14 Items Most Likely to Sell Out at Your Grocery Store During a Natural Disaster

These items will be the first to disappear from your grocery store's shelves.

A woman in an aisle with items out of stock
Updated June 6, 2024
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From hurricanes to snowstorms, many of us are never that far away from a natural disaster.

By the time nature’s fury is headed in your direction, chances are good that grocery stores will have long lines and quickly sell out of the things you need. So it pays to react fast when bad weather or other natural emergencies appear to be on the way.

Shopping early improves your odds of getting what you need. It also might help you avoid wasting money because you won’t have to pay inflated prices later when people are scrambling to secure essentials.

Following are some essential items you should stock up on early before they sell out.

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5ph/Adobe milk glasses and a jug on a rustic wooden table

Milk is a great staple when you can't go to the grocery store for several days.

It’s not only good to drink but can also be used for recipes or cereal if you're unable to cook due to a natural disaster.

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Bottled water

shark749/Adobe man pouring water from a bottle into a glass

Water can be a major issue if a natural disaster disrupts pipes or prevents you from accessing clean water.

So think about stocking up on bottled water to keep you hydrated. You might also use it for cooking if you don’t have access to a clean water supply.


nerudol/Adobe male baker wearing grey apron holding fresh bread in hand

Bread is another perishable staple you might want to grab before a natural disaster. Make sure you pick up a loaf or two for sandwiches, which are easy to make if you lose power during a storm or other natural disaster.

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Peanut butter

oxxyzay/Adobe raw peanuts on wooden rustic table along with jar of peanut butter

Need something to put on sandwich bread? Get some peanut butter. It’s a good source of protein to keep you going. 

Peanut butter lasts longer than other perishable items. So, consider grabbing some on your next shopping trip to keep in the pantry as a just-in-case item.


Sunny Forest/Adobe two fried eggs with a sprinkle of black pepper in a black frying pan

Eggs can be an excellent protein source and a good breakfast option if you get caught in a snowstorm, hurricane, or other natural disaster. You can also use eggs in various recipes to keep you going while stuck at home.


tavrox/Adobe crinkle chips

Chips can be a great snack food. Chips also take longer to expire than other foods.

So pick up some to add to an emergency food kit during hurricane season or when you expect bad winter weather.

Aluminum foil

New Africa/Adobe aluminum foil roll on a gray table

Aluminum foil can be used in various ways to help you through a natural disaster.

Use it to pack food and other items to keep them secure and protected during an emergency. In a pinch, you can also use foil to help you cook during a natural disaster.

Pet food

Jiri Hera/Adobe dry pet food

Don’t forget your furry friends: In case of a natural disaster, make sure you have food on hand for them.

If you can’t find pet food at your local grocery store due to a run on the product, check with a local pet store instead. It might cost a bit more but it can help keep your pets fed.

Baking soda

gv image/Adobe jar of baking soda

Baking soda is a great item to have on hand when it is time to clean up after a disaster. You can use it as a natural abrasive to remove dirt or grime that might get into your home.

Baking soda also can help reduce odors if you lose power and food in the fridge begins to spoil.

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bit24/Adobe organic citrus fruits sliced among other fruits on table

Fruit is a good option because you can quickly grab it and go without worrying too much about preparing it.

Consider things like bananas, oranges, apples, and more so you have some fresh food on hand that won’t go bad if it’s not refrigerated.

Canned good

fotofabrika/Adobe donation boxes having dry and canned food

Canned goods are great pantry staples to stock up on, especially during a natural disaster. You can easily prepare them, and they have a long shelf life.

The long shelf life of canned goods will allow you to set some aside in a seasonal emergency kit without worrying about them going bad.


lcrribeiro33@gmail/Adobe boiled white rice in black cooking pot with green garnishing

Rice is easy to cook and easy to store, making it an ideal option if you want something in your pantry that is ready to go.

A little rice can also last a long time, so add it to your cart if you’re worried about how long you might be stuck at home.

Toilet paper

roman/Adobe soft toilet papers on table

Toilet paper is a major staple for many people when it comes to a snowstorm, hurricane, or other anticipated natural disaster. Grab a few packs just in case, but remember to leave some for others.

Personal hygiene goods

Pixel-Shot/Adobe personal hygiene amenities and towels arranged on a wooden tray at a spa.

Natural disasters can leave you stuck at home for a while. So pick up some shampoo, soap, and toothpaste to keep you going during a disaster.

You also might want to consider travel-size versions in case you have to evacuate or need to be on the road indefinitely.

Bottom line

_KUBE_/Adobe beautiful woman taking juice box from shelf while doing grocery at store

Keep some of these items stocked up at your home so you’re always prepared and won’t have to fight others to get the things you need.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.