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How to Stock Your Kitchen for a Quarantine (or Any Other Emergency)

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How to Stock Your Kitchen for Coronavirus

The news is full of stories of runs on hand sanitizer, face masks, and toilet paper. We are being advised to prepare our houses for being quarantined, but what does that even mean? In an effort to help reduce the worry and encourage calm, I wanted to share some tips on how to stock your kitchen for a quarantine, or any other time when illness or emergency strikes.

Stock Up on Staples

If you are setting out to stock your kitchen for being quarantined, probably the easiest thing you can do is to stock up on certain ingredients that are great building blocks for multiple kinds of meals.

Shelf-Stable or Freezable Kitchen Staples

shelf-stable or freezable kitchen staples that you can use in a variety of ways. Some great options here include:

  • canned beans
  • grains and pastas
  • bread (which can be frozen)
  • frozen vegetables
  • canned or frozen fruits
  • boxes of chicken or vegetable stock (if you don’t make your own)
  • flour (if you are into baking)
  • sweetener (I like to keep sugar and honey on hand)
  • teas (to help you feel better and stay hydrated, if you do get sick)

Other Kitchen Staples

There are also some ingredients that can last a long time and will help you have options:

  • onions
  • garlic
  • carrots
  • potatoes
  • apples
  • hard cheeses (such as Parmesan and Cheddar)

For more inspiration, check out my list of favorite kitchen staples. And if you have ingredients and need recipe inspiration, you can always use my recipe search function to search by ingredient!

I also love Padma Lakshmi’s suggestion to stock up on your favorite condiments, since these last for a long time and can make bland meals more interesting.

These sort of foods will come in very handy when improvising meals should you be stuck at home. Plus, if you don’t end up needing to use them, they are all useful ingredients to have in your house anyway and won’t go bad quickly, or you can be the angel of mercy who brings a meal to a friend in need.


Stock Your Freezer

If you’ve got a little more time to put towards preparing for a potential self-quarantine or other emergency, do some freezer cooking so that should you feel crummy you’ve already got some healthy meals ready to go.

You can make it a family affair by cooking together over the weekend – put on some fun music, assign everyone a task, and enjoy some time together while you prepare.

One of the great perks of stocking your freezer is that even if your house isn’t hit by a cold of flu, these meals will come in handy during busy weeks when you don’t have the bandwidth to cook.

Here are some of my favorite meals to freeze:


Soups are great because not only do they freeze very well, but they’ll also help to keep you hydrated if you get sick. Some great options include:

Fearless Tomato Sausage Winter Squash Soup

Fearless Tomato, Sausage, and Winter Squash Soup

Tomato soup taken to the next level. Plus between the tomato and winter squash you’ll get a nice dose of Vitamin C.

Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup

A sick day classic. The nourishing, comforting soup can be made in the slow cooker or on the stove top. If freezing, make sure to cook and add the noodles when you are reheating, so that they don’t get mushy.


Stews can make a hearty and healthy meal, perfect for when you aren’t feeling your best. Some great possibilities include:

Turkey or Beef and Vegetable Stew

Turkey or Beef and Vegetable Stew

Packed with veggies and protein, this is comfort food at its best.

Mulligatawny Stew

Mulligatawny Stew (Indian Lentil Stew)

If, like me, Indian food is your ultimate comfort food, then this stew is for you! Warming spices, plus hearty and healthy lentils make this a perfect freezer meal option!


Who doesn’t love a warm, nourishing chili when they’re stuck inside? Here are some favorites:

Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati Chili

This simple-to-throw-together chili is a favorite with lots of spice and protein to jump start your body, it is a great freezer-friendly option. If you want to boost the vegetables, you can add some frozen chopped spinach at the last minute.

Veggie-Loaded Slow Cooker Chili

Veggie-Loaded Slow Cooker Chili

While the title of this chili highlights the fact that it can be made in the slow cooker, the directions also include a stove top method! This is my family’s favorite vegetarian chili which has a secret ingredient that enriches and deepens the flavor beautifully.


Packed with goodness, casseroles freeze well and are the ultimate comfort food. Here are some that are always a hit with my crew:

Stacked Pumpkin Enchiladas

Stacked Pumpkin Enchiladas

By blending together salsa and canned pumpkin, not only do you get a super delicious enchilada sauce, but an uber-healthy one, too! Plus, this is much faster to throw together than regular, rolled enchiladas.

Cheesy Pepper Jack Spinach and Egg Bake

Cheesy Spinach and Egg Bake

This make-ahead egg casserole is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and offers up a nice number of vegetables to keep your body nourished.


Burritos are one of my favorite freezer foods because you can thaw one at a time or a whole bunch (plus they work well for breakfast, lunch, and dinner). And if you don’t end of needing them during an illness, they are great in lunchboxes or to bring to another friend in need!

Spinach Burritos

Spinach Burritos

These babies are so easy to throw together and will fill your family up with Vitamin C, fiber, and protein.

Baked Turkey and Corn Burritos

Baked Turkey and Corn Burritos

These are a Scramble (and family) favorite! They are so darn delicious, fun to assemble, and freeze really well.

Muffins (for breakfasts or side dishes)

Having a stockpile of muffins in your freezer is always a good idea, but especially when you may not be feeling your best and need some quick and easy sustenance.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Corn Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin

Who doesn’t love a muffin that gives you fiber, Vitamin C, and chocolate all at once?!

Spinach Muffins

Spinach Muffins

These have converted many a spinach skeptic and are so good that my son even asked for them to be his birthday cake one year!

Want more ideas? Check out our ebook of freezer meals for more inspiration.

Ramen Vegetable Noodle Soup

Cook as Usual, Just More

If you don’t have the time to do extra cooking projects, then over the next few days or weeks, consider doubling or tripling meals you are already making and freezing the extras.

To help you do this, use your Scramble meal plan (if you aren’t yet a member, sign up for a FREE trial to try us out and get some support with planning meals during this stressful time), pick a recipe that looks promising, and just increase the number of servings!

Lend a Helping Hand

Another reason to stock up a little bit is that even if you aren’t struck with a quarantine or illness, a friend of family member may very well be and those folks are gonna need our support. One of the ways we can help out without getting exposed ourselves is to drop off a meal at the front door.

Let’s hope none of us have to use these meals during a quarantine and instead can enjoy them as back-ups when needed. Do you have other tricks you are using to prepare for a time of illness? I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Here’s the good health!

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