Meal Planning in the Time of Coronavirus + Spreadsheet
I recently updated my how to make a meal plan post. And then Coronavirus showed up. I look forward to the future when meal planning looks more like the fun and easy going “hmmm… what should we eat this week!?” outlined in that post. Lately, food and meal planning in the time of self-quarantine is a lot more stressful.
Coronavirus Meal Planning Template: Download
The purpose of this Coronavirus Meal Planning & Food Tracking Template is to help you keep track of and plan your food purchases to minimize going out to the store, and reduce food waste – during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can complete as much or as little as you need. Note: the “Days left” for food line items auto-calculates based on the use by date you enter for each item. Download the template here or below. It is a free template, using “pay what you want.” You can enter $0 and then it is an excel file you can use in Google Docs.
- 2-5 Week Emergency Meal Plan – On this sheet, you can plan out a rough meal plan based on what food you currently have on hand. You can also note a 2 week “emergency supply” which is recommended for any disaster – like earthquakes, hurricanes etc.
- Fresh, Fridge, and Freezer Stock Levels – On this sheet, you can start listing what food you have in your fridge, freezer, and fresh items – including quantity and expiration date. The Worksheet will auto-calculate how many days are left for items, and you can sort by this column, to minimize food waste.
- Packaged Goods – On this sheet, you can keep track of packaged goods like canned food and box food. This Worksheet also auto-calculates based on “Use by” dates.
- EXAMPLES – The following three sheets, you can see an example of what my lists look like. You can either delete these sheets or edit as needed.
Self-Quarantine: Week 1 – Stockpiling, Panic Buying and Hoarding
Oh boy, the first full week of coronavirus self-quarantine the stores were crazy! Thankfully, I’m not a Costco member, so I didn’t have to experience most of the stock piling lines. People, let’s not do this ok?! Stores will have food if we all work together in not freaking out. I admit, it’s the scariest thing in most of our lifetimes. I did a bit of “panic buying” after some of the news hit. Definitely not in stockpiling territory – a few extra boxes of pouch packs for my toddler. But I was and still am feeling a low level anxiety about food. And yes, I’m grateful to be able to buy food and plan for my family.
This spreadsheet seems like it’s stockpiling once you list out everything you have in your house. But really it’s about realizing what you already have and then making a plan to actually use it wisely.
One thing I noticed really quickly the first week of self quarantine was how fast we were going through food. Our household is two adults and one 2 year old (who eats almost the same amount as us). However, in our usual life, we all eat breakfast at home, 2 of us eat lunch at home, and we go out to dinner or get takeout way more than I remember.
Our meal plan now needs to include everything we eat – meals and snacks. And we need an accurate list of what we need so we don’t waste trips to the grocery store. This is what I consider doing our part to help limit the spread of coronavirus. We’re not healthcare workers or working in “front line”/essential jobs. So I view our job as isolating so those people are at less risk. This includes knowing what food you have and need and not constantly going to the grocery store – even if it’s listed as a permitted outing for most shelter in place locations!
I did a big grocery shopping haul at the beginning of the first week when self-quarantining recommendations came out. Oregon is now under a shelter-in-place order like some other states in the USA. I have since done a grocery delivery order (I use both Instacart and PrimeNow in Portland), and a produce subscription box. I hope to do this weekly as we need more food, but planning at least a week out as getting a delivery slot available is kind of tricky. I’m using these services for two reasons:
1. It seems like it’s limiting exposure by me staying home, and only 1 person doing shopping and then delivering to many people. We unbagged the food outside, wiped everything down that we could and then washed our produce. It seemed ridiculous and over the top, but I guess we’re already passed that point.
2. It is helping our local economy. Instead of my money just going to grocery stores, I’m helping gig economy workers make money and giving an extra tip than I normally would. I view this as very important right now especially since our food service industry just got almost completely shut down. At least this is how I view it. Please comment if you view this another way!
Tips for finding delivery time slots on Instacart or PrimeNow: this is anecdotal, but seems to work for me. First, have your cart ready to go with things you need. Second, try to limit your item count to 30-35 max items. I’ve tried with more and the delivery slots disappear sometimes as you add or remove items. Third, items like bread and eggs are often out of stock so you might find a delivery slot and then by the time it’s looped around to tell you it’s out, your spot is gone. Have to be flexible on what you’re ordering!
If you are going to the grocery store yourself, make sure you double check the hours. Many stores have shortened hours or are reserving the first hour on some days for more vulnerable populations. The first week, when I went to the store I set my alarm and went right when they opened as we needed bread and eggs which I had been unable to find previously.
Quarantine Kitchen Life & COVID-19 Pounds
My “Quarantine Kitchen” is an absolute disaster several times a day! Now that we’re close to the end of week two, I have never cooked this much in my life. Every. Single. Meal. So I make myself clean the kitchen before bed – dishwasher loaded, counters and sink cleared. Then I at least wake up to a fresh start and coffee prepped. I have posted a few videos to Facebook of my disaster kitchen and it’s kind of fun to be like, yep, does everyone else’s kitchen look like this by the end of the day?! Phew.
I have also been laughing about the #covid19pounds meme going around. At least we always have something to laugh about right? I have been adding to the kitchen disaster by making treats like cinnamon rolls and banana bread. So good!