What You ACTUALLY Should Be Buying - The Complete Emergency Shopping List
Updated: Apr 11
I've been watching people panic buy and strip the shelves off of toilet paper for no good reason. Most countries produce their own toilet paper not to mention, it’s not difficult to make toilet paper. As long as you have trees, countries can make toilet paper. You can even recycle other paper and wood into toilet paper. So why bulk buy toilet paper? It makes no sense. People do it because they don’t know what they actually need so they just copy the next guy. So I’ve compiled a list of things you will ACTUALLY need to survive the next 4-12 months as this global pandemic spreads and progresses.
Now, first and foremost, it’s important to understand that you’re buying for the long term NOT the short term. Short term - worst case scenario, you order a pizza. It’s not ideal, who knows if the chef is infected or who the driver delivered to and came into contact with before you. The idea is to buy the things you need so you don’t have to go shopping for a few months till the peak of this pandemic passes. At that point, it will start to get safer but of course, if you can last a little longer, that would be ideal.
Note: I’ve updated and used Amazon product links only in this article so you can add whatever you need into one basket. Originally I just added links to any website or store but most are out of stock now, Amazon seems to be the last place with a lot of stock (unsurprising with their massive warehouses) but my advice is place an order if you find what you’re looking for in stock. You can always cancel or refund later if you change your mind. Anyway, here we go:
This is the single MOST important thing in a crisis situation. You've got your freezer stocked right? And you're fridge? What's the plan when the power cuts for a few hours? Eat all the food before it spoils... then what? Make sure you have a secondary power source.
Gas Powered Generator - this would be ideal, something with enough watts to power your house like this 12'000 Watt beast would be worth the investment, but smaller ones just to power your freezer are good enough too. Don't forget all the hose and connectors that you might need to get - as well as the gasoline or propane!
Solar Panels - with summer coming around, and this global pandemic projected to potentially last over a year, solar panels might be a good investment - whilst you can. A 100W panel like this one can be bought for $80. A few of those could be enough to power a freezer in a pinch.
Solar Panel Power Station - like this Portable Power Station: you'll need to hook up those solar panels to something, this might all be complicated but again, you should consider ordering it whilst it's in stock and watch some youtube videos before they arrive. It's simple once you get the hang of it!
Rechargeable Batteries - these are a good alternative to normal batteries, but they are not essential.
Power Banks - like this high capacity one are great in the midst of a power cut, you're phone and tablets will have extra life just when you need them too.
Hand Crank Flash Light - These are solid and worth having a few around the house, you'll never run out of battery since you can just crank it by yourself and recharge the batteries.
Candles - great for light and smell nice!
Jerry Can/ Fuel Can - if you need to fill up some extra fuel at the gas station, you want one of these.
Butane Hot Plate - if you can't use your gas or electric stove for whatever reason, these are great.
Butane Refuel Cans - for your butane hot plate, or anything else that runs on butane for that matter.
Forget the toilet paper, you've got enough - worst case scenario you shower after!
Toothpaste - if you run out of hand soap or shampoo, you can swap those around but what will you use when you run out of toothpaste?
Lotion / moisturiser, something like this.
Deodorant - summer is coming, trust me.
Hair Trimmer - men out there, under the circumstances, going to the barber is probably not wise. A barber is in close contact with people, day after day. I'd say just get a trimmer and give it a go yourself or get a family member to do the honors. A decent set will run you around $40, if you want to splurge this might be a good place to do it.
Tampons/Pads - do I need to explain? Here's some in bulk
Shampoo - you can use this for your body if you need to but soap for your hair can damage your hair too much.
Gloves - Disposable ones - incase some at home gets sick or when you're out and about and want that extra protection.
Ear buds/ Cotton Buds - here's some
Home Cleaning - Cif, Bleach, scrubbers - you get the idea.
Diapers/ Baby wipes - if you've got a baby in the house, you don't ever want to run out of diapers.
Face wash/Skin Care - Lots to list.
Mouth Wash - Listerine is the most popular.
Tooth floss - can't be going to the dentist in the midst of a pandemic. Try these.
3. Home Essentials
These are self explanatory, you want these around the house at some point:
Spotlight - holding a flash light in the dark gets tiring real fast, you want something you can set on the table but you don't need to go for the expensive ones - something like this should do the job.
Tools - you're not going to be able to call a handy man over - or anyone for that matter if you're in the midst of a lockdown. A decent tool set like this is a must. Again, no need to break the bank going for the expensive ones - you're not opening a repair store.
Water Filter - don't be dependent on water bottles, get a filter like this Britta and some spare filters to hold you over.
Water jugs - fill these up with filtered water. Then drink from them, you don't want them to sit for long but keep them refilled in case water stops.
Tape, Rope, Foam Filler - These are good to have for emergency repairs.
Towels, Linens - if someone does get sick, you don't want to share - even after a wash. Something like this should do.
Fans / Air Con - Summer time is around the corner, get some fans or portable air conditioner if you think you will need one. You don't want to be standing in a queue for one of these in a few months, but if you can make do with some fans - save the money.
Here's the things that people don't think about. You've obviously got your canned foods and your frozen meats but what about these:
Multivitamins - pretty obvious when you think about it. Try Centrum.
Protein Power - you don't want to drop in your protein intake. And frozen meats will run out. Gold Standard Whey Protein is the gold standard.
Powdered milk - expensive but good in a pinch.
Condensed milk - add water and you will have... well really sweet milk.
Egg white powder - great for baking without fresh eggs.
Egg substitute - again, fresh eggs don't last long, these should.
Jerky - great source of protein and tasty!
Rice - lasts a long time
Oats - again, stored appropriately will last
Instant Noodles - will do when needed
Coffee/Tea/ Hot Drinks - do you have your regulars stocked?
Flour - for baking cakes, pancakes, waffles etc.
Pasta - rapidly going out of stock for a good reason, here's what I could find.
Pasta Sauce - red sauce to white.
Frozen fruits - Berries, Apples, Watermelon.
Frozen Vegetables - Quinoa, Kale, Broccoli, Potatoes, Carrots, Beans, Peas - you name it!
Dried Fruits - Pears, Apples, Mango, Cranberries!
Sports Drinks - these have essential electrolytes,
Baby formula/milk - you don't want to run out of this.
Baby Food - A wide selection for a wide range of ages.
Cake Mix, Pancake Mix, Muffin Mix, Waffle Mix - you get the idea, a lot of these you just add water and bake.
Peanut Butter - high calorie, last a long time too.
Jelly/Jam - again, great to add some taste.
Snacks - worth filling the cupboard with these.
Cereal - choose whatever you like.
Pet food - I've heard people are stock piling these too but online stocks seem ok.
Take a moment to browse through for anything else you might have missed.
5. Food Storage
Now you need a place to keep your food safe:
Spare Freezer - if you can spare the cash, get one.
Plastic Tubs - great at keeping pests out - something like this.
Glass Tupperware - lasts longer than plastic, easier to clean too.
General Purpose Containers - something like these
6. Pest Control
Probably not wise inviting pest control to walk around your home in the midst of a global pandemic. I'm afraid this year, we'll be fighting pests by ourselves, one on one. If you have pest issues, do what you have to to make sure it doesn't become a problem this year. Seal up holes, clean meticulously, don't leave any crumbs etc:
Rodent Mesh - like this is what you need to seal all holes and gaps with.
Humane Mice Trap - like this, but there are more lethal options out there.
Cockroach Trap - like this, again, plenty more options, search around for what you prefer.
Ant Block/Powder - ants can destroy your entire food stock. Something like this should help.
Insect / Mosquito Repellent - Repel is the usual go to.
7. Tech and Electronics
This one is more specific but do you need any spare chargers or cables? Without these your laptops and phones are dead. If people are freaking out over toilet paper, you can imagine the drama that will unfold if people can't check their Instagrams or Youtubes.
Phone Charger - Spare charger for your iPhone or cell phone, just in case.
Laptop / Tablet Charger - Spares can't hurt, here's some macbook chargers.
Back up Hard drives - this is crucial, if you're laptop/computer dies, you might not have the option of taking it into the repair store/apple store, especially in a lockdown. You need to have daily backups so you can just wipe the thing and restore it back to normal. Here are some external hard drives but I strongly recommend external SSDs - they are more robust, last longer, protection against drop damage and are much faster. You want to have AT LEAST two for each device your backing up. If one fails, you'll have another complete backup. Remember, in theory, the backup drive is just as likely to fail as your device itself, always have two backups at any given time. This can be expensive, sometimes worth even more than the device itself- but remember, it's not the value of the device that matters but the value of the information you're backing up. In my case, my total backup drives cost me $600 because that's how much I price the information on the device, even though my device in today's value is around $1200. And I am still buying extra drives as my old ones get too old. You have to ask yourself, how much is the data on the device worth for you?
Headphones - you're going to be in close isolation, headphones, if not for yourself for those around you so you can have some peace and quiet. A good noise cancelling headphone is worth the price.
8. Emergency Essentials
These are crucial regardless of the global pandemic. But considering that we don't want to be going into hospitals right now or dealing with a fire, here's something every household MUST have:
First Aid Kit - don't buy the cheap ones - buy something robust that will actually have the things you need: Something like this 800 piece complete kit
Neosporin - this is an Antibiotic Ointment - very useful for a wide variety of situations.
Thermometer - fever is one of the main symptoms of Coronavirus/Covid19 and you don't want to be shearing these. Consider a non-contact thermometer.
Painkillers - Tylenol is the usual go to.
Alcohol Swabs/Wipes - again, running out very fast. But I found these.
Fire Alarm - You want a Combination Alarm - but no need for a super expensive one - better to have more around the home than one expensive one.
Carbon Monoxide Detector - Any will do - as long as it works, it works
Fire Blanket - this one is for the kitchen, you don't want to throw water on a grease fire, youtube it if you don't know what will happen.
Fire Extinguisher - something like this should do but check what your local guidelines say.
9. Entertainment/ Pass Time
Above all else, I'd recommend spending some cash on entertainment. The way things are going most of us are going to be spending a lot of time at home for the next few months. Some of us will also have kids to keep happy. You don't want cabin fever. And if ever there was a reason to splurge on that thing you've been eyeing - it's now:
Box Sets: Perfect time to binge watch your favorite shows. If your gaming console has a BluRay player, make use of it! Here are some box set ideas: Jurassic World 5 Movie Box Set, Fast and Furious 8 Movie Box Set, Harry Potter Complete Box Set, Pirates of the Caribbean 5 Movie Box Set and then you have all the TV show box sets - like Friends.
Lego - More advanced pieces are for both kids and adults - but the cheaper lego sets are perfect at keeping the kids quiet for a few hours.
Board Games - cheap and hours of fun. Too many to list,
Darts - get a darts board and see what you got. Go for the cheap one - let's be honest, this one is going to be something that stays on the wall collecting dust in a few months! But until then, it's a lot of fun!
Coloring books are also great at keeping kids entertained, Especially the little ones.
I could go on but you get the picture. I'd recommend investing in something that will last but it really depends on what your interest and hobbies are. The aim of the game here is to keep away cabin fever and avoid a situation where you go out and about and risk it all for nought. There are many other options too, for instance, house repair work or learning a new language!
Beyond that, consider what else you may need in the coming months. I've not mentioned things like clothes because we can make do with what we have. And for the most part, stuff like lawnmowers (since we can't be calling over landscapers in a lockdown) is something that is going to go out of stock as people realize they will have to mow their own lawns this year - but it's not something essential. If you have the spare cash, sure why not. But I'd perhaps consider spending that money on the things above. I'm sure there's more that I've not included, but this list is pretty extensive as it is.
Consider bookmarking this page and checking regularly, I will be updating as our readers make suggestions about more products. Lastly, if you found this useful, maybe some one you know will too - please share with friends and family using the links below.