How To Prepare for Food Shortages

posted in: Shopping Tips

With food shortages sweeping the country, we want to do everything in our power to be prepared while not being alarmist. If the recent baby formula shortage is any indication, we need to be ready for anything.  Stockpiling products is not always the way to go – after all, we have limited budgets and limited space. And the question of what to stockpile looms.  Here are some ways to stay ahead of the curve.

Can you even anticipate a food shortage? What are the signs?

It’s hard to anticipate a food shortage because there can be a multitude of reasons why certain products become harder to find. A big factor is the supply chain. With the country (and the world) feeling the aftereffects of a global pandemic and worldwide job crisis, the issue becomes as simple as supply and demand. There aren’t enough people to make the products, ship them, or sell them. Any breakdown in that chain can throw the process off the rails. 

Then there are global events, like war, and natural disasters.  For example, the war in Ukraine has caused grain shortages in certain areas of the world, and the Sriracha shortage can be attributed to climate change and intense weather in Mexico. 

A very good way to stay ahead of food shortages is to be aware of what is happening globally, especially as it pertains to your favorite foods or other essentials. If you think about it, it’s likely that you heard rumblings of the baby formula shortage well before we experienced the scarcity.  

Below are five things you can do during a possible food shortage:

1. Buy local if possible

If financially feasible for you and your family, try to buy local. Some products that can be bought locally (at your farmer’s market, for example) are eggs, meat, fish and local vegetables and fruit. An added bonus is supporting your local community and eating in season.

2) Avoid stockpiling but get what your family actually needs

Chickpeas, for example, is seeing a shortage in the nation due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine – It is easier to stock up on canned products like these. Paper goods have been being stockpiled since 2020 – we recommend getting enough paper goods for up to 2 months at a time.

3)  Buy bulk

Shopping at stores like Costco and Sam’s Club and buying bulk is a great way to keep “stock” in your home, if you have the storage! 

4) If looking for baby formula, look for a generic brand version but always avoid using homemade baby formula or unknown sellers online.

Looking for baby formula in the middle of a shortage is scary – there a few tips to help! You can try looking for a generic version of your typical brand or try a similar version of the same brand. In urgent situations, the American Association for Pediatrics have also recommended cow or soy milk. Always call your pediatrician for guidance before switching your baby’s milk. 

5) Lastly, don’t panic.

If you are in the United States, we are unlikely to see a huge food shortage on common goods, especially compared to the rest of the world. There are various pricing issues going on, as a result of the pandemic but staying well-informed and avoiding alarmist news is the best way you and your family can stay ahead and well-stocked.

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This article appeared in its original form on It has since been updated.

Related post: How to save money when you shop

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Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist and TV commentator who has specialized in smart shopping, personal finance, and retail for more than a decade. She has appeared on TV over 1,000 times; including Today Show, GMA3, NBC Nightly News, Inside Edition, and network affiliates nationwide. She has been named a Top Voice in Retail by LinkedIn, and her expert commentary has appeared in Forbes,, Kiplinger, Yahoo Finance, and numerous others.

2 Responses

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