Has stockpiling daily essentials suddenly become a smart move? Are you going to do it?

Perhaps “smart move” isn’t the best way to put it. How about, do you now see the justification in doing so?

We’ve had discussions about the nations’ current TP situation in several threads. Some people have had no problem finding it at their local Try-N-Save, while others haven’t been able to find any at all:

As ivylass points out, for some people they may not be using it at their usual rate:

My own mother has been in and out of the hospital for almost a month. She spent 3 weeks in a cardiac unit and upon her release asked me to go to Costco and get some TP because they were nearly out. This was well after the panic hoarding started so I had to inform her she was SOL as far as Costco was concerned. I had to drive all over town at 0530 just to find some generic stuff for her. I haven’t seen any since, and that was over a week and half ago. We are in rural southern Oregon.

My friend, who lives on the Kona side of the Big Island of Hawaii, says he’s seen no shortages of anything, including TP.

Anyway, this whole thing has me thinking: how foolish is it, really, to have a stockpile of daily necessities on hand to weather some unforeseen circumstance like what we’re in now? I’ve always though the hardcore preppers, with their bug-out bags and off-grid living capability were a bit off their rocker. But now I’m not so sure. I’m not about to put together a BOB filled with gold and guns and fire starters, but I have been mulling over the concept of stockpiling what we would need to shelter in place for 6 months or so. I’m flashing back to those bomb shelters from the 1950’s that had shelves of cheap TP, canned goods, water filters, iodine tablets, and the like.

While I’m not considering a bomb shelter in the back yard, I am thinking it would be a really good idea to have at least 3, and possibly more like 6 months’ worth of daily essentials stocked away in the garage for a situation like this. Toilet paper, canned and dehydrated food, soap & shampoo, feminine hygiene products, a propane stove and lots of propane, prescription and over-the-counter medications, and similar necessities. Life-sustaining meds such as insulin or warfarin should be first on the list. (And honestly, as an insulin-dependent diabetic myself, I would be shocked if anyone in similar circumstances didn’t have at least a few week’s supply of meds on hand beyond their regular 30- or 90-day rotation. I know I do.)

Someone living in a small flat in a large city would have limited storage capability, but still, I’m sure something could be done.

As my mother’s current situation is proving, even if there isn’t some society-wide reason to hunker down at home, one’s personal circumstances may render them unable to leave the house easily at least temporarily. Thus such a stockpile of daily necessities becomes necessary.

So. Has stockpiling ≥ 6 months of necessities suddenly become a smart move?

We buy ‘economy size’ packages because they’re cheaper per unit than smaller ones. That means that toilet paper comes in 12- or 24-roll packages, and paper towels tend to come in 8-roll packages. It’s not ‘stockpiling’ so much as it is ‘saving money’. Toilet paper is hard to come by nowadays, but I’m not changing practices. I bought a 12-roll package of it last week, and I’ll buy more when we start running low.

It can’t hurt unless it becomes an obsession. Food expires, so unless you are rotating stock and keeping records of what you have and when it’s sell date is coming up, you can eventually end up with a basement full of botulism. We buy some items at Costco, which normally come in bulk. We do it because it’s convenient not to have to shop for toilet paper every week or two. A case of black beans and a case of chicken stock don’t last long in this house, so it’s a good purchase for us. But six cases of Spaghettios wouldn’t get touched. Also, you may think that six cases of canned beets is a good choice, but you get sick of things after awhile.

We have a stash in our RV for short-term emergencies. There’s probably enough canned and dry foods in there to keep us going for a couple of weeks. But I think that if there was an emergency that was going to last six months, with no hope of resupply, then we’d all be fucked anyway.

I don’t hoard but I do stock up on what I can just for convenience sake. I don’t remember the last time I bought TP, for instance, but it was before people went bonkers about the stuff. We still have about a month’s supply–which is about when I want to start restocking the hall closet where we keep it. I plan on topping us off next time I get the chance, but no more than usual. IMO people who do panic buy are calling themselves out as enemies of society and ought to suffer at least the social stigma of reliably placing their own needs above society’s. In times of crisis we may not know just who has our backs, but we can sure as hell identify who will stab us in the back.

I tend to agree with the bolded bit. If store shelves are truly empty, freight isn’t moving, seaports are closed, and factories aren’t producing… yeah. Having enough Spaghettio’s in the pantry will be the least of our concerns.

However, we buy stuff at Costco all the time – indeed, that’s why my mother asked me to grab TP for them as we go there often enough that they never bothered to get a membership. But we go when we’re running low. I think having a long-term supply and rotating it, as you note, so that things don’t expire would be a wise move.

Of course, being able to cook helps. I know that at my last trip to the grocery store they were mostly out of pasta and jarred pasta sauces but their tomatoes, both fresh and canned, were plentiful. Obviously what is flying off the shelves is the prepackaged and frozen foods that take no effort to cook, but for us wouldn’t get used. Like you we cook mostly from scratch and our pantry staples likely look far different from those of a good chink of the American populace.

Panic buying is, almost by definition, making large purchases that deny someone else the ability to purchase the same thing. I agree that’s reprehensible.

However, stocking up and saving necessities for a rainy day, so to speak, when done during calm times when supplies are plentiful is not a negative thing. By doing it when supplies are on the shelf and there isn’t a huge demand is the right time to do it because demand is low (or at least, not high).

If I were to go and try to stock up on 6 months worth of TP right now, I’d be a richly deserving social pariah well deserving of ridicule and shaming. If I would’ve had the foresight to pick up a couple of extra Costco-size packs of TP say, last October, it would’ve been a total nothingburger because that would not have been denying TP for anyone else. Costco had plenty and there would be no shortage let alone empty shelves awaiting the next person.

Suddenly? No. I’ve almost always lived somewhere where the occasional weather-based disruption is expected. Even in tiny, shared apartments, I’ve always had some accumulated staples that I cycle through. That’s in addition to actual emergency supplies, that I don’t use but just replace.

If I get an apartment with more storage, I think I could see myself squirrelling away one or two 50 pound bags of rice, 20+ pounds of sugar and/or flour, and a gallon or two of vegetable oil to prepare for bad times. It’ll last years, cost less than $75 to set up and provide calories for months in a survival situation.

The toilet paper thing is more of an annoyance than a need. Even if a person runs out of TP I could see a homemade bidet, showers, kleenex, wet wipes, paper towels, etc doing the job.

But so far, in every ‘emergency’ situation I’ve been in, I’ve always been able to get to the store. Ice storms, coronavirus, blizzards, etc. But having a few months of cheap food with a long shelf life would make me feel better. A propane stove may be a good idea too in that situation though.

Sugar and white rice have long shelf lives, but flour and oil can go rancid. If you store the flour in the freezer, you’ll add significantly to its life, but I don’t think there’s anything you can do to oil to make it last years.

I guess I have been stockpiling some for years. I always try to keep a bit extra on hand for the unexpected, though more like an ice storm shutting down the interstates rather than a pandemic. I buy paper products in bulk packages because they’re cheaper and I have room to store them. I cook a lot of beans and rice so usually get those in bulk too, then repackage with a vacuum sealer for storage. A couple of cases of bottled water in the closet just in case.
Most fortunately my hobby for many years has been canning. I like to make all sorts of things and stuff them into jars, some of which I give away to family and friends. My sister says she hasn’t had to buy jam in ages as I’m her supplier. Anyway, I have several shelves full of tasty things to see me through this. I haven’t had to set foot in a store for two weeks now and can easily go for several more without shopping. I will run out of fresh fruit in a few more days but it’ll be fine. I have peaches I canned last summer.

We’re not stockpiling but we have increased the size of our rolling stock of food, just in case the supermarket runs out of something. So 2 boxes of cereal instead of 1, extra cans of barbecue sauce, etc. The supermarket has been out of eggs for 2 weeks *, but we won’t buy 3 dozen when we find some. We intend to go back to normal when this crisis is over.

ETA: I mean there are no eggs when we go, typically on Sunday afternoons. It may be just the restocking employees who don’t work with customers present like they used to. They do have them during the week, we’re told.

No. I was most worried about liquid hand soap, an absolute essential, but that’s been available in dribs and drabs here and there, and when I found a whole shelf full of gallon jugs of refills of my favorite brand and bought two of them, that was the end of that worry.

I mostly have food for myself but when someone unexpectedly came over for dinner the other night, there was no problem popping over to the grocery store and picking up some delicious precooked ribs that just needed to be thrown on the barbecue for a few minutes. I see no need for stockpiling, though I have freezer full of food and a larger than usual amount of canned goods in the event of some crisis. Stores around here are generally doing an amazing job of maintaining stock.

I do try not to waste food, though, to minimize outings. I had a bowl of leftover spaghettini and meatballs and mushrooms that I took out of the fridge one evening and then forgot about til early in the morning. It had sat out overnight. I thought, this is a bad time to get food poisoning, but this was good stuff, and it’s probably OK. Had it last night. It was just fine, and I’m still alive.

In an ideal world and living arrangement, where I felt I was finally permanently ensconced and only had myself to worry about, I have wanted to stockpile non-perishables just to a) avoid having to go to the supermarket so often, and b) have plenty of the thing I like before it inevitably gets discontinued. However I have only lived a meagre existence, I’ve never even been in a position to have a decent pair of shoes, let alone back-up pairs.

One of the frustrating things about this current situation of empty supermarket shelves is the feeling of needing to grab something as soon as you see one, and then getting one more just in case, which just puts me in the same mindset of the idiots who have put us all in this position in the first place. We were not running short of stock, there was plenty for everyone, and they are not even things that we need to stockpile, but panic buyers have done it anyway and now we’re all stuck in it, coveting what we can when we can. Ridiculous, and irritating.

If I still lived in Wisconsin I’d have more because I do think of snow storms and being stuck.

After this, yeah. Always going to have at least a 12-pack of TP and more canned staples. But not like prepper amounts.

I’ve long had at least a week’s worth of stuff in my home just because Stuff Happens. In 2008 storm and tornado damage kept us pretty much at home for three days running and with no power for a day and a half the well wasn’t working so the store water was a good thing.

A couple years ago I started purchasing a year’s worth of toilet paper, paper towels, facial tissue, etc. via a friend’s Sam’s Club membership. I do it to save money, not for disaster planning. Just lucky I did it in January this year.

A week’s worth is probably plenty sufficient for ordinary catastrophes.

Six month’s worth? Um… if you have that much of an emergency I think different strategies come into play (like either becoming a subsistence farmer or a raider of subsistence farmers). But hey, the Mormon’s are supposed to keep a year’s supply, right? Sure, go ahead - but all the caveats about rotating the stock, buying things you’ll actually eat, etc. also apply. Also will need vermin-proof containers. A deep freezer works for some items… as long as the power is on.

I do have what I refer to as “Armageddon food” - some Mountain House freeze-dried meals with a shelf-life of 30 years that only require hot water to get ready to eat. Not a lot. Not so much for a pandemic where nonetheless the food trucks are still running but more for post-tornado type disasters were you have no power but can rig up something to boil water. Like the wilderness camping I used to do where I was introduced to the Mountain House products. Pro tip: the beef stronganoff is decent and the most popular flavor.

You have to look at your own situation, the local hazards, what sort of storage you have, and so forth. I encourage people to keep a week’s worth. A year’s worth strikes me as excessive for most but maybe not for some in remote, hard to resupply areas. YMMV.

I used to have a pretty good stash, however I did see some fallacy in that as I became a firefighter and thought the answer would be with community efforts. I didn’t consider the possibility of social distancing in that reasoning. I also thought why store so much food when the supermarket does that for me and I can get fresher food when I want.

My SO has endured war in her childhood and while I wanted to clean out the shelves she would restock them somewhat, so we have some supplies at hand. Now when we do venture out to the market I tend to buy some extra non-perishable foods a bit at a time to add to that supply.

You can say that again. Although I’m not as far out in the country as the wilds of Alaska, there is no store of any kind within walking distance, and snow may prevent me from negotiating my driveway sometimes, as I can’t plow it myself. Add that to occasional power outages any season and a desire to reduce trips to town for economy reasons, and it’s prudent to keep some non-perishable items in stock, even in “normal” times.

I even have an UPS connected to my freezer, so as long as a power outage isn’t too long, I won’t have a problem there. Power outages greater than 8 hours have only happened once in the last 30 years, so I’m covered.

I live alone, buy groceries weekly and only have these extra things ‘just in case’:

  • two spare rolls of toilet paper
  • six cans of soup
  • a loaf of bread (in the freezer)
  • two bottles of sparkling water

I was concerned last week as I was obeying the UK guidelines to literally stay at home (because I’m 66 and had liver sepsis last year) and I wasn’t sure about grocery stocks.

But a friend just took me to a town supermarket (which is allocating 3 one hour shopping periods each week for those over 60.)
There was plenty of stuff on the shelves (including toilet paper) - the only thing I couldn’t find was hand sanitiser.
The shoppers were all grey-haired, jolly polite and kept 6 feet apart (even in the queues.)

So I shall continue to stay isolated (so I don’t catch it and put pressure on the medical services.)
Apart from one hour shopping, this week I’ve spoken only to:

  • a neighbour over a garden fence
  • a friend in Las Vegas (via Skype)

But for entertainment I have my books, DVDs and my main Lord of the Rings Online character has nearly reached maximum level!

And I don’t need to stockpile. :cool:

I like to have a stash of things like paper products, pet food, deodorant, toothpaste, and soap because they’re the sort of things that when you run out, there aren’t many alternative substitutes. And if I hit a sale, I may stock up more than usual since I have plenty of space to store extras.

I try to keep a good supply of frozen veggies and meats on hand - I hate having to rush out to the store while preparing a meal because I ran out of something. There was an occasion when I had to stop in the middle of a recipe because I’d neglected to ensure I had all the ingredients - that was annoying. But I don’t think any part of my pantry or freezer would be considered extreme or prepper-like.

This has become even more important as my daughter, SIL and granddaughter are living with us. Instead of feeding 2, I’m feeding 5, so my supplies must increase accordingly.

Yep. It’s just what the ‘pre’ part of ‘preparation’ means. I’ve had a few people tell me that the run on TP, pasta etc is just people ‘preparing’ for lockdown. No it isn’t - preparation is something you do beforehand.