What to Eat When COVID Hits Home?


The dreaded finally happened — I got COVID. Two days later, my husband tested positive.

(Sławomir Fajer / AdobeStock)

We were baffled because we had been more cautious than most people, masking long after others stopped, avoiding theaters and dining outdoors in restaurants so late in the season that our hands and food nearly froze. Fortunately, we caught what amounted to bad colds.

At first, David cooked. But I took over once his fever reached 100.2 degrees. I won’t kid you: Getting meals on the table with two of us down was tricky.

I began by pulling leftovers from the freezer. I also ordered meals from restaurants. Then I started whipping up simple things, such as melted cheese sandwiches and scrambled eggs.

But as I felt a bit better, I realized that it would be smart to prepare large quantities of easy recipes so my efforts would last for multiple meals. I simplified old standards, such as chicken soup. I made salade niçoise from boxed lettuce and ingredients I had on hand. I threw together a delicious bowl of penne.

Although I fully recovered after five days, David’s case lasted a little longer.

I learned several things while going through this ordeal. Even if you get bored with quarantining, fight the urge to make elaborate meals since your energy level will probably lag behind your ambitious, well-meaning desires.

And while experiencing the worst of COVID symptoms, prepare foods that require little cleanup. Think of sandwiches, canned soup, or hummus and pita bread. But most importantly, if friends offer to cook for you, say yes!

Shortcut Chicken Soup | Meat

Serves 8-10

  • 8 chicken-breast halves
  • 1 pound bag of mini peeled carrots
  • 1 package celery sticks, cut in half
  • 1 small package of diced onion
  • 1 pound baby potatoes, cut into halves or thirds
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and diced
  • 5 bouillon cubes
  • 1 teaspoon bottled parsley (from your spice rack)
  • 1 teaspoon bottled dill (from your spice rack)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt to taste

Place all ingredients into a large pot. Cover with enough water so they are submerged by two inches. Place a lid on the pot and bring to a boil on a high flame. Reduce the flame to medium-low and simmer for 2 hours. Stir often. If the broth is evaporating too quickly, lower the flame.

Check towards the end to make sure that there’s enough salt, and add some, if needed.

Remove the chicken from out of the pot with a slotted spoon. Cool the chicken to warm.

Discard the skin and bones. With a fork or your fingers, shred the chicken and return it to
the pot.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate.

After refrigeration, gently remove the fat with a soup spoon and discard. Heat the soup and serve.

A Simple Red Sauce with Ground Turkey | Meat

Serves 6-8

  • 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 pound penne
  • kosher salt to taste

Dice the tomatoes, preserving both the liquid in the can and any that accumulates on the cutting board. Reserve.

In a large, deep pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil on a medium flame.

Add the ground turkey in clumps. Lightly salt the turkey.

Sauté until cooked through, breaking up large clumps with a utensil.

Using a slotted spoon, move the turkey to a bowl and reserve.

Carefully pour out any liquid in the pot and discard.

Drizzle 2 more tablespoons of oil into the pot and heat on a medium flame. Add the onion, garlic, basil and a bit more salt.

Sauté briefly until the onion and garlic are fragrant. Add the tomatoes, liquid and all. Pour in the 8-ounce can of tomato sauce. Return the turkey to the pot.

Simmer for 30 minutes until the sauce reduces and thickens slightly.

As the sauce simmers, follow the directions on the box of penne. Drain the penne in a colander, and move it to a large pasta bowl.

Ladle the sauce over the penne, and serve it immediately.

So-Easy Salade Niçoise | Pareve

  • Serves 6-85-ounce box of lettuce, any kind
  • 2 hardboiled eggs, sliced
  • 3 (7-ounce) cans of albacore tuna packed in water, drained
  • 1½ teaspoons capers
  • 16-ounce package cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • ⅓ cup black olives
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 15 cooked or raw green beans, sliced, or another vegetable
  • ½ onion, sliced thin
  • ⅛ cup olive oil, or more if needed
  • ⅛ cup red-wine vinegar or more, if needed
  • kosher salt to taste

black pepper to taste

Note: If you’re going to serve this salad a little at a time, saving the rest for subsequent days, only dress as much salad as you plan to consume at the time.

Place all of the ingredients into a large salad bowl. With salad tongs, mix until well-combined.

Serve immediately.

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