Buying food in bulk at a warehouse club like Sam’s or Costco appeals to a lot of people, especially now during this pandemic. Regardless of how you stock up at a warehouse club or at grocery stores, here is my recommendation for the best food staples for living through this pandemic and why.
The food choices I am sharing are ones that can help sustain you to build meals around. If you never started experimenting with dried beans, this is the perfect time to start. Black beans, garbanzo beans, lima beans, kidney beans, great Northern beans, lentils, and pinto beans keep for two to three years without losing any of their excellent nutritional value if kept in a cool, dry place. In fact, you keep them in your pantry for five years without problems, but they will lose some of their nutrients.
Without a doubt, canned beans are easier than soaking beans and sometimes softer, but they are much cheaper to cook with compared to the cost per can. Great Northern beans, lima beans, lentils, kidney beans, and pinto beans are less problematic for toughness than softening black beans, which take longer to cook. However, I love the taste of black beans for making a meatless burger to a fantastic meatless lasagna. You can make sandwich spreads, casseroles, burgers, soups, chili, stews, tortillas, tacos, dips, etc. when you have beans on hand.
Beans are chalked with healthy nutrition and provide wonderful protein and fiber. However, they can be an incomplete protein when making an entire meal out of them unless you add rice, another of these best foods to stock up on while living this pandemic. Brown rice is healthier, but it also has a shorter shelf life than white rice. I keep a 10-pound of white rice bag in my pantry. You may want to try making a pot of chicken soup using some of the stock in a rice pilaf with beans and vegetables mixed in as light meal. You can use water, but the stock makes better pilaf.
Canned meat like Spam is another food staple in my pantry. Check your expiration dates. They can last about two years and come in handy for stretching meals for casseroles and hot sandwiches. I can use one can to make lunch for the family with a few hot sandwiches, delicious with barbecue sauce and a casserole for dinner later.
Pasta is another of these best foods to stock up while living through a pandemic. You can’t go overboard because pasta can get weevils, but buying about 10 pounds at a time is what I do without problems. I use a lot pasta in one form or another in my meal making. I like to buy a mix of linguine, spaghetti, elbow macaroni, noodles, spiral noodles, penne, and lasagna noodles. In fact, you can get a great deal often at the dollar store for boxes that are a one-pound and eight-ounces for just one dollar.
Flour is essential and is always well-stocked in my house. We always made our own breads, cookies, cakes, and pies. I normally buy a 25-pound bag of all-purpose white flour at a time. Just like pasta, flour can get a weevil infestation. However, my flour disappears quickly and I never have that problem. If you’re just starting to bake to keep bread on hand through this pandemic, I suggest buying at least two five-pounds bag of white flour.
If you intend to bake, you need some active dry yeast, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. I usually buy a two-pound bag of yeast for about $5.49 that can last about a year with the same shelf life like baking powder and baking soda since I bake a lot. Those three strip packets can cost about $1.18 with each packet amounting to about one tablespoon, which can run into money. A smaller 4-oz. jar is priced at about $4.33 and is the equivalent of 16 packets, which is great for keeping yeast in stock.
Oats are another of these best food staples to stock up for living through a pandemic with all the protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Besides being one of the healthiest grains, rolled oats can keep about a year without losing any nutritional value. I buy several of those round canisters of rolled oats in the 42 oz. size. Cooking up rolled oats for breakfast or a snack is cheaper than those sweetened mixes that you put in the microwave. You can add the same sweetness and fruits. I also put oats in my meatloaf, some bread, cake, pie and cookie recipes to burgers, both meatless and with meat.
Canned foods such as tomato and mushroom soups, spaghetti sauce, tomato paste, vegetables, and fish are also what I consider some of the best food staples for living through a pandemic. These choices are ones that you can use in your casseroles and meal planning. These foods don’t keep forever, but you can get from one to two years in your pantry according to their expiration dates.
I like to also stock up on a few jars of peanut butter (40 oz.). Peanut butter is nutritious for sandwiches for lunch to save from going out to restock food just for lunch meat. It also is great stirred in my chocolate oatmeal and some sugar for what tastes like a peanut butter cup.
Cooking oils are also important for cooking. Unopened canola oil and olive oil can last about two years so you may want to buy a few more bottles.
Dry powdered milk is something else that never hurts to keep in the house. I usually keep a box during the winter in case of bad weather for emergencies. I also found buying dry powered milk during this pandemic is helpful as well.
You’ll also want to keep a larger bag or two of sugar for baking and eating.
Coffee is something that I couldn’t live without. Though buying fresh beans in the bags is the best, I have been buying canned ground coffee. Unopened it can keep better in my opinion. To get part of that freshness back, I take out my coffee grinder and still whirl out what I am going to use. Believe it or not, it does help intensify the flavor.
My section of the country is still in quarantine while a large portion of the country is easing up their social distancing and opening up business again. My fear is that just because people are getting house happy and demanding their freedom that this virus is not over with us. After all, the coronavirus (funny video that you MUST watch) takes time to infect and work its way again through the population. Until all of us can get tested and a vaccine is ready then none of us are truly safe. This is why you may to start or keep these best food staples in mind while living through a pandemic because fall is not only flu season, but could be when the coronavirus balloons with a vengeance.