If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it's that being prepared is key.

Anyone who has been shopping in the past few months knows all about the empty shelves and shortages brought on by widespread panic shopping. As grocery stores start to get back to normal, this is a great time to re-evaluate the contents of your pantry. Here are seven must-have basics for a household of any size.

1. Cleaning Supplies

Anything produced by Lysol or Clorox is pretty much flying off the shelves. Find them online if you can't get them locally, and get the concentrated solutions if you can. Get an extra gallon or two of bleach while you're at it.

Disposable wipes tend to dry out over time, so stick to liquid cleaning products and get some spray bottles.

2. Paper Products

By this point, we have all experienced the Toilet Paper Wars of 2020. The entire nation was gripped in a bizarre temporary shortage of the toilet paper from about mid-March on. Some towns are still seeing shortages of the brand-name stuff!

While you shouldn't go nuts and stockpile tons of the family packs, a couple of extra packages of toilet paper will definitely come in handy. Just stick them in a closet and forget about them. The same goes for paper towels and napkins. 

toilet paper, groceries

Courtesy of Anna Shvets

3. Over-the-Counter Medications

People who test positive for COVID-19 are told to stay home and monitor their symptoms on their own. Think acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or multi-symptom cold medicine ... anything you would normally take if you came down with a cold. If you don't already have one, get a digital thermometer as well, so you can track any fever that may develop.

4. Canned Goods

Grocery stores actually had to place limits on shelf-stable items like spaghetti sauce, canned vegetables, pasta, and tuna. That's because the smart folks know it's better to have a well-stocked pantry than to brave the stores for your next meal.

Invest in some of your family's favorites and be sure to check the expiration dates. Soups, canned pasta, and instant mashed potatoes make great simple meals. You basically want to have at least two weeks' worth of food on hand at all times.

jars, spaghetti sauce

Photo by Mick Haupt

5. Face Coverings

While homemade masks are good, pleated disposable masks are infinitely more comfortable. Have a variety of styles on hand just in case, and a few extra bandanas and scarves. They will come in handy during flu season too.

face mask

Courtesy of Anna Shvets

6. Hand Sanitizer

Remember, you want to use topical sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol by volume. If you can't find manageable sizes, order a large bottle and one travel-sized plastic container for each member of the household. 

hand sanitizer

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

7. Hand Soap

This is another item that is flying off the shelves. Buy it when you see it, and have a few extra bottles for each bathroom in your house. With the global emphasis on hand-washing, you know you'll use it eventually.

A few small adjustments are all you need to update your household pantry. Don't forget about these recent shortages the next time you hit the grocery store!

What do you think about this list of 2020 essentials? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!