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Staying Ahead Of The Shortages: What To Stock Up On For The Coming Year

Avatar for Samantha Biggers Samantha Biggers  |  Updated: November 24, 2020
Staying Ahead Of The Shortages: What To Stock Up On For The Coming Year

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While a lot of people are concerned about food shortages, one should not forget that there are a lot of items that make life easier or at least more enjoyable that come from abroad. A lot of these items specifically come from China and India. I am going to mention a few other things that are mostly made in the USA but that may potentially be in short supply as a result of the pandemic.

Food and water are primary concerns as they should be but what about these other things. I have compiled this list of things that you may want to consider acquiring if you don’t think you have enough to get through the next 6 months to a year.

Do what you can with what financial resources and ingenuity you have. You don’t have to jump on buying everything I talk about all at once. Sometimes people get caught up thinking that they have to do it all at once and that is not true. I presented this information so you can use it over the coming months to determine your preparedness needs and plan accordingly. I think this winter is going to be a difficult one and that the sooner you start planning the better.

That being said, I cannot predict what is going to happen but I can tell you that if you put back things you know you are going to need sooner rather than later than in the worst case you are prepared and in the best case you are ahead of the game and won’t have to buy those things later and may have some extra funds to put towards things later.

I am not trying to encourage you to buy things that there is no way that you are going to need. The intent of this post is really to make you think about what you do need considering the situation we are all in due to the pandemic and what things you have that are close to the end of their useful life and might need replaced soon.

Just because something is available later on doesn’t mean it will be affordable.

While as a country we may not run out of coffee grinders or coffee pots, they may get a lot more expensive. Buying now is one way to avoid potentially higher prices later on.

It is easy to take some of the basics for granted. The old saying “you don’t know what you got until it is gone” is accurate.

I remember going from years of having easy hot water and reliable heating and cooling in our living space to not having any of those things while we were living in a camper and building our house. To put this on a perspective for the average person in America, what if you couldn’t buy socks at an affordable price? What if you couldn’t get a broom or vacuum to clean your home? These are just a few examples.

When manufacturing starts coming back to the USA or we start contracting with other countries for some manufacturing, the price is going to go up and it may go up a lot.

People cannot live in the USA on a wage equal to that of a Chinese or Indian laborer. Also given that there are minimum wage laws, we technically wouldn’t be allowed to work for that low of a wage if we wanted to. Americans will work but they are not going to work for wages that require them to live under the conditions that a lot of people in China and India live in.

The Items

Sheets and Bedding

Have you ever priced a hand-sewn quilt? They are really expensive because they take a lot of time and they are usually made of fabric that is at least of moderate quality. I have made them and they last for years. I no longer have the time to make blankets that are that fancy and artistic so I buy them like everyone else. Regardless of how fancy or cheap you like to buy your sheets, those are made overseas. India produces a lot of the quality cotton blankets and sheets that are sold in the United States.

You may be thinking that we grow a lot of cotton in the United States. We sure do and it often that same cotton that goes into making the blankets and sheets that we get from India and China. The manufacturing facilities and inexpensive labor are not available here at the moment.

The other day I was thankful that I had bought a set of sheets ahead for everyone because all of a sudden I started noticing holes appearing in the ones I bought years ago. It is easy to not buy until you realize that things are getting threadbare. Here is a link to the sheets I bought. Sometimes they are a little less but they are still a very good deal for the quality you get.

Right now you can still get some inexpensive blankets but I am not sure how long that is going to last. I just know that there is only so much stuff in the country at the moment and it is pretty hard to say how much consumer goods are actually coming in. Just going by total container volume, it is not much.

Small and Large Appliances

This is the best deal I could find on a small chest freezer currently. If you are looking for one and want something compact, this freezer can be had for $179 and Wal-Mart offers 2-day shipping for free. I bought the 5 cubic feet version that opens from the top and paid less for it than this upright but those deals are gone.

How many of you have went to buy a small to medium chest freezer only to find that you might be able to get one in June if you are lucky? We were in the position of having two sheep that we had to butcher but not enough freezer space. We were concerned about not being able to get a smaller freezer so we went ahead and got a small one from Wal-Mart.

For some reason I thought that more freezers and other large appliances were made in the USA but I was sure wrong about that one. Freezers sold out much faster than I thought they would. I have seen a few really big freezers for sale but they are so big that most people are just not going to have the space and they cost twice as much as what most of us are used to paying when we want to go get a freezer.

Freezers are just the beginning. If you are noticing that your microwave, toaster, coffee pot, etc are starting to act up or not run so well, you may want to get your replacement now and throw it in the garage or closet. I can imagine that if demand is much greater than supply, a seller that does an auction on eBay may be shocked to see what some are willing to pay for items that they don’t want to do without. People like you or me that cannot outbid someone with a lot of money will be out of luck.


There is a lot of clothing in the country but a lot of it is used clothing. Items like blue jeans that you wear out more often are made in Asia with the majority being made in China. I am going to make an effort to buy American made after we wear out what I bought up. My husband works outside a lot and goes through some pants and t-shirts. Some of you may wear an odd size or a size that you find is not as available at stores.

If this is you then you need to be especially aware of what you have on hand. As I have stated many times in the past, buying out of season can save a lot of money. I routinely pick items at 50%-70% off by purchasing winter items in the spring or summer or summer items at the beginning of winter. This also means I can get better quality which in turn saves money because I don’t have to buy the same thing as often.


People love shoes. In fact a lot of people have way more pairs than they really need but those that do often don’t choose to buy the most practical footwear. During the year ahead you may find that you need different footwear even if you have a lot of shoes overall. The majority of footwear is made in China or other Asian countries. Some companies do have a USA made line that costs more but that is the exception, not the norm. Shoes made in the USA and Italy, both known for quality footwear, cost a lot more to buy and the selection is rather limited.

Right now you can still find some exceptional deals on footwear. My husband and I live on a mountain and farm. We deal with a lot of rough terrain and do a good deal of manual labor so we have to have good work boots. Other footwear will just get destroyed. Consider what your footwear needs are going to be over the next year and start buying what you need as you can afford it. Keep an eye out for good deals.

I love to shop at Amazon Warehouse for shoes because since I can wear a men’s size and I am not picky about the color, I can find exceptional deals. You have to shop around a bit but I picked up 4 pairs of boots for us for maybe $160? A single pair had a retail value that high. These types of deals will not be around forever because a lot of those companies have severely cut back on production or are not operating at all.

Another good place to find boots is through a military surplus store. Check out this post on military surplus for more info.

Some Fertilizers

A lot of people are gardening and that has led to a big run on fertilizers. While a lot is still available, that might not always be the case. It takes quite a bit of energy and people to make a lot of the commercial fertilizers on the market. A lot of folks are also stocking up on the organic varieties. The smaller organic fertilizer companies are not used to this type of demand and they could struggle to meet it in the near future. I know that some products like Garden Tone in larger bags have become a little more scarce here lately.


I have been trying to make an effort to be more on top of it when it comes to vehicle and machinery maintenance. For example, when this pandemic situation started, we ordered some tire patch kits and a gallon of tire slime in case we have to make some repairs at home.

Months ago, Matt and I were talking about when the tires would need to be replaced on the Kawasaki Mule. We agreed that we could get through the summer but before winter hit we absolutely had to get a new set. Then the pandemic happened. We set aside a little here and there and I went ahead and bought a set.

We use the Mule for everything around the farm and to go down to see my Dad at the other property and take him things. The truck is more vehicle than we need around the farm most of the time and it costs more to maintain and operate. A lot of our roads are not for trucks either. It would cause us an enormous amount of extra work that we honestly don’t have time for with just the two of us working the farm if we could not use our Mule.

A lot of tires are made in China and Korea. Yes there are US manufacturers but not as many as you might think. Only certain sizes will work with certain vehicles and some people need heavy duty 4×4 tires for things not street tires. My point is that even if your tires are looking worn, you might consider buying a set now and setting them aside for when you need them. Take a look at your tractors and other small machinery. I know that tires are not cheap but they could get a lot more expensive, especially if you need something that is specialized.


I am not one to have a fancy cell phone. I buy $50 and under smartphones and then barely ever keep it on. In fact some months I don’t even bother with it. At the same time, I realize that others depend on their phones for a lot of things. If you can pick up a cheap throwaway phone as a back up then it is something to consider. It may be difficult to find one that is not overpriced.

A lot of people are also choosing to keep the computer or Chromebook they have going rather than upgrading it for a different model. That being said, if you depend on your computer for work and entertainment and don’t already have a backup, now might be the time to pick up a cheap backup. Remember that nowadays cheap doesn’t mean it is not highly functional. I bought an open box Samsung Chromebook a few years back for $110 and used it for all my writing and for watching shows for over a year. It is still what we use for our TV but we hook it up to a big monitor.

Computer parts and internet equipment are mostly made overseas too. Network and technology needs vary by the person but there is nothing wrong with having an extra wireless router or network card. I bought a USB wireless adapter when all this started because my computer stopped going online. It seemed like some of the better adapters were already more expensive or harder to find. Not sure what it looks like out there now.

Cat and Dog Food

A lot of meat processors are shut down due to the pandemic. Some have stated that they are shut down indefinitely. When meat processors shut down that means that there are not byproducts and leftovers to be used in dog and cat foods. Maybe if some animals are put down they will go for pet foods but that is not a guaranteed thing.

It may also come to pass that the more affordable pet foods sell out while the more expensive ones are still somewhat available but out of reach for a lot of people due to cost. If your dog or cat requires a special diet then you need to be even more concerned. Here are a few links to posts on pet food storage and calorie needs that may be helpful with your planning.

Small Hand and Power Tools

Almost all the hand tools and power tools that we use often are made in China. There are a few companies that manufacture in the USA. Bully Tools and Eastwing both come to mind for hand tools. Milwaukee and Dewalt make some items in the USA. Remember that a lot of tool companies have products made in many different countries. You cannot assume that because they have a few USA made products that everything you get with their logo on it is made in the USA.

Tools make it possible to be more self-sufficient. I would never want to give up our tools. If you don’t have a basic household toolkit or the garden tools you need then try to buy them as you can. You will not regret having a few basic tools around.

Nail, screws, and other fasteners

I just put in an order to Lowes and it was amazing what they were out of. Most of the screws, nails, and fasteners are made in China or similar. If I wanted a screw under 2 inches, my only choice as the star bit variety. A standard Phillips head was not available in that size. Just for the record, I have never seen Lowes out of such a basic size and variety in over a decade of helping build houses, barns, etc.

Even more of the over the counter and basic medical supplies we are used to having.

Some medical and personal protective gear have been in short supply for quite some time. Since a lot of the ingredients that are necessary to produce many medications are made in foreign lands, it seems like we would be bound to see more medications in short supply the longer the pandemic continues and especially if there is a devastating second wave.

Besides medications, there are a lot of other medical supplies made overseas as well. Those without a good medical kit should start putting one together so that they can deal with basic needs at home.

Other Items

  • Soap
  • Batteries
  • Laundry products
  • Coffee
  • Herbs and spices that are usually foreign grown. Black peppercorns are an example. A lot of black pepper is grown in India.
  • Sewing supplies
  • Anything imported that you would really miss.

Are you experiencing shortages in your area? What are you having the most trouble finding? For a more comprehensive list of items to put back for hard times, check out my article “The Supplies You Need To Stockpile For TEOTWAWKI”.

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12 Responses to “Staying Ahead Of The Shortages: What To Stock Up On For The Coming Year”

  1. Re @Lathechuck’s comment about vitamins, I went to reorder my vitamins from (Puritans Pride–not a pitch for them) and found that my D and K2 were unavailable, items I have been taking for some time. Zinc supplements? Nope, not available. Not sure if it is because of them being so much in the news recently or a supply issue…

  2. Think about vitamin pills. Where does that supply chain start? If people catch on that Vitamin D helps prevent and minimize respiratory illness, and Vitamin C helps reduce excessive clotting, those could be in short supply soon, too. Dietary zinc may also be helpful against COVID-19 (“I am not a doctor”), so check what non-perishable foods contain it, and make them regular components of your diet.

  3. Just did a spot-check. The web site for Home Depot has a banner at the top of the “chest freezers” page, warning that they have limited availability. It actually says that 8 of 35 models are still in-stock. (If you’d rather run from 12 or 24V DC, perhaps from a solar panel/battery system, that would cost an extra $1000. If it was in-stock. Which it isn’t.)

  4. I just bought a pair of “men’s casual” shoes, for times when over-the-ankle work boots are too much, and fleece slippers are not enough. I found a nice pair at “”, made in USA of USA materials. A day later, I got an ad from L. L. Bean for a pair of shoes that looked about the same, but “imported” (from who-knows-where), and they were just a little more expensive than the US-made shoes that I bought (and really like). The ones I got were more expensive than the cheapest ones at the mall, but it actually surprised me that they were cheaper than LL Bean’s import.

  5. Good article–food for thought. Americans don’t realize the wide variety of products that come from China. Many seeds, maybe even most of them, are grown in China. You can’t eat if you can’t get seeds–even dairy, eggs, and meat are produced by animals that eat feed grown from seeds. If China would withhold medicine, pretty sure they would do the same for seeds. The US grows a lot of “food” that can’t be readily digested by humans, like corn grown for ethanol or animal feed. Thirty years ago the area where I live grew lots of vegetables, wheat, corn, sugar beets, and tree fruit. Now it’s almost exclusively wine grapes. A steady diet of wine won’t keep you alive! It would take farmers a few years to change the crops that they grow. This suggests potential food shortages.

  6. Hello Samantha;
    I’ve just recently began to read your articles & I am very impressed with their quality. I’m very happy to read them & take your good advice. Thank you for putting this excellent advice out there. It’s making my preparations a lot easier.

    Keep up the good work ;-)..

    Don in Canada

  7. Watch out when buying tires! Check the dates on them and know that tires much over 5 yrs old are not to be trusted. Check before you buy !! Many merchants will sell off their old stock when things run low.

  8. I bought extra brush heads for my electric toothbrush, and a spare hair dryer and curling iron. Maybe the power will be out but if it’s not then I’ll feel much better having these items. I also have reusable mason jar lids. It’s good to have supplies for any craft you enjoy such as yarn, fabric, embroidery thread/kits, sewing supplies, patterns, etc. Also as mentioned before – games & lots of books!

  9. thanks for your work here! i love checking in to make sure i’m living my best contingency planned life! 🙂
    first: a disclaimer: I am not a doctor but did pursue a doctorate so ttfwiw 🙂
    a mention re: herbs, and also relatedly medicines: because clotting seems to be a common link to complications it behooves us to look into compounds that mimic medicines that thin the blood… seems the same things that are anti inflammatories can behave like low key warfarin/heparin, etc: Ginger, tumeric, etc etc. so if one was going to make an effort to stock up, those may be good herbs to focus on for multiple benefits

  10. We, as Americans, are WAY too dependent on China for many things we use every day. COVID-19 came from China!
    I agree! That the time is NOW to start prepping for this winter. Especially items that we know we will need and can afford now.

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