Saturday, June 20, 2020

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - The Pandemic Shopping Lessons

It is so good to be back!  During my time away from the computer, I could only use my Amazon Fire tablet and my ancient (very ancient by technology standards) iPad.  All I can do on the old iPad without it shutting itself off is to tap away writing emails.  It takes awhile, which is why I was slow to respond.

Thank you to everyone who continued to enter your Amazon shopping by clicking on a link or the Widget on the sidebar.  The first thing I did to the blog when I returned was to switch the Widget to a standardized Amazon square widget that you can click on to enter your Amazon shopping. 

It cost neither of us anything but a little extra time and each small amount of credit adds up in a month.  I will concentrate on links within the body of a blog post for specific items.  This month, my credit paid for my granddaughter Faith's birthday gifts for her 4th of July birthday coming up (and laundry soap for me!).  I thank you.  (Thank you, Jayne!)

Now to ponder the pantry!

About a month into the pandemic, I realized my ideas about food shopping would be forever changed.  Not the pantry itself, mind you.  If anything, I realized the importance of a deep-as-possible pantry more than I ever have.  What changed was my grocery shopping habits for the pantry.

Wearing a mask is so annoying but necessary, as is keeping the hand sanitizer in the car refilled.  So I still try to get out only when necessary.  Some grocery stores are no longer disinfecting the carts but many employees still wear masks.  I see a lot more people without masks but as a high risk individual, it will remain a part of life for some time to come.

Like most Americans, I had never seen grocery store shelves so empty.  I know it has happened after natural disasters but not where I live.  A good friend wrote to me about her local stores after Katrina hit.  Although she lived in the desert of New Mexico, far away from Katrina, the trucks carrying food and supplies were rerouted into the Gulf area.  It took a long time for the local stores in her town to be fully restocked.

My thinking will now always differentiate between pre-pandemic and post-pandemic when it comes to the pantry.  Before the pandemic, I stocked up on food and essentials once a month and added to the basics as needed once a week after that as my budget permitted.  Especially items like fresh fruit and vegetables.  Shortages were rare and often weather related.

Now I still have a stock up day to purchase what is available but much of my shopping is accomplished on a week by week basis when items are in stock.  Limits on various items like meat and paper goods also require a little at a time shopping.  It took awhile to get used to the changes but it is the new normal.

Before the pandemic, I would have thought this a very inefficient way of shopping for groceries.  Since then, it has become necessary as we try to find needed (or just desired) purchases back in stock.  It has meant I have had to budget differently and to be even more efficient about keeping lists.

Some items are becoming more available like King Arthur AP flour and their bread flour.  I even saw bags of their organic whole wheat flour on the shelf the last time I was at Meijers.  Both the bread flour and whole wheat flour had been missing from the shelves since the beginning of the pandemic and the All Purpose flour was hard to find. 

However, some items are still surprisingly in short supply.  I never would have thought that dried pasta would be sold almost as fast as it arrived on the shelves.  I already had extra pasta put back but I have learned that it is one of those items to buy when it is available.

I am responsible for shopping Meijers and Aldi, my husband shops Kroger and Wal-mart, either one of us will stop by Sam's Club if we are in that part of town and actually need something.  But I will stop by Kroger when I am close by to see if an item only sold there is finally in stock, like my favorite orecchiette shaped pasta that is made in Italy especially for Kroger. I stopped in last week on the way to my doctor's clinic and was rewarded with two bags of the pasta.

There are no limits on meat at Meijers right now so I am back to making purchases when meat is at a reasonable price or hopefully on sale, as I've done since I can remember.  Whole chickens have not been on sale during the pandemic but they are back to being only $1.19 a pound.  I learned from watching cooking shows that you want to choose the largest whole chicken available because poultry bones only grow so big so larger chickens will have more available meat per pound.

The same reasoning applies to turkeys except I bought a turkey over twenty pounds only once.  Since I do not feed an army, I do not need to wrestle such a large bird on Thanksgiving morning.  However, I do purchase a larger turkey than needed and look forward to leftovers.

The last time I was at Meijers, I noticed that various kinds of canned meat are still in short supply.  That is probably due to processing plants being shut down for awhile or perhaps more people are stocking up on canned meats due to the shutdown of various processing plants.

I'm researching more again and there is still concern over the meat processing plants being epicenters of the virus. Not because animals cause the virus but because of the close proximity of the workers.  So I'm thinking it is not a bad idea to stock some cans of chicken or tuna... and as mentioned before, I was raised on Spam so I actually like it sliced thin and cooked until crispy. My husband would not eat it if he was starving.

I don't know if my shopping habits can ever return to the pre-pandemic ways.  If there is one thing we now know, it is that everything can change almost overnight.  While I live in an area where there are now only a few new cases each week, no one knows if there will be another round this Fall or sooner.  So I'm keeping my new found shopping skills for the moment.

I'll be back next week (God willing and the computer allows) to talk about how various cooking skills helped immensely during the shortages!


Margie from Toronto said...

Glad to see you back and to know that you are still doing well.
Most things are back in stock here - although wipes and hand sanitizer is still limited and often kept behind the checkout. Paper products are fine but some cleaning items like bleach can still be a bit sparse. Meat is back to normal (beef was in short supply for a bit) but a bit pricier than usual - in fact - prices are up in general and there aren't as many sales.

I am restocking as I can - no panic - but I always check the pantry before I head out just for a quick check on what might be in short supply in there. Next on the list is to add more canned fruit and UHT milk. Once that is sorted I'll add more beans and canned veg - I'm not desperate but want to keep topping up bit by bit. Once every 10 days or so I'll stop in early to one of the fancier shops while on my way to the office (I go in for a few hours once or twice a week) and pick up a few things that I can't get at my No Frills grocery store. These will be nice to have sorts of things which will help to elevate basic meals.

cindy said...

I live in SW Florida and only shop at one grocery store - Publix. Having spoken to other family members I found that they are as concerned as I am about the shortages. Once I got past the price and shortage of meat, I began noticing that at each visit I was seeing the same shortages of pasta, spaghetti sauce, rice, canned vegetables, baking supplies, and kleenex. Add to that the beginning of hurricane season and remembering the shortages that I experienced for weeks after hurricane Irma in 2017 makes my preparation all the more necessary. I have followed your blog for years and have received a wonderful education from all that you have shared!

Vee said...

That is my take-away from this things can change so quickly. I mean, I should know this having received those horrible phone calls when my world split in two; however, sometimes I am just thick. I am still trying to shop the old, efficient way because I can't stand to queue up. So I go without for days on end. My eating is less than stellar. I had pancakes for supper and some of that syrup that I'll probably never see again. Times have changed and I hope that some will be for the better but I also know that many things are not right and never will be again, until Jesus comes.

elizabeth said...

I am really enjoying your posts (I read back till March I think earlier this week!). you are really a blessing to so many including myself!!! I was a bit shocked when I heard from my Grandma (She lives near GR MI) that people are not wearing masks in stores! here where I live at least half or more people wear masks when taking a walk and EVERYONE wears then in stores! We are densely populated but I think somehow different States have different subcultures and NJ at least where I am is much more cautious. God bless and keep you!

Tiny Toadstool Cottage said...

We definitely cannot assume that things can return to normal quickly. My state relaxed restrictions and in the last few days we have had more cases than we have ever had. So restrictions are back. It will always be a new normal from now on. A pantry certainly makes me feel safer and I think people who never thought of it before will be planning on having more food storage.

Deanna Rabe said...

I was surprised by things that were unavailable, too. We didn’t have too many issues here, and because we have a freezer and a pantry we we were okay. We are finally opening up more and are ready. I think it’s wise for the vulnerable to continue to wear masks when out.

You helped prepare many people for this pandemic by the posts you’ve written for many years. We have experience now, of just how things can change in a moment!

Carol said...

I believe many people will change the way that they shop now. I have. I always keep items stocked, but I am finding that more and more store shelves do not have the items that I need so I am needing to buy as much as possible when I find it. I am considering changing my pantry to make more room for the most necessary!

Jenny said...

It has been hard to keep my pantry topped off. Your blog is one of the main reasons I took inventory in February & made sure it was all in order. I was prepared thankfully.

Now I'm trying to keep things full by shopping weekly. It takes some skill to keep things rotated & organized well & not to waste things. I miss the before Pandemic days when I rarely worried about my pantry. It will take awhile for me to get used to staying this busy with it.

Kathy T. said...

Yes, things sure have changed. I’m a normal once-a-week shopper and like to stay stocked up on things, so luckily I didn’t have to fight for toilet paper. But other things have been missing for months, like Clorox Wipes and Lysol spray. I have plenty of Spam, as my husband and I both love it, having grown up on it too.😁 I can’t say I’m stocked up for months, but I’m doing pretty good, and since my husband and I both are out of work I appreciate what I have been able to put by. Such unsettling times we are living in.

Kay said...

I also shop once a week - 10 days using Wal-mart Grocery Pick-up. If there is something I can't get on that or from Sam's (once a month shopping there); I'll try our Dollar General or our local mom&pop grocery. My pantry is full but unorganized so I need to get back in there and straighten. Our ds1 & family are coming for a visit next week and after they leave I will begin my stocking up for Winter. We have a beef coming the end of July. I have a few more chickens coming in Sept. We just got a hog in April, but I may get another half in late fall. I need to clean out of both freezers and the pantry, the items we are not eating or won't. Those impulse items or foods we decided we don't like or just don't eat anymore.
One other item to stock up on is the laundry soap I use for dh's greasy grimy work clothes. I'm down to my last jug after the current one. I usually get 6-8 but I haven't been in Menards in quite a while and they usually have the best sale price.
Off to read more.