Included in the Guide:

  • Tips for Safe Grocery Shopping & COVID-19 Grocery Store List
  • Nutrition Tips For Meal Prepping
  • Information about Immunity
  • Quick Recipes Using Pantry/Frozen Items

Grocery shopping and eating well can cause stress for many cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.  You may worry that your nutrition status will fall short because:

  • it can be hard to access fresh food because of social distancing and limiting trips outside your home.
  • stores may be out of many essential items and popular or familiar foods.
  • delivery times from grocery stores can be limited.

This guide contains helpful information for safe and healthy grocery shopping.  Included are tips for safe shopping, grocery delivery/pick up options in and around the Boston area, and healthy pantry and grocery items to consider purchasing to help extend your supply along with easy-to-prepare meal ideas using these items.

Tips for Safe Grocery Shopping:

The risk (chance) of COVID-19 is higher in patients receiving treatment that compromises their immune system. If you are a patient, ask a caregiver or friend to go grocery shopping for you if possible. If that is not an option, here are a few other resources in the Boston area available for food delivery and pick up:

 Third Party Services for Grocery Delivery/Pick Up

  • Instacart (Star Market, Market Basket, H Mart, Wegman’s, Shaw’s)
  • Amazon Prime (Whole Foods)
  • Shipt (Roche Bros, Target, CVS, Shaw’s, Star Market)
  • Mercato (Foodie’s, Boston Public Market, many other local specialty grocers)

 Restaurant Grocery Delivery

 Pick Up/Delivery Options at Local Farms and Food Vendors:

Be aware that you may need to place orders well in advance due to high volume.

If none of these options are available and you MUST go out, follow the CDC guidelines to protect yourself as best as possible:

  • Wash your hands (for at least 20 seconds) before entering the store, after leaving the store, and again when you get home. If you cannot wash your hands immediately, use hand sanitizer
  • Wear a mask
  • Do not touch your face
  • Stay 6 feet, or 2 arm’s length, away from others
  • Wipe down carts or baskets with disinfecting wipes
  • If you are 60 or older, go to the store during special shopping hours when there are smaller crowds and a freshly sanitized and stocked store.

See CDC Guidelines for additional information

 Food Assistance Programs

COVID-19 Grocery Store List

Here is a complete list of recommended grocery store items to purchase to help extend your supply of healthy food. You do not need to buy everything on this list.  Pick the items that appeal most to you and then add them to your personal grocery store list or virtual cart.

Pantry items:


    Canned fish (tuna, salmon, sardines)
  • Canned or dried beans (cannellini beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans)
  • Canned or dried chickpeas
  • Dried lentils
  • Chickpea/lentil/bean pasta
  • Quinoa
  • Protein powder (plant based or whey)


  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Farro
  • Brown or wild rice
  • Oats
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Granola

Healthy Fats:

  • Nuts: walnuts, pistachios, almonds, cashews
  • Nut butters: Peanut butter, almond butter
  • Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, chia, ground flax
  • Seed butters: SunButter, 88 Acres Sunflower and Pumpkin Seed Butters
  • Olive oil
  • Canned or jarred olives


  • Dried fruit: dried mango, apricots, raisins, prunes (ensure no added sugar)
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Canned artichokes
  • Fruit cups (peaches, pears, mandarin oranges)
  • Applesauce


  • Dried herbs and spices (Italian seasoning blend, ground ginger, ground garlic)
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Real maple syrup
  • Vinegar (balsamic, rice, apple cider)
  • Soy sauce (low sodium) or coconut aminos
  • Honey
  • Flaked, unsweetened coconut
  • Dark chocolate chips/dark chocolate bar
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Snack bars: KIND, Larabar, RX Bar, 88 Acres, Go Macro


  • Shelf stable dairy-free milk (oat, coconut, almond, rice, cashew, flax, and more!)
  • Electrolyte beverages:  coconut water, Nuun tablets, Gatorade, Powerade
  • Nutrition supplement drinks: Orgain Organic Nutrition, Boost, or Ensure
  • Herbal tea (ginger, chamomile)

Fresh produce (that lasts for 1-2 weeks):

  • Beets
  • String beans
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Cauliflower
  • Melon
  • Onion
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Parsnips
  • Rutabaga
  • Peppers
  • Arugula
  • Butternut squash
  • Spaghetti squash

Frozen items:


  • Fish (salmon, tuna, mahi mahi, cod, tilapia, and more)
  • Shellfish (shrimp, scallops, crab)
  • Poultry
  • Edamame
  • Meat


  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Tri colored peppers
  • Peas
  • Cauliflower rice
  • Onion
  • Green beans
  • Asparagus
  • Berries
  • Pineapple
  • Dark cherries
  • Peaches
  • Mango

Nutrition Tips For Meal Prepping:

Build your meal:

  1. Start out by picking a protein, like canned fish, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts/seeds, nut butter, frozen meat/poultry/fish, or a scoop of protein powder
  2. Add some colorful plants, like frozen fruits or vegetables, or fresh produce if available
  3. Lastly, complete the meal by adding a starch, like potatoes/sweet potatoes, whole grains like oats, farro, or brown rice.


  • Keep it simple, be flexible and work with the ingredients you have available to you!
    • If you can’t find your normal staple items, try something new (i.e. swap farro for rice, or tofu for chicken).
  • Keep a few extra bags of frozen produce and protein options on hand (just in case you can’t get to the store).
  • Buy larger bags of frequently used dry goods, such as rice, pasta, beans, nuts and seeds.
  • If you feel fatigued, have readily available, easy to prepare snacks on hand, such as nuts/seeds or trail mix, peanut butter with crackers, snack bars, and nutrition supplement drinks like Orgain Organic Nutrition, Boost or Ensure.

About Immunity:

There are many nutrients that can help your immune system function. Not getting enough of these nutrients may change how well your immune system works.

  • Do: Eat a healthy, balanced diet (like those in the grocery store list) will ensure that you are getting all the vitamins, minerals, and protein you need.
  • Don’t: Eat double or triple nutrients in attempt to “boost” your immune system. This does not work.
  • Do: Eat more plant-based foods.
  • Don’t: Spend money on supplements claiming to boost your immune system.

If you are currently being treated for cancer and you have concerns about your nutrition, ask your treatment team for a referral to the Cancer Center dietitians.

For additional healthy eating and shopping tips during COVID-19, visit:

Quick Recipes Using Pantry/Frozen Items: