How to Prepare and Stock Up for an Illness Shut Down

I’ve been on Instagram Stories this week sharing information about everything hitting the US. People have asked what I’m doing so I thought I’d show how I’m preparing and what I’m stocking up on should a quarantine or shut down take place like in China and Italy.

Get a Pulse Oximeter

When everything started to happen in March, our neighbor, who’s a doctor, told us to get a pulse oximeter to have on hand just in case someone in our house contracted the virus. The thing with the virus is that you don’t notice your oxygen dipping until it’s too late. It’s best to get a baseline of your oxygen level when you’re healthy, so get a reading in the morning before getting out of bed. Healthy oxygen levels range from 95%-100%.

When my friend shared her husband had contracted the virus, the first thing I did was tell her to get a pulse oximeter. Thankfully, she did. They monitored his levels and noticed they had begun to drop. He made an appointment to see the doctor, and he was diagnosed with double pneumonia. Catching this early allowed him to start treating the pneumonia early and recover at home, avoiding hospitalization.

pulse oximeter

Have a Child Care Plan

In case you missed my stories, things got real rather quickly in our area when a school district closed and switched to e-learning for 2 weeks following a student testing positive for the virus. And because there is a two week spring break immediately following, the schools will be closed for nearly a month. So in the matter of hours, thousands of people’s daily lives were affected. Yes, thousands. This particular school district serves approximately 9,800 students. Parents needed to find child care. But it’s being recommended they not use grandparents because the elderly are more susceptible to the virus. So there goes one of the most popular back-up options for parents. And what if these parents can’t take off work because they don’t have the days?

All that to say, have a child care plan. Health officials are telling people to keep their distance from others, but could you possibly swap with a friend or neighbor? You watch your kids and their kids for a couple days, and then they watch their kids and your kids for a couple days. It’s not the most ideal situation but at least the kids are only coming into contact with a few other kids instead of entire busses and classrooms of students. Maybe you could make arrangements with a family member or babysitter, say a college-aged student who’s switched to e-learning, to stay with your kids during the day?

Stock Up on Food

Because we’re being told by officials to limit our outings and interactions with others, I stocked up on food to LIMIT my trips to the grocery store. The less trips I take to the store, the less likely I am to catch the virus or spread it to others should I have it but not showing symptoms yet.

Honestly, since we usually have a decently stocked pantry and freezer, I didn’t have to buy that much stuff. Did I buy 5 loaves of bread and 10 gallons of milk? No. DO NOT HOARD. I merely bought more food than I usually do on a normal trip to the store.

And should we have to quarantine, I want to be prepared. I don’t want to be out at the store fighting off people for chicken nuggets. Now is the time to stock up.

To stock up, I went to Costco, Trader Joe’s (read about all of my TJ’s favorites here), Target, and Kroger.

Note: If you have an infant, make sure you have enough formula.

To show you how I’ve prepped, step into my fridge, freezer, and pantry.

The Freezer

We have a fridge freezer and a deep freezer (in our garage). In the main drawer or our fridge freezer I have lunch and dinner foods.

  1. frozen pizzas
  2. turkey meatballs
  3. orange chicken
  4. vegetables
  5. jasmine rice
  6. chicken tenders
  7. pesto

freezer meals

In one of the freezer drawers, I have breakfast foods and breads.

  1. cinnamon raisin bread
  2. English muffins
  3. bread
  4. pancakes
  5. blueberry muffins
  6. waffles
  7. kringle (duh)

We’ll use the English muffins for breakfast sandwiches, in the AM or PM (breakfast for dinner), and mini pizzas for the kids.

breads and breakfast food

Let’s head out to the deep freezer where I have an array of foods.

  1. stew
  2. bacon
  3. vegetables
  4. fruits (strawberries, blueberries, mango)
  5. chicken breasts
  6. ground beef
  7. breaded chicken filets
  8. breaded chicken tenders

frozen vegetables

The Fridge

Alright, back to the fridge. I stocked up on our daily staples that last weeks.

  1. yogurt
  2. cheese
  3. apples (last up to 4 to 6 weeks in the fridge)
  4. eggs
  5. milk

I have more food in the fridge than those listed above, I’m just highlighting these foods.

The three men in my life eat at least one yogurt a day, so this should last us 10-12 days.


Eggs are great because they’re high in protein and last 4 to 5 weeks past the sell by date. They can be used for breakfast, snack, lunch, or dinner. Our favorite ways to eat eggs are as breakfast sandwiches on English muffins with cheese, scrambled with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, frittatas, and omelettes.

costco eggs


The Pantry

Alright, now onto the pantry. Here’s what I have in there:

  1. nut bars
  2. granola
  3. pancake mix & syrup
  4. oatmeal
  5. cereal
  6. cereal bars
  7. granola bars
  8. coffee
  9. crackers, pretzels, tortilla chips
  10. mandarin oranges
  11. raisins
  12. applesauce
  13. fruit & veggie pouches
  14. soups
  15. sides
  16. pasta sauce
  17. salsa verde (used to make chicken verde)
  18. pasta
  19. rice
  20. peanut butter
  21. wine (duh)

bars and granola

cereal bars

Pancake mix is a great option because it takes up minimal space, lasts a while on the shelf, and all you need is water to make them. Add in some frozen blueberries to get a dose of fruit.

oatmeal and pancake mix

I didn’t even need to stock up on coffee. We usually have at least 3 packages in the pantry because who likes to run out of coffee?

And don’t forget to stock up on creamer!


I have multiple boxes of crackers, two large boxes of Goldfish, an extra bag of pretzels. Trust me, all of these things will be eaten within in the month. I use this containers for the Goldfish and pretzels and this container for the trail mix.



Owen has been eating these veggie pouches for years. I like them because they’re more nutritious than apple sauce.

veggie pouches

Soups and sides have long expiration dates so we have months to use them.


There’s so much you can do with pasta sauce. Make spaghetti. Put the sauce on top of English muffins and make mini pizzas. Eat it over chicken with pasta.

I put chicken breasts, spices, and salsa verde into a crockpot and cook it on low for 6 hours to make chicken verde. Then, I shred it. We eat it over rice or on tortillas.


Peanut butter is great because it’s high in protein and lasts quite a while on shelves.

peanut butter

Meal Plan

If you have no clue what meal to prepare, my friend Kristen put together a 14 day plan. Definitely check it out!

Grab Some Bathroom Supplies

If there’s a quarantine, and we’ll be trapped in our house, we’re going to need things we use everyday– like toilet paper and diapers. And don’t forget baby wipes. Do not hoard these items. It’s not the apocalypse.

diapers and toilet paper

Check the Medicine Cabinet

I made sure we were stocked up on vitamins, OTC medicines, and prescription medications, this includes our children’s medicines. Because if one of us does come down with something, we’re covered.

For children’s medicines, I have Benadryl, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, cough syrup, and pediatric electrolyte (Pedialyte) in powder form. I highly recommend having the Pedialyte powder on hand all the time. The powder packets have longer expiration dates than the pre-made liquid Pedialyte. I use this bathroom under-sink organizer.

childrens medicine

Daily Needs

I also made sure we had items we use daily. That includes personal items like toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant, contact solution, feminine products, etc. I also made sure we had enough dish soap, hand soap, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, multi-purpose cleaner, vinegar, etc. I didn’t end up buying any of those items because we already had enough, but if you’re running low on laundry detergent, you may want to grab some.

Tips to Protect Yourself

  1. Wash your hands often with soap for at least 20 seconds.
  2. Take your shoes off at your door. Don’t track germs into your house.
  3. Wash your hands immediately after stepping into your house.
  4. Disinfect your cell phone regularly. I’d also suggest the steering wheel, purse, door handles, door knobs, keyboards, laptop, light switches, and appliance handles you use often. And allow the items to air dry after disinfecting– don’t immediately wipe them off.
  5. Don’t depend on hand sanitizer. It’s always best to wash your hands. If you can’t wash your hands, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  6. Don’t touch your face, mouth, nose, or eyes with unwashed hands.
  7. Don’t hug, shake hands, high five, or kiss others on the cheek. Be awkward and wave at them from 2-3 feet away.

Things to Remember

Don’t panic! Be prepared. I feel so much calmer now that I’ve stocked up on stuff and formulated plans with family and friends.

Don’t hoard! Seriously, leave some toilet paper and boxed mac & cheese for others. Don’t be a jerk.

Help those in need! If you have elderly relatives or neighbors or people in your life who are immunocompromised, give them a call and say, “Hey! I was thinking of you. I’m running to the store, what can I pick up from you and drop off?” Or say you’ll pick up their prescription(s) for them while you’re out. Don’t say, “Let me know if you need anything.” And remember to check in on these people often. Also, strongly encourage them to stay home.

Donate money to food banks/pantries! There are so many people out there who can’t afford to go to the store, let alone stock up. So I encourage you to donate money to your local food bank or food pantry. Or call and ask if they need any tangible donations that you could grab at the store and then drop off.

Need More Info?

My friend, Sara, wrote this great post on this topic. She’s been my go-to counselor this past week and the reason why I started taking the virus seriously.

This podcast was VERY informative. The guest is Michael Osterholm, an American public health scientist and a biosecurity and infectious disease expert. Here’s the video version of the podcast.

This podcast is also very informative.

The CDC has tons of info. You can also head to your state’s Department of Health website for more information.

how to prepare for shelter in place

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  1. Tess Dillenberger says:

    This info was well presented, and thought out….much appreciated!

  2. Claudia W says:

    Great list of items we should not hoard but stock up on. I think it would be nice if we could actually get toilet paper, alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide, but a large amount of people in this small community are hoarding all the essentials. Our Costco can’t keep pallets of toilet paper in stock more than two hours!
    We have enough to get us by another maybe month, so I am not worried right now. If we can’t get it, I will just resort to taking a shower every time I need TP!


  4. Thanks for sharing your ideas. It gives us thought of items that we will need during the time we won’t be getting out.

  5. SUSAN GOINS says:

    Very well thought out. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Really great info. Living in a rural area we tend to stock up anyway. You’re right – it gives you peace of mind. And if you are in the habit of keeping a stash that you cycle through, you have plenty of everything without clearing out store shelves.

  7. Thank you for sharing! These were all on my shopping list in March too!

    Can you share pictures of your pantry? It looks very well-organized, without being straight from a magazine and unrealistic (totally a compliment in case it didn’t sound like it ☺️)

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