As new cases of Coronavirus continue to be diagnosed, there is no way to be sure how widespread an outbreak may become. For people who become ill or those who have been around others who are ill, it may be necessary to go into isolation and stay home for 14 days. In the event of a community outbreak, it’s possible that entire locations could become quarantined. Although the hope is that these scenarios or other emergencies don’t come to pass, it’s wise to be prepared. Health officials recommend that along with water, health supplies and medications, you keep a two-week supply of food at home.
Before heading out to the store, it makes a sense to put together a list that suits your budget and how much space you have. Because you don’t know when you may actually need to use your stockpile of food, it needs to consist of shelf-stable foods that will last a long time. Equally important is to make sure that you have nutritious foods that will help you stay healthy and help you recover should you become ill. Think in terms of the following groups of foods:
Canned goods — they are inexpensive and easy to store, but you do need to make sure you have a good can opener on hand. (It’s a good idea to have a manual one in case of power outages.) Stay away from canned junk food and instead focus on items that have little or no added salt or chemicals and are instead a mostly pure food that you can use to make a meal. These would include canned beans, tomatoes (diced or whole), tomato sauce or paste, vegetable or chicken broth (canned or boxed) and canned tuna or salmon.
Frozen fruits and vegetables – depending on how much freezer space you have, these frozen items will be a good option when you run out of fresh produce. Frozen kale, spinach, broccoli, corn, peas, berries and mango can be eaten as side dishes or used in casseroles and smoothies. If you eat fish, poultry or other meats, these can also be kept frozen for several months.
Whole grain pasta, dried beans and grains such as quinoa, oatmeal and brown rice should be kept on hand. Nuts like walnuts, almonds and cashews are highly nutritious as are flaxseeds and chia seeds which can be mixed into a variety of foods.
Besides your supply of water, make sure you have coffee, green and herbal teas as well as hydrating drinks like coconut water. Also shelf stable plant-based whole milk if you prefer.
Depending on the type of emergency or how long it lasts, you may even want to consider baking your own breads, etc., so it would be helpful to have your whole grain or gluten-free flours, sugars, baking powder, baking soda and yeast as well as spices for these and your every day cooking. Make sure you also have dried herbs and other seasonings as well as olive oil, vinegar and your preferred condiments. Fresh garlic and onions can also last much longer than many other vegetables.
If you find yourself in a quarantine or other emergency, eat whatever perishable foods you have on hand first, before they spoil, using items from your stockpile as needed. If, as we all hope, time passes and you don’t face an emergency situation, use up the items that are older and replace them with fresh ones. Finally, if you have a yard, plant a vegetable garden. This longer term solution will be a source of fresh, healthful, organic produce that will offer continuous health benefits beyond temporary emergencies.