Saturday, February 15, 2020
Living the Pantry Lifestyle - All this talk about pandemics
With the news all about the coronavirus recently, I thought I would share portions of a post I wrote over ten years ago when another pandemic was threatening the world. Please excuse how choppy it will read since I took out portions that dealt only with that year.
I will add updated 2020 ideas and suggestions in italics. Now, from 2009...
Old habits from my former Internet life as an emergency preparedness site administrator has had me at my computer reading websites, blogs, and listening to the national news.
I've been doing some web surfing, it reminds me of the old days when I did this regularly for the website. It was this kind of research that had me borrowing my daughter's laptop in the 1990s and later getting online myself.
I was once again enthralled with the search for Truth, the different opinions, and the arguments going on in the comments sections on some sites... some of which are hysterical, some obscene, and others downright scary.
I'm attempting to find the sane and knowledgeable Truth in the midst of speculation and finger pointing.
I learned that the book The Great Influenza has an account of the early stages of the 1918 flu pandemic that sounds an awful lot like what is going on today. In that case, the flu started out mild in the spring and the worst part of it came back in the fall (after being dormant all summer). Some people say this coronavirus could spread the same way as that epidemic in some countries.
It turns out, one of the best things we can do to prepare for a pandemic is exactly what we've been chatting about already... deepening the pantry. In 2009, the Mexican government had already shut down businesses, schools, etc. and was asking people to stay inside. If we have on hand needed food, water, toiletries, medicines, baby needs, etc., then we could stay home should our government issue such a warning.
One thing I can add is a reminder to make an "emergency list" which I've talked about at another time. I got the idea for this list from reading a book written in the 1970s where the author was shocked to hear the government tell citizens to stock up on food due to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Of course, many items were already sold out. Since that time, his family had kept a deep pantry.
That book made me think of what I'd purchase if I had to make a last minute emergency trip to the grocery store. I've kept a written list (and rewritten as I think of it off and on) and have it in a place where I can quickly find it should it be necessary. It could even be taped inside a kitchen cabinet one doesn't use very often.
My good friend, Belinda, keeps a similar list of things to pack when they have a hurricane warning after having gone through it... forgetting essential items and taking things with them they ended up not needing.
We can't be like the ostrich, hiding our head in the sand. There is so much happening in our world today which is completely out of our hands. However, whether there is a job loss or we have to stay inside our home for weeks due to a pandemic... there is something we can do instead of wringing our hands in worry.
What an opportunity for ministry if you have the room and financial ability to stock up a little extra in case neighbors would be in need... perhaps giving them welcome food along with favorite Bible passages typed out and enclosed in a sack or your favorite inspirational book... feeding the body and soul.
Am I worried? Not at all. I work as if it was up to me to take care of my family but I pray as if it is God's work (as it is). If we prepare for anything, we are less likely to panic. If we pray, we can keep our head about us and stay calm in the midst of any crisis. God is still in control.
What a light shining in the darkness is a person who can face a crisis (pandemic, job loss, economic uncertainty, natural disaster, etc.) remaining calm and faithful through it all.
As for me and my house in 2020:
-- We keep stocked up on essentials the best we can and staying within budget. I do not have a very deep pantry like I did when there were four of us living at home. Back then, because I belonged to a food co-op, I would buy basic supplies in bulk that would last six months or more. It doesn't make sense to stock this much with just two of us at home.
-- As well as having a deep freeze and a pantry with basic food and supplies that we use all the time, I have purchased some freeze dried Mountain House pouches with Amazon credit from time to time. I admit that it would be more fun to use the credit for a book or DVD but I will be happy to have them available should I need to use them. I once used pouches for dinner each night when my husband was out of town.
With a 25-30 year shelf life due to the way they are packaged, I don't have to worry about rotating them. They just need to be stored safely. It is a good long term emergency preparedness solution for singles and small households... or people who love to camp and hike since that is what they are created for in the first place.
One thing I have noticed this past year, the prices of freeze dried food that can be used for emergency preparedness has gone up. I have heard there are far less manufacturers than there were at one time and the cost can be affected by crop failures just as any other food item.
I did learn in a video using these kinds of freeze dried foods that one can store rice (I prefer one of the brands of converted rice like Riceland or Uncle Ben's) and use it to stretch the freeze dried food if needed in an emergency situation. Some of these foods would be easier than others to use with rice.
-- I'm continuing to look through cookbooks for basic cooking recipes and ideas. It is something I enjoy doing, anyway. I am trying to get more beans and legumes in our diet, they are easy to store in Rubbermaid style containers (I learned not to buy them in bulk but to keep them in their original package. It contains cooking instructions and it is easy to remove just one bag at a time from the container.)
-- A friend who doesn't have much space to stock a deep pantry stores Uncle Ben's converted rice in a safe container and cans of soup. She prefers the type of soup that can be reheated and poured over cooked rice to make a filling meal. It is simple and the diet may be monotonousness after awhile but it doesn't take much room and you just have to rotate once in awhile.
-- I used a lot of the water I had stocked up on during the water emergency many months ago and I still have not restocked them. That goes immediately on my stock up list for March. I can at least purchase a few gallons.
-- I now get more than one box of insulin at a time and the prescription for the other two medications I take are for three months each. I have to buy my own insulin pen needles now so as much as I want to spend money on other things, I make sure I always have at least one extra box. It is impossible to inject insulin without the needle to put on the end of the pens.
--I mentioned before that I always have a couple movies or some episodes of a favorite TV show downloaded on my middle size Amazon Fire. I have the small Amazon Fire that I only use for downloaded music, a few books, and all of my Audible books are downloaded on it. Of course, with regular books one does not have to be concerned with charging them again.
Deepening the pantry with food and supplies is much easier and less expensive when done a little at a time. When there is no looming emergency, that is the best way to stock up on food since you can put a lot more thought into what you are purchasing and how it can be utilized in everyday menus.
Also, saving my stock up grocery lists from month to month makes it easier to make out new lists and shows me what is a priority for stocking up on at the last minute if necessary.
After all, we all need a good pantry and all we are doing to prepare for any emergency... be it weather related, pandemics, job loss, etc... is to stock more than we need for immediate consumption.
I will write more on this subject if needed. Once again, sorry for how choppy this may read but I wanted to include what I had already written about pandemics a decade ago. Much of that information still applies to 2020.
Mentioned in this Blog Post
The Great Influenza (This is on my TBR list!)... here.
Mountain House Homestyle Chicken Noodle Casserole (an example of a good tasting freeze dried meal)... here.
Disclaimer: Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.
Image: STR/AFP from Getty Images.