COVID has not only driven most of us home, but has also made us realize how unprepared we are to stay healthy and happy using only the things we already have in the house. The CDC has offered guidelines on social distancing and only going out when necessary, but what about everyday living?

There’s been a lot of confusion about what supplies are essential during the quarantine, leading many people to overbuy certain items like food and toilet paper. Please don’t! We’re not in an apocalypse right now: the only shortages of essential items have been caused by people panicking and hoarding hygiene products.

But that still leaves the question: what are the essential things that we should all have at home during the lockdown? After living in it for a few months and thinking hard on the essentials, I’ve come up with this list of 5 essential supplies to help you outlast the COVID quarantine in relative comfort and safety.


1. The Right Mask

Wearing a mask when you go out or interact with others is the CDC’s main recommendation. It’s going to lead my list too. They help prevent you from spreading COVID to others and offer some limited protection from others who may have it.

What I’ve discovered though is that wearing a mask has a hidden benefit: it visually reminds everyone to social distance and to refrain from touching their faces. That’s the main aspect that will keep you safe while out shopping during the pandemic.

Also, I said the “right” mask for a reason. Remember that the cloth should have enough ply so that when you pull on both sides, it doesn’t stretch too much.


2. Water Purifier

There’s no health reason related to the pandemic to buy a water purifier, but I’ve discovered having one at home is an essential part of my survival arsenal. The reason is that I’m shopping less (once or twice a month), so I don’t have as many opportunities to buy bottled water.

A good water purifier from a store or online vendor can help you keep hydrated with clean water while you spend time at home. As a bonus, you won’t be using and processing all that plastic that comes with drinking six bottles a day.


3. Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is your best friend during the pandemic. You can use it frequently to lower the chances of infecting yourself by touching your face as well as contaminating surfaces that you or your family will touch later.

I always keep a small bottle on me. They sell them now infused with aromatics like Eucalyptus and Lavender to keep you relaxed; always a plus during times of high stress. These are my favorites because pandemic living isn’t always relaxing! With family cooped up, job conditions changing, and financial situations strained, just a little relaxation boost helps.


4. Food

We definitely need to keep food stocked during the pandemic so we can limit the number of times per month we go shopping. But what types of food should you be buying? That’s what I’m going to help you figure out.

Anything that doesn’t go bad is your friend during a lockdown. This means getting better acquainted with dried rice, pasta, oats, and beans. Canned foods and frozen vegetables can last you a while – I’ve been taking more advantage of my freezer during the last few months than ever before. And anything that contains a lot of vitamin C could help you fight colds while you’re stuck inside – citrus, tomatoes, potatoes, and bell peppers are the stars.

Emphasize a longer shelf life when you buy and store food. Milk alternatives like almond milk last longer, so consider switching. And remember that if you’ve followed my advice before and regularly eat blueberries, one of my favorite “superfoods,” they’re one of the few fruits you can effectively freeze. Just one more reason to stock up on them.


5. Medical Supplies

We’re all thinking about our health during the lockdown and watching for the symptoms associated with COVID-19. The big ones are a dry cough and fever. Therefore, it makes sense to stock up on OTC treatments for these symptoms, so you don’t have to make an extra trip to the pharmacy if you or a family member start showing symptoms.

For cough, anything that soothes your throat is a good idea to buy. This includes lozenges and teas. My go-to tea for a sore throat is marshmallow root or slippery elm tea. These are herbs that coat your throat and reduce inflammation.

For fever, keep some common OTC fever-reducers stocked up, including Tylenol, Advil, and Aleve. They can help you with some of the aches of feeling sick as well.

Making sure you have a working thermometer is a good idea too.


The Takeaway

This COVID supply guide seems simple – mask, sanitizer, food, water – but hopefully my elaboration helps you shop smartly and feel a little more at ease while you’re cooped up at home, either with family or without.

The quarantine is new for everyone and I’m still learning too. But even with limited experience, these tips are a summary of how I’ve made my life in lockdown easier on myself and my family. Most of these tips have a safety component too, such as the fact that canned foods are not only convenient, but keep you from shopping too frequently.

Follow this guide to feel a little more relaxed in stressful times. So long as you can keep yourself and your family happy and healthy, everything else is secondary.