Preparing for a Long Stay at Home? Here's Your Shopping List

A woman's hands checking items from a paper list at the grocery store.Stokkete / Shutterstock

With coronavirus all over the news and the flu season still going on, the best way to avoid getting sick is to avoid people. Now is the perfect time to stock up on all the gear you need to get home.

Before letting panic take over, this is not a zombie apocalypse. You do not need to store firearms and ammunition or buy each bottle of hand sanitizer within 200 miles.

But, if it is dangerous for your health to go to the store to buy basic items, such as toilet paper or canned goods, you may want to have enough at home to help you. You might think that ordering what you need online is a good alternative, but some viruses and germs can stay on packages for hours or even days.

Even if the risk of getting something from a package is minimal, with thousands of people in the supply chain who are sick, you are unlikely to get anything quickly.

That’s why stocking up in advance is your best option.

What you need for a month at home

Before you go to the store to fill your pantry, freezer and medicine cabinet, you need a list of what you need.


Since we’re not talking about an end-of-the-world scenario here, you can use tap water to survive. Make sure that if you’re using a filtration system, you stock up on additional filters so you don’t run out before it’s safe to return to the store.

If you use bottled water at home, you want to have enough for next month. According to the Mayo Clinic, men need a gallon of water each day and women need a little less. This means that you need about a gallon of water per person per day. If you live alone, you will need 30 gallons of water to stay home for a month.

Bottled water is often one of the first things to sell in stores when people panic about the state of the world.


Here’s another area where things would be different if we were talking about an end-of-the-world scenario, like an EMP explosion cutting the power grid. In this case, frozen and refrigerated food would be out of the question.

However, if you are staying at home to avoid the flu or the coronavirus, keeping the fridge and freezer in stock is a good idea. We are just preparing a few weeks of Netflix, after all, do not survive the nuclear winter.

It is a good idea to store essential pantry items (things that don’t need to be frozen or kept cool) that you can use in an emergency. It’s also not a bad idea to have 20 pounds of flour and 10 pounds of sugar on hand to make pancakes or bake bread.

If the stores are short on bread or you can’t get to it anyway, you’ll want to be able to prepare food from scratch.

A woman prepares to close the door on a chest full of groceries. Myroslava Malovana / Shutterstock

Check your basic staples and make sure you have enough to last a month. Spices, including about five pounds of salt (unless you’re on a sodium-free diet), are also important to grab.

Fill your fridge with your family’s favorite foods (you don’t have to be miserable just because you avoid a virus or a snowstorm). Get powdered or long-lasting rice milk when you no longer have what you usually use.

Stock up on things like rice, potato flakes, oatmeal, cereals, beans, cooking oil, pasta, peanut butter, coffee, tea and canned fruits, vegetables or meats. Snacks, like potato chips, are also good to have around – you don’t want everyone to get bored of eating the same things every day.

The amount of all of these things you need depends on how many people live in your house and how much they eat. You need at least enough food so that everyone can eat three meals a day for the duration of your lock-in.

Health and hygiene

Food and water aren’t the only things you need for an extended stay indoors. Make sure your first aid kit is well stocked, then some. That way, in a minor emergency, you may be able to take care of it at home, instead of risking a hospital visit.

Here are some standard first aid items you should make sure you have:

Ace wraps
Gauze pads
Rubbing alcohol
Band-Aids of various sizes
Triple antibiotic ointment
Hand sanitizer
Disposable gloves
Bandage scissors
Medical masks
Prescription drugs (worth at least one additional month)

Vitamins are also essential, especially if you lack fresh produce. They will provide the necessary nutrients and boost your immune system so that your body can better fight viruses.

Get at least one bottle of multivitamins for each person in your household. Also make sure to buy the right type for each person, as most are specially designed for children, women, or men. You can also buy elder syrup or other products to strengthen immunity.

Some personal hygiene products are found in the health field. The most important thing is to have enough soap so that everyone can wash their hands and prevent the spread of germs in your home.

Other items you will want to source include:

Feminine hygiene products: It is essential that the women in your house have enough towels and tampons for at least one cycle, as well as all the necessary pain relievers.
Toilet paper: You will need enough TP so that everyone can spend the month. It is a great item to buy at the bulk store and save money. You can also use it as a handkerchief.
Shower supplies: Make sure there is enough shampoo, conditioner and soap or shower gel to keep everyone clean.
Deodorant: If you’re stuck in a house with other people, you want to keep the B.O. to a minimum. The deodorant will transport you between the showers.
Toothpaste and mouthwash: Dental hygiene is vital to your overall health, so make sure you don’t run out of dental supplies before you can return to the store. It could also mean having an extra toothbrush on hand for everyone in the household.

Of course, you should also pick up all the other hygiene items that you use regularly, such as razors and facial cleansers. You want to keep your daily routine as normal as possible until you can safely venture out without having to worry about getting sick.

Other household supplies

Think of all the things you use every day in your home. You want to be sure you have enough of everything to spend at least a month without leaving home.

This means stocking up on the following items:

Garbage bag
Dish soap
Cleaning supplies
Sheets of soap and dryer

Also add anything else you may need to your list, such as pet supplies or non-perishable items that you simply cannot do without. Write down everything that makes sense to store if you’re stuck inside for a spell.

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