Virus Season is Coming For You: A Pantry-Stocking Guide

October 6, 2015

I know, I know, it’s only the merest beginning of October. All you readers want to think about is changing leaves, blessedly crisp mornings that send you digging for a sweater, family sojourns to the apple orchards and pumpkin patch, football and homemade chili. Some of you freakshows drown in your pumpkin lattes, and that’s fine; it’s not my bag but I understand that euphoria when something strictly seasonal begins popping up in stores. I’m a peppermint latte and gingerbread latte kind of girl, personally, but I get it.

Fall is awesome and beautiful and full of delight–so why on Earth would I want to ruin that autumn buzz with thoughts of…virus season?

Virus season sucks.

Yes, yes it does, but believe me when I tell you that virus season is coming for you, because I (and quite a few of my fellow Coloradans) have already been afflicted with the Vomiting Virus from the Bowels of Hades. Already.

What the fuck, October?

You are the most gorgeous month of all months in Colorado–scenery-wise, weather-wise, activity-wise–and what do you do? You infect me, year after year, with some scourge that I am by no means ready for. It’s almost like you lurk in the corner, waiting for me to put the Autumn-themed wreath on the front door, and then BLAMMO! Insta-scourge.

If I’m lucky, I just catch a nasty, snotty cold. If I’m unlucky, I catch a stomach virus, which I am freakishly and annoyingly susceptible to. I get at least one stomach virus a year while my husband, who has the immune system of a radiated cockroach, remains blissfully immune. In the sixteen years I’ve known him, he has not once been afflicted by a vomity virus. Not even when the girls were little and brought stomach bugs home from school on a regular basis. Not even when we were cooped up in a hotel in the mountains, with nowhere to go but running to the bathroom in shifts. Every Halloween, I think he should dress up as Immune System Man–able to ward off the most virulent contagion in a single bound!

Some years, I am very, very unlucky and don’t just get a stomach virus–I get a Rotavirus. The Rotavirus is the T-Rex of stomach ailments. It instantaneously crushes you and doesn’t let up for 24-48 hours, and for every one of those hours, you want to die. Actually, you want to die several times an hour, because with a Rotavirus, you’re retching (and peeing, too!) violently every 25-30 minutes. It’s sneaky, too, because after each hideous episode, after you rinse your face and clean up whatever is on the bathroom floor, you feel so much better. “That’s the end of it! Thank God.” you think. Ha. 20 minutes later, you get that sweaty feeling again and you just know what’s a-comin’.

Anyways. Enough about my bodily fluids. Let’s just say that this year, I was very, very unlucky. I got a doozy.

The good news? I quarantined myself and Cloroxed like a maniac and by some miracle, nobody else caught the Rotavirus, and those things are contagious bastards. Also good news? Immune System Man kept the household running for the 48 hours that I was completely useless and continuously begging him to kill me. He probably was really tempted to kill me, because I was disgusting and stinky and sweaty and whiny.

Newsflash: old people recover from scourges wicked slow. The virus lasted 2 days and it took me 2 more days to even feel halfway human. I’d hoped to lounge around in my pajamas and venture out only for school dropoff and pickup but my plans were dashed. The first day of recovery, I had to shlep to the grocery store. Had to.

Because finally, after 48 hours of not being able to ingest anything nourishing, I could…but there was nothing in the house worth eating. And I mean nothing.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

Do not be an idiot like me and find yourself at the end of a virus with and empty refrigerator and bare cupboards. Do not find yourself unable to even make toast, for Chrissakes, because you are out of bread–not to mention butter. We didn’t even have crackers! ARGH!

I was one bitter bitch during that grocery run, let me tell you. My barely showered self was seething and it was a scary, scary sight.

So heed my advice. Virus season is coming–stock up for it now. Be proactive, dudes.

I think everyone’s list of post-scourge necessities probably varies a little, but I thought maybe I’d help some of you readers out with a basic pantry/refrigerator/freezer stocking recommendation list. Maybe some of you hate shopping, or some of you aren’t planner-types, or maybe some of you are still firmly in denial that a virus will strike you this early. This list is for you. Print this list out and motor over to the grocery store this week. Use the list it as a guide and when your own Scourge Apocalypse happens, you will thank me. You might even be so grateful that you will leave me a little something in your will. But that’s up to you, of course.


Scourge Apocolypse Planning Master List:



Zicam (this shortens the duration of a cold if you take it at the first sign of symptoms. Get the nasal swab ones. Trust me. They work.)

Emergen-C or Cold Eez

Cough Drops

Nasal Spray

Theraflu/Dayquil both daytime and nighttime formulas


Anti-Diarrheal meds

Laxatives (for those post-antibiotic blues)

**prescription needed for this but get one and get one now from your doctor. Fill it now and keep it in your refrigerator. DO IT. If you get a Rotavirus, it will save you a trip to urgent care when you’ve been unable to even keep water down for over 24 hours. And yes, this is medicine that goes in your butt. Your kids will think this is hilarious but so what? Heck, they may even need it themselves and they will be so grateful for it. Is is: PROMETHEGAN 25mg Suppositories (generic for Phenergan).

Optional: &^%$!! Poise Pads because if you retch really hard, you pee. You just do. I ran out of pajama bottoms within a couple of hours and then was screwed.



8-pack (at least) toilet paper

2 rolls (at least) paper towels

2 boxes (at least) Kleenex

Large container (at least) Clorox wipes


Bathroom cleaner like Dow Scrubbing Bubbles

Toilet bowl cleaner

Zout or OxyClean laundry stain remover

Laundry detergent

Hand Sanitizer


Pantry Staples:

12-pack ginger ale or Sprite

Gatorade or Pedialyte

(3) canned chicken noodle soup (for me, I only rely on this in the direst circumstances because I think canned chicken soup sucks and can usually make my own in 15 minutes and it’s a lot better but if you are super sick, you’ll be glad to have a few cans on hand. Personally, I only think the Progresso brand Homestyle chicken soup is edible, although I will ingest Campbell’s if I have to).

(3) “comfort” canned soup from your childhood that reminds you of your mother (for me, this is Campbell’s tomato with rice. I make it with milk if I’m not puking constantly).

(2) 32-ounce boxes low-sodium chicken broth (I like Swanson’s)

Several boxes of pasta: I like orzo, farfalle, egg noodles and ditalini, but pick what you like

Asian rice noodles (if you need pho when you are sick, like me)

Emergency boxes of Amy’s brand shells and white cheddar mac-n-cheese

Emergency boxes/cans of stuff your kids will eat when you are desperate (eg: Kraft dinner, Spaghetti-o’s)

White rice, rice pilaf mix, pre-made cups of ready-to-eat microwaveable rice, cup-o-Noodles or Ramen (kids)

Tomato sauce (for making English muffin pizzas for the kids when back on your feet enough)

2 (at least) kinds of crackers, one of them definitely saltines

2 (at least) kinds of cereal that everyone will eat

Instant oatmeal packets

3 (at least) cans of fruit packed in juice or very light syrup



Boxes of milk–plain,ready-to-use, does NOT need to be refrigerated. Get several. They will save your ass in a pinch.

Hot cocoa mix, tea bags, coffee

pancake syrup

Emergency kid snacks: granola bars, Pirate booty, whatever they fancy



*this is where you can get a little more creative and stow away things your family likes that you can rely on in a pinch. Here’s a rough guide of what I consider essential*

Bread, well-wrapped and in a large zip-top bag

English muffins/bagels (ditto)


Asian potstickers/dumplings (I need my Asian soup, yo)


juice concentrate

frozen fruit for smoothies

frozen grapes (SO good for a sore throat)

frozen shit my kids will eat if I am dying: chicken nuggets, pizza rolls

Popsicles/fruit bars



*clearly, this is the hardest to stock for any kind of emergency, because fresh food is perishable, but try to have some of these*

bottled garlic/ginger (see: Asian soup, yo)

butter/peanut butter/jelly/cream cheese

onion, celery, carrot, parsley (soup staples)

hunk of Parmesan cheese

cheese slices for grilled cheese, etc.

deli turkey

yogurt cups

wine (duh. Because you’re going to feel better one day).


Well, readers, that’s my basic list for the Scourge Apocolypse–feel free to let me know if you think I’ve missed something essential, or if you just want to share some of the quirks on your list, if you have one (or are going to make one, which you should!)

I’m off to rest my battered body for a bit before school pickup, because I am old. Luckily, I was able to pull myself together for Miss M.’s birthday this weekend, although I did wave the white flag and order gourmet cupcakes from the bakery. My ass was not getting near a stove.

Thanks to all who sent healing vibes my way (and sympathy). You guys are the best. And hey, I wish you nothing but great immune systems for virus season! We can do it!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Arnebya October 6, 2015 at 12:04 pm

I don’t want it. I’m about to start making these people take vitamin C daily with Emergen-C backup as needed.


Sherri October 7, 2015 at 6:40 am

I was hit with a virus first day of school this year – hubby out of town – ALL school activities starting – work to do….. Your lists totally make sense because I was cruising Target for meds and toiletries and grocery store for food that my kids would eat while I felt half dead. So…. yes – healing thoughts to you …. and thanks for the advice.


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