Preparing for Coronavirus isolation: how much dairy to stock?

Tips for DAIRY product shopping for use during isolation or Coronavirus lock down.

This is not a time to let your health slip so you need to be very flexible when shopping. This guide shows dairy food swaps that help you keep your nutrition up.

Choose the best you can from what is left on the shelves. Some swaps may simply not be possible in your area but I have included them just in case they are.

Be prepared and assume you will not be able to shop during lock down or self-isolation.

Dairy products to use during lock down

 Fresh milk has a limited fridge life and will not keep for two weeks. Use fresh milk up early during isolation to avoid it going off.

    There is no point stockpiling fresh milk because of its limited fridge life. Buy enough to suit your routine needs but plan to have back-up supplies of other dairy product with longer shelf life in case of sudden need for self-isolation or quarantine.

    Although milk freezes, you are wiser to reserve freezer space for home-made meals, vegetables and meats.


Instead of fresh milk, use any of the following to keep up your protein and calcium intake:

    Yoghurt has a longer shelf-life than fresh milk. Aim to get a natural unflavoured yoghurt as this is more versatile ingredient for both eating and cooking than flavoured yoghurts. Add frozen and canned fruit to yoghurt for a sweet flavour. Add mashed vegetables, legumes and spices to create dips and spreads. Add plain to baking, sauces and soups.

    Long-life UHT shelf-stable liquid cows milks perfectly match their fresh counterparts for nutrition. They have a long shelf life out of the fridge until opened. Once opened, they last 7 days in the fridge. Leave specialised milk such as soy milk, lactose free milk, or rice milk on the shelf for those people who have a medical need. Not all UHT milks are good. Learn more here.

    Refrigerated cheese sealed in plastic has a good fridge life and is versatile ingredient to keep meals tasty and interesting. Deli cheese has a shorter life as it has been exposed to air and possibly other contaminates during shop handling. With all the calcium, protein, and fat soluble vitamins of whole milk, block cheese is a valuable emergency food. Cream cheese is a poor substitute and is not as nutritious as hard firm cheese or milk.

    Shelf-stable cheese has a long life and reasonable nutrition profile. Look for them outside the fridge area. Shelf-stable lines include processed cheese blocks and cheese triangles sealed in foil.

    Milk powders (either skim, full cream or A2) are excellent replacements for fresh milk. Milk powder is dried milk. All the water is removed, yet the nutrients remain in the powder.

    Yoghurt making powders are excellent back-up for when fridge yoghurt has run out. You don’t need a special machine or yoghurt maker to make yoghurt.

    Evaporated milk is made by removing part of the water from milk. Heat is added to increase its shelf life. Once open, evaporated milk needs refrigeration. Once reconstituted with water, evaporated milk has a nutrient profile very close to fresh milk. It is available as low fat or full cream.

    If choice is extremely limited and you can not get any of the varieties above, get ready made long life custard, egg custard mix or condensed milk. Condensed milk (regular or skim) is very sweet with a lot of added sugar and suits people who add sweetener with milk to cereal and drinks. The powerful sweetness may not suit your taste buds. It is a valuable source of protein and calcium. Once opened, keep tins or squeeze tubes in the fridge. Long life custard and egg custard mix are good dessert options that allow you to save plain milk for cereals, drinks, soups, baking and sauces. With milk as their base, custards supply you with protein and calcium but with an extra dose of sugar. Only you can weigh up whether the extra sugar is a personal concern for a two week period.


How much to buy, swap and serve?


Dairy farmers are managing to keep fresh supplies up but you may not have enough milk to hand once you are put into lock-down.

Check your pantry before you shop for items in bulk. You may already have enough dried milk hiding in the pantry somewhere.

Aim for at least two serves daily for women. Closer to three for men and women aged 51 plus. When choice is limited and food is rationed, close enough is good enough when it comes to amounts. We are at the mercy of our local shops and fellow shoppers.

One serve equals 250 ml milk = 35 g block cheese = 150 g yoghurt = 30 g milk powder = 95 ml evaporated milk. 

More than likely, you use a mixed range of dairy products usually so the numbers below for individual products probably seem extreme.

If you are used to buying fresh milk and dairy every few days, these amounts might also seem a lot but once spaced out across a fortnight, they are just enough. You don’t want to be caught short without supplies if a sudden lock-down is called. 

You are at the mercy of what milk replacements remain in the shop. These are approximate amounts that give you a guide when shopping.

Each one of these amounts is enough dairy for women aged up to 50 yrs:


    3.5 L liquid milk (fresh or long life UHT)

    400 g milk powder

    1.3 L evaporated milk

    2.1 kg yoghurt

    500 g block cheese


Each one of these amounts is enough for anyone aged 51 yrs plus OR for men:


    5.2 L liquid milk (fresh or long life UHT)

    600 g milk powder

    2 L evaporated milk

    3.1 kg yoghurt

    700 g block cheese


Combine these in any way to make up 2 weeks worth of dairy product. You are the only one who knows whether your household uses more milk than cheese, eats yoghurt or that someone has an intolerance to dairy product.

Cheese lovers

This picture shows how much cheese and milk an adult needs to get enough calcium through a lock down of 2-weeks. These keep well in readiness for sudden Coronavirus isolation.

Long life milk and cheese for lock down

Lactose inolerant?

Natural yoghurt and block cheese are both low in lactose content. This amount suits an adult for 2 weeks isolation.

Lactose intorant choices for 2 weeks isolation

How much dairy to buy, swap and serve?


Here is another way of looking at how much to have at hand in case you need to enter isolation due to the Coronavirus situation.

Each one of the following combo examples is enough for 2 weeks for an adult*:


    5 L long life UHT milk + 250 g firm cheese (e.g.tasty, cheddar, grated cheese) + 1 kg yoghurt

    2 kg yoghurt + 375 ml can evaporated milk + 500 g milk powder

    4 L long life milk + 750 g yoghurt + 500 g cheese


*I have taken a middle ground between men and women’s needs. This equals 2½ serves daily.

By spreading the shop across cheese, long life milk and powdered milks, rationing has less of an impact. Milk powder and evaporated milk are excellent ingredients in sauces and desserts and need not be wasted once you exit isolation.

It may take a few shopping trips to buy enough for a large household.


Have you noticed what dairy products and other ‘milks’ are not here?

  • Ricotta and cottage cheese are excellent sources of protein but poor calcium sources. Both are better choices that cream cheese but neither is as good as firm cheeses.
  • Cream, butter, ice cream, coconut milk and coconut cream are condiments, ingredients for cooking or sweet finishes rather than sources of calcium and protein. They are not replacements for milk, cheese and yoghurt.

Prefer variety?

Select a combination of cheese, milk powder, evaporated milk, yoghurt and long life milk. You are more likely to skirt around rationing at the supermarket by varying the types of dairy product you choose.

Dried, canned, liquid and yoghurt dairy products
Now Only

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

Thank you Trudy! A sign of appreciation