Saturday, April 04, 2020

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Still pondering the pandemic

We are now entering the fourth week of self isolation and I must say, as much as I'm used to staying home a lot... there are days I want to just forsake all wisdom and go out amongst the English (should you read Amish based novels, you understand the meaning).

Although we are under a mandatory stay-at-home order through all of April, we can get out to purchase food.  For which I am very thankful.  It means I can easily stretch what is in the pantry and I make certain to do so while we can still get out easily.  We each go to a different grocery store wearing a mask and carrying the small bottle of hand sanitizer (which gets refilled when needed from the larger bottle).

I go to Aldis every other week and Meijers weekly.  My husband goes to Kroger and the health food store on senior discount day.  They call us when there is a new shipment of eggs from the Mennonite farmer.

We take turns going to Walmart and then only if necessary.  Every time we get out, it is with a list and we shop as quickly as possible.  It usually doesn't take long since we are only adding to what we had stocked up on already.

Yesterday since I was going to Aldis, I stopped by Walmart on the way for a few nonprescription items.  It is, after all, allergy season!  I quickly looked up and down the aisles to see what was available and noticed the only mostly empty shelves were in the rice and bean aisle.  There was TP, although not a lot, so I bought a package since this may drag on much longer than anticipated.

I have shared with friends (I can't recall if I shared it here) that last Fall, I had thought about stopping the Pantry Posts.  After all, there are well over a decade of various kinds of pantry posts available in archives.  However, I felt such a burden from the Lord that I was not only to continue writing them but to begin suggesting we really deepen our pantry... as much as space and our budget allows.

The only thing I knew for certain was that when we needed our pantries, it would be sudden.  My only experience with needing a deep pantry was in weather emergencies like winter storms and blizzards or the two different times we had a long term job loss.

I may have had a nudge from the Lord but I had no thought of a world wide pandemic.  It didn't even cross my mind other than in dystopian books and movies.  There are times, I still feel like I will wake up and this is all some crazy dream.

However, it isn't and so much is out of our hands right now.  We need to be praying for our leaders to have wisdom in these days and for their health.  There are many people who are working long hours to combat this microscopic enemy.  We need to keep our health workers in prayer, our first responders, the grocery store clerks, and everyone else who has to be in the front lines of this strange war.

So what else can we be doing right now?  Well, I'm taking notice of what I'm using up quickly from my pantry.  I learned during the periods of long term unemployment that there were some items in my pantry that were essential and others I probably shouldn't have purchased.  What I learned from those experiences, I have written about here.

One thing I realized this week was that we will soon be entering into a warmer season here in North America so while it is cool (off and on these days), I am using up the frozen chickens that were purchased for making soup.  I do make chicken soup all year long because it is inexpensive and good for us... but I long for it in cool weather.

I've been a creative cook since I was on a tight budget but you really get creative when you can't run to the grocery store all the time.  I mentioned keeping a journal last Saturday, at least to write down the food and non-food items that are working well from your pantry.  Mine includes new recipes I've tried so I won't forget them.

Although we do have quite a few cases of the COVID-19 locally and at least one death has resulted, we do not have the kinds of outbreaks that are in major cities.  So while I feel a bit like I'm stepping out into a war zone when going to the grocery store... I am careful but not afraid of getting the virus.

Having said that, I feel the need to continue "topping off" what I have on the shelves while I can in case we do need to stay home completely.  We do not know what the future holds but God does and He's got this.  What we do know now is that it is going to last much longer than we anticipated and that it has already devastated a very good economy.

Either of these scenarios make for a good reason to continue deepening the pantry as is possible.  For some of us, it includes wise grocery shopping while others are planting a bigger vegetable garden than they have for awhile.  I doubt that anyone will even turn down your extra zucchini this year.  ;)

I'm hoping to have a larger container herb garden this year.  We couldn't use our deck very much last year since the paint had been stripped from it but there was too much rain through the summer to finish it.  It was finally completely finished in the Fall so we can now put our deck furniture back, including the tables I use for my herb flower pots (it keeps them from roaming bunnies and squirrels).

Even growing my own basil, rosemary, thyme, etc. makes me feel a little more self sufficient.  Although I most need to be God sufficient!  These days are certainly encouraging even more prayer than usual.

Don't forget to check on the elderly and the people in your circle that were already having a challenge of putting food on the table.  I had a dear friend surprise me by ordering coffee K-cups from Amazon (a like minded friend who understands the need for coffee) and another who ordered kitty food and products for Florentine!  I think both know how dear they are to me... and a certain kitty.  A local friend wanted to help local businesses so she sent gorgeous flowers to a few friends, including me.  That was a brilliant idea. 

If you have plenty, fill a grocery sack or a box with food you know they will appreciate, knock on the door or ring the doorbell... and wave from a distance.  While you will probably include the basics, I'd also suggest some frozen dinners like Stauffer's Mac & Cheese or Lasagna to give them relief from cooking.

One can order a pizza or a complete meal for a friend or family member and have it delivered if they live in a delivery zone (we are too far out in the country!).  You are blessing a friend and keeping a local business alive.

We are in unprecedented times, at least in our lifetime.  This is our opportunity to help in whatever way we can.  It doesn't have to cost much, it can be a letter written to someone who never hears from us.  A dear friend who is a lovely artist sent me a print of a painting she created of a cake I made (which inspired both my daughter and her to make it, too!).

Trust God, walk in wisdom, and wash your hands.  As a friend of mine who is now at Home used to end her letters... you are loved with an unfathomable Love and by me, too.


Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I’m so glad you felt lead to continue encouraging people about their pantries! We are stocking up still but not hoarding!

Glad your well, we are healthy,too!!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! Interesting that you felt a burden from God not to stop writing your pantry posts and to emphasize deepening our pantries! Wish I would have listened better, as I got a bit lax and some of what we have is old (like pasta). Now I will need to get creative in my cooking! We are planning our garden now and hoping for a good harvest, But to make some amendments. Last year we really battled the critters! Love some of your ideas for reaching out to others. You have some very thoughtful friends! I did some a few cards out and got a couple in the mail myself. It’s really important to stay in touch. The days can get long....
Take care! Love your blog!
Laura C. (WA)

Winkel's Crazy Ideas said...

Thank you for a lovely post. Blessings, Pam in Norway

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Beautiful post, thank you, Brenda. xx

Sandra at Thistle Cove Farm said...

Having lived in rural areas for the last quarter century, having been raised by women and men who knew how to be providers, protectors and priests, the pantry, and by extension, the garden, have always been of prime importance. To be prepared for inclement weather, for illness or disaster, was a rite of passage for children in our families.
It gives me pleasure to know there's food in the freezer, fridge, larder, pantry, basement for weeks, if not months, to come. And, when the trumpet sounds, there's food here for those left behind.

copperswife said...

So happy the Lord prompted you to keep writing your pantry posts. With our at home family size much much smaller than it was, my “deep” pantry is tiny in comparison to what it once was. In California, at least in the Central Valley, we’ve done a good job at “flattening the curve”, but what that means is that we’ve been sheltering at home for three weeks already, and will continue through April, and I won’t be surprised if we continue a week or two beyond that. We laughed, though, because though our pantry was plenty deep to continue our normal meals, what we weren’t stocked up for was my 21 year old son being home 24/7. College classes moved on line three weeks ago, and his job at a local restaurant ended at the same time. Though he still lives at home, he was really only here for a couple of meals a week. Yikes, that kid can eat a lot!! My husband took my list to Costco a couple of days ago, and one trip to the local store this week should see us through several more weeks, with just a few perishables brought in. Thankful we can still get to the stores, and that the supply chain is quickly catching up!

Vee said...

Thank you for the encouragements and the knowledge that has helped so many of us to be better prepared. I received my groceries for the week this morning when my son came by dropping them off. He included some surprises, which is always nice. He says it reminds him of my arriving home with groceries when he was a kid. He always liked the surprises. Me, too!

A blessed Palm Sunday to you and Mr. Coffee!

Sherry said...

I very much appreciate your pantry posts - especially currently but for years now as well. You've shared wisdom that many don't consider, offering the opportunity to grow personally as well as grow their pantry … for such a time as this.

We visit two markets once a week or less - with masks on and antibacterial solution at the ready. a couple days ago I made a good list of dinner menus based on our pantry and freezer (&fridge). I stopped at 14 days but know I could go further. That said, like you, we head to the market to "top off."

It's easy to shelter in and/or social distance when you live in an unpopulated area, especially the country or forested area. Taking walks happens nearly daily but not the days of 5 feet of snowfall or the overnight snowfall last night of 1 foot. slippery. But I do get outside and breath deep the fresh air. Asthma prevents me from enjoying the fireplace. oh that reminds me - Tuesday I pick up my inhaler at the pharmacy! Allergies happen even in forested areas as I'm allergic to cedar of which we have hole bunchies!

thank you again. and again.

Jan C. said...

I feel badly for friends that don't cook and aren't resourceful. Not a criticism-just a comment.statement of fact. They are really struggling and having a harder time dealing with all this. It is good when you know how to stretch things.

Margie from Toronto said...

A happy Sunday to you - it is always a treat to see new posts.
I live in a city of over 3 million and we've been pretty much under lockdown for almost 3 weeks now. I'd always kept a fairly well stocked pantry, for a single person in a small apt. living in a big city - and I'm very glad that I did. Instead of running things down as I normally do over the winter I kept restocking and rotating and as things got a bit more urgent filled in the gaps and added some treats. This has meant that I didn't need to be out there when the panic buying started.
I have been to the shops once for mostly fresh and frozen items and found everything I needed. Then a friend called this morning - she was at the supermarket and did I need anything? She brought me a few more salad greens and extras so I will be able to have a salad a day until the end of this coming week. I don't intend going out again until around the 20th as the next two weeks are projected to be the peak periods for the virus around here.
Canada is doing fairly well at the moment - we are about 10% of the population of the US so our numbers for infections & death should be about the same - but so far we are staying under 5% so our early implementation of lockdowns in major areas does seem to be working. We are keeping our fingers crossed.
Please look after yourselves.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you are going to the grocery so often...and to so many! I'm not that brave. I do venture to our little grocery in the nearest town once a month, which is normal for me. I really do miss being able to go to garden centers and gardening events, and sad that our club plant sale is cancelled. But I thank the Lord every day that we go into this whole situation in spring time, rather than into winter! Today, I'm digging any dandelions that have dared to show up in the potager, and we'll enjoy wilted greens for dinner tonight! That's stretching the pantry. Hugs, and blessings, Carolee