Quarantine meals: good, canned, greasy

Commentary on meal options during quarantine

· Apr 14, 2020 Tweet


In these lovely quarantine times, Badgers are most likely in one of two situations — back home or in Madison. 

Either way, they’re probably miserable and certainly not eating well. Students are ravaging through pantries, cupboards and crispers, looking for anything to munch on during the ever-long days in isolation.

Don’t you miss the days when you were too occupied with class homework to worry about eating lunch? One meal a day back then was a feat — now you’re forced to make three and want to eat seven.

The constant accessibility of grocery stores, Madison restaurants and overpriced coffee shop paninis were taken for granted in some college lives. Take it from Allison Vanderplank, a second-year psychology major who moved back home for quarantine.

“I didn’t need to think about cooking. Trader Joe’s frozen meals flooded my freezer, bringing me joy and burnt taste-buds every night,” Vanderplank said.

At home, things are different for Allison.

“Don’t get me wrong, my mom’s a great cook,” Vanderplank said. “But it’s the time between meals that’s driving me bonkers. There’s a box of Saltines and four jars of assorted nut butters. What am I supposed to snack on?” 

But is Allison really hungry, though?

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Boredom snacking is on the rise, as a lot of Americans feel unsatisfied throughout the day. Who’s going to tell them that eating three granola bars isn’t going to solve their problem? 

Do you feel like that bag of chips went by just a little too quickly? You’re not alone. Food hoarding has also increased, with many teens and young adults hiding snacks from the rest of their family. Limited trips to the grocery store are forcing people to savor items a little longer than usual.

Pick & Saves have become war zones, and even Costcos have empty shelves. With the fright that accompanies grocery shopping, it makes sense to stock up on essentials in one trip. For UW freshman Julia Anderson’s family, this means a lot of canned items at her home in Arlington Heights.

“My dad took the last grocery store trip alone — huge mistake,” Anderson said. “He came home with six cans of black beans and four things of crushed red tomatoes. Like, are we entering a chili cook-off? Where are the foods that matter?”

Whatever Mr. Anderson plans to cook up with those non-perishable goodies, it’s guaranteed to be sub-par.

Canned goods can be a smart and easy fix for dinner. Though absolutely no one is eating the chickpeas or mushroom soup they panic-bought, at least it’s there. Ya know, just in case.

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Of course, takeout or delivery is an option if you’re willing to dig out of your government stimulus check. Some are enjoying hometown classics. Those still in Madison are able to enjoy the city’s unique cuisine while supporting local businesses.

“I’m so thankful that Taco Bell Cantina is still open for delivery. I feel like I’m really doing the economy a favor right now. You know, boosting it,” Astrophysics major Thomas Lochen said. 

While many restaurants nationwide are struggling to stay afloat, fast food chains are thriving. 

“It’s like, suddenly everyone in the town wants a Dairy Queen blizzard at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, so I have to settle for Sonic,” Anderson said. “I hate their milkshakes. But I was going crazy without any high-fructose corn syrup in my system. Banana bread is simply not an adequate dessert.”

Banana bread, though, is increasingly popular during this pandemic — as is literally every baked good. Someone call Cupcake Wars! Your little sister is suddenly mad-skilled with a frosting vat.

Perhaps the spike in sugar is because baking can be a lengthy, soothing process that easily fills the hours of unscheduled nothingness. Or perhaps America’s addiction to sugar is the only reassurance citizens have in a time of crisis.

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Some households, despite the overwhelming desire to do absolutely nothing all day, have turned creative with their cooking.

“With all this time on my hands, I’ve been trying out a lot of new recipes,” UW senior Madelyn Krepps said. 

She’s still in Madison with her roommates. Every day, they drink wine coolers, cook and mourn the loss of their final college semester.

“Cooking is good bonding time with my roommates, and I finally have the patience to make some really yummy recipes,” Krepps said.

She’s adding fresh parsley to spaghetti marinara and side of Texas Toast. It’s barely innovative, but we’ll let her have that. 

Whether you’re enjoying the food you have in quarantine, snacking relentlessly, baking angrily or putting your can opener to use, just take a deep breath, relax and know your food situation will be like this for at least another month. 

In the meantime, try out new recipes or snack combinations. Dry pasta and almond butter never sounded more exquisite!


This article was published Apr 14, 2020 at 9:15 am and last updated Apr 13, 2020 at 4:56 pm


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