How to Stock Your Kitchen for 14 Days

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If you’ve read the news, you know it’s time to stock your kitchen. Consider these tips to do it calmly, affordably, and with a meal plan in mind.

grocery bags in back seat of car

You’ve seen the news. You’ve witnessed the frenzy at Costco. You’ve felt the anxiety in the air.

With COVID-19 a real threat worldwide, churches, schools, and businesses are taking precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. As a result, we’ve heard the recommendations to stock a 14-day supply of food in case you’re stuck at home or have trouble finding supplies.

While there is genuine cause for concern — this has certainly never happened in my 47.8 years on this planet — we don’t need to panic. In fact, taking action can actually soothe your fears. 

Let’s unpack what it means to stock up a 14-day (or more) supply of food.

How to Stock Your Kitchen for 14 Days

1. Check to see what you already have.

You may already have enough on hand!

I know it doesn’t seem like you’ve got two weeks of food since most of us buy groceries every few days. That said, after ten years of doing a yearly pantry challenge and talking with other home cooks doing the same, I think it’s safe to say that many of us already have several weeks of food on hand.

Is it exciting food? Yes and no. Sometimes. Maybe. Will it keep us alive? Most definitely.

That said, your situation may be different. Perhaps you don’t have a large fridge or freezer and cupboard space is minimal. Maybe you’ve just finished a pantry challenge and things are bare.

Do a good inventory to see what you have already before you stock your kitchen with more. Chances are you may have more than you think.

Read –> Meal Planning 101: Take Inventory

ingredients for chili laid out on the table

2. Stock your kitchen with food you would normally eat.

We’re facing supply chain issues more than the loss of utilities that would result from other emergencies such as blizzard, earthquake, and hurricane. You don’t need to stock MREs. Unless you normally do.

Buy food that you would normally eat, focusing on foods that are shelf-stable or freezer friendly. Prioritize those items you really can’t live without like baby formula or foods for special diets.

While you can’t stock enough perishables to last months, many of those items can be frozen. The short list of what not to freeze includes mayonnaise, sour cream, and lettuce.

You can freeze eggs (out of their shells) as well as potatoes, milk, and yogurt.

When all this blows over, you don’t want to spend a fortune stocking up or be stuck with food you don’t like. Focus on buying a few extras of what you normally consume. 

Read –> Freezer Cooking: What Can You Freeze and Still Enjoy?

3. Make a meal plan.

The same rules apply now as they did to life-as-we-knew-it-last-month: Don’t buy food that you don’t have a plan for.

Instead, have a meal plan ready so that you can keep to a routine and know what to do with the food you’ve socked away. You’ll spend less money and you’ll eat better, too!

Fourteen days includes 14 breakfasts, 14 lunches, and 14 dinners, plus snacks. That’s 42 meals per person, not including snacks. It’s a basic math problem and honestly, a fairly simple process. 

  1. Print out two copies of this printable meal planner. It can hold a month of dinners or a week of breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners.
  2. Start plugging in meals that you know you like, based on foods that you already have, what’s on sale, and what can last awhile.

Meal planning for a month or a few weeks is a pretty simple process. It will help you make good use of what you have and calm your nerves, knowing that you’ll eat well for the duration.

Get a ready made meal plan and grocery list.

If you’ve ever purchased one of my Month of Meal Plans, you’ve already got a month’s menus and grocery list already prepped and ready to go. Dig that out of your hard drive and head to the pantry!

  • Check off what you already have.
  • Buy what you need to complete the meals.
  • Be sure to include food for breakfasts and lunches.

All meal plans are currently 50% off.

Head here to choose one:

pork sale sign in meat department

4. Focus on sale items.

While you may not have a lot of choice, wherever possible focus on sale items. In my neck of the woods, I’m seeing these prices:

  • ground turkey $2.99/lb – can be frozen
  • whole chickens and split chicken breasts $0.88/lb – can be frozen
  • ground sirloin $3.99/lb – can be frozen
  • cheese $1.49/8 ounces – can be frozen, just shred it first
  • coffee $6.49/12-ounces
  • crackers $1.99/box
  • cabbage $0.33/lb – will last a long time refrigerated

Your sales may vary, but the idea is the same. If you’re going to stock your kitchen with extra ingredients, try to save money while you’re at it.

5. Expand your canned goods horizons.

I grew up on canned foods, as did my parents. But, I tend to cook with more fresh ingredients on a regular basis. However, canned foods have an advantage. 

Canned goods are usually ready to eat from the can — hello, new convenience foods! — and can be stored virtually anywhere. Even if you don’t have a lot of space to stock your kitchen, you can store cans all over the house.

These Pantry Meals focus on canned goods and are absolutely delicious. Feel free to load up on these things, knowing you’ll have a way to use them up:

  • beans
  • rice (dry or the instant cups/packets)
  • canned tuna
  • canned tomato products
  • spices
  • pasta

6. Buy enough to share, but don’t clear the shelves.

Obviously, many other people will be doing the same thing as you, so things might get a little heated in the grocery aisles. Buy enough to stock your kitchen for a couple weeks and to share with friends and neighbors if needed, but don’t clear the shelves. 

Remember we’re all in this together. We will get to the other side of this. Let’s do it kindly and eat well in the process!

What are you doing to stock your kitchen?

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Marci says

    I read this, looked around my house and realized- you are right! We have more than 14 days of food- at least a month. I asked my older daughter to help me think about what we might be missing- she was also convince we are well stocked and will be just fine. I need to grab a few stock-up items rice- to keep the family sane and coffee- to keep me sane….haha.

  2. Connie says

    I just looked through my freezers, and you are right… we certainly have more food than I realized!
    Your practical, helpful ideas are great, and I appreciate your reminders to remain kind, patient, and calm.

  3. Karen J says

    I also am fine. After a successful pantry challenge in January, I purchased some good deals on proteins and restocked my freezer. I need to buy more potatoes and onions then I am set. I did buy the ultra pasteurized milk so it will last longer. We also have three months worth of freeze dried food (with recipes!) stored in our garage that I hope we never have to break into. As I live in Washington in an area that has been hit hard, I’m glad to have the stock I have and the ability to share with others.

  4. Janet says

    In our neck of the woods, spring storms often lead to power outages so we have focused on stocking shelf stable items. We have not purchased extra fridge/freezer items. We know our children are going to be home from school for at least 3 weeks. Consequently, I have made sure each family member has a small store of their favorite treats — candy, chips, lemonade, etc. While probably not very healthy in normal times, probably good for everyone’s mental health to have a few comfort foods around. While my children are putting on a brave face, I can tell they are nervous. My best wishes for everyone to stay well. I told my staff this morning to remember a little kindness and a dose of humor goes a long way in coping with tough times.

    • Great idea. All the cravings for things that we don’t have are now coming out. LOL!

  5. Tonia says

    Miss Jessica, I appreciate you, your wonderful tips to save our families money and amazing recipes to help our families eat well! I have used your cookbooks and website to find great recipes that my family loves to eat. I used your pantry challenge to stretch our food one week where we had some unexpected expenses. We ate well and did not even need to buy much more than dairy, fruits and veggies that week. Thank you!

    • Yay! So glad to hear it. I know you’ll do well in the coming weeks. Blessings to you and yours!

  6. Alice E says

    Jessica, thank you for your helpful thoughts and reminders not to clear the shelves. I try to always have a stock of useful items in case of sickness or bad weather when I can’t get out. I do this by buying extra of what we use when it is on sale and that helps keep it affordable. So we are in pretty good shape and I’m very glad during this crisis.

    Canned chicken and tuna or salmon are always useful for quick meals combined with rice, potatoes or pasta. Also, keep a few treats available or baking supplies to make them. This helps a lot during stressful times.

    I’m very grateful for your guidance during pantry challenges. It has helped my learn what is and isn’t worth keeping on hand.

    • Heather Lawless says

      Alice and Jessica,
      You remined me that I had decided my last Costco trip on the 11th that I bought a package of canned chicken and canned salmon. The salmon my husband eats on a spinach salad often. I will used the chicken as a meal of last resort because I am using the month of easy homemade meals book that I purchased and read all the meals and found the shopping lists most helpful. Its been great, 10nmeals so far and 4 in the freezer. Have three days worth meat, roast chicken, chicken breast and my beef chuck roast thawing for meals this weekend. Its been good to have my son cook with me, even though he can’t do his nursing school work due to covid-19. Made cookies today..yum!
      The meal prer helps so much while eating out is not an option. Good luck everyone. Be safe and well.

    • Yes to the treats! We’ve been eating nonstop around here.

  7. Charity L. says

    Thank you for the article and encouragement. I have created my meal plan for 2 weeks. Prayers to all. Be well.

    • Heather Lawless says

      Charity, what have you fixed? I am going stir crazy! Would love to share meal lists. Thanks

    • Great job, Charity!

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