Several months into the coronavirus pandemic, we’re pretty well versed in pantry cooking and online grocery orders, but it’s still an uncertain time. We’ve seen lockdowns lift (and schools reopen) only to lead to spikes in cases, and the virus is still a serious threat, which is why we’re continuing to update this guide with relevant information.
From advice on when and how to wash and wear masks to the new rules of restaurant dining, we’ll bring you updated details as they emerge, and maintain an archive of all our other COVID-19 content, from ways to keep snacking under control to what to use when you’re out of flour—because, frankly, they’re always good things to know.
Back to school season is officially here, though what exactly that means varies widely depending on where you are; we’ve rounded up the best places to buy kids’ face masks online along with other advice to make the transition smoother.
While fall is firmly on the horizon too (hello, virtual Oktoberfest), you can still check out our summer staycation guide for a taste of travel while an actual vacation is off the table. And as cooler weather brings us all back into the kitchen, we shared our favorite pantry staples from the past few months guaranteed to liven up all your meals.
When you want to venture out, here are places to safely pick apples and pumpkins this autumn.
You’ll also find other ways to support local restaurants where they’re still not open for normal business, how to help more community members, and where to find food assistance yourself if you need it. Plus, ways to keep yourself (and your kids) occupied and help manage stress. It’s all useful information even in the best of times, and we hope it helps ease any anxiety—and restlessness—you may be feeling at the moment.
You can use the links to jump to a specific section, or keep scrolling to see everything:
- What to Know When Lockdown Ends
- What to Stock Up On
- What to Cook
- What & How to Clean
- What Delivery Services to Use
- What Else You Can Do
What to Know When Lockdown Ends
In areas where stay-at-home restrictions are lifting, it’s only natural to want to get outside—and to be hesitant about it too. Here, some timely topics that might be on your mind:
- Is It Safe to Host a BBQ This Year? – Large gatherings are still not a great idea, but if you want to have a cook-out, here’s how to do it safely.
- Is It Safe to Go Camping This Summer? – Getting out in the wilderness can be hugely beneficial to your mental health—and if you follow some simple guidelines, quite safe too.
- Is It OK to Have a Picnic Right Now? – Eating outside can be a relatively low-risk activity too, as long as you follow some simple precautions.
- Where Are Restaurants and Bars Reopening? – This list will continue evolving, but here’s a snapshot at which major cities have begun re-opening restaurants and bars.
- The New Normal of Restaurant Dining – Even as businesses reopen, things won’t be the same for a long while; here are some new protocols you’ll need to get used to when dining out. (And here’s what it’s like to work in a restaurant right now.)
- The Right Way to Wear and Wash a Cloth Face Mask – Wearing a mask remains one of the easiest and most effective ways to help stop the spread of coronavirus, but only if you treat it the right way.
What to Stock Up On
- 18 Pantry Staples Guaranteed to Get You Through Many More Months of Quarantine Cooking – These are some of our very favorite ways to liven up even the most basic dinners.
- Coronavirus Shopping Tips: What to Buy & What to Avoid – Plus, why you shouldn’t panic or overbuy (it’s bad for you and your community).
- The Ultimate Guide to Keeping a Pantry Like a Pro – Handy tips on what to stock, where to find it, and how to use it all.
- The Best Canned Food to Stock, According to Nutritionists – Canned food is a big part of pantry stores, but some of it is healthier than others; learn what you should always stock, and what’s best to avoid.
- Foods You Can Freeze Besides Meat and Produce – If you bought too much milk or too many eggs, not to worry; you can freeze them, and several other pantry staples.
- 10 Cookbooks to Get You Through Quarantine – Whether you’re looking for comfort food, ways to use your scraps and leftovers, or need more ideas on how to use pantry stores.
- Where to Buy Face Masks Online – While N95 masks may be the gold standard (leave those for your hospital workers), other face coverings can help protect you too; here are some of the best options available online. Also see how to properly wash and wear face masks so they’re actually effective.
- The Best Places to Buy Kids’ Face Masks Online – Whether or not your little ones will be going back to school on schedule, they should be wearing a mask when they go out in public too.
- The Best Hand Soaps, Hand Sanitizers, and Hand Lotions You Can Buy Online – Hand-washing is still one of the best ways to help prevent the spread of illness; the only downside is that it does tend to dry out your skin. So here are some of the best soaps, sanitizers, and lotions you can buy online right now.
- Must-Haves for Your Home Office – If you’re working from home, these essentials will help you make the most of the experience.
- How to Set Up Your Home Office Desk – Tips from Rachael Ray on maximizing your work-from-home setup, even if you only have a small space.
What to Cook
- 21 Cheap and Easy Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner – Healthy and delicious options for when you’re running low on funds and energy.
- 17 Canning Recipes to Preserve Peak Season Produce – If you have an abundance of summer produce right now, here’s how you can make it last longer. (See our beginner’s guide to canning, essential canning equipment, and more handy canning tips if it’s your first time.)
- A Dietitian’s Recommendations for Immune-Boosting Food – Plus, a snapshot of what it’s like to work in a hospital right now.
- 15 Easy Dinners You Can Make with Basic Pantry Staples – Basic does not mean boring, as these easy dinner recipes prove.
- 9 Foods That Can Help You Relax – These foods might help you keep calm, naturally. (They’ll definitely taste delicious.)
- 5 Big-Batch Recipes to Save You From Cooking Every Single Night – Self-explanatory, but see more batch cooking tips if you’re new to this game.
- 3 Easy Pasta Recipes for When the Fridge Is Bare – Stripped down ingredients can still combine to deliver big flavors.
- 15 Delicious Things to Do with Canned Sardines – We’re never without these tinned fish in the pantry, but they’re not just for putting on crackers.
- 11 Ways to Use Canned Chickpeas Besides Homemade Hummus – Another favorite pantry staple, garbanzo beans make the base of a slew of delicious meals (including breakfast and dessert!).
- The Best Ways to Use All the Beans in Your Pantry – Because chickpeas aren’t the only star player. These are our favorite ways to make beans both canned and dried. (But don’t miss this basic how to cook beans tutorial from Steve Sando either.)
- Our 11 Favorite Tuna Salad Variations – Canned tuna is far more versatile than you think.
- 5 Tricks to Make Canned Chili Taste Homemade – Canned chili can pass for homemade with a few easy tweaks and tips.
- 11 Recipes That Prove You Should Always Keep Chocolate Chips in Your Pantry – Something sweet is always possible when you keep a few baking staples on hand, chocolate chips chief among them.
- Basic Baking Recipes That Rely on Pantry Staples – Even if you don’t have chocolate chips, you can still stress-bake sweet and savory treats from what is usually on hand.
- Freezer-Friendly Meals to Make Ahead – If you have freezer space, use it wisely; these are some of our favorite recipes to freeze for an easy dinner later on.
- How to Make the Most of Frozen Fruits & Veggies – The texture of frozen produce isn’t always the greatest, but if you treat it right, it won’t feel like second best—hence, the best ways to use frozen vegetables and fruit.
- Sourdough Starter 101 – If you’re experimenting with artisanal bread, here’s what you need to know about caring for and feeding your new friend. When it’s ready, here’s an easy sourdough bread recipe you can bake—and when you’ve mastered that, check out sourdough add-in ideas to take your loaf to the next level.
- 10 Best Sourdough Discard Recipes – If you make starter, you’ll have discard—so here are the best things to bake with it.
- AN A-Z Ingredient Substitution Guide – What to do when you’re out of everything from butter and eggs to olive oil.
- 7 Ways to Stay Motivated When You’re Getting Tired of Cooking – Or if you’re just bored with what you’re eating; kitchen inspiration can come from many places.
Related Reading: Eating Kimchi and Sauerkraut Could Help Stave Off COVID-19
What & How to Clean
- How to Clean Your Groceries – Advice from a doctor on cleaning and disinfecting food packages to be safe.
- How to Clean & Sanitize Your Kitchen – Keep your meal prep areas safe from germs, foodborne and otherwise, with these expert tips.
- Safe Ways to Make Disinfectant at Home – If the store is out of commercial disinfectant wipes or cleaners, here’s what you can use to make them at home—plus the one thing you must never do when DIY’ing these.
- The Ultimate Guide to Organizing Your Pantry – Because its usefulness depends in large part on being able to tell what’s in it.
- How to Wash Your Hands the Right Way – It is the most effective way to stop the spread of germs, but not if you do it wrong.
- Why You Shouldn’t Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer – Turns out, it’s easy to mess it up.
- How to Clean Your Phone Screen – You touch it all the time, which means it needs regular cleaning, but you don’t want to disinfect it with something that might ruin it either.
- How to Organize Your Freezer – These tips will ensure your food stays fresh and you can actually tell what’s in there.
- 8 Ways to Keep Clutter Under Control While Donation Centers Are Closed – Organization experts give their best advice for dealing with mess in the meanwhile.
What Online Delivery Services to Use
- Our Favorite Grocery, Pantry & Food Delivery Options – If you can’t get to the store, you can have almost anything delivered; these are our top choices for delivery and subscription services of all sorts. Update: Due to the unprecedented increase in demand, some of these services are currently experiencing delays and some are not accepting new orders, but the situation changes daily.
- The Best Places to Buy Baking Ingredients Online – While you might not want to turn on your oven right now, flour is back in stock at most places, so it’s good time to grab a bag or two to keep in your pantry.
- How to Safely Shop for Groceries, in Person or Online – Practical tips for shopping at the store or using online delivery services that minimize your risk and the risk of everyone around you. (Plus, read our Q&A with a grocery store employee about what it’s like to work there during the pandemic.)
- Where to Restock Pantry Staples Online – If you’re finding flour, beans, and other staples hard to come by locally, try these online sources for pantry staples.
- The Best Fruit & Produce Boxes for Healthy Eating – If fresh produce is scarce at your local store, try an online CSA-style produce delivery box (some include dairy too).
- Where to Buy Fruit & Vegetable Plants Online – Or, if you want to grow your own but your local nursery is closed (or you’re simply wary of going), there are plenty of places to buy starter plants and seedlings online.
- 3 Ways to Order Alcohol Online – We’re not advocating you attempt to drink away all your worries, but if you could use a little something to help you relax right now, there are various ways to order booze online, though it does depend on where you live. (Plus, see which wine, beer, and booze has been selling best.)
- Our Favorite Snack Boxes to Order Online – If there was ever a time to treat yourself, it’s now, and these boxes bring goodies from around the globe right to your door.
- Meat Delivery & Subscription Options – Whether you don’t have a local source of great, organic meat and poultry or you’re just finding it hard to come by right now, there are several meat delivery options to try.
- The Best Seafood Delivery Services – Prefer surf to turf? These are some of the best places to order fresh seafood online.
- The Best Baby Food Delivery Services – Have a little one you need to keep happy? Try one of these baby food delivery services; you’ll love them too.
- Our Favorite Pet Food Delivery Options – Of course, your furry friends need to eat, and these are some of the best pet food delivery options for dogs and cats.
- Order Your Favorite Food from Across the Country on Goldbelly – One way to stay well-fed and support your favorite restaurants, even from afar. And if you sign up for a city subscription box, the proceeds will go to health workers and first responders in that city.
What Else You Can Do
- How to Support Local Businesses When You Can’t Go Out – You don’t actually have to patronize a restaurant in person to help support them; here are five ways to show some love to local spots (and help keep them afloat) during these challenging times.
- Sign This Petition to Help the Restaurant Industry Survive – Small tokens of support still matter, but alone, they won’t be enough, so big-name chefs like Alice Waters and Curtis Stone helped create a petition to get government support for their imperiled industry.
- Where to Donate During the Coronavirus Crisis – Food banks, community pantries, and other charitable organizations can also use help right now; if you’re able to give, here are some places to donate to, but look for local options as well. (And don’t forget about donating to hospitals too.)
- Buy Restaurant Cookbooks to Show Some Love – Another way to support your favorite restaurants, near and far, is to buy their cookbooks. Bonus: You’ll be able to recreate your favorite dishes when you can’t go out to eat.
- 9 Online Cooking Classes to Keep You Full & Fulfilled – If you’re looking for something to do that will not only entertain you but teach you new skills, now is a great time to dabble in online cooking classes—and there are lots to choose from, for every budget, skill set, and taste. (We also rounded up a secondary list of all free options, and a special selection of MasterClass cooking classes where you can learn from big name pros.)
- 5 Tips for Starting a Garden – If you’ve been wanting to grow your own food, here are some tips for getting started (you’ll also find specific growing guides for potatoes, tomatoes, onions, beans, and herbs).
- How to Regrow Scallions – The easiest first step to growing your own food, and perfect for those without space for a garden.
- 13 Kids’ Crafts to Keep Them Occupied & Fed – These fun activities are even better because they’re edible.
- How to Use Your Food Scraps in Cooking – Food feels more precious than ever right now, so here are strategies for wasting as little as possible.
- Follow These Chefs for #QuarantineKitchen Inspiration – Lots of big names are taking to Instagram to show us all how to cook from what’s on hand (and keeping us entertained or offering emotional comfort in the process).
- See How Celebrities Are Helping the Cause – Check out some of the initiatives celebs are involved in to help those affected by COVID-19.
- Binge on Netflix Food Shows – We picked our favorite streaming options with a foodie bent, from new offerings to old faves.
- Stream These Fab Food Podcasts – Samin Nosrat has a new one, and we wrapped up the first season of our own podcast—but there are lots of other great options to listen to while you cook…or veg out on the couch.
- Get Food Assistance During the COVID-19 Crisis – If you or someone you know is struggling to secure food, there are places that can help.
- Help Support Food Justice – Food insecurity has been a major issue in America (and elsewhere) for a long time, and the pandemic has only exacerbated it. So if you have the means, here are some more ways you can help others.
Keep tabs on the latest COVID-19 coverage on CBS Interactive’s sister sites:
ET Online: Things to Do in Quarantine
- Inside Edition: Coronavirus News, Headlines, Inspirational Stories, Videos and more from Inside Edition
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