It's not panic time out there at all, but things aren't back to normal.

Why the Store Shelves Are Stressed

You can't have this many people sick at one time or this many people quitting jobs at the same time and expect things to be normal. Now, once again, I said, "normal." I would call things "bad" and I wouldn't even downgrade things to "fair," but they're not what you're used to seeing. Here's what you should be prepared to see.

A Lack of Selection on Store Shelves

You may not see your favorite spaghetti sauce, but you will find some spaghetti sauce. Yeah, we haven't exactly turned into a third world country, you may just have to make a slight adjustment when making dinner. Also note, it's odd to see spaces in between products, but that doesn't mean they are running out; it quite often means that space is reserved for a product that hasn't arrived.

Some Odd Items Are Missing From Store Shelves

It always surprises me what can be missing or in short supply. Over the weekend, I noticed that my favorite potato chips (actually the store's house brand) and, of all things, all varieties of Italian sausage were out of stock. (Fortunately, a helpful butcher had a little bulk sausage in the back.)

Why Italian sausage? I have no clue, but the butcher did confirm it was a problem.

Some Items Have Returned to Shelves

I noted a while back that I could not find taco sauce. Not only have I noticed the classic Ortega back in stock, but it also seems like Old El Paso, and a new store brand, have stepped up to make sure we get our chimichangas properly lubed up. Pasta, which was also in short supply for a minute, appears to have made a comeback.

Some Items Are More Than Plentiful

It doesn't look like you'll have any problem getting chocolate for Valentine's Day. Isn't it crazy that you can get any kind of chocolate that you want, but sports drinks are a tiny bit hit-and-miss? Around here, we also never really had a meat shortage, and with hams going from 49 to 99 cents a pound this weekend, I think we'll do just fine.

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