A variety of preserved food in glass jar. From left to right: artichokes, tomatoes, tuna, pears, olives, eggplants, mixed vegetables.

Things are feeling awfully uncertain. And while we can't do too much to help you navigate this surreal experience, we can at least try and help you figure out some of the basics. After all, cooking is our calm place.

First, here are our best reminders for stocking your pantry and cooking with limited ingredients. You don't have to stockpile, just choose thoughtfully:

  1. Fresh veggies are scarce, but remember that frozen vegetables are as good (sometimes better!) as their fresh counterparts, and they are always our preference over canned. Get a variety of frozen veggies, including greens, which are nutrient-dense and great for throwing into soups, stir-fries, and pasta dishes. The bagged varieties tend to be easier to use than the bricks, if you have a choice.
  2. Beans, beans, beans. Canned or dry will serve the same purpose of adding protein and bulk to a simple dish. Get a variety, so you don't get bored. Beans-adjacent ingredients like lentils are quicker to cook, especially the red ones.
  3. Your store may be running very low on meat and poultry, but we're noticing that things like ribs, chicken wings, and bone-in beef cuts seem to be leftover. Use these cuts to make stock and soup, a rich and hearty stew, or a low and slow meat sauce for pasta. It'll be rich and feel like a million bucks.
  4. Canned tuna is a great pantry staple, but we're seeing lots of good-quality tinned seafood left on the shelves. Ingredients like tinned mussels and sardines can be enjoyed simply with crackers or as an ingredient in pastas, risottos, or even salads, so don't pass them up.
  5. Tomato paste will help make basic ingredients taste rich, so grab a few cans (or better yet, a few tubes, which store easily in the fridge). Add the paste to soup bases, as the start of a simple pasta sauce, or cooked with beans and garlic for a simple toast topper.
  6. Pick up a bottle of red wine vinegar. It's an all-purpose acid that will brighten up any dish that's falling flat, especially when lemons can be hard to come by.
  7. Save your veggie scraps and use them to make a quick vegetable broth for soups, stews, or literally anything that calls for chicken, beef, or veggie broth. Put the scraps (including onion peels, broccoli stems, and carrot ends) into water and simmer for about 30 minutes until it's flavorful. You can also use frozen veggies.
  8. Don't get hung up on a recipe. Use your best judgement for substitutions and additions.

If you have any questions about revising recipes to account for missing ingredients, stocking your pantry, or literally anything food related, drop us a note in the comments below. Foodies always stick together.