Ask Brian is a weekly column by Real Estate Expert Brian Kline. If you have questions on real estate investing, DIY, home buying/selling, or other housing inquiries please email your questions to [email protected].
from Kim in Portland, OR:
Hello Brian,We are a household of
three generations that includes my husband one child, and my mother. We’ve
never thought about being “preppers” in the least bit. Now that we are staying
at home and my husband is working from home (I can’t work from home), we kind
of wish we had done a little more preparation. My mother does most of the
cooking and typically went shopping 3 or 4 times a week. We didn’t have many
supplies around the house when we were told to stay home and go shopping less
often. What do you suggest we do now?
Hello Kim. Hi Kim,
I hope all is well in your home. This isn’t what I typically write about when
it comes to DIY but these aren’t typical times. One thing I’ll say is that you
don’t need to be a “prepper” to get through this. Although there have been some
temporary shortages of some items (mostly hygiene products), there isn’t
expected to be any significant food shortages. Crops and harvests of food
staples have not been affected. There is some concern that some nations might
restrict food exports but the U.S. is still the breadbasket to the world. We
aren’t in for any foreseeable shortages. Something to keep in mind is that
almost all farmland is far from the big cities where the virus is concentrated.
Growing and moving food through the supply chain will remain an essential
service that shouldn’t see any impact. So, let’s look at food safety and what
you should consider buying when you do go to the grocery store.
Currently, there is no evidence of
food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. There
have been very few reports of store employees testing positive for the virus
(as of March 6, nationally only four infected employees have been reported by
the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union; total number
unknown). Even before the outbreak, stores had personnel practices that protect
against contamination of food. Additionally, most stores are instructing
employees to wash their hands more frequently, use hand sanitizer, clean
surfaces more aggressively, and practice social distancing. But we have no idea
how many might be infected but not diagnosed. And of course, you’re going to be
in closer contact with the general public when you go shopping. That means
keeping your own social distance. Also, other protective measures are beginning
to be used, such as limiting the number of shoppers, sneeze guards at checkout
stands, and not allowing reusable grocery bags for the time being. Something
else you can do to reduce contact with other people is to shop during early-morning
and late-night hours when fewer people are in the store. The bottom line is
that other people are the most likely source of infection, not the food.
The first place to start protecting
yourself is by wiping down the handle of the shopping cart with a disinfected
wipe before you start shopping (many stores are providing wipes). Next,
thoroughly wash your hands as soon as you get home from shopping. Do this even
before you bring in the groceries or put them away. That will help with any
contact you might have had with people outside your home. Some people (but not
many) are wiping down purchased goods as they take them out of bags and before
storing them in the house. You may want to wash fresh vegetables and fruits
before storing them. What is a good idea is washing your hands again after
putting groceries away. Other people are washing their hands when they open
packages as they are preparing meals. Of course, it’s a good idea to wash
frequently while cooking. That and disinfecting y food preparation surfaces
should keep everything in your kitchen safe.
So Kim, what should you be shopping
for if you didn’t have much for supplies to begin with? The basics should be
whatever you normally shop for on a more frequent basis. You might want to just
buy in slightly larger quantities without hoarding. Many distributors are
working extra hours to keep shelves stocked. The general rule is to stock about
three weeks of supplies and then replenish as needed. You probably want to have
some canned goods on hand but now is actually a good time for preparing healthy
meals. Healthy meals are always best but even more important for maintaining
good health during a pandemic. Before you overstock on canned goods, make sure
you fill your freezer with fresh foods. Vegetables, meats, and some fruits can
be frozen for at least a month. Frozen foods are healthier than canned goods.
And before you overstock on canned foods, also go for some common dried foods
like dried beans,
rice, pasta, and even popcorn for a snack.
When it does come to canned foods,
some fruits do better canned than frozen. These are also a good source of
vitamin C if you aren’t eating many fresh fruits. Nuts also preserve well on a
pantry shelf. Full-grain breakfast cereals are one of the better preserved
foods. As are granola and protein bars. Canned tomatoes are good for making
sauces to go with the pasta. You may also want chicken, beef, and vegetable bouillon
cubes or stock to make soups and sauces. You might also stock some canned
soups, vegetables, meats, prepared meals (like ravioli), and baby food.
There are a few non-food supplies
you should consider. There’s no reason to think the tap water supply will
become contaminated but if you prefer bottled water, you might want to pick up
a water purification pitcher so that you don’t need to stock weeks’ worth of
bottled water. Also, make sure your first aid kit is fully supplied (including
a thermometer). The
recommendation is keeping a month’s supply of prescription medicines on hand. You
also might want some over the counter remedies for food poisoning or stomach
flu. And don’t forget about other consumables like baby supplies and shampoo.
Hand soaps are better than hand disinfectants so stocking a little more hand
soap is a good idea.
Kim, you don’t need to fill your
garage with months’ worth of supplies. This isn’t a nuclear winter. This is
about limiting our exposure to other people. The supply chain is working fine.
The best thing we can do to help each other is only stock what we need between
shopping trips about once a week or less.
Do you have insights for staying home during the coronavirus? Please leave your comments.
Our weekly Ask Brian column welcomes questions from readers of all experience levels with residential real estate. Please email your questions or inquiries to [email protected].
Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for 12 years. He also draws upon 30 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, near a national and the Pacific Ocean.
The post Ask Brian: Tips for Stocking Up at Home During Coronavirus appeared first on RealtyBizNews: Real Estate News.