President Cyril Ramaphosa told us not to panic and go nuts stockpiling – it’s really not necessary.
However, it is wise to buy a good stock of groceries so you don’t need to make too many trips to the supermarket where you could be exposed to Covid-19 and other germs.
A two-week supply is what experts are advising you to have while you and your family hunkers down until the lockdown is lifted.
Here are the key ingredients you need to buy so you can continue to prepare the familiar meals you family loves and keep everyone in your home happy and healthy.
Fruit and veg
In the rush to stock up on tinned foods, shoppers often neglect to buy enough immune-boosting fresh produce.
Cabbage, carrots, butternut, pumpkin, sweet potato, potatoes, onions, lemons, apples, oranges and pears – all will easily keep for two to three weeks, if not longer.
Avoid buying pre-cut veggies such as mushrooms and butternut as these don’t last nearly as long as whole produce.
If you accidentally buy too much, it need not go to waste as you can freeze most fruit and veg, except items with a high water content such as celery, tomato, lettuce and cucumbers. Izelle Hoffman, author of the Mindful Eating cookbook, points out that overripe bananas freeze very well.
Simply peel them and put them in a container in your freezer.
“They can be added to smoothies or used in baking,” she says.
In the freezer
Food editor Carmen Niehaus says it’s cheaper to buy bulk packs of meat and then separate them into smaller packs. “Pork is very affordable right now,” she says.
As a general rule, cooked meat can be kept for three months in the freezer, while uncooked meat such as mince can be stored for four months, chicken pieces for nine months and uncooked steak and chops for up to 12 months.
“Another clever idea is grate cheese and freeze it to make it last longer,” Carmen says. “Sliced bread also freezes well and can be used to make toasted sandwiches.”
The grocery cupboard
Pasta, rice and oats
It’s a good idea to have a supply of all of these as they can be used in a wide variety of meals, says Alyssa Pike, manager of nutrition communications at the International Food Information Council.
Carmen recommends buying a big bag of flour, preferably stoneground white or wholemeal, so you can bake your own bread or make treats like crumpets and scones to keep up your family’s spirits. You should also make sure you have a tin of cocoa, baking powder and vanilla essence so you have the option to make things like chocolate cake and hot chocolate.
Beans and legumes
They’re not only long-lasting but also a great base for a protein-rich meal. And if you buy the dried version rather than the tinned variety you can make them stretch even further. Just be sure to plan ahead before you use them. You need to soak them, preferably overnight, as this makes them easier to digest.
Add great variety to meals. Carmen recommends buying different types of tomato – from pastes to chopped tomato and passatas. You can also stock up on whole kernel corn, coconut milk (great for curries and as a substitute for fresh milk), tuna and tinned beans and lentils if you do not have time for soaking.
Sauces, spices and spreads
Vinegar, soya sauce, oil and herbs and spices will help add flavour to your meals. Also don’t forget to buy sunflower and olive oil. Marmite, peanut butter and mayonnaise can come in handy to make your food tastier.
Nuts and dried fruits are a great source of iron, fibre and antioxidants. Nuts such as almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, pecans and pumpkin and sunflower seeds are also a tasty, nutritious option.
Popcorn is also a healthier alternative to chips.
Izelle suggests rice cakes as a longer-lasting alternative to bread.
“You can top them with avocado and tomato for a quick and easy snack, or almond butter, raw honey and bananas for a sweet variation,” she says.