Don't panic. The empty shelves are only temporary, according to the USDA. Grocery store shortages may be inconvenient, but they’re also an opportunity to try new things like dairy-free dinners, hearty vegetarian meals or raiding your own pantry. We've got solutions when you're supermarket isn't so super.

If you've recently seen some vacant shelves at your local market, there's no need to panic. While shortages of certain foods have been reported across the country, they are only temporary. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says, "There are currently no nationwide shortages of food, although in some cases the inventory of certain foods at your grocery store might be temporarily low before stores can restock." Still, as you may have noticed during your latest grocery run, there might be some items on your list that you're not able to check off—at least for dinner tonight. Here are some easy ways to work around the temporary scarcities caused by omicron, storms and labor shortages.

Empty shelves of the store sale of goods with a woman shopping
Credit: Getty Images / staticnak1983

Dairy products, especially milk and half-and-half, may be temporarily unavailable at your local mart. This shortage has been most acutely felt in the Washington, D.C., area. While you're waiting for the shelves in the refrigerated section to restock, take the opportunity to go dairy-free. There are so many craveable dinners waiting to be cooked in this category! Discover this luscious Pumpkin Curry Soup made with coconut milk, or this sunny squash-corn soup thickened with pureed vegetables instead of cream. For healthy and satisfying dairy-free dinners, visit our Dairy-Free Diet Center.

There have also been some reports of stores running low on chicken, which is the perfect time to turn to easy pork recipes or to go vegetarian altogether—at least for the night. Since your favorite brand of frozen pot pie may not be able to meet demand at the moment, try these intensely savory, meatless pot pies, bursting with flavor from veggies, grains, and legumes. And if you can't find your preferred dried spices, check out our Guide to Cooking with Fresh Herbs. You may never return to the dried spice aisle again!

When every ingredient in every aisle may not be at your fingertips the moment you reach for it, it could be a good time to avoid shopping altogether. Here is a treasure trove of easy pantry dinners that will spare you the time, stress and money of a not-so-super trip to the supermarket. You can also cut back on that lengthy grocery list and avoid the disappointment of bare shelves by relying on these 20 Family-Friendly Dinners with 5 Ingredients or Less or, even better, The Easiest 3-Ingredient Dinners You'll Ever Make

Finally, some challenges posed by shortages have some very simple solutions. If your favorite flavor of ice cream is out of stock, look to the left or right and go for the vegan version, or try an entirely new flavor (or have you tried making easy nice cream yet?). If the fresh produce isn't so fresh, or just not there, opt for frozen veggies. Also, you will have a better shot at finding exactly what you want at larger, chain stores rather than your local bodega or mini mart. Worst-case scenario, don't sweat the shortages, just postpone your grocery run until tomorrow. More than likely, you'll be able to nab that gallon of milk then. And that's just the new normal.