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Stocking your pandemic pantry

Body, Show on Corporate Home, COVID-19

As you ride out the COVID-19 pandemic, you might be tempted to buy up all the food you can at the grocery store to keep your family fed through the weeks to come.

But it's important to resist the urge to hoard, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Although everyone needs to have nonperishable foods at the ready, the USDA says our food supply chains are strong. There's no reason to panic and overbuy.

How much food do you need? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that you have enough medicines, food and other essentials to get your family through two weeks. That way, you'll be prepared if you are asked to self-quarantine or self-isolate. Plus, fewer shopping trips mean fewer chances of coming into contact with the virus.

How to stock a healthy pantry

When you go to the store, focus on foods with a long shelf life. In many cases, that means canned or frozen foods. You can supplement these longer-lasting foods with some fresh foods with a shorter life span.

Good things to have on hand include:

  • Healthy cooking oils, such as canola or olive oil.
  • Balsamic vinegar, for flavor.
  • Eggs. They last longer than many cold-storage foods.
  • Milk. Consider shelf-stable milk or nondairy milk.
  • Family packs of lean meat, fish and chicken. Separate these into smaller portions and freeze until needed.
  • Fresh produce with a longer shelf life. Try options like oranges, apples and broccoli.
  • Canned or boxed broth.
  • Canned tomatoes or tomato sauce.
  • Dried fruit for snacks.
  • Canned fruits and vegetables. Choose fruit packed in its own juice, not syrup. And pick canned vegetables labeled as low- or no-sodium.
  • Canned beans for protein. Low-sodium is a healthy choice here too.
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables. Choose frozen veggies without added sauces.
  • Dried pasta (preferably whole wheat).
  • Brown rice.
  • Hot cereals like plain oatmeal.
  • Dry cereal or granola.
  • Hard, aged cheeses.
  • Protein or fruit bars.
  • Peanut butter.
  • A variety of dried herbs and spices.
  • Food for infants, if needed.

Be prepared

It's a good idea to check out your local options for grocery delivery as well, too, in case you're unable to leave home.