Having trouble finding household and grocery items? While I can’t promise you’ll be able to find everything on your shopping list, I’ve compiled a pretty robust list of places, online and locally, where you might be able to find items like flour, yeast, hand sanitizer, eggs, toilet paper and other sold-out items during the current crisis.
Buying groceries these days can be challenging – and not just because of the safety and social distancing precautions required to stay healthy.
Many essential items, like toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, bleach, hand sanitizer, flour, yeast, rice, fresh meat and produce, are in short supply. Some stores are completely sold out of these items and have been for weeks.
After surveying my readers about the most hard-to-find items on their grocery lists, I put on my reporter’s hat and set about identifying alternative places to find these coveted groceries.
I’ve compiled a pretty robust list of places, online and locally, where you might be able to find items like flour, yeast, meat, produce, hand sanitizer, eggs, toilet paper and other sold-out items. (I’m still on the hunt for Sweet Chili Doritos in the purple bag, the one thing our family has been unable to find since quarantine began. Hit me up if you know where I can find these!)
If you know of a resource, online or locally, that carries any of these hard-to-find grocery and household items, please leave a comment so I can add it to the list. And if there’s an item that you are on the hunt for and cannot find because of pandemic-related shortages or panic, please add that to the comments, too.
I plan to update this list as I’m able and as supply levels change. I also would love for this to become a crowd-sourced resource, with readers around the country weighing in with their good ideas and successes in finding elusive items. It’s a great chance to help out your neighbors!
I cannot promise you will be successful in finding everything on your shopping list. But I hope this blog post will give you some new ideas for alternative places to shop for household essentials beyond the grocery store and big box stores.
This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience. If you make a purchase based on my referral, I earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure policy here.
Toilet Paper & Other Paper Products
People are still reporting difficulty finding toilet paper in stores, and the shortage may be more pronounced in some areas.
The first couple of times I tried to find toilet paper at the grocery store, it was sold out. But we got lucky and scored a 12-pack pack with our last grocery order. With grocery stores, persistence and arriving early seem to be key. Keep looking, and you may find it.
If you can’t find toilet paper at your local grocery or big-box store, consider searching online for industrial toilet paper. The big rolls are better than no toilet paper! Walmart has options as does Amazon.
Grove Collaborative also carries toilet paper, restocked regularly, as well as flushable wipes. If items are out-of-stock when you click, sign up for in-stock alerts, or check back regularly. We’ve been able to order purchase both of these items from Grove and have them shipped to our house.
If your need is more immediate, consider checking at local convenience stores, drugstores and pharmacies, local or ethnic food markets and specialty grocers. Many carry toilet paper. My parents have had good luck shopping for toilet paper at stores like Dollar General, and others have found it at Dollar Tree.
Also, check out the Nextdoor app. In the spirit of neighborliness, I’ve seen people posting tips on where to purchase hard-to-find items in the local area.
Other paper products are in short supply, as well. We had a hard time finding paper towels and napkins, but finally scored both at Aldi. Consider buying in bulk from Amazon and sharing with friends, family or neighbors.
As for napkins, you can find them in Amazon Prime Pantry. You might also consider shopping party supply stores, which should have an assortment of napkins in fun colors and patterns. Or now might be the time to switch to cloth napkins since they’re better for the environment. (These are my favorite cloth napkins from World Market.)
Hand Sanitizer and Soap
While handwashing with soap and water is always your best option for killing germs and battling disease, hand sanitizer is handy for those occasions you can’t wash up.
Sanitizer and sanitizing wipes are nearly impossible to find at stores at the moment. (I’m still kicking myself for purging several old bottles of hand sanitizer as part of a New Year’s organizing kick!)
Thankfully, many distilleries have shifted from producing alcoholic spirits to making alcohol-based sanitizer using the World Health Organization’s approved recipe.
Many of these distilleries, including Old Glory Distilling Co. in Tennessee and Faber Distilling Company in Pennsylvania, are selling the sanitizer online and will ship it to you. You can also find a list of distilleries making hand sanitizer here. You may be able to locate a local distillery that is offering curbside pickup.
Grove Collaborative also has gel hand sanitizer, available in limited quantities. If it’s sold out when you check, you can sign up to get an email when it’s back in stock.
We’ve been using Grove to purchase hand soap refills, as well, something we had been doing before. We’re just using more of it now.
We’ve had no issues getting refill bottles of Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap or Grove’s private-label brand. (If you’re a new Grove customer, you can get a FREE Mrs. Meyer’s set, which includes hand soap, dish soap, multi-surface spray in your choice of scents and a walnut scrubber, with your first purchase.)
Disinfecting Wipes, Bleach, Lysol & Other Cleaning Supplies
Since the initial run on these products, disinfecting wipes, bleach, Lysol and other cleaning supplies have been hard to find in many stores. Many manufacturers have rightly prioritized these products for hospitals, doctors’ offices and health care settings.
Disinfecting wipes and Lysol may be hard to come by until later in the summer because of supply chain issues with raw materials used to make these products.
If you look online, most merchants are showing that they are sold out of bleach and bleach-based cleaners. I recommend checking stores in person or adding these items to your pick-up or delivery grocery orders every time you shop. You might get lucky.
Also, seek out alternative bleach-based cleaners. I found Clorox toilet gel cleaner at Target.
You can find a complete list of products, by brand name, that can kill the virus on the EPA website. This PDF shows how to safely and effectively use these disinfectants. The EPA website also tells how long you need to apply each disinfecting product for it to be effective.
You may also want to check janitorial supply companies for cleaning products. Some may be selling directly to consumers during this time.
Flour, Yeast, Rice and Grains
If you’re wondering where to buy flour and yeast online, I’ve found some resources, as well as some options that might work for you locally.
If your grocery store is out of flour and yeast, don’t despair. You can still make bread, dough, cakes and other baked goods while in quarantine. And you don’t even have to resort to making your own yeast or sourdough starter.
Grist mills like Old Mill of Guilford and Lindley Mills in North Carolina, Weisenberger in Kentucky, Sunrise Flour Mill in Minnesota and Janie’s Mill in Illinois are great alternative sources for flour and other baking supplies.
Other mills may offer local pickup for flour.
Another option for flour? Check directly with manufacturers that may be selling directly to the public. Local bakeries and restaurants that are closed may also be selling flour, yeast and other raw ingredients. Check their individual websites and Facebook pages to find out.
Yeast has been one of the hardest items to find during the pandemic. It’s as scarce as toilet paper and disinfecting wipes! I guess we’ve all turned into home bakers.
I was lucky to buy a fresh jar in February, and I’ve since shared some with my mom – from a safe social distance.
I’ve located a few online sources of yeast if you want to make your own loaves.
Brewer’s yeast is another option. You can find it at places that sell beer-making supplies, like Fifth Season Gardening Co. or More Beer! There’s a good tutorial on baking with brewer’s yeast from Pastry Chef Online.
Again, local bakeries and restaurants may be a resource for hard-to-find items like yeast.
Rice & Grains
Some of the grist mills mentioned above may also have rice, oats and other grains for sale.
The Old Mill of Guilford, which is local to me, has the best yellow stone-ground grits, as well as cornmeal, biscuit mixes, muffin mixes, muesli, polenta, rolled oats, pancake mixes, cookie mixes and wheat bran. They offer shipping for shoppers outside the local area.
Geechie Boy Mill in South Carolina has grits, cornmeal, grains and rice.
To find products by state, I recommend searching “taste of [state name]” or “[your state name] made.” You may have to get creative with your Googling, but most states should have online stores that specialize in locally grown and locally made food items.
Another option: Check out your state’s Department of Agriculture website where you can find local growers and manufacturers.
Meat, Produce and Eggs
Can’t find what you need at the local grocery store? Time to get creative to stock the fridge and freezer.
With many local restaurants closed or open only for delivery or curbside takeout, we have found that many are selling groceries in addition to prepared meals.
Our favorite local bakery has partnered with local farmers to offer things like milk, eggs, fresh produce and prepared foods. A local barbecue restaurant was selling ground beef, pork and whole chickens along with its normal fare.
Panera is selling groceries through select cafes with pickup and contactless delivery options in some markets.
Some food wholesalers, who normally sell to restaurants, are pivoting during the crisis and selling directly to consumers. You may be able to buy in bulk from food distributors and processors in your area. Check your local news sites, the Nextdoor app and Facebook to see if anyone in your area is doing this.
For meat, you may want to look to meat markets and butcher shops. They may have items that are out of stock at the grocery store. Or you can try buying directly from farmers through their websites or local farmers’ markets.
We bought ground beef, steaks and stew beef from Summerfield Farms, which is local to us. The farm was already a favorite of ours, and we really appreciated being able to buy from them at a time when grocery shopping is more challenging.
Summerfield Farms ships its products, so you can buy from them even if you’re not local.
One of my readers said she was having trouble finding good steaks. In addition to Summerfield Farms, I would point her to the Chicago Steak Company. Right now, they have a deal for 12 free steak burgers, free shipping and free steak seasoning for first-time buyers.
For produce, local farms and farmers’ markets are a great option. While these markets may be closed to shoppers, many are offering online ordering and convenient, contactless pickup or delivery.
You may also want to consider joining a farm share or signing up for a CSA (community-supported agriculture) box through a local farm or farmer’s market. Local Harvest is a good resource to find local farms and CSAs.
Misfits Market is a another good resource for fresh produce. You can get 25 percent off your first box when you use my referral code COOKWME-HY7EJL. (Please note, Misfits Market may not be accepting new customers at the moment, but you can get on the waiting list to be first in line when they open back up.)
Look to local farms and farmers’ markets to find eggs, as well. With many people having backyard chickens, you may find individuals selling eggs or giving them away. Check Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and other similar sites to find people selling eggs.
Specific Reader Requests
When I asked about hard-to-find items on the Atta Girl Says Facebook page, a few readers had specific requests. I’ve tried to come up with some places where they can find the items they’re craving.
If you need help locating a particular household or food item, leave a comment. I’ll do some brainstorming and searching and invite readers to do the same in the comments. We’re all in this together.
World Market has plain ramen noodles, sold in packs of 8, as well as ramen packets with seasoning. You can also buy directly from manufacturers, like Mike’s Mighty Good Craft Ramen, and sometimes drugstores, like CVS and Walgreens stock the packets.
Local Asian markets are another good option. Asian Food Grocer might be another good online option.
I’ve personally had luck finding tortillas at the grocery store and Aldi.
What essential household items can I help you find? Leave a comment below, and I’ll try to find options for you.
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