I was talking with friends the other day about our various philosophies of stocking up on food and other necessities. Some of them prefer a huge walk-in pantry, full of all sorts of comestibles. Me? I have a shelf in a small cupboard. I suppose that’s not entirely accurate if you include spices and seasonings as pantry items because that sort of thing resides in a separate cupboard. But for actual foods, those are all but missing.
My refrigerator is mostly empty, too, as is the freezer, which could be why it doesn’t work all that well. In the summer, it’s hard to keep the temperature in the refrigerator compartment below 45 degrees, and in the winter, it’s hard to keep it above 35 degrees, but I am careful about what I keep in the refrigerator so that it doesn’t really matter. I do keep some things in the freezer, but there have been too many times in my life when the electricity went out and food spoiled, so I’m careful not to keep too much frozen food on hand.
Although I think I do have enough food in the house to last me a week if a major storm hit (apparently, storms have closed up the town before, with snow so high people couldn’t get out of their houses), but just in case, I stocked up. Bought two whole cans of beans and two of tuna. (Besides, if I could get out of the house and walk just a bit, I know someone who has a whole larder full of food!)
Apparently, the last such major storm that hit here blanketed all of Colorado. This was a couple of years before Jeff died, and I don’t remember having a problem with food. (Though we did have a problem with the horrible neighbors who plowed the lane and dumped all the snow in front of our driveway so it took us a week to dig ourselves out.) But back then, we did stock up. It was after he died, and I had to try to find a place to donate all the food I couldn’t take with me, that I developed an aversion to excess food storage. The senior center didn’t want the canned goods, the churches didn’t want it, it was the wrong time of year for food banks. I finally found an old woman who said she knew people who could use the food.
Even if the worst happened and I couldn’t get any other food but what’s in the house, I wouldn’t starve. I have a peasant metabolism that is the result of centuries of systematic starvation — the people who survived such times were those whose metabolisms slowed way down when food intake was reduced. Such a metabolism is a curse in times of plenty, but a blessing in times of scarcity.
Despite all this, I wouldn’t have stocked up even to the extent that I did, but this weekend we are going to have record high temperatures followed immediately (immediately meaning within a twelve-hour period) by record lows. A fifty to sixty degree temperature drop. Yikes.
I still have a couple of days before this historic occasion in case I want to stock up even more (maybe buy some mayonnaise to go with that tuna), but I figure I’ve been dealing with The Bob all this time without stocking up, so I’m not worried.
Just out of curiosity, do you stock up or do you just sort of wing it?
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator
September 4, 2020 at 12:58 pm
Our pantry (included in the plans we have for renovation when we do our kitchen next year) is either an embarrassment, an embarrassment of riches, or merely an example of conspicuous consumption — I’m not sure which; perhaps all three. My wife is an intense foodie — baker and cook — and ingredients burst from its shelves and even on the floor. We have must have every imaginable kind of flour that there is, plus grains because she also grinds her own flour. Then there’s baking chocolate of what must be every type, spices galore, etc. Sometimes I’ll say I’m running out to bring back some Chinese for lunch and she’ll respond aghast with, “are you kidding me?!” But I have to remind her, none of what lines that pantry or fridge isn’t necessarily consumable food. It’s ingredients! 😉
September 4, 2020 at 9:44 pm
Half of me is amazed at the wonder of it all, and half of me shudders at the thought of cooking all that food.
September 4, 2020 at 1:25 pm
I shop once a week. I primarily buy things we keep on hand and are running out of, and what I need for the week’s upcoming meals.
September 4, 2020 at 9:47 pm
I keep track of things I run out of and things I think I might need or want, but I am out of the habit of planning meals, though once in a while, I’ll decide to make something specific and have to get the ingredients.
September 4, 2020 at 2:43 pm
I do have a few things, but I don’t STOCK UP the way some people do. Some people might say my frig is too empty, but I have got enough for just me.
September 4, 2020 at 9:48 pm
It’s amazing to me that a mostly empty refrigerator can still hold enough food for a person living alone.
September 4, 2020 at 5:47 pm
I cook mostly from scratch, having learned a lot of what I know from Mark, but when he was alive, he overbought. And I’m not exaggerating. Being a retired professional chef, he was used to making large quantities and made too much food and it ended up in the freezer in mystery containers. I’m sorry to say a lot got wasted. Now I make enough for one meal and the next day, and that’s it. No more mystery containers. A lot of it is produce that I use every day. I need to get a food chopper because of the discomfort from chopping/slicing so much. A food processor doesn’t do it the way I want it unless I’m making a puree of something. So anyway I’m about 50/50 stock-up and fresh stuff that won’t keep more than a week so it gets used fast.
September 4, 2020 at 9:50 pm
I have a problem with waste, so I tend to err on the side of too little. But the grocery store is so close, it really is like having my own oversized pantry.
September 5, 2020 at 8:48 am
Aside from food for the cat, I wouldn’t bother stocking up. Now that I’m living alone, I don’t eat much. The fridge and pantry are full of former staples, just more stuff to be disposed of in due course.
September 5, 2020 at 11:19 am
I see a pattern here. It seems that most of us whose mate died have no interest in stocking up, while the still-marrieds seem to like a full larder. Maybe it’s because of what you said, that for us, it’s just more stuff to be disposed of.
September 5, 2020 at 12:36 pm
Interesting conversation, Pat. You might be right about the pattern. I fall somewhere in the middle, I think. Still married (celebrating 61 years today…yikes!), but eating simpler and not baking fancy desserts, so not stocking up on so many extras. We have a small pantry and a freezer, and we occasionally buy multiples when things are on sale but only of things we regularly consume.
September 5, 2020 at 3:21 pm
61 years? Congratulations!