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Creating A Last-Minute Food Stash For Potential Quarantine

Avatar for Samantha Biggers Samantha Biggers  |  Updated: March 13, 2020
Creating A Last-Minute Food Stash For Potential Quarantine

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Over the last week, more people have started to realize that they should heed warnings and make sure that they have some emergency supplies and food on hand. With all the pictures of big stores and small grocery stores being out of stock on some items, those that have still not stocked up are a bit intimidated or at least at a loss as to what to do.

While it is easy for a lot of people to say that so and so should have been prepared before and say I told you so, that is not helpful behavior. Most people that prep started somewhere and that somewhere is often caused by a disruptive event.

Some of us grew up in households where preparedness and looking ahead were part of everyone’s lifestyle.

That is a rarer thing for people today, especially the younger generation.

Many were simply not taught to be prepared people. I wouldn’t be sitting here typing this today if the older people in my family, especially my father had not taught me the importance of preparedness and how to go about it.

If you were prepared well before COVID-19 made the news then that is great. People that are ahead of the game help take the pressure off of the supply chain while others are scrambling to prepare.

The COVID-19 outbreak has made a lot of people into preppers. Even when this is over, the people that started realizing the importance of preparedness will keep those lessons within them and be changed people that are better able to provide for themselves and their families during any disruptive event.

So with that said, I am going to dive into this post on creating a last-minute food stash from items I have found that are still available, shelf-stable, and versatile for creating a variety of meals regardless of how experienced of a cook you are. These items can all be delivered to your door at the moment but since the situation is constantly evolving, the availability of items I list in this post may change at any moment.

I wrote this article fairly fast. I apologize in advance if you feel anything was left out or for any errors. I wanted to get you this information before it becomes even harder to prepare.

Meals need to be balanced at least most of the time for overall health and well being.

Think about how to combine meat, vegetables, and starches. In order to conserve meat products, you can utilize the high protein content found in beans or add a little of both to get the protein levels up in a meal. I already know that some of the foods listed here are salty, heavily processed, etc but this is an emergency situation.

Yes, you may not feel the best if you have to suddenly change your diet but staying fed and with a good balance of meat, veggies, and starches or grains is better than finding yourself at home with not much to pick and choose from or getting nervous because you are starting to deplete your supply. Make an effort not to wast as much. Sometimes cooking things in several different pots can allow you to make more creative use of leftovers.

Keystone Beef

These cans of beef are great. At the moment I could only find shredded beef in stock but Keystone also produces canned ground beef. You can get smaller cans but they are not nearly as cost-effective.

Keystone Turkey

Turkey is fairly low calorie but it is a source of protein worth mentioning.

Canned Chicken

Keystone is a brand that is consistently good. Look for smaller cans of generic chicken or when in doubt, search for Swanson’s.

Bisquick Baking Mix or Similar Brand

A lot of name brand Bisquick is sold out but there are many other brands out there to choose from.

Pancake Mixes

The really small packets are not usually the best deal but at this point, you may have to take what you can get. Try to find larger bags and boxes if you can.

Quick Oats

These are excellent as a hot cereal and they add extra nutrition and flavor to bread.


A good all-purpose flour and some self-rising flour are good to have on hand. For gluten-free flour, I recommend Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 Gluten Free.

Masa Harina

When I had to stop eating wheat products we started making our own tortillas. It is actually really easy to make tortillas and it can save money. Here is a link to another brand. So many things are selling out quickly.


Grits are a staple in the South but they are often overlooked in other areas. They are very high calorie and can be used as a base for many meals or allowed to get cold and made into patties and fried. The link above is to the quick version for those that don’t want to stir grits for 20 minutes.

Tomato Paste

A 24 pack of tomato paste will last a long time. This is very concentrated stuff that you can use as a base for soups, pasta sauces, and more. The Muir Glen Organic Tomato Paste show above is an excellent value and inexpensive despite being organic. Tomato paste takes up a lot less space in your pantry than conventional canned pasta sauces.

Convenience Foods

Uncle Ben’s Rice

These rice pouches are really convenient and come in many flavors. One of the more popular varieties is the 4 Cheese. You can combine an Uncle Ben’s pouch with some meat or veggies and enjoy a complete meal.

Hormel Completes

These are small meals that you can just throw in the microwave. There are many flavors available. They are not low sodium.

Tasty Bite Entrees

Tasty Bite offers entrees in a pouch featuring classic Indian cuisine. They are also vegetarian although, in an emergency, I think a lot of people might change their minds about not eating meat.

Prego Ready Meals

amazon product

Prego and Pace both make Ready Meals. Flavors and availability vary due to massive demand but some are still available. The Pace Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla flavor can be consumed by those that don’t eat wheat.

Chef Boyardee

I used to love this stuff when I was a kid. Not sure if it is the same as it used to be. Selection is becoming limited. I was able to find beefaroni and cheese stuffed ravioli still for sale via Wal-Mart’s online store.

Suddenly Salad Pasta Salad Mix

Pasta salad kits are easy and versatile. Add in some canned meat or whatever else you have to mix in and you have a meal. You do need some oil or mayo for most of these kits.

Canned and Dried Fruit

Apple Sauce

Inexpensive apple sauce can be eaten alone or on pancakes, grit cakes, or even in hot cereals. Even the Great Value brand linked above doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup in it. You can also get apple sauce that is not sweetened if desired.

Dole Canned Tropical Fruit

My Dad likes the Dolefruit in a jar that can be easily resealed and refrigerated but it is sold out a lot of places. Fruit cups are still available but they are expensive compared to cans.

Dried Fruit

Big bags of dried cranberries and raisins are still available and they are good on cereals both hot and cold. You can also use them in pancakes or breads.

Oils, Spices, and Yeast

Butter can be frozen for up to a year. Grape seed oil is excellent for frying and high heat cooking.

Spices are very important when cooking from scratch. Be sure to stock up on spices. Chili powder, taco seasoning, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and seasoning salt are a few of the basic spices that come to mind.

Soy sauce is another excellent item to have for adding flavor. It adds a lot to beef stews and soups.

I recommend buying a container of bread yeast so that you can make some yeast breads while stuck at home. Buy a jar rather than the packets. I have never found packets to be cost-effective.

Tea and Coffee

A 100 pack of green tea bags go a long way. It is an even better deal to get loose tea and a tea ball but not as convenient for some people.

A 5 lb bag of roasted coffee is a good thing to buy if you are a coffee drinker.

Other Foods

  • Bulk rice if you can find it
  • Tuna, herring, and other canned fish
  • Dried soup mixes

Electrolytes and Vitamins

I wrote an article on electrolytes that I will refer you to for some suggestions. A big bottle of vitamins is also recommended to fill in any gaps in your diet.

Luxury Items and Treats

Allow yourself some treats. Chocolate, candy, soda, etc are all items that I can think of. If you drink, consider a box of wine, case of beer, or a bottle of liquor.

What about frozen foods?

If you have freezer space then, by all means, make some use of it. Frozen vegetables and meats are great to have and freezing can allow you to buy larger packages and save money. Schwan’s and Instacart will deliver frozen foods to you as well but Schwan’s is more expensive than a regular grocery store.

I would recommend making the most of your freezer space by picking foods that are low on the packaging and deliver a lot of calories or nutrition for the amount of space they take up. If you happen to experience a power outage, then the frozen foods should be consumed first.

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12 Responses to “Creating A Last-Minute Food Stash For Potential Quarantine”

  1. Looking at the list which included “salty” foods and we do buy these products along with some that are highly “seasoned”. When we use these items we add the main item in equal parts, i.e. for mac & cheese we add pasta to the mix, rice mixes we add rice to cut the problem.

  2. Well, I did it. I went to the store. I asked for TP as I was checking out. Was told it was there at 8 am…I was shopping at 11:30 and it was gone. I don’t need TP, I only asked to seem “normal”. What did I buy, you ask? Well, I got 6 bags of M&M’s, 4 quarts of half and half, some chips and 2 cans of chili. Oh, and 2 cans of nuts. I only needed the first 2, but I went in the store, so I added enough to my cart to seem like the rest of the crowd. (I may have picked up some milk too, I don’t recall right now)

    I was taken aback by how empty the shelves at Aldi’s were. I am hoping that it is because the people who normally stock those shelves were too busy at the registers (all 3 were open with big lines) to bring out more cases of food. I am praying that it isn’t a “just in time” delivery failure that will repeat itself as this thing progresses in my area.

    I was forced to go out to the pharmacy today (out of one of my regular non-essential meds) I was alarmed at how empty the shelves of fever reducer for children were. (was going to get a cheap one to have on hand in case my granddaughter needed it and her parents (not known for thinking ahead) needed it) There wasn’t a bottle of liquid left, so I am hoping they have some, since she is currently teething.

    I told you not to make me go out there. Now I am worried about the supply chain breaking. On an optimistic note, this climate change/global warming is making it so I can plant almost a month early (esp the cold weather crops….yum….fresh peas)

    Wash your hands folks and stay safe out there.

  3. “The COVID-19 outbreak has made a lot of people into preppers.”

    Sadly, I don’t think this is going to be the case long-term… maybe for a few of the early adopters, yes, but it seems like most people are just panic-buying in response to the empty store shelves they’re seeing on the media. So few people maintain even a basic kitchen “pantry” anymore that it’s sad, let alone prepare for an actual emergency. I fear a lot of people will be kicking themselves later after having bought stuff they don’t normally eat, just because it was all that remained available on store shelves while they were panicking.

  4. I agree with Really_Old_Guy that people should buy and store what they normally eat. But the suggestions in the article are a good starting point for a newbie to go out and pick up some extra supplies to hold them over. This article was not intended for those of us that have been prepping for years.

    But today, the WHO declares the Coronavirus a pandemic. Perhaps this incident will awaken the sheeple to start thinking that prepping might not be a bad idea and start planning for themselves. Hopefully more people become preppers and start learning basic skills like cooking, baking and gardening. I personally don’t expect a newbie to learn how to skin a rabbit or use a bow drill to start a fire. But they need to start somewhere.

    This Coronavirus issue is going to be more than just preventing the spread and containment of the virus. It’s going to be more than stopping some boomers from their future retirement date. It’s going to have a huge impact on job loss for many. It’s going to effect a wide range of goods that are imported into this country, inflation and so much more. So if this event turns some of my neighbors into preppers , then I also benefit.

    Keep prepping folks.

  5. Please folks, stick with what you NORMALLY eat. Don’t go rushing out to buy canned meats (if that is not one of your staples. Same with yeast and flour…if you’re not into baking breads, forget about it…it’ll likely go to waste AND waste your food dollars.

    Be reasonable, and stop panicking. If it isn’t available (whatever your favorite food) buy something else that you ACTUALLY eat a lot of all the time. If you’re a hot-dog-and-macaroni person, stay away from the ‘suggestions’ about canned herring, powdered milk, and bulk rice.

    Okay, that was my two cents worth.

  6. Coles has limited toilet paper to 1 pack of 30 per family, so people on pensions such as my self can get their hands on some toilet paper.
    I’ve been a prepper since late 2016, so I have a lot of toilet paper in stock. However, I want to blend in with everyone else, so I go shopping for toilet paper as well. When I can’t find any, I moan and groan and complain like the rest of them.
    Once this disaster has settled down, some people will wake up and become preppers, others will go back to sleep until the next disaster strikes, and then they will start carrying on like sheep. Again.

    There is a shop called Cheap as chips, in Hamilton Australia, which is where I live. You can get a lot of things cheaply, they do sell food, but not as much. What they sell though, seeds, tools, outdoor things, homewares etc is actually very good.
    There is another outdoor goods shop that is opening soon (I Hope). If it does then I will be able to get some outdoor camping things from that shop as well as Cheap as chips.
    To lessen the stress of my prepping, I cut it down to summer and winter preps. It’s Autumn here so I can concentrating on getting a lot of soup, black out items and other things for winter.
    We have had the summer from hell here. This winter is likely to be cold, with a lot of wind and rain, flooding and the seasonal flu making its rounds.
    For hot drinks drink Lemon or peppermint or mint tea, they will get rid of the muck in your lungs. it works for me. I drink Lemsip from time to time as well.
    I have also included several first aid kits in my supplies.

    I have also included chocolates, vitamins, sanitary products, and books as part of my preps.

  7. Availability of products depends on where you live and where you shop. I’ve been doing some shopping both online and in-store and haven’t found a pattern to which stores are running out of which supplies, although it appears that Costco is running out of all relevant supplies. I live in Cottonwood, AZ, and of the two Walmarts closest to me, one was low on everything and the other was still loaded. However, both were out of Augason Farms long-term storage cans. I’ve heard from friends who live in small towns and big cities who can’t find hand sanitizers, but I found some in the paint dept. of Home Depot. Also, a local dollar store had plenty of name-brand toilet paper, along with the food they normally stock. My advice to last-minute shoppers is to forget about the big stores and go to dollar stores, hardware stores, and maybe even offbeat discount stores.

  8. Good list. I fear for our supply chain. Those who choose to “wait and see” might find themselves surprised on how little there is to see when the real panic comes to a town near them.

    (Toilet paper? Really? the shelves are empty of TP? Silly silly people….rice and beans I expect, TP? Not so much)

    I think I need to go shopping and see for myself what is going on out there. I hate shopping. Don’t make me, please.

    • The only time there was a shortage of TP in America was at the beginning of the oil embargo in the 1970s. Johnny Carson made a joke about ‘what’s next a TP shortage?’ The next day panicked people cleaned out the stock. It took about 4-5 days for stores to get more. Most shortages will be due to panic not an actual shortage.

  9. Don’t forget Quinoa, which is high in protein. Also, rice + beans or lentils = a complete protein. Locally (northwestern NJ) I don’t see food supplies dwindling, but cleaning and paper products (especially toilet paper) are flying off the shelves in many stores.

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