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Preparing for a Long Stay at Home? Here’s Your Shopping List

A woman's hands checking items off a paper list at the grocery store.

With the coronavirus all over the news and flu season still underway, the best way to avoid getting sick is to avoid people. Now’s the perfect time to stock up on all the supplies you need to hunker down at home.

Before you let panic get the better of you, though, this isn’t a zombie apocalypse. You don’t need to stockpile guns and ammo or buy every bottle of hand sanitizer within a 200-mile radius.

But, if it’s a risk to your health to go to the store for basic items, like toilet paper or canned goods, you might want to have enough at home to get you through. You might think ordering what you need online is a good alternative, but some viruses and germs can stay on packages for hours or even days.

Even if the risk of getting anything from a package is minimal, with thousands of people in the supply chain out sick, you won’t have much luck getting anything quickly.

This is why stocking up ahead of time is your best option.

What You Need for a Month at Home 

Before you head to the store to fill your pantry, freezer, and medicine cabinet, you need a list of what you need.


Since we’re not talking an end of the world scenario here, you can use the water from your tap for survival. Make sure if you use a filtration system, you stock up on some extra filters so you don’t run out before it’s safe to return to the store.

If you use bottled water at home, you want to have enough for the next month on hand. According to the Mayo Clinic, men need a gallon of water each day, and women need a little less. This means you need about one gallon of water per person, per day. If you live alone, you’ll need 30 gallons of water to stay home for a month.

Bottled water is often one of the first things to sell out at stores when people are panicked about the state of the world.


Here’s another area where things would be different if we were talking about an end-of-the-world scenario, like an EMP blast knocking out the power grid. In that case, frozen and refrigerated foods would be out of the question.

However, if you’re staying home to avoid the flu or coronavirus, keeping the fridge and freezer stocked is a good idea. We’re just prepping for a few weeks of Netflix, after all, not surviving nuclear winter.

It’s a good idea to stock essential pantry items (stuff that doesn’t need to be frozen or kept cool) you can use in any emergency. It’s also not a bad idea to have 20 pounds of flour and 10 pounds of sugar on hand to make pancakes or bake some bread.

If stores run out of bread or you’re unable to get there, anyway, you’ll want to be able to make food from scratch.

A woman getting ready to close the door on a trunk full of groceries.
Myroslava Malovana/Shutterstock

Check your basic pantry staples and make sure you have enough on hand to last you a month. Spices, including about five pounds of salt (unless you’re on a sodium-free diet), are also important to grab.

Fill your refrigerator with your family’s favorite foods (you don’t have to be miserable just because you’re avoiding a virus or snowstorm). Pick up some powdered or shelf-stable rice milk, for when you run out of what you usually use.

Stock up on things like rice, potato flakes, oatmeal, cereal, beans, cooking oil, pasta, peanut butter, coffee, tea, and canned fruits, vegetables, or meats. Snack foods, like potato chips, are also good to have around—you don’t want everyone to get bored eating the same things every day.

How much of all of these things you need depends on how many people live in your home and how much they eat. You need at least enough food for everyone to have three meals a day for the duration of your lock-in.

Health and Hygiene

Food and water aren’t the only things you need for an extended stay indoors. Make sure your first aid kit is fully stocked, and then some. That way, if there’s a minor emergency, you might be able to take care of it at home, rather than risking a visit to the hospital.

Here are some standard first-aid items you should make sure you have:

  • Ace wraps
  • Gauze pads
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Peroxide
  • Band-Aids of various sizes
  • Triple antibiotic ointment
  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Benadryl
  • Antacids
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disposable gloves
  • Bandage scissors
  • Medical masks
  • Prescription medications (at least an extra month’s worth)

Vitamins are also essential, especially if you run out of fresh produce. They’ll provide the necessary nutrients and boost your immune system so your body can better fight off viruses.

Get at least one bottle of multivitamins for each person in your household. Also, be sure to buy the right kind for each person, as most are made specifically for children, women, or men. You can also pick up some elderberry syrup or other products to boost immunity.

Some personal hygiene products cross over into the healthcare sphere. The most important thing is having enough soap for everyone to keep their hands washed and prevent the spread of germs in your home.

Some other things you’ll want to stock up on include:

  • Feminine hygiene products: It’s essential that the women in your home have enough pads and tampons for at least one cycle, as well as any necessary pain meds.
  • Toilet paper: You’ll need enough TP for everyone to make it through the month. This is a great item to buy at the bulk store and save some money. You can also use it as facial tissue.
  • Shower supplies: Make sure there’s enough shampoo, conditioner, and soap or body wash for everyone to stay clean.
  • Deodorant: If you’re stuck in a house with other people, you want to keep the B.O. to a minimum. Deodorant will carry you through between showers.
  • Toothpaste and mouthwash: Dental hygiene is vital to your overall health, so be sure you won’t run out of dental care items before you can get to the store again. This might also mean having an extra toothbrush on hand for everyone in the household.

Of course, you should also pick up any other hygiene items you regularly use, like razors and face wash. You want to keep your daily routine as normal as possible until you can safely venture out again without having to worry about getting sick.

Other Household Supplies

Think of all of the stuff you use each day in your home. You want to be sure you have enough of everything to get through at least a month without leaving the house.

This means stocking up on the following items:

  • Trash bags
  • Dish soap
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Laundry soap and dryer sheets
  • Batteries

Add any other items you might need to your list, too, like pet supplies or non-perishable goods you just can’t live without. Jot down anything it makes sense to stock up on if you’ll be stuck inside for a spell.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »
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