Stock Your Kitchen Now with These 10 Sick Day Essentials

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Emily Han)

The worst time to shop for a sick day is (you guessed it) when you’re already sick. No one wants to wake up feeling miserable, call in sick to work, and then drag their stuffed-up, sore-throated, stomach-bugged sorry selves to the grocery store. Now is the time to stock your kitchen with these under-the-weather essentials.

(Image credit: Sara Kate Gillingham)

The Drink Essentials

  1. Herbal tea: Make sure your stash is well-stocked, as herbal tea is probably the top go-to drink for most of us when we get sick. Black and green teas are nice too, but don’t soothe the throat quite as well.
  2. Honey: Tea by itself is fine, but tea with honey is extra soothing …
  3. Lemons: … and even more so if you add a squeeze of lemon. In fact, why not just go ahead and make this ginger honey and lemon tonic? The shot of whiskey in the recipe is optional, but highly recommended. (Trust me.)
  4. Ginger and/or high-quality ginger ale: You’ll want fresh ginger for the tonic above, or to make any one of these stomach-soothing teas. You may also want to pick up a bottle or two of high-quality ginger ale — the kind made with real ginger, not just ginger flavoring and sugar — for when you’re feeling like a little light carbonation would be helpful.
  5. Orange juice or oranges: Give yourself an extra shot of vitamin C with a glass of orange juice, even better if it’s freshly-squeezed.
(Image credit: Faith Durand)

The Food Essentials

  1. Chicken soup: It’s not all in your head; there’s scientific proof that chicken soup really does help soothe cold symptoms, so buy a few cans for your pantry, or make and freeze a big homemade batch. Looking for the perfect soup recipe? Try one of these:

    5 Soups to Soothe a Cold

    From Chicken Noodle to Egg Drop: 10 Soothing Broth-Based Soups.
  2. Applesauce: An essential part of the BRAT diet, applesauce is low in fiber but has lots of calories, so it’s easy on a delicate stomach.
  3. Bread for toast: Keep a loaf of sliced bread in your freezer, and you’ll be so glad you have some bread around when you can’t keep anything else down.
  4. Quick-prep frozen meals: If your stomach isn’t the problem and you’re just wallowing in a head cold, quick-prep frozen meals (like these Trader Joe’s recommendations) mean you can get some food in your system fast. You can also reheat one of these excellent freezer meals.
  5. Your favorite comfort foods: This is different for everyone. What makes you feel good when you’re sick? Maybe it’s something from childhood, like mashed potatoes or a bowl of ramen noodles. Whatever it is, pick it (or the ingredients to make it) up the next time you go to the grocery store.

What are your sick day essentials?