The current threat of an epidemic of coronavirus has sent consumers into a shopping frenzy. Drugstores in our neighborhood have been sold out of Zinc lozenges and Clorox wipes for days. And if you shop evenings at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, whole shelves have been depleted of rice, pasta, canned beans and soup. I’ve seen cases of water and toilet paper being delivered to apartments in volumes that indicate people are scared the supply chain is about to break. Even Amazon is sold out of Cold-Eeze and Purell!
Worrying can’t help you but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared without hoarding or panicking. Carla Lalli Music published a thoughtful post in Bon Appetit on what to stock up on in case of quarantine. Her list includes the usual suspects – rice, beans, pasta, tinned fish, soup, tomatoes, olive oil, coffee, nut butter, dried fruit and frozen vegetables – as well as others that you might not have thought of – fermented vegetables, butter, miso, yogurt, eggs, flour, coconut milk and hard cheeses. I keep a pretty well stocked pantry ordinarily but I admit I doubled up on some of these items just in case. And I am not even sure what I mean by just in case – a gap in the supply chain or stores being closed? Although it seems unlikely, it is possible we will get sick or quarantined. If so, I have staples (and our usual shelves full of various bottles of wine and liquor, for medicinal purposes, of course), and it wouldn’t hurt for you to do the same. What is the downside of stocking up? Perhaps you won’t have to shop for a few weeks.
You don’t really need me to tell you how to handle this situation but here are a few suggestions. Ahead of any quarantine, make yourself (or buy) some pesto (without basil, use kale or arugula), chimichurri, kimchi, applesauce, sauerkraut and stock. Those can either be frozen or will last in the fridge for many weeks. If you do get stuck at home, here are some reminders/recipes of what you can prepare without a lot of fresh foods. With some cabbages, carrots, beets and fennel in your fridge, you can easily make fresh salads for quite some time. If you have onions, garlic, herbs and spices along with lentils, beans and grains, you can make lentil or bean soups, grain salads or bowls, rice and beans, lentil or bean chili, fried rice and curries of all sorts. With a bag of flour, you can make bread, pizza or pasta (you’ll have plenty of time). Store some seeds and oats in your larder and you can make hot cereal (some fruit spread and nuts will help), granola and crackers indefinitely. And with eggs and cheese in your fridge, there are omelets, frittatas and lasagna in your future. Great if there is no quarantine – you’ll have plenty of prepared foods to eat for weeks!
Most importantly, as all the news sources say, try to boost your immune system with healthy eating, exercise and supplements, wash your hands often and keep those hands away from your face. No one can tell yet whether warm weather will help diminish the virus but we’ll hope so. Of course, the best outcome would be containment. But as our very smart pediatrician told me, some contagion is inevitable but building your health and being prepared is do-able.