How Much Food Do You Need to Shelter in Place?

As panic over the current coronavirus pandemic began to spread, grocery store shelves quickly emptied and stories of people stockpiling items like toilet paper and hand-sanitizer dominated the headlines. It’s a natural reaction to attempt to prepare for the worst while feeling completely out of control, but experts agree that there is no need to hoard supplies during this difficult time.

While this is an excellent time to be prepared, it is not a time to panic. So, put down that seventh package of toilet paper, take a deep breath, and let us help you adequately prepare to shelter in place.

What does it mean to shelter in place?

States across the country are stepping up and taking more aggressive measures to ensure that citizens stop spreading the highly contagious virus. Most people are now being told to stay home and socially distance themselves from others.

Residents are being asked to stay inside their homes unless they are going out for essential activities, such as buying groceries or going to take care of the health and safety of a loved one. Exempt from these rules are essential workers, like healthcare providers, who have quickly become the heroes of this time. Taking a socially distant walk is still acceptable to get fresh air and to break up the monotony of staying inside the home.

How much food do I actually need?

Ideally, you’ll want to limit the amount of trips that you take to the grocery store, for your safety and the safety of others. While there is no need to hoard food, it’s a good rule-of-thumb to make sure that you have at least two weeks worth of supplies on-hand. In the event that you are exposed to someone with coronavirus or test positive yourself, you’ll need to self-quarantine for at least 14 days in your home.

Take a thorough inventory of what you already have on hand before going to the store, so that your trip will be quick and efficient. Practice maintaining a proper distance from other shoppers, wash your hands before and after every outing, and extend kindness to store employees who are putting themselves at risk to supply us with essentials during this time.

Will stores run out of food?  

Even with increased customer demand, there is no indication that food and other supplies will run out. Shelves may be temporarily sparse and you may not be able to get your hands on your favorite brands, but food supplies are plentiful and are being replenished regularly.

It’s important to remember this when the impulse to panic shop strikes. If you take more than your share, vulnerable populations such as the elderly may suffer by going without or having to visit multiple stores and risking excessive exposure.

What types of foods should I buy?

It’s a great time to get quarantine-creative with what you already have in your pantry, while also purchasing practical staples from the grocery store.

Stock up on versatile items that have a long shelf life, such as pasta, rice, oats, dry beans, and canned vegetables. Consider purchasing protein-rich foods like nuts and nut butters and remember that your freezer is your friend for preserving produce and meats. Shelf-stable milk, like almond or hemp milk, is also a suggested item to add to your list.

It’s a good idea to stock up on supplies that you would like to have within your home if you or a loved one become sick. Grab saltine crackers, ginger ale, drinks with electrolytes, and medication. Comfort foods and baking supplies are also nice to have while spending so much time at home.

While there is much we don’t know about the coming weeks, we can all do our part to be socially responsible and well prepared. As you venture out to your local store, do your best to stay safe and calm. A stocked pantry will ensure that you can stay at home for longer periods of time, while providing nutritious meals for you and your family.