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Never did I think I’d write a menu for my meal planning called “Coronavirus food checklist.” But here we are…
My husband took the above picture on Friday at a Costco in Colorado Springs. That’s the empty bread aisle. I went to our Costco here in Orange County, Calif., on Wednesday and it wasn’t that bad. Busy and out of toilet paper, but not bad. The next day was a different story.
I just don’t know what to make of all of this. I don’t want to panic, but I also want to be prepared.
I was thinking back to before I started meal planning and how freaked out I would have been if the coronavirus had hit back then.
Even now, I still put my meal planning skills to the test because I normally only buy groceries for one week at a time. I don’t have a big pantry or a big freezer, and to be honest, it stresses me out having a lot of food in the house. I like having a mostly empty fridge and pantry at the end of the week.
But I do feel better knowing that we will eventually use everything that I bought, even if it’s not in quarantine. I purchased enough food with the intent that it’ll last us two weeks. For some of the snacks, like granola bars, I actually sorted them into daily servings so we don’t go through them too quickly.
I always prefer more whole foods, but desperate times call for desperate measures. And my kids regularly eat cereal and crackers and other not-so-healthy foods, so it’s not like we eat super clean anyway. 😉
One other thought: It’s easy to snack a lot more when you’re bored and sedentary. Often we think we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty, so make sure you’re drinking a lot of water and fluids. It’ll hopefully keep you from overeating and make your food stash last longer.
So, without further ado, here are some ideas, tips, and my coronavirus food checklist for this crazy time we’re in. I wrote this quickly to get it out to you because I know I’m already behind, so I apologize if it’s not pretty or super detailed.
Luckily, we still have electricity and the ability to store refrigerated and frozen foods so not everything we buy has to be non-perishable. Below is a list of food ideas, and then below that, you’ll see what I actually purchased for my family.
- Nut and seed butters
- Nuts and seeds
- Canned/vacuum sealed bags of sardines, tuna, chicken, and salmon
- Trail mix
- Granola bars
- Dried fruit, like raisins
- Fruit cups, like applesauce
- Canned vegetables
- Canned beans
- Canned soup and chili
- Flour and other baking ingredients
The popular fruits and vegetables listed below are longer lasting produce. Check out this article for how to store fruits and veggies, and how long they last.
- Sweet potatoes
- Milk (I bought some ultra-pasteurized organic milk that has an expiration date of May 6, 2020 so it’ll keep until we open it. No powdered milk here!)
- Creamer (Important!)
Here’s an article that explains how to freeze different foods, and how long they last in the freezer. For the frozen vegetables, I just steam them and after draining, add extra virgin olive oil and salt.
- Fruit (Perfect for smoothies! You can also peel and slice bananas then freeze them.)
- Flour, baking soda, baking powder, etc., to bake!
- Parchment paper, muffin liners, etc.
My Coronavirus FOOD checklist
- Cereal + milk
- Waffles + maple syrup
- Oatmeal + bananas
- Pancake mix
- Veggie muffins
- Eggs over wilted spinach (my breakfast)
- Coffee + creamer (can’t forget this!)
- Sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwiches
- Macaroni and cheese
- Turkey lunchmeat
- Sliced, raw veggies (carrots, cucumbers, and celery)
- Sardines (for me; the kids won’t eat this)
- Quinoa broccoli slaw (for me; to eat soon after purchase)
- Broccoli salad (for me; to eat soon after purchase)
- Three Bean Salad (for me; to eat later)
- White Bean Salad (for me; to eat later)
- Granola bars
- Spinach muffins
- Black bean brownies
- Sliced veggies (carrots mostly)
- Juice boxes (in case the kids get sick and they need fluids)
- Smoothies (I substitute a lot of different frozen fruit. Check out my smoothie hack to make them faster.)
- Chocolate protein shake
Dinner main dishes
- Summer soup (this makes a lot – so I froze some of it)
- Coconut Tandoori Chicken
- Tikka Masala
- Sweet and spicy chicken (I use chicken breasts instead of wings)
- Southwest chicken (I leave out the bell peppers because I don’t like them mushy.)
- Butter chicken
- English muffin pizza
- Frozen salmon (pre-marinated from Costco)
- Goddess chicken (just goddess dressing over chicken, baked at 425 degrees until internal temperature is 165 degrees)
Dinner side dishes
- Frozen veggies (steamed with EVOO and salt)
- Sliced veggies (carrots mostly)
- Roasted sweet potatoes
- Coconut rice
- Millet and brown rice ramen (something Ryan bought a while ago from Costco)
If you look at the dinner main dish recipes, except for summer soup, I picked ones that don’t have many perishable ingredients, except for dairy and chicken. I froze a lot of the chicken and will cook it from frozen in the Instant Pot. Now may be a good time to invest in an Instant Pot. 😉
I have ingredients to make veggie muffins, spinach muffins, and black bean brownies. I probably will be able to make some other recipes, too. The muffins freeze really well, and the brownies probably will, too. Baking is a good activity to do with the kids; they’re learning math and science plus it kills some time. 😉
Tip: If you have to go to the grocery store, go first thing in the morning. Like when it opens at 6 a.m.
When I was at the grocery store after the gym yesterday, I wanted to buy some more bananas but they were all gone. I asked one of the employees in the produce section and he told me they were getting another shipment tonight for tomorrow. So hopefully nobody else gets up that early and you’ll get what you need before it’s gone again.
Also, a new study out this week shows that the coronavirus can live on surfaces for two to three days. Yikes. But many (hopefully all?) stores are cleaning after they close at night so you can go in the morning before everyone else touches everything.
Tip: Wear disposable gloves at the store.
I didn’t do this, but I saw a few people at Costco wearing them and thought it was a good idea. No matter what time you go to the store, there’s a chance for catching the virus.
Tip: You can order online from places like Amazon and Thrive Market, depending on availability of items. You can also try store delivery or Instacart, but I don’t know how well those work right now.
Tip: Each time you go to the grocery store, pick up some fresh fruits and veggies to replenish your stash.
My Final Take
I sincerely hope I bought way too much food, but I want to be prepared. I have no idea what the next few weeks will look like, and the not knowing is scary for me. I do feel a little bit better with this coronavirus food checklist.
Stay safe out there!