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The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted food suppliers, which is why you have probably noticed a shortage of some key food items at your grocery store.

Since it is not guaranteed you’ll be able to find everything on your grocery list, right now is a great time to get creative in the kitchen and develop your own recipes using the food you have. 

As a fitness professional and nutrition coach for over 20 years, I am passionate about helping women transform their lives by balancing hormones and increasing their metabolism to prevent disease and illness. And one of the best ways to do this is by eating healthily.

By walking through some of my family’s staple items, I will show you how we get creative with the food we have and how you can do the same, even when the grocery store does not have everything you need.

Are you ready to step outside the box and get creative in the kitchen with me?

Get Creative by Eating What You Have 

Have you ever gone to the fridge or pantry and thought to yourself, there is nothing to eat! Me too. But the truth is, you likely have a lot more food then you realize, which is why getting creative in the kitchen starts by taking inventory of what you have available. 

  1. Make a List 

Whether you are tech-savvy and use your phone or stick with old-school pen and paper, you’ll want to create an inventory of all the items in your kitchen–pantry, fridge, and freezer. Then, you will start to see there actually is a lot to eat, you just have to get creative with how you prepare it.

As I tell clients in my Burn Fat and Feast program, having a protein and a carbohydrate (vegetable) at every meal and snack is the best way to eat healthily. Not only does it keep you full longer, but you also get an abundance of nutrients to help your body stay strong, which brings me to the next step in creative cooking. 

  1. Divide Your List into Proteins and Carbohydrates

By separating your list into these categories, you can easily pair one with the other, choosing this protein to go with that carb and that carb to go with this protein.

There are no rules here. Even though I’m a rule follower, today we are breaking them all. You can do whatever you want. So, now I want to walk you through some ideas to help get your creative juices flowing. 

  1. Start with Spices

Spices can make or break a meal, so it is important to see what you have on hand and how you can incorporate them into the creative dishes you’ll be making. Start by asking yourself, “what spices do I use the most?” For my family it’s Italian seasoning, chili powder, cumin, curry powder, and basil. These are our go-to spices. What are yours? Do you have them on hand? Make a list, as these spices will become your creative cooking best friend.

  1. Pull Out What’s in the Pantry

Next, let’s talk about how you can use common pantry items to get creative and put together a nutritious meal. 

Rice: We nearly always have brown rice in our pantry because it is such a versatile item. It can be put in anything–added to soup, combined with vegetables–just add your favorite spices and call it a day. 

Quinoa: Similar to rice, quinoa is a versatile staple that can be used creatively. While it works well paired with veggies and a protein, you can also create a delicious quinoa oatmeal. Simply cook the quinoa as usual and throw in some chopped apples during the cooking process. By adding cinnamon, honey, or fresh fruit, you’ve just created a delicious breakfast using a complete protein.

Pasta Sauce: While pasta sauce can obviously be used for spaghetti and other pasta dishes, you can also get creative and use it in chili or meatballs. A quick and easy protein-packed meal can be accomplished by throwing frozen meatballs in the crockpot with a jar of pasta sauce. 

Black Beans and Chickpeas: These canned goods are a great source of non-animal protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. For a creative snack, season the chickpeas with your favorite seasoning and tossing them in the oven for a nice roast. You don’t have to stalk up on animal protein for every meal–some canned goods in your pantry just might do the trick. 

Nut Butter: While nut butter, like peanut butter, is most famous for its pairing with bread and jelly, you can also use nut butter creatively in the kitchen. Try mixing rice and veggies with a dollop of nut butter for a stir-fry packed with flavor. 

  1. Find Food in the Freezer

The freezer is home to a lot of goodies that can turn any boring meal into a delicious one with some creativity. 

Frozen Fruit: One way to use frozen fruit is to defrost it for a simple breakfast item. Or, you can use frozen fruit to create a delicious smoothie, perfect for a hot summer day. While there are hundreds of different smoothie recipes out there, the truth is you don’t need one. Just use what you have–frozen fruit, milk, yogurt, greens–and blend it all together for a simple, sweet snack or treat. 

Frozen Vegetables: A great way to use frozen veggies is tossing them in a pot to make vegetable soup. Again, there are plenty of recipes out there but not one is needed. Just add chicken or vegetable broth–whatever you have in your pantry–your favorite spices, a lean protein of choice, and your frozen veggies for a warm and delicious meal. 

Frozen Ground Beef: While tacos are the first thing that come to my mind when thinking of how to utilize ground beef, there are other creative ways this protein can be used: a simple meatloaf, using your favorite spices and an egg and breadcrumbs for binding, chili, and hamburgers. 

Vegetable-based Rice and Noodles: Like I said, there are no rules, which means you may find cauliflower rice or veggie noodles in your freezer. These act as a creative substitute to their pantry counterparts and add additional nutrients to your diet without compromising taste. 

By getting creative and thinking outside the box, you can create healthy and delicious meals with the food you have on hand. 

Get Creative by Having a Plan B (and maybe even C)

Especially now, you may find your grocery store is out of one or multiple items on your grocery list. With people stocking up on pasta, lean meats, and other staples, shelves are more empty than usual, as stores have not fully recovered from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is why you need a plan B… and maybe even C when you grocery shop. 

Since lean meat is one of the first things to go, we keep non-animal proteins on hand, such as hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds, nuts, black beans, chickpeas, tofu, and lentils. You don’t have to raid the meat section just to find a good protein source. Think outside of the box and try these non-animal proteins. They are cheaper and last longer, plus they add some creativity to any meal. 

Another staple that is quick to fly off the shelves is pasta. If your go-to brand isn’t available, try using alternatives, such as vegetable-based pasta, chickpea pasta, brown rice pasta, or lentil pasta. 

With the unpredictability of life right now, having a plan B and being willing to get creative in the kitchen is key to eating healthily during this time. 

Get Creative with Burn Fat and Feast If you are looking for ways to get creative with your health and wellness, sign up for my FREE 5-day program to burn fat and increase energy. You will discover more ways to eat healthily, cook creatively, and keep your body healthy and strong. Don’t wait–sign up now!