How do you grocery shop to cover a couple of weeks without all that food going bad—or your meals becoming boring? It’s a handy skill no matter what’s keeping you home, whether you’re dodging a virus, recovering from ankle surgery, or simply averse to trudging through the supermarket every three days.
The secret to a two-week supermarket haul is to shop for items that have a long shelf life and are versatile, says Leslie Fink, MS, RD, a nutritionist and recipe editor at WW. “Think about foods that serve multiple purposes.” For example, plain Greek yogurt—generally good for at least 14 days from purchase—is useful in sweet and savory dishes alike, while canned diced tomatoes are a base ingredient across cuisines, including Italian, Mexican, Greek, and Spanish.
Once you tick those boxes, opt for items you already know and like. Sure, canned green beans might help you survive being sequestered, but if you wouldn’t eat them otherwise, they might languish in your pantry once the need for preparedness passes.
Another tip from Fink: Make friends with your freezer. Frozen, pre-cut fruits and veggies are generally as nutritious as fresh, so grab a few bags of your favorites. And you can freeze most refrigerated items nearing expiration—from sliced bread to fresh chicken—for later use without undermining quality, which is reassuring to know in case illness saps your appetite.
If you do end up stuck at home, don’t pressure yourself to prep fussy recipes. (Chances are, you’ll have enough to worry about.) The following shopping list is made for mixing and matching, so let yourself improvise with combos. Read on for Fink’s list of supermarket staples that stay good for at least 14 days (here’s more on nutritional facts to look for), followed by a few toss-together ideas for meals and snacks.
Long-lasting groceries to toss in your cart
Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons
Crunchy apple varieties such as Granny Smith, Fuji and Honeycrisp
Meat and dairy
Firm or semi-firm cheese, such as cheddar, Parmesan and part-skim mozzarella
Plain Greek yogurt
Uncooked chicken breast
Vacuum-packed pre-cooked sausage
Bell pepper strips
Meal-starter kits (such as a veggie fried-rice kit to which you can simply add oil and eggs)
Canned and jarred items
Chicken or vegetable broth
Fruit, such as pineapple, packed in juice
Salmon and/or tuna
Grains and other pantry items
Dried, uncooked grains such as brown rice, farro, and barley
Unsalted nuts, such as sliced almonds
Peanut butter, powdered or regular
Dried fruit, such as cranberries or apricots
Crackers or rice cakes
Simple meals to make from foods in your pantry
Easy breakfast ideas
- Scrambled eggs with sauteed sliced onions and frozen peppers, served with toasted English muffin
- Oatmeal prepared with frozen berries and vacuum-packed milk, topped with sliced almonds
- English muffin breakfast pizza made with part-skim mozzarella and tomato sauce
Easy lunch ideas
- Tuna salad made with Greek yogurt, diced celery, and diced onion, served on toast with a cup of prepared soup
- Tex-Mex bowl with sauteed chicken, brown rice, black beans, corn niblets, shredded cheese, and salsa
- Pasta tossed with tomato sauce and sauteed frozen veggies, then sprinkled with cheese
Easy dinner ideas
- One-pot chicken biryani, a garlicky simmered dish with succulent white meat, brown basmati rice and dried spices such as turmeric and coriander
- Spicy black bean soup that combines canned corn, canned tomatoes and cumin for stick-to-your ribs deliciousness
Greek-style veggie burger with yogurt tzatziki and jarred red peppers
Easy snack ideas
- Apple “fries” with creamy peanut butter dip
- Edamame hummus with crackers
- Greek yogurt with warm blueberry sauce
Erin Quinlan is a freelance editor and journalist in New York City.