What to Buy at the Grocery Store When it Feels Like There is Nothing Left to Buy

Pics provided by Heather Dettmann at a Trader Joes in Denver, CO

Well the current grocery store situation reminds me of the South when there’s about to be a snow storm – no eggs, bread, or milk. Except now there’s also no meat, barely any produce, limited canned items, and the frozen foods aisle is wiped. Oh, and thank you all for being concerned about your bathroom needs. While my most recent grocery store venture was a little more promising seeing that they are trying to restock as much as possible, I noticed new signs were going up limiting people on how many frozen, dairy, and meat items they could buy at one time. So what should you buy in order to meet all of your nutrient needs to stay healthy, keep from having to go to the grocery store often, and not living off of frozen pizza (if still available) or jars of pasta sauce (sans pasta because that was super low…)?

*Over the next week I will be posting recipes using the ingredients below. Don’t worry if you have no idea how to use them as of now!


While there was definitely a shortage of cans or maybe only a few varieties left, buy what you can of the cans and then hit up the bulk section for dried beans and lentils. Don’t stop at just one variety! Aim for at least one white bean and one dark bean variety. As for lentils, whichever color you feel you like more. It seems that red is more versatile whereas black are great for salads. Both beans and lentils are a fantastic source of protein and I promise you won’t miss the meat. They are also high in my fav, fiber, which will keep your gut healthy and in turn help with your immune system. Quick soak dried beans by bringing them to a boil for a minute and then letting them sit off the heat for an hour with a lid on them. Drain, rinse, and recover with water and cook until tender (45mins-1hr). Lentils you don’t have to presoak, so that is a bonus!


Avoid the white rice and stock up on all the different whole grains out there. I noticed there were plenty of options in the bagged aisle as well as the bulk section. Common grains I saw readily available were millet (tastes like couscous and quinoa), farro, bulgar, different colors of rice, and/or buckwheat. This is a great time to test out grains that may be new to you. Also a great source of fiber, protein and micronutrients.

Root Vegetables

Thankfully there are still remnants of butternut squash and other winter squash varieties still lingering around the store. And what always seem to be easy to find year round are turnips, radishes, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, onions, carrots, and beets and they were plentiful in each grocery store I visited. All of these vegetables (except for maybe the carrots) will last for up to 2 weeks on the counter and even longer if stored in the fridge. The bigger/thicker the vegetable you buy the longer it will stay. *Not a root vegetable but purple cabbage lasts a while as well and great to keep around for a boost of anthocyanins.

Citrus Fruits

Ok, I have no clue what happened to all of the lemons . THREE stores and zero lemons over the past week. Thank goodness that on my trip today the lemons had been restocked. I typically will only buy 1 or 2 at time but because I really can’t fathom what people are doing with all these lemons, I bought a 2lb bag just in case there’s another lemon shortage (so now please share what you are doing with them so I can use up these lemons!). Anyways, there were still plenty of oranges and grapefruits. Its the time to be crushing oranges and grapefruit people for all that vitamin C! Stop with the EmergenC and get yourself some of natures best sources. Whats best, is they will keep for 2-3 weeks in the fridge.

Flour/Corn Goods

I know it is hard for some to see all of the beloved bread just wiped from the shelf and what’s worse is it still wasn’t even restocked today. I did see there were tortillas which yeah dude, buy a bunch of those to freeze for the future. If you are also having trouble finding a loaf of bread, visit the baking aisle and grab a bag of whole wheat flour, bread flour, all purpose flour and a bag of cornmeal or masa. The options you just provided yourself are now endless! Fresh loaf of rustic bread, pita, cornbread, or tamale pie anyone? Just don’t forget to add butter and dry active yeast to your cart.


Seasonings: If you are not already stocked up on seasonings, grab a few premixed general ones such as Italian seasoning, chili seasoning and curry powder. Those three go a long way.

Canned Tomatoes: The bean aisle may have been empty but there were still plenty of diced or whole tomatoes. Look for the low sodium cans and buy at least 6.

Canned Tuna: Not just for the cat.

Frozen Foods: If you’re lucky, there will be corn, green peas, and berries still available in the frozen aisle. These are items I keep stocked in my freezer year round but apparently I am the only one because those were the ONLY things left at the Whole Foods on Sunday. Doesn’t anyone make pot pies or corn chowders anymore?!

Plain Greek Yogurt: The Swiss army knife of the kitchen. Can be used in place of butter/sour cream/mayo/milk, used in dressings/sauces, or just eaten on its own. Don’t find yourself without.

Peanut Butter: No need to explain, the ish is good.

If there is fresh produce available, don’t hesitate to buy what you can use for a week. Go through that first and then start working on the items listed above. If you feel like the fresh items are going to go bad before you can eat them- wash, let dry and then freeze. Or make an everything but the kitchen sink casserole to freeze for later, aka meal prep!

Stay safe and healthy out there people!

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