How to Get Essential Supplies When You Can’t Leave the House

The COVID-19 crisis has made staying home more imperative than ever, but with this hunker-down mentality comes a new set of problems. The virus’s rapid appearance and spread across the world forced entire populations home before they were fully prepared, leaving many without the essential goods they need to get by.

While different areas will have different protocols for leaving the house, it’s best to be fully prepared to stay home for an extended period of time. Even if it’s currently safe to go out, a sudden regional lockdown or personal exposure to the coronavirus could upend that in an instant. Thinking through what you’ll do in a worst-case scenario is vital. 

Amidst all the confusion surrounding essential items, figuring out exactly what you need and exactly how to get it is key. What constitutes “essential” will be different for every household and can change over time, so it’s important to have a plan in place for everything you might need. 

If you’re wondering how best to get on top of all your procurement needs, start by checking out some of these tips:


The medical world has been turned upside down by COVID-19, and the ripple effects of that have been felt by everyone. Even if you live in an area that hasn’t been hit hard by the virus, going to the doctor or pharmacy in order to secure your prescriptions still poses an unnecessary risk. 

More companies than ever are now offering services that allow you to get the drugs you need prescribed to you online and sent directly to your door. Many of these businesses specialize in certain types of pharmaceuticals, such as birth control provider Nurx or Canadian Insulin, which specializes in diabetes medications. This ensures that you’re always dealing with experts on the other end who can help you through the process. 

Local brick-and-mortar pharmacies, such as CVS or Walgreens, offer prescription delivery through the mail, allowing you to continue receiving your existing medications, but these services cannot grant you new prescriptions. Increasingly large numbers of doctors are providing telehealth calls, meaning you might be able to get new prescriptions written without ever having to leave your home. 


The way in which you get groceries will largely depend on your location and which providers are available to you. Stores like Walmart are offering or expanding their pickup options, allowing you to order your groceries in advance before picking them up at the store. Others may provide their own delivery service, but they’re generally less common.

For those who need their goods delivered, services such as Instacart have quickly become a go-to option for many. As the popularity of these platforms has increased, so have their issues — so make sure to follow best practices when using them.

For those trying to save some money while staying as safe as possible, try coordinating with friends or loved ones in order to minimize trips out. Taking turns with a neighbor getting one another’s essential supplies can keep risks low without incurring hefty delivery fees. 

Sanitary Goods

COVID-19 has created an unfortunate dilemma for many: Protective gear and sanitizing products are now more essential than ever, but they’re also more difficult to get. For many, going out and dealing with other people is still required for work, so having the right protections at hand is an absolute must. 

Acquiring these goods is a bit like a game of whack-a-mole: Once you finally identify a vendor who has them in stock, there will probably be another catch, such as unwieldy prices or extended shipping times. While most major retailers have listings for antibacterial soap or face protection, it can be difficult to know whether they’re being sold at the right price point or whether they’re even effective in the first place. Are you being exploited?

Luckily, a slew of guides have popped up offering step-by-step instructions for creating these same products yourself. Whether it’s face masks or hand sanitizer, creating protective materials that follow CDC guidelines is well within your reach — without having to wait two weeks for shipping. 

Work Supplies

For many, heading home means taking the office with them. Working from home can be a challenge, even for those who do it regularly — much less for those who were forced to pack up with little to no notice. 

Though not getting to look at things in person might be frustrating at first, hardware designed for at-home workers — like desks or webcams — can still be delivered directly to your door with little delay. If questions about functionality are an issue, ask your co-workers what models and brands have been working for them. For those needing a boost in software capabilities, platforms like Amazon Web Services’ remote work tools are an invaluable part of any arsenal. 

If you must go out:

Venturing outside the house should always be a last resort for those under lockdown or at a high risk of infection. If you’re a single parent or a caregiver for a high-risk person, things get even more complicated. If emergency needs mandate a trip to the store, be sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Follow social distancing rules whenever possible, maintaining six feet between yourself and others at all times.
  • Send as few people from your household outside as possible; the more people who go out in public, the greater chance there is that someone will become infected. 
  • In any situation in which close contact with other people is necessary, wear face coverings such as masks or bandanas. 
  • Disinfect any high-contact surfaces or objects that have been touched by others.
  • If you are experiencing any symptoms of respiratory illness, do not go out. Seek medical attention if necessary, and document your symptoms.

With COVID-19 has come great uncertainty. With so much remaining up in the air, it’s important to lock down the things you need to get by. By making a plan for how you’ll get the goods you need most, you can ensure that you’re prepared for whatever comes next.