As part of an immunocompromised household, we’ve being extra cautious during this time of social isolation. Over the last couple of months we’ve navigated the changes to our meals based on accessible ingredients and want to share some hidden food gems that we’ve found. Have some of your own? Send them our way.

A little background

Before quarantine, we stocked up on about a month’s supply of pantry and freezer items. Some healthy like quinoa and veggies, others not so healthy, like chicken wings and kids’ cereal.

Right now, we don’t go shopping at any stores, and we don’t do grocery pickup or delivery. We also don’t do takeout or delivery from restaurants around town, as much as we want to support our local establishments. Our philosophy is that we need to be able to take our food goods directly from our porch to our garage and either store them on a table at room temperature or in a small refrigerator. They need to be able to sit, untouched for a few days, before we bring them into our house. No packaging enters the house and we help each other sanitize immediately after unloading our items.

For most groceries, we receive ingredients from a meal service. With the meal service, items spend a day or two in transit so the food itself instead isn’t touched right before it arrives, although the box is. We’re cautious with the packaging as well as the food and we still give it a couple of days to rest in the refrigerator in the garage before eating it.

There are probably lots of different approaches to leaving food untouched for a few days, and ensuring it doesn’t go bad before consuming, but for now, the meal service is best for us.

Hidden gems

After 10 weeks in quarantine, our stock pile of pantry and freezer items is fairly depleted, so we’ve turned to Amazon. We all know you can find a variety of canned goods, boxed items, condiments, and snacks on Amazon, but there are some really compelling alternatives to fresh items that we didn’t think we would see again for awhile.


There many shelf-stable milk options available ranging from almond milk (our personal favorite) to oat milk; whole dairy milk to chocolate milk. The quantities aren’t small, but hey, it keeps! Now we can get back to eating our Lucky Charms.


We’ve been hearing about ghee for several years, but butter has always been just fine for us. However, after using our last tablespoon of butter a week ago, we knew we needed to find another option. Ghee is a highly-clarified form of butter, making it a shelf-stable staple.

Coconut Milk Powder

This was another new find for us. Coconut milk powder is much cheaper and easier to store than the cans. It is so tasty too! You can mix up as little or as much as you need for curry, dessert, or even a piña colada (because you deserve it).

Smoothie Pouches

Did you run out of frozen fruit for a smoothie like we did? NOKA Superfood Smoothies are a real treat. With flavors like Strawberry Pineapple and Banana Cocoa + Peanut Butter, everyone is sure to find something that fits their cravings. You can also buy directly from NOKA.

Freeze-Dried Herbs

Wow were we excited when we found freeze-dried herbs, especially garlic and onion. While not as fresh as the real thing, they are certainly a solid substitute when these essential produce items can’t be found. Not keen on the freeze-dried variation? You can also find jars of minced garlic in oil.

Pickled Veggies

Pickled asparagus, okra, garlic, and even cauliflower make for great snacks! They can also be used to enhance existing dishes like gumbo. Pickling is one of the oldest methods of preservation, so it is no shock to see the abundance of pickled items available.

Dried Mushrooms and Peppers

These puppies pack more punch than their fresh counterpart and last a lot longer too. Once hydrated, dried mushrooms bring umami flavor to all of your favorite pantry dishes including pasta and risotto. Snatch up some dried peppers to add to stews, soups, or anything that needs a little extra kick.


Guys, you can buy meat on Amazon! Well, sort of. There are plenty of salami and other cured meats available. Another preservation technique, smoking and curing meat has become fashionable once again, but beyond that, it allows you to enjoy a salty, meaty snack in the middle of isolation.

Dry Beans

I’m a little embarrassed that it took me until now to figure this one out. I grew up with a grandmother who would cook big, beautiful pots of beans at least once a week. My husband and I love to cook, but don’t eat many beans, so we typically just buy cans of black beans. Now with the cost of cans quadrupling in price on Amazon, we’re excited to dabble with our own beans.

Instant Mashed Potatoes

These are absolutely a guilty pleasure, and one that I haven’t indulged in since college. Occasionally our meal service will send potatoes, but not enough to satisfy my starchy urges. I’m sure they aren’t as nutritious as homemade mashed potatoes, but in this time of uncertainty, I’m here for them.

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