Stocking Your Pantry for COVID-19
As COVID-19 anxiety grips the U.S., many states and localities are announcing bar and restaurant closures. These extreme measures are an attempt to curb the virus’ spread by preventing people from gathering in densely-packed spaces that facilitate person-to-person transmission.
Even if you’re an experienced home cook who loves to experiment in the kitchen, you may be unsure how to stock your pantry for what could be a long period of self-reliance.
Here is a list of items you need to produce nutritious, healthy food from a mix of fresh produce and shelf-stable items:
Long-lasting fruits and vegetables
- Fresh fruit: Bananas, apples, grapefruit, oranges, and clementines are good fruits to have on hand, as they last for relatively long lengths of time. And citrus fruits also contain important immune system-boosting vitamin C.
- Fresh vegetables: For vegetables, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peppers, cauliflower, carrots (in the fridge), potatoes (on the counter), and kale are fairly long-lasting and will stay fresh for several days as long as they’re stored properly.
- Frozen fruit: Berries, tropical fruits, and peaches are great to have on hand for smoothies or as a topping for yogurt and oatmeal.
- Frozen vegetables: Spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, and beans (including green beans and edamame) are great to have on hand for soups, stir-frys, and other veggie-focused dishes.
- Dried, canned or jarred fruit: Shelf-stable fruits will enable you to keep fruit in your diet even if fresh items aren’t available at your local grocery store.
- Canned vegetables: Canned pumpkin, tomatoes, and olives are some of the top picks for dieticians even during the normal course of events, and they remain great choices for COVID-19 preparedness.
- Dry and canned beans: As any vegetarian or vegan friend can tell you, beans are nutritional powerhouses that supply protein, fiber, and essential minerals (such as magnesium and potassium).
- Canned fish: Tuna, salmon and sardines are great shelf-stable proteins that will help you keep protein in your diet even if there are problems procuring fresh meat and seafood.
- Seeds and nuts: Sunflower, pumpkin, hemp and chia seeds, as well as pistachios, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, almonds and hazelnuts are excellent sources of healthy fats and fiber. Also use them to add some tasty texture to oatmeal and yogurt.
- Cheese: Certain hard cheeses - such as cheddar or parmesan - can last more than two weeks if stored properly.
- Eggs: Stored in a carton on a fridge shelf (as opposed to the fridge door), eggs can last about three weeks, and they can serve as an important protein source on their own or paired with vegetables (either fresh or frozen).
- Bulk grains: Single-ingredient grains - such as steel-cut oats, quinoa, or brown rice - will bulk up your meals and serve as an important complement to proteins and veggies on your plate.
- Pasta: Both flour-based and alternative pastas (such as chickpea pasta) are a carb-packed delivery vehicle for vegetables and proteins.
- Flours: Grain-, nut, and bean-based pastas are essential baking ingredients that you may want on hand for all manner of recipes.
- Bread: Sliced bread can last for months in the freezer.
- Crackers, cereal, and popcorn: These shelf-stable grain-based foods are ideal bread alternatives if you can’t cram multiple loaves of sourdough into your freezer. They're also perfect to snack on while binge-watching during your social distancing.
Comfort foods for uncomfortable times
In addition to these COVID-19 essential foods, you should also stock up on one or two comfort foods to reach for in times of stress.
Chocolate, ice cream, cookies, pop/soda, overpriced kombucha, chips, fried everything.
Regardless of what your comfort food of choice is, consider stocking up on it to soothe yourself in stressful times.
— Lorelei Yang
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