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WILD Quarantine Cuisine: Part 2

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

In the second instalment of Quarantine Cuisine, Lauren provides us with some recipe ideas to create some wholesome vegetarian meals to enjoy with the rest of the household!

Chickpeas have become a staple replacement for meat

So, we’re now well into May and week 8 of lockdown. Perhaps the novelty of having so much free time has worn off and it’s getting difficult to keep thinking positively with so much uncertainty. However, if the temptation to get a different takeaway every night is creeping up on you I’m here to encourage you to learn to cook, improve your skills and save your money for the beer garden and days out in the summer (fingers crossed!).

This edition of quarantine cuisine mini-series is a food-diary of my own. As a ‘flexitarian’, I don’t usually buy or cook with meat at home. During lockdown, I’ve been cooking tea every night for my mum, and I’d like to think I have also influenced her to also eat less meat. That being said, any of the recipes can be easily adapted to have chicken or seafood in, depending on your diet and what’s available in the shops. I made a yummy chow mein packed with vegetables using a black bean packet sauce from the cupboard and a chickpea curry using dried chickpeas as I couldn’t find any in the shops.

Chow Mein is a really good lockdown option because it’s so easy to tailor to what’s available and what you like

The cooking tips I’ve learnt as a student are very useful now, such as batch cooking meals using fresh ingredients then freezing multiple portions to have later in the week. This is especially good when you’re shopping less frequently than before, and helps to reduce food waste, which really helps the environment. In the UK alone, food waste was 9.5 million tonnes in 2018, associated with 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gas.

I batch cooked a huge portion of sausage casserole using Linda McCartney rosemary vegetarian sausages using a hunter’s chicken jar of sauce as there were no chopped tomatoes in the shops. I also added a can of mixed beans for extra sustenance and protein in the dish but sadly forgot to take a photo before I ate it! Adding cheap, tinned ingredients like tinned tomatoes or beans can be a really good way of adding protein and bulking up dishes for as little as 30p a tin. These are good store cupboard ingredients as they don’t go off.

This new way of living and eating means I have generally eaten better, not snacked between meals and have made time to sit and enjoy my meals as the pace of life has slowed down which is something I am still adapting to.

One of my easy go-to recipes to make while I’m at uni is butternut squash risotto. It has the advantage of being versatile as it is gluten-free and vegetarian and can be made vegan, so an excellent option if you’re catering for the whole family. During lockdown we had run out of onions, only had ordinary rice and substituted the butternut squash for sweet potato but it was still really good, so I encourage everyone to try it! Many recipes can be adapted based on what you have, so don’t be put off if you’re struggling to get hold of ingredients.

Using normal rice instead of risotto rice can help make this dish even cheaper, but still taste delicious

The next part of this mini-series will be looking at the issue of food waste and what can be done to reduce this. For now, stay safe, remember to improvise and be resourceful and carry on cooking!

About the Author: Lauren Grindley is a final year Environmental Geography student at York interested in all environmental issues, with a current focus on the importance of nature reserves for mental and physical health.

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