Stocking Up

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


Jeff and I kept our expenses to a minimum by stocking up on things when they went on sale, and really loading up on items that had been deeply discounted. I don’t see those kinds of sales any more, which is good because I no longer like keeping a lot of things on hand. Having to get rid of cases of food and paper goods when I packed up after he died was just one more stab in the heart, especially since I couldn’t find a place to donate them. The churches didn’t even want them. I don’t remember what I ended up doing — I think an older woman found me crying and said she’d find a way to distribute the items. (She also understood my tears since she’d been widowed three times and admitted that she still cried for all of her husbands.)

The wheel of time turns, and now here I am, once again stocking up on certain items like paper towels — not because paper towels are on sale for twenty-five cents a package (the sale price Jeff and I paid), but because large packages of paper goods are the only sizes available to me right now.

I’m still not stocking up on food. I prefer to eat fresh vegetables and those don’t stay fresh for very long. I don’t use many canned goods or frozen foods. And the last time I looked for meat, I walked away without buying any because the prices were more than I wanted to pay — double what they had been a couple weeks ago. Luckily, proteins like tuna and eggs and cheese continue to be within my budget. I’m grateful I can still make it to the local grocery store once a week, and things I can’t get around here, I’ve been able to get online. I might continue shopping this way even when I feel more comfortable going to a bigger town to visit bigger stores — when shipping is free, it makes more sense to order online than to pay for gas, even when I have to stock up to get the free shipping.

I’m sure there will be other changes to my life — or maybe what I mean is I’m sure I will keep the changes I have made to accommodate these times. I will have to become sociable again, of course, at least to a small extent, but I doubt I’ll ever go back to having a full calendar. I’ve become so used to being by myself that it will take more energy than I have to get myself out of the house. (Though it will be nice seeing friends again.)

For all I know, even when the library reopens, I might keep rereading The Wheel of Time series as I did once before when there wasn’t a library available to me. It’s not that the work is so great, it’s that it is so vast. By the time I reach the end of what is essentially a 4,000,000-word novel, I’ve forgotten many of the connections and relationships that led to the final confrontation, so I need to reread the books to see what I missed. And by the end of the second read through, I’ve forgotten other connections.

And so it goes, the wheel of time. Around and around and around.


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.