What to Buy and Cook During the Coronavirus


Although I had chosen a nice appetizer to feature on my blog this week, I realized that what most of my friends and colleagues were talking about was what to stock up on for cooking during these challenging times when the Covid19 seems to be advancing  across our country. I’ve made multiple trips to grocery stores in my small New England town, each time picking up additional items.  So, this week, I’d  thought I share my list as well a couple of recipes for dishes made with pantry staples.

Here are two simple recipes to assemble from easy-to-have on hand ingredients. Emergency Red Beans and Rice is my go to dish not just for emergencies (like New England snowstorm weather), but through much of the year as well. And, Broccoli Soup with Curried Creme Fraiche takes less than 45 minutes to prepare and when paired with crusty bread and a salad is hearty enough to be a main course.  Oh, and here are some of the items I’ve been packing into my shopping bags.


Risotto, Pasta, and Savory Tarts- Trader Joe’s prepared risottos-either their asparagus risotto or their mushroom risotto (the small bags  will feed two modestly)– are easy to use straight from the freezer. I top each serving with 2 or 3 sautéed sea scallops for some protein, and sprinkle everything with Parmesan cheese.  Trader’s Joe’s Alsatian tart (a thin crusted tart topped with Gruyère, caramelized onions, and ham) is always in my freezer.  There are no cooking directions on the package–cook at 400 degrees on a baking sheet 15 to 20 minutes until hot and crust is crispy.  Most supermarkets sell stuffed ravioli, which can easily be frozen. Buy your fave combo, and then cook and top with melted butter and grated cheese such as Parmigiano, Fontina, or Pecorino.

Frozen Fish–  Although I typically take pride in buying fresh seafood, I’ve bought Whole Foods 1 1/2 pd bag of frozen sea scallops for the next few weeks. I can take out 4 to 6 or whatever amount of shellfish I need, and then put the bag back in the freezer. I haven’t bought them, but I am eyeing a package of six medium-sized salmon fillets that WF also offers.

Frozen Vegetables–Available in most stores, everywhere.  I’ve purchased lima beans, peas, corn, sweet potato fries, and might make another run for some edamame beans.

Ice creams–I’ve got several pints of my spouse’s favorite frozen yogurt ice cream and popsicles which he also loves.


Rice and more-  I purchased both long grain basmati plus arborio rice (for making risottos), couscous, and dry pasta (spaghetti, penne, and farfalle, for example).

Dried and canned beans– I’ve got cans of red beans, black beans, garbanzos, and cannellini, and am going back to the store for green lentils and dried white beans (both good for soups).

Tomatoes–I’ve stocked cans of diced tomatoes for soups, chilies, and stews, and several cans of San Marzano tomatoes for making Marcella Hazan’s  3- ingredient tomato sauce (28 oz Marzanos, 2 onions, peeled and halved, and 5 tbsp butter!)

Stocks or broths–  Chicken stock, regular or reduced sodium. I love Swanson’s.

Popcorn–for popping and Skinny Pop for eating out of the bag.

Crispy Crackers (in case you run out of bread) to serve with cheese and soups.

Individual water bottles–I’ve read we all need to be drinking lots of water to help reduce the chance of the virus. One whole shelf of an extra refrigerator in my garage is piled high with small water bottles.


Cheeses (they hold up well for a long time). I have Gouda, blue, Gruyère, white cheddar, and a couple of specialty cheeses I picked up at Whole Foods.

Eggs- They last a long time in the fridge, and you can serve them for breakfast or turn them into an omelet for dinner!

Bacon and other smoked meats–  These keep nicely in the refrigerator, and seem to make everything taste better. Good quality sliced ham plus prosciutto and local bacon  are all in my meat drawer.

Fresh vegetables-  Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and carrots  all hold up well under refrigeration, and add color and texture to dishes.

Yogurt, crème fraiIche, and/or sour cream- Yogurt is good any time of the day. And, like  crème fraîche or sour cream, it make a nice addition to or topping for soups or chlil.


Fresh fruits – Apples, such as Granny Smiths seem to have a week or more counter life, and Mandarins (They don’t last as long at our house since they are usually eaten quickly!) are always refreshing.

Nuts such as peanuts, walnuts, almonds, or cashews are good for snacking and cooking.

Kind Bars- I’m crazy about the dark chocolate, nuts, and sea salt variety!












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8 thoughts on “What to Buy and Cook During the Coronavirus

  1. Hi Betty: Virus aside, hope all is well! We all have to slow down and calm down at home. I love all of your suggestions and as always love your recipes! I always loved handling your features in Bon Appetit; I never had to edit much!
    Best, Mara

    • Thanks so much for your note, Mara. I still have wonderful memories of that photo shoot you oversaw at my house those many years ago. We are fine here, but
      staying in as much as possible. I find cooking restoring and calming during these scary times, and hope others do too. Stay safe. xoxo, Betty

  2. Thank you for the great reminders to keep everyone healthy!!! I enjoy reading all your articles… now to find a great recipe for homemade pasta:)

    • Brenda, Thank you so much for sharing. We are all in this together. I’m working on finding easy recipes people can make with staples during these
      challenging times. Stay safe! xo, Betty

  3. Thanks, Betty. These are great ideas. For those of us who are not close to a Whole Foods, are there other sources of frozen fish you recommend?

    Just an observation, I have heard stories of store shelves being emptied of bottled pasta sauces. I find this very odd, since most pasta sauces are easy to make from scratch (meaning using canned tomatoes).

    Again, many thanks.

    • Hi Susie, Today I was in a local supermarket and they were selling frozen cold fillets(two to a pack) so I bought that. The store also had lobster tails and frozen salmon. I’d look around the seafood dept of one of your groceries.
      In Massachusetts all our restaurants are going closing so there has been a run on many things. Today I saw many empty shelves in the meat dept– no ground beef, no chicken thighs. A friend in Ohio sent me a photo of what looked like 20 feet of bare shelves where all the bread products had been. I guess it depends on where you live. Shop as soon as you can and if in doubt, but it! I keep adding to my list! Betty

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