Pantry Lessons From The Pandemic

I make most of my meals from scratch and shop at a big box store, Sam’s Club, so setting up a pantry made sense for me. Despite being somewhat prepared for the pandemic, I ran into a few problems.

  1. Toilet Paper – Although I buy enough toilet paper to last us three months, we had only one month’s supply when the lockdown started. I purchased a few emergency rolls before I could get the 45 rolls of toilet paper.
  2. Beans – I keep dried beans on the shelf and I ran out of black beans. I did not realize that my supply of beans was low. Surprisingly, I found some black beans in the gourmet section of the grocery store. I found canned black beans in the Hispanic food section.
  3. Diced Tomatoes – I buy diced tomatoes by the case and the case lasts about two months. When the lockdown started I had only one can in the case. I waited for two months for Sam’s Club to restock. I finally gave up and bought it online.
  4. Spaghetti – I typically buy a six-pound package and it took Sam’s Club three months to restock.
  5. Chicken – I typically like to buy large packages of boneless chicken breasts and thighs. I use part of the chicken in one meal and freeze the rest. The availability has been so unpredictable I have been buying it whenever I found it in stock.
  6. Beef and Pork – Surprisingly, beef and pork availability was great at the beginning of the lockdown. Now it is terrible.


  1. Do a better job of keeping track of inventory levels when things are getting squirrely. Checking your inventory after the government has announced a lockdown is too late. A six month supply looks like a reasonable tradeoff between shelf space and cost. If I had increased my inventory levels to six months in February, I would have not run out of anything.
  2. Availability is the problem. Adaptability is the solution. When chicken breasts, beef, and pork were not available, I switched to organic chicken, frozen fish fillets, and frozen hamburger patties.