Slow down and simplify

Resources to help you make the most of your pandemic pantry

How to simplify getting dinner on the table

Life in lockdown – it’s been just over a week and we’re starting to fall into a bit of a routine. I’m finding it helpful to focus on all the things I can do, rather than the things I can’t. We’re very fortunate that our daily lives are relatively untouched. We’re not essential workers, we work mostly from home anyway, we still have work and our cosy little house in the sun. The beach is still right there and we can still go for a walk. 

One thing that has changed, I can’t just nip to the shops and it’s a bit of a lottery as to what’s left when you get there (although I hear that’s calmed down). I’m trying to avoid going to the supermarket and that means making good use of what I’ve got in my pantry. It’s a bit like a month-long MasterChef mystery box challenge. 

I’ve always been good at working with whatever’s in the cupboard, but it isn’t so much fun when I HAVE to do it. It took me a while to adapt to the new normal, but I’ve found my groove and I’m quite enjoying it. Finding some inspiration online definitely helped. Here’s a roundup of resources that I’ve found useful and you might too. 

Meal planning

I usually meal plan weekly, but I’m making some adjustments at the moment. Nicole from Planning with Kids has put together some helpful advice on menu planning in times of perceived scarcity. Like her, I’m focusing on family favourites and flexibility. 

I’m basing my meal planning around trying to use up the more random and less appealing stuff first, before we are totally over lockdown life. If we don’t eat it now, when will we?

Recipe inspiration

Right now is the time for super-adaptable recipes that help you to make the best of what you have at hand. Some of my favourite cooks have stepped up with versatile store cupboard favourites.

Glen & Friends  – this is the only YouTube channel I really follow. I love Glen. He has a Pandemic Pantry series running. My brother rates his no knead bread recipe and I’m going to give the bean and tomato soup a go. My son loves Glen’s lentil and barley soup.

Jamie Oliver – his Keep Cooking and Carry On series isn’t airing in New Zealand but all the recipes are on his website. I’m going make some minestrone and the 2-ingredient fresh pasta looks like a fun one to do with my son. Fortunately, I already have a stash of 7-veg tomato sauce in my freezer. 

Happy Pear – these guys do super-easy vegan recipes. I’m going to give their best frozen cupboard burger a go. They’ve also got simple recipes for satay sauce, tikka masala sauce and bolognese sauce which are perfect for jazzing up whatever combo of veggies, grains and proteins you have. 

A couple of treats

We all need a treat now and then. The other day, I made of loaf of vegan banana bread. So easy and delicious. It made a dent in the stash of frozen bananas in my freezer. I’m also going to try Chelsea Winter’s Lockdown Loaf . She has heaps of tips for customising it, including making it gluten free. 

If, after all that, you want further inspiration, check out Veggie Mamma’s Ultimate Coronavirus Cooking Guide . I’ve never had a fail with one of her recipes and she knows comfort food better than anyone.

Stay safe. 

How are you approaching shopping and cooking at the moment?


  • Nicole Avery
    April 2, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    Thanks for including a link to my post. I haven’t made banana bread for some time – think I might do some baking this afternoon!

  • Amy
    April 2, 2020 at 9:12 pm

    Thanks for writing it. The banana bread freezers well for lunchboxes (not that we’re doing lunchboxes at the moment!).

  • Nipa |
    April 4, 2020 at 9:09 am

    Our kids have been out of school for a few weeks now, and honestly it has been so much easier to make meals, since I’m not driving them to all of their activities. We’re enjoying grilling, roasting and baking rather than throwing some ingredients into a crockpot… Nipa

    • Amy
      April 4, 2020 at 9:36 am

      Yes! I was a bit thrown off as my usual meal plan revolves around easy meals for afternoons when we have something on or days I’m commuting. Have a lot more time in the early evening now.


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