Hey! How’re you doing? Are you, too, still in the kitchen, cooking three meals a day? Well, same here! During the last three, four—has it really been five?—months of quarantine, the editors at Chowhound have done a lot of cooking. And baking. And fermenting. And preserving. You’ve probably heard a lot about it; after all, we do like to keep you informed about our best sourdough bread tips and everything you need to know about canning at home.
Related Reading: The Best Places to Restock Pantry Staples Online
But perhaps you’ve found yourself in a little bit of a rut. It’s easy to feel jaded when you’ve been prepping meal after meal, stuck in your home with very few places to go. We’re feeling that quite viscerally, too. Luckily, at Chowhound we’re swapping our favorite pantry staples, ingredients, and recipes that have been getting us through the pandemic (it seems like we all can’t live without some variety of chili oil!), eschewing the tired “same olds” for something new and exciting—that can often be delivered to your door, without ever having to leave the house.
Ahead you’ll find what the Chowhound staff can’t live without these days. We wholeheartedly stand by these products and we hope they’ll bring a bit of joy and ease into your kitchen, just like they have in ours.
Executive Editor Hana Asbrink
During quarantine, I have been cooking near daily and have been pushing myself to mix things up and try different versions of pantry staples and go-to ingredients.
My husband and I love a good chili oil (you already know about my love for Fly By Jing), and there’s no dearth of great hot sauces out there right now. Boon’s chili oil from Los Angeles-based Max Boonthanakit is another favorite: I use it to perk up my fried eggs and sesame noodles, and also to swirl it through some sour cream for a makeshift chip dip.
Chili Oil Batch #14, $18 at Boon Sauce
I’ve also been turning to New York Shuk’s shawarma spice to channel my favorite halal carts and instantly give life to weeknight chicken thighs. I would kindly request that founders and husband-and-wife team Ron and Leetal create a larger version for this spice blend, please and thank you.
Shawarma Spice, $8.95 at New York Shuk
Lastly, the quick meal I can’t get enough of this summer is Seemore’s La Dolce Beet-a Sausages, a bright, veggie-filled take on your favorite Italian sausage. Fourth-generation butcher Cara Nicoletti knows a thing or two about tasty, humanely raised pork, and this juicy variety is a home run. I love it in a simple bun for lunch, or cut into coins and tossed with a few more veggies for a quick dinner stir-fry. It’s also great diced up and folded into eggs or a mixed breakfast hash.
La Dolce Beet-a Sausages, $57.99 on Goldbelly
Editor Jen Wheeler
I can’t stop gushing about Omsom, but seriously, their sauces have been a huge help and an instant favorite these past couple months. A quick sauté of shallots and green beans (or whatever veg you want), an equally quick sauté of ground meat, and then this super-flavorful starter sauce combine forces for a meal that is so effortless—but so delicious. I always serve over rice, but I bet it would be good just wrapped up in lettuce leaves with fresh herbs.
Omsom Sampler, $29 at Omsom
Another super easy pantry staple meal I’ve made on repeat so many times I’ve lost count during quarantine: steamed rice, any quick-cooking protein (I’ve been relying heavily on Trader Joe’s shrimp or tuna burgers, or else actual shrimp), roasted cabbage shreds, and copious amounts of chili oil or gochujang—or this gochujang-Sriracha hybrid. It’s another dinner that you barely have to be awake to make, but is so satisfying. I love that I can just dump it all in a bowl and eat it on the couch in front of BBC Earth for a break from the news. But it’s nice enough to serve the family on actual plates if we’re sitting at the table too.
Weak Knees Gochujang Sriracha, $10.99 at Bushwick Kitchen
Reporter David Watsky
For whatever reason, during summer I need everything blackened—chicken, burgers, fish—and Zatarain’s blackening seasoning is really fantastic. Just sprinkle a heavy coating of this on a fresh piece of swordfish cooked on the grill or even cast iron; I’m telling you there is nothing better.
Zatarain's New Orleans-Style Blackened Seasoning, $3.34 at Walmart
Social Media Producer Connor Bower
My family and I have been doing a lot of stir-fries over the past few weeks, and we all agree oyster sauce is the crucial ingredient—pretty much an umami bomb for so many different dishes.
Lee Kum Kee Premium Oyster Flavored Sauce, $9.93 on Amazon
Head of Video Owen Stretch
I love a good dip, so when I saw this catchy title in store I had to try it out. Turns out, it’s nuts! No really. It’s an almond dip that is extremely delicious with the perfect kick. Highly recommend.
Bitchin' Chipotle Sauce, $4.99 at Target
Senior Social Media Producer Lauren Zupkus
Hitting up the grocery store during a pandemic can be anxiety-inducing, and it’s easy to forget your reusable bag when you’re focused on masking up and keeping a safe distance from other shoppers. I love that these nylon bags come on a keychain so I always have it with me, and the design’s ode to takeout bags is an added plus for this Jersey girl who misses Brooklyn bodegas deeply.
Reusable Thank You Bags With Keychain, $17.99 at Bag Shop NYC
Hot sauce is super clutch in times of quarantine, since it keeps home-cooking from getting too boring. I use it to spice up anything from scrambled eggs and grits to margaritas and sub sandwiches for the beach. I like Crimson Drip, a mild red sauce, and The Colfax Killer, a mango habanero sauce, both from Sauce Leopard, a small-batch company from Denver, Colorado.
The Crimson Drip, $10 at Sauce Leopard
Social Intern Eliza Shaw
I’ve been super into Beyond Meat this quarantine. I’m not a vegetarian, but Beyond Meat is so yummy and easy to use. It’s also versatile—I’ve used it in chili, had it as sausages, and put it in stir-fry. As someone who is a meat eater on the reg, I can say that despite a small texture difference, Beyond Meat really does taste real.
Related Reading: How to Grill Vegetarian BBQ So Delicious No One Will Miss the Meat
The Beyond Meat Burger, $6.99 at FreshDirect
Editor-at-Large Joey Skladany
I have an unhealthy obsession with chili oils. Like, I’m pretty sure that I’ve tried every single one sold on Amazon. Of course, my favorite happens to be the most expensive and smallest option, because who needs a savings account anyway? This particular product really hits the spot because of the added fried garlic that gives it a wonderful sweet crunch and pairs seamlessly with the spice of the chili. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I put it on everything, but it really shines on eggs, especially hard-boiled when you’re on a stupid protein-heavy diet and don’t have the time or patience to scramble.
Momoya Chili Oil with Fried Garlic Taberu Layu, $9.90 at Amazon
Video Producer Olivia Geyelin
Most of what I’ve been buying I am so sick of right now, but I always love the porcini mushroom and truffle ravioli from Trader Joe’s because the truffle oil never gets old. I change it up by the sauce I use—like marinara or tomato sauce—but it even tastes delicious with just a bit of olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and parmesan cheese.
Senior Video Producer Guillermo Riveros
I’ve been buying Rana Ravioli since quarantine started, and I haven’t been disappointed by any of the flavors they have. My favorites are four cheese, artichoke, mushroom, chicken, and roasted garlic.
Rana Mozzarella Cheese Ravioli, $5.92 at Walmart
On the spice side, I rely on Tajin to perk up things like roasted potatoes, white rice, and corn. Plus, it’s the best way to eat fruit on a daily basis (try it sprinkled on mango!).
Tajín Clásico Seasoning, $6.10 on Amazon
Braggs nutritional yeast is becoming a go-to condiment to change things up a bit. I used to just shake it on popcorn, but now I’ve been making some vegan “cheese” sauces and experimenting with it on pasta and vegetables.
Bragg Premium Nutritional Yeast Seasoning, $5.49 on Instacart
Associate Editor Amy Schulman
Over the past few years, I’ve been preparing mostly pescatarian meals at home—relying on meat as a treat when I go out to restaurants—so these days that means I’m cooking a lot of fish. I probably eat salmon at least twice a week (gotta get my omega-3 fatty acids in!). And while I’m generally happy enough with it baked, tossed with some soy sauce, ginger, and miso, I’ve also been relying on my favorite mustard to spruce it up a bit: Silver Palate’s sweet and rough mustard. It’s got that wonderful mix of sweet and savory, without being too bitter or overpowering. I tend to swipe filets with a scoop of the mustard and a bit of brown sugar, which caramelizes in the oven and makes a DIY glaze. This mustard is also excellent whisked into salad dressings with a fruit-forward vinegar.
Sweet and Rough Mustard, $5.49 at The Silver Palate
I haven’t been cooking a lot of pasta, but when I do, I don’t want to simply resign myself to boiling any run-of-the-mill boxed pasta. I’d rather spend a little extra money on dry pasta that’s actually going to taste good—and somewhat remind me of the fresh pasta from my favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant—so I look to Sfoglini’s pasta, which is sold at many speciality grocery stores, as well as through the online shop. Think fusilli infused with beets or sriracha or whole grains. The shapes bring me joy, I must admit: curly trumpets, pleated zucca that resemble tiny gourds, and thick-cut macaroni that could be woven into kindergarten necklaces.
Sfoglini Organic Pasta Variety Pack, $23.96 at Amazon
Header image courtesy of New York Shuk.