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Creative Quarantine Recipes Using Your Pantry Staples

Coronavirus, isolation, QUARANTINE…..this is all we are hearing about in the news and on social media these days as we face a worldwide pandemic. Many of us are in states that have a shelter-in-place order, meaning we should not go out unless necessary. This order has put a lot of limits on things we can do and places we can go. During the earlier weeks of the pandemic, I stocked up on the kitchen staples such as, eggs, milk, butter, bread, ground meats, and canned foods. However, the average American eats 3-4 meals a week outside the home, so although we have stocked up, after about a week or so, most will run out of their go-to recipes.

This leaves us to get creative with leftovers and ingredients! I put together some easy recipes that use up those kitchen staples, create delicious leftovers, and keep your palate interested.


Who doesn't love tacos and pasta?! Using a few staple ingredients, you can create a unique take on two classic dinner meals. Taco pasta is a great meal to make with the kids and even spark conversation on what other meals they love that can potentially be combined. Let their imaginations run wild!


  • 1 box of large shells pasta

  • 1 lb of ground beef

  • ½ large onion chopped

  • 3 tbsp of taco seasoning (or one packet)

  • ¾ cup water

  • 1 cup jarred salsa

  • 2 cups shredded cheddar or Mexican-blend cheese


  1. Cook pasta according to directions on package and drain. Try to keep 3/4 cup of the pasta water to use later.

  2. In the same pot, add ground beef and onion. Cook until it turns brown.

  3. Drain excess fat.

  4. Add the taco seasoning and ¾ cup of pasta water to the meat and stir until well mixed. Continue to cook until the water is gone.

  5. Add pasta back into the pot with salsa and cheese and toss all ingredients together.

  6. Serve immediately, garnishing with fresh chopped cilantro, scallions, and a dollop of sour cream if you have them on hand.


Another staple many purchased during this time are potatoes! The most common use for potatoes are mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes are a classic side dish to most meat and poultry dishes. If your family is like mine, you always make more than enough and have lots of leftovers. Potato pancakes are a great “leftover” recipe the whole family can enjoy. This easy recipe is ready in less than 15 minutes and can be made for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.


  • 2 cups of cold mashed potatoes

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 oz of shredded cheese (preferably cheddar)

  • 6 tbsp of Italian/plain bread crumbs (you can sub flour)

  • Oil or non-stick cooking spray for frying

  • 1-2 tbsp of fresh chopped scallion (optional)

  • Chilled apple sauce for garnish


  1. Add all ingredients except the oil into a bowl.

  2. Mix together until a soft, slightly sticky dough forms. You may need to add more bread crumbs or flour depending on the moisture content of your mashed potatoes.

  3. Roll the dough into medium size balls, then flatten and form into a thick disk shape. Pro-tip: keep hands slightly moist so the dough does not stick to them.

  4. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.

  5. Add potato cakes to the hot pan and cook for approximately 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

  6. Serve immediately topped with cold apple sauce.


Canned Tuna is a staple for the kitchen during this time as it has a long shelf life and does not need refrigeration. Though it's typically enjoyed on a sandwich or in a salad, if we have the time and a little creativity, why not mix it up a bit? These spruced-up deviled eggs are so easy and the combination of options are endless. I love this recipe because tuna pairs so well with egg and the combination of the creamy and crunchy textures with the fresh brightness of herbs will leave you wishing you made more!


  • 8 hard boiled eggs

  • 4 tbsp of mayonnaise

  • 2 tbsp of Greek yogurt or sour cream

  • 1-2 tsp of Dijon mustard

  • ½ tsp of hot sauce (optional)

  • ½ tsp of garlic powder

  • 1 tsp of paprika

  • ½ stalk of celery minced

  • 1 dill pickle minced (baby dill)

  • ½ can of tuna or 1 package

  • 1 tbsp of fresh parsley and scallion minced

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Hard boil the eggs by boiling for 13 minutes. Let cool in an ice bath.

  2. Peel the eggs and cut them in half lengthwise.

  3. Scoop out the yolks into a medium glass bowl. Using a fork or a whisk, combine the yolks, mayonnaise and yogurt, mixing until smooth.

  4. Add in the mustard, hot sauce, garlic powder, paprika and whisk again until combined.

  5. Using a fork, flake the tuna apart before adding to the bowl. Combine the mixture and taste, adding more or less of any the ingredients you like (I love pickle so I add more of that).

  6. Place the mixture into a large Ziplock bag. Cut a small corner of the bag off and pipe the filling into the centers of the egg white (you can just spoon in the mixture).

  7. Garnish with green onions a dash of paprika. Enjoy!

I hope these recipes bring some joy to your quarantined life. I know good food has a way of making me feel happy, no matter the circumstance. All of these recipes have room for creativity and can be made with other added ingredients if you let your imagination run wild. So go become the next Food Network star, you never know what quarantine will make you capable of!




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About the Contributor:

Holliann Barry is a military wife currently stationed in San Francisco. She has a culinary degree and is passionate about food and health. Holliann recently enrolled into another nutrition program that will focus on pregnancy, postpartum and baby nutrition. She recently launched an Instagram page to help mamas make healthy choices, learn recipes and guide them on how to make homemade baby food. Holliann is also a MentorMama for SocialMama.

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