As the novel coronavirus continues to spread all over the world, voluntary or involuntary quarantine at home could be the way of life – at least for our immediate future. In such a scenario, many people are hoarding essential goods and supplies and reports of panic buying are surfacing from everywhere leading to empty shelves in numerous supermarkets.
It is understandable that in such a grim and uncertain situation, people will be concerned and will attempt to stock up on household supplies as much as they can. That being said, it is equally important not to panic and plan prudently. While keeping the basic emergency supplies on hand is quite obvious, what will also be good is to make preparations for stocking up on the healthy food items that can serve you for the next two to three weeks as you are self-isolated at home.
We are here to help with a coronavirus grocery list; i.e. the essential food and supplies you should stock up on as you are quarantined at home.
Fruits, generally speaking, don’t have a long shelf life and you can’t exactly stock up on them for an extended period of time. However, certain kinds of fruits can be stored for long-term use. Dried fruits like prunes, apricots, raisins, cranberries, and figs don’t only last long but are also a great source of iron, fiber, and antioxidants.
Applesauce and other fruit purees along with canned fruit in water will also be helpful. Then there are long-lasting fresh fruits like apples, watermelon, oranges, pomegranates, lemons, and limes that will serve you well at least for a week if properly refrigerated.
Lastly, frozen fruits (that don't contain added sugar) can also be useful in these times. Frozen fruits and vegetables generally get a bad reputation, but a recent study by the University of Georgia (UGA) and the Frozen Food Foundation states: “Frozen fruits and vegetables are nutritionally equal to – and in some cases better than – their fresh-stored counterparts.” Vitamin A, in particular, is said to be greater in frozen fruits and vegetables than select fresh-stored fruits and vegetables.
Canned vegetables will, of course, be a good option to store at present. Some of the best canned vegetables are green beans, carrots, peas, diced tomatoes, and pumpkin puree. Make sure you opt for the low-sodium ones, if possible. Canned vegetable-based soups and chilis, of the low-sodium variety, will be good, too.
Like frozen fruits, frozen vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus, will also be good to store. Long-lasting fresh vegetables, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions, garlic, and whole mushrooms are great choices to consider as well.
There are plenty of food products that are great sources of protein and will be essential to stock up on. Canned chicken, turkey, tuna, or salmon will work. Frozen fish, like shrimp, can be an option, too. Beans and legumes are terrific shelf-stable sources of plant protein and will last you for a while.
Don’t underestimate the value of nut butter as well. These are a great source of protein and healthy fats and go well with lots of food items like crackers and bread to apples and bananas. Almond or peanut butter are two of the healthiest nut butter choices. But sun butter, which is made from sunflower seeds, is a wonderful option for those with peanut or tree nut allergies.
Now would be a good time to stock up on high-fiber, high-protein dry cereals. Not only will they take care of your breakfast but using them with low-fat milk will make it useful as a quick mini-meal.
One of the best food items to store in these times is grains. A number of nutrient-rich grains can be used as a side dish or mixed with proteins and vegetables. Whole wheat pasta or chickpea pasta, brown rice, oats, whole wheat, or seed crackers and ancient grains like quinoa and faro are just some of the types of grains you can stock up on. Popcorn, which is 100% whole grain, is also a great source of fiber. You can sprinkle some Parmesan cheese or add dried fruit to it to enhance its taste. Avoid dousing it in butter, oil, or salt to get the best benefits from it.
Sprouted grain bread is made from whole grains and can be kept in a freezer for later use. It has great nutritional value and can be easily added to your diet as you are confined to your home right now. Instant oatmeal packets or cups won’t be a bad option either.
Many people depend on a variety of dairy products in their everyday diet. Stocking up on the general dairy items won’t be recommended because of their limited longevity. However, you can still store some products. Powdered milk is a wise choice in these times even if you aren’t a great fan of it.
Shelf-stable boxes of milk are also available for regular and non-dairy milk. Shelf-stable milk is made with higher temperature pasteurization and can be stored safely without refrigeration. Then there are hard cheeses, such as parmesan or pecorino romano that last long (up to 9 months unopened and 4 to 6 weeks opened).
Healthful high-fat foods will be of great use right now, as most of them have a long shelf life and you can store them easily. Olive oil, avocado oil, flax seeds, nuts, nut and seed butter, chia seeds are some of the safe options to store currently. Unsalted grass-fed butter is another nice option, provided it is stored in the freezer.
You can even indulge in keeping dark chocolates in your pantry. Not only are they great mood enhancers, but they are also loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health if taken in moderation. The fats in dark chocolate are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturated fat.
While stocking up on food supplies is important, don’t forget to check your medicine cabinet, too. If someone in your family is on prescription medications, getting an extra month or two of medicine might be prudent right now. The American Red Cross recommends having at least a 30-day supply of any prescription medications for people who are at home. A month's supply of over-the-counter medicines like pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, and throat lozenges will be beneficial if you are quarantined at home for some time to come. Since your food choices are restricted right now, stocking up on a daily multivitamin is also a good idea to get your necessary vitamins.
Many of you also have pets, and now is the time to pick up some extra animal supplies, including medications and food.