I stopped eating out back in March and I may never order out again. Before COVID there was always one day a week that I wouldn’t cook and we would order out, usually pizza. It was a treat I gave to myself and provided me an extra couple of hours of “me time” since I didn’t have to spend it preparing, cooking, and cleaning up afterward. It allowed me to just chill and enjoy being with my family.
Once the world shut down things changed. Not only were we making sure we had non-perishable food stocked up for our family of 5, but I also had to make sure I made food in portions and nothing was wasted. My day off from cooking turned into “leftover day” where anything I cooked during those few days was then reheated and we’d finish it off. Thankfully, I can cook, so leftovers weren’t anything to complain about. Arroz con habichuelas and bifstec con cebolla taste just as good on day 2 as it did on day one, just sayin’.
This did, however, kind of stress me out. I mean, restaurants were closing and those that were open were struggling to keep their heads afloat. Social media was just full of people suggesting that we cook less and order out to help small businesses. Our financial situation was not a good one, it’s still not, and the thought of ordering out in such an uncertain time was terrifying. Not to mention, that they still weren’t sure exactly how the coronavirus was spreading. At that time, everything was a question mark. I just couldn’t risk my family to help restaurants. I couldn’t spend the money that we might need later, on a pizza or Chinese. I couldn’t risk contracting the virus from the containers or bags it was delivered in. There was just too much I couldn’t be sure of and I couldn’t gamble with my family’s health.
Here we are approaching a full year from the day the world changed and I still haven’t ordered out. I’m cooking every day and on the days that I want a break, it’s still “leftovers” or sandwiches. I’ve gotten used to this new normal of staying home more than not, buying good and varying ingredients to shake up our menus and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
Here are 5 ideas that are always big hits in our house:
- Make your own pizza – I buy all the ingredients in the grocery run and on any given day we can all make our own pizzas just as we like them. From chicken and pineapple to plain cheese, you just can’t go wrong with pizza.
- Subs – Kaiser rolls or french bread work for days like this. Our grocery list always has cold cuts on it because it’s one we do often. Turkey, chicken, salami, ham, you name it and it’s slapped on their hoagies. Anadiendole veggies like lettuce, spinach, green peppers, tomatoes add some yummy goodness to an average meal.
- Empanadillas – I know what you’re thinking but it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think. If you’re not ready to make the masa that’s ok, you can find empanadilla discos in your Hispanic frozen food aisle already made and ready to use! You can make empanadillas con lo que sea. I like to make ground turkey (sazonado of course) and add corn. Empanadillas de queso is also a big hit but use your imagination. It’s sure to impress.
- Baked Ziti (leftovers) – Somehow no one sees this as a “leftover” at our house and they’re just as excited to eat it the next day as they are when it’s fresh out of the oven. I always make extra because of this and it inevitably works out as a day off of cooking the following day.
- Picnic Day – Yes, you read that right. A quien no le gusta un BBQ in the summer? Well, we like them all year round. So having hamburgers (in our case turkey burgers), hot dogs, potato salad, chips and the like turns our kitchen into a picnic even on the coldest winter day. Put on some Salsa and you got yourself a partayyy!
So as vaccines roll out, as some decide that the virus is gone and venture out without masks, and as things start to return to a new version of how they once were, I still err on the side of caution. I haven’t ordered out since March, and I just don’t see it as an option anymore.