Saturday, September 11, 2021

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Working with the new normal

Between shortages and inflation, shopping has become an interesting adventure.  I am blessed to have quite a few stores within five or ten miles.  If I am willing to do the Proverbs 31 thing and bring in my food from afar... I can usually find what I'm looking for.

Not always, of course.  There are still a few items that seem to be in short supply everywhere.  For instance, buying wet cat food has been a gamble since COVID began.  I read that even online pet food stores were having shortages of particular brands.  I don't know if that is the case now.

At least we now have Florentine eating a few different kinds of wet cat food.  Not three brands mind you, just one option from three different brands.  Have I mentioned how ridiculously picky cats are?  Fortunately, she eats her kibble without too many complaints.

I went to Wal-Mart last week to see if they had any of her favorite trout kitty food available.  They are the only store in the area that carries it.  When I am at Wal-Mart, I always check their canned meat selection to see what is available.  

Last week, they finally had the Hickory style SPAM available.  I took two cans off the shelf and a guy standing next to be grabbed a can of Bacon SPAM.  Hmmmm... I didn't know that even existed.  That started an interesting conversation since he lived in Hawaii a long time (the SPAM capital of the world).  I did decide to get one can of the Bacon style and one can of the Hickory style.

I don't stock many food items that my husband hates and what made this shopping trip amusing was they had cans of seasoned cabbage for $1.00 a can in another aisle. I came home with four of them.  He also hates the canned cabbage.  So, I told a friend that I probably should cook them at the same time on a day I knew he wouldn't be home?  ;)

For that reason, SPAM is not a big stock up food for me since one of us hates it.  I'd stock it even if he tolerated it but he doesn't even like the smell of it cooking.  I grew up eating it so I find very thinly sliced SPAM fried until almost crispy to be quite tasty.  I guess it is an acquired taste?  

I will put the Hickory Style SPAM on the pantry shelf for "just in case" but I do want to try the Bacon SPAM to see if I like it.  I have learned the hard way to only buy one can, package, etc. of something before stocking up.  Sometimes what sounds delicious... is not. 

Wal-Mart also had the small $1.00 cans of diced ham in stock.  I hadn't been able to get them in ages.  I learned about them from a favorite prepper vlogger who stores them to use with things like scrambled eggs.  They are inexpensive and do not take up much space.  I haven't found them anywhere else so far.

I have been seeing photos online of empty Wal-Mart shelves.  I didn't see any at our store but I also didn't look throughout the whole store.  I was only there to get cat food and the human canned meat was a bonus.  I don't shop there often so I can't say if there have been shortages previously.

Wal-Mart may have not had empty shelves but Meijer certainly did.  For the first time since COVID began, their jelly section was almost completely empty and the peanut butter section was half full.  I would say it was because school started but most schools here began the first week of August.

They did have the cherry Bonne Maman that I was looking for.  It was part of my early shopping for Christmas baking (I like it for the center of thumbprint cookies). I overheard a conversation between a woman stocking cans of vegetables and a customer.  She said it seemed like a lot of people were stocking up ahead of time for the Holidays this year.

Meijer is still out of my favorite decaf k-cups and they have been out of the Starbucks Blonde Roast instant coffee since I bought a can.  I want to have one more can on the shelf "just in case" since instant coffee has an extremely long shelf life.  The thing I liked about Starbucks new instant coffee is that is is a high quality instant but you can also make it weaker or stronger by how much hot water is added.

There are some empty spaces on the canned vegetable aisle and I'm wondering if that is just a lull between selling all of the previous season's cans of vegetables and waiting to get in this summer's supply?   Perhaps.

I didn't notice any shortages at Aldi or Kroger, although an increase in the cost of food is certainly evident.  At first it was an increase in the cost of meat but where I live, the price of chicken has gone down a little while beef is still very high.  I'm glad I learned to cook with less meat long ago.  There has been a significant increase in some fresh fruit and vegetables.

I mentioned last week about looking through recipes from past generations and my blog friend, Vee, had the funniest comment (hers are always good!).  Yes, sometimes we try the old recipes and they aren't as good as we remember.  I do think there are times when nostalgia makes them even better.

Thankfully, I have tried and true recipes from my mother and my oldest sister as well as two community cookbooks that have good recipes from people I care about.  One is from the church we attended in Iowa and the other is from my in-laws church.  Both are dogeared from going back for favorite recipes that I should copy to cards someday.

One thing I have found over the years is that our food has changed and we need to take note of that.  Sometimes it is the size of a can or a box, they tend to be smaller than they were over twenty years ago.  Sometimes the taste can be different. I don't recall Uncle Ben's Original rice mixture being so salty in the past.

Some kinds of meat have changed significantly.  I had to change the way I made biscuit gravy completely than I did when I made it like my mother.  I found out it is because sausage has changed so much now, there is very little fat in it.  It seems pigs have slimmed down and have less fat!

I must admit there are some old family recipes I will never make.  My husband's grandparents immigrated from Norway and while one of my favorite PBS cooking shows was New Scandinavian Cooking, there are a few of his grandparent's favorite foods he does not desire whatsoever... like Lutefisk.  

I understand that stocking up on a budget is a lot harder now with inflation.  I seem to be crossing items off my stock up "wish list" a lot more these days and sticking to the tried and true food needed for making our favorite meals.  However, don't give up!  Stocking up a little at a time has excellent benefits over time.

As for favorite recipe books this week, I'm sharing three now older cookbooks that I absolutely love!  All three have numerous inexpensive copies available third party and two are available for the Kindle.  Between them, I have spent many enjoyable hours perusing recipes to enjoy and some became family favorites.


Where Women Cook Celebrate
was published by the editors of Where Women Cook magazine.  I have many issues of the magazine on shelves where I keep old favorites (like vintage Victoria) and I am hoping they began publishing it again.  Right now it is still on hold but they have published their more famous Where Women Create magazines again.

Many of the women featured in this book were among the original food bloggers as well as other creative women like Susan Branch.  This book always makes me happy!

  • Hardback copies can be found... here.

Coming Home with Gooseberry Patch
is one of two full color books by the editors of the original Gooseberry Patch books.  There are chapters about Holiday food for Thanksgiving and Christmas, camping food, bonfire food, food from the county fair, food for bake sales, etc.  

The recipes are tried and true and there are quite a variety. There are many inexpensive third-party copies available as well as a Kindle option.

  • Hardback copies can be found... here.
  • Kindle download is available... here.

Get-togethers with Gooseberry Patch
is also a full color book from the editors of the original Gooseberry Patch books.  Chapters include Garden Lunch, Pack a Picnic, On the Road, At the Lake, Let's Tailgate, Holiday Open House, and Cookie Exchange among others.

Like the original spiral bound black and white Gooseberry Patch books, both of these full color books contain recipes submitted by home cooks and are usually simple to make as well as family friendly.  There are many inexpensive third-party copies available as well as a Kindle option.

  • Hardback copies can be found... here.
  • Kindle download is available... here.

Disclosure:  Most links to are Associate links

Note:  Episodes of New Scandinavian Cooking can be found on YouTube... here.  There are some on Amazon Video, too.

Image:  Brambly Hedge: The High Hills


Jenny said...

Have you thought about soaking your dry catfood in broth? Chicken, beef, even tuna water from canned tuna. I've found that has helped with my little dog when she won't eat the dry food I have for her. Any canned meat with liquid (Spam) could be saved for this purpose.

I buy Spam at Sam's club by the case because it's a staple for my husband. I do like it but I can feel my blood pressure rise if I eat it & the next day I can't move my hands. But I keep a deep stock of it. I haven't had problems finding since last summer thankfully. I've kept my pantry topped up. I'll look for the bacon flavor, I think he'd really like that.

What is the scrambled eggs you mention in passing? Is it shelf stable? I haven't heard of this.

I've had problems finding my favorite decaf coffee as well, Gevalia medium roast. I ordered some online earlier this summer when I finally found it for a decent price on Amazon.

I haven't seen you posting your blog updates on the Proverbs 31 group? Maybe I'm just missing them? This is a very good update. Thanks so much for sharing.

Rebecca said...

I was in Menards this past week. Bought 2-packs of tuna on sale plus 11% discount! Less than grocery store prices lately!

Deanna Rabe said...

Dave from the x22 report calls the smaller cans for the same price ‘shrinkflation’. Here a month or so ago, butter at Aldi jumped from $2.02 to $2.89 a pound. It’s holding steady there right now. My son always would ask why I’d buy extra when it was lower than two dollars a pound, and I’d tell him about stocking up etc. Now he’s beginning to get it!

Margie from Toronto said...

We usually only see the regular Spam here but I did once find a can of the bacon variety - I liked it but I've just never seen it again. I always keep a few cans in the pantry as I like to use it as a breakfast meat hot and sliced up cold in a salad - not something I want to eat on a regular basis but handy every now and again.

Shelves are fairly well stocked here - although I would say that there is less variety of some products. Prices are definitely up and many items are now sold in much smaller packaging - but at the same price. I like a particular brand of thick cut, old-fashioned bacon and a 1 kilo package that I used to get at $12 per pkg. ($10 on sale) is now up to $15.50!!!! I will still buy it as it is value for money and does;t shrink - I just split it up into 1 and a half slices per serving instead of my usual 2 or 3 per serving!

I love older cookbooks - I'll check out a couple of these - thank you.