Covid-19: Taking stock - what should we be buying?

As we adapt to the new normal of Covid-19, Ciara McDonnell gives you the inside scoop on stockpiling.

Covid-19: Taking stock - what should we be buying?

THANKS in large part to the germophobe tendencies I have passed down to my eldest son, last Friday while in Lidl, he proffered a pair of plastic gloves to me before I put the coin in the trolley. 

I thought he was being mildly hysterical, but I love him, and also, I made him, so I wore those gloves and I wore them well. As we added critical coronavirus items to our trolley, we brushed off the amused glances of our fellow shoppers and threw an extra packet of biscuits in for good measure.

Today, supermarket bosses tell us not to worry — there is enough for everyone, they implore us. Musgrave (SuperValu) say they have increased stock levels to account for the fact that most of us are adding some bunker booty to our trolleys. 

When I contacted them for advice on what to stock up on, they said: “We are advising consumers that there is no need to change their shopping habits, as there is sufficient stock within the supply chain.”

Despite this cheery endorsement of enough food for all, as the situationevolves, it becomes more likely that many of us will find ourselves experiencing periods of self-isolation over the coming weeks and months. So, what do we really need to have in the house?

First, it is essential to note that this kind of a stockpile is not similar to say, a Hurricane Ophelia or Snowstorm Emma stockpile. 

That means it should consist of more than just wine, Taytos, and bread. We are looking at stocking up on items that have long shelf lives and also give major bang for their buck.

Begin by creating a stock list of what you already have. There is no point in adding 10 tins of butterbeans if your legume stock overfloweth. 

Take half an hour and write down what you have in your presses. Sort out your cupboards and your freezer to make room for a little extra.

If you are lucky enough to own a chest freezer, allow that do to a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to your self-isolation stockpile. A freezer will happily accommodate extra litres of milk, yoghurt, cheese, bread, and butter as well as all of your usual frozen staples. 

Make life a bit easier on yourself by grating cheese into a container or ziplock bag before freezing and then you can use it as you need it. Hardy herbs can be frozen too, so add some rosemary and thyme to your freezer arsenal to brighten up meals in an instant. 

Berries can be frozen, fruit like apples and pears can be cooked, pureed, and frozen in ice cube trays, to top porridge or add to little pockets of frozen pastry.

Lots of us only have access to a small freezer, and that’s OK too. You can store liquids in a space-saving fashion by pouring them into freezer bags and freezing lying flat. 

Snip links of sausages and freeze flat on a tray before decanting into a space-appropriate bag or box. Consider smaller frozen vegetables like corn and sliced carrots instead of brassicas like broccoli. 

Covid-19: Taking stock - what should we be buying?

As well as taking up more room, frozen broccoli and cauliflower don’t work so well anyway.

Should you find yourself with the time and the space, make a few freezer dinners that will come in handy. Lasagne freezes well, if you layer the meat and sauce and pasta and freeze before the final cooking stage, as does cottage pie and all kinds of tarts.

 Pasta sauces can be cooked and siphoned into jars for the freezer, where they will last for ages amongst the loaves of bread.

Lots of fruits and vegetables will store well for long periods of time in cool, dark spaces. Potatoes, onions, and garlic, along with apples, can be stored in paper bags in a cool press and will last the pace.

 Store other vegetables in the fridge to extend their lifespan — washed and wrapped in kitchen paper.

The key with planning your bunker food stock is to plan meals that you eat already. If you are not a fan of sardine sandwiches now, it is not likely you will be in the coming weeks. 

Consider what meals are in regular rotation that can utilise long-life food? For breakfast, have a rule of cereal or porridge. 

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department - if this is not possible, phone 112 or 999 and in a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999

Lunch might involve soup made from root veg like carrots, onions, and a stick of celery — all of which lasts for ages in the fridge — and a sandwich made with a protein like tuna, cheese, or ham.

Dinner might be a lentil dahl with pilau rice, or an omelette flavoured with chorizo or other cured meat that lasts for ages and is an instant flavour bomb. 

Good-quality minced beef is an easy route to family mealtime; from spaghetti and meatballs to meat loaf to homemade burgers, consider this an ultimate family staple.

Let there be no panic. You will not go hungry. The aim here is to feel as prepared as possible, should we need to hunker down for a while. 

If you are preparing your own house, use this time to consider family members and neighbours who may find themselves vulnerable, and drop over a meal for their freezer, or scones for their press — think of others as much as you think of yourself, and we’ll all be fine.

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