Eating During Quarantine
Remember when you could just “pop out” to pick up groceries?
When it comes to food and eating, life in quarantine means many things, including but not limited to: more time to contemplate meals, less trips to the grocery store, more time spent within close proximity to your fridge. Whatever your eating habits were during the Before Times, it’s safe to say those things — not to mention life itself — is decidedly different now (even a spontaneous trip to the grocery store feels obsolete, let alone a meal out). We asked five people about what eating and cooking looks like in today’s fresh hell — er, world.
“Before, the only reason I had to open my freezer was for a late night Ben and Jerry’s binge. Now, I find myself playing games of Tetris to fit as many frozen pizzas, chicken wings, bags of shrimp, peas, and mixed berries in as possible, while still leaving room for my stash of ice cream. While I have dreams of cooking-inspired Ottolenghi feasts, the day I venture to the grocery shop is the further I get from that date — and the more I’m forced to involve frozen and canned goods into my culinary routine. It’s possible to be inventive — for instance, I made a shrimp ceviche from pre-cooked, frozen shrimp. It was delicious, if a little freezer burnt.” - Megan, 24
“Since being in quarantine, I’m a lot less hungry than I usually am. I think that has something to do with the lack of physical activity I’m doing — I’m in New York and working from home a lot more, so I’m pretty much trapped in my tiny apartment at all times. I’m usually doing fitness classes or commuting to work, but I don’t even have the time for walks or virtual classes. Without that physical activity, I think my body is just processing less calories, and therefore I find myself less hungry all the time. I’m also Juuling a lot more often than I would if I were in a normal work environment, which I think plays a factor in making me less hungry.” - Julia, 34
“I’ve always had a bit of an unhealthy relationship with food. Maybe it was growing up Italian and food equating to love, but I’m obsessed with it. I’ve definitely been cooking a lot more; it turns my brain off from the anxieties of the new normal. Since I have more time, I’m trying some food I’ve never made before. I’m exercising more for something to do, so I’m hungry more as a result. I’m planning more meals in advance and googling recipes before bed, which has brought me closer to my mom. I’ll call her midday and she’ll walk me through family ‘recipes’, which are usually just my mom eyeballing how many ingredients I put in. That’s been fun. I’m talking about food a lot more with my friends and family, and even started a food Instagram to document what I’m making, as a catalogue for myself.” - Isabella, 25
“I've always thrived on routine. In times of uncertainty, creating order, rules to follow, and boundaries to function within become even more of a necessity for the maintenance of my sanity. When it comes to meal prep while isolating, weekly planning is a must. Meatless Mondays followed by omelette Tuesday, fish and rice on Wednesday, and frozen pizza every Thursday — I am not sure why the meals have to be so bland and simple, but it makes me feel safe. From Friday to Sunday my husband takes over the cooking and is much more of a foodie — during this time the red meats, herbs, and garlic come out. While I enjoy the lavish weekends, I always look forward to returning to my weekday routine of flavorless chicken breasts ("Not even a squirt of lemon?" my husband groans), baked potatoes, and if I'm feeling really adventurous, we scrap the entire plan and order in.” - Olivia, 29
“While my partner and I have long enjoyed cooking together, the way we cook and eat now has changed in almost every conceivable way. In the ‘before times’ we went out for dinner a couple times a week, and usually got some kind of takeout or delivery once or twice a week. If we were cooking or having people over for dinner, I’d shop for the meal only. Now, we cook almost every meal exclusively from scratch, and are spending way more time planning what we’re cooking. The ritual of cooking is a comforting way to demarcate an otherwise pretty unremarkable day. The roles in my relationship have also changed in how they relate to shopping and preparing meals. Before, I decided what we were cooking and did the shopping. Now, my partner does all of the shopping because he has more freedom with his work schedule and can go to the store when it’s less busy during the work day. He’s also taken the lead when it comes to what we’re making, which has recently included bread.” - Silvana, 32
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