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DON’T PANIC How much food you need to stockpile for two weeks in self-isolation due to coronavirus

Whenever someone tests positive for Covid-19, authorities try to track down everyone they've been in contact with and are asking them to self-isolate too.

Now, people who show "even minor" signs of respiratory tract infections or a fever will have to spend seven days without seeing anyone or leaving the house.

If they live with other people, the entire household will need to self isolate for 14 days.

Do I need to stockpile?

If you suddenly find yourself being asked to self-isolate, there are plenty of other options.

The government is advising that it's okay to have friends or family drop off supplies, and there's always the possibility of getting shopping delivered.

But you might have to wait a while to get your food orders as it is getting harder to book in online deliveries.

For people with plenty of cash, takeaways are also an option, though services may be busier than usual.

Ratula Chakraborty, retail expert at Norwich Business School, UEA, said: "Online grocery retailers are already seeing booming sales with the consequence that households are having to wait longer for their deliveries.

"This trend will accelerate if the epidemic spreads and consumers shy away from visiting stores in larger numbers."

Even though it's possible to get by without a stockpile, plenty of people may find it reassuring to have enough essentials in case they're put in isolation for two weeks.

Money-conscious families may also wish to plan so they can avoid delivery fees and takeout costs.

Francesca Henry, owner of the Money Fox blog, said: "I think a stockpile is a good idea.

"That doesn't mean going crazy with the amounts, but thinking about what would happen if you weren't able to leave the house (due to infection) or if everything is going to be running out or low in the shops."

Naomi Willis from adds that it's always worth maintaining a small store of supplies, whether you're worried about coronavirus or not.

She says: "Say there is flooding or a snowstorm, and you can't leave the house, or there is a problem getting paid or benefits are unexpectedly stopped, and you cannot afford to buy food.

"Having a bit of extra food in the house can give you some meals to fall back on while things blow over."

Fortunately, if you do want to prep, then it's easy to set food aside for two weeks, to see you through your isolation.

In fact, you may find that you've already got a lot of things already in your freezer or cupboards so you won't need to get much.

How to stockpile and save money

Don't panic - make a plan

Rushing out and panic buying will cost you money and you'll probably end up with a lot of waste and an ineffective stockpile.

The best place to start is with a proper plan.

Start with a meal plan based on the freezer and store cupboard goods you already have - and work out what you would need to add.

Look at recipes from dried foods so you're not just buying random ingredients with no meals in mind.

Do some basic calculations, how much shaving foam do you get through in two weeks? What about loo rolls?

Willis says: "Before you think about shopping, why not see what you've got in the back of your cupboard and at the bottom of your freezer.

"Chances are, there are enough store cupboard basics to make a few meals."

Henry added: "Do a household inventory too and look at what you may need.

"There's no need to buy loads and loads of it - work out how much you would use in a two week period and go from that.

"The best thing to do is to not panic. It's unlikely that the country will grind to a halt, but that doesn't mean that you can't be prepared for your own piece of mind."

Spread the cost

Unless you've got cash to spare you aren't going to want to buy everything at once.

Once you've got your plan, add a few extra tins onto each shop.

Start with the most essential - then move on to nice-to-haves like wine or chocolate.

It's also worth cooking extra portions of things you're eating anyway and putting them in the freezer if you have space.

Job lots of meals like bolognese, pasta sauces, meatballs, soups etc can add variety.

You can also stock up on frozen vegetables for extra vitamins.

Willis said: "To help spread the costs, pick up a few extra tins of food or supplies each week.

"There is no need to panic or bulk buy. Store cupboard staples come with best before dates, but it's still worthwhile rotating and using up things now and again to make sure everything is fresh."

Only buy what you'd have anyway

There's no point buying powdered egg for a two-week quarantine, so stick to things you'd use normally.

That way, if you end up not needing your stockpile you won't have wasted your money.

Make sure you rotate your stock, using things from your pile in day to day recipes and replacing them, so supplies don't go out of date.

This will mean you're prepared beyond coronavirus too, so whether it's a benefit delay, snow dump or getting the flu you'll never have to go without food.

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