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13 “Quarantine Recipes” With Nonperishable Ingredients From Your Pantry

With many Americans still largely staying in and working from home in the COVID-19 pandemic, some rarely get out to the grocery store. And when you can’t stomach the thought of one more pack of ramen noodles, you need some fresh recipe ideas that don’t rely on fresh ingredients.

Think of it like the end-of-month pantry challenge on steroids.

As you plan meals potentially weeks in advance, give these recipe ideas a try. Some require frozen ingredients rather than true nonperishables, but you can generally substitute a canned version without too much impact on flavor.

Pro tip: If you’d like additional dinner ideas, you can use a service like eMeals. Choose your weekly meal plan, and then you can either shop for the ingredients yourself or have them take care of the shopping for you through a service like Instacart or Amazon.

Ideas for Nonperishable Ingredients

Before diving straight into recipe ideas, take a minute to review some ideas for nonperishable pantry staples. If you’re like most people, you tend to slip into a cooking comfort zone. But as you put together the food version of an emergency fund, consider stocking up on the following ingredients.

  • Grated Parmesan cheese (shelf life: 10 to 12 months in the refrigerator)
  • Velveeta, Cheese Whiz, and anything labeled “cheese product” (read: fake cheese)
  • Cured, brined, or salted meats (shelf life varies based on how they’re processed)
  • Dried meats like jerky and biltong
  • Hormel roast beef
  • Canned corned beef
  • Spam
  • Canned seafood (such as tuna, salmon, crab meat, and bay shrimp)
  • Rice
  • Beans (dried or canned)
  • Pasta
  • Pasta sauces (tomato, pesto, white sauce, vodka sauce)
  • Canned mushrooms
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Dehydrated and canned soups
  • Dehydrated  mashed potatoes
  • Cornmeal
  • Powdered eggs
  • Powdered milk
  • Sweetened condensed milk or evaporated milk
  • Pickles
  • Dried onion and garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Oatmeal
  • Cereal
  • Canned vegetables
  • Peanut butter
  • Jellies, jams, and preserves
  • Crackers (ideally separately sealed in small packages)
  • Nuts and trail mix
  • Multivitamins
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Shelf-stable milk and cream

While hardly an exhaustive list, this should at least start your mental gears turning about nonperishable food ideas. Also stock up on seasonings, particularly salt and black pepper.

And fill up your freezer. Frozen chicken breast tastes much better than canned chicken.

After you’re all stocked up, try these main dishes.

13 Recipes Using Nonperishable Ingredients

1. Mediterranean Medley

Pasta With Salmon Mushroom Spinach Knife Fork Creamy Sauce

The nice thing about a Mediterranean medley is that you can throw in whatever Mediterranean staples you have on hand.

I like to make it with whole-wheat penne or farfalle, pesto sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, basil, spinach, feta or mozzarella, and seafood. To tweak it for less perishable ingredients, swap in Parmesan cheese for the feta or mozzarella. If you don’t have any frozen seafood, use canned seafood — or use prosciutto, which lasts for many months in the refrigerator unopened (after opening, though, it only lasts for days).

Less a recipe than an outline, adjust the quantities to taste. Feel free to swap in a different sauce to mix things up. And if you use the pesto, you can serve the leftovers straight from the fridge.


  • 1 cup penne or farfalle pasta
  • 1 (10-ounce) package spinach (fresh is better but frozen works)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup seafood of choice (or prosciutto)
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olives
  • 1/4 cup mushrooms
  • Basil to taste (fresh is better but dried works)
  • 1/4 cup feta or mozzarella (or Parmesan)
  • 1 cup pesto (or other pasta sauce)


  1. In a large pot, cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the spinach during the last 90 seconds of boiling.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the seafood if necessary. In a large pan, preheat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the seafood to the pan and cook thoroughly (for most seafood, that means white all the way through with no clear or translucent part).
  3. Strain the pasta and spinach. Add the seafood, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, basil, and cheese and toss with the pesto.

2. Savory Beef or Chicken Skillet

Beef Skillet Ground Pan

The beauty of this pasta casserole lies in its flexibility. Whatever you like or have on hand, you can throw in — even opting for healthy substitutions.


  • 1-1/2 cups uncooked whole-wheat penne pasta
  • 3/4 pound ground beef or chicken (you can also substitute canned tuna)
  • 2 tablespoons onion, diced (or dried equivalent)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup or red pasta sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 2 tablespoons pickle relish
  • 1 teaspoon steak seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 3/4 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese (or fake cheese, as available)


  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions and strain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground meat and onions until no pink remains. Drain the grease, then add the strained pasta to the skillet along with the meat.
  3. Place the skillet back on the stove and stir in the tomatoes, ketchup or pasta sauce, mustard, relish, steak seasoning, and seasoned salt. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat, then simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle the top with cheese, and remove the skillet from the heat. Cover and let stand until the cheese melts.

3. Grownup Mac & Cheese

Mac And Cheese With Pease Cheese Pan Fork Garlic Basil Spinach

Yes, you can always make boxed macaroni and cheese with a powder packet while quarantined.

But it lacks a certain — what’s the word? Oh, right: everything.

If you want mac and cheese to be a meal and not a side dish for a 4-year-old, you need to add a protein and vegetables — and ideally, ditch the powdered stuff altogether and make real macaroni with real cheese.

Swap in your protein and veggie of choice (or availability), and enjoy a grown-up version of this kiddie classic.


  • 16 ounces macaroni pasta
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 6 cups shredded cheese (ideal is Gruyere or sharp cheddar, but you can also use cubed processed cheese, like Velveeta)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Smoked paprika (optional)
  • Protein of choice (consider ham or seafood), cooked as desired
  • 1 can peas, drained
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large pot, cook the pasta according to package directions, stopping 1 minute shy of al dente. Strain.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the base for the cheese sauce. If you’re using Velveeta, you can skip this step. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk the flour into the melted butter and cook until the roux is golden and bubbling. Then add the milk and cream, whisking until smooth. Bring to a simmer and continue cooking and whisking for 2 minutes.
  4. Working in 2 batches, add 4 cups of shredded cheese to the cheese sauce base, stirring until the cheese melts. If you’re using processed cheese, just melt the cheese in a large pot, stirring frequently. Add the salt and pepper and optional smoked paprika to taste.
  5. Combine the cheese sauce with the strained pasta. Add your protein and peas.
  6. Into a casserole dish, spoon half the mac and cheese. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 cups of shredded cheese, then add the other half of the mac and cheese.
  7. In a small bowl, mix the Parmesan and panko with the olive oil. Sprinkle it over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

4. Beef Enchiladas

Beef Enchilada Plate Knife Fork Baking Tray

Who doesn’t like enchiladas?

And if you’ve got the ingredients for enchiladas, you can go even simpler by preparing tacos instead. Simply cook the meat and veggies, and then assemble your own with cheese, salsa, and any other toppings you have available (such as sour cream, guacamole, and hot sauce).

These Tex-Mex classics only scratch the surface of the cheap meals you can make with beans and rice. Get creative with your combinations.

Just be mindful of how you store the tortillas. They last around one week on the countertop, three to four months in the refrigerator, and six to eight months in the freezer. Note that you can substitute nonfat plain yogurt for sour cream, and yogurt lasts many weeks unopened or for several months in the freezer.

Feel free to tweak these ingredient amounts, as they vary greatly based on your tastes.


  • 1 pound ground beef (or turkey or chicken)
  • 1 large onion, diced (or dried equivalent)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans or pinto beans
  • Taco or fajita seasoning to taste
  • Jalapeños (fresh or pickled) to taste
  • 1 cup salsa
  • Enchiladas sauce (either canned or from a mix, optional)
  • Green chiles (fresh or canned, optional)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar and Jack cheeses (or processed cheese if necessary)
  • 1 cup sour cream (or nonfat plain yogurt)
  • 1 cup guacamole (if available)
  • 8 corn tortillas


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the ground meat and onions, then add beans, seasoning, jalapeños, and salsa.
  3. Meanwhile, heat or make the enchilada sauce according to package directions.
  4. Dip the tortillas in the enchilada sauce (optional), top with a small amount of meat mixture (don’t overstuff) and roll. Put them in a baking dish prepared with cooking spray, seam-side down. Top with more enchilada sauce, green chiles, and cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, and salsa.

5. Cajun Fish Over Dirty Rice

Cajun Seafood Creole Tomatoes Rice Fish Jambalaya

One of my favorite recipes, this one proves easier than it sounds.

I like to cook the fish fillets in an air fryer because it’s so much healthier. But you can pan-fry them or even bake them if you prefer. Another option to make this dish even healthier: substitute quinoa for rice.

Unfortunately, it does require fish fillets, which means going frozen if you can’t get fresh. It’s not exactly nonperishable, but frozen fish filets do last several months in the freezer.

For the Cajun spice, I like to combine both the traditional and hot Slap Ya Mama Cajun spices.


  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1 large onion, diced (or dried equivalent)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (frozen if necessary, or you can skip if unavailable)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (or to taste)
  • 1 egg (or the equivalent in dried eggs)
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup rice flour or cornmeal
  • 2 – 4 whitefish fillets, depending on size (tilapia works well)
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (or nonfat plain yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup sweet relish (optional)


  1. Cook the rice according to the package directions.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the onion and bell pepper with some salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of the Cajun spice.
  3. In a shallow dish, beat the egg with some salt, pepper, and a large dash of Cajun spice. In a separate shallow dish, combine panko breadcrumbs, rice flour or cornmeal, and another large dash of Cajun spice.
  4. Coat the fish fillets with egg wash, then dip them into the breadcrumb mixture and coat them on both sides. Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees F. Transfer the fillets to the air fryer and cook for 4 minutes on each side, flipping once, although the cooking time varies based on the thickness of the fish fillets. Whitefish is cooked through when it’s no longer translucent in the middle. If you don’t have an air fryer, you can cook the fish in a frying pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil preheated to medium-high heat.
  5. While the fish and rice cook, combine the mayonnaise and sour cream, Tabasco, remaining Cajun spice, and relish.
  6. Combine rice and vegetables, and top with the crispy fish fillets. Serve with a side of the sauce.

6. Brown Sugar & Bourbon Salmon With Green Beans

Salmon With Green Beans Lemon Spoon Plates

As with whitefish, salmon fillets aren’t exactly nonperishable, but they do freeze well for several months.

This remains one of my favorite recipes. In fact, my wife and I love it so much we no longer prepare salmon any other way. The key ingredient: McCormick Grill Mates Brown Sugar Bourbon seasoning.

It also happens to be the easiest recipe I know.


  • 1 large salmon fillet
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for sauteing
  • McCormick Grill Mates Brown Sugar Bourbon seasoning to taste
  • 2 cups green beans
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced (or dried equivalent)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a baking dish, brush the salmon fillets with olive oil, then coat top with Brown Sugar Bourbon seasoning.
  2. Bake the salmon until cooked through (uniform lighter pink all the way through, with no darker pink in the middle) — and not a minute longer. Usually between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on the fillets’ thickness, but check frequently if you’re new to baking fish.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium-size pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute the green beans with salt and pepper for around 4 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook for another minute, or until the garlic is fragrant, and taste for tenderness.

7. Gnocchi with Seafood & Spinach

Gnocchi Pasta Dumplings Seafood Spinach Plate

Another easy and delicious recipe, you can buy frozen gnocchi and serve it with frozen or canned seafood.

To me, it tastes best with pesto. But if you’re watching your figure, prepare it with tomato sauce instead.

I also like to make it with frozen spinach, which comes in bags with little pucks, when I’m too lazy to mess around with fresh spinach.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced (or dried equivalent)
  • 1 (10-ounce) package spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 package gnocchi
  • Basil to taste (fresh is best, but dried works too)
  • Dried oregano to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound seafood, cooked (preferably shrimp or mixed shellfish)
  • 1 cup pesto or tomato sauce


  1. In a large frying pan over medium heat, preheat the olive oil and cook the onions, stirring frequently, until golden and soft, usually around 3 minutes. Add the spinach, gnocchi, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper and saute for another 3 minutes.
  2. Toss in the seafood and sauce, and cook for another 3 minutes.

8. Shepherd’s or Cottage Pie

Shepherds Pie Clay Pan Forks Spoons Potatoes

First, an etymological distinction: Shepherd’s pie features ground lamb (hence the name), while cottage pie features ground beef. They taste virtually identical, so use whatever you have on hand.

These savory pie dishes make great batched cooking meals. You can cook a huge batch and then freeze several meals for later.

It’s another easy but delicious dish you can make with frozen or canned ingredients if necessary.


  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large onion (or dried equivalent)
  • 6 cloves garlic (or dried equivalent)
  • 1 pound mixed vegetables, (ideal: peas, carrots, corn, green beans)
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes (fresh or reconstituted)
  • 3/4 cup English brown sauce or steak sauce (like HP sauce or A.1.)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large pan over medium-high heat, cook the ground meat, adding Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, onion, and garlic to taste.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the vegetables (if necessary — frozen and canned veggies just need to be heated).
  4. Prepare mashed potatoes according to your favorite recipe or according to package directions. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. In a baking dish, layer the meat first, topping it with a liberal dose of brown sauce. Then layer on the vegetables, adding more brown sauce if desired. Top it off with the mashed potatoes.
  6. Bake until potatoes develop a golden-brown crust on top, around 30 minutes.

9. Chicken Potpie

Chicken Pot Pie Carrots Vegetables Pie Crust Rosemary

Chicken potpie makes for excellent comfort food that diners of all ages can get behind. And like shepherd’s pie, it’s also a good candidate for batch meals.

It’s worth mentioning that the recipe does call for a premade refrigerated pie crust sheet. These do go bad, but they last for a month or more in the refrigerator and over six months in the freezer. If you don’t have them on hand, you can make your own — try this recipe from OMG Yummy.


  • 1 chicken breast, cubed (or canned shredded chicken if that’s what you have)
  • 2 cups mixed vegetables
  • 1 (15-ounce) can lentils, drained (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth, if that’s what you have on hand)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Lemon pepper to taste
  • Smoked paprika to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 sheet refrigerated pie crust (or a homemade pie crust)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the chicken and cook for 90 seconds on each side, stirring frequently, until no pink remains in the center of the cubes. Add the vegetables and lentils in the last 3 minutes of cooking.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. Stir the flour in with the chicken and vegetables. Gradually whisk in the broth. Bring the liquid to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until thickened (1 to 2 minutes). Stir in the Dijon and add lemon pepper, paprika, and salt to taste.
  4. Transfer the meat and veggie mixture to a greased 9-inch pie plate. Place the pie crust over the filling and trim, then use a very sharp knife to cut 4 (2-inch) slits in the top. Brush the crust with olive oil and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Bake until the crust is golden brown (30 to 35 minutes).

10. Frito Pie

Beef Pie With Frito Chips Casserole Dish

It’s not the healthiest option on this list. But it sure tastes fantastic.

You can substitute canned beef, chicken, or turkey if you don’t have access to fresh ground beef. It’s really the crunch of the Fritos that brings the appeal and makes this dish what it is.


  • 1 pound ground beef (or turkey for a healthier version)
  • 1 large onion, diced (or dried equivalent)
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans ranch-style beans
  • 1 (9.25-ounce) package Fritos corn chips
  • 2 (10-ounce) cans enchilada sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar or Jack cheese (or processed cheese if necessary)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef and onion until the meat is fully browned, breaking up the beef into crumbles. Drain the grease and stir in the beans.
  2. Reserve one cup of corn chips for the topping. Place the remaining corn chips in a greased baking dish. On top of the chips, layer the meat mixture, enchilada sauce, and cheese, then top with the remaining chips.
  3. Bake uncovered until the cheese melts (15 to 20 minutes).

11. Chesapeake Chicken

Chicken Mushroom Cream Sauce Plated Wooden Table

As someone who grew up in Maryland, I love recipes that go well with Old Bay seasoning. This one is an original.

This is an ideal pressure cooker or slow cooker recipe. It calls for low-fat cream cheese to thicken it and bring the creaminess, but you can substitute canned cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup using no more than half the water called for (if that). Note that unopened cream cheese lasts for around one month after the purchase-by date but once opened only lasts around 10 days in the refrigerator.

The recipe is easy, delicious, and healthier than its creamy taste suggests.


  • 2 chicken breasts, cubed (or canned chicken)
  • 2 (8-ounce) tubs low-fat cream cheese
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 pack of mushrooms, diced (optional)
  • 1 large onion, diced (or dried equivalent)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced (or dried equivalent)
  • 2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning (or to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup bowtie pasta or rice (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables, thawed in the refrigerator (ideal: peas, corn, carrots)


  1. In a large pan over high heat, seal chicken cubes (white on the outside only — you don’t need to cook them all the way through yet).
  2. Drain the fat and transfer the chicken to a slow cooker or pressure cooker. Add the cream cheese, soup, mushrooms, onion, garlic, Old Bay, and salt and pepper. Cook for around 6 hours on low in the slow cooker. Check the consistency and remove the slow cooker top to allow it to reduce for another 30 minutes if you prefer it thicker. You can also cook it for around 10 minutes in a pressure cooker.
  3. If you’re including them, cook the pasta or rice according to package directions. In a large pan over medium-high heat, preheat the olive oil and saute the vegetables for 3 or 4 minutes to heat them through. Serve the creamy chicken mixture over the vegetables and optional starch, and add more Old Bay to taste.

12. Seafood Risotto

Seafood Rissoto Plated Shrimp Mussells

I love eating risotto. I just don’t love cooking it. The constant stirring, the sacrifice of good white wine — I usually end up drinking half the bottle just to stave off the boredom of stirring. You can use the time to reflect on the meaning of life, listen to a personal development audiobook, or just drink more wine.

So I’ve taken to buying the easiest, fastest boxed risotto I can find. In some cases, you can get away with just 10 to 12 minutes of cooking, stirring in wine and broth every two minutes or so.

This recipe makes for another flexible one. You can stir in any seafood you like. I like mixed seafood, including shrimp, calamari, clams, and mussels, but my wife prefers just shrimp. But use whatever you have on hand if you’re quarantined.

Oh, and if you guard your good wine jealously (like I do), freeze leftover wine that would otherwise go to waste into cubes. You can then use those cubes for cooking rather than waste more freshly opened wine.


  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced (or dried equivalent)
  • 1 (8-ounce) box mushrooms, diced (if available)
  • 1 (5.5-ounce) box easy risotto (or you can just use regular rice if that’s what you have)
  • 1 (10-ounce) package spinach
  • 1/2 pound seafood of choice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (or more to taste)


  1. In a medium pot over high heat, warm the stock. Turn off the heat, and add the wine.
  2. In a separate large pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter or heat the oil. Add the onions and mushrooms, and cook until the onions caramelize. Add the risotto, and mix to coat with the butter or oil.
  3. Stir in 3/4 cup of the heated liquid, then cover. Repeat the process of stirring in liquid every 2 minutes or follow the instructions on the box. Risotto takes between 12 and 45 minutes to cook.
  4. Just before you add the last 2 ladlefuls of broth, stir the spinach into the risotto.
  5. In a separate large pan over medium heat, preheat butter or olive oil and sauté the seafood until it’s cooked through (no longer translucent in the center). When the risotto is finished (it should be soft and rich), mix in the seafood, salt, and pepper, and serve with Parmesan.

13. Air Fryer Thai Coconut Chicken Stir-Fry

Chicken With Vermicelli Noodles Stir Fry Vegetables

Since buying an air fryer, this has become one of my favorite recipes. It’s easy, reasonably healthy, and tastes amazing, the perfect balance of sweet and spicy.

And you can make the chicken extremely crispy and crunchy without deep frying.

If you can’t use fresh chicken breast, use frozen chicken breast, but this is not a recipe for canned chicken.

Finally, feel free to mix things up with curry powder and coconut milk for a creamy curry sauce instead, or use canned or bottled pad thai sauce if you have some handy.


  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 2 cups Asian vermicelli noodles (or other Asian noodles as needed)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 (11-ounce) package frozen stir-fry vegetables
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1-1/2  tablespoons soy sauce
  • Sweet and spicy Thai chile sauce (optional)


  1. In one shallow bowl, beat the egg and add 1 tablespoon of the Sriracha sauce. In another, combine panko breadcrumbs and coconut flakes. Coat the chicken strips in the egg and Sriracha, then roll them in the panko breadcrumbs and coconut flakes. Air-fry until cooked, turning the chicken strips halfway through to expose both sides (around 12 minutes total).
  2. Prepare the noodles according to the package directions. Meanwhile, in a large wok or saute pan over medium-high heat, bring sesame oil to temperature. Add the stir-fry veggies and allow them to cook, stirring frequently. When they’re done, strain the noodles and stir them into the wok with the veggies. Add the remaining Sriracha, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and soy sauce and toss to coat.
  3. Serve the chicken strips both over the stir-fry. Optionally, serve some chicken strips on the side and dip them in sweet and spicy Thai chile dipping sauce.

Side Ideas

Have a good main dish planned and need a nonperishable side?

The easiest option is mashed potatoes. Dehydrated mashed potatoes taste great and take all of 60 seconds to prepare.

Living in Brazil for the last nine months, I’ve also grown fond of polenta. Cornmeal doesn’t really go bad if stored properly. On the simplest level, you just simmer it with a bit of water on the stove, stirring and adding water occasionally to reach a smooth, thick, and creamy texture. You can get the recipe at Food Network.

I serve mine with plenty of salt, pepper, and caramelized onions topped with melted blue cheese. It pairs perfectly with filet mignon (or any good steak).

You can also quickly sauté frozen vegetables to accompany any meal. Err on the side of undercooking.

Finally, consider boxed stuffing. While most Americans forget about stuffing for 11 months of the year, the holiday favorite preserves well in boxes, making it a reliable side if you can’t get to the store.


A sweet tooth doesn’t go away just because it feels like the world is ending. To satisfy that craving, try these easy nonperishable desserts.

I can’t get enough Brazilian flan (aka pudim). And all the ingredients allow for nonperishable versions: sweetened condensed milk, sugar, vanilla extract, eggs, and milk (the latter two you can buy dehydrated).

The short version is you melt the sugar in a pan on the stovetop to create caramel, then coat a baking dish with it. Meanwhile, you blend the other ingredients for five minutes on high to make them thoroughly smooth. You pour the blend into the baking dish, cover it with foil, and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour. Allow two hours to cool, then refrigerate it overnight. Serve it with an aged tawny port (the older, the better). Get the recipe at 196 Flavors.

If chocolate is your weakness, try Texas sheet cake. It’s dense and rich and pairs perfectly with red fruits, fresh or frozen — perhaps in liquid form in a merlot, grenache, or zinfandel. Get the recipe at Tastes Better from Scratch. Note that it does call for sour cream, but as with enchiladas, you can substitute nonfat plain yogurt.

Finally, for cinnamon and pumpkin lovers, check out the frosted pumpkin cranberry bars on Taste of Home.

Final Word

Just because you don’t make it to the grocery store as often, that doesn’t mean you have to survive on ramen and crackers. As you try new dishes with nonperishable foods, reduce food waste by using your leftovers to create even more recipes. Get creative with it!

Also, many parents coping with school closures face an additional puzzle of how to keep their entire family entertained at home. That makes now the perfect time to teach your kids how to cook with family-friendly recipes.

And for an amusing glimpse into the Internet of yore, check out It started in 1999 as a list of recipes to prepare for mass disruptions in supply chains and services during the feared Y2K century turnover. Not much has changed on the site in over 22 years, despite a recent update about the coronavirus pandemic. Otherwise, think of it as an Internet time capsule with plenty more nonperishable recipe ideas as you shelter in place.

G. Brian Davis
G. Brian Davis is a real estate investor, personal finance writer, and travel addict mildly obsessed with FIRE. He spends nine months of the year in Abu Dhabi, and splits the rest of the year between his hometown of Baltimore and traveling the world.

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