I don’t know about you, but I’ve never considered the possibility of not being able to leave my house. I’ve never considered, planned for or imagined anything like what our world is experiencing right now. I want to come alongside you as one who is navigating all this myself. I don’t claim to be an expert in stockpiling food for emergencies.
What I do know, is that I have learned to cook for a big hungry family. With a full house – all the time, comes lots and lots of eating! I have always enjoyed cooking for my family. We have 5 kids and their appetites are growing by the day! This pandemic situation has taken it to a whole new level!
I’d love to share with you some things I am doing to prepare for whatever lies ahead. We do not know what tomorrow brings. We pray, prepare and trust God. I have been busy planning out meals and grocery items that will last us for an extended period of time.
There are free printables available to you at the bottom of this post. I hope they are helpful for you!
Meal Plan Goals
My goals are to make meals from scratch using mostly whole foods. I want them to be simple without complicated recipes. It needs to feed a whole lot of hungry mouths and I need to make it as frugal as possible, yet still delicious and healthy.
With those goals in mind, I have put together a 2-month meal plan with an accompanying quarantine grocery stock-up essentials list. I want to help you develop your own 2-month meal plan and grocery essentials list. Your family may not eat the same as mine, but hopefully my ideas will help you develop your own customized plan.
Foods I use
You will not notice on the stock-up list in the free printable below, many convenience or prepackaged foods on my list. It’s not that I never use them, I just know they cost a lot more than making them from scratch and it takes a lot of them to feed my family. Have I mentioned how much they eat? Since I am home and we are not rushing here and there, I have time to make the food and my kids are learning too -hello FACS class!
Let me summarize each category with a few tips.
This includes beans, rice, oats, pasta, wheat and popcorn. These are cheap and can be used in multiple ways to make your food stretch!
Beans – high in protein and fiber & cheap
- I was never good at cooking dry beans until I got an Instant Pot. If you know me, it won’t take long to learn how much I love that thing! Cooking beans in the IP is so easy and they are so much better than canned! Plus – CHEAPER!
- Here is an awesome site that explains how to cook your beans in the IP. You can cook beans on the stove or slow cooker too. Here is directions for your slow cooker.
- Beans can be a meat stretcher! Add them to your hamburger dishes so you can cut down on the amount of meat you are using.
- Top your salad or tacos.
- Make refried beans (just use more liquid to make them softer, mash them and then add some of your favorite taco seasonings).
- Refried beans are great for quesadillas, burritos, tacos, chimichangas as well as a great chip dip when you add little salsa!
Rice – I have grown to love brown rice for many reasons. First of all it is has much more nutrition than white rice. It breaks down more slowly, like other whole grains, so it does not spike your blood sugar. It is packed with nutrition. Brown rice can also be used in soups and stews without turning to mush.
- I have a rice cooker, so I will usually use that. However, the IP is great if I want to make a larger batch.
- I will usually cook up a bunch at a time, and then keep the leftovers for other meals. If you won’t be using it within 3-5 days, I would put it in the freezer.
- Whole grain rice is a great salad topper, taco filler, and soup addition.
- Fried rice is another great option – add chicken for a meal, or as a side with your stir-fry.
Oats – I use the old fashioned oats. I haven’t tried the steel cut oats, as I know my kids all like the old fashioned and I haven’t decided to try anything different.
- Oatmeal for breakfast. I follow the recipe on the box, but sub half the water with milk, add a little cinnamon and vanilla. I let them add a little brown sugar or honey and half & half. They also like to add frozen berries. The hot oatmeal will thaw the berries and cool down the oatmeal.
- We also love to make our own granola and granola bars. Some of us have given up sugar for 40 days, so I have not made these in awhile, but I have the supplies. They are a fun treat once in awhile, so I’m sure we will be making them again soon.
- Popcorn Snack – Whole kernel popcorn can be popped right on the stove without any special equipment. Take a sauce pan and put a thin layer of oil on the bottom. Pour just enough kernels to barely cover the bottom. Cover pan. Turn your stove top on medium-high. Shake the pan gently holding onto the handle. As the popcorn pops, keep moving pan until popping stops or is very slow. Remove from heat – add butter, salt and enjoy!
- I grind popcorn in my grain mill to make cornmeal. I use cornmeal to make homemade corn tortillas – which are as easy as pancakes! (see recipe below)
I know not everyone is going to want to grind their own wheat. Quite a few years ago I invested in a grain mill, and I have been so thankful I did! Fresh ground whole wheat is completely different than store bought whole wheat. I go into much greater detail about this here.
The kids all love everything I make with the fresh ground flour. When I know I am feeding my kids good nutrition to help their bodies be strong and fight off sickness – it makes it worth the effort. Although it is not hard! My 10-year-old is now pretty much making the bread for me.
There are two types of wheat, one for baking non-yeast breads, and then the type of wheat that rises better for yeast breads. I can make all these things with the fresh ground wheat. However, you can substitute all purpose flour in place of the wheat.
Making foods from scratch is still better than using the convenient counterpart (although sometimes those are still super helpful just to get by when you aren’t home to help cook!)
Here’s what I like to make:
- Cookies, granola bars
I try to keep plenty of frozen veggies and fruit on hand. Frozen fruit is great for smoothies as well as to top oatmeal/pancakes/waffles, etc. I don’t have to worry about the frozen fruit spoiling and it since it is frozen at it’s peak, it still contains all of it’s nutrients. The same is true for the veggies.
There are a great variety of frozen vegetables out there. I listed the favorites I like to keep on hand. They can be thrown into stir-fry, casseroles or soups. Roasted veggies are also so yummy!
In the essential stock-up list, I have shared the produce that I feel lasts the longest and we use the most. Bananas can be easily frozen when they start to turn brown. They are great in sweetening up smoothies, or to use to make banana bread. Certain apple varieties can also last a long time in the fridge.
Potatoes are so versatile and cheap. There are so many ways to use the potato. I don’t really care that potatoes have gotten a bad rap. They are a starchy food, but they are a whole food that comes from the ground. If you compare it to white bread or pasta – a potato still comes out on top! It does have important vitamins and minerals and again, versatile and cheap!
Spinach! Don’t be afraid to buy the big bags or plastic containers of spinach. I used to fear they would go bad before I ate it all, until I discovered you can easily freeze spinach. Use it fresh, but before it goes bad, just throw the rest into freezer bags and toss in the freezer.
Frozen spinach can be added to soups, stews, eggs, casseroles and even smoothies!
Cabbage is a great green that stores a long time in the fridge. You can use it to make salads, coleslaw, and I love to stir fry it with a little oil and onions. It also adds little crunch to your tacos.
Celery and carrots also last a long time in the fridge and can be eaten raw, or tossed soups, stews, stir fry, and many other dishes.
It’s important to keep your immunity built up by eating as nutritious as possible through this quarantine. Keeping some basic produce essentials on hand will allow you to do that!
I try to keep all the essential baking ingredients on hand to make sure I can make about anything from scratch that we need. It is easier to stay stocked in the supplies to bake the items, rather than the pre-made items.
This list is what I most commonly use. You might have some other favorites. These are what I use to make the recipes I have included.
Keeping these supplies will allow you to make sure all the food you make, will also be enjoyed by all :-). These are what I use to make sure we have the yummy sauces or toppings for the food I make.
Did you know you could freeze milk? I had heard that you could, but I have now tried it out. I put a few gallons of milk in the freezer. They do not explode, the cartons are made to expand a bit. Just take it out a day or two before you need it and allow it to thaw in the fridge and shake it up once thawed.
Cheese and cream cheese can also be kept in the freezer. Even eggs can be frozen! However, I don’t think sour cream works well once it has been frozen. It changes its consistency. You can still cook with it, but to top it on a potato – you may be disappointed.
These are great to have on hand for quick snacks that provide protein, carbohydrates and other nutrients. They can be stored for long periods of time, however, nuts will go rancid after time. They can be kept in the freezer if you plan to store for a long period of time.
I only have a few different canned items listed. I like to have plenty of pizza and spaghetti sauce, but also canned diced tomatoes and sauce to make a variety of sauces if needed. Creamed soups are great additions to various soups and dishes. Canned tuna or chicken can provide a quick meal if needed.
I have listed several meats that I like to have on hand. Large pork loin, ham and turkey can be purchased at a lower price per pound than hamburger. These can then be used for multiple meals later that week.
Also whole chickens are much cheaper per pound than chicken breast. It is handy to have chicken breast on hand, but if you cook up a couple chickens at once, the leftover chicken can be used for tacos, stir fry, salads, soups, and other dishes.
Think about the other items your family likes to have on hand. We enjoy coffee, and we use a lot of tortillas, chips and bread. However, I have a great recipe for homemade corn tortillas. This is listed under the Mexican meals recipes.
We have also been getting back to making our own bread and buns. When the shelves become bare with some of these essentials, being able to make your own becomes more and more important!
ONE NOTE ABOUT STOCKING THESE FOODS: These are not all going to be available in the store. Your grocery budget might not allow you to stock up on so many items. You may have a limit of what you can purchase.
Buy what you can, but don’t take so much you don’t leave anything for those coming after you. I believe we need to do our part to plan and prepare. However, do not panic. Do not hoard as much as you can. Trust God to provide what you need. These are suggestions.
I have the meals divided by theme. This way you can have certain nights you choose from the various themes or lists to help make decisions easier.
For example, Mexican Monday; Soup Saturday; etc. can be helpful in minimizing decision making. In the meal plan I’ve provided I have a Mexican meal on Monday; Tuesday and Thursday – American; Wednesday – Asian; Friday – Italian; Saturday – soup; Sunday noon- a larger meat meal. The extra meat can be used for additional meals for the week. Sunday night can be leftovers or breakfast for supper.
There is a two month meal plan completely filled out for you. There are also some blank meal planning sheets to customize for your family.
Obviously we will not be eating every one of those meals listed. There will be leftover days, or days we just come up with something else. With the ingredients I plan to have on hand, there are other options. I just wanted to have a plan so I knew I would have enough food to make meals to last for 2 months.
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- Chimichangas – here is a great recipe. This recipe uses shredded beef, but you can use whatever meat you have on hand. Refried beans and rice is a great option too. This makes it a very frugal meal, yet by topping it with your favorite toppings it is still delicious.
- Chicken burrito bowls. The ingredients can all be put into a slow cooker for a delicious meal at the end of the day, or here is a recipe for the Instant Pot using dry black beans and brown rice.
- Sheet pan nachos – Here is a simple way to make nachos for a crowd. I love this site, she has all kinds of great recipes that I will refer to multiple times.
- Tacos – so much variety here! Soft or hard shell, shredded beef, ground beef, chicken, pork, etc. Indian fry bread for Indian tacos. Below is a recipe for homemade taco seasoning. This was shared with me MANY years ago, and I have not bought taco seasoning since. We also make some delicious, easy homemade corn tortillas!
Most of these menu items have links to our favorite recipes. Many of them use the Instant Pot, because I am so addicted to that handy machine. However, there are usually alternate cooking methods within the recipe.
- Burgers – grilled are the best, with all of your favorite toppings.
- Honey Garlic Pork Loin
- Goulash – I usually don’t use a recipe for this. Just macaroni noodles, tomato sauce, ground beef and seasonings. (chili powder, garlic, salt, pepper).
- French Dip
- Sloppy Joes (we like the Pampered Chef recipe here).
- Roasted turkey – use a Reynolds oven bag to roast it inside of a roasting pan. Just follow directions on the bags. Super easy – lots of meat!
- Turkey pot pie – using some of the leftover turkey.
- Baked ham – again, a large ham will provide you with plenty of meals. The ham we bought has a packet of seasonings and directions on how to cook it. It is even pre-sliced.
- Pot roast – this recipe has crockpot, oven and IP directions for this beef roast recipe. We don’t add the thyme, as that seems to turn off some of my kids.
- BBQ pulled pork sandwiches. I made this recipe for our sheep shearing crew and it was a hit. Pork roasts or loin can be used to make pulled pork. The crockpot or Instant Pot can make this a very simple meal.
- Chili – this is our go to easy, family pleasing meal. We love to serve it with corn chips or homemade bread or cornbread.
I feel like I am cheating when I make this. I literally add the indredients as you see pictured. This is a double recipe of the one below. I use frozen burger, dried beans and all the seasonings and tomatoes. I don’t usually take the time to measure the seasonings – it’s pretty forgiving, and you can adjust for taste when it is done. This makes it possible to make in 5 min before heading out the door!
Set IP on High pressure for 40-45 min, after natural release I break up the burger and serve.
2. Chicken & Wild Rice Soup This recipe looks good, but I have just put raw chicken, wild rice blend, broth or water, chopped celery, carrots and onions in IP for 25 min. When it is done I add a can of cream of mushroom soup and shred the chicken to make it super easy.
4. White Chicken Chili This also uses frozen meat and dried beans. You can sure adapt it for the crock pot, but it is not safe to use frozen chicken in the crockpot.
6. Chicken potato soup – so yummy!
8. Turkey corn chowder – another use for leftover turkey.
9. Chicken Noodle Soup Don’t be afraid of the ingredient list. It looks a little long, but you can adapt it. Homemade soups are so much better than anything in a can. It is a worth the effort!
- Pasta, meat and sauce – so many varieties here. Choose your pasta variety; choose from meatballs, ground beef or Italian sausage, chicken, pepperoni, etc. Sauces can vary as well from marinara, pesto or Alfredo.
- Pizza – You can make homemade pizza faster than you can order it and have it delivered! Here is an easy recipe for pizza dough.
- Stromboli – using the same pizza dough recipe, here is an alternate use for it from the same blog – so many great recipes on her blog – look around!
- Pizza Spaghetti Bake
Breakfast and Snacks
Stay tuned. I will be posting soon some of our favorite breakfast and snack recipes!