Shopping intentionally and feeding ourselves mindfully is a delicious way to reduce our stress during this time of heightened awareness about our personal and community health.
With the ongoing outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19,it’s best to plan rather than Panic buy.
What to think about in advance …
At the moment no-one can predict how a pandemic plays out in any region it can happen that some utilities can have intermittent interruptions based on how widespread or severe the pandemic is where you are. (Due to staffing shortages of specialized personnel.) You might consider being prepared for at least a 3-5 day stay without power or water. So, having potable (drinking water) water on hand for at least 3-5 days is also a good idea. 3 gallons per day per person is recommended for health and sanitation.
Now is a great time to inventory your current pantry and freezer. Identify what you have, what needs to be tossed (to make room) and take note of what is in your refrigerator. Think about what you like to eat and what personal items you may need. See the lists below for ideas on what to buy.
Don’t rush out and stock up on rice and beans or any one type of food, because you’ll be sick of that pretty quickly.
Go through your day and make a list of foods you typically consume and then think about whether they have short or long shelf lives and how you can purchase them. Remember breakfast is typically the same thing for most everybody. Use your creative energies for lunch and dinner.
Consider what you can afford to buy, both in terms of money and storage. Start to buy a few of the things that you know will last and that you will be prepared to eat later, after the home stay is over. If you find yourself with extra shelf-stable foods later, that you know you won’t eat, consider donating them to a local food bank before they expire.
The world runs on carbohydrates, so think about your favorite carbohydrates first: pasta (think variety here too), ramen, potatoes (as fresh, instant or chips), rice, beans (canned is easiest but dried are great as well), breads (which freeze well if sliced), fruits and vegetables (dried, canned, frozen) – these all come in packaging that’s easy to store.
What to have on hand …
Buy what you know you’ll eat fresh the first week. Think about canned, frozen, and dehydrated versions of your favorites. Potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage and apples all have a fairly long shelf life. Do not store your potatoes and onions together or they will go bad more quickly. Do not refrigerate your sweet potatoes, or they get cold core and will be inedible, even with cooking. Unripe avocados will last at least a week; eat them as soon as they ripen.
Eggs will go pretty fast as well. Think realistically about how many eggs your family eats weekly and try to buy twice that much to start. Eggs have a much longer storage life than the carton states as long, as they are refrigerated. They can be good up to two months. A carton of liquid eggs is nice for cooking any boxed mixes or other baked items like cookies that you might want to make during your extended home stay.
Fresh milk will also go quickly. You can use dry milk powder or evaporated milk in most recipes, so consider grabbing a box now in case the fresh milk supplies are depleted by the time you get to the store.
Even when staying at home is recommended by health officials, someone can get out at least once every three days. But the less you have to go out the better, and remember you might not be able to get what you want so think about substitutes when you write your list.
Buy things you know can be used for multiple dishes.
Consider this a wonderful time to practice your culinary skills and practice some new ones. There are literally thousands of cooking videos online to help guide you.
During the long wait …
Once you are in an extended-stay situation, take the time to do some meal planning, focus on variety (for lunch and dinner) and the use of your most perishable food first. Try to plan out your meals in three-day increments. Try to plan meals using the oldest shelf-stable foods in your pantry first and then moving to the newer items. I have a “use first” shelf to that I can stare at while planning those meals.
Extended home stays will not hit all areas, and even though you might be at home, we live in an age of delivery services. See if you can purchase necessary staples online or have the store deliver them.
Don’t forget those personal items, or those specific to your household, at the end of the list as well. Having enough pet food on hand will be appreciated by your animals too.
Lastly Consider planting your own vegetables, if you have space for a mini garden. Some varieties will produce within 45 days.
Remember stay hygienic and Safe