10 Things That Non-Preppers Will Strip From Store Shelves


Immediately following a regional (or wider) SHTF disaster, when the realization sets in that the consequences are going to last for more than just a few days, there will be many items disappearing from store shelves – and fast…

Preppers are already prepared to an extent. But what about non-preppers?

What things will they consider to be priorities when they panic to the store?

(re-posted for your additional comment…)
Non-preppers are not survival-preparedness oriented and mostly will not think much beyond the here and now. When rushing to the store, they will think about their habitual needs.

These ten things, or categories, might be some of the first to disappear from store shelves by the panicked hoards. In no particular order,



Milk, bread, and eggs always go first. The day before any predicted snowstorm, those aisles will be stripped.


Cases (flats) of bottled potable water will be quick to disappear from shelves.


Along with lanterns and candles, all flashlights will be a hot commodity in any post-disaster scenario. Batteries will fly off the shelves just as quickly as flashlights; also purchased to power portable radios.


People will fill their gas tanks if the pumps are running, and some will fill gas cans. During hurricane Sandy for example, some gas stations were hand pumping gasoline out of their holding tank for customers. This was a very hot commodity.


Got to feed that addiction…


Got to feed that addiction…


With questionable electricity, coolers and ice will go quickly, despite the fact that this will buy them little time, so to speak, without making new ice.


Many people have a BBQ grill for cooking, and will think to buy charcoal or fill their grill’s propane tank if they can.


Disposable diapers, baby formula, etc. will go very quickly for those with babies.


Can’t imagine life without it…

It is an interesting exercise to imagine what non-preppers may think to buy when they first run to the store after a disaster. There are several factors which will affect their decisions, such as the season and time of year, whether or not they’ve lost electricity, the extent of the disaster, their thoughts as to how long it may last, etc.

What do you think they will buy first? Don’t think of it from a prepper mindset, but think what the ordinary folks will consider to be their initial priorities… what goes first?


  1. That’s a tough one. I myself would head to the produce aisle then dairy for items that cannot be stored long term. Since I may never see these items again I would want to get enough that I could eat before it goes bad, before I was forced to live on our canned and dried foods. In the winter there is no problem keeping things cold. Summer we have the ability to keep foods cold for about 10 to 14 days. Thats an area I still need to improve on. However that is plenty of time to eat everything in the frig/freezer before we lose that ability. I hope to expand that ability to about 30 days.

    1. Peanut Gallery
      how do you keep things cold for 10 to 14 days (without fridge or root cellar)? and without fridge or root cellar, how can you suggest to keep things cold longer?

      have wondered this, if SHTF, and electricity is out, Fridge and Freezer will only be useful for a few days. I do not have a root cellar, and no where to make one.

      information will be appreciated.

      1. They sell refrigerators which run on oil, the same as you put in an oil lamp. These are used in remote cabins and such. You simply light the flame and it cools and freezes things. These refrigerators are just as big as a standard single door refrigerator you see in an apartment. You can get smaller ones too. I can’t imagine a better solution than to have a fully functional refrigerator that is totally stand alone..and cheap to run.

        1. Look up how to make a fridge from a chest freezer. Chest freezers are much more efficient. A plug n play thermostat is available from Amazon. Such a unit can be run off a very small generator, and the genny only has to run for a little while a day. Our front-opening, bottom mounted compressor, frost free fridges are horribly ineficient.

        2. For those in drier climates, might I suggest a Zeer Pot? They can and do keep the inside atmosphere at around 20 degrees or more cooler than ambient surrounding air, and they rely solely on evaporative cooling to do so.

        3. There are fridges that run on 12 or 24 V with compressors as well. With solar panels to match and accu’s you can run for as long there is enough sun.

          You can also use normal AC types with convertors.

        4. Which is a problem here; if I don’t have enough rays to charge batteries, forget charging solar panels.
          I have a sun oven and I worry I won’t be able to use it often.

        5. Their are other methods to charge the batteries, I have seen various human powered generators, if you have a stream, you could use hydro electric, wind generation, or you can grow enough corn to make alcohol to run a generator to charge the batteries, and while the generator was running you could use things that draw more power then you would want to subject your batteries to. I would recommend at least two different methods.

        6. Looky here, 12volt fridges, and freezers,check backwoodssolar. Then check out the non-electric cataloge, Leahmans.com Hey their are many ways to do something, we can our meat in jars,also sugar cure pork, and pack porkchops and pork steaks away in lard tins.

      2. We have a small generator so we can run essentials. We store enough gas for that period. It’s a short term solution only meant to give us enough time to use up what is in the frig/freezer. I currently don’t have a long term solution. However we do have a small brook about 100′ behind our house. Have been looking into a cold box to keep in the brook. Won’t keep things frozen but will keep things cold.

      3. There are other tricks too. Find a spot of earth, preferably mostly shaded if possible as it works longer and dig a hole. You can line the hole with something such as a towel, plastic wrap or whatever. I used to do this to keep my beer cold over an 8 hour timeframe in the sun in 90 degree F weather. Put some type of cover over hole, preferably something that doesn’t conduct heat that well. I used a flat piece of steel at the time, which probably wasn’t the best, but it worked. I kept my beer cold with no ice, cans only for a good 8+ hours in the sun while 90 degrees F. You can improve this too by quite a bit as mine was just a quick setup and not very efficient. If you have meats, produce and such I would suggest putting them in a sealed bag that is clean on the outside or a container so as to avoid insects

        1. Levi Only addition to your Burying – Put cooler in the hole you dug and a wool blanket over the top and this will give added insulation and more time. I camp for a week primitive and things stay cool for the whole week. Burying coolers also works at a root celler. this will give you time to Smoke and Jerk any meat and can or dehydrate the food in the freezer to continue long term storage.

        2. Learn to make Kimchi. Smells like ass but nutritious and easily buried in the yard for months.

        3. Do a search on Zuni Pots. They work quite well in arid regions. In addition, a propane fridge is an option. Some RV’s use them. I think it is called cold plate technology.

      4. If you own ur own land dig a small goldfish pond (about the size of a few coolers) and have a cute sun shade over it. When TSHTF lower water lvl put coolers in with food and lower the sun shade to right over it.

      5. I’m not sure how this could be used in your situation, but last spring while raking up some of the massive piles of wood shavings left from the hubby’s firewood cutting I hit solid ice. We had enough warm and sunny days that I was shocked to find how insulated the wood shavings kept the area.

        1. americuhh….
          no, not of use to me, but seems like a darn good thing to know.

          also, makes sense, as I seem to recal reading many many years ago stories of ice delivery men, who would pack their big blocks of ice in sawdust. They found sawdust terrific to “keep” their ice.

          Years ago too, I read a good number of stories, how the better off houses all had a pantry or cupboard lined with marble, and they said this would actually keep the room/cupboard quite cold. They would keep all perishables in this.

          Anyone know if this is true?

        2. When I was a kid, Mom and Daddy had what we called a sawdust cellar. There was 12 of us kids so canning was a must. It was probably 14 x16 or 18′ building with shelves from the floor to ceiling. The center was big enough to have a chair in it. The building was crammed with sawdust in the ceiling and walls. The temp. was 46 degrees year round. If it varied at all they would somehow put more sawdust in it. It stayed there until we all left home and Mom no longer needed to can to get us from one growing season to the next.

        3. People used to harvest ice and use sawdust to insulate it in icehouses. Ice stored for a suprisingly long time this way.

    2. Did you know that keeping any empty space in a freezer filled makes it run better, so I always keep gallon jugs of water, so two fold, ice to maintain coldness longer and then extra water as needed..

    3. Milk, bread, eggs. Apparently, snowstorms make people crave French toast.

  2. sure ,some will be somewhat smart and go for the items that will last and be useful, others will go for the chips/snacks but most non-preppers will loot all the tv’s phones,x-boxes computers/tablets,cigs and alcohol etc. thinking that it will be just a temporary setback. Then they will try to take what you have when they realize that stolen tv is useless. these will be the people i will be able to help by giving away as much lead as i can, hopefully they’ll understand that’s all i got to give. Although the men in black (tactical gear) will want to take your food from you and give to those who “didn’t know it was going to happen”… or themselves!

    1. keep what you have to yourself…don’t tell everyone what you are stockpiling..less chance of their wanting to take it away from you….i find that many are too vocal about their storage items…

      1. Sadly that is true. You have to be most careful. You could tell your best friend, and it’s who they tell that you’ll have to worry about. People are often very careless in these matters.

    2. Cops won’t risk their own asses to take food and then give it away. They WILL try to raid houses and keep the spoils for themselves.

  3. 1. Tuna in oil
    2. Lemon Juice for scurvy
    3. All the OTC medicines and salves you can carry.
    4. Booze, coffee and tobacco for barter (I’m addicted to water, air and food)
    tip: used to chill beer in the desert using fire extinguishers.

  4. If you have an RV, most have fridges that run on propane. If you don`t own one… you might salvage one or buy one before hand. Check out Dometic brand.

    1. We have an Rv with the Dometic fridge…it runs on propane or electric. We have a solar set up so when the propane is gone it switches over to run from the the electric of the solar panels/batteries.

  5. Beer, cigs, snacks, quick cook foods.
    Most will think it’s like a tailgate party— for awhile

  6. Right before Sandy hit, I was grabbing some propane camp cylinders at the local BJs. I watched the action for awhile, the isle where the stock all the water was pretty cleaned out. I heard one lady loudly upset that there were no cases of Poland Spring for her to buy. There was still a large pile of the BJs brand of water still there but apparently she needed the right kind of water. I shook my head and got what needed but was further awakened that most people won’t last two weeks WSHTF.

    1. Unfortunately you’re right, MichaelC.
      Food prejudice (or in this case, water prejudice) is actually a real life honest to goodness contributing factor in several documented cases going back to Hurricane Andrew; some people will actually pass up food or water because they don’t like the brand, or in one well-known case, a lady in California refused to eat MREs because it wasn’t “organic food”. She later died of dehydration complications.

      Chlorine in the Gene Pool, I guess.

    2. Must be the same woman I saw with a cart full of frozen pizza. The area was expected to lose power, so I’m not sure how it tasted.

      1. “Must be the same woman I saw with a cart full of frozen pizza. The area was expected to lose power, so I’m not sure how it tasted.”

        You can use a big Pan with a lid as a “baking oven” on any stove. Put a Cake grid inside or fill the pan bottom with clean small gravel stones.

    3. You are talking about the water put in plastic bottles straight from faucets??
      Sheeple…can’t live with them, can’t live…oh, doesn’t apply here.

  7. The only people that should know about your preps are the ones that are active in your prepping plans. For example my daughter and son in law knows becasue they will be bugging out to our farm should the SHTF. She has a BOB in order to get here on foot if necessary and then all the major preps are stored here. The grocery stores will be empty in a matter of 3 days or less.

    There are a few ideas to keep things cold. If you have a brook or spring you can build a spring house. Otherwise burying it (root cellar). You can also use two clay pots with sand in between. Wet the sand and as it evaporates it cools the inner pot. Harvest ice in the winter and store underground will keep for a while.

    1. The two clay pots is called a Zeer pot. It doesn’t work well in areas of high humidity. It works very well in dry climates.

    2. A lot of preppers don’t take into account that places like Augason, Thrive and Honeyville have computer databases for dealing with customers and their orders. If the government wanted to know who owned the food, where do you think they would look? I buy my supplies with cash only.

      1. You can purchase with cash prepaid visa to purchase items that need credit, don’t use your points cards either.

        1. While you can order online with a prepaid visa they would still have a record of where it was shipped. I don’t think that idea will work.

        2. You have all items shipped to one location and use one paypal account to pay. You then distribute from this location.

  8. I was in Japan for the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and I can tell you that food and water went very quickly. The government then rationed gasoline so it could be used for rescue/reconstruction. Several packaged food companies also set aside some of their product to help the evacuees. Because we were dealing with potential rolling blackouts, candles, flashlights and batteries were very hard to find. It was also difficult to find things on the internet (even in areas not directly hit by the quake).

  9. Read the book “One second after” and you will get a good idea what most people will not have but will want.

    1. Great book. I liked it because it’s plausible. More than likely, the events in the book are similar to what would really happen.

    2. Rule of Three series is also a good depiction of what will happen over months, not just days or the first few weeks. There are 3 books in the series. It’s kid of geared toward teenagers, as the central character is 16, but there’s a LOT of good information in there that shows ways to plan for different situations that arise in a SHTF scenario. In this case, they used an EMP as the catalyst. Great read.

  10. In my experience the first things to sell out are:


    Only once panic sets in do people start thinking about canned food and by that time they have virtually eaten everything in their food cupboard. Real survival is an ugly thing. Even your best friend can become your worst enemy. Cohesion in a disaster is born from equality, but once your friend discovers you have 50 pound of wheat and he has only 25 pound, you better be PREPARED to survive!

  11. Texas is going to be a very hard place for most to live WSHTF…its hot. Even in the winter, we don’t get very many cold days in some places. I need that propane fridge. I think the ground still would be too hot here…lol…

    1. @Texasgirl;
      Underground won’t still be too hot. It gets extremely hot here–110+ for a couple months and no real winter at all. We have two cellars, one is room size and the other is just a closet size egg cellar. Both have dirt floors and both stay very cool all year with no temperature variation from season to season.
      The trick is to have your root cellar/cooler/box UNDER your house or garage or shed. This will insulate even better.
      Our large cellar will be turned into a sleeping room if the power goes out because it would be near impossible to live here otherwise, too dang hot.

    2. Without technical wonders like electricity and water piped in from many miles away, most of the American west/southwest willquickly become quite inhospitable. Without irrigation (piped in from hundreds of miles away in many cases), much of Cali’s farmland will revert to desert.

    3. Watch what a dog does in the summer to cool off. he will find a shady spot and dig a hole , so I did the same with a shovel and its 20 degrees cooler or there abouts.

  12. Gonna try the rootcellar. The thing is most don’t have a cellar here do to the ground always shifting (because of the dryness), thus flooding out cellar. If anyone has any ideas?

    1. Unless it’s a huge amount of water, a simple stand pipe would work. Just dig a deep hole about a foot across in the center of the floor and fill it with gravel. Make sure the floor is sloped towards the middle. With a concrete floor, just put a grate over the hole.

  13. i say drive your full size pickup into the store and clear shelves for everything that will fit in the bed

  14. I bought Damian Campbell’s book “37 Food Items, Sold Out After Crisis”. I only had it a few months, then the items changed. He did send me the new copy for free, though. Most of it was common sense stuff.

  15. The reality is that filtering water thru earth is going to be essential. Having fuel will be the same. Buy a farm tank….they are 250 gallons with usually 2 fuel hoses. They sit on a stand for gravity fed. Place it on a trailer that can handle 1500 lbs…cut the stand down some and then you can drive to the station…pay $3 a gal x 250 = $750 or so…not bad to have 250 gallons on hand…You can trade 5 gallons of fuel for anything. Have plenty of ammo..you can trade 22 long rifle or 9mm for anything. Silver Morgan dollars are worth $25 ea right now…in a crisis..100 ea for sure.

    Need a good charged car battery on the work bench…hook it to a cigarette lighter with 2 leads..then hook up your car charger for your phone. buy more ammo…the government is for a reason.

  16. In case anyone sees this and has any input I will check back in the evenings while i am doing my Research. hope to hear from someone on this, or actually, any useful info. Thanx, Sunshine

  17. Sunshine: remind your husband that he is provider, priest and protector of the family. He may be caught up in his current job, which is only a part of being a provider. If something happens and he is unprepared, the guilt is on him and him alone. Being a husband and father is serious stuff. We will be held accountable.

  18. We use a couple of plastic 55 gallon barrels buried under the back porch/deck as cool storage. The tops of the barrels are a about two inches above the ground level to prevent any rain that might run under the porch from getting inside. There’s a round insert made from styrofoam thats glued inside on the bottom of the barrel lid. The lid has a old drawer handle screwed to the center to lift off the lid. Then we put another round 2′ x 2′ cover made from several layers of old Styrofoam siding sandwiched together and wrapped in some leftover Reflectix material as an insulating lid on top of that. The lid has sides (lips?) like a huge canning jar lid to reach down to the dirt. It’s not super cold, but plenty cool and keeps a constant temp pretty much year round. No danger with freezing either during the mild winters here in Texas. The sides and bottom are not insulated and make direct contact with the surrounding earth. We hope this will extend the storage life of certain critical items we need if the power goes out for extended periods.

  19. Also we made individual “last chance” shopping list we keep with us just for unexpected disasters. Each list has the closest location of available items we may need. We constantly revise these list to prioritize items and designate individual responsibilities based on the assumption things are really bad and deteriorating rapidly while I’m at work trying to get home and she may be away from the house doing errands. Our goal is to gather last minute items from alternate sources directly en route while avoiding the large big box stores and mega marts as we make our way home. As we slowly prepare overtime, our lists have become much shorter and more organized. But the greatest benefit so far has been the expanding folder we have of written lists to the all locations and inventories of resources closest to home.

  20. While the non-preppers (& some preppers from the way it sounds) are hyper-focused on the things listed above, I’m aiming to get more of these:
    -garbage bags
    -paper plates & cups & paper towels
    -matches & lighters
    -charcoal & coleman fuel
    -ammo & another good knife
    -tampons & condoms -to prevent a baby boom in our family
    -vitamins & supplements

    I hope we will all take time to write a list of last minute things to get, things that non preppers will not think of. Thus u would be facing crowded store aisles or fighting other shoppers for the same things. Think forward.

  21. We just got alerts for two hurricanes headed our way. For me, it was payday/shopping day, and so I got to see the stores in Waipahu.

    All stores are out of bottled water flats. There are lines waiting to fill their cooler bottles at the filtered water machines. All the immigrants refuse to drink tap water though we have the best in the world.

    The empty shelves were 3-minute noodles except the shrimp flavour; big bags of rice; big packs of TP; plain vodka in all sizes. Flats of Spam were on sale, which may have gone later in the day (we were there at 0700). Checkers said people were yelling at them the day before about wanting, needing water.

    Both disposable diapers and cigarettes were a bit low. A few people were getting charcoal.

    Us, we got a fresh bottle of bleach, some canned goods (Bacon Spam on sale!), and only one of the ice cream on sale. We’re set on the emergency supplies all the time because of tsunami, earthquake, and normal storms. Hawaiian Electric goes out all the time: we keep oil lamps ready to use. I’m just glad I hadn’t started this year’s garden yet.

    1. “Checkers said people were yelling at them the day before about wanting, needing water”

      It really is quite ‘telling’ as to the number of people who ‘expect’ help, supplies, and to be taken care of – even in disaster prone regions. Our modern society certainly has evolved, but unfortunately this mentality goes along with it.

  22. Just read an article on BBC discussing the hurricanes that may be visiting Hawaii soon. One of the photos is from Costco. Shows a bunch of people getting ready. One of the items, in more than one cart, was 48 rolls of toilet paper. I guess they’re expecting a long storm.

  23. I would go get some really nice steaks, salad, potatoes, etc. One really good meal before we go to SHTF mode!!!

  24. Sprouted grain does not need a grinder, it mashes up into dough easy and even has Vitim C, B’s. Water will be the most precious thing, if you can find it. Store grain, nuts, and dried fruit should be your only concern other than water, you can always use almonds to make almond milk for children if you have water. Pray the Father give you water, it there is water there will be food.
    The Essene Gosel Of Peace – Book One
    “How should we cook our daily bread without fire, Master?” asked some with great astonishment.

    “Let the angels of God prepare your bread. Moisten your wheat, that the angel of water may enter it. Then set it in the air, that the angel of air also may embrace it. And leave it from morning to evening beneath the sun, that the angel of sunshine may descend upon it. And the blessing of the three angels will soon make the germ of life to sprout in your wheat. Then crush your grain, and make thin wafers, as did your forefathers when they departed out of Egypt, the house of bondage. Put them back again beneath the sun from its appearing, and when it is risen to its highest in the heavens, turn them over on the other side that they be embraced there also by the angel of sunshine, and leave them there until the sun be set. For the angels of water, of air, and of sunshine fed and ripened the wheat in the field, and they, likewise, must prepare also your bread. And the same sun which, with the fire of life, made the wheat to grow and ripen, must cook your bread with the same fire. For the fire of the sun gives life to the wheat, to the bread, and to the body. But the fire of death kills the wheat, the bread, and the body. And the living angels of the living God serve only living men. For God is the God of the living, and not the God of the dead.

    “So eat always from the table of God: the fruits of the trees, the grain and grasses of the field, the milk of beasts, and the honey of bees.
    Be content with two or three sorts of food, which you will find always upon the table of our Earthly Mother.

    You should eat figs rich in juice in the months of Ab and Shebat, and what remain, let the angel of sun keep them for you; eat them with the meat of almonds in all the months when the trees bear no fruits

    Kill neither men, nor beasts, nor yet the food which goes into your mouth. For if you eat living food, the same will quicken you, but if you kill your food, the dead food will kill you also. For life comes only from life, and from death comes always death.

  25. Just found this page. Some interesting stuff here that has got me thinking. Thanks

  26. The only thing I worry about is water. I try to keep bottled water on hand at all times. peanut butter and crackers is all we lived on for a week while the tornado came thru here. We were fine! :)

  27. I would say they would go for food that can be eaten easily and lasts a while. Chips ahoy cookies, Oreos, potato chips, nuts and trailmix, canned food with pop tops that don’t need a can opener, apples and oranges and stuff

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