Concerns about the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (abbreviated COVID-19) mean more of us are doing what we probably should have been doing all along: washing our hands more frequently and thoroughly; staying at home when we’re sick; stocking up on food and supplies in case that stay becomes extended.
People who may have been exposed to the new coronavirus or who get sick with COVID-19 might be advised to stay home for as long as 14 days to keep from spreading it to others, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s led many people to wonder if they could manage for two weeks at home without a run to the grocery store.
Stocking up shouldn’t mean panic-buying cases of toilet paper at the nearest warehouse store, of course. But keeping a reasonable supply of shelf-stable food and other supplies on hand makes sense for all kinds of emergencies, from natural disasters to stretches of unemployment.
Get only what’s needed
At the same time, it’s important for your wallet and your community not to hoard stuff you don’t need. You can spend a small fortune on N95 masks, for example, but those are better reserved for the health care workers who can help those who become sick enough to need treatment. Likewise, there are companies selling emergency food kits with a decadeslong shelf life, but those may include stuff you or your family just won’t eat. That’s a waste of money and food.
A better approach is to create a two-week cache of food based on the “store what you eat, eat what you store” principle that I detailed in “The Emergency Fund You Can Eat.” The basics: