How much food do you need for isolation or lock down due to Coronavirus?

Tips to help you get through isolation or more time at home due to Coronavirus

  • Stay with a regular routine
  • What's in my emergency back-up food boxes
  • Break up your day: interrupt bottom time
  • Non-food emotion busters to help deal with anxiety, stress, and loneliness
  • Use food wisely
  • Consider whether you need a multi-vitamin
  • Stay up to date with advice from the Dept of Health's Coronavirus Health Alert


How much food do you need for lock down or isolation due to Coronavirus situation? I have the answer for you.

Updated Nov 29, 2021.

If you choose to, or need to, be under stay-at-home orders or go into quarantine, lock down or isolation due to the Coronavirus (Covid 19), you will need a few weeks food supply to hand. Aim to avoid daily grocery shopping. This lessens the risk of exposure for both you and the staff. To do this, you may need to work around the lack of freshness in your diet with frozen vegetables and dried/canned fruit. It is do-able and nutritionally fine.

If the supply chain falls down and fresh produce is not available, you will need other foods. Find out what groceries to buy during the Coronavirus pandemic just in case food shortages strike or you and your family are under stay-at-home orders  or need to go into isolation. Do not be greedy. Do not over-buy. If everyone stays calm and doesn't panic buy, there is a far better chance there will be enough for all. As we have recently found out, home delivery can not be guaranteed and is not available right across Australia. Online ordering and collection is great because it reduces your time near other people, and so exposure risk. If you are under stay-at-home orders it is easier to accept any time slot for collection. If the supermarket chain substitutes brands, be grateful that you can get a substitute to try rather than grumble that it is not your favourite. Adapt to what is available and empty the stock lurking in your pantry, freezer and fridge. This is probably not the time to be wasting precious foods on uncertain new recipes. Stick with tried and trusted family favourites; these familiar favourites add an element of comfort and certainty to family life during these uncertain conditions.

These Coronavirus and TLC pages give you very practical and sensible advice to help get you through.

1. Stay with a regular routine

Routines fall apart quickly when you lose workday reference points and timetables. For example, there is less need to wake up early to get out for a pre-work walk or breakfast. There’s no set time for lunch or mid meal breaks so they begin to drift and merge. There are no boundaries or barriers for accessing food and drink from the home kitchen and pantry.

Get out of sleep wear into day clothes. Make the bed. Pop on sand shoes or exercise gear to make it easier and automatic to step into the fresh air to move your body more.

Find a dedicated spot to work from or study at. Clear the table when you have finished for the day or cover it with a table cloth/sheet to signal the workday is over.

If necessary, set the alarm so you get up in time to have a full and interesting day. Build physical activity into your day. Add deliberate quiet time and relaxation when all electronic devices are turned off.

Keep the kids in a school time routine. Even though the schooling day may start and finish at different times, structured time set aside for lunch and play are essential. The same applies to home workers. Your work day may be more efficient and flexible. Develop and keep a routine. Decide when work starts and stops so your day does not get gobbled up with work.

Broken routines disrupt eating patterns and might disrupt your health. You need to remain as healthy as you can.

2. Break up your day

Without interruptions from work mates and customers, you may find you finish a day’s work faster than usual. Use the spare time cleverly to build and maintain your general health.

Interrupt your bottom time. Get off your bottom every 20 to 30 minutes and walk around for at least 2 minutes.  

Add planned physical movement: a solo walk, bike ride or run outdoors if allowed or an indoor activity routine such as stair climbing, floor yoga and pilates or with an exercise machine … work movement into your day.

Break up the daytime work routine with varied tasks to minimise boredom and work fatigue. 

3. Treat boredom, stress, loneliness and fear without extra food and drink.

Eating and drinking do not solve emotional problems. Have a list of non-food emotion busters to quickly pick from: mind challenges (crosswords, sudoko), creative pursuits (crafts, handwork, construction, art, musical instrument), tasks (de-cluttering, cleaning, laundry), movement (dance, punching bag, dart board, skipping rope, stretches), contact (live chatter, phone a friend, phone a help line), and relaxation (meditation, gardening, calming music, 20-minute nap). 

Create your own list today before you discover you need it.

Avoid screen time in your down time. Apart from filling your head with bad thoughts, sad events, anxiety and fear, excess screen time is bad for your body. Keep screen time in leisure time down below 7 hours a week or 1 hour daily.

4. Use food wisely.

You may have bought up big and now have enough spare food to last a fortnight or more, should you really need quarantine. With cupboards bulging and counter tops littered with spare packets of food, it is very tempting and easy to eat emergency back-up reserves. 

To avoid eating into backup supplies, plan a full menu of emergency meals and snacks to last a fortnight. Assume you will not be able to get out to the shops to top-up.

Work out how much food your household needs for all meals and snacks. Put the non-perishable food aside in large sealed cardboard boxes ready for emergency use. Set aside perishable meats or pre-prepared meals, tagged emergency, in the freezer. Do not tap into the reserves until you need to. But keep an eye on the use-by-dates on your stored items. If necessary, use the older items and replace with freshly bought ones. If you have multiples of one item, for example cartons of long-life milk, place the newer products behind existing (older) cartons; you will use the oldest item first and it is easier to keep track of which items are oldest. This is stock rotation.

Pre-pack lunches and planned snacks for everyone at home to manage how much gets eaten. Not only does pre-packing help your weight and health, it helps you ration food so it lasts long enough. Aim to have finished eating at least two hours before bed time.

Eat and drink away from the workspace and viewing screens without distractions. Leave the TV off, turn off the computer, and leave the phone and digital devices behind set to sleep mode.

Keep a closer eye on how much you cook up and serve especially from bulk-sized packs. It is hard to judge quantities at the best of times but when faced with bigger packs, humans will cook, serve and eat more. If you have cooked too much, freeze or refrigerate the balance for another day rather than pop it onto someone’s plate.

What you eat and drink in private, no one else sees. You may be more self-conscious about what and how much you eat in a work environment or when out and about. Keep an eye on yourself.

Once you enter quarantine, use up perishable items first to avoid wastage and risk of running out of food.

5. Consider whether you need a vitamin and mineral supplements.

Continue with your current vitamin and supplement routine. This is very important for anyone who has been prescribed vitamins and minerals by their dietitian or doctor. 

A well planned fortnight without fresh food will be nutritionally complete but the big unknown here is whether you and I are still able to get the right combination of foods from the supermarket due chaotic panic buying across Australia. A fortnight without a well balanced diet will not matter but if the time frame continues too long, a general low-dose all purpose multi-vitamin and mineral tablet might be right for you. 

A supplement will not keep Coronavirus away. Do not expect to boost your immune system with a supplement. 


 6. What is in my emergency back-up boxes?

The contents of my boxes reflect what I could buy from the supermarket and what I already had in my pantry. I did not panic buy during the first wave and, like others, was faced with limited choice and rationing when I finally went shopping. That’s why I dug into my pantry to set aside foods that keep well. The foods marked with a * are what I had in my pantry already. I topped up on some of these. Since the first wave, I have refreshed my supplies by using older items first, replacing them with items with longer use-by dates.

Be flexible and adaptable. You may not have any other choice.


  • Dried fruit (sultanas*, apricots*, currants*, dates*) for planned snacks and as an ingredient for homemade breads, scones and other meals.
  • Canned fruit (pineapple*, peaches*, apple) for desserts, planned snacks, meals and pizza toppings.



  • Fresh vegetables: Whole uncut pumpkin*, carrots* and potatoes* which will keep reasonably well in a dark dry place but need to be checked and rotated with fresher produce if available. Uncut pumpkin keeps well. Once cut, closely wrap the cut surface to keep air out and refrigerate until needed. Steam, bake, roast or boil and use to make soups, salads if it looks like the pumpkin is getting old.
  • Frozen vegetables (spinach*, beans*, peas*, mashed potato)
  • Canned vegetables (green beans, corn*, beetroot*, peas, asparagus, tomato*)


Legumes and lentils:

  • Dry chickpeas*, black beans*, and red lentils* for main meals.
  • Canned baked beans, black beans* and French lentils* for salads



  • Wholemeal and white wheat flour* for baking bread, scones, and pastry. I grabbed an extra tub of instant dried yeast and checked I had plenty of baking powder because only plain flour was left.
  • Chickpea flour* for use in main meals.
  • Wholemeal bread* for freezer.
  • Dry brown rice*, quinoa*, pearl barley* and white rice for main meals (risotto, stir fries, paella) and dessert (creamy rice).
  • Soft noodles* for stir-fry meal or soup.
  • Rolled oats*



  • Long life UHT 2% fat milk*.
  • Powdered full cream milk (i don’t usually buy full cream milk but I wanted a back-up plan).
  • Tasty block cheese*, feta cheese* and halloumi*. Cheeses are a versatile ingredient for meals, sauces and planned snacks. When bought in a sealed pack rather than from the deli, they keep well refrigerated until opened.
  • Long life cream* as an ingredient in cooking.


Meats and other protein sources:

  • Chicken pieces and mince in the freezer.
  • Eggs*
  • Canned fish (sardines*, salmon*)
  • Ham hock in a vacuum sealed bag (to make soup). Salty but this will go along way.
  • Sealed pack of ham. Salty but limited choice available.
  • Fresh meats are my biggest challenge as the butcher’s shelves were barren and I didn’t have any spare in my freezer. There was also no canned or frozen fish available to top up my ordinary supplies. Legumes, lentils and eggs are good meat replacements and meal extenders.


Miscellaneous items* in my everyday kitchen that are used in small amounts but will not run out over a fortnight:

  • Oil, butter, nut butter, Asian and other black sauces, vinegars, tomato concentrate and passata, and citric acid (in place of fresh lemon and lime)
  • Cooking ingredients such as baking powder, yeast, dried spices and herbs, bicarb soda, sugar, stock powder, cocoa powder.



  • Chocolate and wine. Try to have some of your favourite foods in the emergency pack so you do not feel dismal or totally deprived should you really need to go into serious quarantine and isolation.


What have you managed to get for your emergency fortnight supplies?

Do you want to know how much food to set aside starting with FRUIT? Over the coming days, I will outline how much food to set aside to meet basic nutrition needs. This is not the time to let your nutrition slip.

Tell me over at FaceBook what you’d like to know and what you have in your pantry. Join me over there to share your tips with other readers. Share tips for reducing waste in order to have enough food to last a few weeks in isolation.

Now Only

this=that (adult's edition) "seconds"

Thank you Trudy! A sign of appreciation