Let’s be honest: We don’t each need 600 rolls of toilet paper on hand right now. Not that that’s stopping some people! But after a really stressful week of a COVID-19 scare involving a quarantined relative in D.C., it did put the situation in stark perspective.

I remain firmly in the prepare don’t panic camp, and will continue saying over and over, “facts are our friends.”

I also understand that anxiety is real, and that “stocking up” may help ease some of that stress, by making you feel a little more prepared in a worst case scenario, and less worried about not being able to get something important that you need.

With that, I’ve put together a list of a few items you might not have considered, but could come in handy.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting you fill your entire Costco cart with all of this, or hoard all the electrolyte packets in your drugstore so that your neighbors don’t have any. Just take stock of what’s in your home, and refresh your cabinets, fridge and freezer the way you normally do with these ideas as a jumping off point.

Also, trust that you’re not likely to be stuck without something you really desperately need.  If the social media support this weekend has taught me anything, it’s that people are going to be there for you.

Should you be stuck in quarantine with an actual case of COVID-19 in your family, I have no doubt that friends or neighbors will be happy to pass on a spare pack of antibac wipes and extra hand soap.

CMP is an Amazon and rstyle affiliate

Related: 21 interesting, educational indoor activities to keep kids happy when you’re stuck indoors

A few unexpected things to buy in case of a quarantine: Things to eat

I think we all go into hurricane mode when we think about stocking up, which accounts for the run on canned goods, ramen, and bottled water. But remember, there’s no indication that we’re going to lose water any time soon, let alone electricity!

-Frozen foods and veggies Canned goods are smart because you can eat them for months or years, but don’t forget to stock up on other stuff that keeps too — frozen foods including veggies, protein (chicken, fish, meat), fruits for smoothies, even convenience foods like pizzas for the kids. I’d get some ice cream treats too. That’s how we roll.

The Aerogarden Bounty Elite won't just help you grow fresh herbs indoors, but could be a fun project for the kids if a quarantine hits

– Potted herbs. An apartment-dweller like me without a garden would love to have fresh herbs on hand if stuck inside! Buy some pre-potted basil, thyme, rosemary, or whatever you like for your windowsill. Or, invest in an Aerogarden which doubles as a fun science project for the kids. So much (like the Bounty Elite model, shown here) is 25% off right now and can grow tomatoes and salad greens as well.

Just know that while it does grow herbs five times faster than regular soil, you’re starting with seeds so it will take a little time to have herbs you can harvest.

– Shelf-stable milk We go through so much milk in our home, between cereal and baking and coffees, that a few boxes of Parmalat would be a smart buy.

Coffee beans, especially if you tend to grab coffees at Starbucks. It’s a good excuse to start saving money and making your own each morning, anyway. But if you’re stocking up, make sure you have creamer (shelf-stable if you need), sugar or sweetener, and if you’re my teen, a squeeze bottle of Hershey’s caramel syrup in the fridge. I know, I know. But hey, if a few homemade caramel macchiatos make a week pass faster, I’m all for it.

Honey I always have a ton on hand for some reason so I don’t need any more. But if you’re battling sore throats or coughs, you’ll be surprised how fast even a stash like mine can disappear.

Fresh ginger There are so many benefits of ginger, as those of us who survived morning sickness can attest. It has anti-inflammatory properties that can be helpful this time of year, and really can help with nausea or intestinal distress if you’re battling any of that.

Tortillas – while you can freeze bread of course, I love tortillas because they last so long in the fridge, and they’re so versatile. I especially love that Costco has the zillion-packs of them at terrific prices.

– Apples. Yes, apples! They last a good long while — as long as 4 to 6 weeks — and you can eat them all the time, not just if you’re stuck inside. Besides, how delicious would fresh fruit taste if you’re in a canned soup – pasta – rice rotation?

– Chocolate. Can you imagine having a craving and not being able to get out and get any? Taking care of yourself during a quarantine also means eating some things that make you happy.

Wine If you’re in quarantine as opposed to isolation, you’re likely healthy. In which case, a glass of wine (for the adults!) while you plow through your Netflix queue isn’t such a bad way to get through your evenings. Kristen even mentioned her liquor store was packed last Friday night. So we’re not the only ones with this idea, obviously!


A few unexpected things to buy in case of a quarantine: Things to keep you healthy

So many lists are out there that tell you about hand sanitizer, wipes, tissues, and more hand sanitizer. So I’m skipping those for now. Here are a few items you might not have considered for your family.

Pro tip: Independent drugstores and even delis/bodegas may have items that the big chains are out of, from gloves to thermometers to wipes. A little shop near me that you’d least expect had a whole bunch of hand sanitizer pumps for sale when the entire city seemed to be sold out. Just…sitting there. Behind the counter. So keep your eyes out!

What to stock up on in case of a quarantine: unexpected items like a good, working thermometer

A good thermometer with backup batteries. I can’t tell you how many times over the past 15 years, I’ve reached for a thermometer only to find it had stopped working or was reading temperatures 20-degrees too high. I finally invested in a Braun Thermoscan  ($42.99 at Target if it’s in stock) and it’s been the most reliable yet.

If you want one yourself, they are flying off shelves.Third-parties are price-gouging it on Amazon right now ($95 FFS!)  so look in your local drugstore where it should be from $42 (Rite-Aid) to $59 (aw, come on CVS). Or if you want to order online, Walgreens may be your best option where it’s in stock for $55.99.

Pedialyte or other electrolyte replenishers. Gatorade works, or electrolyte packets you mix with water. I had a sick kid a few weeks ago and it reminded me that if we get hit with Coronavirus symptoms, that includes fever which can lead to fluid and electrolyte loss. Not a bad idea to have something around to treat that.

Allergy medicine, cough syrup, pain reliever, throat lozenges. Again, you should probably have this stuff on hand all the time, so just check your medicine cabinets and see if anything needs refilling. If your community gets hit with a lot of COVID-19 cases, you’ll be surprised how fast people start hoarding basic cold care.

– Rubber gloves We always have some on hand anyway, because I have a kid who needs them to do the dishes. We also have a big box of disposable gloves leftover from a painting project. I’d say get them if you’ll use them anyway; if not, they seem a little more extreme to me than realistically precautionary but that’s your call.


A few unexpected things to buy in case of a quarantine: Things to keep things fun

We’ll probably write an entire post on this because we have so many good ideas! But here are a few quick ideas just to get you started. Not like there’s going to be a run on colored pencils, but preparation is always good, and again, these are things you’ll probably be buying at some point anyway.

Llama String Art Kit from Pretty Twisted lets kids make their own gifts or decor

-Crafting and creative supplies for the kids. If you have younger ones in particular, nothing like a shiny, unopened box of new crayons, a fresh coloring book, or a cool craft kit to keep things fun. (above: The Llama String Art Kit from Pretty Twisted)  Also make sure you have printer ink and paper which can never hurt.

As for older kids, think calligraphy markers, brush pens, or even a new blank book or journal could be valuable.

– Baking supplies and mixes If you’re not sick — or if you’re taking care of someone who is — could a hot pan of chocolate brownies or some cute spring-y cupcakes hurt? Nope, not at all.

– Some new games or puzzles If it’s been a while since you’ve tried a new game for the family, we have so many suggestions it’s crazy! Here are a few for starters.  Again, you’re not preparing for losing electricity, just keeping the boredom at bay.

7 great family board games that take 30 minutes or less to play
The best group card games to play with the whole family
8 of our favorite family board games for 6 or more players of all ages
5 favorite small games for family travel — or just staying home. 

– A new video game. Family game night doesn’t just have to be unplugged; there are so many benefits to playing video games as a family. And hey, the kids may need lots of alone time as well. Here are our kids favorite Nintendo Switch games. Just one as a special gift can go a long way if they’re home, missing their friends, and feeling a little stir crazy.


Top photo by Youssef Aboutaleb via Unsplash