Coronavirus Pandemic: Healthy Staples That Last in Your Pantry

A woman shops for produce at the grocery store
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Now that coronavirus has caused many schools and businesses to close and federal, state and local governments to recommend staying home, you’ll need a set of staples to rely on, both in the pantry and the refrigerator.

Although grocery stores and restaurants offering takeout options are still open, it’s a good idea to buy extra food and supplies to have on hand for up to two weeks.

Infographic: Stock Your Pantry With Health Staples That Last

What Types of Food to Buy to Stock Your Kitchen

When buying extra food to store, canned goods, dry mixes and other non-perishable foods that don’t need to be refrigerated are the best options.

You should also choose foods that you know your family will eat, taking into account any special dietary needs or food allergies. You may also want to buy a few comfort foods for your family to enjoy while you’re at home. Don’t forget to buy extra food for your pets, too.

Your Shopping List: Healthy Staples That Keep Well

Some suggestions for healthy foods that will keep well in your pantry include:

  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Canned or dried soups
  • Dried beans, grains and trail mix
  • Nut butter, like peanut or almond
  • Protein, granola or cereal bars
  • Shelf-stable, boxed dairy or non-dairy milk

Stock Up on Cooking Staples, Too

Before you head to the store, don’t forget to check your shelves and stock up on any staples you may need, like:

  • Coffee or tea
  • Bouillon cubes or powder
  • Oatmeal
  • Rice
  • Salt, pepper and other spices
  • Sugar
  • Vitamins

Tips for Storing and Using Dry and Canned Foods

To get the longest shelf life from your canned or dried foods, store them in a dark, dry, cool place, ideally between 40 and 70 degrees.

To extend the shelf life of opened dry foods and keep them as fresh as possible, place leftovers in freezer bags or airtight containers.

Commercially canned foods are a good choice for your pantry because they are already cooked and can be eaten directly from the container if needed. They also keep for long periods. Home-canned foods are also a good choice, but generally should only be kept on hand for about a year.

In general, canned foods that are high in acid, such as fruits and tomatoes, will keep for up to 18 months. Those that are low in acid, such as vegetables and meats, will keep for up to five years.

Don’t eat food from cans that are rusted, dented or swollen. Once you’ve opened a can, remove leftovers and place them in a nonmetallic container in your refrigerator or freezer.

Understanding Dates on Food Labels

There are several kinds of dates that you may see on your packaged food to indicate quality. These may include:

  • A best-if-used-by-or-before date: indicates when a product will have its best flavor or quality
  • A freeze-by date: tells you when a product should be frozen to keep its peak quality
  • A sell-by date: tells the store up to which date the product should be displayed for sale
  • A use-by date: the last date recommended to use the product at peak quality

Except for infant formula, it’s generally safe to eat foods after the dates listed on the label until the food appears spoiled. You can tell that a food is spoiled if it has an off odor, texture or flavor. If a food looks or smells spoiled, don’t eat it.

Storing Infant Formula

Unlike other food labels, the use-by date on the product label of infant formula is meant to be followed for safety reasons. Using the product by this date ensures that the formula contains the exact quantity of each nutrient as it is listed on the label. This guarantees that the formula will be able to pass through the nipple of a nursing bottle. Don’t buy or use infant formula after this date.

Learn More About Preparing for Coronavirus

At AdventHealth, we’re dedicated to providing you with information to help keep you and your family safe during this pandemic. Visit our Coronavirus Resource Hub for our latest tips and updates.

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