A pantry filled with jars of flour, grains, and spreads to illustrate that stockpiling of food is back. : Annie Spratt

Is it just us or does it feel like we’re stuck in the movie Groundhog Day?

Seven months ago—which, granted, feels like a lifetime ago—millions of Americans cleared out entire supermarkets of just about every shelf-stable food there is, along with paper items such as paper towels and toilet paper and disinfectants. Some items–like rubbing alcohol–have yet to make a return at places.

According to an article on Bloomberg.com, we’re at it again. The difference this time is food manufacturers are more prepared. Companies like General Mills, Campbell Soup, and Stonyfield Farms are amping up production in an effort not to get caught short, as they did in the spring.

What’s in greatest demand? Baking ingredients. In October, the demand skyrocketed an astronomical 3,400% compared to the same time last year. And, similar to the run on products in springtime, the current demand is being fueled by the fear of a long season of lockdowns, or at the very least restrictions, due to COVID-19.

Companies are scrambling to stock up on items for Thanksgiving. Flour is back on the endangered list. (Yesterday, one of our recipe testers found shelves bereft of 25-pound bags of flour in California, and The One had a similar problem in Connecticut.) And some supermarkets are saying it’s still hard to find cleaning wipes and sprays, something those of you choosing to play host and hostess this fall will want to have in supply.

What does all this mean for you? Shop early and shop smartly. Carefully plan your baking for the next several weeks, including your Thanksgiving needs, so you know what you would ideally like to make. And then buy no more than that. (As you do so, keep in mind, there are countless desserts that don’t require flour.) Resist the impulse to hoard, which only makes it harder for everyone else.

Also, consider family and friends who, due to illness or age, can’t shop for themselves and make sure they’re supplied with anything they may need.

We’ll get through this together. Again. And may whatever breads, pies, cakes, and pastries you do choose to bake bring you even more happiness and gratitude than usual.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. I wonder how much more flour would be on the shelves if we just banned sourdough baking. All that good flour–WASTED! Let’s be responsible, folks! (is there a “tongue in cheek” emoji? 😉