- The coronavirus pandemic has shut down restaurants and bars across the country and emptied out supermarket shelves as people begin practicing social distancing.
- Padma Lakshmi took to Twitter to give her fans advice on how to stock up their pantries — and stop hoarding toilet paper.
- The "Top Chef" host recommended buying frozen vegetables and shelf-stable goods like "beans, lentils, quinoa, and orzo."
- She also told her followers to "help our neighbor and get what you need, but also remember your humanity."
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
Restaurants and businesses around the world are shutting down in an attempt to contain the coronavirus, which means a lot of people are eating in and doing plenty of cooking.
Panic over food supplies — and toilet paper — brought long lines and empty shelves to numerous supermarkets over the weekend, which inspired Padma Lakshmi to speak out.
The "Top Chef" host and cookbook author took to Twitter to calm her fans and provide tips on how they could best stock up their pantries in these times of social distancing.
"A lot of you have asked what type of pantry items to get while you're in self-quarantine," she tweeted. "Here are some things you can buy instead of hoarding toilet paper. Remember we're all in this together."
Lakshmi then shared a video of herself, in which she calmly spoke about pantry staples.
"We know it's a very scary time," she said. "What I would say is buy frozen vegetables if you can. They sometimes have as much nutrition as fresh vegetables because, if you buy a good brand, they're usually flash-frozen right when they're picked."
Lakshmi suggested making "a lot of stews" and freezing them in portions. She also recommended buying shelf-stable goods like canned tomatoes and tuna, along with "beans, lentils, quinoa, and orzo."
"It doesn't cost as much as buying steak or something, but still gives you protein," she said. "And it can last for a long time on the shelf if need be."
When it comes to specific dishes, Lakshmi suggested making turkey chili or green chili with white beans. And she's a huge fan of root vegetables like turnips, which store well.
"Turnips are delicious cooked in broth with a little bit of soy sauce, a dash of hoisin sauce and Chinese five-spice," she told The Washington Post.
One of Lakshmi's favorite pantry meals is "paste pasta," which features pasta mixed with sun-dried tomato paste, anchovy paste, green-olive paste, olive oil, and crushed red pepper.
The "Top Chef" star told the Post that she also loves making the Indian dish khichdi — a traditional rice and lentil porridge — with carrots, black mustard seeds, and dried red chiles.
Many people will be cooking far more often than they usually do, or even teaching themselves from scratch, but Lakshmi has a big tip for new chefs as well.
"I do this with recipes I make all the time, for years," she told Insider. "I chop everything I need and I put all the spices I need out on the counter. So that, while the food is cooking on the stove, you're not scrambling to catch up and you don't burn something."
But Lakshmi's most important piece of advice has nothing to do with food.
"Just remain calm," she told fans during her Twitter video. "It's a very serious thing that's happening to all of us. Like you guys I'm thinking about 'Little Hands' [Lakshmi's nickname for her 10-year-old daughter], I'm thinking about my partner, I'm thinking about my mom who's not with me and my stepdad and everyone else."
"It's important just to help our neighbor and get what you need, but also remember your humanity. We're all in this together."
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