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Quarantine Food Recommendations & Ideas

Quarantine Food Recommendations & Ideas
A call for not panicking and getting nutrition as best as you can.

Before you break out the ‘Quarantinis’ and start stress baking in mass, take a moment to consider the foods you should be stocking up on and why (while hopefully being kind to other shoppers in the process). If items aren’t available, don’t panic. Store shelves will be restocked.

We’ll start with the ’why’ first. Your immune system is directly affected by the foods you eat. Diets made up of processed junk with little to no nutrients? That doesn’t leave your immune system much to work with when it needs to ramp up defenses and fight off viruses, bacteria, or other invaders.

Think taking a vitamin C supplement or other ‘immune enhancing’ pill/powder will work? It may help a bit, but when it comes to your nutrient intake, the body seems to be able to do more with nutrients coming from food vs. those coming from supplements. We can’t replicate into pills/powders what nature produces.

Supplements won’t cut it, and traditionally ‘healthy’ foods (think fresh) have a short shelf life—they won’t last a whole two weeks. What do you get then? The next pages hopefully give you some ideas, along with some realistic considerations, especially if you have munchkins to juggle and now find yourself in a new role of homeschool instructor.

No knack for cooking? Fear not. These recipes aren’t expert level, nor are they concrete per se—just think of them as guidelines, not hard rules. If you need to bake to release stress, just make sure you’re not baking enough for the entire neighborhood and you’re still finding time to train-that’s also a good stress reliever!

Other Factors to Consider

Keep in mind during this situation, your activity level may be lower than your usual routine. If that’s the case, watch your overall calorie intake. As our normal schedules get disrupted, we have a tendency to eat out of boredom (or not eat regularly, then binge) if we don’t have a routine.

Get some ideas of scheduling activities through the day to keep from going stir-crazy and bored (there’s lots of ideas from a brief search of the internet).

Stay hydrated! Dehydration is often mistaken as hunger (as is being tired or bored). If you need something other than water, try adding a small amount of Mio or True Lemon/Lime water flavorings to mix things up. Or, make a batch of iced tea/iced coffee to sip.

Keep some electrolyte solutions on hand (Drip Drop, Pedialyte etc.) in the event you do feel ill to avoid dehydration.

Quarantine Food Recommendations & Ideas Quarantine Grocery List
Quarantine Food/Recipe Ideas Additional Resources & Recipe Sites Source

This list includes both some ‘common’ staples but more so other ideas that may not be as mainstream, which may be options if other items aren’t available. This list should not discourage from buying fresh produce, if available.

If you don’t see something at the store, try seeing if it’s in a display area or in a ‘bulk’ section if your store has one. No luck? Don’t stress, it’ll likely be back in stock in a week or so.

Try thinking of substitutions to broaden your options—absolutely need milk but can’t find any? Reconstitute from dry milk or evaporated milk. It’ll taste a bit different, but it works in emergencies.

Quarantine Grocery List Add-ons
Image of various vegetables, such as carrots, green onions, tomatos, and other assorted leafy greens.
(Credit: Unsplash)

While fresh items traditionally have a better nutrient profile, they won’t keep for 2 weeks. Incorporate frozen and/or canned items to stretch your items on hand. Also, ‘usual’ produce may not be available—look at this as an opportunity to try new fruits and vegetables!

Some whole/uncut fruits/veggies ( * ) are ok at room temp for awhile.

V8 Vegetable Juice, Dried Fruits, Freeze Dried Fruit, Bananas*, Apples*, Oranges/Citrus fruit*, Potatoes*, Garlic, Onion, Ginger root, Canned Vegetables (such as Asparagus, Spinach, Green beans, Beets, Artichokes), and Canned Fruits in water or 100% juice (such as Pineapple, Mandarin Oranges, Peaches).

Fridge/Freezer items: Rutabaga, Turnip, Parnsips, Collard greens/Swiss Chard, and Cabbage.


Dry Milk, Powdered Eggs, Shelf-Stable alternative 'milk' (rice, almond, etc.), and Evaporated Milk.


Beef jerky, and Canned Meats (such as Salmon, Tuna, Crab, Clams, Oysters).

Fridge/Freezer items: Smoked salmon/trout, and Frozen Meats (such as Fish, Mussels, Scallops, Shrimp, precooked Beef/Chicken).


Go beyond rice! Many grains cook similarly, they just need additional liquid and/or cooking times.

Amaranth, Millet, Spelt, Quinoa, Sorghum, Couscous, Bulgur, Wild Rice, Pasta (whole wheat if available), Oats, Grits, Cornmeal/Polenta, Corn (canned/frozen), Beans (canned/dry), Lentils (canned/dry).


Vinegar, Ketchup, Mustard (Dijon and Yellow), BBQ sauce, Soy Sauce (low sodium), Broth/stock/bouillon, Herbs/Spices, Hot sauce, Marinades/Ready Made Sauces.


Peanut butter, Nuts, Seeds, Olives (can/pouch), Hummus, Avocados, Olive oil.

Quarantine Food Recommendations & Ideas Quarantine Grocery List
Quarantine Food/Recipe Ideas Additional Resources & Recipe Sites Source

If you don’t have all the ingredients for a recipe, it doesn’t make it obsolete—see if you have different spices/herbs to use or replace the vegetables or main protein. It may taste/look a bit different, but just be open to new combos

Try to incorporate as many non-starchy veggies and fiber as possible—this can help reduce hunger and prevent overeating during times of low activity.

Quarantine Food/Recipe Ideas
Image of freshly stirred kale salad with nuts and seeds.
(Credit: Unsplash)
This is not a complete list, but may help you get started.

General Ideas:

  • Breakfast/Brunch for dinner—have some eggs with veggies or a crustless quiche, ham/lean deli meat, French Toast (eggs+bread), and fruit.
  • Tortilla or pita bread ‘pizzas’, quesadillas, or ’calzones’—mix and match proteins (ham, deli turkey/chicken), veggies, and sauces (olive oil & garlic, tomato, pesto, lite cheese) for variety.
  • Soup/stew—so many varieties can be created!
  • Meat/protein + non-starchy vegetable (canned/frozen) + starch (potato, grains, beans etc.)
  • Slow cooker options—shredded pork/chicken/beef w/ taco seasoning or BBQ sauce.


Snack Ideas:

  • Veggies & dressing/hummus
  • Celery/Apple/Banana & peanut butter
  • DIY trail mix (dried fruit, nuts, granola)
  • Protein bars (KIND, Nature Valley etc.)
  • Frozen peas (actually pretty tasty)
  • Frozen fruit drizzled with chocolate syrup
  • Popcorn (lite butter/salt only)

Recipe "Generators":
Websites can take ingredients you have on hand and search for recipes that call for them. These don’t incorporate nutrition as a factor necessarily, but can help you make a meal when you need to.


Kate Burks (MS, RD, CSSD, LDN), 3rdSFG (A), Human Performance Dietitian (CTR). Content shared by Katie Durbin (MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, CC), Human Performance Dietitian (CTR), 95th Civil Affairs BDE(SO)(A)
The mention of any brands, stores, or websites are for example purposes only and does not imply endorsement from the unit, unit dietitian, command, or DoD.