by Tara Pederson

In these trying times the last thing you probably want me to talk about is shopping. Fear less, folks. I find the current zombie apocalypse requires less running for our lives and more quickly grabbing what we must and staying out of the way
Many of you are currently at home with children who are usually in school.  Some of you are on limited incomes and may have dietary concerns or needs to meet
Finding what we are used to buying may not be an option for a little while.But recent experience brings me some insights which I’d like to share, for your consideration.
 Just a little food for thought before you venture out next into the world.
Make sure to hit up the produce section first. Grab the usual suspects like carrots, celery and onions, as they are a good basis for so many dishes. But also branch out with Items you may never think of or have been curious about.Don’t worry, they don’t have to be exotic.
Throw some tofu into your shopping cart (I promise it’s really not so fussy) and while you’re at it, visit the ethnic foods aisle.They are a treasure trove of Interesting flavors and shelf stable fare.
Be flexible about cuts of meat. Don’t be afraid to buy cleaner, cheaper or larger pieces. Experiment with marinades and slow cooking methods. There’s no time like the present to start new traditions. (Think Sunday chicken dinners).
Don’t go crazy stocking up, but plan to buy enough to cook bigger batches of freezable meals.  Your future self will thank you.
When in doubt there’s always cheese.
A few ideas on how to apply these radical suggestions
Gather ingredients and allow your children to assemble skewers.  These may include different meats, vegetables, fruits and cheeses of your choosing.  If you are not yet comfortable allowing them to assemble their own, they will still enjoy eating them!  Meats and vegetables can be grilled or oven cooked.
I find assorted dips, (home made or premade) vegetables and crackers are a minimal effort meal here and there as well.
Vegetables and rice-   place one bag of the rice of your choosing in a large pot.  Add an equal amount of chopped vegetables (Choose family favorites- I like onions, carrots, squash and spinach) and 2 tbsp salt. Cover all with water plus one and a half inch depth.  Bring to a boil then reduce and simmer until 85% of the water is gone. Turn off heat and allow to sit. It will absorb the moisture and become creamy.  Serve warm for a fuss free side.
Tofu-  it’s super absorbent and will take on any flavors you like. But it’s packed in water, so the trick is to eliminate any excess liquid before cooking it.  I cut it into planks or cubes, spread the pieces between 2 clean kitchen towels, press by topping it with a baking tray and 2 large  skillets or several cans. Leave at room temperature for an hour or refrigerate overnight.  Season well with salt, pepper,  garlic powder, and whatever you like. Cook in a skillet over medium high heat in just a little vegetable oil until golden. Throw some sesame seeds into the pan toward the end.  Serve on top of salad, soup, or top with any and all sauces.
Chicken marinade- combine 2 lbs chicken (any cut) with 1/2 cup soy sauce, 2 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp Sriracha, a smashed 1 inch piece of ginger, 2 smashed garlic cloves and 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a large zip top bag.  Marinate refrigerated 2 hours, or up to overnight.  Empty contents of the bag into a casserole dish.  Cover and bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.