Stocking your Pantry

First let me say–Happy Spring, Hello April, and How is everyone doing?

Second–Here is my Pantry Essentials List

Third –here is what I’ve learned so far:

  • When something scary/unknown/ unique/ health /or weather related happens in the world the first things to go are water, toilet paper, bread, flour, wipes, and over the counter medications.
  • Even though I don’t like to eat processed food, canned veggies, and junk food–I still need to have some on hand for pandemics/ and or events that cause the power to go out.
  • To use absolutely everything up–not to throw one single thing or one single serving away. And big tip–most expiration dates are not concrete dates when item goes bad. We just got done eating Yoplait yogurt that was 4 days past expiry.  We lived.
  • With consideration to finances and necessity always stock the pantry with staples-flour, sugar, yeast, brown sugar, salt, b. powder/soda, beans, rice, and pasta. All very affordable and long-lasting in the best of times and hard to find in the worst. Thank goodness I had just stocked my pantry up for the year in January with our annual trip to Sam’s. Also-canned or packaged shelf-stable meats esp. now considering there may soon be a meat shortage.
  • I can shove things all over in the refrigerator and freezer wherever they fit vs. everything in its place, straight, front facing >> Martha Stewart inspired.  🙂
  • Meals don’t need to be meat, potato, veggies, and dessert. Sometimes they can be reheated pancakes, lunch meat that needed to be used up (yes, I cringed at this impromptu meal idea), and bananas/ peanut butter that needed to be used up. We lived.
  • I can let go of my rigid attitude about shopping for our groceries and let a personal shopper at Walmart do it for me. Sometimes!
  • Look around for news I can trust. Mainstream news is way, way too conflicted.

The “experts” cannot seem to agree on whether or not a second wave of the Covid 19 pandemic will occur this coming fall. What that means for us, if we manage to flatten the curve, and businesses and production can get up to speed sometime this summer, is that you and I need to begin building a good solid supply of goods/pantry essentials and create our plan b for fall.

For my entire marriage (25 and counting years) we have been bulk buyers and pantry stocker’s. Since the pandemic hit a lot of people look at people like myself as hoarders. We have never hoarded anything …. even now we are not hoarding. Plus–if you live in the Midwest like I do there are certain things you always have in stock in your home just in case of a blizzard–yeast for baking bread, toilet paper, Tylenol, rice, beans, ingredients for making cookies, popcorn, rice krispie bars. Am I right? That said food security has been and always will be our family’s #1 priority. We do not have smart phones–we’ve never had them. We have flip phones and very reluctantly pay $90.00/mo for them. If and when I can find reliable, less expensive cell service, I will definitely switch. As is, we’ve been with US Cellular 17 years under the exact same plan 🙂

Also, our priorities don’t include new, or new to us cars. We’ve driven the same Saturn for 14 years which has just 130 k miles on it–because we also don’t go very far from home very much. Work, groceries, and home year after year because it is all we can afford to do. We have gone on a few trips, even a couple abroad, by saving air miles through a card we carry loyalty rewards and bonus money. Had we no miles and no bonus we would never have afforded a trip anywhere here or overseas. We also gave up cable television –no television or television programs; even local channels, almost 20 years ago and no landline for 17 years. Lots of money saved just by giving up those two luxuries..

Our lifestyle is very simple. We live simple, dress fairly simply, eat simple local food, and really and truly don’t want for much. A luxury for us is an ice cream cone and date night at Walmart… lol

Our life wasn’t always simple. In the beginning of our marriage (many moons ago) we were driven by necessity or rather lack of money, job instability, and a family arrangement gone wrong–basically forced to live as simply and inexpensively as possible. After about 15 years it kind of stuck and we’ve been living that way ever since. It’s not to say we don’t have unexpected expenses, or emergencies, or times money is really tight.

Our lifestyle is such that now 25+ years later we can pay all our bills, save a little, put some in retirement, and still have a little left over for renting a movie and getting an ice cream cone!  Moving forward through the uncertain times to come and doing so wisely is going to take money, skill, and resourcefulness.

My best advice for anyone is to slowly and gently start to build a pantry of non-perishables and if you can>>> find yourself a farmer. There are many farms all over the U.S. growing produce, eggs, milk and meat. Start right now or as soon as possible building a relationship with one. Plant a garden if you have space–plant enough to freeze, can, and share with a neighbor.

If you can– use any stimulus money you get to make sure your bills are paid, high interest credit card payments made, some into savings, and the rest toward supplies little by little.

Financially speaking my opinion along with several other accountants/analysts/ financial folk is we will see a recession within the next year. Whether the current crisis throws us into a recession or inflation does– life will be different for every one of us. Restarting our country will be done in steps–spread out across many weeks/months. Nothing will ever be like it was, or very little, once we go back out into the world and start living as we once did in it.

Whatever comes and really know one can really tell us with 100% accuracy– we will make it. Plan, prepare, and be resourceful!

Until next time–stay safe and be well.

What are you grateful for today?

Today I’m grateful for “having little bits and bobs of food in our refrigerator & freezer from which I can put together simple, easy, and inexpensive meals.” 

Today was a major cleaning/organizing day of which I cleaned out our refrigerator, pantry, and freezers. I found a couple pounds of ground beef and used one pound to make the following meals below. We aren’t big meat eaters which is a good thing especially now as the shelves are bare of it, locally. We ate the stuffed peppers tonight because they don’t freeze well for me and we’ll be eating the meatball cup stuffed w/ mashed potato this weekend. I made the cheeseburger pasta and Swedish meatball pasta without the pasta noodles and froze them for another day. When I decide to use them I will make fresh pasta.

#1 of ground beef = four meals for two Voila!

  • Cheeseburger pasta
  • Taco stuffed peppers
  • Swedish meatball pasta
  • Mashed potato stuffed meatball cups

The video below shows each dish using a pound of ground beef but I decided to get all four dishes out of 1#. With the cheeseburger pasta I will use more pasta, the taco peppers just more corn and beans, the Swedish meatball pasta more pasta, and I made less meatballs for the mashed potato stuffed meatball cups but we still got two each and had a side of mashed potatoes to go with them.

^**all recipes by Tasty–here is a great video showing how to make each dish.

Today’s Tip- fill up on healthy food right now–eat as much produce as you can afford, are able to purchase, and can work into your daily meal plan. Now more than ever you need to eat as clean as possible and limit your sweets to the bare minimum. There is no time like the present to eat like your grandparents once did by focusing on healthy foods, which are still more affordable than processed food, and eliminating sweets from your diet except for on special occasions. Eating sugar in general causes us to want more sugar–hence bad carbs.  Right now the only food I still see in the market that is plentiful is produce. If your diet has a lot of breads, cookies and cakes you are setting yourself up for hunger cravings.  Unfortunately, you will probably choose something with sugar in it to satisfy your hunger. It won’t. (As a reformed sugar addict I know all of this only too well). A great site that discusses sugar addiction and it’s connection to anxiety and health issues here

If this virus has made anything clear to us at all it is mortality is higher if you have comorbidities. This virus is especially hard on those with respiratory problems, diabetes, and heart disease.  Sweets in our diet to the excess I see so many people ingesting them = diabetes and most likely heart disease.  Read, paint, exercise, learn a second or third language,  clean, organize, plant a garden. There’s never been a better time than now to learn how to eat healthier and get in shape for summer.

Today I am thankful for:  🌼🌸💜🌼

  • the lessons I’m learning in no waste/reheating and reusing/conservative meal planning.
  • that I am responding to the current crisis rather than reacting–I am in plan and prepare mode vs. emotional basket case.
  • my husband who as an essential worker (for now) still goes to work every day with a smile on his face knowing he may contract the virus.
  • thankful that I remember in all of this that I must be strong because my husband needs me to be.
  • I’m thankful to the nurses, doctors, researchers, lab technicians, Emts, law enforcement officers, firefighters, truck drivers, grocery store/retail employees, factory workers, USPS, UPS, FedEx, delivery people–so many others, clerks, farmers, food suppliers, business owners and so many others that I’ve probably forgotten who are on the front line- taking care of us.
  • an Organic CSA that we were members of this past fall still had carrots and sweet potatoes available and we were able to pick up 4# of each today.

The shelves are still pretty bare in the local grocery store and local Walmart’s which can be nerve-wracking. A lot of local people initially didn’t believe this virus was as serious as it is and when suddenly the Shelter at Home order went out it was panic city. We don’t go to the grocery store anymore instead opting for grocery pick up only.  First off,  I can’t get over how friendly and helpful the Walmart staff and local grocery store employees have been. It’s been hard for me to hand over the reins of grocery shopping to someone else. I am the ultimate control freak/diva/micro-manager of our food budget-meal plan-head cook and bottle washer. My perception of ripe banana vs. most is not the same thing at all. That said everything has been just fine. I said no substitutes on lunch meat last week–they did anyways and it worked out but no charge.  So I’m learning to be less rigid with things like this and let some of the super duper micromanaging stress go.

At the end of this crisis I will no doubt, as you will, be changed and in some respects a whole lot more prepared for whatever comes next. We are all getting the experience we need and the training first hand on how we will come together, unify, and fight to survive -be it climate change, disasters, pandemics, whatever it is.

But it isn’t pretty– and it really is too early to be sure on silver linings.  At this point my husband and I have lost thousands in his 401 k. This year I was  all set to start one with the company I work for –but that likely will not happen. Either will our move and maybe not having our own home right now is a good thing? Hard to tell at this point. I take calls all day from colleagues and clients asking what I think about the current economy, what’s going to happen, is it as bad as they say? I’m at a loss for answers to any of it–I have degrees in both business and finance and maybe should be able to tell them something? But this crisis is different from any other and it is too soon for me–an accountant at present to form any type of opinion or to answer their questions with any kind of true accuracy. In time I hope to be able to help them as best I can. One thing is for sure everyone, except maybe the very rich, will have financial problems of some kind once this is all over with.

This week hubby and I are embracing “hearts in the window” for all the scavenger hunters in the area, and also putting up a set of Christmas lights as a sign of hope.  ❤

Resources–Things to do for free!

NetGalley— a great site you can register on for free and become a book reviewer. It’s a great time– to read books and help an author.

Recyclebank–a great site where for free you can earn points by taking recycling quizzes and then use the points to get free magazines and other cool items.

Quarantine/self-distancing/shelter at home bucket list:

  • Phone a friend
  • Send hopeful upbeat emails to your contacts.
  • Take pictures/make videos.
  • Read-catch up or start a new hobby–audible books are free right now.
  • Learn to cook one new thing–or learn to cook.
  • Do that one thing or two that you never find time to do.
  • Try watercolor painting–this is what I’m putting on my bucket list.
  • Fix the things in your house you now have time to fix.
  • Snuggle
  • Play with your pet.
  • Wash your windows–it’s spring!
  • Start your garden seedlings–that’s what I’m doing.
  • Read a poem out loud.
  • Clean and organize closets and all your stuff–get things ready for garage sales, sell on Poshmark, eBay, give away and more.

Before I end my post here are a few things I learned or learned to do this week:

  • save coffee not drank and rewarm the next day–first time and it was just as wonderful day two.
  • learned to eat stale bread because we don’t have the option to throw the ends of the bread away–and I probably won’t ever throw them away again!
  • settled myself for the road ahead one day, and sometimes, one hour at a time–no one knows what’s to come. I’d rather go into things far less stressed and far more rested.
  • prayed more than once a day.
  • stretched a pound of ground beef into four meals.
  • took breaks away from news–helped keep my anxiety down.
  • tried not to feel so guilty for being able to work from home–I know how incredibly lucky I am to have a remote job.
  • looked around in my surroundings searching for little things to be happy or comforted by–hubby watching the birds, our cat cozying with his toys (babies), robins singing at 6:00 am, quiet freeway–just semi’s on it for the most part, and green grass poking through–soon the dandelions.

Until next time stay safe and be well.

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