Your Essential Quarantine Supply List: What You’ll Actually Need for a Few Weeks at Home
By now you’ve surely heard that store shelves have been emptied of toilet paper and hand sanitizer—and we totally get that that stuff is very necessary in a quarantine. But those aren’t the only things you’ll need to settle in for a few weeks (or more) at home.
So what else do you need? With the number of U.S. states issuing “shelter in place” orders growing, we wanted to put together a definitive quarantine supply guide—before the panic buying gets any worse.
After speaking with several medical and shopping experts, we rounded up the must-have items you’ll need for an extended stay at home—much of which you can buy online (amen!).
While fresh is always best, it might not always be possible in the coming weeks, with many grocery shelves cleared out of fresh produce and other perishables. That’s where having a good-size stash of canned food comes in handy.
“All food items—canned food, dry goods, frozen food—are obviously must-haves for quarantine,” says shopping expert Tiara Rea-Palmer of CouponFollow.
She recommends having enough canned goods to feed your family for a week.
“This is more because consumers are overstocking and buying everything in sight than anything else,” she explains. “Odds are, you will still be able to pick up some canned, frozen, and dry items at local grocery stores. But in case people are panic buying, try to have a week’s worth on hand.”
Shop for a selection of canned goods you can use to make quick meals at home, like soups, beans, and other nutrient-rich vegetables.
While you’re shopping for canned goods, don’t forget to pick up a few other nonperishable food items as well.
“Nonperishables don’t just mean canned goods,” says Dr. Steve Hertzler, nutrition scientist and registered dietitian with Abbott. “While it’s important to stock up on a mix of dry goods like rice and pasta, and liquid canned goods like tomatoes, beans, tuna, and soups, don’t forget nonperishables like nuts and seeds.”
“Sunflower seeds and oil, almonds, hazelnuts, and peanut butter are sources of Vitamin E and zinc, which can help support immune health,” he adds.
With your diet becoming less predictable in the coming weeks and months, it’s also not a bad idea to stock up on a few vitamin and electrolyte-rich formulas that will help you stay healthy or recover if you do become sick.
“Electrolytes are critical to bodily functions, and you can help prevent mild to moderate dehydration with rehydration solutions, like Pedialyte,” Hertzler says. “Other options to add variety to your general fluid intake include teas and flavored waters, or even Ensure.”
Ensure—which has protein, vitamin A, zinc, and antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium—can help provide the calories and nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy, or help you recover if you become ill.
“All of these options will keep in your pantry, so feel free to stock up,” he says.
When it comes to having the variety you need to cook healthy meals, don’t forget to make good use of your freezer. Store fresh veggies, freeze meat, and snag some bags of easy-prep meals or ingredients.
“Try getting a variety of different items—that way, you can cook a multitude of meals from limited ingredients,” Rea-Palmer says.
And don’t stop your meal planning just because you’re no longer packing to-go containers for office lunches. In fact, it might be more important now than ever.
“Even though you’re not on the go, preparing and portioning out meals and snacks can help your food supply last longer,” Hertzler says.
For instance, try cooking a batch of chicken breasts that you can slice and add to salads for lunch or serve with rice or pasta at dinner. If you make extra, just pop it in the freezer and pull out when you’re running low.
“Pet food and pet care items like cat litter, doggie pads, and medications are another necessity for pet owners,” Rea-Palmer says. “This is something many people forget about until it’s too late, but luckily you can usually get these from Amazon, Walmart, Target, and even pet food subscription services like Ollie or Grocery Pup.”
Call your veterinarian to stock up on any necessary medications, or use an online service like 1-800-PetMeds.
Speaking of meds, don’t forget about your own. Having some fever-reducers like Tylenol can be helpful in the event that you become sick—but even more important, you should also plan on having a generous supply of the meds you take on a daily basis.
“Call your doctor or health care provider to ensure you can get at least one month’s worth of meds at your pharmacy,” Rea-Palmer says. “To limit going out, see if you can get your medications delivered.”
With most of our favorite gadgets being rechargeable, it’s easy to forget about the ones that aren’t. And this is not exactly a convenient time to run out of ways to charge your stuff.
“One thing to stock up on for a few weeks at home are a few extra batteries and chargers for the devices you wouldn’t be OK without for any amount of time,” says shopping expert Stacy Caprio of Deals Scoop. “This means extra batteries for your fire alarm, a few flashlights, any lamps you use regularly, and any other items you depend on that use batteries.”
You should also consider an extra phone charger in case something happens to yours, she adds, and any other chargers you use often enough where it might be helpful to have a spare.
Personal hygiene products
Hand sanitizer is great, but you know what’s even better? Plain old hand soap. So don’t stress if your local supermarket ran out of the alcohol-based products. Just be sure to stock up on the personal hygiene products you normally need, and plenty of hand soap to keep germs from spreading in your home.
“Keep in mind: Any kind of soap will do,” Rea-Palmer says. “It’s washing your hands for 20 seconds under hot water that matters. Make sure you have deodorant, shampoo, and face cleansers as well as lotions since you’ll be washing your hands a lot.”
And while it probably goes without saying, grab some toilet paper and paper towels while you’re out—if you see them, that is.
Things to keep busy
Amid the rush to get out and buy all the food and hygiene products, don’t forget about picking up a few things to help preserve your mental health as well.
“Quarantine can be hard on all of us for different reasons, so try to keep your mind sharp by doing puzzles, downloading math or brain teaser apps, doing crosswords, and even consider getting some bath bombs and wine to treat yourself to some relaxation time,” Rea-Palmer says.