COVID-19 tips and resources

Planning your pantry for COVID-19

With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the globe, eating nutritious foods and having an adequate access to food is now top of mind for many.

To help ease some of the confusion, we’ve collated some steps to take to help you feel prepared regarding your food supply, in the event you need to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Preparing your household for quarantine

Recently, we’ve seen people flocking to the stores to stock up on pantry staples. Panic-buying food places greater strain on the poorest and most vulnerable members of our community and increases the risk of food insecurity and poor health. Being sensible at the supermarket is key to looking after the health of our whole community.

In the event of needing to self-quarantine, it’s important to have a plan. This is especially the case if you or a family member falls ill and you can’t leave the house. Making a plan that works for your household (rather than just stockpiling lots of food) means you are well prepared. It’s also more considerate of others in your community.

Step 1: Look at what you already have

The first step is to look at what you already have. Check out what you have in your pantry and freezer and look at their use-by date. You may even be able to free up space at the back of the freezer by throwing out those ‘forgotten foods’ that may no-longer be safe to consume. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) provides some handy tips regarding safe handling and storage of food at home.

Step 2: Make a list

Next, make a list of longer lasting and shelf stable foods from the major food groups as outlined below to guide you at the supermarket. Purchase items your household will eat and enjoy, to prevent future food wastage. For canned food, check you have a working can opener (or choose cans with ‘ring pulls’).

Step 3: Go shopping

Food items to consider:

  • Fruit: Fresh fruit (choose those that last longer such as apples, bananas and citrus fruits), frozen fruits, dried fruit (eat in small amounts) and canned varieties.
  • Vegetables: Fresh produce (choose those that last longer, such as potatoes, onions, carrots, pumpkin, and cabbage), frozen vegetables and canned vegetables (e.g. tinned tomatoes, corn, beetroot etc).
  • Cans of soup
  • Protein sources:
    • Canned fish (e.g. salmon, tuna or sardines)
    • Legumes (canned or dried)
    • Nuts and seeds (including nut butters)
    • Long life milk (UHT or powdered milk)
  • Grains: Consider a range of grains such as rice, pasta, quinoa, cous cous, rolled oats and cereals. Freezing a loaf of bread or wraps can also extend its freshness and shelf life.
  • Long life sauces/herbs and spices: Relying on shelf-stable foods, can increase the sodium in our diet, as salt is used to help preserve foods. Having a range of herbs and spices on hand can help boost the flavour of foods without needing to extra salt.
  • Foods for enjoyment: In times of isolation and uncertainty, having foods that are a source of comfort, or a reminder of daily routine, can be beneficial for your mental health. Some examples include coffee or chocolate. While you won’t need much, it’s important they’re not forgotten.

Step 4: Get cooking

At the moment, it’s best to focus on easy recipes with simple ingredients. It is also worth cooking a little extra so you have a few meals prepared and frozen in the freezer. This helps to provide meal variety and — if you were to fall ill — means you have a nutritious option ready to go.

For recipe ideas from APDs, see DA’s Smart Eating Recipe collection. Many of these can be easily adapted for canned or frozen goods, and many can be made in batches and frozen for future use. Here are some good examples:

For more information about food and your health provision, chat to your local Accredited Practising Dietitian.

Be sure to check out these other Fast Facts:

Keep up to date with the current situation with COVID-19