COVID-19 is still hitting the United States hard, and rather than debate what we could have done to prevent getting here, let’s look at what we should be doing now to prepare as the second wave begins to build. Speaking with friends who work in hospitals and infectious disease research, there is big concern that the fall and winter is going to be tough. People are going to be tired of quarantining, medical professionals are going to be burned out, and the population is going to be hit hard. So what should we be doing? How should we stock up for a pandemic?
Why Stock Up?
While I do think we should all stock up for the pandemic, I don’t want anyone to think I’m predicting shortages or quarantines where we can’t leave our houses. Rather, I suggest that people start stocking up so that they can reduce the number of times they need to go shopping. If you’re lucky enough to be able to work from home, you can avoid leaving the house all together. If you still have to work, this allows you to limit the number of additional places you need to go.
Will you still need to shop? Yes, absolutely. But perhaps instead of shopping weekly, you can go every other week, or even less. Additionally, if you do get ill, you’ll have supplies available. Additionally, we’re heading into winter. Depending on where you live, that may also mean being prepared for snowstorms. This way you can avoid that pre-storm shopping.
First and foremost, I’m not advocating hoarding in any way. Hoarding just causes artificial shortages. Rather, you should be slowly laying in supplies, making sure you have what you need. Don’t buy enough toilet paper to last all winter in one fell swoop. That’s just greedy and causes issues for other people.
What to Buy to Prepare for the Pandemic
One thing I did was take a look at our medications. We keep all of our over the counter medications in a bin in the linen closet, so I went through that and made a note of what we have and what will expire by the end of the year. I wanted to be sure we have what we need so if someone gets sick, we don’t need to make a run to the pharmacy.
- pain relievers
- stomach remedies
- cough and cold remedies
- electrolytes to prevent dehydration in case of a stomach bug
- anti-itch medications
- bandages and disinfectants
An easy start to the list was to begin laying in the supplies I would want on hand in case of a winter storm.
- bottled water
- canned goods, especially soups
- snack foods, especially crackers
- protein bars or granola bars
- coffee and tea
- peanut butter or other nut butters
- bread (frozen)
- pasta and pasta sauce
Next up, figure out what you regularly use. When you go to the grocery store, consider picking up one or two extra of the things on your list. We recently purchased a freezer, so one of our plans is to get some extra frozen veggies and freeze some meat and other things that we use regularly. We’re going to make sure that we always have one bigger package of toilet paper on hand unopened – so when we open a package, that goes back onto the shopping list. We’re making sure that we always have an extra box or two of cereal available, and when we go to specialty stores, we’re definitely buying more than we normally would. We’re just slowly laying in supplies so that at any point, we can eat from the freezer and pantry for at least two weeks, if not longer.
I’m also researching what can and can’t be frozen. I do a lot of homemade bread, so I’m not worried there, but I have sliced and frozen bread in the past. I also looked into whether or not you can freeze soy milk (answer – you can, but it changes the consistency, so it’s best to only use frozen soy milk in smoothies or other recipes). Finally, I’m making sure that I do have the baking supplies I want to have around – flour, sugar, butter, the things that pretty quickly disappeared from shelves this spring.
Plan Ahead – But Don’t Be Wasteful
One big key to this stock-up plan is that you don’t want to be wasteful. Don’t buy things you likely won’t use. You want to be using these supplies and replenishing. When you get a new box of cereal, don’t open that one first, place it on the shelf and open your last box. If you hate broccoli, don’t stock up on frozen broccoli just because it’s on sale. Figure out what you use regularly, what you like to have on hand, and watch for deals as you stock up for the pandemic.
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.
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