How to Buy Food for a 14-Day Quarantine

Source: Win McNamee / Getty Images News via Getty Images

These days, in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, “quarantine” no longer sounds like some obscure concept from medieval times, and “isolation” means something considerably different than simply living in a place with spotty cellphone reception and no broadband.

Medical professionals now define isolation as the separation of those with a contagious disease — like COVID-19 — from those who aren’t sick. Quarantine, on the other hand, separates and restricts the movement of those who were exposed to the disease but haven’t yet become ill — for instance, people returning from a coronavirus hotspot.

It isn’t known how many people around the country have been asked to quarantine themselves or have self-quarantined, but the number is surely growing exponentially. And one concern of those who are under quarantine — as well as anyone who’s simply obeying government advice to “shelter in place” — is making sure they have enough food and household necessities. But how much is enough?

A Polish startup called Omni Calculator, that creates custom-built calculators covering hundreds of subjects, has provided guidance with a free interactive tool called Quarantine Food Calculator — Coronavirus.

Created by Joanna Michałowska, a PhD candidate at Poland’s Poznan University of Medical Sciences, the tool lets people input the number of household members and quarantine time, then estimates dietary needs in four categories: fruit and vegetables, perishable foods, non-perishable foods, and canned or frozen foods — the kinds of things you might buy at the best grocery store chain in every state.

The tool’s site also includes sample meal plans, links to other pertinent calculators (including one on social distancing and another on stimulus payments), and a number of specific recommendations on how to shop when stocking up for two weeks of quarantine. Be careful what you buy, in any case — these are foods that spoil faster than you’d think.

Omni Calculator’s recommendations appear, paraphrased and slightly rearranged, below.