17 Easy Meals for Pandemic Wall From Pasta to Eggs to Chicken


By now, you’ve probably heard about (if not, begun to experience…) what folks are calling the pandemic wall. Nearly a year into this new state of living we’re collectively experiencing, there’s plenty to fret about—and frankly, without aiming to go full-on Eeyore, it’s exhausting. But because cereal for dinner gets old after the third night straight (trust me…I’m speaking from experience), I turned to the Food52 team to find out what’s keeping them eating well and saving their energy these days.

Below, 17 dinners that require only a handful of ingredients and minimal active cooking, like speedy grits, bubbly bakes, or done-in-a-flash fish. Let us know what you’re cooking these days—we gladly welcome suggestions.

“Maybe it’s oversaturated at this point, but we’re enjoying brainstorming all of the flavor and ingredient combos for the quadadilla. (P.S.: Breakfast quadadillas are highly recommended.)” —Brian Mahoney, Director of People & Culture

“I’ve been cooking a lot out of Eden Grinshpan’s book Eating Out Loud.
I have been playing a lot with her classic shakshuka by adding things like eggplant, delicata squash, or roasted potatoes. It’s such a comfort dish without a ton of effort.” —Angela Bartolotta, Drop Ship Supply Chain Manager

High heat browns the eggs’ exterior and crisps up the cheddar, while the kimchi helps keep the insides nice and runny. If it’s been a looong time since lunch, feel free to add another egg in there.

The stew starts simple: oil, onion, lentils, tomato paste, curry powder, salt, water. And the process involves chopping one vegetable, pouring some stuff in a pot, and stirring every so often. Really, that’s it.

“The more tired I get, the more I want to eat soup for every meal—I riff on this pasta fazool (real ones know) with staples I have on hand. Since I never remember to start dinner on time, I make it on the stove, not the slow-cooker. The full recipe is great, but even with just an onion or a few cloves of garlic, broth and tomatoes, a can of whatever beans I have hanging around, and half a box of short pasta, it’s a one-pot meal I can slurp down (and clean up) with very little energy.” —Rebecca Firkser, Assigning Editor

“This speedy chicken meatball soup has been my new weekly go-to.” —Shannon Muldoon, Director of Studio52

Taking Shannon’s lead, here are a couple meatball soups short on prep and full of verve.

“I’ve been making this hearty, satisfying, ultra-savory recipe, but with Beyond Sausage Sweet Italian for a plant-based version!” —Dina Losito, B2B Business Associate

“I roast chicken all the time but I took it up a notch the other week with this version. I don’t usually brine my chicken because it seemed pretty fussy, but turns out it wasn’t at all, and made for phenomenal flavor. I’m so glad I tried this recipe—it was great!” —Alex Egan, Senior SEO Strategist

“I usually only cook vegetarian at home and leave meat to the professionals, but this easy-to-follow recipe has helped me expand the offerings at my very exclusive restaurant. I did it with chicken thighs instead of breasts and tomato puree instead of fresh tomato, and served it with crema, avocado, and lime in tacos. (But when I was being lazy with leftovers, it was just as good with crispy tortilla chips.)” —Mollie Doherty, Senior Account Manager

This “slow” roasted technique takes 30 minutes, tops, and results in a beautifully tender, evenly cooked, not-one-bit-dry piece of fish.

“Mac and cheese is my ultimate comfort food, so lately, we’ve done many variations on this classic. Adding pulled pork, spiced and fresh veggies, different cheeses, portioning into ramekins and baked with a butter bread crust, mixing in the last of a ragu or butter chicken recipe…it’s always been delicious.” —Kaleigh Embree

Macaroni, make way for tater tots. For this dish, you smother your tots in cheese sauce, then broil until bubbly and golden.

“When my cravings land on Indian food, which is on a pretty reliable basis, but I can’t fathom mincing onions, garlic, and ginger (which is almost always necessary) let alone concocting a whole curry base and then currying something, I turn to yogurt rice. It’s satisfying and nourishing, has all the flavors I wanted, and is a great bed for an egg or any kind of leftover vegetable.” —Jess Kapadia, Senior Editor

“This is a dinner you can fish out of your bare kitchen and cook in 10 minutes that will make you feel whole, with nothing more than modestly proportioned dry pasta, butter, chicken stock, pepper, and lemon.” Kristen Miglore, Founding Editor & Creative Director of Genius

“Miso and mushrooms make the dreamiest, umami-est duo in this silky-creamy pasta I’ve been making on repeat since December. Each ingredient requires a little bit of care (sauté the mushrooms in batches for the best sear; whip the miso with butter before adding to the sauce), but it really does come together in 30 minutes or less. The first time I made it, I finished my serving in about five minutes and immediately went for seconds—it’s that good/I promise it’ll get you out of any pasta rut.

“Also, unrelated—but OMG, EmilyC‘s sweet potato stew is absolutely incredible.” —Erin Alexander, Brand Partnerships Editor

And speaking of sweet potato—creamy cubes of the beloved root veg, plus a hit of tangy goat (or other!) cheese get a little help from chickpeas to make a flavorful, belly-filling topping to go on toast. But, in my opinion, every food is a toast topping-to-be.

What do you make when you’re too tired to cook? Share some ideas in the comments.

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