Isolation Meals: What Can You Eat When the Cupboard’s Bare?

Alice Nott

Many of us are now finding ourselves in a situation where we are having to self-isolate with the cupboards looking bare. At the same time, it seems impossible to get a delivery slot to restock. So, whilst you wait to refuel here are a few meals you can probably make with the stuff left over in your cupboard.

Chickpeas and Rice

My friend Aleyna taught me to make this the other night when I really didn’t have much food leftover. She used to have it when she went to visit family in Greece and it’s a great comfort food if you are feeling worse for wear.


  • Tin of chickpeas
  • A cup or two of rice
  • Two stock cubes
  • Butter
  • Optional: Some Onion and Garlic are great with this but not necessary


  1. Boil the rice on the stove, this is going to take about ten mins. At the same time, sauté the onion and garlic in some oil and butter for about four mins
  2. Once the rice is about half done, add the chickpeas to the pan and add an extra dollop of butter (about a heaped dessert spoon) in and begin to cook over a low heat so as to not burn the butter.
  3. Once the rice is cooked, drain and then add to the pan quickly to coat in the butter and make sure the chickpeas are evenly distributed.
  4. Serve with some tea or whatever drink warms you up inside.

Aglio e Olio

Basically, a posh way of saying pasta with olive oil and garlic. Although not the most nutritiously dense meal ever, it certainly tastes superb.


  • 100g of Spaghetti (can be substituted for any pasta)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Optional Chilli Flakes
  • If you want, you can add vegetables like tomatoes and olives if you have those at your disposal


  1. Cook the pasta in salted water and cook till al dente (about eight-ten mins), before draining the pasta hold back about ¼ of the water the pasta was cooked in.
  2. Add the olive oil and garlic to a pan and sauté for about three mins. After this if you are using chilli flakes or vegetables add and cook for another minute or two.
  3. Take the pasta water you reserved and add to the pan, bringing it to a simmer before adding the pasta in to coat in the sauce.
  4. You can now serve up this delicious simple treat, to feel slightly more sophisticated while in lockdown.

It’s super simple and great to enjoy with your fellow isolation buddies!

Jacket Potatoes, With an Extra Crisp Skin

This is jacket potato but not like you’ve had it before. My dad always made jacket potatoes with an extra crispy skin making it perfect for dipping in beans or chilli. This takes a little while longer than normal jacket potatoes but given there’s nowhere to go you might as well give it a try. If you don’t have a large potato several smaller ones will work and won’t take as long to cook.


  • One Largish Potato (King Edwards or Maris Piper are best)
  • Salt
  • Oil
  • Topping of your choice (personally I go for butter, beans, and cheese)


  1. Pre-heat the oven, you want it to get quite warm to make sure the potato cooks all the way through.
  2. Once the oven is nice and hot you take you potato and rub it with oil and then plenty of salt, prick the outside with a fork and pop it in the oven. It can go straight onto the rack no need for a baking tray!
  3. Allow the potato to cook for an hour to an hour and a half, turning every so often so it’s evenly cooked.
  4. Once it is nice and crispy and cooked through, take out the oven with oven gloves and cut in half; be very careful it’s going to be hot, hot, hot!
  5. Serve with toppings and take pleasure in the crispness of the skin.


Pancakes are famous for using up the rest of the stuff in the cupboard on Shrove Tuesday before fasting begins for lent, but you don’t need to wait until February to enjoy this treat. It’s super simple and great to enjoy with your fellow isolation buddies!


  • 100g of plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 300ml of milk
  • Sunflower or vegetable oil (you can also use butter but be careful it doesn’t burn)
  • Topping of your choice (I think cheese and mushrooms make a great topping)


  1. Mix the flour, eggs, and milk together into a smooth batter and leave aside for 30 mins to get rid of any air bubbles.
  2. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and wipe some oil over it (be careful not to burn yourself).
  3. When the pan is hot, cook the pancakes for one minute on each side.
  4. If using cheese add it to the top of the pancake once you have flipped it
  5. You should have about six pancakes once you’re done and they can be served with both sweet and savoury toppings.

These ingredients and measurements are adaptable so you can change the recipes if you don’t have certain things.

Egg Fried Rice

This suggestion comes from Impact’s very own online editor, Phoebe Raine!


  • A cup or so of rice
  • An egg
  • 1tbsp Soy Sauce
  • Spring Onions
  • Garlic or Garlic granules
  • Vegetable or sesame seed oil
  • If you’ve got them, frozen veggies (peas and mushrooms go especially well in egg fried rice)


  1. Cook the rice for about ten mins. Whilst the rice is cooking crack the egg into a bowl and beat with the soy sauce, garlic granules and spring onions.
  2. Once the rice is almost cooked add some oil to a pan and heat it.
  3. Once cooked drain the rice and add it to the frying pan with all the other ingredients and cook on high heat quickly. You need to keep stirring it to make sure it is cooked evenly.
  4. Once the egg has cooked, Bon Appetit!

I hope these give you some ideas of stuff you can make even if you don’t have that much in your cupboard. These ingredients and measurements are adaptable so you can change the recipes if you don’t have certain things.

There are also lots of great recipes for those of us who are not isolating yet but want to make sure we have some stuff in the freezer in case we need to. I recommend chilis and dhals! Check out Impact Food for some really simple recipes that can go in the freezer!

Alice Nott

Featured image courtesy of Georg Braunbeck via Flickr. Image license found here.

In article image courtesy of Smabs Sputzer (1956-2017) via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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