Easy pantry recipes for delicious meals during COVID-19 pandemic

Anchorage has been issued a “social distancing” order on March 27 until April 11, which will then be reevaluated. Because of the state mandate, restaurants and bars in the city are no longer offering dine-in service. Many restaurants in Anchorage are still operating with pick up or delivery options, however. Since residents are encouraged to stay home as much as possible, getting creative in the kitchen with pantry ingredients can be an option for delicious dishes.

Meals can be made out of simple ingredients that many already have in their kitchens. Items such as pasta, canned tomatoes, frozen veggies and cheese can have delicious outcomes if the recipe is right. Here are some examples:

Cacio e Pepo is a simple pasta dish that is traditionally made with spaghetti but can be made with any long pasta, such as angel hair or linguine. Its base ingredients are pasta, parmesan cheese, pepper and pasta wate. The sauce is made using the pasta water from the pasta or pasta water, parmesan cheese and pepper. The result is a creamy, cheesy sauce. A little lemon when the dish is done adds some zest, and some red pepper flakes add an extra kick. As with any dish, ingredients beyond the base can be customizable. For more easy pasta options, check out Delish.

Breakfast food can be satisfying at any time of the day, such as a skillet, eggs and ham dish. Ingredients for this recipe calls for eggs, ham, potatoes and herbs. Ovo-Vegetarians can omit the ham. For easy breakfast recipes, visit A Taste of Home.

Enchiladas are a fairly simple recipe that can be made in the oven and feed a large crowd to satisfy a craving for Mexican cuisine. Homemade enchilada sauce can also be easy to make and often better tasting than the canned version. The filling of enchiladas have a wide range: beef, chicken, beans, tofu or whatever you have on hand can be used. For more Mexican food ideas, visit The Spruce Eats or Taste of Home.

If you need to satisfy a sweet tooth, brownies can really hit the spot. This classic recipe originated from Katharine Hepburn and requires basic ingredients. These particular brownies will come out very fudgy and chocolaty. Cookies are also always an option. Vegans can substitute eggs for a variety of options, like apple sauce, bananas and nut-butters. Vegetable fats, such as coconut oil, can replace butter. For more easy-desserts, visit Bon Appétit.

Katharine Hepburn Brownies from The New York Times:

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  • ½ cup cocoa
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped or broken-up walnuts or pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan with cocoa and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a large bowl. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, nuts and salt. Add to the cocoa-butter mixture. Stir until just combined
  4. Pour into a greased 8 x 8-inch-square pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Do not overbake; the brownies should be gooey. Let cool, then cut into bars.

Actress Katharine Hepburn was born in 1907 and died in 2003. She won several Oscars, for such films as “Morning Glory,” (1934) and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1968). She was considered an early feminist, according to the Los Angeles Times and lived an extraordinary life for her time, according to her obituary in The Guardian.

Peanut butter toast is jazzed up with bananas, raw sunflower seeds, cinnamon, orange blossom honey and berries; all from pantry ingredients. Photo by Christina Swayney.

Pantries may be bare-bones right now because of product availability. If that is the case, there are always super basic recipes, like the humble peanut butter sandwich. This can be customized with honey or jam instead of jelly. It can be served on toast with bananas and Nutella on top. It can be weirded-up with the now popular pickle and peanut butter option or fried and hearty, like the Elvis Presley sandwich recipe. Peanut butter is vegan and filling, with its protein and healthy fats. For more ways to jazz up peanut butter and bread, visit Potato Rolls.

If a nut allergy is present in your household, there is also avocado toast. This is popular in everyday kitchens and five-star restaurants alike, such as Sqirl Cafe in Los Angeles, California. Their avocado toast includes ingredients such as hot pickled carrots, garlic crème fraîche and house za’atar. Of course, avocado toast can be gloriously delicious with simple ingredients. Put avocado on some sourdough, drizzle some hot sauce on top and add a fried egg, cheese, lime or salsa on top. The possibilities are endless. For more varieties, check out The Kitchen.

Having a good meal prepared at home with housemates can be an activity that will pass the time, and nourish not only the body, but the spirit.