Okay, here we go! 100 Quarantine-Friendly Meal Ideas! What does this mean? I’m offering food inspiration so you do not get stuck in the same meat and potatoes rut during this CRAZY time in the world. I would have never believed I would ever write an article with the title of this one, but this is what life looks like, so may as well make the best of it with cozy, family-friendly foods that make cooking at home look, feel, and taste good! The categories below are pretty basic, and hopefully will speak to items you already have in your pantry or refrigerator. I’ve linked some of my favorite recipes, some of my original recipes, or have given basic instructions to inspire you. If you have additional questions on preparation, ingredients, grocery shopping, or storage, leave a comment below or email me directly! Good luck to all. Stay safe and healthy!!!
Bread is a staple, and actually one of the main items to disappear from supermarket shelves. If you’re one of the lucky ones with a bread supply (or feel like making your own) check out the recipes below! Also, you’ll find other bread options in recipes #58, #67 and #79. Check out #89 for a master recipe!
1-Grilled Cheese-Upgrade your basic grilled cheese with some amazing combos like brie and jam, mushroom and gruyere, provolone and tomato, ground beef and american, or mozzarella and pesto! Experiment with what is already in your refrigerator!
2-Overnight French Toast-Whisk together 2 cups milk, 1/2 c heavy cream, 6 eggs, 1/4 c brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp salt. Line 1 lb sliced bread into a buttered baking dish. sprinkle 1.5 cups mixed berries overtop and in between slices. Pour mixture over the bread and press down to soak. Cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator overnight. Bake at 350° F for 45-60 minutes, until set and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup and additional berries.
3-Chicken Salad Sandwiches-Fill sandwich bread with this classic! Mix shredded chicken with mayo, salt, pepper, tarragon, chopped celery, lemon juice, and dried cranberries to taste!
4-Eggs and Toast-The key to this basic breakfast is a little cheese and a touch of veggies! An over-easy egg fried with salt and pepper overtop a nice piece of buttered toast turns gourmet when topped with some seared asparagus spears and sprinkled with just a little bit of parmesan!
5: Breadcrumbs (For uses below)-In a food processor, pulse day old bread until broken down to fine crumbs. Bake until dry, tossing occasionally for 10 minutes at 350° F, or for added flavor, stir with 1.5 cups with 1 Tbsp butter, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 2 cloves finely minced garlic over medium heat in a skillet until golden.
Whether a shelf-stable staple already in your pantry in the form of plain, Italian-seasoned, or panko, or something you make yourself (see #5), there are plenty of uses for breadcrumbs!
6-Breadcrumb Salad-This Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad is too easy and cozies up nicely to a salmon fillet!
7-Eggplant Parmesan-This is one of my comfort favorites, and this Roasted Eggplant Parmesan has a bonus of being baked, not fried.
8-Macaroni and Cheese –Chrissy’s Mac and Cheese with Cheesy Garlic Bread Crumbs might just be the best ever!
9: Breadcrumb Pasta-My recipe for Pasta with Garlic Breadcrumbs and Asparagus is simple and delicious!
10-Breaded Chicken-Pound chicken between plastic wrap until thin and even, about 1/2″. Coat in a mix of flour, salt and pepper (just a little), shake off excess, next coat in a lightly hand-beaten eggs, lastly press into breadcrumbs. Shake off excess and fry in a pan of oil, over medium-high heat until golden. Serve with additional salt and pepper, and lemon wedges, or upgrade your meal like in this recipe for Chicken Parm.
I have chicken breasts in my refrigerator and freezer, but have been able to still purchase rotisserie chickens from my local supermarket as of yesterday! Start with recipes #3 and #10 above, check out additional idea below, and #84 way down!
11-Chicken Roll-Ups-Pound halved chicken breasts between plastic wrap and lay your favorite ingredients on top before rolling up and securing with toothpicks. For kids, try ham and swiss slices. For adults, upgrade to the swiss to boursin! Sear each side in olive oil and finish up until cooked through in the oven!
12-Chicken Pita Pockets-This Mom Uptown Original recipe for Cajun Chicken Pita Pockets is fast and flavorful!
13-Chicken Curry Tacos-And, why not check out the Indian version of above in the Mom Uptown Original Recipe for Chicken Curry Tacos.
14-Chicken Soup-Enhance chicken broth with your favorite veggies, and add chicken and noodles to taste. Or, try out this recipe for Spicy Chicken-and-Lime Soup now that you’ll have the time!
15. Chicken Enchiladas-Pour 1/3 of a can of enchilada sauce on the base of a baking dish. Toss another 1/3 with 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (rotisserie if available!), 1/3 c thawed frozen corn, and 1/2 c shredded monterey jack cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Fill 4 large or 6 small tortillas and place seam-side down on sauce. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and 1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese. Bake at 350° F until heated through, cheese melted and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Serve with dollops of sour cream and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
I always have whole wheat tortillas on hand. See recipes #14, #15, #71, and #73, or the ideas below!
16: Nachos-Make the tortilla chips by cutting the tortillas into triangles and frying in vegetable oil. Once golden and crispy, transfer to a paper towel-lined bowl and sprinkle with salt. To make the nachos, scatter chips onto a foil-lined tray and top with monterey jack or cheddar cheese, canned, drained black beans, salsa or enchilada sauce, finely chopped jalapeño peppers, if desired, cooked taco meat, and bake until cheese is melted at 350° F. Top with chopped tomatoes, avocados, dollops of sour cream, salt and pepper–whatever you want!
17: Chilaquiles-One of my favorite uses for leftover tortillas! Make the chips as per above and cook into a saucepan of enchilada sauce until soft. Add some canned, drained black beans and cook until heated through. Spoon the softened tortillas, beans, and sauce into shallow bowls, top with cotija or feta cheese, finely chopped white onion, over-easy fried eggs, and chopped cilantro.
18: Breakfast Burritos-Top a large tortilla with shredded cheese, and heat in microwave until melted. Top with scrambled eggs, salsa, sour cream, chopped avocado, and chives!
19: Cream Cheese Wraps-These roll-ups are great for adults and kids. For kids, spread cream cheese on a tortilla and layer your child’s favorites, such as smoked salmon, ham, tomato, cucumbers, or spinach, slice, and serve. For adults, mix the cream cheese with horseradish for a nice kick to layer with thinly sliced roast beef, spinach, and salt and pepper.
20: Beef Quesadillas-My toddler (and husband) LOVE my quesadillas. For my daughter, the meet is pretty simple–browned in a skillet with a dash of olive oil, chili powder, salt, and pepper. For our adult portions, I go crazy–chili powder, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, ancho chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper–anything to give it a BIG kick. Prepare the quesadillas in a DRY skillet. Tortillas topped with cheese, then meat (you can also cook a chopped onion with the meet and add frozen corn or beans towards the end), then more cheese, then the last tortillas. Cook until golden and cheese is melted. Top with sour cream (yogurt for the kids and health-conscious), salsa, salt and pepper!
Beef is a staple in many homes, and is a good source of protein that can be nicely kept in the freezer for however long this quarantine lasts! Check out #20 for Beef Quesadillas above, or #51 for Shepherd’s Pie, or these recipes!
21: Beef Skillet Supper-This Beef & Cabbage Skillet Supper is one of my favorites! Great way to change up what could be a basic ingredient!
22: Sweet and Tangy Meatballs-Combine 1 lb ground beef, a couple slices of white bread torn into small pieces, 1/2 c milk, 1 egg, 2 Tbsp finely chopped onion, and parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Mix with your hands until just combined and roll into balls about the size of a rounded tablespoon. Bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes at 400° F, on an oiled sheet. Coat the top of the meatballs with oil, as well, and turn once during the cooking process. Meanwhile, simmer 1 cup ketchup and 1 cup grape jelly. Simmer cooked meatballs in the sauce until nicely coated, heated through, and sauce is slightly thickened. Trust me, they’re delicious.
23: Swedish Meatballs-Another one of the worlds coziest dishes! Try this recipe for Swedish Meatballs!
24: Spaghetti and Meatballs-This big batch recipe for Ricotta Meatballs SAVED me when I was in my newly postpartum phase. Bake these meatballs and serve with pasta, sauce, and parmesan cheese for a quick meal anytime!
25: Meatloaf-Make your favorite meatloaf, but don’t forget that ketchup glaze! This Mom’s Meatloaf is my favorite!
26: Hamburgers-Quarantine might not allow for grilling, but why not throw some burgers on your stovetop? In addition to ground beef patties (add worcestershire, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, parsley, finely chopped onion or bacon–your call), why not serve up with some caramelized onions, gorgonzola, a tomato jam, jalapeños, or put many ingredients down your dining table for a burger bar!
27: Beef Lasagna-I have a billion lasagna recipes. It’s really hard to go wrong with meat, noodles, and cheese. But, how about you try this one for Simple Skillet Broken Lasagna!
28: Beef Stew-Another hearty meal that can be kept as a stew to serve alongside potatoes, or even turned into a beef cobbler or beef enchiladas. Details for those on the blog, but start with this master recipe for Red Wine Braised Beef and Vegetable Stew!
29: Steak and Eggs-Upgrade your breakfast with pan-seared steak and fried eggs to start your day! Get a cast-iron skillet really hot and flash cook a thin, salt and pepper seasoned steak! Serve with sunny-side-up eggs!
30: Steak Salad-Top whatever greens you need to use up with a nice skillet steak, or try this Thai Beef Salad for some amazing flavors!
Pasta is definitely a staple when you think quick dinner or homebound. See recipes below and check out #9, #24, #27, and #75 above! Unless specified, a thin whole wheat spaghetti is my go-to!
31: Herb Pasta-Let’s start simple. Use up any herbs you have hanging around by putting together a fresh herb pasta. Cook some finely minced garlic in a generous amount of olive oil until fragrant. Toss cooked pasta in the garlic oil with a medley of chopped herbs (like dill, basil and parsley), and a big dollop of good ricotta, or your favorite cheese.
32: Italian Sausage Pasta-One of my favorite ingredient pairings, this Sausage and Broccoli Pasta with Tomato Bursts is a simple and flavorful Mom Uptown Original Recipe!
33: Tuna Mac & Cheese-I’m sure you have some canned tuna kicking around! This Pimiento Mac and Cheese with Tuna is like the grown up version of Tuna Helper. Just delicious!
34: One Pot Spaghetti-If you’ve never made a one pot spaghetti, the time is now! This means you actually cook the spaghetti in the sauce you’re preparing for minimal cleanup and effort! Try this One-Pot Spaghetti Alla Vodka!
35: Eggs on Egg Noodles-This pasta is such an unusual treat, and only requires a handful of ingredients! Egg Noodles with Asparagus and Grated Egg Yolks will definitely add color to your world.
36: Cacio e Pepe-This pasta classic shows that you can do a lot with the basics! This Lemony Arugula Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe pumps up the flavor volume!
37: Mac’ & Cheese-Is it even quarantine if you don’t make at least one version of the American classic? Try this Classic Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese!
38: Kid-Friendly Scrambled Egg “Carbonara”-Cook chopped bacon and onions in a generous amount of olive oil in a large pot. Cook pasta and add to the bacon/olive oil. Beat 2 eggs and add to the pasta, stirring continuously over heat until scrambled. Season with salt and pepper. Top with chopped chives.
39: Sesame Chicken Noodles-Made primarily from shelf-stable ingredients, these Sesame Chicken Noodles are delicious!
40: Stuffed Shells-Fill cooked shells with your favorite flavors. I like to mix cooked spicy sausage and finely chopped garlic with ricotta cheese, grated parmesan, drained chopped frozen spinach, salt, and pepper. Once combined, I will stuff cooked shells, line them on top of a layer of sauce in a baking dish, top with more sauce and mozzarella cheese, and bake until heated through, cheese is melted, and sauce is bubbly!
Alrighty, you’ll find eggs in recipes #4, #10, #17, #18, #29, #35, #38, #49 and #70, but of course this breakfast and baking staple had to have its own category! Additional ideas below!
41: Baked Eggs-This one skillet dish for Baked Eggs with Farmhouse Cheddar and Potatoes is a great way to throw together a bunch of basic items.
42: Eggs and Hash Brown Patties-Take those same basic ingredients and turn them into a flavorful restaurant-quality breakfast with this Mom Uptown Original Recipe for Poached Eggs over Red Pepper Potato Patties!
43: Cloud Eggs-Cheer your kiddos up with Cloud Eggs! Seriously the cutest way to enjoy breakfast!
44: Crepes-The eggy, thin pancakes are among my favorite breakfast items. Especially the ones in this Mom Uptown Original Recipe for Sweet Cheese Crepes!
45: Fried Rice-The key to a good fried rice, in my opinion, is a ton of eggs! I use any leftover, cooked (even delivery) rice, fry it in a pan with peanut oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, onion, veggies (edamame, asparagus, carrots–whatever you want), and beaten eggs. Top with sesame oil, sriracha, salt, and sesame seeds. YUM!
One of the most reasonable items to have on hand when times are tough, plus, they’re pretty darn delicious! See variations all over this list in #28, #41, #42, #69, #72, and great options for white and sweet potatoes below!
46: Gnocchi-Upgrade a basic spud by transforming it into Brown-Buttter Sweet-Potato Gnocchi with Seeds. Just delicious.
47: Baked Potato Bar-Get the kids involved with dinner by letting them dress up their own baked potatoes! Offer cheese, chives, sour cream of Greek yogurt, chili, tomatoes, crumbled bacon–whatever you want!
48: Sweet Potato Soup-Double up on recipes that freeze nicely like this Spiced Sweet Potato and Leek Soup with Stilton.
49: Potato Pancakes-Serve this classic by itself or with eggs to make it a lovely breakfast side! These Perfect Potato Pancakes really are perfect!
50: Sweet Potato Fries-One of my go-tos for the kids, and of course adults enjoy them to! Peel potatoes, slice into fries, toast with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin. Bake, tossing once until tender about 30 minutes at 400° F, until tender and golden. Serve alongside a grilled cheese like suggested in #1!
51: Shepherd’s Pie-While Shepherd’s Pie in the US typically contains beef, the UK would refer to this dish as a Cottage Pie. Whatever you want to call it this Shepherd’s Pie is pretty darn tasty.
52: Mashed Potatoes-Serve alongside a salmon fillet or the amazing meatloaf in #25. Cut potatoes into 1.5″ pieces, cover in a pot with cold water, generously salt, and bring to a boil. Simmer until tender, drain, and add milk, butter, sour cream, salt, pepper, and herbs to taste!
53: Breakfast Hash-You had me at Cheesy Spicy Breakfast Hash. Try out this recipe to serve with eggs for your next breakfast!
54: Sweet Potato Pie-Because y’all deserve a little something sweet. Check out this Mom Uptown Original Recipe for Sweet Potato Pie with Peanut Brittle and Cream!
55: Potato Curry-I just love a good curry. This Indian Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Curry is no exception, and gets bonus points for being easy to freeze!
Easy to purchase in large quantities and store, oats can be transformed into some pretty incredible breakfasts. See recipes #77, #83, #85, and these options directly below!
56: Granola-You can toss pretty much anything in with oats, your favorite sweetener, and your oil of choice, and have it turn out pretty tasty. If your need a little inspo, though, try this Salted Maple Granola!
57: Bircher-Bircher was a big deal over in England. It’s not as much of a staple over here, but it should be! Soak oats in your milk of choice overnight in the refrigerator with grated apple, dried cranberries, honey to taste, and whatever other add-ins you might fancy!
58: Baked Oatmeal-Move over stovetop, baked oatmeal is where it’s at. The extra-creamy, eggy dish is perfect for a couple days of breakfasts! This Baked Berry Oatmeal is among my favorites.
59: Muffins-I love muffins for a healthy snack or as a breakfast bowl when cut in quarters and topped with yogurt! These Apple Banana Oat Muffins aren’t too sweet and can be made in smaller sizes for kiddos or in larger cups for the big guys!
60: A Hearty Porridge-And of course, you need a go-to oatmeal recipe. This Spiced Apple Pie Porridge is like a warm hug.
Rice is a major pantry-friendly favorite. Recipes #13, #21, #45, and #55 are phenomenal, and here are some additional ideas!
61: Stir Fry-Break out your wok, favorite sliced or trimmed veggies (like onions, snap peas, and peppers) and a chopped protein of your choice (like chicken). Over high heat, cook meats until cooked through and veggies until at least crisp-tender. Toss with soy sauce, or a teriyaki glaze. Add cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve over rice!
62: Rice Porridge-This savory Thai and Rice Porridge achieves big flavor with ingredients that are probably already in your home!
63: Coconut Rice-Serve up this AMAZING Sweet and Salty Coconut Rice next to a fish fillet, an Asian beef dish, or just by the bowlfuls!
64: Chicken Curry-Everyone should have a go-to curry. This Red Chicken Curry is divine!
65: Breakfast Rice Pudding-Switch it up with this Coconut-Raspberry Breakfast Pudding! Who says rice is just for after 12:00 or desserts?!
Bacon has big flavor and a long shelf life! See recipes #38 and #47 and these heavenly ones below!
66: Pancakes and Bacon-Is there really a better combo? If the world is getting you down, give yourself a boost with this Mom Uptown Original Recipe for Elvis’s Peanut Butter and Bacon Pancakes!
67: Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwiches-The favorite meal of my youth is now a special weekend treat in our house! The key to a good BEC is to butter and toast a large, soft hard roll, keep the fried eggs a little runny, double up on them (and the cheese), be generous with the bacon, and make sure you include salt and pepper!
68: Brussels Sprouts with Bacon-One of my favorite sides is roasted Brussels sprouts! Trim, halve, and quarter sprouts. Toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste. Bake at 400° F for about 25 minutes, tossing once. Once out of the oven, toss with chopped, dried cranberries or cherries, crumbled blue cheese, and toasted pecans! Drizzle with a balsamic reduction. Serve with a salmon fillet or recipe #11!
69: Baked Potato Soup with Bacon-This Bacon-Potato Soup with Cheddar and Chives is like a big giant hug!
70: Candied Bacon-I am a sucker for candied bacon and probably have 1000 different variations. But, I’ll leave you with this one for Coffee-Candied Bacon because, well, COFFEE! Serve with eggs for a strong start to the day!
Beans & Legumes
Whether you have them dried or canned, beans and legumes are great options in terms of price, storage, and protein! Check out these recipes and #16, #17, and #20!
71: Tostadas-These Black Bean Tostadas with Sweet Potato and Poblanos are a great vegetarian option!
72: Chili-What a classic! It’s also great to double up on and freeze. Check out this Smoky Turkey Chili!
73: Tortilla Soup-A favorite soup (due to its ability to hold mounds of cheese, tortilla chips, sour cream, and other tasty ingredients) deserves a spot in your home during this time! Check out this Vegetable Tortilla Stew.
74: Chickpea Bowl-Store some Baba Ganoush in your fridge so you can easily prepare this delicious Crunchy Mediterranean Chickpea Bowl!
75: Lima Bean Carbonara-Not your typical carbonara, huh?! But this Carbonara with Chives and Chorizo definitely should be in the rotation!
If you checked out my earlier article, “Stocking Up On Ten Important Items” you’ll know there’s a spot in my heart for bananas! Check out these recipes below, as well as #59 and #66!
76: Banana Bread-One of the best uses of frozen bananas! This Mom Uptown Original Recipe for Banana Espresso Bread gives you a much needed jolt, as well!
77: Oatmeal with Banana-If you haven’t had a mashed up banana stirred into your oatmeal, you are not living!! This Sunday Morning Oatmeal is perfection.
78: Banana Pancakes-Just like the song, upgrade your favorite pancake recipe by adding sliced bananas (and maybe a cheeky handful of chocolate chips!) Cook inside or slice on top like I do when serving these Almond Butter Pancakes!
79: Peanut Butter and Banana on Toast-One of my favorite quick lunches growing up! Spread peanut butter on toast, top with sliced bananas, and drizzle with honey!
80: Banana Smoothies-Smoothies are a favorite breakfast or afternoon snack–for adults and toddlers alike! Try frozen strawberries, peanut butter, Greek yogurt, flaxseed, and honey, or maybe frozen blueberries, banana, kale, and chia seeds! Whatever combination your little heart desires!
Speaking of peanut butter, like in #79’s Peanut Butter and Banana on Toast and #80’s Banana Smoothies, try these other yummy recipes below!
81: Peanut Noodles-These Sesame-Scallion Noodles are perfect to serve by themselves or with a protein!
82: Peanut Butter Yogurt Bowls-One of my favorite healthy breakfasts (or desserts) is a yogurt bowl! Top yogurt with fresh or frozen berries, bananas (whatever fruit, really), peanut butter, granola, healthy additions like flaxseed or hemp seeds, and some sort of liquid sweetener like a favorite jam, date syrup, or honey!
83: Peanut Butter Oatmeal-Stir a spoonful of peanut butter into oatmeal and top with dried fruit, raisins, nuts, and maple syrup!
84: Chicken Satay-Serve cooked chicken with a quick peanut sauce! Combine 1/3 c peanut butter, 1 can coconut milk, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 Tbsp lime juice, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp sriracha, and 1 tsp fish sauce, salt and pepper.
85: Peanut Butter Granola Bars-Have these No-Bake Granola Bars on hand for a quick breakfast or snack to enjoy throughout the day!
Anyone can find a recipe with flour, but I’m here to inspire you and to show you some that are extra special! See below, or #44, #48, #49, #54, #66, #76, #96, and #100!
86: Pumpkin Bread-This Mom Uptown Original Recipe makes for a special breakfast or afternoon treat, and calls for items that are most likely already in your home! Check out this Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Bread!
87: Pizza Pizza-Try this Thick-Crust White Pizza with Mushrooms, a Mom Uptown Original Recipe, now that you might have the time to make your own crust!
88: Savory Waffles-Enjoy waffles any time of day with these Chili Cornbread Waffles!
89: A Great Bread-Need a go-to bread to make a lot of this possible? Here you go: No-Knead Sandwich Bread!
90: Artichoke Gratin-This creamy Artichoke Gratin uses frozen artichokes–perfect for these times.
91: Johnnycakes-I’ve given you some pancake options, but how about some good ol’ fashioned Johnnycakes?!
92: Cinnamon Rolls-Yep, happy mornings to be had with sticky, frosted Cinnamon Rolls!
93: Sheet Pan Pancakes-One of the easiest ways to serve breakfast to your family! These Sheet Pan Buttermilk Pancakes will have you at the family table in no time!
94: Savory Pancakes-I think I’ve had pancakes every which way on here, but with SO many options, you’ll really never get bored. Take these Green Pancakes with Lime Butter, for example!
95: Yogurt Cake-The tastiest breakfast or afternoon coffee cake with ingredients that you most likely already have! Try this Lemon Yogurt Cake!
By these guys in bulk for a quick snack or to prepare a ton of recipes like these below, or #57, #59, and #60!
96: Morning Glory Muffins-This classic muffin will make the entire family smile! Here is one of my favorite recipes for Morning Glory Muffins!
97: Applesauce-A classic side for a bit of sweetness to make toddlers happy, or to accompany your favorite potato pancakes or pork dishes! Break down chopped apples, sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon, to taste in a saucepan. Puree to desired texture.
98: Apple Stuffing-Whether inside the bird, outside the bird, alongside a chicken breast, or all by itself, this Skillet Apple Stuffing is worth checking out!
99: Salad with Apples-Add thinly sliced apples to your favorite mixed greens with a pan-seared salmon fillet, goat cheese, dried cranberries, and a dressing comprised of lemon juice, olive oil, mayonnaise, and salt and pepper!
100: Breakfast Crumble-Use fresh or frozen rhubarb to make these Rhubarb & Apple Oat-Nut Crumbles a completely achievable quarantine breakfast!
And, there you have it! 100 ideas to keep you full and busy during this unprecedented season of our lives. Get your kids involved, make it a family affair, and create some lasting memories in the kitchen! Wishing you all a safe and healthy time away from the outside world. We’ll get through this! X