Ask Us Anything About Cooking While Social Distancing

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Hello! It is a very confusing and scary time, and while there is much discussion about the benefits of social distancing—which cannot be overstated—during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s less talk about what self-quarantining and isolation means on a lived, day-to-day level for most people. Social distancing affects all parts of daily life, including mental health, finances, and food. I, along with several members of the Autostraddle team, want to help you out with that last one!

Not everyone is used to cooking for themselves every day. Lack of access to certain ingredients, the ripple effects of panic buying, and limited ability to be outside of the home add even more strains even for experienced cooks. We are here to help! Ask us anything at all about cooking, food, meal prep, etc. right here in the comments of this post, and we will answer to the best of our ability.

Need help figuring out what to prioritize buying at the grocery store? Want to know what to make with what you already have? Wanna make pasta sauce from scratch with mostly/entirely shelf-stable ingredients? Want to know the best way to still eat fruits and vegetables during self-quarantine? Need ideas for what to do with all the random shit in your freezer? How about alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages that you can make for happy hour at home? How to stock your pantry on a budget? Pickling—what’s that about? I’ve got you on all of these and more! Be as specific or general as you want!

Here are some more of the other topics our team members can offer advice on:

Himani: vegan cooking; what to do with random produce/non-meat foods when that’s all you can find in the supermarket

Al(aina): baking; quick meals using mostly canned shit; SOUP; stock making; and the joy of setting your table

Kamala: making a dish with whatever you have in your fridge/pantry; elevating your pre-prepared meal (frozen or bagged or instant noodles etc); how to make different sauces to put on the same base food; I can do variations on a theme (like 5 ways to eat your frozen broccoli)

Sally: what to do with a lot of flour; how to make things taste better by adding lots of sherry

Vanessa: baking; making fun meals for kids; alison roman; general “i have these things in my fridge/pantry what should i make” vibes

If you have a question for a specific person, feel free to include our name in your comment since we will be ctlr+f-ing ourselves. But feel free to ask general questions for the group! Even if you have a question about something that isn’t mentioned here! We collectively have a lot of kitchen knowledge, tips, and tricks to share!

Right now, Autostraddle needs your support as much as ever. We are seeing our role expand as the world moves online in search of community, and we’re working to be here for you. If you donate or join A+, you will help us keep doing our work building queer community and getting queer, BIPOC, and trans writers paid. We know there are many worthy causes, but if you can, please consider donating or joining A+ because your gift will help support our writers and staff, as well as our efforts to provide resources, entertainment, and community to our family of readers like you, always and especially during this time. Thank you for anything you can give!

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is a writer and critic currently living in Orlando. Her pop culture writing can also be found at The A.V. Club and The Hollywood Reporter, and she wrote the webseries Sidetrack. You can catch her on Twitter and Instagram.

Kayla has written 237 articles for us.


  1. West-African ground-nut stew (peanut stew) with squash and sweet potatoes is a great option for making your staples taste hearty and delicious.

    You likely have most of the ingredients (tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, peanut butter, dried red chili flakes); lots of substitutions are possible. It’s really fool-proof.

    I am v glad to use up the cheap peanut butter I bought by putting it in this soup, rather than enduring it as a pb&j sandwich.

    Many different versions of this recipe online with regional variations from different African locales.

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