Shopping and Cooking in the Coronavirus World
Updated: Mar 7
Let's think ahead and be productive!
There is so much regurgitated info in the media about COVID-19, the coronavirus, and the death toll, the growing number of people infected, threats of quarantine, yet there is not very much that feels productive. This post focuses on how you can to protect yourself, and how to make it through two weeks trapped inside with your healthy or unwell family members.
Coronavirus, while not fatal to the majority of people who have been and will be infected, is still an unknown in the US. We can look at the spread, treatment of the virus, and cure rate in other countries and still not know how it will progress in our own country, where we have more attentive and sophisticated medical care, as well as the advantage of watching how this has played out on the world stage over past weeks. This novel site, Worldometer, has coronavirus data broken down by country. If you're stressing, this is worth a look. Puts things in perspective a little.
I do not fancy myself a doctor or epidemiologist under any circumstances. The sharpest scientific minds are working to stop and contain the outbreak. I know what the rest of the laypeople know, with possibly a hair more scientific understanding because of my education. (A short hair.) One thing I do know, though, is that FEAR takes over when there is a great unknown, and that causes people to do and behave irrationally and hysterically.
I am not big on hysterics, as they are totally unproductive, but I do understand the "what ifs." As a parent, I did a little thinking about what could transpire when the virus arrives in our area. It's most likely coming. It is not unreasonable to assume this; we live in a suburb of New York City. Because the incubation period for this virus is between 3 and 14 days, and people can be carriers and spread it without symptoms, transmission is totally possible.
The way I think about it is this: once there is a confirmed coronavirus case in an area, the rest of the area will go on lockdown. Schools may close. Restaurants will most likely close. Mass transit will stop. Employers will tell people to work remotely. (Big institutions and banks are already putting this framework in place.) And then, people will FREAK out, buy everything off the shelves, wearing insufficient masks that don't actually protect against disease, and shut themselves away. (Doomsday scenario.)
So then what? You're home, working remotely, connected to the world via internet. If you're sick, you call your doctor and follow the protocols from the CDC for reporting and testing. If you're not sick, you stay home with your family and cope, which involves making meals for up to 14 days with what you have on hand. Without going bonkers with your shopping, as this may not happen, you should have some emergency preparedness foods in your pantry just in case.
I shopped for my own family with the mindset that it would be like "camping" for up to two weeks... meaning that we'd need not only "pasta," but whatever we cooked it in or ate with it. Pasta with no butter, sauce or cheese is a misery I don't wish on my children. I also only bought things that my family usually enjoys and will eat in future months, so I didn't waste money. I bought enough to make meals but not as much as I would buy if we were facing the zombie apocalypse.
If coronavirus keeps us inside, my family will be eating Greek sheet pan chicken, turkey chili, beef tacos, slow cooked ravioli casserole, pork carnitas, enchiladas, meatloaf, pasta Bolognese, and chicken soup, plus of course, banana bread, brownies and muffins. All these items can be made from canned, frozen and fresh ingredients. If they're bored, they might even be willing to cook with me!
Here's a shot of our home pantry. It's ready if we have to spend two weeks without stepping foot in a store. If this virus doesn't interrupt life, all this stocked pantry means is that I won't have to grocery shop for a month. Win-win.
Our Eighty Pantry for Surviving with Kids:
Bread (bought 2 loaves, put one in the freezer)
Boxed broth (large and small containers)
Boxed milk, creamer and non-dairy milk (for everything from cereal to Mac & Cheese to baking)
Boxed brownie and pudding mix
Butter (has a long shelf life, but can also be frozen)
Canned meal items (tuna or chicken, soup, vegetables with no salt added)
Cheese (2 sticks, 2 bags shredded... one of each in the freezer)
Condiments (ketchup, maple syrup, nut butter)
Fresh fruits (apples, bananas, lemons, oranges)
Frozen breakfast food
Frozen fruits (berries, pineapple)
Frozen kid food (frozen pizza, frozen organic nuggets)
Frozen meat (bought fresh organic, grass-fed ground beef, ground turkey, chicken... put right in the freezer)
Frozen pasta (stuffed shells and ravioli... have you tried the Eighty ravioli casserole)
Frozen vegetables (life without colorful veggies is really dull and can make you constipated... buy some!)
Hot dogs (organic uncured... put right in the freezer)
Packaged fruit (my kids love mandarin oranges and pears in their own juice)
Pasta / Mac & Cheese (dry)
Snacks (I prefer individual bags to pay attention to hygiene and serving size)
Sturdy vegetables (onions, garlic, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes)
Taco shells + seasonings
Treats (everyone deserves a treat when stuck inside)
In addition to this, I bought a reasonable amount of items that we might need if someone in our family of 6 gets sick (with anything, not just COVID-19), such as elderberry syrup, lozenges, saline, vitamin c, kids' Advil, Benadryl, tissues, toilet paper and paper towels. I ordered another inhaler, as I won't want to step foot in a pharmacy. And of course, enough adult beverages to weather kids at home 24/7. (Looking at you, large bottle of Clase Azul.)
If you're a worrier, thinking smart and preparing yourself is one of the few things you can do. Try not to go overboard. Statistics show that most people who do get this virus will recover.