A couple weeks ago, I began reaching out to friends to ask about the status of their food and supplies at home – if they had the minimum two weeks as recommended as a standard rule of thumb for emergency preparedness. For the most part, I got lightly brushed off and business continued as usual, especially for those outside of the Seattle area where we were already experiencing a serious COVID-19 outbreak.
In the last week, though, and especially the last few days, those conversations have started to change. While it wasn’t enough for most people to take serious notice when it was *just* the Seattle area dealing with the outbreak, as things began to spread to much of the United States, especially New York and California, preparations began in earnest. I’ve begun to get requests for suggestions on what to stock up on and details of what it looks like here at home, as we’re ahead of most of the country.
I first considered writing this post last Thursday, but it felt that maybe Monday would already be *too late* to share, until I realized that not everywhere looks like the Seattle region yet, and even here at home there are a lot of people only now starting to take this seriously.
So, this post is for you, if you need help figuring out what might be a good idea to purchase in preparation of being home for two weeks (or really, three weeks or longer). Even in Italy, grocery stores and pharmacies have remained open, but if things get that restricted, do you really want to be relying on your turn to go shop? Better to be able to hunker down and stay home.
And – of course – if you feel sick AT ALL, do not go shopping. Order delivery. Ask friends or neighbors to do your shopping for you. If you’re sick, even with a mild cold, stay home and do not interact with the general public (though I would definitely still recommend some outside time – but with good social distance).
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I’ll begin with this note: If you don’t have the funds to stock up fully, try to think clearly about what you really need for a two week supply. Make an inventory of what you already own. Dried beans and rice go a long way, as do boxes of mac and cheese and ramen. It’s okay if you aren’t eating super healthy right now. Comfort foods will be very appreciated right now, and you won’t need to eat this way forever. And reach out to your local food pantries and other local resources – many have expanded their rules to encompass more people right now. (And donate to them if you don’t need them and have the means!)
While perishables won’t last long term, we’ve bought some to get us through a week or so at home (and longer for other refrigerated items). Many of foods considered “perishable” can last a month or longer in the fridge, and they will be very welcome if you’re no longer grocery shopping.
- Coffee creamer
- Orange juice
- Sour cream
- Beef, chicken, pork (in freezer)
- St Patrick’s Day meal ingredients (corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread)
A quick note on perishable foods. Most expiration dates are WAY conservative. I am not an expert, and will not give advice on this, but Google has a lot of information on this to decide for yourself if something is really expired and needs to be thrown away or if it okay and safe to eat.
Non-Perishables (Shelf Stable Items)
These are items that are a great idea to have on hand for general disaster preparedness. While this current Coronavirus pandemic makes it starkly clear that we need to do this now, let’s remember when everything goes back to normal that having a decent non-perishable food supply is always a good idea.
And no matter what – please make sure you are buying what you will actually eat. Food waste is no good, and neither is forcing yourself to eat things you don’t like while you’re already stressed about being stuck at home. So this list here is what our stock looks like. Yours will look different based on what your family enjoys.
- Chicken/beef broth (and bouillon)
- Canned fruits & vegetables (peas, corn, creamed corn, tomatoes, olives, peppers, mandarin oranges)
- Peanut butter and jam
- Yeast (lots of baking to be done)
- Almond Milk
- Wine and beer (yes, my husband did also buy some Coronas)
- Tomato sauce/tomato paste
- Granola and protein bars
- Spices (the ones you usually use)
- Hot sauce/Condiments
- Canned soups (for the roommate)
- Olive oil (and others like Camolina and vegetable)
- Canned fish
- Chips and salsa
- Lemon/lime juice
- Candy/snacks (if you’re stuck home, make sure you have some non-essentials to make things a bit more fun too)
- Backpacking meals / MREs (husband takes them hunting)
- Water and water purification supplies (basic preparedness, not specific to COVID-19)
- POPCORN! I completely forgot to list this one but thanks to Kristine’s list, I’m making a note here now. We do have plenty for the air popper. Essential.
Supplemented by take out to support our struggling local businesses
Kid Comfort Foods
If you’re stuck at home, now might not be the time to try and force your kids to eat stuff they don’t like. Life will be in enough upheaval as it is (six weeks minimum school closures here), so favorite snacks can be a comfort.
- Macaroni and cheese
- Chicken nuggets
- Hot dogs
- Breakfast sausages
- Shelf stable milk (the non-zero waste individual cartons of “normal” cow milk)
- Kid juice boxes
- Clif bars
Clearly, the bulk of this list is food supplies, but there are certain key household items that you most definitely don’t want to run out of if you aren’t leaving your home for an extended period of time. Again, look at the “what we aren’t stocking up on” list below for reasons why we don’t have more than our typical amount of certain things you might otherwise expect to be on this list.
- Hand soap (though perhaps it’s time for me to learn to make my own)
- Toothpaste/dental floss
- Dishwasher soap
- Laundry detergent
- Clorox wipes
- 90 day supply of my anxiety medication (had to pay out of pocket to get more than 30)
- Cold medicine / Ibuprofen / Acetaminophen
- Batteries, as needed
- Pet food / medication / dog poop bags
- Library books / movies (our libraries are now closed, and they have extended due dates for as long as that lasts)
- A few new fun toys/games for the kiddo (kept in reserve for now)
What We Didn’t Need to Stock Up On (Zero Waste):
Thanks to our everyday lifestyle focused on getting closer to zero waste, there are certain items that we haven’t worried about, which is especially nice when those are the items that tend to be flying off the shelves (ahem, toilet paper). While you’re home more, it might be the perfect time to consider more reusable options – they don’t run out at the store in the same way.
- Paper towels
- Toilet paper (only used for #2, otherwise I use family cloth at home)
- Feminine hygiene products (I use reusable pads, and a Diva cup is another great option)
- Garden seeds (I save my seeds, so we’ve been able to plant quite a bit for our spring garden already. If we really are stuck home for a longer period of time, having fresh things to eat in the yard will be very much appreciated).
The Importance of Community
Part of why our list is so long – and why we’ve slowly purchased more over the past few weeks – is looking out beyond just the four of us who live in our home. We want to be able to support our neighbors if necessary: even in a quarantine, odds are good we can walk down the street and drop things off.
In the meantime, I’ve offered and been able to pick up medications for neighbors, drop off snacks to others, and otherwise chat and stay connected with people during this more isolating time (from a social distance of course). I haven’t left Kirkland since the end of February at this point, but it has been okay, much because of the close connections we have with the people who live just houses away.
Now would be a good time to get phone numbers for your neighbors. Check on your elderly or immunocompromised community. Pay attention and help if others don’t have the means to stock up themselves. After all, we are all in this together.
I hope this was helpful. Is there anything else you’d like to know! We don’t consider ourselves “preppers,” but as I wrote about last Monday, we tend to be reasonably well prepared for emergencies.
50 thoughts on “How We’ve Stocked Up for COVID-19 (Our Emergency Preparedness Supplies List)”
Thank you for this, many of us are just starting to see the impact. I agree we need to take care of our community. We are well stocked and home for the next 3 weeks as our employers have asked those that can work at home do so. Our provincial government closed schools until April 5th and my college aged son will be home as well. The only way we can control this is to flatten the curve. I can afford the inconvenience and realize not everyone can so I plan to do a drop off to the food bank this week. They are giving out a time to drop off so no human interaction is required. I can only hope this brings out the best in people.
Yes. Food banks are overwhelmed right now. They can always use cash as well!
Thank you for this; I’m sure it will be useful for a lot of people!
And hopefully bring a bit of peace to those who have stocked up that they’re doing well.
Great list! Just wanted to mention that milk freezes well! We typically have 1-2 gallons in the freezer. I am making home made yogurt so we go through a lot.
So very true! We just don’t have room in ours at the moment.
A couple more things you can freeze if you’ve got the space: butter and bread. I regularly buy extras of this when on sale. And special for this event, I bought extra milk and froze it. Skim freezes best since there’s no fat to separate and remember to pour some off to another container since it expands when frozen.
Totally makes me wish we had a second freezer 😉
Great list. We got kilos of oats and we’ve started making our own oat milk recently. Safe safe!
I still haven’t tried that yet, but I hear it’s super easy!
Tawcan, homemade oat milk is yummy! Better than store bought and a ton cheaper.
This is a super helpful post, Angela. I’m curious to know more about your experience using cloth wipes for #1. But I know now is not exactly the best time for that. However, when you get a minute (ha!), would love to know more about that decision.
Text me! Really, it’s super easy. Just used the same wash routine as diapers and I’m good!
This is a super helpful list — definitely found a few things I need to add to our grocery list for next week.
This is a really helpful resource and list for those who may still need to get stockpiled for the covid19. In fact, a lot of this can apply to a regular emergency kit too. I was actually kicking myself in mid-February for continuing to do a pantry and freezer challenge because it meant I needed to buy even more once things started to get worse here. Luckily, I was able to get what we needed to make it through several weeks. Another thing I would add to the list is sanitary pads/tampons for anyone who has females in their house.
Tampons/pads under the “don’t need to buy” list for me since I use cloth 🙂
Good list. We stocked up 2 weeks ago so we didn’t have to join the frenzy. Now, we just need to buy a few things at a time. SHould be okay.
Much better to avoid it as you can! And the fewer trips the better 🙂
Excellent list! I’m thankful that I decided about a year ago to stock up enough food for 2-3+ weeks for our family of 5 adults. I did it gradually & it’s actually saved us a small fortune, as I stocked up on non-perishable foods only when they were on half price sale! So thankfully we’re doing ok here while there is a bit of chaos in the stores! I hope & pray you all stay safe. Blessings from South Australia
Wonderful. Much less painful if you do it over a period of time. Fingers crossed things don’t get bad where you are.
The 2 main Aussie supermarkets aren’t allowing online orders for a while! I order online with home deliveries, so that counts us out for a bit, but we’ll be fine. They’re now giving the first hour of opening time: 7-8 am to pensioner card holders only, so that they get some of the items that others are hoarding! I’m hopeful that things calm soon! Blessings. Kerryn
I love that they’re giving the first hour to seniors!! Such a good move.
Oh my gosh, it was the same way here in the Northern Virginia area. When I was stocking up, people thought I was nuts. I bought extra for those that might not. I have every intention of sharing. I purchased everything you purchased, with the exception of toilet paper. I bought extra. I spent $1000 in February in anticipation, but felt like it was money that wouldn’t be wasted, as we will eventually go through all of these items. I am so glad I did.
Yeah, we’ve definitely spent more than typical. At the end of February it felt like maybe overkill. It doesn’t feel that way now.
“Now would be a good time to get phone numbers for your neighbors. Check on your elderly or immunocompromised community. Pay attention and help if others don’t have the means to stock up themselves. After all, we are all in this together.”
This sentiment is exactly what I think we need more of right now. Everywhere I look, I see decisions and actions that are solely focused on ‘me & mine’. Which, yeah, I get that is the first priority. But it shouldn’t be the last. We need to recognize that, in a society, we really are all in this together. Try to leave a little stuff on the shelf for your neighbors when shopping. If you’re young & healthy, still try to stay in as much as possible. Not for you, but for your neighbors.
I’ve actually had a few take me up on it now! I feel like this is either bringing out the best or the worst in people right now.
I have such mixed feelings about the stocking up that is happening right now. Yes, we all need to be prepared, but not at the expense of others. Hearing about people fighting in grocery stores over the last TP or pasta is just heartbreaking. Adam and I have been gradually compiling more food than we normally would, but we’re careful not to take the last of anything, and only take a one or two of each item so that others have access as well. I saw one woman in the supermarket telling another shopper that “I don’t even eat peanut butter, but you never know!” as she rolls her cart away with ten peanut butters inside it. Doh. Prepared but not selfish … that’s my dream for us all.
Buying things you don’t normally eat is BONKERS. There’s definitely something psychological about seeing something almost out that makes you want to buy it, even though you wouldn’t normally.
I’m still kicking myself in the foot because I forgot to go to the candy shop before everything shut down. As much as I’m enjoying baking, I want actual candy 😭😭😭. That said, I’m glad the stores are still open on a limited basis here in order to any essentials we might have forgotten. I basically prepped for this like I would a hurricane minus the water.
Candy is a big deal right now! Gotta keep those spirits up.
Yeast! I almost forgot that!
Important for baking!!
My wife and I moved to cloth napkins/towels, cloth diapers, and installed a bidet. Those choices are paying off in spades now. Great to hear you are making the transitions to lower paper waste as well.
Excellent timing there! They sure are.
Angela I would love to share this with Kirkland city staff as part of our “Wellness Wednesday” emails. Trying to keep the spirits high and incorporate new ideas and ways of preparing. Late notice but hopefully you will see this and let me know for tomorrow’s email! Thanks! JamieLynn
Please do! Make sure to include links to the Eastside Restaurant Support Group too! 🙂