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During this time, when the world is a bit different with each new day, food supplies are interesting. I’ve never in my lifetime experienced a shortage of food or toilet paper scarcity. For the moment, it is our reality.
In my corner of Missouri, as in most parts of the world, paper goods, cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer fly off grocery store shelves, as soon as a delivery arrives. As we marvel over how golden toilet paper is, other supplies continue to dwindle as well. Eggs, meat, dairy products, bread, canned goods, dry goods and convenience foods such as mac and cheese are not impossible to find, but they are limited.
Going to the market each day, to see what is available, is a bit of an adventure. I squealed today when I found a solitary jar of my sugar free peanut butter. As a plant based person, I’m not eating differently than I was before all this started. I just get creative as I prepare meals. I realize others may be experiencing a temporary form of plant based eating that is new to them and I want to help.
Here are easy to make meals using 5 common staples. I’m sharing more than 20 recipes, prepared with simple, nutritious foods such as dried goods (rice, beans and lentils), canned goods, pasta, herbs and spices and my favorite, fresh produce.
Dried Beans Lentils and Rice
These staples have a long shelf life, making them ideal pantry ingredients. In my area, dried goods are not plentiful, however, they do arrive daily in small amounts. Pick up packages of your favorite beans including pinto, navy, black, kidney and chick peas. Dried green, brown or red lentils are so versatile too. And while you are shopping, pick up long grain brown rice as well.
Beans and Lentils
Beans are easily prepared in the instant pot, slow cooker or on the stove top. Try this simple recipe for classic pinto beans. Cover 2 cups of pinto beans with water and let soak overnight. Drain and rinse. Place in a slow cooker. Add 6 cups of water, 1 chopped onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 tablespoon chili powder and 2 teaspoons sea salt. Cook on low 8 hours. Or combine all ingredients in a soup pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for an hour on the stove top.
Combine several varieties of dried beans and add cajun spices for a delicious spicy meal. Use cooked beans to create homemade hummus, refried beans or combine with rice for a satisfying meatless meal.
Dried lentils cook quickly in the instant pot or on the stove pot. Use in curry dishes, shepherd’s pie or combine with rice for a quick and nutritious meal that is high in protein.
I prep brown rice in the instant pot (2 cups dried brown rice plus 3 cups of DIY veggie broth) and store it in the fridge. Cooked brown rice is excellent combined with stir fried veggies, beans or lentils and as a base for curries.
So many simple, nutrition packed meals come together in minutes using canned goods. I keep a variety of beans, vegetables and fruits such as peas, non GMO corn, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, green beans and pineapple chunks on hand.
Combine several cans of beans, diced tomatoes and spices for an instant chili. Create a salsa full of chopped veggies, canned black beans and non GMO corn. Make classic hummus from canned chickpeas and serve with crackers or an assortment of veggies. Or simply combine two or more cans of vegetables…such as lima beans and non GMO corn…to make a succotash. Serve with baked potatoes for a hearty meal.
Pasta is another versatile, easy to use to staple. Because of a gluten sensitivity, I choose gluten free varieties, available in most grocery stores. I keep gluten free macaroni and spaghetti on hand. Stock up on your favorite kinds of pasta.
Create a simple meat free meal of pasta and marinara sauce. (Check out this post, for DIY Marinara Sauce and Pesto.) For another quick meal combine cooked pasta with canned tomatoes. Heat through on the stove and season with a bit of oregano and basil. If you happen to grow your own basil, make a yummy pesto sauce to serve over spaghetti. (See link to post above.) Toss together cooked macaroni and raw or cooked veggies for an instant pasta salad. Or add pasta to soups.
Herbs and Spices
These common herbs and spices add flavor to meals and nutritional value. Keep on hand onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, dill, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, cumin, chili powder, ground red pepper, ground ginger, madras curry and curry powder.
I love preparing oven roasted potatoes, two different ways. For a kick of flavor, season cubed potatoes with paprika, sea salt, onion powder and garlic powder. For a savory blend, use rosemary, thyme and dill. A bowl of seasoned roasted potatoes with a big salad or steamed veggies makes a wonderfully comforting meal.
Experiment with seasonings. Add dried herbs to soups, sauces and stir fries. Additionally, those dried herbs make health boosting teas. Steep 2 teaspoons of thyme in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes, for a tea that boosts the immune system and helps fight viral infections in the body.
Other than potatoes, fresh produce remains in stock in my local grocery stores. This is good news because there are so many easy meals to make using this staple.
One of my favorite meals is a chopped veggie salad loaded with a dozen or more vegetables. Chop any combo of vegetables and combine with chopped dark leafy greens.
Think beyond salads though.
Another simple meal is the veggie bowl. Combine raw or cooked vegetables together in a big bowl and enjoy. Use onions, green peppers, mushrooms, black beans, lettuce and tomatoes for a Mexican bowl. Or switch it up with Brussels sprouts, asparagus, sweet potatoes and quinoa. Any combination of vegetables is acceptable!
Stir fries are another great way to combine fresh vegetables in creative ways. Start with a base of onions, garlic, carrots and celery and add in whatever you have on hand. Use that same base, add in more fresh veggies and canned peas, green beans and tomatoes plus eight cups of water or veggie broth and you have a delicious soup. Save all those vegetable scraps as you prep food for DIY Vegetable Broth.
Fruit makes an excellent meal as well. Combine fresh and frozen fruit with two bananas and a small amount of filtered water for a breakfast smoothie. Drizzle a mixture of berries with raw honey for a mid afternoon snack. Or toss chopped apples, oranges or berries in with a vegetable salad.
Easy to Make Meals Using 5 Common Staples
It is disconcerting to walk into a grocery store and see empty shelves. It’s an experience that is new to most of us. The current situation requires adaptability and a positive mindset.
I hope these suggestions and recipes encourage you to create nutritious meals from staples that are available or that you already have on hand. If you are not plant based, meat such as chicken can be added to many of the recipes.
I promise you though, these meals are not only easy to prepare, they are nutritionally dense and satisfying. You will not go hungry and you may even discover that you enjoy this different way of eating.
If you have questions, ask in the comments section below. I’m here to walk alongside you, virtually. We truly are in this situation together. And together, we will overcome. Together we will emerge stronger than before.
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I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.