The global pandemic has forced people to stay indoors. If you are worried about running out of food supply in the upcoming days, this article is for you.
It will cover:
- Food items which last longer
- Tips on how to extend the life of fresh food
- How to consume food if availability is scarce
- Items other than food you must store
To start, we will cover the food items that you can stock up. If you went to the grocery store and ended up confused about what to pick, here is the guideline.
When storing food for a pandemic like the one we’re facing right now, you must consider 2 important attributes:
- Shelf life – how long the food lasts
- Nutritional value – the necessary nutrients and energy it provides to your body
Before we start, there is no need to panic and hoard stuff. Just stack some things up. But do share the information with friends and family to help them stay prepared.
How to consume your stock
Before we dive into the items to purchase, it is important to use your stock the smart way.
Once you have stocked up your supplies, do not start consuming from it right away. What you have stacked up is your stock if things go worse. What if the stores start closing down when you have finished most of your stock?
Until the stores are open, buy new supplies for daily use. Let your stock remain untouched. You must start using them only when you can no longer find a way to purchase new supplies.
Here are 15 items that you can store:
1. Dried Beans and Lentils(Dal)
Expiry Date: 12 months and above
- Kidney Beans(Rajma)
- Black Eyed Peas(Karamani)
- Green gram(Moong Dal)
- Various Lentils(Dal)
All the above are high on protein, carbohydrates and last for months without needing refrigeration. While storing food for a pandemic, these should be your number 1 pick.
2. Dry Fruits
Expiry Date: 6-12 months
Dry fruits are called a super food for a reason. They are small in size but packed with nutrients. Though they are on the expensive side, they are worth the value.
3. Whole grain rice
Expiry Date: 6 months
- Brown rice
In some countries, people consume white rice as a staple ingredient. In comparison, the whole grain rice has many nutritional benefits.
Firstly, it is a complex carbohydrate. It will keep your stomach filled and provide energy for longer periods. Besides, it includes higher fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
When the question comes down to survival, you are much better off eating whole grain rice compared to white rice. Quinoa is quite pricey but brown rice does not cost significantly higher than white rice.
Expiry Date: 9 -12 months
Oats can provide you the much-needed nutrition for breakfast. Except for fitness enthusiasts, most people do not prefer them. Yet you must stack some up. They are easy to store, cook and consume.
Expiry Date: 4-6 months or longer
Wheat flour provides protein and carbohydrates. How long the flour lasts depends on the type of flour you purchase. Whole wheat flour can last shorter.
Expiry Date: 1 year or longer
Who does not like Pasta? OK, let’s admit not everyone does.
“But hey, pasta isn’t healthy,” you complain. I agree that it isn’t, especially when consumed in large quantities. Also, some of the pasta provides useless carbohydrates. In addition, it contains gluten which does not go well with everyone.
Nevertheless, the long shelf life is a reason to add it to the list.
Expiry Date: 1 year
When you hear the word cheese, you wonder how is that a healthy recommendation? But cheese is a nutrient-dense whole food. It has earned a bad name because of the dense layer on the burgers and overindulgence of the cheese-lovers.
When consumed in small quantities, cheese is a great source of protein, fat, and calcium. And no, fat isn’t bad for you. Your body needs fat to function normally. I am not referring to fat stored around the belly, but the one in the food sources.
8. Peanut butter
Expiry Date: 9 months – 1 year
Though peanut butter is high on calories and fat, it is a healthy food you must store and consume irrespective of the current situation. Again, moderation is the key.
When consumed in the right quantities, it improves your blood sugar levels, supplies necessary vitamins, minerals and helps the heart too.
9. Fruits and vegetables
Though most do not have a long shelf life, certain fruits and vegetables last longer than the others.
- Bananas(purchased raw)
You can slice the fruits and refrigerate them for an extended life span.
10. Olive Oil
Expiry date: 2 years
Olive oil is another high calorific healthy item to have on your kitchen rack. Though it has a high amount of fat, most of it is monosaturated or polysaturated. In simple words, it is the healthy kind.
Again, 1 teaspoon is plentiful for a person per day. Consumption in high quantities makes it a bad addition in your diet like any other oil.
Expiry date: 3 months
There are a variety of seeds that are beneficial for your body. Some of the examples are:
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
They provide high protein and fiber along with other nutrients to maintain a healthy blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol levels. Sprinkling some with your breakfast oats will balance your diet for the morning.
12. Dark Chocolate
Expiry date: 2 years
Dark chocolate is high on calories and function as a great source of energy. Though they are loaded with fat and sugar, one piece can give you a burst of energy. They also provide many health benefits when consumed in small quantities.
Expiry date: 4-5 weeks when refrigerated
It is hard to predict how long an egg will remain fresh. The life of an egg depends on the temperature of your surroundings. A refrigerated egg has a much longer shelf life than the one left on the kitchen rack.
To help you understand the scale of difference, a week old refrigerated egg remains fresher than the one left at room temperature for 1 day.
How to check if an egg is fresh: Take a deep bowl of water and gently place one or more eggs in it. A fresh egg sinks to the bottom. An egg that makes some contact with the bottom of the bowl is still edible. Those which float on top have turned bad and are no longer consumable.
14. Canned fish
Expiry: 3-5 years when unopened
Canned fish is among the most long-lasting food you can store. You will find canned tuna as the most common option. It provides high-quality protein and essential fatty acids.
Not everyone likes the taste of canned tuna, but tossing a few in your freezer should not harm. Do note that, once you open the can, you must consume it within a couple of days.
15. Meat and poultry
Expiry date: 9 months and above
Most people are unaware that uncooked meat can last for months when frozen. Freeze them in separate smaller portions so that you can consume parts of it without having to defrost the whole meat. If you defrost and freeze the meat again, the shelf life will significantly reduce.
Use vacuum zip pouches or boxes to further extend the life span of frozen meat.
Common items you might forget
In a hurry to stock up major food, do not forget other ingredients which are essential for your daily cooking and routine:
- Pepper Powder
- Chilli Powder
- Handwash and sanitizers
- Alcohol, soda and mixing(If you’re staying at home, might as well enjoy a drink)
- Vacuum pouches and boxes for extended shelf life
How to increase storage space in the freezer
If you have more food than space in the freezer, here are some tips to make room:
- Store things flat: The flatter you can place your food, the lesser space it will consume
- Discard the cardboard boxes
- Use zip pouches
- Label the items so that you do not have to pull items out to find what you need
- Use plastic binders. If any unopened packet has a lot of air space(like a bag of chips), open the packet and use a binder.