In a state of panic, it’s normal for one’s mind to go blank and be unable to decide what and how much to buy, or what’s necessary or unnecessary. Here’s a handy list.

Unsure what to get during the lockdown? Here’s a list of essentials

It started with one global pizza chain promising to deliver in under 30 minutes and then moved on to hundreds of apps and services. Before long, we got habituated to a lifestyle where we have easy access to everything we would want or need. 

However, with the coronavirus outbreak and global lockdown, we’re facing a situation nobody could have imagined. We can no longer get what we want when we want it. And panic buying is a natural human instinct in the midst of all this uncertainty. Terrified by the rapidly emptying shelves in groceries stores, people are picking up whatever they can find. 

But buying things you don’t need – and will probably never use – is a complete waste of money and the society’s resources at large. Hoarding is not the solution; in fact, that’s what accelerates panic buying as it leads to a shortage of essentials. 

Related: Essentials for every home first aid kit

If you’re confused about what to buy, here’s a list of groceries and other essentials you absolutely must have.

1. Fruits and vegetables 

Fruits and vegetables are a part of the daily Indian diet, and do a lot to boost immunity. However, they fall in the category of perishables and tend to spoil quickly if not consumed in a few days. So buy judiciously; pick up more root vegetables such as potatoes, onions, and carrots that have a greater shelf-life than greens. If you notice any of them getting a little dull, soak them in ice water to perk them up. 

2. Grains and pulses 

Make sure you have enough everyday staples such as wheat, rice, and dal. But avoid excessive hoarding and store them well, or else they might attract insects such as weevils. Go for twice the quantity you would normally buy. For instance, if your family consumes 5 kg of wheat in one month, order 10 kg instead. Remember, eating home-cooked meals can get boring after a point, so make sure you pick up a few packets of whole-wheat pasta, noodles, and oats every now and then.

3. Oils, seeds, and nuts

Once you have got these basics in place, cooking mediums such as canola oil, olive oil, etc. should be the next thing to zero in on. It’s easy to binge on biscuits and chips when you are confined at home all day. To avoid that, get healthier snacking options such as flax seeds, chia seeds, dry fruits, and nuts. All these are rich sources of healthy fats. 

Related: 3 Meal Planning Techniques for the modern woman

4. Snacks and beverages

It’s natural for everyone to crave comfort food during these stressful times. Load up on your family’s favourite snacks, including jams, peanut butter, chocolate spreads, instant noodles, chocolate, popcorn, juices, soft drinks, coffee, etc. But be careful to exercise portion control – do not binge or go overboard.

5. Dairy products

Can you imagine going through a day without cups of chai or coffee? The shelf life of milk packets 1 or 2 days, so it’s best to get tetra-packs of milk. These have a shelf life of around six months until opened, and about a week in the fridge afterwards. Also, get milk powder as a backup. Ghee, butter, and cheese are other staples to have in your pantry.

6. Toiletries and hygiene

Hand wash, sanitiser, soap, shampoo, conditioner, daily skincare essentials, pads/tampons, toilet paper, tissues, etc. are a must. Purchase hand wash and sanitiser in more quantities than your household normally uses, as they constitute the first line of defence against the virus. Also get laundry detergent and cleaning supplies. If you have a toddler at home, don’t forget diapers, baby wipes, formula, and other necessary products. 

Related: A millennial woman’s guide to saving big on monthly bills

7. Medication and first-aid kit

You should quickly review the medications you and everyone else in your family will need. This includes vitamins and other supplements. Make sure there’s enough to last a month at least. Also buy whatever you need for your first-aid kit – bandages, painkillers, antiseptic cream, antacids, a thermometer, etc. Don’t forget to get enough face masks and disposable gloves; you’re going to need them every time you step out. 

Related: Are unprecedented pandemics covered under health insurance?

8. Stationery and supplies

Working from home requires an efficient workspace, not just for adults but also kids. Especially now that most schools are beaming classroom sessions online, you will need to ensure that your kids’ education does not suffer. Besides laptops and a reliable Wi-Fi connection, make sure you have all essential stationery – pens, pencils, sharpeners, paper clips, etc. 

Of course, while doing your ‘lockdown shopping’, you need to take into account the lifestyle, eating preferences, and habits of each member of your family. The best thing to do during an unexpected and stressful situation such as this is to try and maintain a sense of normality. This way, you can make the situation less disorienting for everyone. Take this short quiz to find out if you are good at managing your monthly food expenses?


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