Saturday, January 23, 2016
Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Answering a couple questions
I hope if you were in the path of the big snowstorm, you were well prepared! I was watching the morning news out of New York and the reporters were showing video of grocery store shelves that looked like piranha had gone through and eaten the shelves clean.
The story was how many people waited until the last minute to shop for basics to get them through the storm and there was nothing left on the shelves at all. I was not surprised. How many times have we seen people in hurricane zones waiting in line for batteries, water, and the ubiquitous plywood?
It doesn't take much to set aside extra in the pantry. Even on a tight budget. Sigh...
I get asked a lot of questions and I really do try to answer them but I haven't been good at it the last few months. Too many distractions. However, I'll answer a couple today.
Do I see any product shortages?
I was asked this last week so it is fresh on my mind. Which means ummm... it is too early for me to forget it. ;)
Other than seasonal shortages (like wishing there were Meyer lemons out of season), there is only one place I've seen regular shortages and that is Walmart. I've read other people saying the same thing.
It is their "Just In Time" way of doing business with everything computerized and they bring product in at the last minute. That may work in some places but I'm thinking it doesn't work that great in a big box store. Should there be any big emergency, even a trucker's strike (do they still have them?)... products at Walmart would disappear fast.
I don't shop at Walmart a lot but my husband goes there for a few items that are cheaper there than Kroger or Target. They are often out of the specific items he needs or there are only one or two cans left. I noticed long ago that they will carry a product and then suddenly it is no longer available.
What I have noticed (and I'm sure you have, too) is that manufacturers continue to make products smaller in size or volume and keep the same price (or raise it). Just last week I was shopping for Meijer brand food storage bags and noticed two different looking boxes for the same thing... the one I was used to and a new design. So I checked and sure enough, the bags in the newly designed box were slightly smaller.
The size of various canned goods these days can make it challenging to use in older recipes as they don't contain the same amounts. For instance, pumpkin for pies!
I haven't noticed anything else but I don't shop a lot. I haven't been to the Mall in years (what can I say, I have a great Goodwill store with nice clothes).
How do I stock up on a limited budget and with food restrictions?
Well, that can be about as difficult as juggling cats. Ummm... sorry Victoria. It takes a lot of thought and planning. Not to mention my cooking has completely changed. Quite often we are eating entirely different meals.
We actually have a "yours", "mine", and "mutual" list... or lists. Hubby is responsible for shopping for his food and some of the mutual items. I shop for mine and some of the mutual items. I don't like it that way but the requirements make it necessary.
It means he has organic butter while I have regular butter, he has organic cream and I have Kroger (or Meijers), I do use the Kroger brand of organic milk as it is reasonably priced and he has almond milk, I buy organic veggies when they are reasonable for both of us but sometimes organic for him/regular old veggies for me.
We just can't afford organics for both of us unless they are reasonable... like bananas. But his allergies and sensitivities require it when possible. He also has to keep a chart of when he eats and what.
So for the pantry, I always try to keep a couple extra bottles of Colavita olive oil and when I open one, I put another on my grocery list. We both use olive oil. I do the same with non-GMO canola oil that my husband uses for everything and I use when making his granola. I keep on hand a large container of regular canola oil for things like frying chicken.
I don't use organic flour but I do buy unbleached/unbromated King Arthur (yes, I know they have organic but it is very pricey). However, I do buy only organic non-GMO cornmeal. I keep extra King Arthur flour in the pantry, as well as at least one extra of all baking items... but I keep the bag of cornmeal in the freezer and usually just buy one at a time.
I only use local raw honey and we both can use that. I buy an extra jar here and a jar there from the Bee Lady at the Farmer's Market in season. I use Splenda in my coffee and he won't touch it with a ten foot pole... but I don't cook with it.
I keep extra sugar, brown sugar, confectioners sugar, chocolate chips, etc. for baking since that is my love language. I have the spiritual gift of cookies. When I had my doctor's checkup last week, I described to him how I had found flash freezing the cookie dough ahead of time worked and how it kept me from eating frozen baked cookies. But we both agreed it is too difficult to resist at least one warm chocolate chip cookie as it comes from the oven. Sigh. Yum. Worth a little more insulin.
This was after I warned him that my A1C numbers may be a little on the high side after the Holiday cooking... and eating. I like my doctor so much. He talked with me about the challenges he knows I face being that rare person who contracts Type 1 diabetes in middle age.
I know this is more of a prose than a list but I think you get the idea. We both have priorities of what we need at least one or two extra in the pantry. Sometimes they are mutual. We do the best we can but it takes a lot of thought put into buying at the best prices.
When we have extra income to work with, stocking the pantry with our various "must have" food requirements is always the priority. We don't eat out much, choosing instead to focus resources on the food at home, but we have been known to enjoy breakfast at Cracker Barrel and Hubby does not worry if it is organic. ;)
I still enjoy getting out for coffee and a scone at Panera or coffee at Starbucks. Not often. Enough that it is a lovely treat... much like a frugal luxury vacation that last an hour or so.
We've talked about what we would do if there was an End of The World As We Know It event. We both figured we wouldn't worry much about organics, low carb, fresh veggies, etc. at that time. Which reminds me, I should stock up on some chocolate and hide it from myself so it is there during TEOTWAWKI.
I hope that answers the question at least a little. Of course, I'll continue to write about it but not in one blog post. The real secret is this... you can stock up a little at a time even on a tight budget. Perhaps you will not have a deep pantry (like I once did) that would take you through the Apocalypse but you can have enough essentials for a few weeks should you not be able to leave the house!