Sunday was a gorgeous and joyous day, then I was up half the night tossing and turning and unable to sleep. I blame the Coke I had. Caffeine and I don’t play well with each other. It made my 8am wakeup alarm my newest mortal enemy, that I defeated for an extra hour of sleep.

Since the first time in lock down, today actually feels like a Monday!… and I triple checked to be sure, it is actually Monday. I’ve enjoyed a write-in with authors Heather Karn and Melanie Gilbert who kicked my butt today in words. I suppose I should be grateful for a little normalcy, maybe?

There seems to be the change in the news and our elected officials, doctors, and people in high places right now. This feeling of impending doom about to strike as they all but beg for us to lock down and don’t go out except for absolute necessities over the last two weeks. So this may come a little too late, but honestly, it’s never too late to start preparing!

I’ve been following preparedness practices for the last two+ decades. But series Compounders is all about the fall of society where my main characters were in fact, preppers. My family and I have been through job loss, hurricanes, severe storms, and snow storms that have left us stranded and sometimes cut off for days, weeks, and even months. Being prepared is how we survive. It’s really that simple.

No, I’m not talking about horders. Yes, to extent preppers are horders, but not in the same as what’s going on right now as people scramble to maliciously try to buy up specific goods for the intent of personal profit. That’s were prepping and hording differ drastically.

I have been working on a book over the last several years called Practical Prepping for the Surbanite. I’ll be releasing it after this mess clears. With each disaster in my life, I observe, document, and journal and then I write a little more of this book. It’s meant to be a basic guide to really make you stop and think about those things in your life that you need to prepare for. Right now it’s a worldwide pandemic, only months ago people who even thought of preparing for a pandemic would have been called extremists, yet, here we are. I’ll admit, this was certainly not on my top list of things to prepare for either.

The fact is, we’re going to see tighter lock downs across the country over the next several weeks, maybe even the next few months, but definitely in the coming week. Everyone needs to be preparing for this period. If you do not already have two weeks worth of food for you, your family, and your fury, finned, or feathered crew, then that should be your top priority right now. At this point you may have to get a little creative with meals, but food is still readily available in the stores. The problem is, you don’t want to have to be constantly running to the store to pickup what you need.

If you aren’t already prepared by now, you can get there and you can do it without running out and hording whatever you can find on the shelves. It’s simple really and the same way I’ve built and rebuilt my supply for years.

  1. The trucks are still running, there’s constant replenishment of the shelves right now, and I pray that remains the case through this entire pandemic.
  2. When you shop, buy a little extra. If you would normally buy one box of pasta, buy 2 instead. If there’s a sale and they actually allow it, grab that Kroger 10 for $10. Yeah, we all know you don’t actually have to buy 10 to get their discount, but getting the 10 helps you stock up a little faster.
  3. What this means is one of two things right now. First, if you continue to shop as normal but just add a little extra each time, you’ll see your supply at home increase faster than you realize. But also, because we are trying not to go out as often, it will lengthen how long you can go before having to need to shop. Ideally you want a minimum of 2 weeks, but if you can get that up to even 1 month, all the better.

Now, here is my biggest fact that I can’t reiterate enough…. unless it becomes a life and death need and you just absolutely need to eat, DO NOT BUY OR STOCK UP ON ANYTHING YOU WOULDN’T NORMALLY EAT. This is the #1 problem with shopping in a panic. Stop and THINK first, before you even set foot in the store.

Now, take inventory of everything you have in your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator.
This will help you see what you actually have; where your holes in supplies are; what you actually eat; and will blatantly show what you don’t eat. It’s also a fabulous time to reorganize and clean that pantry out in the process.

What are those staples that you and your family eat the most often?
Examples for my family… pasta, spaghetti sauce, rice, mac ‘n cheese, frozen vegetables, meat, fruit, cheese

Now, if those aren’t available what are some homemade alternatives?
Example…. if you’re family eats a lot of canned soups, what soups can you make from scratch and what ingredients do you need? I keep a stash of canned tomatoes on hand. Why? Because I know with a few seasonings I can make spaghetti sauce, we love chili and that is filling and goes a long way, and they are key ingredient for several of our regular rotation meals.

Pull out a notebook or open an Excel spreadsheet, and start listing all the most basic meals you can think of and know how to make. Bonus for heartier ones or things that can stretch.
Examples…. chili, as mentioned above, it’s easy to make in larger batches and is very filling. It can also be made with or without meat. Soups. Tonight we’re having chicken noodle soup. The great thing about soup is you can stretch them to sustain longer, like if we eat it today and there’s only enough for say 4 of the 6 of us tomorrow, I can easily add/make extra broth and stretch that to feed my large family a second meal. Spaghetti. It’s cheap, it’s filling, it goes a long way.

Budgeting and rationing tips…
1. Plan your meals ahead of time based on what you do have.
2. Make a menu and post it, especially if you have a family to feed.
3. If possible, keep a shelf of snack/grab-it foods. Stress eating right now is a very real thing. We have a free-for-all on fresh fruits and vegetables, unless marked for a meal, and a shelf of treats that we limit 1 per person per day.
4. Again, buy only what you will eat. If you’ve never baked from scratch a day in your life, put that 50lb bag of flour and that 20lb bag of sugar back on the shelf for someone who can actually use it! Tuna is a big stock item for a lot of people, there is only 1 of the 6 of us that would even touch a can of tuna, so it is never going to be something we stock.
5. If you do buy in bulk and know you will never go through that 50lb bag of flour, share! No, I’m not encouraging hanging out with your neighbor or friend, but a safe porch delivery is fine. Talk to those around you and share bulk resources before wasting good food. Check online and see if your neighborhood or local area has a FB group or website for sharing. I know I belong to several for my area.

Basic idea… buy only what you’re actually going to eat. Stock up at least 2 weeks and work towards increasing that over time. And don’t be wasteful. Reach out to family, friends, and neighbors and share before letting food go to waste. We’re all in this together and even if it seems hard and lonely at times, we’re going to get through this okay.