If just like me, prior to the covid-19 lockdown one of your main hobbies was going out to eat, the current regulations which have seen almost all cafes and restaurants close for the foreseeable future are probably hitting you pretty hard.
Personally, I had never realised quite how much I ate out until that privilege was taken away.
From boozy brunches with friends, trips to street food markets for lunch and dinner at my favourite restaurants, I am definitely guilty of spending most of my money on food.
But now I’m at home every day trying to figure out what to cook for myself 3 meals a day 7 days a week and I’m not going to lie… it’s pretty damn hard!
Eating used to be one of my favourite activities but after 6 weeks already in lockdown, it’s now becoming more of a daily chore.
So to spice things up, I’ve been trying to have a bit more fun with food and try new ways of getting creative in the kitchen.
Here are some things you can try at home too…
1. Experiment with new recipes
This one is a given but I thought I’d include it anyway.
One of the easiest ways to make food more exciting during lockdown is to try out some new recipes.
For me, a major challenge during lockdown has been finding more healthy recipes which are still delicious and fun to make.
Here are just a few that I have tried and loved so far:
You can also get creative with new cooking techniques or even try making things from scratch that you’d usually buy pre-made now that you’ve got more time on your hands. Making your own pasta is great fun if you have a pasta maker at home, or if not, stick to something simpler like homemade sauces and seasonings.
2. Recreate your favourite takeaways from home
As well as all restaurants being shut, the current lockdown rules have also led to many of the UK’s fast food establishments and takeaways either completely shutting or running a limited service, meaning we can’t even get our favourite dishes delivered to our door while isolating at home.
So instead, here are a few ‘fakeaways’ that you can make yourself to fill the temporary void:
Nandos – Most UK supermarkets already sell Nandos marinades, spices, sauces and now even full meal kits so this is one of the easiest fast foods to recreate at home. Check out Nando’s very own recipe page for some Peri-Peri inspired dishes or even try creating the spices from scratch.
McDonald’s – Much like the rest of the world, a group of foodies in Australia were missing Maccas so much that they created a Facebook group called homemade McDonald’s in which people share their secret recipes for creating their favourite dishes at home, including the much loved Big Mac.
Wagamamas – Everyone’s favourite high street Japanese restaurant has started a new online ‘Wok From Home’ series in which they teach you how to make dishes such as their famous Katsu curry.
Subway – Recently the popular sandwich chain revealed how you can make their meatball marinara at home.
3. Take a cooking class online
Pick up some new cooking skills with online cooking classes. Ever since the world went into lockdown, plenty of restaurants, chefs and individuals have started offering free cooking tutorials over platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
Here are a few to get you started:
4. Travel abroad with food
Other than eating out, the other thing I miss the most in lockdown is travel, however now I’ve discovered a way to combine them both at home.
If you don’t already, go follow the awesome SandyMakesSense on Instagram who has been travelling around the world from home during lockdown with home-cooked feasts from different destinations.
From fresh pastries in France and delicious pasta in Italy to more unusual dishes such as Kulajda soup from the Czech Republic, Sandy is giving me major wanderlust with her foodie creations and inspiring me to have more fun with food over the coming weeks.
View this post on Instagram
5. Cook with someone (virtually)
If you’re isolating on your own, try calling a friend or family member over a video calling platform and cook the same recipe together.
You could even add an aspect of competition to it by deciding at the end whos dish was best.
Then once you’re finished, crack open a bottle of wine and enjoy a (virtual) meal together.
6. Share recipes with friends
Another option for getting your friends involved is by starting a group chat or shared document with a bunch of other foodie friends and share all of your favourite recipes.
This is a great way of getting inspiration for new dishes to try, especially if your friends have similar taste and cooking ability to you.
7. Put together your own afternoon tea
Treat your partner, flatmate, family member or whoever else you’re in isolation with to a very British home-made afternoon tea.
Whilst you can buy most of the things you need for afternoon tea in the supermarket, it’ll be far more fun to try making them yourself.
Make your own homemade scones, bake a couple of cakes and experiment with some creative finger sandwich fillings. Then fill your teapot with English breakfast and maybe crack open a bottle of bubbles too.
8. Have a picnic in the garden
A picnic is a great thing to do in lockdown no matter what your situation, whether it’s just you and a good book, a romantic picnic for two, an afternoon treat with flatmates or some family fun in the garden.
The best thing about a picnic is that you can be as creative as you want with it, from freshly made sandwiches to cheese boards and colourful fruit platters. It can be healthy or unhealthy, elaborate or simple, calm or boozy… The only things you really need are a blanket and hopefully some sun!
9. Get baking
Baking is a good hobby to pick up during lockdown and fun new skill to learn in general.
Whip up some biscuits or cakes as a weekend treat or learn how to bake your own bread – and come on, are you really in isolation if you haven’t made banana bread at least once!?
For beginners, start off with one of these simple and delicious cookie recipes.
10. Plan ahead
Finally, on a slightly different thread to the rest of these, just because you can’t head out to restaurants now doesn’t stop you from dreaming ahead.
Make a list of all the restaurants you plan to visit once lockdown is over and they finally start to reopen. Local businesses are going to need all the support they can get once this is over so it’s our duty to help them, right!?
Or maybe get planning a foodie getaway to another country. One week in Italy stuffing my face with delicious pasta? Yes please!
Fellow Londoners, check out these posts for inspiration:
- Ostrich eggs and bubbles – the ultimate London breakfast
- Lesser-known London steakhouses you need to try
- The best chicken and waffle dishes in London
- Bottomless Spanish Tapas Brunch at Las Banderas
- Sakagura – Mayfairs Premier Japanese Izakaya
- Pizza Union – London’s best pizza on a budget
- The authentic taste of Peru at LIMA Floral
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