Keep it simple, use what you have in the pantry and be prepared to substitute food items.
That's the advice from two of Northland's top chefs during the country's unprecedented lockdown period which is set to last at least four weeks.
With supermarkets one of the few places people can visit during the lockdown, causing many pantries to bulge with food, residents have turned to their fridges and cookbooks in a bid to stave off boredom and entertain their little ones.
Duke of Marlborough head chef Tama Salive is looking at the lockdown period as a gift which has created an opportunity to learn.
"The biggest thing we have on our hands right now is time, so it can be a good thing especially with access to internet," he said.
"For anyone who doesn't know how to cook you've been given a gift, you've got time to play around with stuff. It does help to have a bit of food knowledge, but we're all trying to be innovative and trying to make the best of the situation."
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Salive said storage of food was especially important at this time, because trips to the supermarket were fewer and people were generally stocking up.
Try to "turn food over" by going through the fridge and pantry and using ingredients about to expire.
Leftovers from last night's meal can be added to creating another whole dish, he said.
Substituting ingredients is another tip of Salive's, who recently made a salad out of coriander when he didn't have lettuce.
Bread that's about to go stale can be shredded to make breadcrumbs or turned into croutons and added to salads and pasta as a "crunch element".
Meat can be rendered for its oil and vegetables substituted with rice. He even made a cheesecake from pots of flavoured yogurt about to pass their use-by date.
"It's about being creative," he said.
"Sometimes we forget what we had as kids; because money was tight, we didn't have fruit and yogurt and cereal and milk, we had toast.
"We've all had periods of time, either when we were young or when we just had kids of our own, when money has been less, and we've had to think like that."
Far North food blogger and chef Anna Valentine said it's a great time to play around with recipes and share them among friends and family.
Valentine - who runs the Veggie Tree Cook School from her century-old kauri villa in Kāeo - advocates using what is available around you, and not worrying about specific ingredients.
If there is no white flour available, look at using wholemeal flour, or use brown rice instead of white rice, which are more nutritious.
Useful ingredients to have in the pantry are "dry items" like rice, lentils, beans and oats which will last for ages.
She's even been eating weeds from the lawn, having asked her husband to stop mowing it a year ago.
Dandelion, plantain, onion weed, chicory, borage and nasturtium leaves and flowers can be added to salads, soups and dips.
"I have them chopped on my toast and add them to all sorts of dishes as a herb substitute or in place of leafy greens in a salad or in a pesto," she said.
"Going outside what you usually eat is going to have to happen. It's using what's around you. Keep it simple."
Valentine also believes making healthy dishes to boost the immune system is essential during the coronavirus crisis.
Snack on seeds, nuts and kale chips which have a lot of nutritional value.
One positive aspect of the lockdown is having her husband and two girls around to help.
But it's important not to pressure youngsters in the kitchen, she said.
"Even if the kids are just rolling or measuring something, or cutting up a few things, even if they're helping do one part of the dish, at least they've been involved a little bit, and they're not stressed about doing the whole thing."
And as jeans get a little tighter and belts loosened a couple of notches, Salive has another tip.
Eat heavier meals at breakfast and lunch, which can be burned off during the day, and lighter meals for dinner when most people aren't as active.
"We've got to be mindful of the fact we do have more time and are tasting and eating more than we usually do," Salive said.
"So, exercise is another thing we need to balance out, otherwise we'll go back to work in larger clothing or feeling a little bit uncomfortable."
Anna Valentine's Tomato & Basil Risotto
700g tomato passata
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 stick celery, sliced
1-2 T oregano or rosemary
In a separate pan heat:
700ml vegetable stock and/or tomato puree
In a second pan heat:
1/4 cup olive oil
Add onion, garlic and celery.
Fry for two minutes, then add 1½ cup (300g) arborio rice.
Fry for two more minutes, then add ¼ cup Marsala, port or white wine (optional).
Stir through, then add stock mixture to the pan, a ladle-full at a time, stirring constantly.
Add dried herbs.
Wait for rice to absorb each addition of stock before adding the next.
Add 1 x 400g can drained cannellini beans.
Keep adding stock in intervals.
When all the stock is gone add 1 tsp salt, ¼ tsp cracked black pepper, 50g parmesan.
Substitute short grain brown rice for arborio rice. Substitute blended or pureed tomatoes for passata and use baked beans instead of cannellini beans.
Tama Salive's Roast Cluster Salad [using leftovers from a Kiwi roast dinner]
Take the meat from last night's roast and cut into small pieces or put in food processor with the grater attachment.
Add four cups of any chopped vegetables; carrots, broccoli, chopped onion, spring onions.
Add 1/2 cup chopped herbs.
Place all ingredients into a bowl, add two eggs and one cup of breadcrumbs.
Mix ingredients into small clusters and place in heated frying pan.
If you have any extra fat from the roast add this to frying liquid for extra flavour.
Brown evenly before removing from the pan.
Add quarter cup of peas and corn.
Dress in any vinaigrette dressing or make one with garlic, mint, lemon juice, mustard, oil and vinegar.
Wash lettuce, tomatoes and herbs and arrange on a plate.
Sprinkle through the peas and corn.
Arrange the roast clusters and drizzle over dressing.
Finish with a spoon of natural yoghurt, fresh coriander, mint and toasted cumin seeds.