COVID-19 has changed the world as we know it. You go to the stores to find most of the shelves empty. There is no toilet paper, baby wipes are gone, food is flying off the shelves… what do you do?!

First things, do not panic. We are going to get through this and we will do this together. But the first step is planning in a calm state of mind so you can focus on the things you need without going overboard or spending a fortune. Try to create an emergency stockpile of food that would feed your family for at least two weeks (recommended by the CDC).

You need to have a plan. When you don’t have a lot of money to spend on creating an extensive emergency stockpile, you need to strategize on how you can maximize the amount of food you can get to feed your family.

You are also likely going to have items on your list that may be sold out when you go to the grocery store. Do not panic if you cannot get an item. You may need to go to the store more than once, or wait a few days for an item to come back in stock.

Remember to be flexible, creative, and find alternatives. And be purposeful with the items you purchase. Let’s get started…


There’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you are prepared for the worst.

-Stephen King, Different Seasons

What foods should you stock up on for the Corona virus?

The first items you will want to purchase in creating a stockpile is foods that last a long time. Non-perishable foods that are low cost and have a high nutritional value. I cannot stress the high nutritional value part enough.

Your immune system operates at its very best when you feed it the vitamins, minerals, and macro nutrients it needs. If you or someone in your family gets sick, you want your bodies immune system to be operating at its maximum potential to fight off the infection. Healthy foods will keep your families immune system strong during a time it could be vulnerable from stress and possibly being exposed to the virus.

The goal here is to be our healthiest selves, because if we are unlucky and catch the virus, we want our immune systems to be ready to fight it off!

Also, keep in mind the things that your family will actually eat. There is no purpose in buying 15 cans of green beans if your family hates them. 

Here is a list of the low costing Non-Perishable Healthy Foods…

  • Brown Rice
  • Pasta- macaroni, penne, spaghetti, lasagna noodles, shells, orzo, etc.
  • Beans- refried beans, black beans, white beans, pinto beans, etc.
  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Crackers
  • Canned tuna, chicken, salmon
  • Popcorn kernals
  • Flour, white sugar, brown sugar
  • Olive oil, coconut oil, vegetable oil, butter
  • Spices- cinnamon, cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, cayenne pepper, basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, bay leaves, crushed red peppers, and nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic Salt
  • Baking powder and baking soda
  • Cornmeal
  • Peanuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, cashews
  • Peanut Butter
  • Jelly
  • Jello
  • Pudding
  •  Cereal
  • Canned vegetables and fruit: corn, green beans, beets, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, pineapple, pears, etc.
  • Raisins

How to build an emergency food supply?

You will want to make sure you have enough staple pantry ingredients. It is relatively low cost to keep a two to three month supply of flour, sugar, oil, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. These basic ingredients can be used to make other meal staples such as muffins, breads, tortillas, and recreate the same dishes with different flavors.

Try to avoid buying boxed meals such as Hamburger Helper, Top Ramen, Pasta Roni, etc. While these items may be cheap, they are high in sodium, saturated fat, and just overall bad for your health. You can also get a lot more for your money with plain rice and pasta then add your own flavorings.

If you are looking for quick and easy meals, the best way to do this at a low cost is making meals in bulk and freezing them!  Instead of buying a bunch of canned soups, it is so much cheaper (and better for your health!) to make your own. If you make a large batch, you can freeze any leftovers and it will stay good in the freezer for up to 3 months. For soup recipes that are freezer friendly and more tips, go HERE.

Since stores have been running out of stock of many items, it may require going back to check the stock of an item a few times a week to be able to get enough supply for your family. Because you are trying to build an emergency stockpile on a budget, you will want to gradually add stock to your pantry. Do this as you can afford to. Even buying an extra $20 of groceries a week will help add to your emergency stockpile!

How to buy and store fresh foods for your emergency food supply?

It can be hard buying enough fresh fruits and vegetables to last a few weeks without most of them going bad by week 2. But if you plan out which fruits and veggies you should eat first, it really is doable!

Here is a list of the fruits and vegetables you will want to use up first, week by week…

Week One:
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries
  •  Grapes
  • Green beans
  • Bagged lettuce
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Cilantro
  • Green onions
  • Parsley
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumber
  • Zucchini

Tip: To keep herbs lasting into the following week, cut off the ends and remove any pieces that are wilted. Use a mason jar and place them in about an inch of water. Place the herbs facing upright with the cut off ends in the water. Close the lid and place back into the fridge. 

This should keep your herbs lasting at least another week or more!

Week Two:

  • Asparagus
  • Bell peppers
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Peaches
  • Eggplant
  • Avocados (if you keep them in the fridge)
  • Pears
  • Mangos (if you keep them in the fridge)
Tip: I usually keep my apples, citrus fruits, onions, and pomegranates in a fruit basket like this one.  As I start getting more room in the fridge, I put the apples, oranges, limes, and onions in the fridge so they last longer!

Week Three and Four

  • Apples
  • Oranges, clementines, lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Pomegranates
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Yams
  • Carrots
  • Squashes: acorn, butternut, spaghetti, etc.
If you want more variety during weeks three and four, the best way to do this is by adding frozen fruits and vegetables. Any leftover berries from week one? Freeze them! Corn, green beans, peas and carrots, brussel sprouts are all great frozen.
Also, another way of keeping fruits and vegetables fresh longer is by using the Debbie Meyer Green Bags. They will help your fruits and vegetables stay fresh even longer than the timelines above. The bags are pretty inexpensive, especially since you’re not throwing away money by letting food go bad. The best part is they are reusable! You can get them from Bed Bath and Beyond or on amazon.

Another way of utilizing fresh fruits and vegetables if there is not a lot of dry goods left in the stores is by making freezer meals with fresh foods. Here is a list of 101 Freezer meals loaded with veggies!

Perishables that last a long time.

There are still perishable foods in the refridgerator and freezer that will last a few weeks to months. You will want to also keep these basic essentials on hand.

  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Oil
  • Block cheese
  • Grated or shredded parmesan cheese
  • String Cheese
  • Unopened Yogurt
  • Mayo
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Maple syrup
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Frozen fruits
  • Frozen meats
  • Frozen bread
  • Pickles
  • Condiments

Where to buy foods for cheap when Sam’s Club and Costco are sold out of everything?!

 Sams and Costco have been mad houses lately. To be honest, I have been trying to avoid Sams Club at all costs. The next best cheap place to buy large quantities of food for your family is Winco. Which has also been pretty busy, but they have done a great job of keeping their shelves stocked with food. The shelves haven’t been as full as they normally are but, hey, at least you can get the items you need!

Another tip, if you are having a really difficult time finding a certain item, I would suggest going to the store first thing in the morning and be in line before the store opens. Most stores have been gradually putting their ‘high demand’ items much slower so that everyone that actually needs it has a chance to purchase it throughout the week.

Another option, is some stores (such as Sams Club and Costco) have been updating their website throughout the day. If you check back enough times, you will see they have stock for a short period of time until they sell out again. I know that Target also does the same thing.


The best way to get through these tough times is staying positive, focus on your health and feeding your body nutritious foods. For more more ways to save money on groceries see these posts below.