With the coronavirus pandemic in full swing and “nonessential” businesses coast to coast closing their doors, Americans are facing the reality of two weeks stuck at home. While toilet paper and hand sanitizer have been flying off shelves, there are other things that make more sense in preparation for 14 days holed up at home.
Supply chains are said to still be well in-tact, according to The New York Times, so there is no need for outright stockpiling food. In fact, shoppers rushing out and buying everything is sight is causing an inconvenient temporary and unnecessary shortage for other shoppers.
Instead, stay calm and stock up on what you really need. Buying the right food, medicine, and cleaning supplies now can help you cut down on overall trips to the store, and less time in large public centers. But don’t just buy up anything and everything you see. You’ll put others in a bind, and it likely won’t help you that much.
Here’s what you need to know.
Who needs to quarantine?
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that those who have been in close contact with someone who they know has been infected with COVID-19 self-quarantine for 14 days. In addition, the CDC suggests people with COVID-19 symptoms, including cough, fever, or shortness of breath, should also isolate themselves for 14 days. Keep in mind that people who feel well are only asked to stay home if they’ve had contact with a known COVID-19 patient or if they’ve recently returned home from certain countries.
Ask what do you really need?
Make a list of what you and your family use day-to-day, and what you might need in the weeks to come. This includes food items, toiletries, cleaning supplies, home goods, medicine, and pet food and supplies. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is recommending about two weeks prep of food and supplies. Take stock of what you already have, and then add things to your list if you expect to run short during your stay at home.
Here are 14 foods that can last forever.
How should you stock your pantry?
Canned and non-perishable food items are a great way to keep food around without worrying about much waste. These items won’t go bad for a year or more, and they can help you add variety to your diet over a longer period without running to the store constantly.
Again, the most important thing to remember is to buy items that your family will actually eat. Don’t just buy canned goods in a panic. Plan ahead. (Just remember to never store your extra dry goods or water on the floor of your garage.)
Include items like crackers, pasta, canned soup, rice, and cereal.
- Canned fruits and vegetables
- Beans and legumes
- Beef jerky
- Peanut butter
- Trail mix
- Grain (rice, quinoa, couscous)
- Shelf-stable milks
How should you stock your freezer?
Frozen food is another excellent way to make sure you’re getting plenty of variety during your extended stay at home. Buying a few more bags of frozen fruits and vegetables can allow you to whip up dishes, as normal, without having to head to the supermarket daily for the fresh stuff. Frozen items can stay fresh for about a year, but stay safe to eat nearly indefinitely, as long as they are kept fully frozen.
Remember to only buy items your family will actually eat or ones you’ll be able to use in a casserole or crock pot dish. But consider adding some of these items:
- Ready-made meals or pizzas
What home supplies should you buy?
Don’t just hoard every bleach product in sight. Consider what you actually use in your daily life. Make sure you have a reasonable amount of toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, laundry supplies, and cleaning disinfectants.
Check your home stash and consider buying any of these if you’re running low:
- Body wash
- Shaving supplies
- Hand soap
- Skin care
- Bath and personal hygiene items
How should you handle medication?
At this time, there is no medication approved to treat coronavirus, buy you might want to have over-the-counter medications on-hand to treat flu or flu-like symptoms. Give your medicine cabinet a quick look and make sure items like Tylenol and decongestants are in supply and not expired.
If you’re on doctor proscribed medication, talk to your doctor about possibly receiving your weekly prescription in a larger amount for the next two weeks, while you try to minimize your contact with others (especially in areas where sick people congregate like drug stores). You should aim to keep a 14 day supply available at home, but a 30 day supply is ideal.
Also see, Moldy foods that are still safe to eat.