Saturday, October 22, 2022

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - It looks like changes are here to stay

I have thought a lot over the years about the "suddenlies" of preparedness.  We still see it today when a natural disaster hits like the hurricane in Florida.  My heart goes out to all of you who live in that area.  

As you know, I believe even a small amount of preparedness for the "suddenlies" will keep people from having to go out for food, water, medicine, and other essentials in the midst of an emergency.  But nothing can prepare anyone for the devastation like that, except for having an emergency evacuation plan in place.

Sometimes those who do not live near the natural disaster experience sudden shortages. An unexpected, although entirely understandable, shortage of gallon size containers of water is being felt in other parts of the country as large amounts of bottled water are being shipped to Florida where it is needed.  

I remember after Katrina, a good friend who lived in the desert of New Mexico found the grocery shelves low on food there for awhile because trucks were being rerouted to the Gulf states.  This was before shortages were even thought possible.

So, it is with good reason that most people who ponder preparedness subjects think a lot about those events that happen suddenly and how families could be prepared.  Our two long term job losses were both unexpected and sudden, it doesn't have to be a natural disaster. 

But in past emergency situations I have known, they were always over within a relatively short period of time.

I was "chatting" with a friend this week over emails about how the inflation and shortages are here to stay.  It has become obvious there will be no quick fix and return to normal soon. I guess I'm quite slow but it has taken a little over 1- 1/2 years to realize I need to change from "short-term shortages" thinking to a more long-term different-way-of-life plan.

This takes more thought than researching shortages and stocking up a bit on those items that may be hard to buy later this winter.  With out of control inflation, which it is even though the evening news would not admit it (does anyone in Washington do their own grocery shopping?), we are no longer just purchasing for the pantry... our way of life most of us have known has changed.

I was a bride during the last period of inflation like this but even then, I don't remember this kind of food inflation.  We lived in Married Student Housing since my husband was working on a Master's Degree so we were used to living on a tight budget.

For many years, there were some sections of the grocery store I didn't bother going near.  For instance, the only time steaks were purchased were special occasions like birthdays or our anniversary.  Even then, it was often less expensive in the long run to go out to a steak house rather than cooking steak dinners at home. 

Many households saw steak dinners as a special treat.  But these days, even the cost of ground beef is getting out of reach for a growing segment of society.  Chicken has become expensive unless one is fortunate to find a good sale.  I bought a whole chicken at Aldi last week and had to think awhile if the cost was worth it but I figured I could get three meals out of it if I made soup.

I must admit that I don't have many suggestions this week.  The realization that this is going to be a long term challenge is still sinking in.  Besides the shortages of food and the much higher prices, there is a lot of talk about how much it is going to cost to heat our homes this winter.  

What I have been doing is paying more attention to menu planning for dinners.  I am looking through recipes I already make that are reasonably priced and/or that can be stretched.  For instance, on Monday I finished making the vegetable beef soup from stock I made on Saturday and I immediately put part of the soup in two quart size freezer containers that went to the deep freeze as soon as they cooled.

A friend shared kale from their garden before we had a couple of freezes and it is in the refrigerator as I plan to use it as a "side green" this week.  On Thursday, I roasted four sweet potatoes and one butternut squash I had cut into thirds on a sheet pan.  The leftover squash was sauteed and served with sausage patties today with leftover frozen peas from Thursday.

The leftover baked sweet potatoes will be served with Sunday's dinner or perhaps mixed with pancake batter Monday morning.  There was a time when I would not have put so much thought into using every bit of leftover food as part of another meal. 

I think most of the time we save money the best by cooking from scratch.  It just makes sense that we are not paying anyone else to do the prep work for us. However, there are times I need to use some pre-made or healthy processed foods because I am too tired to make dinner.  

I purchase packages of chopped salad for instance, on sale when possible.  But since one package provides a large salad for two people, it is more reasonable than buying individual ingredients.  The chopped salads provide an easy and healthy dinner.  I add a chopped tomato, sliced cucumber, and a couple sliced green onions to the basic chopped salad for added nutrition.

Sometimes I purchase pre-made items because they are well made and at times, not more expensive because they use out of season fruit.  For instance, my husband loves strawberry rhubarb pie but making it out of season is very expensive.  Instead, for a treat, I purchase a Mrs. Callenders frozen strawberry rhubarb pie at Kroger and keep it in the deep freeze to serve as a special treat.

Since eating out has become so expensive, I have begun keeping some frozen items to prepare in the air fryer on evenings when I am very tired.  They are semi-homemade but far less expensive than their counterparts at a restaurant.  

By planning ahead of time, I can prepare some of the dinner prep in the mornings when I have more energy.  I also make certain to keep dishes washed and the kitchen tidied so there is not as much work to do in the evening.  My husband is really good about some housework, I haven't washed the tub or made our bed in decades!  However, he absolutely despises washing dishes.

Our favorite Chinese take-out is now a once a month treat and sometimes we will meet "the kids" at a diner for breakfast before they begin their busy schedule of work and homeschooling.   We must put some fun and family time together in the budget!  I have to decline fun activities so often due to health that when I can say yes... we go!

I plan to re-read The Feast Nearby this week.  Since I originally bought it on Kindle, I can increase the font and read it again now.  I will include a link below but there are very few reasonably priced hardback copies.  They were expensive even before it went out-of-print.  I bought the Kindle version many years ago because it was much more reasonably priced.  

It is one of those food related books that is easy to read in the Kindle format, too.  I have probably read it through three times over the years but it is time again for inspiration in putting good food on the table on a budget.  I have recommended it many times before. It is the kind of book I believe all of us are needing now. Few of us can do everything she did to put food on the table but there are still good ideas.

I have probably rambled too long already today.  It has been a week of ponderings!  Have a good week and remember that God will never forsake you.  I have seen him work miracles in the lean years that still amaze me when I think of them today.

Mentioned in this Blog Post

The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week) by food journalist Robin Mather.

Info... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate Links.


Traveling Oltmans said...

Love your blog, I just don’t comment much. After reading halfway through your post, I realized we wanted baked potatoes and sour cream for dinner. So off I went, bought two bakers, sour cream and a package of chives and it cost $9.15. Yikes and double yikes, last time I do that. I had no idea sour cream and potatoes were so expensive now. I knew the fresh chives would cost $2… Anyway, I also went to look at the book you recommended and it is $9.99 on Amazon kindle but free at our digital library. Yeah, so a small win. I normally shop for almost all of our meals and don’t so spur of the moment shopping, this last adventure reminded me why. Thanks again for your blog.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I just requested the book, The Feast Nearby, from my library. Thanks for the recommendation.


Unknown said...

I am not seeing many shortages in our area of Northern Illinois. True, a few weeks ago, the only Ritz crackers were whole wheat ones. Sometimes I cannot get the size of coffee that I want. If I wait a few days or weeks the correct product appears, although I have not seen spice drops for sale. I might try Farm and Fleet. Butter is not a bad price in our area and eggs are an excellent price.As long as that war in Ukraine continues supplies are going to be tight. At least the deficit is going down!

Anonymous said...

The cost of food for us in mid Michigan has tripled in the last 2 years. I have been on the no waste regiment, finding a purpose for what might get thrown out, whether it’s taking leftovers and turning it into yet another meal or taking all my scraps from vegetables that you would normally put in a compost pile, meat scraps, vegetables that are going bad, and freeze in gallon bags until I have enough to to make vegetable broth, chicken or beef broth. Then I can this broth until I use. I’ve also been pressure canning meals this year. Trying to cut our costs in any way I can and still provide nutritious meals.

Mama Squirrel said...

It's at our library too, also on Overdrive, but I'll have to put a hold on it--looks like others have had the same idea.

Chicken is expensive right now where we live (Southern Ontario)--beef is cheaper. We watch carefully for sales and buy what we can, when we can.