With the state of things now, we are being encouraged to stock up on food and go out less. But what food should you be stocking up on? This list can help.
In the last couple of years, I haven’t done as much once a month grocery shopping because it just has worked out better to do about every two weeks. However, I still prefer it in general and I know I save a lot of money that way.
With everything going on we have decided to stock up and be prepared to not go out for a very extended period of time. I have asthma so I’m at a higher risk and we can all help reduce the spread by practicing social distancing.
I’m in Oklahoma so our cases are minimal still and there are no confirmed cases in the county where we shopped or in our county. It felt like the perfect time to stock up.
My years of once a month grocery shopping really came in handy because I already know what things last a long time and how to even stock up on produce for a full month.
I thought I’d share my tips for what to buy when once a month grocery shopping or when preparing for a long stay at home.
Hopefully, this list is helpful and you are able to get stocked up. Let’s all hope that these preventative measures flatten the curve and lessen the impact.
The Best Things to Buy When Stocking Up for an Extended Period
Fruits and Vegetables
Loading up on fruits and vegetables is always a good idea but especially when trying to prevent illness. Be sure when eating through what you stock up on that you start with the things that will go bad the soonest.
Also, make sure you are storing your produce correctly, this will help extend its life.
- Long-lasting fruits: Unripe bananas, apples, oranges, clementines, grapefruit, and other citrus last for a very long time and are good for your immune system.
- Long-lasting vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, carrots, celery, and peppers are some of the longer-lasting options. Potatoes, while starch and not as nutritious as some veggies still provide good nutrition and can last a very long time.
- Frozen fruit: Stock up on lots of berries, peaches, mangoes, and others. These will last a very long time. They can be thawed and just eaten or throw them in smoothies, on yogurt, muffins, in oatmeal, or on other cereals. This is a good way to help you get more fruit while you are shopping less often.
- Frozen vegetables: Frozen veggies are often better than fresh because they are frozen at peak freshness. Load up on a variety to make sure you don’t get bored and are getting a good mix of nutrition. Remember some spinach, it’s great to throw in smoothies for some sneaky veggies.
- Freeze-dried fruit and vegetables: There are a lot of great freeze-dried fruits and veggies on the market now. They will last a long time and are good to snack on.
- Dried fruit and veggies: Dried produce can be a great snack as well or for topping cereal and oatmeal. Just watch for added sugar.
- Canned fruit: No-added sugar canned and jarred fruit are great shelf-stable options. Just make sure they are in 100% juice and no added sugar. If possible look for glass or BPA-free cans.
- Canned vegetables: It’s always a good idea to have canned veggies on hand. Watch for added salt and try to find BPA-free cans. Don’t forget some tomatoes which work well in a lot of recipes including simple sauces.
- Pasta: Look for whole-grain options that provide more protein. You can also find some chickpea and lentil pasta if you are needing more protein sources, this can be helpful for vegetarians and vegans.
- Flour: Even if you don’t do much baking this is a good thing to have on hand in case you can’t get to the store for a long time. There are simple quick bread and other recipes that could help you get by. Whole grain is best. You can also store flour in the freezer to extend its life.
- Bread: Only leave out any bread that will be eaten quickly. Freeze extra bread, sliced frozen bread can last for months in the freeze.
- Popcorn: Popcorn has a lot of fiber and if you don’t overload it with salt and butter it can be a healthy snack. Skip the microwave kind and make it on the stove instead. This will allow you to control the salt and butter.
- Crackers: It’s cold and flu season so even without the current threats people in your house may get sick. Plain crackers are a great option when someone isn’t feeling well so stock up on some. They can also go well with soups and such if you aren’t sick.
- Cereal: Skip the sugary stuff and get some whole grain, low sugar cereals. Try to find ones with a good amount of fiber.
- Other grains: Consider picking up things like oatmeal, quinoa, and rice as well. Farro is another grain I really like and it packs a lot of nutrition.
Protein is important for our immune systems and something we can lack when we are stuck home due to illness, social distancing, or natural disaster.
- Frozen meat: Make sure you have some of your favorite meats or meat alternatives in your freezer.
- Beans: Dried or canned beans are great sources of protein. They are good to add to soups and other dishes to boost protein. Avoid higher-sodium options when buying canned.
- Canned fish: Fish is a great source of protein and healthy fats. Tuna, salmon, and sardines are great options. Try to find options without BPA and that use sustainable fishing practices.
- Seeds: Seeds are good for protein and fiber. You can use them in cereal, oatmeal, or on salads.
- Nut butter: Peanut butter, nut butter, or sunflower seed butter can be a great quick lunch or snack. Use it for sandwiches, in smoothies, with apples, or on celery.
- Nuts: If no one in your home is allergic nuts are a great option. They have a lot of protein, fiber, and vitamins. Watch for sugar and excess sodium.
- Dairy: Look for hard cheeses, even once open they can last for a long time if stored properly. Shredded cheese can also easily be frozen.
- Eggs: Eggs can last for a fairly long time, just be sure to store them in the fridge on a shelf, not the door and don’t leave them out on the counter while you are cooking, get what you need and put them back.
- Milk: Look for shelf-stable milk to have on hand. You can also find a lot of plant-based milk in a shelf-stable form. Dry milk is also a great option to have in your pantry for emergencies.
- Broth: Broth is good for making your own soup, drinking when sick, and using in different recipes. Look for low sodium options.
- Canned soup: Soup is a simple meal and also great for anyone not feeling well. Make sure you have a lot of options available.
- Fun snacks: We may all be home a lot of a while and there is no reason we need to only eat super healthy food. It’s good to focus on a good, healthy diet now but occasional treats can be a bit of a mood booster. Look for the slightly healthier options like fruit snacks instead of candy, dark chocolate, and other options like that.
- Frozen meals: If the main cook in the house is ill this could be very helpful. You may also get tired of cooking and miss the option to go out or get delivery, this can be a nice alternative. If you often have pizza night make sure you have some frozen pizzas or even just pre-made crusts to make your own on hand.
Where to Stock Up Safely
If you are in an area with cases and need to stock up still there are ways to do so in a safer way. The key is to minimize your exposure to other people.
- Use grocery pick up- Many stores now offer grocery pickup, some even have offers for getting your first pickup for free. Just to see if your stores are offering this. With the hit, a lot of local businesses will take when people staying home check to see if any local stores are offering this first.
- Instacart– Instacart now offers an option where the delivery person will just leave the groceries on your porch. I tested this out this past week and it worked very well. The person rang the doorbell and then left the items and I got a photo of my groceries on my porch in the app. There was one replacement that I didn’t feel was a good replacement but Instacart refunded it so it was no big problem.
- Amazon Prime Pantry– Somethings like toilet paper are out of stock on Amazon like in most stores but they still have a lot of food. Shipping may not be as quick as usual but it’s still a good option. If you don’t already have Amazon Prime now is a good time to try it out with their free 30-day Amazon Prime trial.
- Crowd Cow– We are stocking up on meat using Crowd Cow. They offer high-quality meat. It is pricey but you are buying straight from farms and will know all the details on how the meat was raised. If you prefer organic, pasture-raised meat this is a good option. Use coupon code RETROHOUSEWIFE to get $25 off your first subscription.
- Thrive Market– I love using Thrive Market to get natural food delivered to my house and now is a really great time to use the service. You can get up to a $20 credit with a 1-month or longer membership.
If none of these options work for you and you need to go to an actual store you can do a few things to minimize your risk.
- Only have one family member go to the store.
- Use disinfectant on the cart before using it.
- Don’t touch your face.
- Try to stay 6 feet or more away from others as much as possible.
- Go during a less busy time.
- Have a list and try to get in and out as fast as possible.
- Use hand sanitizer often.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds when you get home before putting away food.
- I’m also trying to shower when I get home if I have to go out as well for adding protection.
The biggest thing is we need to be prepared and practice social distancing but we don’t want to panic or let fear consume us. If we all are careful and follow guidelines being give by the WHO and CDC we can help each other get through this.
More Helpful Resources
Be sure to sign up below to get my free once a month grocery shopping guide. It has even more information on shopping for a month at a time. It was written before the current concerns but can still help.