Forty-one percent of Americans are nervous to eat out during the pandemic but still do so. According to the survey, people fear that restaurant workers could unknowingly have coronavirus and as a result, transmit the virus to their food.

So as stay-at-home orders are extended and students are sent home from college, many students are trying to help their parents out at home.

USC junior Julia Picarella moved back home to Long Island, NY after her study abroad trip was canceled. Since then she’s been trying new recipes.

“Now that I have more free time at home it’s motivated me to get into cooking and baking more,” Picarella said.

Picarella and her twin sister Kelsea, also a USC student, have used recipes on social media to bake a variety of banana bread to see which they like best.

In March, Bon Appétit released 27 recipes and cooking resources during coronavirus for its readers.

Although ordering takeout is still possible during the pandemic, Google Trends reports more searches for cooking related topics this month than in the last four months.

San Luis Obispo sophomore Ana Mendoza tends to eat at home with her parents but also treats herself to some meals out.

“I get tired of eating the food at home sometimes and I like to go out and support local businesses,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza eats out one or two times per week sees it as a treat.

Picarella who lives in NY City sees going out for groceries as an event to look forward to.

“I avoid eating out as much as I can because the virus is spreading so quickly and any way to avoid contact can make a difference,” Picarella said. “I guess grocery shopping is an event I now look forward to.”

There is enough stress in the world to be worrying about a few extra pounds you may gain during stay-at-home orders, but if you want some healthy choices to change up your diet, here are a few suggestions.

Use lean proteins in your meals, like shrimp.

According to a study from Current Science, shrimp can sometimes be healthier than your usual chicken breast. Research has also shown that people who consume shrimp regularly do not have a higher risk of heart disease compared to those who do not eat it.

It’s low in calories and fat, and its high protein profile makes it one of the healthier protein options. However, nutritionists emphasize that some shrimp are safer than others. Nutritionists recommend opting for wild-caught shrimp, which come from U.S. or Canadian shrimpers off the coast, and are distributed directly to grocers.

Balancing macronutrients is key to a healthy diet, so it’s best to add a lean protein like shrimp to balance out a high carb meal. Here is my quick and easy shrimp alfredo recipe.


1 cup of frozen shrimp

4 sprays of canned olive oil

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

A pinch of salt and pepper

1 cup of store-bought alfredo sauce

½ cup of pasta

1 cup of spinach

3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese


Take 1 cup of shrimp and put in a ziploc bag to defrost under cold water for 3-5 minutes. Peel the outer skin of the shrimp.

Place a pan on medium heat and spray some olive oil on the pan. Once hot, place your shrimp in. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Flip on the other side and cook for 2 minutes.

Pour 1 cup of alfredo sauce and add ½ cup of water to make it less viscous. Cook and stir for about 3 minutes and then pour in the ½ cup of pasta. Cook for another two minutes.

Turn off the skillet and mix the 1 cup of spinach and throw it on the plate. Enjoy as much parmesan as you’d like!

This is my quick and easy recipe for shrimp alfredo! If you’re craving Olive Garden, but want something a little less heavy, this will definitely hit the spot and save you the hassle of leaving your home.

Missing your neighborhood taco truck? Make some healthy Mexican rice.

Like all foods, eating rice in moderation is key. According to the Mayo Clinic, carbohydrates are an essential part of daily diets. According to these guidelines, people should consume 2 ½ cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of dairy, 5 oz of protein, 27g of fats, and 6 oz of grains.

Grains or carbs are the body’s main fuel source, as rice is broken down into sugar and enters your bloodstream (like all carbs do), the sugar is sent to your cells to power up your everyday life. Nutritionists do not recommend white rice for people with sedentary lifestyles, so opting for a healthier choice of white rice with better nutrients is what I like to do.

I tend to use Basmati rice because it has two key nutrients, niacin and thiamine, which support a healthy nervous system and combat depression. Here is my recipe for Mexican rice with basmati.


1 cup of red onions

1 cup of basmati rice

½ tablespoon of cumin

A dash of garlic powder

½ cup of tomato paste

1 cup of cold water

1 cup of low sodium vegetable broth


Spray some olive oil in the pot on medium heat. Add the red onions and cook until they turn translucent. Add the rice and stir around with the onions and oil to roast it a bit.

Add the cumin, garlic powder, tomato paste, water, and the vegetable broth to the rice mixture. You can use a different flavored broth but I just like the way this tastes with the vegetable broth. Mix it all in and turn the heat up to high for 3 minutes. After you see it bubbling, bring the pot to low heat and cover the pot for 20 minutes. Once done, fluff the rice with a fork and it’s ready to serve!

When I eat this dish I typically pair it with refried beans, a chicken quesadilla, pico de gallo, and avocado. But, you can pair Mexican rice with anything. Enjoy!

Switch up the carbs with pasta! It’s good for you!

A 2015 study showed that after a two month period pasta increased healthy gut bacteria that aided digestion. Aside from being a high calorie and high carbohydrate count carb, nutritionists say it’s a healthier option because it’s low fat and low sodium, but they do recommend eating pasta in moderation, which means sticking to the recommended portion sizes.

Chef and restaurateur Tanya Bastianich Manuali, explained in a 2015 interview how al dente pasta can trick your brain into eating less.

“You chew it slower... it signals to your brain that you’re full and satiated," Manuali said. “When it hits your stomach it actually has more potential to absorb gastric juices, which lowers your insulin spike when you’re eating carbs.”

You can substitute gluten-free pasta for regular pasta if preferred. Here is my go-to penne pasta recipe with ground turkey meat.


1 package of 93% lean ground turkey

½ cup of red onions

1 tablespoon of garlic powder

1 tablespoon of ground rosemary

1 tablespoon of dried basil

2 cups of water

1 cup of penne pasta

1 cup of pasta sauce


Warm a pan to medium heat and place the onions and the ground turkey meat. Season with the garlic powder, ground rosemary, and dried basil. Mix it all in and cook for 10-15 minutes.

While the meat cooks, heat up a pot of water, add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.

In a new pan add the cooked turkey and your serving size of pasta, add the pasta sauce and mix until warm. Your pasta is served. All you have to do is put on a plate and add parmesan to your liking.

These are my three, easy go-to recipes to make during this quarantine. They create perfect substitutes for all my usual indulgences. If you’re tired of baking banana bread and want to surprise your parents with a meal, give them a try!

A previous version of this article said Picarella made seven types of banana bread, rather than a variety. Annenberg Media apologizes for this error.