Best food buys during Covid-19 self-quarantine

As countries are taking stronger measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, self-quarantine and the temporary closing of businesses may affect normal food-related practices. Healthy individuals, as well as those showing acute respiratory disease symptoms, are being requested to stay at home. In some countries, restaurants and take-away offers are being limited and some fresh items are becoming less available.

Good nutrition is crucial for health, particularly in times when the immune system might need to fight back. Limited access to fresh foods may compromise opportunities to continue eating a healthy and varied diet. It can also potentially lead to an increased consumption of highly processed foods, which tend to be high in fats, sugars and salt. Nonetheless, even with few and limited ingredients, one can continue eating a diet that supports good health.

For optimal health, it is also important to remain physically active. To support healthy individuals in staying physically active while at home, WHO/Europe has developed specific guidance for periods of quarantine, including tips and examples of home-based exercises.

In order to support individuals in eating healthy during self-quarantine and isolation, WHO-Europe has prepared a list of best food buys:

“Best food buys”

The following is an overview of foods with high nutritional value which are generally affordable, accessible and have a longer shelf life. You may use this list as inspiration for what to keep at home during self-quarantine or longer home stays.

Long-lasting fresh fruits and vegetables


WHO recommends consuming a minimum of 400 g (i.e. 5 portions) of fruits and vegetables per day. Citrus fruits like oranges, clementines and grapefruit are good options, as well as bananas and apples, which can also be cut into smaller pieces and frozen for later consumption or to add to smoothies. Root vegetables such as carrots, turnips and beets, as well as vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are relatively nonperishable. Garlic, ginger and onions are also great options to keep at home, as they can be used to add flavour to a variety of meals.

Frozen fruits and vegetables


All frozen fruits such as berries, pineapple and mango are great options, as they still contain high levels of fibre and vitamins and are often less expensive than the fresh versions. These frozen fruits can be added to juices, smoothies or porridge or eaten with low-fat plain yogurt after defrosting.

Frozen vegetables are nutritious, quick to prepare, and consuming them can help reach the recommendations, even when fresh foods are scarce.

Dried and canned pulses


Beans, chickpeas, lentils and other pulses are great sources or vegetable protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. These are also rather versatile and can be used for stews, soups, spreads and salads.

Whole grains and starchy roots


Wholegrain rice and pasta, oats, buckwheat, quinoa and other unrefined whole grains are excellent foods as their shelf life is long, they can easily be prepared, and they contribute to fibre intake. Unsalted crackers and wholegrain bread are also good options. Bread can conveniently be frozen for later use, ideally in slices for easier defrosting, to extend its freshness.

Starchy roots such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and cassava are also long-lasting and good sources of carbohydrates. These should ideally be baked, boiled or steamed. Leave the skins on for extra fibre and flavour.

Dried fruits, nuts and seeds

Particularly unsalted and unsweetened, these may serve as healthy snacks or added to porridge, salads and other meals. In covid-19 self-quarantine, dried fruits and nut butters or spreads are also good options, as long as you choose 100% nut butters which do not have added sugar, salt, or partially hydrogenated or palm oils.



In corona virus self-quarantine, eggs are a great source of protein and nutrients and are incredibly versatile. Opt for boiling or poaching rather than frying.

Canned vegetables


Although fresh or frozen vegetables are normally the preferred option, canned vegetables such as mushrooms, spinach, peas, tomatoes and green beans are good alternatives with a longer shelf life, to ensure a sufficient intake of vegetables. Remember to choose, when possible, options with low or no added salt.

Canned fish


Canned tuna, sardines and other fish are good sources of protein and healthy fats. These can make a healthy addition to salads, pastas or whole grain breads. If possible, choose fish canned in water rather than oil or brine.

Reduced-fat shelf-stable milk


Dairy products provide an inexpensive source of protein and other nutrients. Choosing reduced-fat dairy is one way to reduce saturated fat consumption in corona virus self-quarantine, while also getting all the benefits of dairy. UHT milk in a can or carton will be relatively shelf stable. Powdered milk is another shelf-stable option.

Source: WHO – Europe


mixed dried fruit supplier

Coronavirus and 5 Questions about Safe Snacking

Spending more time at home almost certainly means more snacking at home. But the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak is raising new concerns about our food choices. Are some snacks better —or safer— than others? Johns Hopkins All Children’s Nutritional Services Clinical Manager Melanie Newkirk, M.S., R.D.N., C.S.P., L.D.N., answers five questions about safe snacking.

  1. The produce aisle has always seemed like a great place to start when it comes to healthy snacking, but how do we safely serve fruits and vegetables to our children amid COVID-19 concerns? What precautions should be taken?

Fresh produce is always a great option for a healthy snack and don’t forget that all Americans need five servings of vegetables and fruits each day — even during a pandemic.  According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consumers should follow the normal guidelines associated with food safety to clean produce in the context of the coronavirus:

      • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas, then rinse fruits and vegetables under running water without soap, bleach or commercial produce washes.
      • Scrub firm produce (think melons, potatoes) with a clean produce brush.
      • Dry produce with a paper towel or clean cloth towel.
    1. What about baked goods? Cookies, for example — whether homemade or baked and sold in a bakery or grocery store — are they safe to eat?

There is no known evidence that the coronavirus is transmitted through foods such as baked goods. When baking at home, always follow general food safety guidelines: wash hands before preparing foods, prepare foods in a clean environment and don’t eat raw dough or batter.

  1. There are so many packaged foods that kids like to snack on, things like cereal, popcorn, trail mix and fruit snacks. How can we be certain they are not contaminated with COVID-19?

There is no way to tell if a box or container is contaminated with COVID-19. The coronavirus can live on surfaces (up to 24 hours on cardboard and two to three days on plastic albeit in decreasing concentration over time).

    • When shopping, sanitize hands often and avoid touching the face to reduce risk for transmission of the virus.
    • When you arrive home, one option is to transfer the food item to a container that is already washed and clean at home or a plastic storage bag.
    • Boxes with individual packages may be emptied and left in the garbage can.
    • You can wipe a plastic or glass container with a disinfecting wipe if desired.
    • Some may choose to keep foods in a separate storage area for 24-72 hours, but keep in mind that high temperatures (such as the garage or trunk) may not be safe for storing all foods.

Fresh foods must be put away immediately to assure safe temperatures to prevent risk for food-borne illnesses.

    1. Sometimes only curbside pick-up will do. Are “to go” orders generally safe?

There is no evidence to show that takeout food is a source of COVID-19 spread. Contact with the delivery person may be a risk, so practice good hand hygiene and maintain the recommended 6-foot distance from your delivery person.

  1. Are there some general rules to employ or extra precautions to take in order to keep our food as safe as possible during this pandemic?

The coronavirus is a respiratory virus, not a food-borne pathogen and at the time of this article, there is no known evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through food or our food supply.

    • In general, try to limit trips to the grocery store to promote physical distancing and exposure to others.
    • Shopping carts and checkout areas are “high touch” so be sure to sanitize the cart before use whenever possible.
    • Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, containing at least 60% alcohol, before and after shopping and don’t touch your face.
    • When bringing groceries into the house, place these items separate from clean items.
    • After putting food away, clean the surface with soap and water, then disinfect.

The FDA provides excellent guidance on general food safety to prevent food-borne illnesses.

With our kids being home during this time, we recommended that parents maintain a normal meal and snack routine.

    • Most children only need one, no more than two snacks a day.
    • Promote healthy snack options such as vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, low fat dairy products and whole grains.
    • Encourage water as the best beverage choice throughout the day.

Ref: Johns Hopkins Medicine