Coronavirus Survival Guide

Stocking up: grocery store do’s and don’ts 


Fourth Estate/Alexandria McAlpine

So, halfway through your first, third or final semester of college, things have been unfortunately cut short by a literal global pandemic. Whether you’ve been permitted to stay in your residence hall at Mason, are now stuck at home with your family or are simply continuing to cohabitate in an apartment with your roommates, we’re all going to be cooped up for the foreseeable future. 

There is a lot of information out there about how scary COVID-19 is, what we should be doing to prevent it and what we should keep with us to flatten the curve. With that, sifting through countless articles and unsolicited advice from everyone around you can get overwhelming. So, we’re here to help. 

This week, Fourth Estate tackled what you should be stocking up on in prep for the virus, and what you should leave on the shelves at your local grocery store. 

Be mindful of your fellow shoppers — don’t hoard 

One of the many items you’ve probably seen flying off the shelves in the last couple of weeks is toilet paper. 

Of course, if you are low on essential goods (like toilet paper or hand sanitizer), definitely go out and get what you need to survive the next few weeks, potentially longer. 

However, for a lot of people, we already have a good supply of what we might need. In these times of mass panic, people tend to over-prepare. Be mindful of your fellow shoppers and only take what you need. 

Be wary of perishable goods 

If you have access to a fridge, then there’s no reason not to buy some produce and meat. Just keep in mind that this food won’t last forever. Don’t go overboard and only buy fresh food that needs to be stored in a fridge. 

Canned or frozen foods

Fruit and vegetables may taste better fresh, but canned foods will definitely last longer. Most of the time, canned foods are cheaper as well, which will help out in terms of budgeting through the virus as well. 

Frozen pizza is hardly ever as good as a midnight Domino’s delivery, but it’ll last longer. If you have access to a freezer, frozen vegetables and other foods will last nearly forever and help you cut down on trips to the grocery store. 


Now isn’t the time to completely give up on routines. If you need a cup of coffee in order to function every morning, that should still be part of your routine. For the next little while though, consider skipping your daily coffee run to Starbucks or Dunkin, and make coffee at home. 


Even though it might feel like it, it is not the apocalypse. We don’t need to eat like we’re auditioning for Doomsday Preppers while we practice social distancing. The CDC says we’re welcome to eat all of our guilty pleasure snacks — just enjoy them in moderation. 


If you have access to safe drinking water through your tap, the EPA doesn’t recommend stocking up on water bottles. However, if you don’t have access to safe drinking water at home, a good supply of water bottles is helpful. 

Soap, hand sanitizer and other hygiene supplies

These are going to be the big ticket items. Toilet paper, hand soap, paper towels — these are products that I’ve taken trips to Target, Walmart, Giant and Costco all in one day for. 

Hand soap is definitely the most important, but hand sanitizer is essential for situations where you might not be able to wash your hands immediately. The CDC website also notes that while sanitizers do not kill all germs, they can reduce the amount of germs on hands.

Pet supplies

Make sure you’re stocked up for your pets as well! My two dogs have been the only things keeping me sane while we’re all social distancing. Make sure you have enough pet food, litter, treats and toys on hand.