Stay Calm: Prepare with Pantry Staples

As social distancing measures increase and in-dining restaurants close to prevent the spread of COVID-19, you may find yourself dashing to the grocery in a last-ditch effort to stock up on supplies. Feeding your family is not a new challenge. We do this every day! Don’t panic and focus on stocking up on pantry staples.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending families stock a minimum 2-week supply of groceries to aid with the 15-day social distancing guideline to help curb the spread of coronavirus. Pantry staples which include canned food, dry goods, and shelf-stable items are essential for making food last between shopping trips. Canned foods and dry goods are long-lasting and the term shelf-stable means pantry items do not require refrigeration or freezing to prevent spoilage.

Feed your family a well-balanced diet by stocking your pantry with options from each of the food groups.

Shelf-Stable Foods
(dry, canned)
Shelf Life: 6 months – 5 years
Grains Rice, pasta, couscous, quinoa, polenta, oatmeal, fortified breakfast cereals, crackers
Dairy & Proteins Powdered milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, nuts, dry or canned beans, jerky, canned tuna, salmon, sardines, chicken, peanut butter
Fruits Dried or canned fruits (any variety)
Vegetables Canned vegetables (any variety)
Cooking & Baking Essentials Broth, soups, pasta sauces, salsa, sweetened condensed milk, flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, active dry yeast, olive oil, canola oil, salt, pepper, spices/seasonings, honey, maple syrup

In addition to pantry staples, frozen foods can also last for months when kept fully frozen, and some fresh foods like milk, bread, and meat can be frozen to extend their expiration date. Freezing milk before its expiration date is a great way to save it for later! Simply put it into small containers, leaving some space at the top for the milk to expand. When ready to use, thaw frozen milk in a refrigerator for 2-3 days and shake well before pouring. Milk is an important beverage to have available for the whole family because it’s the #1 food source of calcium, vitamin D, and potassium – nutrients that many Americans, including children, are lacking in their diets. Additionally, dairy foods are a source of high-quality protein because they contain the essential amino acids that your body cannot make on its own.

Frozen Foods Freezer Life: 3-8 months
Grains *Bread, *tortillas, pasta (ravioli, tortellini, etc.), waffles
Dairy & Proteins *Milk, *yogurt, *cheese, *meat
Fruits Any variety
Vegetables Any variety
Other Baking/Cooking Essentials Pizza, frozen convenience foods, etc.

*Fresh items that can be frozen

Fresh foods typically expire within days to weeks, but some can last for months, even without refrigeration. For example, root vegetables, such as potatoes, can last for months if stored in a cool, dry pantry. Although some fresh foods will only last a few days in the refrigerator, stocking up on them can help reserve shelf-stable foods for later use. Just avoid buying more fresh food than what you can realistically eat before it spoils.

Fresh Foods Refrigerator Life: Days – Weeks
Refrigerator Life: Weeks – Months
Grains *Bread, *tortillas
Dairy & Proteins Milk, yogurt, eggs, meat/deli meat
Fruits Berries, melons, avocados, peaches, pears, cherries
*Apples, *dates, *citrus fruits
Vegetables Tomatoes, greens, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, celery, green beans, bell peppers, cabbage, corn
*Potatoes, *sweet potatoes, *onions, *garlic, carrots, turnips, parsnips, beets, *winter squash, *pumpkin, rutabaga, *jicama
Other Baking/Cooking Essentials Herbs

*Pantry stored

Many of us are used to visiting our grocery store 1-2 times per week, but we can adapt to limited shopping trips and still provide enough nutrition for our families by stocking all food groups in a variety of forms: shelf-stable, frozen, and fresh. Use the most perishable items first, and reserve items with a longer shelf life to extend the amount of time between your shopping trips.

Use this extra time at home to try some of The Dairy Alliance recipes, for easy and delicious nutrition for your family.

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