Pandemic-appropriate meals inspired by my friend’s #covidmeals

These recipes rely on dried, canned, and frozen ingredients during these strange, strange times

Screenshot via Facebook courtesy of Lauren Wallace

By: Gabrielle McLaren, Editor-in-Chief, and Lauren Wallace, SFU alumna

In the sea of social media posts about pandemic-related panic-buying and supply-hoarding, sometimes you see people doing their best to help and uplift one another. That’s what my friend Lauren Wallace, a World Literature alumna, has been doing with #covidmeal. 

Lauren writes on her recipes that: “#covidmeals are [ . . . ] intended to use mainly canned, dried or frozen goods and are meant for cooks with only a basic level of skill.” When we chatted about the hashtag, she emphasized that this project was really about “giving those who don’t normally cook and now have limited supplies an alternative to just eating straight from a can.” 

Lauren’s got two recipes up for the world to see, but plans to keep going and expanding. She accepted that we reprint them here for students to enjoy. Enjoy them along with a few additions: 

Easy rice pilaf 

NEED

-Rice, at least 2 cups

-At least 2 cups of stock (veggie, chicken, in a can, in a tetra pack, from bouillon)

-Oil or butter for the pan (olive oil recommended)

 

FLEXIBLE

-Some form of protein. I like sausages in my pilaf.

-¼ cup onion

-2 teaspoon minced garlic (I have a jar of preserved garlic I made that I used)

-½ cup frozen veggies (I did frozen peas, but carrots or chopped beans work great, whatever you have around)

 

SEASONINGS

-Parsley (however much you want I use about 3 tablespoons chopped fresh)

-Cracked pepper, to taste (¼ teaspoon ground if fresh isn’t available)

-¼ cup white wine, for yum.

– If you are using no-sodium stock, add salt. Most stocks are very salty so I left it out of mine.

Steps:

  1. If you’re using weird rice, adjust the water to rice ratio accordingly. I used rice with a 2-to-1 ratio of liquid to rice (2 cups rice, 4 cups liquid).
  2. Add stock into a pot with 2 cups of water, on medium high heat. Let heat-up while you do steps 3 and 4.
  3. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add rice when hot and stir, toasting rice. It’ll pop and start to brown (2–4 minutes).
  4. As rice browns, add garlic and stir. Add seasonings.
  5. Pour your liquid over rice or your rice into your liquid, depending on what cooking vessel you can cover. Add wine, cover, turn to low and LEAVE ALONE for 20 minutes (again, if using weird rice, adjust accordingly).
  6. When rice gets to 20 minutes, add frozen vegetables and leave alone for 5 minutes. 

Turn heat off but leave covered for 5 more minutes before fluffing.

  1. Cook your protein. We fried the sausages and then sliced them into bite-sized pieces. We then added them into the rice.
  2. Serve!

Note: This is a great base for anything, and is a good alternative to plain rice.

—Lauren Wallace 

 

Chickpea and pumpkin (if you have it) curry  

NEED

  • 2 tsp of cooking oil (olive, canola, etc) 
  • 1 ½ cups of coconut milk 
  • 1 ½ cups of chickpeas (or dump in one big can) 

FLEXIBLE

  • Either 1 chopped chili pepper, or add chili powder into the pot to taste 
  • 3 garlic cloves, which could be replaced by garlic powder if need be
  • 1 chopped green onion, cooking onion, shallot, or other onion family member

OPTIONAL EXTRAS 

  • Toss in a crown of broccoli or some kale if you have veggies laying around
  • Lime juice tops this up nicely 
  • ½ cups of pumpkin puree (the original recipe calls for it and most stores stock it even outside of Thanksgiving; if you omit keep an eye on your curry’s texture; you may need to give it longer to thicken up) 

SEASONING

  • 3 tbsp of Thai red curry paste 
  • ½ tsp of cumin 
  • ½ tsp of cinnamon 
  • ¼ tsp of turmeric 
  • 1tsp of ginger 
  1. Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Brown your onion (3–5 minutes). 
  2. Add ginger, garlic, and chili. Cook for 30 seconds. 
  3. Add cinnamon, cumin, and turmeric with a pinch of salt. Cook for another 30 seconds. 
  4. Stir in Thai red curry paste and cook ( 2–3 minutes). 
  5. Stir in all your canned ingredients. Reduce the heat, throw in any veggies you may have, and cover the pan. Cook for another 10 minutes. 
  6. Serve with rice or bread or on its own. 

Note: This is a hacked version of a recipe from “yup . . . it’s vegan!” that this broke student hacked years ago.

—Gab

One pot/crockpot tuna casserole

NEED:

  • 1 can condensed cream of celery (284 ml)
  • 2 cans tuna (flaked preferably, if solid, flake it apart with a fork) (170 g)

FLEXIBLE INGREDIENTS:

  • Starch — you will want a starch, recommended 2 cups of sturdy dry noodles (egg noodles, rigatoni, farfalle), but this can be poured over rice if needed. 
  • ¼ cup Milk — can substitute for veggie stock or water.
  • 1 248 ml can condensed cream of mushroom soup for flavour (potato also works, this is your preference, I do not recommend cream of chicken for this) 

OPTIONAL EXTRAS 

  • ⅓ cup frozen peas or other small frozen vegetable 
  • ⅓ cup toasted breadcrumbs or crumbled crackers for topping
  • ¼ cup finely diced onion

SEASONINGS 

  • ¼ tsp mustard powder (dijon or hot mustard works too)
  • Lots of fresh ground pepper (or a ¼ tsp of the small ground store bought stuff)
  • I find there is normally enough salt in canned soup to not futz with it
  1. Cook your noods most of the way in salted boiling water, just before they’re al dente unless you like very, very soft noodles. If cooking in one pot instead of a crockpot, do al dente. Strain noods.
  2. Crockpot users, set crockpot to high. Pot users, set your pot on a burner on medium heat.
  3. Add in onion and stir until golden before doing the following in your pot or crockpot:
  4. Combine cream of celery, cream of mushroom and milk. Stir to combine or blend with hand blender (I do this to remove mushroom chunks for my partner who has texture preferences).
  5. Add in mustard powder.
  6. Add in your noods. Stir around. Add in a can of tuna (with or without juice, depends on how fishy you want it).
  7. Add in vegetables, from frozen, stir to combine.
  8. Crack in a lot of pepper, stir again.
  9. Leave to thicken in crockpot for about 1.5 hours. In pot turn to low and cover, stirring occasionally to keep from burning, abouting 20 minutes
  10. Add topping and eaaaat.

—Lauren 

5-ingredient black bean soup 

NEED

  • 3 15 oz cans of black beans
  • 1 lb of salsa (the larger containers you’ll see in grocery stores are good enough!) 

OPTIONAL

  • ½ cup of cilantro, to taste 

SEASONING

  • 2 tsp of ground cumin 
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder (or more to taste)
  1. Dump everything in a pan and let it heat over medium-high until it simmers.
  2. Lower heat to medium-low and give it another 10 minutes, stirring every now and then.
  3. Serve soup as is, or blend it if you prefer a smooth texture. The more cilantro you top this off with, the more joy you get.  

Note: This recipe is from “Gimme Some Oven”

—Gab

 

Comforting chili 

NEED

  • 1 can of kidney beans 
  • 1 can of whole kernel corn 
  • 1 (28 oz) can of tomatoes 
  • 1 can of black beans 

OPTIONAL

  • 1 cup chopped onion would go a long way here, but don’t discard this recipe just because you don’t have it kicking around the house. 
  • Throw in as many vegetables as you can to beef up this boy: mushrooms, carrots, celery, peppers, etc.
  • You can dress this up with cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, cilantro, etc.  

SEASONING

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (preserved, fresh, or replaced by 3 tsp of garlic powder) 
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin 
  • 1 ½ tbsp chili powder 
  • 1 ½ tsp dried oregano 
  • 1 tsp of paprika (I usually throw in more because our household is literally full of paprika) 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. If you have fresh veggies involved in your chili (first off, congratulations, then), sauté until soft in your saucepan with a tablespoon of vegetable oil. 
  2. Stir in everything from your cans, including the liquids, and toss in your seasoning. Cover and let everything simmer for 20 minutes. 

—Gab 

Chickpea nuggets 

NEED

  • 1 ½ cups of breadcrumbs (pro-tip: 3 slices of bread left to toast in the oven can crumble down to 1 cup) 
  • ½ cup rolled oats (flour would also work for this recipe if you’re short, but it may be less filling) 
  • 1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans

FLEXIBLE

  • Some sort of dipping sauce for your new nugget children (may I suggest mixing mayo and sriracha if you happen to have both?) 

SEASONING

  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • I’d recommend adding a tsp of smoked paprika, and taste-test as you cook to see if you want to kick your nuggets up with additional seasoning, such as cayenne.
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. 
  2. Turn your rolled oats into a fine powder through a food processor. Set aside your newly created oat flour. 
  3. Drain your beans and save the liquid. Add the beans and ¼ cup of liquid into the food processor with your seasonings and pulse until everything is crumbly. 
  4. Whisk ¼ cup of the liquid from your beans until it gets foamy; add that and your oat flour into the food processor and blend some more. 
  5. Divide the mixture into nuggets, and bake for 15–20 minutes or until they brown. 

Note: This recipe is from Kitchn.

Three-bean salad

NEED

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can red beans 

FLEXIBLE

  • You’re going to need some sort of dressing. Mint leaves and a squeeze of lemon juice is a good go-to; olive oil, salt and pepper will do. Balsamic vinegar is another good fallback. 

OPTIONAL

  • Chopped cucumber, green onion, tomatoes, and all your other favourite veggies fit into this salad like a charm. Luckily, the beans are what will really fill you up. 

SEASONING

  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Open and drain cans. Rinse and dry your beans in cold water and dry them off.
  2. Mix all your beans together and toss with whatever dressing or vinaigrette you manage to pull off. 

Sesame peanut butter noodles

NEED

  • One packet of ramen noodles (save the flavour packet for later), or 6 oz of another type of noodle
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil 
  • 1 ½ tbsp of peanut butter

FLEXIBLE

  • 2 tbsp of honey; can be replaced with straight sugar or omitted 
  • 1 ½ tbsp of rice vinegar; while non-ideal apple cider vinegar would work
  • 1 garlic clove or 1 tsp of garlic powder

OPTIONAL

  • Green onion or sesame seed to garnish

SEASONING

  • ½ tsp ginger
  1. Cook noodles as per package instructions.
  2. Whisk all your non-noodle ingredient together to make a sauce. Make sure that the peanut butter breaks down completely.
  3. Pour sauce over hot, drained noodles and toss to coat. 

Note: This recipe is originally from The Wholesome Dish 

 

Resources for food insecure students:

  • COVID-19 Coming Together (Vancouver) is a Facebook community dedicated to connecting people with resources to people who could use a hand, where users can ask for or offer help.
  • Greater Vancouver Food Bank