How to Prepare for the Coronavirus on a Budget

How to Prepare for the Coronavirus on a Budget

Mariah French Saving Money Leave a Comment

The Coronavirus is in full swing now. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t think I would be this young when another world calamity hit (I’m 25). Countries are in complete shutdown, schools are closed, and even the NBA has postponed their season until further notice.

If you’ve been paying attention to the news and warnings, you know that the scientists and politicians in charge of keeping us safe have been telling us to be prepared.

More specifically, we should have enough food and supplies to last us at least 2 weeks in case we need to self-quarantine. 

Honestly though, it seems likely that everyone will be stuck in their houses soon because of all the shutdowns happening around the world. 

This brings up the questions: How do you prepare to self-quarantine? How can you stock up on food and supplies while keeping it budget-friendly?

#1 Assess Your Essentials 

The first thing you need to do is determine what is essential in your life. What do you actually use that you don’t want to run out of?

I made this list below of necessities for my family (me, my husband, and our 1 year old son). Feel free to use and adjust this to your own circumstances. 

  • Toilet Paper
  • Toothpaste
  • Feminine Pads
  • Lotion
  • Shampoo
  • Body Wash
  • Hand Soap
  • Makeup Wipes
  • Diapers
  • Baby Wipes
  • Tissues
  • Medicine
  • Band-Aids
  • Batteries
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Dryer Sheets
  • Food

There may be some things on this list that aren’t essential to you, or you may add your own. Although I use paper towels daily, I don’t consider them a need because I can just as easily reuse a washcloth or sponge.  

I’m sure you’ve seen the memes or heard of people buying a lot of toilet paper and water bottles. In my opinion, toilet paper is something you need during a quarantine period, but not water bottles. 

Depending on where you live, tap water should be clean enough to drink and it’s cheaper. However, if anyone is concerned their tap water might not be safe enough to drink in emergencies, you can fill up water bottles with tap water and store it in a temperature controlled area. Then you can replace it with new tap water every month.

#2 Make a Grocery List

Before you head to the store to buy everything, I highly recommend making a list first. If you can, order your groceries online too. That will benefit your time, wallet, and health (you won’t have to interact with potentially infected people).

The reason that you should shop with a list is so that you only buy what you need. How many times have you gone to the store and ended up bringing home more than you intended?

I admit to doing that just yesterday. I even had my list with me, but then I saw the discounted bakery shelf where I succumbed to temptation and bought a coffee cake and an angel food cake. I know, I am weak… 

Shopping for self-quarantine will be different than your normal trip to the store. The main reason for this is that you will want your food to last.

Rather than buying fresh fruits or sugary cereal, try opting for pasta or frozen meat. In fact, you can freeze a bunch of things like soups and tomato sauce.

These are the foods I want ready for my family:

  • Pasta (rice, macaroni, Ramen)
  • Bread* 
  • Tortillas
  • Canned Soup*
  • Canned Vegetables*
  • Canned Tuna
  • Crackers/Saltines
  • Potatoes
  • Baking Supplies (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Honey
  • Oatmeal
  • Milk* 
  • Cheese*
  • Sour Cream
  • Eggs
  • Butter*
  • Condiments (mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard)
  • Meat*

*foods that can be frozen

Again, your list may be different than mine. Each person and family consumes different foods and that’s okay. 

My goal is to be as budget-friendly as possible with this so I plan on making some of our own baked goods like cookies and tortilla chips if we do have to stay inside. You can also learn to can your own fruits and vegetables. This will save you more money in the long run.

#3 Search for Sales 

Now that you know exactly what you need, the next step is searching for sales and discounts. Many people will tell you to shop at Costco or another wholesale warehouse to buy bulk items, but I don’t shop there so I couldn’t provide you with adequate information. A lot of those stores quickly run out of essential items like toilet paper too, but we have found that Asian or Hispanic stores such as Rancho Market will have them. 

My recommendation is to go to the online website of the store you normally shop at and browse through their deals. I buy my groceries at Smith’s and they often have sales if I buy 5 or more of one product. Seeing as how I will need more food than normal, that looks like a good option for me. 

Most stores nowadays have their own apps too. That can be timely to use if you are on the go and still want to prepare.

#4 Do the Math

Another tip that I like is to do the math when buying food. It may seem silly, but it can save you money by calculating how much you are paying per ounce. 

For example, let’s say an 8 oz jar of peanut butter costs $3.54, but you see a 16 oz jar for $6.25. Although the initial higher cost of the 16 oz peanut butter jar might scare you, that would actually be the better option because you are paying less per ounce and it will last you longer. 

In most stores, the labels for each item already have prices per ounce written so you don’t have to do the math in your head. 

Your mission when making your purchases is to find the best foods that will last the longest and cost the cheapest. 

I hope these tips help you to prepare for the Coronavirus quarantine at your house! Of course, make sure you have good entertainment like books and games too. One of the biggest problems in any kind of quarantine situation is boredom. If we’re going to be quarantined, we at least want to have fun!

We, the founders of Our Money Mentality, live in Virginia and Utah, where the Coronavirus is hitting hard. 

We want to know, where in the world do you live and how has it affected your life thus far?

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