6 Unexpected Places to Find Groceries Right Now

Still desperately seeking toilet paper and flour? Here's where you can find it.

Unexpected Places to Buy Groceries Online, Locally, and For Delivery - grocery basket with cans and computer mouse
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Many people dreaded grocery shopping even before COVID-19 hit. But now, it's normal to be a bundle of stress even thinking about going to the grocery store, where key products have sold out, lines are long, and even with all the social distancing protocols in place, it can feel like everything you touch is covered in coronavirus.

Scoring one of those in-demand grocery delivery or pickup slots may feel like winning the lottery right about now, but even if you're still getting locked out at Amazon or Instacart, there are some smart ways for you to safely get groceries, including some hard-to-find goods.

01 of 06

See what your local restaurants are offering.

In addition to their menu of takeout goodies, many have started offering meal kits that let you do the cooking (pasta with sauce, a salad, and bread is one of the most common make-your-own meals). But many restaurants are also selling hard-to-find grocery products along with their food—fresh produce, bread, pasta, flour and yeast, and even toilet paper. And if you can pick up a dozen gourmet doughnuts or a top-notch sandwich along with a few pounds of sugar, that's a double score.

02 of 06

Shop online at housewares stores.

You aren't going to be able to grab a quart of milk from them (especially as they're currently closed), but many shelf-stable staples and tasty snacks can be shipped directly to you from stores such as Bed Bath & Beyond, World Market, and Williams Sonoma.

RELATED: Emergency Foods

03 of 06

Check into restaurant food supply companies.

As restaurants shuttered, some of the companies that supplied them started offering their goods to the public—so do a little Googling to see if any food suppliers in your area are following suit, or try Pepper Pantry, which helps you search for to-the-trade suppliers now offering home delivery. They might have a large minimum purchase amount (Baldor's, which serves my area, has a $250 minimum), and sell some items in larger quantities than you might typically grab (we're halfway through a 30-pound bag of rice right now), but they deliver right to your door—in gloves and a mask, no less. (Tip: If you can't meet their minimum, see if your neighbors want to split an order with you.)

04 of 06

Order fresh from the farm.

Community-supported agricultural groups (CSAs) can give you a steady supply of food—and help support local farmers in your area. Check out your local garden centers, farmers markets, or farms for options, or search at Local Harvest to find groups near you that suit your needs—some do produce only, while others allow you to buy meat, dairy products, and eggs, as well. Some delivery companies, like Imperfect Foods and Misfits Market, bring the CSA concept to your home, delivering fresh foods to your doorstep that taste delicious, but may not be "photo op ready" (think weirdly shaped veggies and fruit). For meats, Moink, Butcher Box, Farmer's Cart, and Heritage Foods can help get you squared away by delivering to your doorstep.

05 of 06

Look at alternative online stores.

Thrive Market offers organic foods—including meat—delivered to your door. Loop, an ecofriendly store that ships packages of groceries and health and beauty supplies in reusable and returnable packaging, has staples like pasta and oats, Clorox wipes, and even ice cream. Hungryroot is like a hybrid between a meal kit delivery service and healthy grocery store, offering prepped and ready produce, meats and meat substitutes, and a variety of good-for-you options—along with recipe ideas that you can customize to suit your family's needs.

06 of 06

Go right to the source.

Can't find chocolate chips anywhere? You can buy in bulk directly from Ghirardelli or Guittard. Bob's Red Mill has different flours and oats available on its site: If you have a preferred brand for pantry essentials, consider checking its site to see if they're offering direct-to-consumer shipping.

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