Saturday, May 21, 2022

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Seasonal changes, rising prices, and shortages

Although we are still having cold rain and 90 degree highs in the same week, at least the momentum is more toward warm/hot weather.  So, I have been slowly tweaking my dinner plans to menus that do not require turning on the oven.

You would think switching to warm weather cooking would be easy but it has always been a challenge.  Except for salads, which I make even in cold weather, it is harder to work around my husband's food allergies and shall we say... very strong opinions regarding certain foods?  As in, he thinks mayonnaise is of the devil?  ;)

I've written about my lack of hot weather cooking creativity before.  I have friends and family that live for grill weather, while it is the joy of being warm and cozy in the kitchen with a stew simmering in winter that speaks to my way of cooking.  However, we must eat and I do not want to resort to the bologna sandwiches of my childhood.   

I've told my husband that I plan to serve more charcuterie type meals this year. We have had the charcuterie discussion before but I still have to remind him that they will be the same as the meat, cheese, fruit, and crackers/bread meals I have made since we've been married.  It just sounds fancier.  Both of my kids loved these meals and now serve them to their own families.  Hmmm... should I try making fancy roses from the salami and see the look on his face?

For my granddaughter's wedding shower, I sent her a medium size charcuterie board and a colorful pack of cards that show various types of charcuterie boards all put together.  Although not as in-depth as far as instruction as a cookbook, I love the cards for their beautiful photos of all kinds of charcuterie boards.  I'll add a link below to the charcuterie card pack.  I think they are fun and obviously can be assembled according to budget and how many people you are feeding.

I have been working on a list of dinner menus for the warmer weather.  Of course, I can still assemble a casserole early in the day and then bake it for dinner as my mother-in-law often did.  I already have some quarts of soup frozen for cooler days.  I definitely will be trying different ways to use my air fryer, which was a gift from a dear sister-friend.

There has to be, though, ideas written down that have been pondered and needed pantry items purchased for late spring and summer cooking.  I'm in the process of making such a list now as I think of hot weather dishes we like.  Many overlap with cold weather cooking but not all of them.

Cowboy Casserole is one of our favorite meals that work well for all seasons since it is cooked in a skillet and not the oven.  I made it last week and each time I do, memories come flooding back of my son devouring numerous helpings.  

I usually serve it with baby potatoes I have boiled ahead of time, just until they begin to get soft.  They are set aside to dry and then when the Cowboy Casserole is cooking in the large skillet, I cut the little potatoes in half and fry them with onions until they are brown.  I think the guys in my family could live on them.

It is alarming how much chicken (especially chicken breasts and whole chickens) have gone up in price but right now, only cooking for two, I can still buy small packages for warm weather cooking (or larger packages purchased when on sale).  They can be the basis of many meals, from tacos to good old fashioned fried chicken.  Last week, I had leftover chicken breast so I made a white sauce and added the cubed chicken to it before serving over brown rice for a quick meal.

If this disease with poultry continues to get worse, we will definitely be paying more for chicken.  We already are!  So, having some high quality canned chicken would be wise.  Canned chicken was something I rarely bought but once the cost of fresh chicken was rising so much, it became a priority for "one can at a time" purchasing.

I can still easily find canned chunk chicken but all of a sudden Keystone canned chicken is scarce.  I had to go to Walmart last week so I looked through a few aisles to see what was in short supply.  There was no Keystone chicken at all when there was plenty the last time I was there.

When I went to Meijer on Wednesday for produce, I checked supply and costs at that time.  There was only one can of Keystone chicken left when there had been plenty the week before.  I'm wondering if they are having supply difficulties due to so many chickens being slaughtered.

It could also be that more people are noticing the escalating cost of fresh chicken and want to make certain there is canned chicken in their pantry.  The subject of food shortages in general has been in the news more than I have ever seen it in my lifetime.

While I was at Meijer, I was already in the baking aisle to purchase olive oil so I looked on the shelves to check once again for price and shortages.  The King Arthur flour was back in stock at a higher price, limit two as it has been for awhile.  However, what shocked me (stunned may be the better word) was that King Arthur Organic AP flour was now almost $9.00 a five pound bag. 

It seems at the moment that the two area where I see shortages continuing are with anything made with a grain product and paper products.  Although, I have noticed shortages of most organic food for awhile.  The freezer section at Kroger where they keep their store brand organic frozen vegetables has been looking more empty each week.  I have switched to their non-organic frozen vegetables just to have them available.

One of the very first areas of continuous shortages at many stores was in the frozen potato section.  I like to keep a package of frozen french fries and a package of frozen "tater tots" on hand and finding them has been hit and miss.  Have you heard of a possible potato shortage?  I've seen it as a possibility on YouTube videos but I haven't done any further research.

I think the baby formula shortage should be a lesson to us about the importance of having some extra essential food products put back.  I tend to think it never should have happened in the first place but regardless if it was poor government policy or not, it does show us that the unthinkable can happen and we need to keep at least a little extra essentials stocked.

I know that isn't easy with skyrocketing inflation.  We are still prioritizing as a need comes up or we run out of something because we used more than usual.  Opening our last bottle of extra virgin olive oil was that event last week.  The bottle is a dark green so I didn't realize my husband had used most of it already. I usually keep at least two backup bottles since our favorite brand has not always been in stock the past two years. This time, I wasn't diligent about keeping an eye on what we still had available.

This week I plan to work on the hot weather menu list to see what I need for the warmer weather menus.  I also plan to make a few meals for the freezer.  Annabel mentioned in her Friday blog post that they came in handy during her very busy and eventful week.

I need to check our battery supply soon.  Our thermostat didn't work recently and we realized it needed a new battery.  That left me wondering, as it always does, what would happen if the battery didn't work and we had no backups?   There are other household items that must have back up batteries available, like remote control devices.

We are still awaiting estimates on two different priorities.  They either cannot get the product or they are understaffed and can't get back to us, yet.  Either way, it seems to be the way the world works these days. 

Mentioned in this Blog Post

The Cheese Board Deck: 50 Cards for Styling Spreads, Savory, and Sweet... info here

My Cowboy Casserole recipe is... here.

The Bluebirds are Nesting on the Farm blog (Annabel)... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.


Margie from Toronto said...

I too find that I enjoy "cold weather" cooking much more than in the hotter days - I stick to salads, pasta salads, cold meats & cheese, and chicken (sometimes I just buy a rotisserie chicken rather than turning on the oven. I bought a small toaster oven a couple of weeks ago in order to keep the heat down in the kitchen so hope that will offer a couple of other options - especially for fish.
I went to Costco last Thursday and the one thing really on my list was the 6 pack of canned chicken that I have never seen anywhere else up here. I have put two cans into the pantry to try over the Summer and see what I think and I've put the other 4 cans into my long term storage. Since I just cook for myself, it is easier to buy a few items - even at higher prices - and make it last but I feel very sorry for those with children.

I was able to get a good deal on 1 litre bottles of olive oil recently - all good through August 2023 - so I bought 3 bottles. I plan to buy a bottle of olive oil or avocado oil each 6 weeks or so and rotate continually from now on. Fortunately, the stores remain well stocked but prices continue to rise. Since I am well stocked now I tend to shop the sales and loss leaders as much as possible and I keep a separate envelope for regular grocery funds and long term storage needs - I'm finding that this now works best for me.

Pam said...

hi Brenda, great to find your blog! I am giving my blog another try. Lots of updating to do, that's for sure!!

Anonymous said...

You are right about stocking up on batteries. We just had a big storm here that knocked out the power for quite awhile.

Memo -Get some more flashlights tomorrow!

It must be hard to cook in hot weather without mayonnaise. So many good summer dishes require it-potato salad, devilled eggs etc.

Suzan said...

It is a wet Sunday afternoon in my corner or Australia. I have been diligently putting stuff aside for a while now. I still need to address batteries as our fire alarm batteries need replacing. I will bus a bunch when I get those. I also need to find a new butane stove. Ours has given up the ghost. I will also buy a. number of butane bottles at the same time.

The stock shortages are different in Australia. Our freezer sections are pretty bare at times. Fresh fruit and vegetables go up and down like crazy doe to environmental factors such a s flood and drought. Even before this last round of price rises beef was expensive. As my mother won't eat so many different cuts of meat and I have food allergies and intolerances the pleasure in cooking is long gone. In summer I tend to cook far less and we eat salads etc.

God bless and stay safe.

Kay said...

Again, still reading on Memorial Weekend. Funny thing, your mention of Cowboy Beans is the 3rd mention of them I've had this weekend. I guess that is confirmation I need to make them soon.
And charcuterie; I make one for myself for lunch today. Sortof. I called it that to myself when I ate. Cheese, meat, nuts and a plum. It was very good and with some fresh veg (cucumbers or bell peppers, grape tomatoes, french bread or crackers it is a full meal.
Summer meals are so hard for me too. Farmer takes leftovers for his factory job lunch but neither of us like a big heavy meal in the evening. I'm going to have to brain-storm with him on what he would like. He needs a substantial lunch as he starts his day at 6:30 a.m. and doesn't come in for supper until dark. A cold sandwich will not keep him going for 8 hours.

Carol in Texas said...

I’m late in commenting on this blog entry. I am not getting your blog regularly so I typed in your website and up came today’s entry which I read and then scrolled down to read older posts I’d missed. I must remember to do this often. I too lose my cooking joy in the summertime. I love autumn and winter foods, but once the heat arrives, I just cast about for something for the menu. Your blog is always wonderful to read.