The world feels very uncertain right now as people worldwide are being quarantined and practicing social distance and self-isolation. One thing that is certain is that we all have to eat.
And so I thought it would be useful to put together a little guide on what cookbook writers (and other food writers around the internet) are suggesting that we eat as we all stay inside. I also found some cookbooks for cooking right from your pantry, and some cookbooks just for the king of all pantry foods: beans.
But first I’ll offer my suggestions. You already know you should be storing pasta and beans and freeze what meats you can. But may I suggest that you also stock up on high-flavor shelf-stable condiments? This is the time to crack open that fancy mustard you impulse bought, but also get yourself: anchovies, capers, vinegars (cheap white vinegars for a quick pickle, apple cider and champagne vinegar for dressings and to add brightness to your recipes). Grab pickles and relishes and tomato paste. You want strong flavors that you can use in small amounts to brighten up pantry staples.
While you’re stocking up, I think it’s important to remember that there is no reason to panic about food availability right now. I think we’re all feeling the need to be prepared and stock-up, but I did find this article from The New York Times comforting as an American: the U.S. has plenty of food! The supply chains are fine. The empty shelves we’re seeing will be restocked. I don’t know how this plays out for our international readers, but it does seem that food supplies are mostly normal and/or have normalized around the world.
Cookbook Authors with Quarantine Cooking Strategies
Budget Bytes by Beth Moncel
Beth Moncel, author of the Budget Bytes cookbook and website, put together a list of her 15 best pantry recipes, along with a shopping list to help you stay prepared.
Nom Nom Paleo by Michelle Tam
Michelle Tam, author of the Nom Nom Paleo book and blog, has re-upped her suggestions for how to build a paleo pantry, with tips on what meat to freeze and which veggies have a long shelf-life.
Smitten Kitchen by Deb Perelman
Deb Perelman, author of Smitten Kitchen and Smitten Kitchen Everyday as well as the Smitten Kitchen blog, rounded up some of her most bean-centric recipes in her newsletter. As she says, “If we must be hunkered down, I say we do so as deliciously as possible.”
Eat Green by Melissa Hemsley
Melissa Hemsley, one half of the cooking sister-duo Hemsley and Hemsley and author of Eat Green, is hosting cook-alongs on her instagram featuring 5-ingredient cupboard cookies, Fridge Raid Frittatas, and lots of freezer meals.
Where Cooking Begins by Carla Lalli Musi
Carla Lalli Music, beloved mother of the Bon Appetit test kitchen and author of Where Cooking Begins, wrote about what to buy to feel prepared in one newsletter and what you should be cooking now in the next. She also took to Instagram to answer questions about working from home and quarantine cooking.
We Will Feast by Kendell Vanderslice
Kendell Vanderslice, author of We Will Feast, started a Lenten practice of baking sourdough with her Patreon subscribers, but it has morphed into a community of people baking through the pandemic together.
Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat
Samin Nosrat, author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, is working on a quarantine cooking podcast with Hrishikesh Hirway (of Song Exploder and West Wing Weekly podcast fame). Her podcast will be called Home Cooking. At the time of this writing, the podcast was still in production, but they have released a trailer. Watch her social media for updates! (You can also submit a cooking question to her. Check her Instagram for more info.)
Helen Rosner isn’t a cookbook author—just, you know, food writer for The New Yorker—but if you’re interested in supporting restaurants and other food-related businesses, she’s been linking to restaurant’s merch shops on her Instagram. Buy yourself a T-shirt! She also wrote this interview with a couple in China as they lived under lockdown during the Corona virus, as well as this interview with New Yorkers as they grocery shopped the weekend of March 14–15.
Best Cookbooks for Pantry Cooking
My Perfect Pantry: 150 Easy Recipes from 50 Essential Ingredients: A Cookbook by Geoffrey Zakarian
Let chef, restaurateur, and Food Network Iron Chef (and Chopped judge) Geoffrey Zakarian teach you 150 recipes from 50 ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.
The Weeknight Cookbook: Create 100+ Delicious New Meals Using Pantry Staples by Justine Schofield
Cook fast weeknight meals right from your cabinets with this simple cookbook from TV host and MasterChef Australia contestant Justine Schofield.
Beans, Beans, Beans
Bean by Bean by Crescent Dragonwagon
From the James Beard Award-winning queen of vegetarian cookbooks, Crescent Dragonwagon, comes the ultimate bean cookbook. Dragonwagon has 175 recipes covering hummus, casseroles, desserts, and more.
Cool Beans: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking with the World’s Most Versatile Plant-Based Protein, with 125 Recipes by Joe Yonan
Food editor for the Washington Post and James Beard Award-winning author Joe Yonan helps bring beans out of their hippie past and into the present day. He includes a base recipe for various bean methods, including Instant Pots and slow cookers.
Heirloom Beans: Great Recipes for Dips and Spreads, Soups and Stews, Salads and Salsas, and Much More from Rancho Gordo by Steve Sando
Steve Sando, owner of Rancho Gordo, an award-winning heirloom bean farm, knows beans. This cookbook acts as a primer on beans of all kinds, while also including more than 90 tasty bean recipes.