What to Do While Restaurants Are Closed in Missoula?

The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc over Montana’s businesses and residents. As of April 3rd, there are 241 cases of the infection reported in the state. That number is growing daily, so there is no hope that the quarantine will be lifted anytime soon. Thousands of people are out of a job because of it, which means budgets are getting tighter. If you are used to eating out or getting your meals from takeout, you are out of luck.

Some restaurants still function today, but they only do limited deliveries. Also, with the governor putting the tourism industry completely on hold, this time is extremely hard for a great number of people in Montana. All things considered, now is the time to learn how to cook on a budget. The good news is that today you have many resources that will allow you to enjoy great meals no matter what.

How to Eat on a Budget During Quarantine in Montana

Stock up on the right foods

First of all, you need to spend your money wisely when stocking up on food in the house. Budget eating means buying in bulk with a focus on non-perishables. And budget cooking means you’ll need to employ very creative use of spices and sauces. Therefore, the foods you absolutely must have to get through the quarantine on a healthy diet are:

  • Broth (or supplies to make it)
  • Dry beans (any kind you like)
  • Dry grains (rice, buckwheat, oats, millet, barley, quinoa, wheat)
  • Dry pasta
  • Flour (essentially, stock up on everything you need to bake homemade bread)
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables
  • Tea and coffee beans
  • A wide range of spices and herbs
  • Salt

These are the foods that you can use to make a variety of healthy meals with little effort. Of course, it would be even easier to use canned foods, such as canned stews and soups. However, those definitely do not rate a “healthy” because of the high sodium content and other nasty additives.

Dry foods, on the other hand, require more preparation but are as close to “pure” as you can get. And with the quarantine, soaking beans overnight and cooking them for 60+ minutes shouldn’t be a problem.

As to recipes, you can find hundreds of them online. Look through YouTube and Instagram if you want more visual materials, or simply google “easy recipes”.

Put meal kit subscriptions to good use

Homecooked meals made from ingredients listed above can be nutritious and very budget-friendly. However, you definitely need to enjoy some fresh foods as well to keep your diet healthy and diverse. However, grocery shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic is a risk and ordering fresh groceries online can be very expensive. Meal kits, which were mostly used by busy small families and bachelors before the pandemic, can be your solution now. These food delivery services do not only bring cost-efficient fresh food to your door. They also help anyone to learn how to be a better cook.

The kit contains everything necessary to make a delicious and nutritionally-balanced meal. If you buy it from a good provider, you can also be sure that the servings you get will be big. Therefore, the cost is well-worth it in the end.

But remember that safety is everything in the times of a pandemic. Meal kit companies work with food and must comply with the highest sanitary standards. In the current conditions, many people might be tempted to start a business in this industry, but you can’t be sure how trustworthy they are. Therefore, the best choices are industry veterans. Look at  HelloFresh, which is one of the oldest companies in the industry. It’s built a good reputation for the quality of their kits as well as large servings. You can easily check this online studying reviews of the service.

That’s what you should be looking for in your meal kit provider. Also, see if the company has an app. This way it will be easy for you to manage your orders. Most importantly, you will be able to plan your meals well ahead because top meal kit providers offer a variety of choices. As a result, you can easily pick what will complement best the rest of your meal plan based on the ingredients in your quarantine-pantry.

Master creative ingredient substitution

Milk and eggs are the first ingredients you are bound to run out of. However, they might not be the last. Therefore, money-savvy meal planning for the duration of quarantine should include studying the chart of common ingredient substitutes.

Another important thing to remember is that you can use a variety of substitutes not only when you run out of something. You can also tweak fancy recipes you find online to fit your budget ingredients. Of course, your meals won’t taste exactly the same, but this doesn’t mean they won’t be delicious.

The easiest budget substitutes are using frozen available veggies instead of fresh ones. You can also use different types of meat in nearly all stew recipes. You can even replace meat with beans.

This quarantine might be your chance to give the vegetarian diet a try. According to studies, it’s a very heart-friendly choice and it can also help you lose weight. As exercising during social-distancing and self-isolation will be harder, that lighter diet might be a great help.

Eating on a Budget and Staying Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Now is a hard time for every person in Montana. However, careful planning and budgeting will help you get through this trial. Remember that eating healthy is more important than ever now because you need to keep your immune system strong. Therefore, stock up on good dry foods in bulk and learn how to turn them into fantastic meals with the help of online recipes.