How to Survive a Coronavirus Quarantine?

How to Survive a Coronavirus Quarantine?

How to Survive a Coronavirus Quarantine? Check out the recommendations of 3 nutritionists for stockpiling healthy, flavorful meals.

healthy, flavorful meals

With each passing day, the novel coronavirus is gaining a stronger foothold across nations, and this has also led to the ever-increasing macabre presence of quarantine, in areas that were hardest hit by the virus. But while you are stuck at home, is surviving on the boring soup and rice combo your only option?

Registered Dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Caroline West Passerrello thinks you don’t need to put yourself through the added pressure of having boring food. The dietitian believes that with a bit of advanced and proactive planning, you and your family can eat well at least for a few weeks. She said, “It’s meal prepping, but with limited resources.” So let’s see the recommendations of Passerrello and two other nutritionists so that you may have a good enough meal even amidst a quarantine.

Three rules to follow during a quarantine: clear out old food, stock up on essentials, and make extra meal servings

The author of“Read It Before You Eat – It –Taking You from Label to Table” Bonnie Taub-Dix, registered dietitian-nutritionist, gives a constructive advice: While getting your food supplies ready for an emergency, store up to two weeks of food supplies.   Taub-Dix told the Insider, “People should not make themselves feel nervous that they have to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on food,” and went on to add, “But it might give them peace of mind to know they have some things prepared.” 

Brigitte Zeitlin, a registered dietician and owner of BZ Nutrition, advised that if the threat of quarantine is looming just around the corner, “First, do a quick scan of your pantry and freezer and throw out anything past its expiration date. It’s just taking up space that we need for good stuff.”


Essential macro nutrients in times of scarcity


So what does an essential list containing major food groups and macronutrients should look like:

  • Protein sources like canned fish and beans
  • Canned and frozen vegetables and fruits
  • Tomatoes or sauce
  • Whole grains including bread, rice, quinoa
  • Whole wheat(or chickpea) pasta
  • Healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and nut butter

  Zeitlin noted while taking stocks, learn some tasty recipes, and if you find that they store well in freezers, then you can make extra servings while you are making your weekly meal prep to stockpile. Some of the freezer-friendly items that are more often than not loved by all include chili, pasta, sauce, and meatballs. These can be easily stored and are perfect for rounding out the meals that you’d make from pantry items.   

Zeitlin said “When you’re not quarantined and have access to all the food shopping you can handle, prepping some things to put in the freezer will add some diversity, which you’ll need if you’re eating the same stuff for 2 weeks.” 


FIFO-Fresh in First Out

  Zeitlin and numerous other nutritionists emphasize that it is always a smart idea, first of all, to use the fresh foods before your hunger sets an eye on reserves of frozen and shelf-stable foods.  

Passerrello points out that try eating more colorful fruits and vegetables and cooking with garlic and onions as they boost your immunity.   This is essential because fresh foods perish quickly, and especially when food is scarce, you don’t want to waste food. Some of the long-lasting fresh foods include potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, and lemons.


Eat fresh foods first as they perish fast

What if the Food Expires?

However, if you use some strategic planning, you can increase the life of some fresh foods, including cheese and some dairy items. For example, if it comes in canned or sealed, then use details as fast as possible after opening. Zeitlin said, “The more frequently you’re opening it, the more air that’s going in, and the closer to the expiration date, you’ll have to throw it out.”

Also, be always fully aware of the expiration dates mentioned on the packaging and be vigilant of the signs of spoilage. So smell and taste before you eat. This is essential because, in times of quarantine, the last thing you want is to get a bad case of food poisoning. However, some products are edible even after their expiry date also though they might have lost their flavor.  

So how do you know what to keep and discard once the printed expiry date has surpassed? Well, taste in small amounts if you find the food is doubtful throw it away. In case of canned goods, when you open the can if you notice damage or a dent or a diss immediately throw it away.  

Zeitlin explains it best “We get a little paranoid about expiration dates. You can still eat it because some of those are meant to be sell-by dates, so a box of cereal, it may not be as crunchy or as fresh, but won’t be bad for you.”


Expiry dates can be overlooked to some extent

Ditch the sodium, reasonable time to introduce yourself to other flavors

One should always be watchful of their sodium(salt) intake but more so when the diet is primarily shelf-stable food. It is used as a preservative and for added flavor in canned foods to extend the shelf life. Zenith adds the precaution, “Too much salt can be dehydrating which can cause fatigue, dizziness and other unpleasant symptoms that you don’t want in an emergency.”

So what’s the alternative? Well, resort to low-sodium options while stocking up. What if the canned foods you got, has high salt content? You can rinse things like beans and veggies before you bring them in use. But what about the flavor? Simply substitute with alternatives like

  • dried herbs that include Oregano, Basil, Thyme, rosemary
  • spices such as pepper, chili powder, turmeric, paprika
  • salt-free blends that include curry powder
Zeitlin’s salt-free choice? Trader Joe’s “Everything but the Bagel” blend  

How do you get the necessary water and electrolytes?

Water! Lots and lots of it. Experts suggesting having about a gallon of water a day per person(and for your pets too) Taub-Dix suggests on stockpiling Pedialyte or any sports drink to ensure you get the necessary calories and electrolytes just in case you fall sick and your appetite drops.


 Passerrello believes that the chances of a quarantine affecting the water supply are low. However, if the emergency becomes severe access to clean water could be limited. This thereby makes it essential to cut down on your sodium intake and focus on conserving your resources   Therefore, plan and use every part of the food reserves that you own. Even the liquid in canned beans and fish and also the juice present in the canned fruit. Guess the cliché desperate times call for drastic measures has never been more accurate.  

Prioritization is essential

When you are storing things, your prime focus should be to store items that you and your family members like to eat. Moreover, be sure to learn about the recipes that you can prepare without spending too much time and energy. Avoid learning about complicated recipes as chances are high, you won’t have the necessary ingredients. Plus if unfortunately, you fall sick, you won’t have the time and energy to cook. Thus when it comes to saving time and energy, ready-made items like microwavable rice or cans of soup wouldn’t be a bad idea.   Passarrello said, “Knowing my preferences and space, I’d prioritize, so I’m not wasting space.”  

When you have all the food items ready, don’t forget to ensure that you have all the kitchen tools too. These include things like can openers so you may have all the tools necessary to prepare your food. Title Image Source: J. Mammy Delicious Tokyo