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Don’t “Panic Purchase”, Plan Your Purchase

Make a plan to make the most of what you buy.

Updated 10/2020

We are living in strange times. My guess is nearly every generation could say that and they’d be right, for different reasons.

Novel Coronavirus is on our minds as it continues to impact our personal and professional lives. We are starting to see headlines about lifestyle choices, food in particular, to help “save” us.

We really can’t eat our way out of emergencies in most cases, despite some (inaccurate) headlines suggesting there is a magical solution in times of concern.

We CAN make really simple, incredibly helpful choices that support us every day. Like eating balanced meals, getting enough sleep and proper activity, as well as washing our hands.

I am not a doctor. I am not a virus expert. I am a health professional, nutrition in particular.

The good news is, this is a great reminder that we can and should stock our kitchens so we can make balanced, intentional meals on a moment’s notice.

canned vegetables food safety
Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

We can include canned, fresh, dried, and frozen foods to ensure that even if the power goes out, we are covered. If there are things that happen, from weather disasters to outbreaks, we can prepare our cars, homes, and offices to make our existence as safe and as healthy as possible.

Yes, some of the pantry staples will be higher in sodium for food safety reasons. Isn’t it cool that salt in this role has a purpose that helps us? It simply means that we need to pair these items with lower sodium options to balance out the meal/snack/day.

We don’t need to panic. We need to prepare. For particular details for any national or international situation, follow the CDC, your doctor’s advice, and other experts in whatever is going on at the time. Who you choose to listen to is incredibly important in these moments.

In the meantime, here is a basic checklist to inspire your readiness at any time of year, in many circumstances (and don’t forget to rotate your stock so you are up to date – you can use all of these items year round):

Soap (hand, dish, laundry, shampoo, household cleaners, etc.)

Toilet paper

First aid kit

Bottled water (Emergency preparedness is a very good reason for this type of product)

Hand sanitizer and other products for yourself and on surfaces (see this list from CDC)

Canned fruits packed in 100% juice, water, or light syrup

Canned vegetables (drain and rinse to remove some of the sodium)

Can opener

Frozen fruits and veggies with no added sodium or fat

Popcorn (pre popped and kernels)

Mixes for muffins, pancakes, etc. (2+ g fiber/serving and whole grain)

Canned fish/chicken/meat

Dried fruits and meats

Whole grain cereal (read ingredient lists to limit added sugars)

Dry milk powder

Shelf stable milk (chocolate and white are available in cow’s milk; if other options are chosen for allergy or other reason, compare Nutrition Facts to ensure nutrition including protein)

Cooking oil





Frozen foods

Fresh items from all food groups for daily use as you normally would

For additional resources in times of emergency, talk with your doctor and click through these additional links as you wish (this is not an all inclusive list and you should always follow your doctor’s advice to do what is right for you, and work with your employer, schools, and other relevant community resources):

American Red Cross School Disaster Preparedness

Car Safety

EPA Emergency Response

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Emergency Preparedness and Response

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

USDA Food Storage and Safety

USDA Keeping Food Safe in an Emergency

By Kim Kirchherr

I am a dietitian working in food and fiber (agriculture) through retail, addressing opportunities to make things better for people and planet.