Saturday, March 21, 2020

What we ate in our first week of COVID-19 isolation

Big changes in a week, huh? We started off this week socialising with friends and family as normal, but by Wednesday had made the call to self-isolate.

With the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand growing exponentially each day, our family has chosen to stay away from other people as much as possible until further notice, to try and help slow the spread of this nasty virus so it doesn't overwhelm our medical system.

The timing of all of this is pretty crazy, since I had been doing so well at eating through our pantry and freezer in an attempt to come out of this month with nothing owing on our credit card. Alas, Paul helped me see reason last weekend - that this probably wasn't the best time to clear our home of all its food.

I spent a few days restocking everything, including our stores of dried food, our health cabinet and our garden. Hopefully I've thought of everything we'll need but, if not, I guess you'll be seeing a lot more creative recipes coming out of Craving Fresh in the coming weeks.

If I have one prepper-type tip to share with you in all of this uncertainty, it would be to save your meat bones and vegetable scraps and turn them into broth. You can make such a valuable, tasty, nourishing food out of something you'd usually just throw away. Head to this post to see how I've been making my chicken stock for more than a decade. Below, you'll see some of the ways I've used chicken stock this week.

If I have a second tip for you, it's to plant some vegetables in your garden or in pots, so you can ensure you've got fresh ingredients to use in your meals even if you do need to go into isolation. Any kind of dark leafy green is good to plant at this time of year in New Zealand. Think spinach, kale, silverbeet, cabbage, basil and coriander. You can also still plant broccoli, cauliflower, beetroot, carrots, leeks, lettuces, radishes and spring onions. Lots of options.

And now, here's the rundown of what we've been eating in this week that started off so beautifully...

Breakfast - The kids were at their cousins' house, so I'm not sure what they ate for breakfast. I intermittent fasted.

Lunch - The kids were still at their cousins'. I ate boysenberry yoghurt mixed with banana slices, as well as a couple of small salami sticks. (It was a throw-whatever-I-could-find-in-my-mouth meal as I was using the kid-free time to get the garden cleaned up. Boy am I glad I did that.)

Dinner - We ate dinner at my sister-in-law's house. It was my nephew's birthday party, so we had party food - Domino's pizza, mini mince pies, sausage rolls and cheerio sausages. I guess that will be the last party in a while. Strange times.

Breakfast - Cereal for the kids; Fried eggs on low-carb toast for me.

Lunch - The kids and I were out grocery shopping, so we bought St Pierre's sushi for lunch.

Snack - Orchard apples and pears that my mother-in-law grew.

Dinner - Butter chicken soup with naan bread. (The soup was loosely based on this Destitute Gourmet recipe and it featured my homemade chicken stock as its base. However, I changed the recipe up quite a bit and added two cups of puréed pumpkin from my garden as that's one thing we have in abundance right now. The soup turned out even better than usual. To make the naan bread, I simply fried tortillas in butter.)

Breakfast - Cereal for the kids; Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding for me.

Lunch - Dairy-free strawberry smoothies, natural corn chips, raw vegetable platter, raw peanuts, bananas and peanut butter. (We had friends over who are gluten and dairy free, so the lunch was a mixture of what they had brought and what I could provide.)

Snack - Pumpkin bread, fruit.

Dinner - Hamburgers on homemade dinner rolls. (To make the hamburger patties, I simply shaped mince into patties, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and fried it in butter. We topped the burgers with tomatoes and lettuce from the garden, as well as cucumber, gherkins, cheese, mayonnaise, mustard and basil pesto.)

Breakfast - Baked beans on toast for the kids; Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding and frozen raspberries for me.

Lunch - Leftover dinner rolls with salami, cheese and cucumber for the kids; Leftover butter chicken soup from Monday for me.

Snack - Chocolate chip oat cookies, pear and apple slices.

Dinner - Sirloin steak, mashed potatoes and broccoli, as well as green beans and cherry tomatoes from the garden (all pictured above). Steak is a rarity for us, but Paul loves it and I managed to get this one marked down by almost half a few weeks ago, so it's been waiting in the freezer for us.

Breakfast - Cereal for the younger two kids; A salami, cheese, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and carrot sandwich for my eldest child; Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding for me.

Lunch - Sausage rolls with a fruit and vegetable platter.

Snack - Chocolate chip oat cookies.

Dinner - Freshly made gnocchi (pictured above), served with pasta sauce and cheese, as well as the leftover fruit and vegetables from lunch. My daughter and I made the gnocchi from scratch, as part of her Good and the Beautiful Language Arts curriculum - experiencing Italian culture. We used the leftover mashed potatoes from Wednesday's dinner in the recipe.

Breakfast - Cereal for the younger two kids; A salami, cheese, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and cucumber sandwich for my eldest child; Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding with frozen raspberries for me.

Lunch - Leftover gnocchi and pasta sauce sprinkled with cheese. A raw vegetable platter.

Snack - Fruit

Dinner - Roast butterfly chicken, potato cubes, green beans and peas (pictured above). We saved half of the chicken for Saturday night's dinner. I made the potato cubes by dicing up potatoes, rubbing them in coconut oil, salt and pepper, and roasting them in the oven with the chicken.

Breakfast - Bacon and toast for the kids. (I intermittent fasted.)

Lunch - Bagels with butter and jam for the younger two; A salami, cheese, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and cucumber sandwich for my eldest child. (I was still fasting.)

Snack - Frozen blueberries, sliced apple and sliced cucumber for the kids.

Dinner - Chicken and Tarragon Pie - loosely based on this Countdown recipe, but I used onion instead of leek and added in grated zucchini from my garden. This pie did feature more of my homemade chicken stock. That stuff is pure gold.

I hope you've been finding what you need in the stores, or finding work-arounds for any missing ingredients.

My prayers are with all the people facing financial and health uncertainty at this time.

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