The world is so uncertain right now. Many of us have been social distancing, self-isolating or quarantining for months. While quarantining helps us stay safe and keep others safe, the unfortunate side effects can be monotonous days, feelings of loneliness, and a sense of social as well as physical isolation. What we need during these times is comfort, and I'm a big believer in the positive powers of food. Food brings people joy and brings people together, and that doesn't have to change during periods of isolation. So here are five quarantine food-centered activities to chase away your pandemic blues, switch up your routine, and connect with your loved ones from a safe distance.

1. Try a New Recipe a Few Times a Week

mozzarella, pepperoni, pizza, sausage, olives, pizza from scratch, homemade pizza, fresh pizza
Sam Jesner

My family and I definitely have crowd-favorite recipes that get repeated week after week because, let’s face it, we could eat turkey burgers and pizza every day. But when most things stay the same, it’s nice to change it up at meal time.

There are so many exciting recipes and quarantine food-centered activities out there that are just waiting to be tried, regardless of if you're a college student who’s new to cooking or an experienced chef who’s ready for a dinnertime challenge. You can try out a meatless Monday meal or make something other than classic quarantine banana bread. Recently, my family made the teriyaki salmon and homemade Twix bars from Rachael Devaux's online recipes (and we highly recommend them).

2. Swap Recipes with Loved Ones

Judy Chen

Are you struggling to find a new recipe that catches your eye and that you'd like to try? Ask your friends and family what they've been enjoying recently. It is especially fun to talk about recipes and food with people that know or share your food preferences (shoutout to my grandma for sharing the BEST recipes). Not only will you get new recipes, but you can use this activity as a chance to check in, catch up, and exchange texts or calls with friends and family.

3. Compile a Personal Cookbook

How amazing would it be to have all your favorite recipes in one place? Personally, I have a dozen cookbooks, and I've marked just one or two of my favorite recipes in each of them. I keep the books next to loose copies of recipes that I have acquired from family or online. And that's all in addition to the recipes I have downloaded on my computer or have saved in my Instagram. 

Quarantine is the perfect time to organize your go-to recipes and keep them all in one place. Making one all-powerful and delicious cookbook of your favorite recipes is a fun quarantine activity that will make you unstoppable in the kitchen.

If you're unlike me and hoarding recipes isn't your thing, make a collaborative cookbook with your friends. I would have to include my grandma's matzah ball soup and a chili recipe that reminds me of a past Friendsgiving.

4. Cook Over Video Call

coffee, tea, study, bagel, computer, laptop, cafe, bread
Denise Uy

The other day I was sitting on my deck, chatting across the yard with my neighbors, and they told me they had just cooked Beef Bourguignon (a type of beef stew) while on FaceTime with their grandma. As she was cooking at her house, my neighbors followed along, watching her over the video call (like watching the Food Network live). This option is by no means a substitute for sharing a kitchen and making dinner together, but it's a creative way to try and connect with loved ones virtually. 

5. Donate to a Food Bank

Angelica Pan

If you are able to do so, donating food is one way to help your community during these times. While they have always been vital resources, food banks and food distribution centers have only grown in importance during the pandemic.

As the virtual school year begins, many kids who rely on school-funded programs for breakfast and lunch are further from these resources. Individuals who live paycheck to paycheck and have lost their jobs may now rely more heavily on local food banks. Learn about resources for food banks and find local organizations that are supporting your community. If you do donate food, research the best foods to donate and look at your local food banks' websites to find out what they need. 

During these times of isolation, food can still foster creativity and connection. Don't be afraid to challenge yourself, try out these five quarantine food-centered activities, and change up your daily food routines. Remember that you can always use food as a way to build community and check in on your loved ones. So, let the food adventures begin. Stay safe and stay healthy.