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Panic buying has slowed, and stores have adjusted hours to allow employees time to clean and re-stock shelves. Yet the signs on store shelves that ask customers to limit purchases of toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and certain foods remain as a stark reminder of recent shortages.
Now, with cases of COVID-19 spiking in many parts of the country, a troubled economy, and civil unrest that likely will continue through election time, we are learning that shortages may become a fact of life. Our nation’s supply chain continues to be vulnerable to disruptions that may come in waves, just like the virus itself.
We can learn from some of the lessons of early pandemic buying. Did you build up the recommended 14-day quarantine supply of essentials back in March? If so, it is time to restock while you still can. Focus on foods and supplies that you usually use. Just make sure you have enough to last for several weeks.
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Here are 15 items to have on hand—and a few not to worry so much about.
Do you remember when a medical journal announced a link between ibuprofen and worsening COVID symptoms? That news sparked a run on acetaminophen in many stores.
Make sure you replenish your supply of pain relievers and other over-the-counter medications. Again, there is no need to buy a year’s supply – just enough for a few weeks. If you have prescription medications, refill them now.
2. Antibacterial Wipes
In a rush to clean surfaces in their homes and businesses, people filled their carts with wipes and other home cleaners. You don’t need to hoard these items now. Just buy enough for a few weeks.
3. Canned Proteins
Canned tuna, for example, is surprisingly versatile. You can toss it into a pasta, use it in a salad, or make a sandwich.
4. Crackers and Cereal
These items last for a long time and store easily. Also, don’t forget shelf-stable snacks such as chips and pretzels, or whatever your family prefers.
5. Dog Food
I remember shaking my head in disbelief as I walked down the empty pet food aisles at my supermarket back in late March. Don’t forget about your pets and livestock when you plan what your family needs for a shut-down.
Related: Bug Out Bags for Dogs & Cats
6. Dried Fruits
Enjoy the fresh fruits of summer while you can. Stock up on dried fruits for when they’re no longer available
Did your supermarket run out of eggs this spring? Many did, and shoppers saw a price increase in eggs when they came back to the shelves. Store-bought eggs last for three to five weeks in the refrigerator.
You should not freeze eggs in their shells, but you can freeze raw egg whites, raw egg yolks, and raw whole eggs that you remove from the shell and whisk together.
8. Face Masks
As we write this article, many health experts believe the coronavirus is airborne. That means that whether you prefer cotton masks or disposable masks, facemasks are here to stay for a while.
Even if your state has not enacted mandatory orders for facemasks, many workplaces and local stores require them. Online and brick and mortar stores have them in stock now. That could change quickly, so get yours – or make yours — now.
9. Flour and Other Baking Supplies
Many people discovered or re-discovered the joy of baking during the pandemic. Especially bread. Don’t let all that new knowledge go to waste now. Flour was hard to come by last spring.
10. Frozen Staples
Frozen veggies were also quick to sell out in the spring. Plan to purchase bags of your favorite vegetables to store in the freezer.
As we saw earlier this year, meatpacking plants are vulnerable to the virus. It’s a good idea to buy a few large packs of meat and freeze them in smaller portions for later use. Rotate them into your menus and replace them as necessary.
11. Fruit Juice, Coffee, Tea
Choose the varieties that your family already likes to drink. Now is not the time to experiment with new flavors. Life is stressful enough!
12. Hand Sanitizer
If you like to keep some on hand in your car, your backpack, or your office desk, take advantage of the currently available supply. Hand soap also flew off the shelves recently, so replenish your home supply.
13. Nut Butters and Nuts
For a quick burst of energy and nutrition, nuts pack a good punch. Store nuts in the fridge for extended freshness.
14. Shelf-Stable Foods
Replenish your supply of non-perishable foods such as rice, pasta, soup, and beans. These staples last for a long time, and they are the first foods to vanish from the shelves in a crisis.
15. Shelf-Stable Milk
With their long expiration dates, packaged almond, rice, soy, or oat milk is excellent to have on hand for any emergency. A pandemic is no exception.
Although the pandemic should not disrupt the water supply, this is 2020 after all, and who knows what is around the next bend. It’s always a good idea to have an extra stash of water for everyone in your household.
Store two gallons of water for each person per day for at least three days. It should be enough for both drinking and sanitation. If you have room for a two-week supply, go for it.
You’ll notice we didn’t mention toilet paper on our list. The experts weighed in on the psychology of the toilet paper hoarding of earlier in the year. They found that it was one of the mundane purchases that gave worried shoppers a sense of control over a bad situation.
Yes, make sure you have enough toilet paper and facial tissue for your family, but please do not buy more than you need. I think we’ve all seen enough toilet paper memes to last us a lifetime, don’t you?
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