Shopping tips for COVID19 lockdown
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Corona…..corona …….and corona…. Corona is everywhere. We haven’t thought of this situation when we were busy celebrating New Year 2 months ago. Our life has changed overnight. Social distancing, isolation, mask, sanitizer, hand wash, etc has become the common keywords in every chat from the last few days. Now the latest addition is a lockdown. 

Stocks of basic grocery items, vegetables, fruits, non-veg items are getting limited day by day in the market. You are probably panicking to store groceries as much as possible to avoid social contact(1). But even if you manage to shop, how can you store them for long in your limited space? Will these items remain usable for long? Therefore you must plan your shopping before you hit the market or order online. 

Shopping tips for COVID19 lockdown - make a list of category not items

Tips to shop smart and effective during this COVID 19 lockdown

  1. Make a category list not a product list 
  2. Focus on staple: collect your grain
  3. Bring variety in pulse, grain, seeds, and nuts as much as possible
  4. Concentrate on dry ingredients
  5. Think twice before buying perishable items
  6. No kitchen waste: Utilize the food to it’s fullest
  7. Check the expiry date

1. Make a category list not a product list 

It’s a crisis moment. There is less chance that you will get the item you need. But at the same time, you have very little time to decide what next. Your “second choice” is also going to get vanished within a few minutes. You can’t afford to waste any time feeling helpless. 

Best is to make a category list of everything that you need throughout the day. Pick the items you get from each category. Confused? Check the sample list below –

Table 1: Items as per category

Category   Options
Staple Cereals for Lunch & Dinner Regular Rice, Aromatic Rice, Whole wheat flour (Atta), Refined wheat flour (Maida), Sorghum (Jowar), Foxtail millet, Pearl millet (Bajra), Finger millet (Ragi)  
Cereal & Cereal Product for Breakfast/Snack Broken wheat (Dalia), Semolina (Sooji), Puffed Rice ( Murmura), Rice flakes (Chirwa), Oats, Corn, Pasta, Noodles, Makhana  
Pulses for Lunch /Dinner Lentil (Masor dal), Green gram (Moong dal), Green moong whole (Gota moong), Black gram (Urad dal), Red gram (Tur/Arhar dal), Bengal gram dal (Chana dal), Bengal gram (whole)Chana, Kabuli chana, Horsegram (Kulthi), Rajmah, White peas, Moth bean, Soybean chunk  
Pulses as snacks Roasted chana, Sattu, Sprouts  
Green leafy vegetables Spinach, Coriander, Mint, etc.  
Roots and tubers Potato, Carrot, Beetroot, Yam, Colocasia, Onion, Radish, etc.  
Other vegetables Gourd (bitter gourd, Ash gourd, bottle gourd, ridge gourd), Beans, etc.  
Nuts Groundnut/Peanut, Walnut, Almond, Cashew, etc.  
Seeds Pumpkin seeds, Watermelon seeds, Sesame seeds (Til), Flaxseed (Alsi), Garden cress (Halin/aliv), Sweet basil (Sabja), chia seed, Pistachio (Pista), etc.  
Dry fruits Aamsora or Aamsatto (Dried ripe mango), Dates, Raisin, Apricot, etc.  
Cooking medium Oil, Ghee, Butter  
Milk and milk product Milk, Milk powder, Curd, Khoya, Paneer, Cheese  
For non-vegetarian Egg, Fish, Chicken, Meat  
Sugar and Jaggery White sugar, Brown sugar, Jaggery powder, Jaggery, Misri  
Spices Any spice according to your choice  
Stimulants Tea, Coffee  

Try if you can get at least one or two items from each category to make your day sorted and ensured total nutrition. If not? Don’t worry, you will be still fine.

2. Focus on a staple – 

First thing first- concentrate on cereals. Rice/ roti whatever is your comfort food tries to procure that. 60% of your daily energy should come from the cereals you eat in a whole day.

Don’t think these are the only carbohydrate. Cereals are a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. So don’t underestimate this category.

I have given a detailed list above as table 1 if you are confused about what is cereal and whatnot. Check this out.

Shopping tips for COVID19 lockdown - Think twice before buying perishable foods

3. Bring variety – 

You may think it’s the wrong time to discuss variations in the diet. But actually, it’s not. I am seeing people are going crazy if they are not getting an item of their choice. It’s okay. Don’t panic or feel frustrated. 

It’s high time to come out from your comfort zone and explore new items. People have started hoarding. This is going to worsen the situation. 

Anyway everyone is shopping less frequently and in more quantity to survive a quarantine period (2 weeks). Instead of storing 60 kg of atta, pick a variety of cereals in lesser quantity. For example, if you are comfortable eating atta roti, push yourself to pick a pack of jowar for making roti this time. 

4.Concentrate on dry ingredients: 

It’s the time when you need to think of today as well as the recent future so shop smart. Moisture is the prime reason to get food spoilt. Focus on the category which generally contains less moisture. Therefore collecting huge amounts of vegetables, fruits at one go may not be a smart idea now. Shop limited on perishable items (veggies, fruits & non-veg items) and focus more on cereal, pulse, dry fruits, seeds, and nuts. If stored properly, this will ensure almost all the nutrients for a longer period.

5. Think twice before buying perishable items – 

Vegetables, fruits, fish, chicken, meat, egg, etc come under the perishable section. These foods are spoiled rapidly unless any special preservation methods are applied. Therefore be mindful before investing “a lot” in this section.

Check table 2 below to see the average shelf life of perishable products –

Category Items Average shelf life
Vegetables Potato 15 days at RT,
20 days at Refrigerator
  Onion 15 at RT,
20 at Refrigerator
  Beet 5 days at RT,
10 days at Refrigerator
  Carrot 2 days at RT,
7 days at Refrigerator
  Cauliflower 3 days at RT,
7 days at Refrigerator
  Cabbage 5 days at RT,
7 days at Refrigerator
  Green Papaya 3 days at RT,
5 days at Refrigerator
  Green Peas 3 days at RT,
10 days at Refrigerator
  Green Banana 4 days at RT,
7 days at Refrigerator
  Bottle Gourd (Lauki) 4 days at RT,
7 days at Refrigerator
  Garlic 10 days at RT,
20 days at Refrigerator
  Ginger 7 days at RT,
15 days at Refrigerator
  Fresh Corn 7 days at RT,
15 days at Refrigerator
Fruits Orange 3 days at RT,
7 days at Refrigerator
  Grapes 3 days at RT,
7 days at Refrigerator
  Grapefruit 3 days at RT,
7 days at Refrigerator
  Banana 3-5 days at RT
  Ripe Papaya 3 days at RT
  Watermelon 3 days at RT
  Lemon 3 days at RT,
5 days at Refrigerator
  Coconut 7 days at Refrigerator
Dairy Products Commercially available Curd, Commercially
available Paneer,
Tetra pack Milk,
Cheese, Khoa
Best Before Date at Refrigerator
Fish Fresh Fish marinated with
salt and turmeric
7 days at freezer
Eggs Eggs 7 days at RT,
15 days at Refrigerator
Fish and Meat Canned Fish and meat Best Before Date at freezer

6.No kitchen waste: Utilize the food to it’s fullest

A wise said time is the best teacher. This line fits so well at this time. Make sure you reduce your kitchen waste at this crucial time. Therefore be smart while shopping. Time to explore new recipes and show your culinary skills. Make a separate dish using vegetable skin like bottle gourd, ridge gourd, potato, etc. Start storing seeds (pumpkin, watermelon) and use in curry.

Shopping tips for COVID19 lockdown - cheack the expiry date for packaged foods

7. Check the expiry date

You are in a hurry. But don’t forget to check the expiry date of frozen foods, tetra pack milk, curd, etc. If possible, try to pick the packets which have a longer expiry date.



Shop smart. Don’t panic. Don’t waste your resources out of panic. Stop hoarding. Follow the category list to make life hassle-free. Open your mind; try exploring new grains, pulse, seeds, nuts, etc to bring variety in the diet as much as possible. Mother Nature has still a lot to offer. Minimize kitchen waste as much as possible. Explore new recipes with minimum ingredients.

You can ensure consuming adequate nutrients even during this tough period. Eat-in moderation which many of you probably were struggling to practice so far.

There is enough reason to be morbid, depressed but try to find positivity within a mess. Follow the updated guideline from the authorized website. You will be fine.

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Dr. Sagarika Chakraborty was awarded her doctorate in Food and Nutrition from University of Calcutta (C.U.) in 2017. She is an experienced Researcher, working in the field of Food Science for more than 12 years and published papers in international and national journal. She has also presented papers in national conferences.

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  • Jes Short , 29th March 2020 @ 4:23 am

    Love this ❤️

    • Dr. Soma Chakrabarty , 30th March 2020 @ 2:37 pm

      Thanks a lot

      • Dr. Sagarika Chakraborty , 3rd April 2020 @ 9:05 am


    • Dr. Sagarika Chakraborty , 11th April 2020 @ 6:55 pm


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