In the event of an emergency, you should stock up on the shelf-stable and nutrient-dense items on this list.
At the time of writing, news headlines around the world focused on the outbreak of COVID-19 and the novel coronavirus spreading so quickly.
As the total of reported cases inside the United States keeps going up, quite a few citizens and families are getting ready for massive closures of businesses, services, and schools. Travel restrictions are already falling into place for many, and the possibility of a quarantine is something everyone should be ready for.
Although the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is relatively low at a national level, many Americans are being told to self-quarantine given their recent travel activity.
Experts who specialize in studying infectious diseases currently think that the COVID-19 incubation period lasts for two weeks, or 14 consecutive days.
All around the globe, people are heading quickly to their community markets so they can stock up on household items and crucial non-perishables. However, should you join this rush? If you do in fact have to self-quarantine, then being prepared for two weeks of nutrition is a good idea. You might also have to be someone ready to care for someone else that was exposed to the coronavirus.
We’ve assembled a thorough list of shelf-stable and nutrient-dense foods, along with hearty produce selections, that you can use to nourish and even satisfy your family in case they’re going to be stuck inside together for a while.
Canned items can be great staple goods you can stock up on for many different kinds of emergencies. When kept at relatively moderate temperatures, around 75F, they might actually last for many decades. While anyone in quarantine isn’t going to be stuck there forever, having access to a supply of fruits and veggies in cans means you can still be taking in crucial vitamins and minerals regularly.
- Beans: All sorts of canned beans, be they pinto or black, are good sources of different plant proteins. Their versatility means that you can use them in anything from soups to tacos. Do read the labels to be sure there aren’t any extra seasonings or salt you don’t want. Want to make some of your very own hummus? Get some cans of garbanzo beans!
- Fish: Canned fish can include sardines, anchovies, salmon, and tuna. These are great sources of not only omega-3 fatty acids but also protein, usable for both entrees and sandwiches. Get a dozen cans if you can get volume discounts for a long-lasting supply.
- Fruit: Try and get canned fruit which doesn’t have any added sugar. Based on the kind of fruit, vitamin C content can range from 45 percent with peaches to as high as 90 percent with grapefruit, so you can match your RDA with each serving. Try getting a variety of bowls of mixed fruit, including mandarins, grapefruit, pineapple, pears, and peaches.
- Ravioli: There are some canned pastas higher in sodium than is healthy, as high as 700mg for each serving. However, cheese ravioli isn’t high in saturated fat, but it does feature good levels of protein and carbohydrates. If you have children with you, then having a few of these around can perk them up at meal time.
- Soups/Chilis: Get a few kinds for every person in your home. Choose lower-sodium soups, and also be wary of any fat content in cream-based dishes. Also be mindful of how you can use tasty spices and extra veggies to bring some life to otherwise dull soups.
- Veggies: Canned veggies can include green beans, peas, carrots, and corn, among many other options rich in nutrients like vitamin C and fiber. They make wonderful additions to many meals, ranging from casseroles to omelets. Again, look for the varieties lower in sodium. Canned pumpkin could be something you only think of in the fall season, but it’s actually quite a versatile ingredient full of beta-carotene, known specifically for maintaining a robust immune system. Look at canned beets, as well, since just one serving of this nutritional powerhouse of a root veggie has 125mg of potassium, 1.5mg of iron, and a full 1.5 grams of fiber.
You could be already well-stocked in things like peanut butter and pasta, although if you start relying on such items past several days, then they’re going to run out fast. Make sure you fill your kitchen cupboard with such essentials and anything else your family loves.
- Applesauce: Applesauce comes in jars and pouches, and without any extra sugar, it’s quite a healthy snack for all ages. You can also add it to baked goods like muffins for some extra fiber and natural sweetness.
- Baby Formula/Food: Based on the age of your baby, they might be already eating some grown-up foods. Still, it’s smart to store some kid-friendly snacks and ready-to-consume pouches in order to supplement meals. If there is an infant in your home, be sure you stock up on a minimum of two weeks of formula.
- Vegetable/Beef/Chicken Stock: Good sources of protein and low in calories, stocks can serve as a good base for stews and soups you make. They’re also useful for adding some real flavor to rice and grains.
- Dried Fruit: Dried fruits won’t have the water found in fresh fruit, but they do have lots of nutrients. Dried fruit is a great topping for cereal, oatmeal, and yogurt, and it’s also something you can into your baked goods. Several containers with various options should last you a few weeks.
- Nuts/Nut Butters: Full of plant proteins and dense in nutrients, nuts have heart-healthy fats and essential minerals for your family’s health. Spread nut butter on some apples, or stir it into your yogurt and oatmeal. Chose several different jars of almond and peanut butters to have choices and variety.
- Pasta: This is an essential element to any pantry, be it bean-based, wheat-based, or gluten-free. Just 1 pound of dried pasta can yield 8 servings, so families of four should get several boxes for their extended stay at home. Jarred pasta sauce works well to have around, unless you make sauce on your own using canned tomatoes.
- Quinoa: This cooks quickly, and it has 8 grams of protein in each cup. This healthy seed is a wonderful base for salads and grain bowls, and it also works well in stews and soups. Other whole-grain yet tasty options include bulgur, barley, brown rice, and farro. Get several boxes of all these.
- Seeds: Whether you get hemp, flax, or chia, these all have alpha-linolenic fatty acids that offer anti-inflammatory advantages. Extend the freshness of your foods by keeping seeds in the fridge and nuts in your freezer.
- Shelf-Stable And Pasteurized Milk: Americans don’t use this nearly as much as Europeans do. Once you open it, you have to refrigerate it, where it lasts up to one week.
You don’t want to make your freezer too crowded with too much. Unlike your canned goods, many frozen foods aren’t going to last forever, so don’t waste things. On the other hand, frozen veggies and fruits can be as nutritious as fresh variants.
- Burritos: Dress up basic bean burritos with cheese and salsa for both taste and protein. They won’t eat up a lot of freezer space, and you can reheat them really easily.
- Frozen Treats: Being stuck at home for up to two weeks can get stressful, so make sure your family has a few treats along the way. Get several pints of your favorite ice cream, along with several boxes of ice pops with no sugars added.
- Fruit: Dragon fruit, berries, peaches, and mango are all great frozen fruit options for simple desserts and smoothies. As with their canned cousins, they also have a lot of vitamin C.
- Poultry/Meat: Ground turkey, ground beef, and chicken breasts all freeze really well. Use them as entrees for meals or just add them into chilis and soups to give them some heft.
- Pizza/Pizza Crust: If your freezer has room, they can be worth the space that you give them. They’re certainly not crucial for meeting basic nutritional requirements, but a fresh pizza baked in your own oven can make for a favorite night of the week. You’re always free to liven things up with toppings like veggies.
- Veggies: Get various frozen veggies that you can us in soups, pasta, and stir-fries. I like to get four big bags with a variety of spinach, broccoli, and peas, among other green veggies.
Snacks and Breakfast Items
Cereal: Get several boxes of cereals high in fiber. All Bran and Fiber One are great, since they have 5 grams for each serving, if not more.
- Protein/Granola Bars: You might not be free to leave your home for exercise, but you can still find space for yoga, stretching, and weight-resistance work if you’re up for it. It’s always smart to have some snacks around that are ready-to-go all the time.
- Rolled Oats/Instant Oatmeal: Rolled oats are great for uses in baking. You can also use them for overnight oats or making energy bites. Instant oatmeal can be very filling as a breakfast, one you can sweeten up with some spoonfuls of dried fruit. Up the protein content with a bit of nut butter.
- Jerky: Any omnivores in the home? Make sure your pantry has pork, beef, or turkey jerky. Choose brands known for low levels of sugar and preservatives. Other great sources of protein include meat bars and sticks.
- Popcorn: If you get stuck indoors for two weeks, then I bet you’re going to do lots of streaming. Get multiple boxes of good microwaveable popcorn. If you like doing things the old-fashioned way, get a jar of kernels.
Even if you’re getting ready for a long stay, you don’t have to rule out fresh items. You just need to keep in mind that some perishables are going to last longer compared to others. When you get things like butter, bread, or eggs, make sure you look at the expiration dates on the package to be sure you’re not too close to the cutoff dates.
- Apples: These versatile fruits fill you up with potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. They also stay good for nearly three weeks in your fridge.
- Bananas: They won’t last long fresh, but it freezes exceptionally well. Get a bunch and then cut them up so you can freeze the slices. They work well in smoothies, but they’re more fun dipped in chocolate.
- Bread: Bread products include bagels, tortillas, and sliced bread. Some breads will mold in just days, but freezing them extends their life. Just keep any bread product in its retail packaging and stick it in your freezer. When you would like to eat any of it, give it a chance to thaw out at room temperature before toasting it. You can freeze bagels, English muffins, and tortillas. Get enough bread for every member of the family to enjoy a muffin, bagel, or two slices every day.
- Butter: This can last in your fridge for several months, and it’s crucial as a spread and a baking ingredient.
- Cabbage: Loaded with nutrition like fiber, it’s useful to have around. A whole head should last up to a week in your fridge. Braise it if you want to make something such as stuffed cabbage, or just shred it for using in salads and tacos.
- Carrots: These have a lot of beta-carotene, crucial for eye and skin health. Carrots have almost 4 grams of fiber for each 1-cup serving. One bag of simple unpeeled carrots should last your whole two-week quarantine in your fridge’s produce drawer.
- Cheese: Shredded and block-style cheeses can last two weeks, if sealed properly after they are opened. Brie, Gouda, and other soft cheeses also last around two weeks, although harder cheeses like pecorino or cheddar can hang around for up to a month safely.
- Eggs: Store fresh eggs in any original carton or packaging so that they are protected. If refrigerated properly, they are going to last three weeks after you buy them. Boil your eggs for them to last a week. If you like to really bake and your family just generally loves eggs, then you might want as many as four dozen for your two-week quarantine.
- Onions/Garlic: Both of these boost flavor in thousands of different dishes, and they both keep for quite a while. You can store either of these savory bulbs for two months even at room temperature.
- Lemons/Oranges: Packed with lots of vitamin C, these citrus fruits power up your immune system. They also last in a fridge for as long as two weeks, which is convenient timing for a COVID-19 self-quarantine. The juice and zest of such fruits can brighten up flavors in many recipes and marinades.
- Potatoes/Sweet Potatoes: Both of these are very rich in potassium, and they stay well for two weeks, even at room temperature.
First Aid Supplies
If you’re going to self-quarantine, make sure you have at least two weeks’ worth of your prescriptions. On top of medicines you need, stock up on any of the following items if you’re running low on them when you visit your supermarket’s pharmacy section:
- Allergy medicines like Claritin or Benadryl
- Children’s fever reducer or any kids in your home
- Cough medication
- Cleaning essentials like dish soap and sanitizing wipes
- Saline solution
- Toilet paper
- Paper Towels
Keep this whole list in a convenient place if you have to undergo a self-quarantine for any reason. Just keep in mind that your best defense against most any virus is constantly washing your hands, and that’s always a good habit.