What you actually need in your pantry during a pandemic, according to experts.

As the spread of coronavirus causes pandemic pandemonium in Australia and abroad, populations are grappling with the fear of the unknown.

Worldwide, there has been nearly 150,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with over 200 of those in Australia.

Now, as cases continue to rise, Australians are in preparation mode. Indeed, for weeks now, that has involved stockpiling.

But what is the official advice on what we should all buy in anticipation of the outbreak of coronavirus?

Well, the Australian Government has provided no official recommendation that Australians prepare for isolation (unless you feel unwell).

Watch: Mamamia’s Claire Murphy breaks down your most answered questions about COVID-19. Post continues below. 

Video by Mamamia

So, instead, we looked to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, who says people should indeed have “supplies on hand”.

The CDC says necessary personal medication should be your first priority, in case there is an outbreak in your local community that will require self-isolation. If no extra medication is available, they advise to check if you can get them mail-ordered.

On top of prescribed or personal medication, the CDC adds that over-the-counter medical supplies will also be helpful to treat the cold-like symptoms of coronavirus (in mild cases). Authorities say that the majority of infections can be recovered at home, with over 80 per cent of coronavirus cases classified as mild.

They further advise to have “enough household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time”.

The NSW Government is a little more detailed. While it hasn’t issued a COVID-19-specific household preparation plan, it offers the following list for what to purchase in a pandemic situation.

Ready-to-eat canned/bottled food

  • meat
  • fish
  • fruit juice
  • vegetables
  • soup
  • pasta sauce

Snack food

  • dried fruits
  • nuts
  • biscuits
  • spreads
  • crackers
  • snack bars

Dried and long-life food

  • ready-to-eat meals
  • breakfast cereal
  • flour/bread
  • milk powder/UHT milk
  • soup mix
  • dried vegetables
  • rice and pasta
  • long life cheeses
  • tea/coffee/drinking chocolate
  • sugar

Toiletries/cleaning product

  • toilet rolls
  • soap and shampoo
  • feminine hygiene products
  • rubbish bags
  • tissues and paper towels
  • house and laundry cleaning/disinfectant products.


  • bottled water (3 Litres person per day)
  • concentrated juices/sports drinks (for dehydration due to illness)

Health supplies

  • first aid kit
  • adult and children analgesics/pain killers
  • face masks
  • protective gloves
  • thermometer
  • alcohol-based hand wash​/gels/wipes

Baby supplies

  • baby food/baby formula
  • nappies and wipes

Pet food

  • pet food (canned/dry)​

Other items

  • prescribed medications
  • other preferred household supplies

Of course, panic-buying is not helpful for anyone, and the overwhelming advice is to only stock up for two weeks’ worth of groceries.


Professor Ian Mackay from the University of Queensland, a virology expert, wrote for Virology Down Under a detailed list of you’ll most likely need, should you go into self-isolation.

“Buy a few of the things each weekly shop. Don’t buy things you won’t eat later, don’t hoard and don’t buy more than you’ll need for a two-week period. We’re not talking zombie apocalypse and we very probably won’t see power or water interruptions either,” Professor Mackay says.

As for face masks, the U.S.’ surgeon general (akin to the chief medical officer in Australia) told people on twitter to “STOP BUYING MASKS”, as it is more important that health professions have easy access to them when treating sick patients.

According to the Australian Government, the best way to avoid the spread of coronavirus is to was your hands frequently, to cover your cough and sneezes, dispose of dirty tissues and to use alcohol-based hand sanitiser. They add that if you are unwell, you must stay at least 1.5 metres away from people at all times.

Read more:

Feature Image: Supplied/Dianne Regan. 

For more information for the pandemic, you can visit the Federal Government’s website here

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