What FOOD to stock up on for coronavirus – SHOP SMART

What FOOD to stock up on for coronavirus – SHOP SMART

This post contains my tips for what food to stock up on for Coronavirus. Practical and economical suggestions so you don’t go on a wild spending spree, only to end up with a pile of groceries you’ll never use!

What food to stock up on for Coronavirus quarantine 

Whether you agree with food stocking or not, it’s hard to avoid thinking about it in these uncertain times.

And after sending a somewhat lengthy email to several friends and readers with some recommendations for what food to stock up on in the event of a Coronavirus quarantine (whether mandatory or voluntary), I thought it was time I shared it with all my readers.

So here it is!


  • Shop at the right times – find out when stores do major restocking. Opening times are ideal – I go at 7 am.
  • Skip bread. Buy tortillas instead. Compact, versatile, keeps in pantry.
  • Buy stock cubes and powder instead of broth/stock in cartons. Cheaper and way more space efficient.
  • Know what can be frozen – and what can’t. Read the list below.
  • Get my Essential Herbs & Spices listed below – they’re the basis of 50% of my non Asian recipes.
  • Get my 5 Asian Essential Sauces listed below – covers 60% of my Asian recipes.

If you’ve got stock powder and plenty of herbs and spices, you can make ANYTHING delicious!

Other useful resources

  • 15 Day Coronavirus Quarantine Menu Plan and Shopping List
  • RTE recipe pantry essentials – list of key ingredients that form the basis of the majority of my recipes Coming shortly
  • Coronavirus food handling safety – Coming Wednesday
What FOOD to stock up on for coronavirus – SHOP SMART
Stock up on tortillas instead of bread. Far more space efficient, long shelf life, incredibly versatile.

What food to stock up on for Coronavirus quarantine 

This is a general list of tips and advice for food to stock up on that will form the basis of many recipes. See above for links to specific prepared lists.

1. How long to stock up for

At the time of writing, authorities require a quarantine period of 2 weeks, so I add a buffer to this and round it up to 2.5 to 3 weeks.

Be sensible when stocking up. You’re not going to starve, you just might not eat exactly what you want when you want it. Take this time as an opportunity to get creative with what you’ve got!

What FOOD to stock up on for coronavirus – SHOP SMART
Get dried beans instead of canned. Cheaper and more space efficient.

2. Space and cost saving food options

Storage space is premium when stocking up. Here are my top tips for space saving food items:

  • Dried beans instead of canned (tip: go to the whole food places like Scoop. They’re a bit more expensive but they were fully stocked with all dried beans as of yesterday)
  • Stock cubes & powder (bouillon) instead of cartons of liquid broth/stock (1 cube/1 tsp powder in 1 cup boiling water = 1 cup liquid stock/broth)
  • Tomato paste over canned tomato or passata (Whisk 1.5 tbsp flour with 1/4 cup water until lump free. Then mix in another 1 1/4 cups water, 4 tbsp tomato paste and 1.5 tsp sugar. Bring to simmer on stove until it thickens to gravy consistency. Use in place of 1 can of crushed tomato)
  • Powdered milk instead of fresh milk or long life milk cartons
  • Tortillas instead of bread – no refrigeration required, highly versatile. All things Mexican, lunch wraps, or ham and egg breakfast pockets anyone?
What FOOD to stock up on for coronavirus – SHOP SMART
Stock cubes and powder are far more space and cost efficient than cartons of liquid.

Be flexible when cooking. Substitute freely. Skip minor ingredients used in small quantities. Focus on the main ingredients!

3. Use freezer space selectively

Unless you have a deep freezer, freezer and fridge space is valuable real estate, so use it for things that you can’t (or refuse to!) buy in cans (like meat).

  • Skip large roasts – Bone in chicken thighs and drumsticks instead of whole chicken, chops instead of bone in lamb leg
  • Space efficient frozen veg – Frozen peas and diced vegetables are way more space efficient than broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Take things out of boxes – like frozen spinach. More space efficient!
  • Chop your own veg so you can pack them efficient. See below for a list of freezable vegetables.

4. Dairy & deli

  • Keep extra eggs on hand, always – possibly the most highly versatile ingredient you can stock up on and it has a shelf life of several weeks. From breakfast to baking, frittatas to quiche, fried rice to soup, if you have plenty of eggs, you just can’t go wrong! Because they don’t last for months, buy several weeks worth and keep cycling through them.
  • Milk – powdered milk most space efficient. Otherwise get long life milk. You can also freeze fresh milk (it just takes up a lot of space!)
  • Cream – freezable!
  • Fresh butter – get plenty, for spreading on that, cooking meals with and baking (you’re certainly going to have the time!). Also freezable.
  • Shredded cheese – freeze it. (Some blocks of cheese will change form once frozen, best to stick to shredded). Buy lots!
  • Parmesan – buy the pre grated kind and freeze it (if it’s from the fridge) or buy it from the pasta aisle (it might not be real cheese but it’s tasty, and hey, these are desperate times!) You will find I use it a LOT in my recipes!
  • Bacon and ham slices / bits – freeze

If there was ever a time to skip takeout and make your own food, that would be now

What FOOD to stock up on for coronavirus – SHOP SMART

5.  Herbs & spice essentials

Here are the most used herbs and spices that appear over and over again in my recipes.

  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Paprika
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Cayenne pepper (or pure chilli powder)
  • Beef and chicken stock powder or bouillon cubes (1 cube or 1 tsp powder in 1 cup / 250 ml boiling water = 1 cup stock/broth)

6. Asian Essentials (60% coverage of Asian recipes)

The following sauces will cover ~60% of the sauces in the Asian recipes on my website:

  • Light and dark soy sauce
  • Chinese cooking wine (shoaxing wine) and/or Mirin or dry sherry
  • Rice wine vinegar,
  • Oyster sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Sriracha or any chilli sauce
What FOOD to stock up on for coronavirus – SHOP SMART
Get the above listed Asian essentials and you’ve got the basics for 60% of my Asian recipes, like this Lo Mein

7. Pantry essentials

  • Olive oil – the one oil I always have on hand. Close second is vegetable oil.
  • Salt, pepper
  • Brown sugar and honey
  • Apple cider vinegar– single most versatile vinegar, will be fine to sub for virtually any vinegar when necessary
  • Dried or vac packed carbs – rice, pasta, noodles (skip the instant mash, potatoes last for ages!)
  • Baking – flour, cornflour/cornstarch, sugar, yeast, baking powder and baking soda/bi carb
  • Basics – olive oil, vegetable oil, vinegar, salt and pepper
  • Flour, white sugar and yeast – for baking projects

There’s never been a better time to try your hand at homemade bread! Start with a simple no yeast Irish Soda Bread, then work your way up!

What FOOD to stock up on for coronavirus – SHOP SMART

8. Vegetables

  • My Top 6 I can’t live without: Onion, garlic, cabbage, carrot, green onions, lemons
  • Freezable vegetables (chop and freeze, or buy frozen, to use in cooking) – capsicum/bell peppers, onion, garlic, ginger, carrot, celery, corn, pumpkin, squash, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli / broccolini, frozen spinach, kale, lime*, lemons*, avocado^, chopped Asian greens, green onion/scallions
  • Cabbage is gold. Highly versatile, lasts for ages in the fridge. Use for salads like Coleslaw, Asian Slaw, pickle for tacos, use in Chow Mein and soups.
  • ** KEY TIP: Frozen spinach and kale – worth hunting down. Vast quantity of fresh spinach and kale jam packed into tiny boxes. Stir into soups, stews and pastas for an instant high nutrition veg hit. Get the handy portion size cubes if you can.
  • Canned vegetables – corn is my most used, followed by Asian ingredients for stir fries (baby corn, bamboo shoot slices, water chestnut)
  • Up to 4 weeks out of fridge, even longer in fridge crisper drawer – Onion, garlic, potatoes (sweet and normal)
  • Up to 4 weeks in fridge crisper – ginger, cabbage (wrap in cling wrap/freezer bag to extend even longer), carrots, lemons
  • Fresh herb pot plants – nothing beats fresh herbs! Buy in pots as these will last indefinitely if you care for them properly
  • Avoid: watery and leafy vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, leafy greens. These will not freeze well and have a short shelf life.

* Thaw and use juice and rind
^ Frozen avocado – use mashed in Guacamole or in puree form such as Avocado Sauce, not for eating cut in chunks like salads.

What FOOD to stock up on for coronavirus – SHOP SMART
Get your favourite herbs in pots so they’ll last for weeks and weeks!
What FOOD to stock up on for coronavirus – SHOP SMART
Cabbage is in my Top 6 vegetables – for its versatility and long shelf life

Keep buying and eating nutrition dense fresh produce on a day to day basis because you might not have access in the event of a lockdown.

9. Fruit

  • Up to 4 weeks in fridge – apples and oranges
  • Freeze your own or buy frozen – most fruit can be frozen. Great for smoothies, slushies, crumbles (use either this Apple Crumble or Strawberry Crumble recipe, choose which one is most similar to your fruit)
  • No added sugar canned fruit
  • Dried fruit

10. Breakfast and snacks

I know my list is very focussed on meals – but don’t forget about breakfast essentials and snacks! Cereals and spreads for breakfast, bacon and/or ham (make ham and egg pockets with tortillas!), frozen fruit for smoothies, fruit and nuts (ideal for snacking), crackers etc.

11. Don’t forget your pets!!

Whatever you feed your pets, make sure you have plenty of it in stock for them. And don’t forget treats!! Half my freezer is dedicated to BONES for Dozer

What FOOD to stock up on for coronavirus – SHOP SMART

12. Booze

I’ve shopping lists where wine tops the shopping list……

Lucky for me, my sister is currently storing some of her wine at my house. In the event of an emergency, I cannot be held responsible for what happens to those wines….

What FOOD to stock up on for coronavirus – SHOP SMART

And that’s a wrap!

That’s it from me today! I will be back with more this week, assuming you found this post helpful.

If you have any specific questions, just drop them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you.

Stay safe everyone! Remember to wash your hands frequently, and when you’ve been out and about in public, be conscious to avoid touching your face. Disinfect your hands regularly especially while you’re out and about.

Please remember – be kind to others. Help your neighbours. Share your toilet paper with family and friends. Don’t be greedy stockpiling food, just get what you think you need.

And don’t stop living life! – Nagi x

Life of Dozer

Coronavirus? Food hoarding? Toilet paper crisis?

He’s completely oblivious to it all. That’s #LifeOfDozer

What FOOD to stock up on for coronavirus – SHOP SMART

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