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Cooking at home, with what you have

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File photo (FreeImages.com/tim & annette)

Staying at home and limiting trips to the store can help slow the spread of COVID-19.

But when we’re looking to cook -- and the pantry is a little bare -- it can be challenging to whip up a healthy meal.

According to Cleveland Clinic’s Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietician, we can make a healthy meal with as little as two ingredients.

“I don’t want people to overthink what a meal is,” she said. “A meal could be, ‘I have some frozen chicken, I’m going to bake that, and I happen to have carrot sticks that were leftover, and I’m going to roast some carrots.’ Chicken and carrots -- two ingredients.”

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Kirkpatrick admits it’s tempting to go online and watch amazing chefs preparing fancy meals, but she said it’s probably not realistic for most of us to re-create them on our own.

If people want to get the most bang for their buck, with the food they have, Kirkpatrick suggests using an item for more than one meal.

“If you have a sweet potato, you can cut that sweet potato into cubes; you can take half of those cubes, and make kind of a sweet potato hash with eggs, and have that for breakfast, and then you can take the other half of the roasted sweet potato cubes and you can have them for dinner as a side,” she said.

When cooking up more than you’re going to eat, Kirkpatrick recommends freezing the remainder of the meal for another day – instead of throwing it away.

“If you are able to make a big pot of whole grain, or bean-based pasta with tomato sauce or a pesto sauce, and you can freeze half of that for another meal, that’s ideal as well,” she said.

Kirkpatrick said getting the most out of your food supply really comes down to creativity.

On a positive note, she believes our ‘stay-at-home’ lives are teaching us to not waste food, and this will hopefully make all of us better at utilizing what we have in the future.