panic vs preparation


Today, like most Thursdays, I attempted to do my grocery shopping. Ninety-five percent of our groceries come from discount grocery chain Aldi. The other five percent that isn’t available or satisfactory from Aldi I get at Walmart. I attempted to purchase items from the Walmart portion of the list today and was shocked. What I saw (or rather didn’t see) made me think about the concept of panic vs preparation; I see a major difference between sufficient preparation for an emergency and all-out panicking and buying a year’s supply of everything. Here are my thoughts and observations on the matter.

First I want to emphasize that I am not a health care provider and this is in no way to be considered medical advice. That being said, on with the post.


Recent events with the current outbreak prompted a conversation with my husband. We’ve talked about getting an emergency kit together but haven’t done it yet. This would be the preparation end of panic vs preparation. This need was further emphasized by the recent tornado in Nashville.

According to, the typical home emergency kit should include

  • three days worth of water – one gallon a day for drinking and sanitation per person
  • a three day supply of non-perishable food
  • flashlight
  • battery-powered or hand-crank radio and NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • first aid kit
  • extra batteries
  • whistle to signal for help
  • dust mask that filters contaminated air
  • moist towelettes, garbage bags, and ties for sanitation
  • wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • manual can food opener
  • local maps
  • cell phone chargers and backup battery

Again, you can download the supply list and check out their additional supply suggestions at Additional items for those with medical/health needs are included in the additional items list. There are also helpful suggestions about what to keep on hand at work and in your car.  And, I would like to note that a six month supply of toilet paper is not on the list.

I have made a point as of late to buy one or two items on this list each trip to the store. I believe in being prepared, but I also believe in my budget. I’m not going to wreck it sheerly out of panic.


So there’s being prepared, for a general emergency as I stated above, and then there’s panic. Now we’re going to talk about panic. Panic is what I saw signs of all over Walmart even though the shoppers all seemed calm. There is absolutely no hand sanitizer at the Supercenter. Not one bottle in any size or formulation. There also isn’t much hand soap. I realized this just wandering through the store looking for items on my list. Out of curiosity I even asked an associate where the hand sanitizer was since I saw no empty holes where it should be and was told they’re completely out.

My in-laws are retired and recently talked to an associate at their regular pharmacy. Face masks are currently hard to find in our area as well. People are worried. The concern is probably warranted, but panic is not. I don’t believe panic helps anyone. In fact, in this case, panic is hurting people who need to use face masks and hand sanitizers due on a daily basis due to suppressed or low immune systems.

I was shocked that the multivitamin aisle had a lot of empty spots, and not just the Vitamin C and other expected items like Emergen-C. In the grocery section, there was no bread flour to be found. I’m used to not getting my brand of choice, but something is usually in stock. I try to make my own bread on a weekly basis. We have pizza at home every week. Bread flour is best for these uses, yet there was none in stock whatsoever.  All throughout the store, there were seemingly random empty spots of sold-out items.

problems arise when people panic

I’m not sure why, but any time snow, or rain, or a virus, or severe storms are predicted people line up at the stores to buy a year’s supply of milk, bread, eggs, and a toilet paper. I exaggerate somewhat, but I’ve seen the empty shelves and heard from friends that toilet paper in our area is already becoming a bit of a hot commodity (thank goodness I bought a pack last week).

People need to realize that when you buy additional perishable goods in case of emergency, chances are ( and thank God) that emergency won’t come. News channels feed the panic and then report product shortages said panic caused. I’ve seen it play out on what little television I’ve seen lately and it really disturbs me.

Take a deep breath and think before you buy twelve packages each of toilet paper, facial tissue, and paper towels. And really, why in 2020 are we still blowing through paper towels as we do? I stopped buying them, and I really don’t miss them. In fact, there’s a partial roll under the sink for really icky don’t want to throw in the wash messes, and I haven’t touched it in almost a  year. I touched on this in 10 Things Minimalists Don’t Waste Money On by the way. I like to think it’s my most popular post ever for a reason.

panic vs preparation


If you feel scared or panicked about the 2020 coronavirus outbreak please get informed before making any rash decisions. I have family members and friends in the healthcare industry and they tend to think the concern is overblown by the media. If you’re in the US, ignore the news and go straight to the CDC Coronavirus Disease page. It has all the information you need to make informed decisions.

If you are near an affected area or live close to any international airports or large cities where viruses tend to spread more quickly it seems to be advised to have a two week supply of household essentials on hand. My minimalist heart can deal with this quite easily. You don’t need to bankrupt yourself to have two weeks of essentials on hand. If you don’t want to take just my word for it on the matter refer to the CDC link in the above paragraph or check out the below list of linked articles and posts discussing the issue.


CDC Coronavirus Info

Preparing for COVID-19 from A Dime Saved

CDC Emergency Preparedness Recommendations

Is It Hard to Get the Straight Info on Coronavirus from This is Life Mental Health Blog

panic vs preparation: takeaways

Please remember if you’re a mostly healthy individual shopping for a mostly healthy individual household not to go overboard when at the stores. If more people slowed down and got informed before they raided the shelves at the store not only would they save money and spare their budget (not to mention potential food waste from overstocking), they’d help prevent a shortage on products for the people who need them most every day.

I will continue to work on our emergency kit by purchasing a few items every week. My husband was given a hand-crank radio a few weeks ago and we have plenty of flashlights. I started buying water and additional canned food.

My prayers are with those under quarantine, and my hopes are that I am able to finish off my regular grocery list today. It’s a first-world problem, I know, and it makes me truly appreciate what I have. While I always appreciate my family’s health, I truly do now. Please be mindful and save, even be prepared, but do not panic.

I’ll be back Monday with the newsletter for frugal friends and will have a new post up Tuesday.  This wasn’t my planned post, but I will get that one out as well. #MinimalistInMarch continues, most recently with a Declutter With Me video on YouTube. Until next time, stay frugal and healthy my friends!


Sharing is caring!


  1. We got advice from my husband’s work to prepare for a 2 week lockdown already 3 weeks ago so I got the stuff then and almost forgot about it. Still 2 weeks for 4 persons is not nearly as much as I see some people buying. They look like they are preparing for a war which obviously isn’t the case in here. Deep breaths, this shall soon pass. Stat healthy everyone!

    1. A lot of what I saw people stocking up on won’t last 2 or 3 weeks. It’ll expire. Sad.

  2. […] from the changing menu affecting the pantry, as I explained in Panic vs Preparation: a Minimalist’s Take we are also slowly building our emergency kit and keeping more nonperishables on hand than we […]

  3. The panic mentality never fails to blow my mind… I mean, I feel like people get so caught up in the idea that SOMETHING could be wrong that they don’t even stop think about what they’re buying or if they’ll ever use it… stocking up on USELESS stuff that they’re going to regret as soon as the panic dies out.

    1. Exactly! People need to calm down and think! Not only is it wasteful, but in some cases, they’re creating shortages of products other people actually need.

  4. Haha I absolutely love this. Amazing!!

  5. From what I’ve heard, masks are only useful to wear if you’re the one infected, unless you go full on heavy duty with a complete face covering gas mask type setup.

    One thing I don’t get is the panic buying of toilet paper, what is that all about?

    1. It may just be an American thing, but people do make a run for toilet paper and paper towels when bad weather is expected or there’s a potential threat of some sort.

  6. It’s smart to be prepared for any emergency but, unfortunately, many don’t follow this advice. In Florida, we are repeatedly advised to have supplies stockpiled during hurricane season. Yet, store shelves will get wiped out with the mere mention of a storm a few days out. It creates chaos and a shortage of supplies in no time.

  7. Panic buying happens far too often, whether it’s coronavirus or a major weather event. It certainly doesn’t help to do it, as you are absolutely denying other people from getting those items. For us, we always have an emergency kit as we live in a small town in the middle of nowhere and have to deal with bad winter weather and then forest fires in the spring. Crazily enough, the stores where I live are looking pretty bare as well, and that’s something that almost never happens, so even here where the closest confirmed case is over 12-hour drive away has been hit by panic buying.

    1. It baffles me how people respond. And what they buy. Most of it will likely go to waste. Picking up a few items for the food pantry at church as well since our food pantry is running lower lately.

  8. I have never panic bought! I would plan what I needed to pick up from the supermarket before I went this could mean buying 2 weeks worth of supplies instead of 1. I would also make sure that I wasn’t clearing the shelves why would I ever need 30 hand sanitizer I would buy enough for 2 weeks or until I was planning my supermarket shop.


  9. A great post a advice, I plan and prepare but avoid panic buying, if I do panic I always forget something. It is too easy to get caught in hysteria.
    Have a lovely weekend Cassie!

    1. Exactly! You have a great weekend as well Sarah!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.