Staying at home for weeks on end, possibly with a houseful of mouths to feed, means running out of food faster than you can say coronavirus. Couple that with relying on grocery deliveries as a cautionary move in the era of COVID-19 or living on a reduced budget due a job loss, and your pantry may look something like this: three cans of beans, one onion, a can of chicken broth, and half a box of rice.
Although this may seem like slim pickings, faculty members within Buffalo State College’s Health, Nutrition, and Dietetics (HND) Department said you can make more creative dinners from limited and inexpensive ingredients than you might think.
“Eating healthy doesn’t require expensive specialty ingredients or frozen meals from the grocery store,” said Elizabeth Hartz, ’15, ’16, lecturer and director of the campus’s Nutrition Education Counseling Center. “It just takes a little kitchen know-how.”
She said that dinner can be as simple as a burrito bowl: combine one can of any kind of beans, one cup of corn, one cup of rice, ¼ cup of shredded cheese, and a tablespoon or two of salsa.
“If you don’t have rice on hand, any grain will work,” Hartz said. “You have a significant amount of versatility with easy dishes like this.”
Hartz’s colleagues Carol DeNysschen, HND professor and department chair, Tina Colaizzo-Anas, associate professor and director of the dietitian education program (DEP), also shared a few easy, healthful recipes that fit the “desperation dinner” bill.
DeNysschen noted that many inexpensive and easy recipes, including a couple of the ones she provided, are plant based. Along with being more nutritious, they are especially good choices now that meat products are harder to find and more expensive since 15 U.S. meat plants shut down because of worker illness.
Colaizzo-Anas said the following recipes will also help prevent the “Quarantine 15” weight gain because they’re high in fiber and low in calories.
“High-fiber foods help keep us satiated so that we’re more likely to eat less,” Colaizzo-Anas said. The concept is called volumetrics. Eating foods that are high in air, such as air-popped popcorn, water, such as watermelon, and fiber—vegetables, fruit, and beans—fills us up and decreases the urge to overeat. In fact, studies have shown that eating an apple or pear before a meal decreases the overall number of calories consumed.”
Ramen Noodle Bowl with Egg
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon canola or other vegetable oil
- Garlic powder (to taste)
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 1 large cooked chicken breast, shredded
- 3 3-ounce packages dried ramen noodles
- 2 eggs
- Sauté onion until it starts to soften, about 5 minutes, add garlic powder and soy sauce. Add chicken broth and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes. Add shredded (or chopped) chicken and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Put five cups of water into a soup pot. Bring to a boil. Add ramen noodles and return to a boil. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until noodles are tender yet firm to the bite, 5 minutes. Drain (if noodles stick you can lightly drizzle, and toss, with canola oil to prevent sticking).
- While ramen is cooking, fill a pot with enough water to cover the 2 eggs and bring to a boil. Gently lower eggs into the boiling water and cook until yolks are barely set, about 7 minutes.
- Fill a large bowl with ice water. Transfer soft boiled eggs to the ice bath to stop the cooking process; let sit about 3 minutes. Drain eggs, carefully peel away shells, and slice in half.
- Divide ¼ of the noodles per bowl, add chicken and broth over the noodles, top each with half a soft-boiled egg. Serve immediately.
Very Easy Vegetable Soup
- 1 large can of V-8 juice
- 2 cups broth – chicken, beef, or vegetable
- 1 pound frozen mixed vegetables or sliced carrots, onion, celery
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 tablespoon Mrs. Dash or garlic powder to taste
Heat to boiling and simmer until veggies are tender.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup finely chopped onion
- 1½ cup whole grain rice (or white)
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup salsa or pasta sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
1. Sauté onion in the oil until tender.
2. Add the sautéed onion, salsa (or pasta sauce), and garlic to the rice when it is done cooking.
3. Optional: Add ground turkey, chicken, or drained cooked hamburger. You can add cooked quinoa for added protein if you wish.
4. Allow to cook on low for 15 minutes before serving.
Cabbage and Bean Salad
- 8 ounces shredded cabbage
- 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
- Olive oil (amount to preference)
- White vinegar (amount to preference)
Mix all ingredients together and enjoy.
Brown Rice and Baked Beans
- 2 cups of brown rice
- 1 large or 2 medium chopped onions
- 2 16-ounce cans of low-fat baked beans
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Black pepper to taste
- Place rice in microwave-safe casserole dish and add 2 cups of water.
- Microwave 10 minutes on high. Stir.
- Microwave for an additional 10 minutes on high. Rest 5 minutes.
- While rice is cooking, sauté onions in olive oil until tender. Add black pepper.
- Heat baked beans in the microwave or a saucepan.
Spoon beans over rice to serve.
Photo: Still Life with COVID, by Bruce Fox, Campus Photographer