This post was most recently updated on March 27th, 2020
The year, 2020, is certainly a different one. This year you may find yourself confined to home due to the risk of getting or transmitting a contagious viral infection. This is not unlike any other emerging situation where you need to prepare. Stocking your pantry for an emergency is a part of this. In this guide, I include two customizable and downloadable lists to assist you in stocking your pantry and other essentials for emergency situations, either with or without utilities.
This 2020 emergency is no different from preparing for an extreme climate event or some other crisis affecting life as we know it. Except, you’re social norms will be disrupted! The good news is that your water and electricity supply networks will likely continue to operate.
Corōna is Latin for ‘crown’. In the context of this article, this ‘crown’ applies to a highly contagious viral disease and pandemic creating a 2020 emergency. Authorities and epidemiology experts seek a general ‘lockdown’ of human contact at varying levels to deal with this specific crisis. They are asking affected people to self-isolate or undergo quarantine for at least 14-days.
You might also like my article on how to safely prep food and hygiene in the kitchen in the interest of avoiding sickness.
Getting ready for an emergency
In any imminent emergency situation, including the Corona one, the advice is to stock up on supplies for 14 days. In this respect, you need to have sufficient food and essential items to sustain your household for this length of time. For many, this is an extended period since weekly (or even daily) shopping is the norm. The other problem is that product supply may be disrupted.
The main message here is preparedness. It’s not panic or hoarding, which can be a symptom of anxiety and uncertainty.
Hoarding vs preparing
Hoarding is not a good idea. It is not stocking your pantry the smart way.
It means you take more than your fair share at a critical time and it disadvantages others, especially those most vulnerable.
The disadvantage to you personally is that you end up with out-of-date products and a waste of time and money spent. Then, there’s the environmental cost of waste.
Preparing without hoarding is sensible and responsible.
And, there are several ways to ensure you manage your food supply the best. Start by planning and then buying what you need in food and water (if supply is likely to be disrupted) to last you over the 14 days or the length of time you expect to be confined.
Review your consumption. Are you ‘comfort eating’ or overeating? Of the stock you have on hand, can you ration it out to slow down your consumption.
Keep up to date as new information unfolds. You may be able to top up with food deliveries or safely access food stores at given times and locations.
Tips for ordering takeout or delivered meals
Eatright.org gives some useful tips and resources about ordering takeout and meals-to-the-door that are healthy options.
What to stock your pantry with
You should ensure your supply allows for healthy eating. We’ve all heard dietitians and nutritionists say we need a varied and nutritious diet to help stave off ill health. To me, this means including fruits, vegetables, fiber, and the right oils in the right quantities. You can use MyPlate for healthy meal planning on a budget, and more.
In an emergency situation, the best we can do is try and achieve this as much as possible.
If you have a slow cooker, you could cook nutritious meals ahead of time and freeze these to ensure you continue to eat well during the 14 days (if there are no power outages likely). You’ll find meal ideas in my article on what to cook in a solid ceramic pot.
Many online sources advise on what to stock up on. USNews Health is an example. But it helps to have a list where you can calculate what you need and then print it off.
I’ve done up two lists, depending on whether or not your power supply is likely to be disrupted. The food items are grouped into categories and the lists include other essential items to cover your needs during the extended stay at home.
You can customize these lists to suit your situation, as every household has its own needs. Special items to consider and add where necessary include the needs of pregnant women, the very young, the elderly, or the infirmed.
Emergency pantry list templates (Google sheets)
These pantry list templates are customizable. They are prefilled with recommended products. You just need to copy the file and then you can complete it to suit your situation and then print it off, email it, or export it to a folder on your device.
Basically, to complete this template, you just add your estimated daily quantity for the household to the middle column. The form is set up to auto-calculate the 14 days’ amount in the right-hand column.
Click for a template that you can copy and customize (Google sheets)
Click for a template that you can copy and customize (Google sheets)
If you don’t have a Google account to access these templates, I’ve put them in another format (pdf) for easy access. Although, these are not editable online and you will need to print them to fill them out.
PDF format of the pantry list
You’ll get immediate access to these, no need to subscribe or exchange email address…
Power running? Click here for the power-on emergency pantry list (pdf)
Power disrupted? Click here for the power-off emergency pantry list (pdf)
In case of a situation without power, when stocking your pantry, you need to aim for ready-to-eat products that don’t require cooking.
Emergency pantry list – no power – what you need to know
If there’s no electricity, use what you can of the chilled and frozen foods first while your refrigerator and freezer retain their coldness.
Having a gas cooktop or an outdoor grill will be helpful in these situations. I cover some good outdoor grills in this article.
If you have such alternative cooking means, get out your cookware and prepare meals from these foods first, at least while they are still viable, that is, within safe use-by limits.
As a guide…without power, four hours is a safe time limit for foods in the refrigerator and 1 day for frozen foods. It will depend on external temperatures and how much you open the appliance. Try keeping the opening of these appliances to a minimum.
A thermometer is ideal to ensure this food storage does not exceed 42.8 ºF (6 ºC).
Freshly cooked meals stored without refrigeration (at room temperature) remain safe for up to four hours after preparation. This may vary depending on the temperature in the room. Room temperature is usually considered to be 68-77 ºC (20-25 ºC).
Opening the refrigerator and freezer as least as possible will help keep the food viable for longer.
Make sure you eat fruit, vegetables, and bread before the long-life products (canned, preserved, or dried foods).
Check and rotate the food items so that the items stay within their use-by dates.