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With cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) being reported, families must prepare in case they have to undergo a home quarantine. Keep a two-week supply of food and water in the home. This can be challenging for some people, especially those who must stay within a food budget.

The following are budget-friendly ideas for feeding your family for an extended time while maintaining a balanced diet.

Meal Planning

Meal planning helps you buy items that can be used in multiple recipes, cutting down on expenses. Deciding on a meal plan also allows for thoughtful, money-saving substitutions. Leftover items can be combined for a hearty soup to serve now or to freeze for a future meal. When creating a meal plan, make sure that you have enough herbs and spices for any recipes you plan to make. Preparing in advance helps you reduce waste and keep your menu varied.


Sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dry beans, dry peas, and nut butter. Remember these budget-friendly tips about proteins.

  • Whole chickens are much less expensive than precut chickens. A whole cooked chicken can provide multiple meals. See the Extension publication How to Make 6 Meals from 1 Chicken for tips and recipe ideas.
  • Canned meats and fish are shelf-stable, affordable options for recipes.
  • Consider nontraditional proteins, such as low-sodium canned or dry beans and peas, for other protein servings.
  • Eggs and cheese are other sources of protein that have an extended refrigeration time and lower prices.


Types of grains include bread, oatmeal, rice, pasta, cornmeal, and flour. Remember these budget-friendly tips for grains.

  • Store bread in the freezer to maintain freshness.
  • Combine pasta with vegetables and protein for budget-friendly and filling meals.
  • Be creative with oatmeal and baking supplies you may already have on hand.

Fruits and Vegetables

When stocking food for two weeks, remember that fruits and vegetables are available canned, frozen, dried, and fresh.

  • Use frozen fruits and vegetables, which are often flash frozen, like you would use fresh, but at a lower price.
  • Look for items with low or reduced sodium.
  • Consider fruits canned in their own juice.
  • Add flavor and volume to meals with foods such as onions, potatoes, carrots, beets, cabbage, apples, and oranges that have a long shelf life.


Dairy, including milk, yogurt, and cheese, can be a difficult product to stock up on. However, there are several ways to help keep you on budget.

  • Buy yogurt in bulk and serve in a bowl to cut down on costs.
  • Freeze milk to extend life.
  • Use dry milk in any recipe calling for milk.
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