A guide to calculated and mindful stocking for lockdown

The constantly unfolding COVID-19 situation is unchartered territory for all of us. Self isolation and social distancing is imperative to flatten the curve. We’re all facing a mindset shift from living to survival as we all have an ingrained self-preservation mechanism. Yes, keeping our mind and bodies healthy and strong is required but mindless stockpiling and hoarding is not the answer.

Calculated and mindful stocking (based on your as well as others’ needs) is what we all need to do. This is a guide to help you and your families stay nourished during these trying times.

But first, remember :

  • Shops dealing with food, groceries, dairy, meat, fruits and veggies will stay open and many, if not all, will offer home delivery.
  • Assess the current situation of your pantry and shop accordingly.
  • Account for consumption increase because of boredom-eating or decline resulting from decreased physical activity.
  • Don’t buy items you wouldn’t usually buy.
  • Support local business, don’t order everything off amazon.
  • DO NOT HOARD, there is no need to prep for doomsday.
  • Order fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and other short-term perishables weekly.
  • Stay calm, this too shall pass.

I’ve grouped food items by shelf life. Pick items from each of these lists based on what you can and will cook.

List A : Non-Perishables

1. Rice & grains – basmati rice, brown rice, quinoa, oats, finger millet (ragi), amaranth, pearl millet (bajra), barley (jau), sorghum (jowar).

2. Flour & Meals – whole wheat flour, refined flour, oat-flour, ragi flour, besan/chickpea flour, corn flour.

3. Beans & Legumes (Dried or Canned) – chickpeas, red kidney beans, broad/butter beans, black-eyed beans (Chawli), horse gram (kulthi), Yellow/pigeon pea (toor), Red lentils (masoor), green gram (moong), black gram (urad), dew gram (moth).

4. Fats  – olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, peanut/sunflower oil.

5. Pasta & Noodles – spaghetti, penne, macaroni, lasagna sheets, soba noodles, rice noodles, egg noodles, rice paper.

6. Long lasting Milks – oat, soy, almond or coconut milk.

7. Nuts & seeds – almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, pinenuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds.

8. Sauces & Pastes – pasta sauces, curry pastes, ginger-garlic paste, mustard, ketchup, soy sauce, chilli sauce, sriracha, apple cider or other vinegars.

9. Butters & Sweeteners – peanut butter, almond butter, sesame butter, honey, maple syrup, jaggery, stevia.

10. Dried Spices & Herbs – turmeric, chilli, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, garlic powder, garam masala, ginger powder, thyme, rosemary, oregano, dried mushrooms.

11. Others – coffee, tea, snacks, candies, chocolate, salt, pet food, wine or alcohol.

List B : Long term perishables

1. Eggs
2. Cheese/Tofu/Paneer
3. Canned fruits and vegetables
4. Canned fish
5. Cold cut meats
6. Fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut)
7. Fruit juice

List C : Short term perishables

1. Fresh fruits and vegetables
2. Yogurt
3. Meat/seafood
4. Yogurt

How to sensibly stock food

To ensure you do not hoard or panic buy and create chaos at the supermarket, first check what you already have, then split everything you need into two types of orders listed below.

Big order list

(For week 1 & 2 and once in 20 days from week 3 onwards)

Step 1 – Pick 10-15 items from List A as well as List B as per your needs and preferences. Choose items you cook with regularly and cannot do without.

Example :
From List A – Rice, yellow and red lentils, chickpeas, red beans, oat flour, one bag of spaghetti, few spices, nut butter, honey, curry paste, almonds, dried mushroom.
From List B – eggs, 2 cartons of milk, few cans of sardines, a jar of gherkins, a jar of beetroot and fruit juice.

Step 2 – Pick 3-5 items from List B and LIST C. Choose quantities to last you a week or so. Choose items you use everyday/several times a week.

Example :
From List B – 500 gms of paneer/tofu, a bag of frozen peas, cheese.
From List C – one tub of yogurt, 3 fresh fruits, 3 fresh vegetables.

At a time, order only what you will need for 2 weeks. Reduce the number of items from this big order list and order again the following week.

From week 3 onwards, order limited number of items to add to your stockpile. This way, you will always have excess but won’t be wiping the supermarket clean.

Small order list (Once a week)

Items you need for the week from List B and C .

Don’t forget to ask your elderly neighbours if they need anything and add them to your order. Try not to waste food and try feeding the stray animals in your area. They largely depend on restaurants for food and now they need your help.

We will get through this.

Stay tuned while I put together a series of easy, delicious and nourishing recipes using staple ingredients.

In the meantime, you can fine some easy recipes here.