Emergency preparedness: What to buy when store shelves are almost empty
07/03/2020 // Zoey Sky // Views

Even preppers have off days, and if you're one of them, you might be out of supplies and stuck with an almost empty stockpile before you realize it. If you're struggling to acquire supplies for your pantry, here are some last-minute substitutions you can make to ensure that your family doesn't starve after SHTF. (h/t to TheOrganicPrepper.com)

When looking for last-minute emergency supplies, you might have to make some less than ideal decisions, such as buying items that aren't organic or not as healthy as your original choices. Since it's already too late to go with your original plans, you must learn to adjust and make do with what you have or what's left on store shelves.

Drinking water alternatives

You can be sure that store shelves will be cleaned out before a hurricane strikes or during a pandemic lockdown.

If you need water for your survival stockpile, consider other alternatives such as:

  • Flavored or sparkling water
  • Juice boxes or individual bottles
  • Vegetable juice

Check in the aisle where you can purchase individually packaged items for kids’ lunches for beverage pouches and bottled drinks.

If you prefer drinking water, purchase food-safe containers. Fill them with running water at home, which you can boil or purify before drinking or preparing food. (Related: Prepping 101: Where do you buy supplies if big box stores near you are almost out of stock?)

Canned food alternatives

If you've put off buying supplies, you may find store shelves empty of common items like canned chili, pasta meals and soups because these items are good for meals and can even be eaten cold from the can if you don't have the means to heat your food.


When your local store is out of your preferred canned goods, buy these items instead:

  • Canned baked beans, which can be eaten straight out of the can
  • Canned fish
  • Canned potatoes, mashed or heated
  • Canned refried beans, which you can eat with bread or tortillas
  • Canned V8 vegetable juice and a can of mixed vegetables, turned into soup

Alternatively, you can purchase items from the International Food aisle like instant cup noodles or canned salsa or enchilada sauce.

Finally, look in other aisles for shelf-stable food such as:

  • Applesauce
  • Fruit cups
  • Granola bars
  • Jerky
  • Peanut butter
  • Pouches of precooked rice with beans and other vegetables mixed in
  • Pre-cooked bacon
  • Pudding
  • Veggie chips
  • Vienna sausages

Bread alternatives

You'll need bread to make sandwiches, but if you're out of your preferred kind or brand, opt for alternatives like:

  • Bagels
  • Crackers
  • Hamburger or hot dog buns
  • Muffins
  • Pitas
  • Tortillas

Alternatives for batteries, flashlights and emergency candles

When SHTF, the camping or outdoor supplies of your local store may run out of batteries and flashlights. Don't despair, just look for alternatives like:

  • Decorative jar candles
  • Headlamps
  • LED shop lights
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Tealights

You can also find assorted supplies at other stores like:

  • Corner stores or convenience stores
  • Dollar stores
  • Electronics stores
  • Hardware stores
  • Home decor stores

Dollar stores may be the last place you'd think of buying supplies, but if you scour the shelves you'll find an assortment of useful items such as:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Bleach
  • Board games for the kids and adults
  • Essential medications
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Heavy-duty garbage bags
  • LED flashlights
  • Paper plates
  • Pet food
  • Plastic cutlery
  • Sponges and other cleaning implements

If SHTF before you're able to stock up on supplies, be creative. You may have to settle for items that weren't originally part of your grocery list, but it's better to have hotdog buns that no bread at all.

Once the disaster is over, rethink your prepping plan. Make a list of items you wish you had before you had to buy alternative supplies and stock up on the essentials once stores replenish their stocks. The next time something unexpected happens, you'll be ready with your food supply.

Sources include:



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