Who says “quarantine cooking” has to be bland and boring?!

Despite the worldwide run on toilet paper, we recommend going for the essentials first: medicine, soap, entertainment, and FOOD! For those of us who don’t live on a farm, this generally means stocking up on non-perishables – foods that will last for a long time.

Of course, when you’re dreaming up culinary delights, “non-perishables” doesn’t usually spring to mind. But hey – if anything, the current situation is a good excuse to get creative with canned classics. And that’s exactly what today’s article is all about!

Below you’ll find a bunch of tips to help you make the most of your time at home. From surprisingly yummy recipes to key ingredients everyone should have at hand, it’s your one-stop primer for hunkering (and chowing) down with delight!

First, the staple ingredients: What should you stock up on?

So you’ve rushed to the grocery store, grabbed a cart, picked up your 12-pack of TP… but now what?!

Most people don’t actually know which foods are the best to keep on hand in case of emergency. So before we get into recipes, here are 25 staple ingredients you can use for a wide range of dishes. Feel free to make substitutions according to your preference!

  1. Chicken – especially breast and thighs, which freeze easily and cook quickly
  2. Ground meat of all sorts – this also freezes well, and can even be shaped into hamburgers for a quick and easy meal!
  3. Canned tuna or salmon
  4. Rice
  5. (Dried) Pasta
  6. Beans
  7. Dried spices – such as salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, chili powder, italian herbs, and anything else you personally enjoy
  8. Tomato paste and diced (or peeled) canned tomatoes
  9. Canned black beans or pinto beans
  10. Canned chickpeas
  11. Canned pumpkin puree
  12. Vegetable broth
  13. Butter
  14. Olive oil
  15. Honey
  16. Peanut butter
  17. Powdered milk
  18. Quinoa
  19. Canned soups – chicken, cheese, tomato, etc.
  20. Oats
  21. Corn tortillas
  22. Salsa
  23. Eggs
  24. Breadcrumbs and/or Panko
  25. Lentils

Kitchenspiration: 6 Delicious Dishes Using The Above Ingredients

OK! Now you’re all stocked up. But what can you do with all these “simple” ingredients? As it turns out, you now have a TON of options! Below we’ve compiled a few of our favorites from our searches (and personal experience). If you have something to add, just let us know!

Lentil tacos

Image source: Cooking Classy

Main Ingredients: lentils, tortillas, canned diced tomatoes

Extra Ingredients (if available): cheese, shredded lettuce, avocado, onions

Directions: First, cook the lentils according to the instructions on the package. Next, add the lentils and canned tomatoes to the tortillas – viola! A fiber-rich meal full of protein and vitamins. The extra ingredients take this dish over the top, so hopefully you have a few on hand!


Chicken Spaghetti

Image source: Yellow Bliss Road

Main Ingredients: spaghetti, a can of cream of chicken soup, a can of nacho cheese soup, a can of tomato soup, chicken

Extra Ingredients (if available): Picante sauce, canned chicken broth (for larger servings), peppers, onions, olives

Directions: Cook and drain spaghetti. If the chicken isn’t canned, cook and dice it into small blocks. Add canned ingredients and chicken to the spaghetti, warm and serve.


Canned Salmon Cakes

Image source: iFOODreal

Main Ingredients: canned salmon or tuna, oats, panko, egg, salt

Extra Ingredients (if available): lemon, mustard, turmeric, greens

Directions: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together well. Create small round patties and cook in a pan for a few minutes on each side. Optional: Cook some quinoa or toast some bread and serve the salmon cakes on top!


Pumpkin chili

Image source: Julia’s Album

Main Ingredients: canned pumpkin, black or pinto beans, canned diced tomatoes, vegetable broth

Extra Ingredients (if available): garlic, red pepper flakes, chili powder, cumin (optional: avocado, sour cream or Greek yogurt)

Directions: Combine the pumpkin puree, beans, diced tomatoes and vegetable broth in a pot. Let it simmer until cooked through, then top with your extra ingredients (as desired). It’s that simple!


Quick’n’Easy Rice & Beans

Image source: Live Eat Learn

Main Ingredients: margarine or butter, rice, salsa, beans (black or kidney), flour tortillas, taco seasoning

Extra Ingredients (if available): corn, sour cream, cheddar cheese

Directions: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the rice with butter until golden brown. Add water, salsa and seasonings, then bring it all to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover, then simmer 15 to 20 minutes (or until rice is nicely cooked). Stir in the beans, then add extra ingredients (if desired) and serve.


Peanut Butter Balls

Image source: Beaming Baker

Main Ingredients: 1/4 cup honey, 1/3 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup powdered milk

Extra Ingredients (if desired/available): 1/3 cup coconut

This one is super simple – just combine the ingredients and shape into balls! They’re a great way to serve up something healthy while also satisfying your sweet tooth. Yum! (Hint: You can also remove the powdered milk and replace it with protein powder for extra nutrition.)


Want more inspiration? Check out these sites!

We grabbed most of today’s recipes from around the web, but here are two sites that focus purely on cooking with at-hand ingredients:

And finally, one more tip: if you have fresh ingredients, cook something up and freeze it!

These sites have some great suggestions for freezer meals:

Do you have a favorite recipe? Share it with us!

We’d love to hear what you’re cookin’ up at home. Let us know in the comments below and we’ll add it to this list for everyone to enjoy!