Saturday, October 23, 2021

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Pantry ramblings this week

The temperatures are finally dropping in our part of the Midwest and we may (hopefully) get a brief season of colorful leaves.  They appear to be starting to change but can they change before they drop to the ground?  We will see.

After talking about supply chain disruptions for almost two years, it is still surprising to read the reports about just how bad they are at the moment.  It doesn't bother me that some items may not be here in time for Christmas but it is alarming to find out how much the products they carry will be increased when they can get here at all. 

There was a story today about a popular in-demand doll that was expensive already now selling for around $900.00 on eBay and other similar sites.  Perhaps if someone is paying that much for a doll for their daughter, this would be a good time for the entire family to learn that the latest expensive fad will eventually lose its' glitter.  Perhaps spending that money for a very nice family outing and making memories would be better?  (I get off my soap box now.)

As you know, I keep my ear to the ground for what is going on in the world dealing with preparedness and this week I was listening to a man talk about the supply chain shortages in oil (mostly caused by political decisions) which are resulting in quickly increasing prices.  Like the price of gas per gallon going up to over $7.00 in one area of California.

He suggested that anyone needing oil products who can buy them now, do so while they are available.  I hadn't even thought of things like lawnmower oil and oil changes.  We get the oil changed on the van at a local place we have gone to for a very long time so we didn't need to stock oil but that did send my husband to where he keeps records on car maintenance.

He decided since we were due for an oil change soon that he had better make an appointment right away.  They were able to "squeeze him in" (after a two hour wait) and what had cost $29.99 the last time we had an oil change now cost $39.99.  Yikes!  Even though we are driving much less, it still wasn't all that long ago.

I still want to stock a little at a time when I go to the store, especially food such as canned vegetables, I realized last week that it is time to get serious about perusing cookbooks and online for more inexpensive vegetarian meals.  I am from a generation where dinner was usually one meat, a starch, and one or two green vegetables.

Fortunately, I switched much of my cooking to using meat more like a seasoning long ago to stretch the grocery budget.  I will still fix a steak for special occasions (although one steak divided in half instead of each of us having a whole steak) or a whole roasted chicken.  However, I keep back planned leftover steak sliced to put on a salad the next day and a whole chicken can make three meals plus soup.

I keep thinking of all of those cultures that have primarily beans, rice, and vegetables as their basic meals.  Usually along with wheat and/or corn for types of "bread" and various spices used alone or combined for flavor.  That is my next "learn instead of buy" project.  For I have found that knowledge can be just as important as a well stocked pantry.

I have some books to pull off the shelf at home as well as, of course, a plethora of recipes and suggestions online.  It is just the necessity of making the research a priority and with the increase in the price of meat, the research is becoming more of a priority every day.

I don't remember if I wrote about going to the store a few weeks ago, wanting to purchase ground beef to make meatloaf. I don't make meatloaf as often as I once did since there are just two of us but I wanted to make one for that week and one for the freezer.

I buy the grass raised ground beef I use in recipes at Aldi in one pound packages and I didn't want to use any of those for a double recipe of meatloaf.  I was shocked at the price of regular old 80/20 ground beef at the grocery store, it would cost around $20.00 to make one meatloaf now.  I decided to wait until there was a sale.

The more I see prices increasing, the more I understand how many of the recipes people brought with them to America came to be... for instance; meatballs made with a combination of ground beef and fillers such as crushed crackers, bread, or rice.  My favorite meat loaf recipe calls for adding crushed Ritz crackers, so the next time I make it I will definitely add more crushed crackers in ratio to the ground beef.

We have been blessed to live in a part of the world where most of our paycheck did not go to buying food.  I can even say that we have been a little spoiled.  Even when we experienced years of very limited income, we had more food options than people in third world countries.

Then we can think about not so long ago when our parents and grandparents experienced world wars and a Great Depression.  Many of them had to learn to put meals on the table creatively and that is how many of the cookbooks from the 1940s and 1950s included ways to stretch the family budget. 

Societies have gone through hard times before and we can choose to use this time of inflation and shortages to learn new recipes and become even more creative. Often those who were growing up in times of great shortages have fond memories of home and the kitchen.

I know many people who were raised in families where there was not much money who still consider bean soup cooked with a ham bone (if they were fortunate) and served with cornbread to be a delicacy.  Nostalgia adds to the good flavor but that is definitely an inexpensive and very nutritious meal.  Soup is always a good way to stretch the budget (well, unless there is lobster in it...).

It was humorous to watch Jacques Pepin and Julia Child when they cooked together.  Jacques grew up as a very young person during WWII and watched as his mother had to put together food for her restaurant with constant shortages.  Jacques uses everything and throws little away.  Whereas, Julia was older than him in WWII and more affluent and it showed in her style of cooking.  I thought it interesting that all those decades later, the difference would still be apparent in their cooking styles.

Recently, I was looking through a couple favorite books about tea time and one thing I began to notice about the various recipes is that they were mostly very inexpensive, using ingredients hostesses would have in their pantry and perhaps in their garden.

I tend to think of tea time like the tea rooms that are so lovely, those that make me feel like I have been spoiled (for I have!) by what they serve.  The kind of afternoon tea service average homemakers made for their own family was quite simple and when served to friends, only slightly more expensive.  For instance, adding raisins or currents to a bread for more flavor.

I know my ponderings have been all over the place today but perhaps I can wrap them together and tie them with a bow by saying this, I am beginning to learn again that one can face many challenges by remembering what homemakers in similar situations did in the past.  They adjusted and most came through hard times very well.  We can do the same, I am certain.  Especially with God's help and His wisdom.

Mentioned in this Blog Post

Time for Tea
by Michele Rivers is a favorite book to pick up and read easily since each chapter is self contained.  It is about the way thirteen different British women grew up with afternoon tea in their own homes and how they look at it now.  All levels of British society are included, making it even more fun to read.

More information can be found... here. (Third party)

A Little Book of Afternoon Tea
is just that... a little book!  It would make the perfect stocking stuffer for a person who loves tea time.  Each recipe is beautifully illustrated.  The baking weights and measurements are British so one would have to use the American equivalents.  

More information can be found... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links, which means I get a teeny tiny percentage when one either buys from a link or uses a link (or the widget) to enter their Amazon shopping.  It costs neither of us any extra money.

Image:  Tasha Tudor, Artist


Vee said...

Oh I put Amazon on the no visit list some months ago. Yes, I do miss it, but my pocketbook is doing better. Anything I wanted there is gone without. I was getting too spoiled.

I have had some very interesting suppers. If I can, I combine lunch and supper for a meal around three. Today, I had crackers and peanut butter, a cup of milk, and an apple. It was perfectly satisfactory.

As for shopping this year...cold, hard cash. The end. I am feeling a wee bit Scooge-like. We'll still have treats, music, games, and the tree. I will not have extra lights however. The electric bill is high enough.

Jenny said...

I have a very full freezer of meat plus a lot of canned meat in the pantry. I need to add salmon or mackerel...I keep forgetting that! We do eat a lot of meat but my husband is a type 1 diabetic. He cannot eat grains pasta, much of the fillers that we traditionally use to stretch meat he cannot have. So I'm paying the high prices.

But God knew we would have to pay these high prices. He provided us with the ability to pay off our debt over 20 yrs ago. We haven't had a mortgage payment since 1999. I asked my husband if I needed to change how we were eating some to save money but he says to keep doing what we're doing.

One thing I notice about Ebay...the $900 that just because it's listed at that price does not mean someone is actually paying that.

Margie from Toronto said...

You have expressed a lot of what I've been thinking myself lately! I've been going through my cookbooks and checking online for vegetarian recipes to try since meat is getting to be very expensive. I now also add a can of lentils to every pound of ground beef I cook to stretch it further. Another thing I try to make more use of is canned fish like sardines - the good sockeye salmon that I'd normally buy has doubled in price in the past year so sardines it is!

I'm glad of the cooler weather as I love to make soups and it is a great way to either stretch a meal or even at times BE the meal with maybe some nice bread and a bit of cheese. It's just me so I don't have to worry about anyone else and sometimes a cup of tea and a bit of toast is just fine and hits the spot. Like you I would now use a steak or even a chicken breast over two meals along with a salad or some extra veg.

Suzan said...

My mother is English and was born early in WWII. Rationing continued well into the fifties. Mum's family moved to Australia while rationing was still a thing. My grandmother trained as a pastry chef at the famous Betty Tea rooms. Mum says they were never hungry and her mother always did her very best to make great meals.

We often have high tea. High tea is eaten at a table while tea or low tea is taken in more comfortable lounge chairs and people use a lower table. Mum's family high teas were very substantial as the main meal was eaten in the middle of the day and supper was eaten late at night. During the war years fish was not rationed so a fish supper was usual for her family.

I was introduced to tea as a young child and my favourite meal over the Christmas was the high tea we had on Boxing Day. It suits our climate and the meal is not fraught with danger for me as I have egg and grain allergies and cannot have crustaceans for the same reason. Now my girls love a tea type meal.

I like that tea can be very simple or dressed up. It is very much a ladies meal although my sons-in love enjoy hot scones on a Sunday. If those boys are here we go through a pot of homemade strawberry jam each meal.

God bles.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brenda, I love your cozy chats. There are 2 series on YouTube you may have already seen. I first saw them on pbs many years ago.
“ Wartime Kitchen and Garden” and “ WartimeFarm.” I have watched both many times and they are so wonderful for encouraging me to not waste and think outside the box. Those WW2 Brits were made of tough stuff! Blessings to you and yours, Dee PS be on the lookout for a package ;-)

Deanna Rabe said...

I think we’ve forgotten that meals can be simple and still be good and satisfying. I like the idea of some simple sandwiches cut up and some some tea. That’d be a nice treat as a dinner/supper.

I have that Time for Tea book. You likely influenced me to buy it before! Lol I like the simplicity of good foods shared with others.

mdoe37 said...

From the Grand Rapids area....

I just returned from a little more pantry stock up. Of serious note was the price of eggs at Aldi. About a month ago they were still around 69 a dozen. A week ago they were 99 cents. Today? $1.39! All in all at about 11 cents a piece, that is not horrible. Methinks we've been spoiled with really low prices. Their chicken prices were stable and their shelves are pretty full.

I then went to Meijer (who has always been proud of their products and price them accordingly lol). They have a two pack limit of ground beef. There was almost no bacon. There is a four item limit on canned tomato products and some pastas. The pickle section was thin. The rice shelf was bare.

I hit Walmart and Sams last week. Everything seemed to be in stock at Sams with no limitations. I noted the prices on trash bags....I'm guessing $3 more a box. My Walmart is usually thin on the best days. There was no AP flour at all.

I usually can pick up 3# packs of bacon at Gordon Foods....Its usually $9.99 on sale or $11.99 normal price.....$14.99 now. I did add a 25# sack of their very good bread flour to the stash.

A gal on Youtube mentioned that Augason Farms had shut down production until January because of lack of products. I did scarf up a big container of dehydrated potato slices which I'm splitting with my mother.

I just am hoping that people remember the bare shelves from a year or so ago and have continued to keep a good supply put back. I'm afraid I'm being overly optimistic.

Keep up the good message Brenda.....always timely and helpful!