How to Plan Your Food During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Wondering how to plan your food during the Coronavirus Pandemic? You’re not alone.

First and foremost, STAY CALM!  There’s no need to overrun the grocery stores and stock pile a bunch of food or toilet paper. Let’s not make additional problems – we’re in this together.

plan your food
Photo Courtesy of David Veksler via Unsplash

This is not armageddon nor is there a world food shortage. Our food supply chain is in fine working order. Food continues to be produced, shipped and stocked. There’s no reason to empty the shelves!

This is about preparing for being in our homes for an extended period. Our safe, warm, cozy homes with electricity and easy access to clean, safe drinking water. That’s more than a lot of people around the world can say on a good day!

Yes, being isolated in our homes is inconvenient, annoying, boring, lonely and all around unpleasant, but it’s manageable and much better than potentially spreading the virus to others. We will likely need to modify some of your regular food choices and eating habits, but for the most part we’ll be able to have access to most of our favorites.

How To Plan Your Food During the Coronavirus Pandemic

  1. Don’t Panic. 
  2. Plan your food based on what you normally eat. You may need to make a few adjustments to accommodate for perishable food items (see below) or out of stock items, but for the most part you should be able to prepare food like you normally would.
  3. Make a meal plan. Meal planning is especially important at times like these when it’s difficult to run to the store for forgotten items. Make a list of what you’d like to eat at breakfast, lunch, supper and snack time for the next few weeks. Then highlight any perishable food items. You’ll be able to buy some perishable food items, but you’ll also need to choose some shelf stable alternatives. If you have limited fridge or freezer space, identify which foods are a priority for that prime space (eg. ice cream, meat or vegetables). If you typically eat out, be sure to include a few delivered meals from your favorite restaurants. Yup, that’s totally okay – prepay over the phone and they can drop it at your doorstep.
  4. Have a look at what you already have. Do you have all the spices, condiments and staple ingredients (cornstarch, flour, soup stock, salsa, soy sauce, etc.) you need to make your favorites? Also, take a good look at the back of your fridge, freezer and cupboards – you may be surprised what you find – a pack of ramen, a stew you froze a month ago, a can of tomato soup, etc. Now’s a good time to eat it or clear it out. Read up on Best Before Dates before you toss anything.
  5. Make a grocery list based on your meal plan and stick to it. Don’t be tempted to toss in extras just because everyone else is buying something. If canned tuna, canned stew or dehydrated mushrooms isn’t your thing- don’t buy it!
  6. Don’t buy more than you need or can manage. We are not experiencing a food shortage, there is enough food for everyone, as long as we act responsibly. Buy what you can reasonably manage in two or three weeks. That may mean you buy one or two extra cans – not two or three cases! There’s no need to stock pile food for months on end.
  7. Water and liquids are important. Staying well hydrated is key to good health at any time. It’s even more important if anyone in your house is sick. If drinking water is not your thing, make sure you have alternate beverages on hand.
  8. Remember to add comfort foods to your list. Being isolated at home is likely to dampen your spirits, don’t make it worse by omitting foods that bring you comfort and joy.  Coffee, herbal tea, chocolate, crackers, popcorn, LaCocina tortilla chips (yes, it has to be that brand!) and nuts are on my must have list.
  9. Remember essential kitchen utility items. Don’t forget to buy dishwasher detergent, liquid soap, paper towels, etc. We know that frequently washing hands and cleaning surfaces like counters, fridge and cupboard handles is more important than ever.
  10. Consider home delivery of groceries. Now’s a good time to try home delivery of groceries, even if you’re not in isolation. Many local and large grocery stores like FoodFare, Save-On-Foods, WalMart and Real Canadian SuperStore offer home delivery service while others offer pick-up options so you don’t need to go in the store. Yes, these services are busy and it might take one to two weeks to find a time slot, but book yourself in. You know you’ll need groceries two weeks from now, so make an appointment now. Yes, you’ll need to make other arrangements for this week – but plan for today and for two weeks from now.
  11. Help others and practice social distancing. If you are not in isolation and have the ability to grocery shop, consider what you can do to reduce crowding at the store, e.g. only send one member of your family, offer to pick up items for others while you’re there, go at non-peak hours, etc.
  12. Practice good hygiene and etiquette. Wash your hands, cover your mouth – you know all the things we are being told to do. DO THEM!

Common Perishable Food Items and Possible Alternatives

Not being able to run to the store to replenish perishable food items would likely be the biggest challenge for most of us. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives that will allow us to continue to eat healthy, even under lock-down conditions. For example, is we can’t have fresh fruits and vegetables delivered, their frozen and canned counterparts are just as nutritious and can be every bit as tasty. Here are some common perishable food items and possible alternatives to try instead.

Plan Your Food Perishable Food Chart

Eating well should still be a priority, in fact, it’s more important than ever that we stay strong and healthy.  We may have fewer fresh food options, but there are still plenty of great options. And remember, we can always get groceries delivered.

Do you find this information useful? What questions or concerns do you have about food during the Coronavirus Pandemic?

I’d love to hear from you and help in any way I can.

Getty Stewart is a Professional Home Economist,  speaker, frequent media guest and writer dedicated to putting good food on tables and agendas.  She is the author of several recipe books on enjoying and preserving fruit, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener. Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this.

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    1. Glad you found it too! Yes, please share. The more people we can encourage to plan and shop rationally, the better for us all. All the best, Getty

  1. This message gives everyone who reads it a lift. We need more people supporting a “can do” optimistic approach. How lucky we are to be Canadian. We have the right government, the right merchants and the right population to weather this storm. When it ends we will only be better than ever.

    Keep up the cheer leading . the media isn’t any help at all.

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