, so a week without shopping is fine for us.