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Stock Your Kitchen with a Well-Planned Strategy In Mind

A pantry loaded up with food items.
Darryl Brooks/Shutterstock

Disruption of everyday life is upon us with the coronavirus spreading around the globe. Before going out and spending hundreds on foods and supplies, create a plan on how you will use it up over time.

Global efforts are taking place to try and contain and mitigate the spread of the virus. In the meantime, many experts recommend keeping a 14-day supply of food on hand in case it is needed.

Follow these steps for a well-planned strategy that will help use your foods overtime without wasting or running out of essential ingredients.

Prepare with a Strategy In Mind

Before racing into a frantic state of mind, take one step back and create a food-related plan, especially while reported cases of coronavirus remain low.

Here are some questions to keep in mind:

  • How much space do I have in my pantry or house?
  • How much money am I willing to spend?
  • What foods will my family actually eat?
  • How much room do I have in my freezer?
  • How will I eat all of this food?

While space and fridge/freezer capacity is a big thing, we can’t emphasize the “Will we eat it?” question enough. Emergency preppers will be the first to tell you that yes, you can survive off anything edible for a good long while, but having an emergency pantry stocked with foods you don’t regularly eat or even enjoy doesn’t make for a lot of fun.

Make Your List

Before running to the store, or even starting your list, gather up a little inspiration from the internet. Find recipes using canned ingredients or simple non-perishable food recipes that you and your family will enjoy.

The last thing you need is to end up with 20 cans of black beans without a proper plan on how to use them up. Instead, plan out casseroles, and manageable pasta meals that even the kids will love. Comfort foods are good for everybody, but especially for kids who may not be dealing so well with the stress of all the coronavirus news and changes, and just want the regular things they normally eat.

Be sure to purchase nutritionally dense foods, and avoid too many high-sodium pantry foods.

Fill Up Your Freezer

You may want to consider cleaning out your freezer and making space for a few essentials. It’s an excellent space to store raw (or cooked) meat, fish, and seafood for these situations.

If you aren’t a fan of canned veggies, your freezer is the perfect location to hold frozen produce instead. Bread is a popular staple in many households and will keep well in the icebox, too.

Beyond Rice and Beans

A variety of nuts, a healthy and filling snack food.
Krzysztof Slusarczyk/Shutterstock

Remember to think beyond pantry food items. If you are going to be stuck inside for a few weeks, you might as well enjoy what you are eating, right?

Don’t leave out your favorite condiments and sauces, and be sure to keep a few pounds of butter in the freezer. Salt and pepper are a must, but be sure to have ingredients like garlic, carrots, and onions on hand as well.

Think about perishable foods that tend to spoil quickly like dairy products. If you go through a lot of milk, consider purchasing non-perishable pasteurized milk or shelf-stable almond milk as a backup emergency plan. You might not normally purchase organic milk, but if you check the labeling on the container, you’ll notice that organic milk is typically ultra-pasteurized (a form of pasteurization that gives it a particularly long life in the fridge).

If you have babies in the home that depend on formula, be sure to have plenty of that, too.

Also, purchase satiating snack foods that hold some nutritional value. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Nuts
  • Wholegrain crackers
  • Trail mix
  • Granola bars
  • Protein bars
  • Protein shakes

Keep comfort foods handy, too. Having peanut butter and jelly for lunch sandwiches will keep the kids happy, but don’t leave out the mac and cheese you love, either.

Eat Your Perishables First

We sincerely hope not to reach a state of emergency that will keep people indoors for several weeks without even the ability to restock at the grocery store. However, it is certainly possible, and if that is the case, you’ll be ahead of the game by being prepared with plenty of food.

With that possible outcome in mind, be sure to use up the foods you have in your fridge before diving into your emergency stash. Any fresh vegetables and fruits, meat, dairy, and bread that won’t last should be first on your list to go.

List of Perishables That Last Longest

A selection of root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and more.
ulrich22/Shutterstock

Lucky for us, some fresh fruits and veggies tend to last longer if stored correctly and treated with love and care. If you are hoping to keep plenty of fresh foods for as long as possible before resulting to your emergency stash, store any of these:

  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Apples
  • Oranges

Historically, you might not have gone out of your way to store your produce properly, but now is a great time to channel your inner great-grandmother and do the things she used to do, such as keeping potatoes in a cool dark area of the basement and not putting apples with other fruits (because the gas from the apples ripening causes nearby fruit to overripen).

Move On to Your Emergency Stash

Once you’ve gone through all the perishable foods in your fridge, it’s time to start working through your emergency supply.

Remember all those recipes you picked for this scenario? Those will come handy when it’s time to start using up ingredients in your 14-day emergency stash.

Be sure to use a combination of frozen foods as well as canned and boxed staples to mix things up.


We certainly don’t want to frighten or stress anyone out, but we do want to help prepare you in case of an emergency home lockdown. We also want to gently remind you of the importance of washing your hands several times a day to limit the spread of germs. Stay safe and stay healthy.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »

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