To be honest I’ve not paid much attention to the Covid-19 numbers very much for quite some time. Yesterday though, the numbers caught my attention:
My initial reaction was shock. But my thoughts quickly came back to food and preparing the pantry for the next lock down. I’m using this blog to maintain my personal pandemic pantry list and it is not intended to be THE LIST to follow. (At least I won’t forget where I put my pantry list.) IMO there are several reasons to keep your pantry well stocked:
government mandated lock downs.
self-imposed periods of sheltering in place either from direct exposure to an infected individual, becoming infected or living with an infected person, rampant uncontrolled viral spread in your community and/or social unrest.
Supply chain disruptions due to Covid-19 outbreaks at various points in the supply chain and/or panic buying behavior.
We just survived the worst ice storm imaginable and several days without electricity teaches you a thing or two. So I’ve started a list of non-food pantry items which over time will consist of stuff you need to have around when the lights go out. My shopping the past several months included picking up one of this and one of that to build up and back up the pantry. So here’s what the Pandemic Pantry looks like today with the supply on hand in parenthesis. Zero = no backup.
Pandemic Pantry Items – Last Updated 11.08.20
Mayo (1) Mustard (0) Salsa (1) Ketchup (0)
Canned tomatoes in 14.5 and 28 ounce cans. Diced, crushed, diced with green chilies and stewed (8)
Extra virgin olive oil (1)
Brown and white sugar (0 and 1)
Bay leaves, dried oregano, basil, and parsley (0)
Onion and garlic powders
Salt (1) and black pepper (0)
Baking powder, baking soda, corn starch (0)
Parmesan cheese (1)
Bread crumbs (plain, Panko, seasoned) (1)
Dried pastas (10 lbs)
Dried beans such as brown and green lentils, pinto, black, adzuki, mayocabo, yellow and green split peas, black eye peas and cranberry (5 lbs)
Canned beans such as garbanzos, black, black eye peas, pinto, great northern, navy (10)
Broth, vegetable, beef, chicken (3)
Rice – multiple varieties like basmati, brown, Texmati, arborio and plain long grain white (6 lbs)
Flour and corn tortillas (0)
Wheat germ (1)
COFFEE ground (0) — K-cups (50ish)
COFFEE FILTERS (0) — I suggest owning a single cup drip cone.
Tea (120 tea bags all green decaf plus a few normal ones for me)
All purpose and whole wheat flours (or alternative flours if you’re into that sort of thing)
Canned tuna (6)
Canned green chilies (1)
Dried fruits (1)
Whole grain and fruit/nut bars (20ish)
Dry cereals and granola (0)
Vinegar (red wine, white wine,Balsamic, white Balsamic, apple cider, etc.) (1)
Well I pulled one off the griddle and tried it. I froze the rest and heated one up for lunch today. It was good…but not great hence the RIP (recipe in progress) tag. I made a sandwich on whole wheat and swirled some Sriracha mayo on it and the burger tasted better than last night. The burger is missing something and we’ll just leave this as a RIP and keep experimenting. Definitely needs more heat. Maybe some corn kernels to balance the heat. I’m also thinking of fresh onion and garlic, not the powders which would make this burger less of a pantry mash up but oh well. Here’s where we stand today.
I ate the last of probably five or six of these “burgers” which were in the freezer. The good news is they freeze well and taste OK. The bad news is they taste just OK so now this recipe is being retired. RIP now stands for Rest in Peace. I’ve decided they are not very “burger-like” and more like sweet potato and black bean cakes with herbs and spices. This is the final update as this recipe goes up on the shelf along with any recipes from The Stack Project – Lasagne Stack Update 04.15.15. The Stack Project contained just one experiment Lasagne Stacks which also were just OK.
So besides protecting yourself, you should be prepared for more lock downs, supply chain disruptions, economic woes, travel restrictions, social distancing, civil unrest, and other challenges. That means keeping your supplies of critical preps — water, food, medications — topped up, and not letting them get too low.
Always keep on-hand enough supplies for a sudden two-week quarantine in your home. Really you should try for three months of supplies, but two weeks is the minimum. This stash will also insulate you against surprise supply chain disruptions.
Victoria Australia has declared a State of Disaster. Some schools opened in Melbourne on July 14. In-person classroom school lasted less than one week. The school has been cleaned but remains closed. Contact tracing is still in process. Last week Victoria reported over 2,500 new coronavirus cases up from 2,200 the week prior. While I maintain pretty strong personal measures to avoid possible exposures I admit I’ve gotten complacent with shopping for the pantry. It’s a false sense of security because the majority of my recent shopping trips have been fruitful with minimal shortages noted on the store shelves. Reading about the situation in Australia and seeing pictures online of people standing in a long line on the sidewalk waiting for entry to a grocery store was a wake up call.
Like Jon Stokes says, be prepared for a sudden two week quarantine. Depending upon local conditions it could be longer. Make sure your pantry has back ups for truly essential items (coffee and single malt scotch are good examples). When you’re shopping don’t think about immediate needs. Think about being cooped up in the house again for weeks and pick up a few extras. Last week I bought four pounds of penne pasta (on sale!) and am now well stocked on dried pastas. I also have ample supplies of frequently used herbs and spices. Bay leaves anyone?
I also have enough oregano to last for months because I bought a back up when I already had a back up. There’s plenty of chicken and ground meats in the freezer. Plus there’s the turkey…
Like I’ve mentioned in the past, we seem to be in pretty good shape in Oklahoma with shortages and supply chain issues. Disinfectant wipes though have been in very short supply and are hard to find. But true friendship shines in the pandemic. Our friends dropped this off a few days ago.
True friendship is sharing your supply of disinfecting wipes.
The original Household Executive order from an earlier Pandemic Pantry post has now been amended twice. The following is the Amended Household Executive Order for grocery shopping:
You are now allowed to go to more than one store per week so long as I need or want something that you cannot find at a single store. You no longer have to shop with the old people and are permitted to go at times when store traffic isn’t busy. You will always wear a mask and keep your distance from everyone else in the store. You may wander up and down the aisles like you usually do (but do it quickly). You no longer have to abide by the original “do not shower before going and decontaminate immediately upon return” section of the original decree. The decontamination protocol is suspended for the time being but may be reinstated at any time in the future without advance notice.
When you return from the store you will wash your hands for 20 seconds then put the groceries away. Place the bags of grocery items on top of the newspaper on top of the kitchen island. Any and all paper and plastic bags will not be recycled. They will go into the garbage along with the newspaper that covered the island surface. Disinfect the items you think need disinfecting. If you choose not to disinfect an item I must be informed of these items and agree not to touch them for 72 hours.
Don’t buy any more tuna.
The grocery store was not busy at 3:00 pm but busier than I expected. I managed to find everything on my list.
Toilet paper and paper towels were well stocked.
Cleaners and disinfectants aisle was not.
Meat was plentiful.
Fresh fruits, vegetables, bagged salads all in ample supply.
Dairy, cheeses, eggs were well stocked.
But the best part of my shopping trip had nothing to do with food. I estimated around 90% of the customers were wearing masks. I only wish more of us would care more about the health of others and wear masks. The number of grocery stores I shop at now is a short list. The behavior of both store management and the customers pretty much determine where I shop. As an example at the liquor store I’ve been shopping at for over 16 years all of the employees wear masks. If you decide to shop indoors you must wear a mask. Despite the fact this store offers curbside minimal contact purchasing I like shopping in store. Plus the times I’ve entered the store I’m typically the only customer there. Apparently most of the other customers prefer curbside or delivery.
Stay safe. Wear a mask. Don’t go to these places or events:
The shortages at the grocery stores have abated. And to be honest I’ve gotten lazy at stocking the pantry since I’ve been able to find and buy pretty much most of the items on my list on shopping days. But with more supply chain disruptions to come in the future, shortages from sporadic bouts of hoarding behavior and more stress baking I continue to stock my pantry. And I’ve come to realize I haven’t updated my pantry list in nearly two months. The tipping point? I ran out of coffee, a monumental threat to my continued existence. So I started an add on list of forgotten items. Added together this comprises the first update to my Pandemic Pantry list in weeks.
One byproduct of sheltering in place I’ve noticed on my shopping trip was the literal disappearance of social skills in some individuals. Some people have forgotten how to behave in group social settings. Here’s a short list of my encounters today:
Woman in the produce section stopping right in front of me in the middle of the aisle blocking passage while responding to something on her phone.
Another woman stopping in the middle of an aisle leaving her cart on one side while she blocked passage standing on the other side of the aisle.
Husband and wife having a discussion at the beginning of an aisle blocking access or passage to the aisle completely and…(wait for it)
The jackass who squeezed right in front of me as I was reaching for an item to pick something off the shelf for himself.
None of these rude, selfish and inconsiderate people were wearing masks. None of these shoppers respected social (physical) distancing. I’m now considering buying a set of scrubs to wear along with my mask when food shopping. (I’ve heard stories that others will avoid you completely if you’re wearing scrubs.) It looks like I’ll probably be resorting to shopping during the Old People Hour because I know the oldies will be mask wearers and keep their distance.
Sorry for the mini-rant. But when you have a family member on the healthcare front line all of this matters a lot to me. Some people understand the pandemic isn’t over. The good news for the folks I tried not to get too close to today is we have plenty of ICU bed space available in our state.
Anyway, back to food and preparing the pantry for the next lock down. By now y’all have probably figured out that I’m using this blog to maintain my personal pandemic pantry list and is not intended to be The List to follow. At least I won’t forget where I put my pantry list.
Pandemic Pantry Items – Last Updated 04.18.20
Canned tomatoes in 14.5 and 28 ounce cans. Diced, crushed, diced with green chilies and stewed
Extra virgin olive oil
Brown and white sugar
Dried oregano, basil, and parsley
Onion and garlic powders
Dried beans such as brown and green lentils, pinto, black, adzuki, mayocabo, yellow and green split peas, black eye peas and cranberry
Canned beans such as garbanzos, black, black eye peas, pinto, great northern, navy
Broth, vegetable, beef, chicken
Rice – multiple varieties like basmati, brown, Texmati, arborio and plain long grain white
Flour and corn tortillas
The Forgotten Ones
COFFEE !!! (consider a small jar of freeze dried also in case of emergency)
All purpose and whole wheat flours (or alternative flours if you’re into that sort of thing)
Canned green chiles
Whole grain and fruit/nut bars
Dry cereals and granola
Vinegar (red wine, white wine,Balsamic, white Balsamic, apple cider, etc.)
Oil (besides EVO, vegetable, avocado, corn, etc.)
Jelly and/or fruit spread
Americans may wish the virus to be gone, but it is not. While the outbreak has eased in the Northeast, driving down the overall national numbers, cases have only plateaued in the rest of the country, and they appear to be on the rise in recent days in COVID Tracking Project data. Twenty-two states reported 400 or more new cases Friday, and 14 other states and Puerto Rico reported cases in the triple digits. Several states—including Arizona, North Carolina, and California—are now seeing their highest numbers of known cases.
The early Old People Shopping Hour was nearly over by the time I got to the store. There weren’t many customers and all were practicing appropriate physical distancing, all were wearing masks. I made a list and pretty much stuck to the list. The shortages were spotty and I managed to buy nearly every item on my list. The trip was no scavenger hunt this week. The most surprising part of this week’s shopping adventure? Markdowns on certain items. Bacon (what meat shortage?), gourmet potato chips normally $4 a bag at almost half price, organic whole grain bread at a 33% discount from usual retail. I actually had fun at the store and it felt nearly normal.
Check out time brought me back to the new normal reality. There were just two check out lines open and the lines of people waiting stretched into the aisles (six feet apart, of course). The two back to back express check out lanes were gone. I wonder if some workers had to stay home or if another reason existed for the lack of check out lanes open. Old People Shopping Hour was over and the store got busier quickly. Only around 75% of the customers were wearing masks. I saw a mother/daughter combo shopping. There were young families of three and four shopping together, no masks. I guess they didn’t get the memo on masks or the recommendation that just one family member do the shopping. I would also venture a guess that these people don’t have a HCW on the front line and simply do not know the risk.
Last night’s leftover dinner mashup was an unmitigated disaster. I added a can of beans to some leftover chili and we ended up eating a bowl of inadequately seasoned beans for dinner. I thought I’d try a new recipe for Cornbread Griddle Cakes and they were awful as in awful dry. The Boss said something to the effect that our usual cornbread recipe was better which is Spouse Speak for you better not ever make this again or I’ll divorce you. So I woke up this morning needing to have a bountiful shopping trip and I got lucky.
The Household Executive order from an earlier Pandemic Pantry post has not been allowed to expire. The order however was amended. The following is the Amended Household Executive Order for grocery shopping:
“You are now allowed to go to more than one store per week so long as I need or want something that you cannot find at a single store. You no longer have to shop with the old people and are permitted to go at times when store traffic isn’t busy. You will continue to wear a mask and keep your distance from everyone else in the store. You may wander up and down the aisles like you usually do. You will not shower before going. When you come back you will wash your hands for 20 seconds then put the groceries away. Disinfect the items you think need disinfecting. The plastic bags will not be recycled. They will go into the garbage. You will then go into the laundry room where you will strip down and put your clothes into the washing machine. Then and only then you go to our bathroom to decontaminate (and don’t use my bar of soap, use your body wash).”
The grocery store was less of a scavenger hunt this week. There were still some empty shelves but I managed to buy most of the items on my list. With all of the supply chain issues still ongoing I didn’t know what to expect. Here are my observations from this morning. Bear in mind your specific locale may be a lot different.
Toilet paper and paper towels were back in stock (limited brand choices and limited supply).
Cleaners and disinfectants aisle was empty.
Meat was plentiful. Those creepy scary pictures of empty meat cases you see online? That was not a problem here.
Fresh fruits, vegetables, bagged salads all in good supply (except zucchini and I wanted some zucchini).
Frozen french fries were available (another internet horror story of shortages).
Dairy, cheeses, eggs absolutely well stocked.
Retails prices on meat are creeping upwards. So while the supplies are plentiful I picked up a few extra items for the freezer. Last week I found frozen turkeys for $0.49 a pound so I have a ten pound bird in the freezer. Here is my Pandemic Pantry Freezer Supply:
Three or four loaves of garlic bread (one might be five cheese bread)
Several loaves of whole grain bread
Two deep dish pie shells
Spinach and potato pirogies
Spinach and cheese ravioli
Corn, peas, spinach, butternut squash
Two packages ground turkey
Two packages top blade beef
Two small sirloin steaks
So now between the canned/dried pantry items, freezer items, and fresh finds when found we should be OK even if the excrement hits the rotating blades. I can shop at two stores a week. I had already bought some items at my first allowed grocery stop two days ago (because someone in the house tosses dairy on the expiration date and we needed ice cream).
I’ve been even more diligent about keeping my food waste low since the pandemic started, since our visits to the grocery store are few and far between. So when I was taking stock of what was on hand the other day, the puzzle pieces started to move into place in my head…
It’s comforting to know your thoughts are shared by others during the Greater Depression. I have definitely reduced the amount of food waste in our household. Shopping trips for grocery items are definitely reduced in number and some trips will be bountiful while other trips less so. Nice to know I’m not the only cook who stares at “the puzzle pieces” to figure out what to make.
JHND- an international journal publishing in the field of nutrition and dietetics. JHND is the official journal of the British Dietetic Association. All views expressed on these pages are solely those of the author.