Now, more than ever, is the time to come together (symbolically, that is. In real life, stay apart!). While we’re making sure to take care of ourselves during this stressful time, we’ve also been looking for ways to be more socially responsible, help our communities in practical ways and think in terms of “us,” rather than “me”.
Share the love (and the food)
Batch cooking is a brilliant way to make many portions of one delicious meal, ideal for stocking up your freezer for the next few weeks. If you have vulnerable or elderly family members, friends or neighbours, why not make a few extra portions and drop them to their front doors? Just be sure to sanitise the outsides of the containers you pack the food in, then pop on a fresh pair of gloves and use your car rather than public transport to drop them over. Ring the doorbell, and then leave before they open the door, vanishing like some benevolent ghost.
Foods that work well for batch cooking include soups, stews and chilli con carne; you can portion these out in old takeaway or soup containers. It’s also easy to double the recipe for foods like cottage pie or pasta bakes — one for your household, and one for another — and disposable foil trays are perfect for this.
You can also help by shopping for groceries for people in isolation — just be sure to wipe the outsides of bags and containers with disinfectant. For elderly relatives who don’t know how to order their shopping online, why not do this for them? You can phone them every few days, find out what they need, place an order and get their groceries delivered to their house.
Support local businesses
The hospitality industry has been hit especially hard, and we’ve already seen the loss of hundreds of jobs and the closure of many restaurants, some of which may never re-open. If you find yourself in need of an evening off cooking duty, why not order your dinner from a local business that’s offering a delivery service? (You might also consider Chinese as your takeaway of choice, as Chinese restaurants worldwide are bearing the brunt of coronavirus-related racism and have seen a major dip in orders.)
You can also think about buying restaurant vouchers for the future. Not only is this a practical way to give your money to local businesses at a time when they really need it, but it also gives you — or a lucky giftee — something to look forward to when we’re finally released back into the world. Even using social media to let your favourite restaurant or local pub know they still have your support will be appreciated; why not have fun planning the first place you’re going for a meal or a pint when this is over (and what you’re going to order), and tag that establishment on Facebook or Instagram to let them know?!
A vital way to support your community is by shopping locally. While bigger shops and supermarket chains will most likely survive whatever happens, smaller businesses will bear the brunt of it. When buying food, toiletries or medicine, opt for local shops, rather than major retailers.
Don’t stockpile. There is no problem with supply, so buy what you need to keep your household running and ensure that there are supplies left for other people, too.
Respect restrictions. Many shops are now operating special hours for the elderly and vulnerable. Be sound and steer clear at these times.
Don’t waste food
Wasting perfectly good food is always morally wrong, but it’s especially so now with many people still panic-buying in the shops and driving down stock early in the day. Get inventive in your own kitchen and find ways to use every last bit. Make croutons from stale bread, use soured milk to bake scones, turn over-ripe fruit into smoothies, create soups from veggies that are past their best and make stock from vegetable scraps.