20 Foods to Buy While You’re Sheltering in Place

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Public health officials and state and local government representatives advise us to minimize trips to the grocery store as much as possible these days. Getting groceries delivered instead of picking them out ourselves may somewhat limit our exposure to possible coronavirus infection, but it adds another pair of (potentially infected) hands to the process of getting food from store to table — and ordering grocery delivery when it isn’t strictly necessary risks overloading the delivery system for those in greater need. Even if you’re not being kept inside for medical reasons, it’s worth knowing how to buy food for a 14-day quarantine and how not to.

To avoid having to make too many market trips or having food brought to us too often, it makes sense to maintain a good stock of durable edibles — foods with long shelf lives.

Some pantry staples will keep for months or years if stored properly. These are the kinds of foods that have long interested so-called preppers or survivalists. Once scorned by some for seeming paranoid in their anticipation of periods of privation, they now seem prescient.   

You don’t have to be a prepper, though, to see the advantages of stocking a pantry with items that will remain good to eat for long periods of time — especially in this era of reduced shopping opportunities, potential food shortages, and an uncertain future.

24/7 Tempo has assembled a catalogue of foods in various categories — not just pantry items but some fresh fruits and vegetables, too — that won’t spoil quickly, even at room temperature. These are 20 foods that spoil faster than you’d think

Some of the foods on this list will last for weeks or months. Some are virtually immortal. Remember, though, that moisture and high temperatures will affect the longevity of most foods, even those with long shelf lives. (Refrigerating or freezing many foods will extend their shelf life considerably, of course.) In addition, some foods tend to change over time in color, texture, and/or flavor — so while they may last months or years, they may be at their prime somewhat earlier.