Italy is in quarantine. Two weeks have passed. The complete lockdown mandates that we stay at home and so #iorestoacasa (I stay home). Although, we are allowed to go to the supermarket, convenience stores and pharmacies with a signed declaration, we (Francesco and I) choose to shop once a week at maximum and stay home. Our standing Covid-19 lockdown food shopping list is pinned to our refrigerator.
We work in our cozy/tiny 55 square meter apartment from Monday to Friday, cook two meals per day and take time to sit at the table, talk and eat comforting meals. This has quickly become our new norm. After lunch, we drink un caffè on our balcony and soak in sunshine and Vitamin D before getting back to work.
During this time of quarantine, I have ups and downs. I am grateful for the Italian healthcare system and the heroic efforts being taken by medical professionals. I cannot deny that I’m worried about my livelihood. I, like many small business owners, am suffering financially and I am finding a way. The Casa Mia Tours’ team is using this time to create new experiences and we will be waiting with open arms for future travelers. We are fortunate.
I feel very connected to friends, family and acquaintances. I’ve had more video calls in the past two weeks than I’ve had in the past two years. Speaking with my mom in the U.S., I realized that I have a skill to share. I am a pro at batch organizing, prepping and cooking from my days of working 12 hour+ days in NYC. I’ll share how I batch cook in a separate post. Under ordinary circumstances in Rome, Francesco and I shop at the San Giovanni di Dio food market 3 times per week for fresh fruit from Michelangelo, vegetables from Augustino, fish from Carlo. We order meat from our butcher Marco and cheese and pantry items from Letizia. Shopping frequently is a way of life here AND we have a small refrigerator.
From the start of lockdown, the Italian government emphasized from the start that we would always access to food, and medicines. We have not experienced panic buying nor stockpiling. We have not had difficulty acquiring TOILET PAPER but can’t find brewers yeast, a sure sign that bread and pizza are a priority in Italian homes! In fact, while placing an online supermarket order in the U.S. for my parents, there was plenty of brewers yeast but there were no frozen vegetables, few paper goods and no chicken available.
Below is my 14 day COVID-19 food shopping list in no particular order, plus links to online shopping sites useful in the U.S. or Italy. I hope that this will be helpful as the moment comes for you to join us and stay home. Please realize how important it is to self-isolate. Be patient as “shelter-in-place” orders come into effect in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Where amounts are included, they are for two adults based on our eating habits. We ordered enough meat, chicken and eggs from our butcher, dried goods and pantry items to last beyond 14 days. Our list is a balance of healthy and satisfying food items that are the base of our cooking. Grab your list. It’s time to go food shopping!
Dried Goods & Pasta
- Beans, beans and more beans – They are good for your health, for long stays at home and they occupy little space in kitchen cupboards. One pound of dried beans produces about two times its weight in cooked beans. Stock up on dried chickpeas, borlotti (Roman) beans, cannellini beans and lentils. We eat them in salads, cook pasta and beans, and make bean pate to spread on bruschetta.
- Pasta, rice, whole grain buckwheat, spelt and quinoa – These are staples in our kitchen which are very useful for one-pot meals and side dishes. Use diverse pasta shapes to toss with a simple tomato sauce, add to soup, or make lasagna (the possibilities are endless); carnaroli rice for risotto; quinoa, buckwheat, or farro served with a splash of olive oil and herbs as a side dish, cooked in broth for extra flavor or tossed with diced tomatoes, tuna, and spring onions as a salad.
- Dried spices & herbs– Bring on the flavor. Although we prefer fresh herbs when available, our shelves are always stocked with basics like coarse and fine salt, black pepper, oregano, and thyme, and not so basics like dried chilies, cumin, turmeric, cloves, cardamom, mustard seeds, paprika, and za’atar.
Meat and Seafood
- Cured meats – Prosciutto is a staple in our kitchen. It’s lean and delicious. We enjoy it as a snack or as a meal served with a salad. Three slices of guanciale to make Roman pasta classics like gricia, carbonara and amatriciana and to add flavor to side dishes. One salami Aquilano because we are craving comfort food.
- Chicken – One kilo of chicken breasts sliced to grill or make cutlets. One medium sized chicken to roast. Use the carcass to make broth.
- Beef – Two steaks. On average, we eat red meat once a month so this is plenty for us.
- Pork – One pork roast for Sunday lunch and two pork steaks for reserve.
- Frozen seafood – We buy fresh fish on Tuesdays and Friday from our fish vendor but under the current circumstances we bought a kilo of frozen cod and flounder.
- Extra-virgin olive oil which is our go to fat for cooking, for condiments and sometimes for baking.
- Vinegar – Apple cider vinegar for salads and for various healthful benefits, including antimicrobial and antioxidant effects. Balsamic vinegar to dress salads, drizzle over meal and enjoy with cheese. We use white vinegar mostly for cleaning.
- Baking musts – Sugar, baking powder, pure vanilla extract and flour which is very important not only for baking sweets but for making home made pasta and pizza dough. Since we couldn’t find yeast, we’re growing a sourdough starter. I am baking biscotti and plum cakes for breakfast and snacks… comfort, comfort, comfort.
- Coffee – A luxury and necessity in my home, we drink 2 to 3 espressos a day.
- Sauces – Bottled tomato sauce and bottled whole tomatoes to make a quick plain tomato sauce or puttanesca, or a Sunday meat sauce which we Bostonians call gravy.
- Nuts & seeds – A healthy protein to snack on, bake with, and add to cereal and salads. We have plenty of chia, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower seeds and almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts on hand.
- Canned fish – Mackerel and tuna and mackerel to toss in salads and to make fish cakes. Cue the potatoes.
- Keep organic vegetable bouillon powder rather than boxed vegetable broth on hand. Powder takes up less space and in the event that fresh vegetables aren’t available, ta dah! you can make broth or use the powder to flavor other dishes.
- Milk – UHT milk and non-animal-based milk (oat, soy, and nut-milk).
Nice to haves
- Estratto di pomodoro is one of our favorite flavor enhancer in our kitchen. It is thick tomato paste that Sicilians make yearly. We use it to liven up pasta sauces and add it to broth.
- Chocolate – Dark chocolate, milk chocolate and bakers chocolate. Chocolate makes me happy and we all need a pick me up every now and then. A great dessert as is or as an ingredient in desserts.
- Cereal – Oatmeal, bran and other cereal for breakfast and baking.
- Wine – We stocked up on wine. It is a luxury. Wine is a meal time beverage in our home. Did I mention that we’re eating 14 sit-down meals each week?
Dairy & Eggs
- Dozens of Eggs – The perfect protein. If you have room in your refrigerator keep 2-3 dozen on hand. Scramble two eggs for breakfast, add a hard-boiled egg to a salad or make a frittata for dinner. If you have a bit of extra time on your hands bake. Baking is meditation for me.
- Cheese – Mozzarella for pizza toppings and hunks of aged cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano and Caciocavallo go a long way. Hard cheese is a nutritious filling snack and we use them in pasta dishes, risotto and soups.
- Yogurt – Great as a snack, for breakfast with rolled oats, or as a whipped topping on some soups.
- Butter – There’s no substitute for the flavor of butter. It’s essential for baking, delicious on popcorn and a starter for nearly all of my risottos.
Fruit & Veg
We eat vegetables at lunch and dinner daily. We’re grateful for Augustino who delivered crates of fruit and vegetables to our apartment along with masks. I am humbled by the generosity and sense of community in Monteverde. We stock up on fruit and veg with shelf life varying from three days to three weeks. We eat the most perishable vegetables first, we prep some to be frozen and we leave some on our balcony where temperatures allow us to do so. This is where batch cooking comes in handy.
- We use garlic, onions, and shallots daily in our kitchen and use ginger in tea. I dice it and eat it as a snack. These ingredients keep for a long time in a cool, dark location.
- Three small Savoy cabbages which also find their home on our balcony. When stored well they can last for 2 weeks. We use them grated in salads, in soups or braised with black sesame seeds.
- We consume a lot of potatoes in our home. We love them boiled and smothered with olive oil, salt and cracked pepper, oven roasted, or baked and we use them in all of our vegetable and chicken broths and let’s not forget gnocchi.
- One large squash for risotto, ravioli, soup, or simply roasted. It has a long shelf life and can also be frozen in cubes or slices.
- A handful of cherry and Piccadilly tomatoes for broths and to add a bit of flavor to chicken cacciatore.
- Winter fruit – 3 kilos of oranges/mandarins, 3 kilos of apples and 8 lemons. We store these on our balcony where the temperature is perfect. This leaves us with much needed space in our refrigerator.
- A bunch of red beets – I clean and cut the stems and leaves to sauté and enjoy as a side dish while I roast the whole beets and toss them in a salad with oranges and pumpkin seeds.
- A kilo of friarielli aka broccoli rabe – We clean and blanch this the day that it is delivered and freeze it. We sauté it with olive oil, garlic and chili pepper or stuff pizza with it or make a classic Italian dish of sausages with broccoli rabe which brings me to mom’s kitchen.
- Salad – two heads of canasta, 2 small heads of radicchio, 1 red cabbage and 2 bunches of arugula.
- Six artichokes – It’s artichoke season in Lazio. We make carciofi alla romana with potatoes as a side dish or meal.
- Large bunch of chicory – I braise this over low heat with a bit of olive oil and garlic. I add a diced potato or two like mom does. This is comfort food for me from my childhood. I also add it to soup or eat it raw in salad.
- A bunch of asparagus for risotto or roasted with sea salt.
- Two small heads of broccoli romanesco which we braise, roast or toss with pasta. It can also be blanched and frozen.
Online sites to consider for your COVID-19 Food Shopping List
- Instacart – An aggregator for delivery from stores like Stop & Shop, Wegmans, CVS Pharmacy and Costco.
- Amazon Pantry in the U.S. and Italy
- Campagna Amica – Coldiretti is working with small farmers across different regions in Italy to provide home delivery. As of today locations include Rome, Naples, and Valle d’Aosta. Check the site for updates.
- I Piacerci di Maremma for organic beef, pork, chicken, salami, cheese, fresh pasta, olive oil, and fruits and vegetables delivered to your door in Rome and surrounding areas.
- Biolà for raw milk, organic yogurt, cheese, gelato, honey, and beef delivered to your door in Rome