What to Stock Up on for the Coronavirus Pandemic

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On one hand, you might feel a little ‘silly’ thinking about stocking up on supplies for the coronavirus. It seems to be the ‘cool’ thing online to throw caution to the wind and only have a few rolls of toilet paper in the house.

On the other hand, however… it’s starting to get serious. The United States just announced that a travel ban will take place for many countries in Europe, and the entirety of Italy is basically on lockdown. The stories coming out of Italy are truly horrifying, too – people being quarantined with those recently deceased, a lack of medical facilities… it’s not good.

a woman walking through a stocked grocery store
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If you’re thinking about stocking up, don’t just run into the grocery store without a plan! Here are our top items that you should be stockpiling to prepare for the potential lockdown with the coronavirus.

The First Step: What Do You Have?

Don’t buy 20 boxes of pasta if you have ten in your cabinets. Seriously, that’s silly!

Before you start making your list, check out your own pantry. Figure out what holes you need to fill in order to keep a very stocked pantry. It could be if you’re someone that regularly shops you don’t need a whole lot! But some of us might need a few more items.

Okay, you’ve looked. Now let’s think about what you might need.

Shelf-Stable is a Must

Here’s the deal – you’re going to have to eat every day for the rest of your life, right? So getting a few extra shelf-stable items isn’t a bad idea, and you’ll go through them eventually.

  • Canned vegetables
  • Packaged fruits in juice
  • Dried fruits
  • Low-sodium canned soups and chilis
  • Jarred tomato sauce
  • Dry pasta

Protein is a Big Deal, Too

You might think that you won’t be able to get a good protein source when on lockdown, but that’s not true! There are plenty of options for you.

  • Canned fish, like tuna or salmon
  • Shelf-stable silken tofu is a great addition to many dishes
  • Lentils, canned or dry
  • Beans, canned or dry
  • Nut butters like peanut, almond, and cashew
  • Trail mix
  • Canned poultry, like chicken or tuna

Frozen Products

Be wary of those frozen pizzas! They take up a lot of space for little reward. Here are some of the better choices you can fill your freezer with.

  • Frozen seafood is great. Frozen salmon in individual portions or bags of frozen shrimp are your best bet.
  • Meats on sale can be vacuum sealed and frozen for several months. Make sure to freeze them properly to avoid freezer burn! If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, you can carefully use a sink of water to remove air in a ziplock freezer bag.
  • Frozen fruit and veggies are great ways to pretend you have ‘fresh’ produce when you’re trapped at home.
  • Bread can be frozen, and pulled out in individual slices for toast or sandwiches. The texture isn’t perfect, but it toasts well.


Grains are very important, and shouldn’t be overlooked! There is a lot you can do with the basic grains, so consider stocking your pantry for versatility… as long as you’re not afraid of cooking or baking a little.

  • Flour lasts a long time when stored right, and can be used in numerous different applications.
  • Yeast, to make your own bread if you’re really desperate
  • Rice lasts a long time and is very versatile… and cheap!
  • Oats and oatmeal and great for sweet or savory applications


Cooking fats are so important, so make sure you have plenty of them on hand!

  • Oils like vegetable, avocado, or olive will keep practically forever when stored right.
  • Butter freezes well if you have space in your freezer, and adds a feeling of luxury when you’re on a canned diet.
  • Lard can be purchased in a shelf-stable format, and is great if you’re planning on baking a lot when locked up. It’s not super healthy, so use in moderation!

Luxury Items

You don’t have to eat canned goods straight from the can cold like a barbarian! All it takes is a little love to make your shelf-stable goods really pop.

  • Jarred minced garlic. Is it the perfect garlic substitute? Not really, but it’s great in a pinch, especially in dishes where it is just there to add background flavors.
  • Spices! Look at your spice cabinet and make sure you’ve got more than salt and pepper.
  • Jarred or packaged sauce mixes. These will add life to otherwise boring ingredients, and easily, too!
  • “Fun” drinks, like tea, low-sugar electrolyte drinks, or water flavorers. You’ll get real tired of water at some point!

Your Pets Matter, Too

  • Do you have pets? If so, make sure you have plenty of supplies for them. Food, treats, and kitty litter should all be stocked up on.
  • Consider wee-pads if you have a dog, as you may not be able to take them out to “go” if you’re on lockdown. It’s not an ideal situation, but it could be a reality.

Bathroom and Beauty Items

If you can’t go to the store for weeks at a time, you might end up needing some basic beauty and bathroom items! While you don’t have to stockpile perfume, it’s a good thing to take a walk through your bathroom before running to the store.

  • Toilet paper. Yes, we know, it’s such a cliché. You don’t need 50 rolls, but having a few extra is a good idea.
  • Shampoo and conditioner. You still have to shower! Make sure you have enough to last you for a little while.
  • Prescription medicines. This is a big one! It’s recommended you have at least a 30 day supply of all prescription medications, and it’s starting to get to allergy season, so make sure you’re covered. CVS is offering free delivery for prescription medication if you’re worried or on lockdown already.
  • Over the counter medications, too! Cough drops and pain relievers are all important to have on hand.
  • Cleaning supplies, if you can find them. Your hand sanitizer should be at least 60% alcohol to really kill germs! Bleach solutions also work for sanitizing surfaces. Don’t be “that person” that buys the whole shelf, though! Help stop the spread by letting everyone have some.