There. I said it. If you are gasping, nay, reeling from the word that refers to the preserved meat that comes in a can, you might not want to read on.
Still there? Well, you my friend, will be rewarded with golden nuggets of information about how to survive and even thrive, with basic but useful food supplies on a tight budget and believe me, even spam hasn’t been spared in the rush to get hold of canned meat with great versatility. To illustrate, just look at the demand for spam herehttps://www.amazon.com/Spam-Meat/s?k=Spam+Meat. Earlier in 2020, also known as the start of the ‘Hell of 2020’, we were jolted into survival mode. I covered this topic in https://sues.life/2020/07/31/the-impetus/, in excruciating detail.
When toilet paper started running out in 2020, I was calm. We just needed paper-like substances or water to cleanse our nether regions, I said. When hand sanitizer and masks were scarce, I said we could wash our hands religiously with soap and not go out much or at all. Cue Amazon and the like.
But the food hoarders really scared me. The hoarders squirreled food away, like *squirrels* would a pile of nuts, amassed for hibernation. They made me question how we could live through Covid in 2020, without wasting away.
Here, however, I am going to show you ways to live in ‘Safe Mode’. ‘Safe Mode’ is our way of going into survival mode for a necessary period of time. For humans, it means that for a time, your diet is slightly limited by a tighter budget, lack of access to abundant fresh food and scarcity of certain food choices. This situation may be worsened by panicked, rabid, food-shopping hoarders. My advice is derived from food budgeting as a single mom in my past life. Also, I am adept at living in small spaces, here in pricey California. See https://sues.life/2020/12/01/the-oven-and-cooking/
Before I go further, let us acknowledge that there are people in very desperate, much worse circumstances than we are and that we are far from alone. So you don’t have a giant garage attached to your home or a large living space. So you have to get creative with storage space. Remember, you can still store food efficiently in your home and keep within a decent budget.
Steps to Store Food Creatively
- Develop a healthy sense of humor.
Surprised by this step? This step is essential. Moping over your circumstances is pointless. Be positive that this is a blip on the screen. It is actually an interesting and creative way to deal with daily food prep.
None of the fancy, gourmet-ingredient cooking, but we will be satiated. We might even learn to like this way of living.
2. Mobilize the fridge and freezer
Look for ways to stack food efficiently in the fridge and freezer. Even if the fridge is the tiny one your landlord provided. This appliance will contain extremely essential items. Purge it of all aging condiments, forgotten leftovers and anything that you want to ‘use’ but haven’t for the last 3 months.
Stack food efficiently in containers or secure, food-safe plastic bags. In the winter, I eliminate the ice tray and bin to maximize space in the freezer compartment. Use your fruit and vegetable drawers for more than just these things, especially if you have a tight budget. Store frozen veggies in the freezer, especially if fresh produce has become more expensive.
3. Visualize and stock your pantry
Close your eyes. Breathe. And think of any space in your small home that could serve as a pantry, if you don’t have one in your kitchen. Laundry cupboards. Walk-in closets. Hall closets. Then think shelves and stacking. Place bigger, heavier cans and tins on the lower shelves and smaller, lighter boxes and cans on the upper shelves. Use cardboard moving boxes to hold duplicate cans and containers.
Display one of each type of food out on the shelves of the ‘pantry’. Pull out the replacements from your moving boxes as you remove them from the pantry and use each type of food. Please buy food that you will actually eat. If you hate canned peas, don’t stock up on these unless it is the only canned food left on the shelves or if there is a massive sale on the item. Remember, you aren’t in a fitness frenzy right now. Comfort food is the idea.
Do not bother buying expensive, fancy bins to stow your items if you have a door to your ‘pantry’. Save your money and spend on actual food. Your home may not look interior-design-magazine-worthy for awhile, but you will eat well for this period of time.
4. Survival Food
Survival food is anything that has an extremely long shelf-life of more than a year. I call it ‘survival food’ because it can be stowed in any out- of- the- way corner or up high somewhere. This is food you can pull out as part of a food recovery exercise, every few months. So long as you have dated the food and sealed the packaging, this food will give you peace of mind because you will always have it on hand in any kind of emergency scenario.
5. Be Practical
This section reminds you that buying an expensive jarred paste that you will use only once every few months, for example, is not practical right now. My household is a merger of various cultures so we do have ketchup as well as soy sauce and chile powder to season our food. The key is to ensure that you use all these ingredients regularly.
At the start of the pandemic of 2020, I scanned the internet searching for tips and recipes for food that I could prep and eat for a 3-meal, eat at home kind of day. What I found instead was an abundance of recipes requiring fresh produce with expensive or hard-to-find ingredients and seasonings. These were recommendations for the well off or for those who were surrounded by well-stocked supermarkets and grocery delivery places. Recommendations by professional chefs, not home cooks on a budget.
My point is that it is perfectly alright to eat a bowl of ramen with some spam or other canned food thrown in, if that is what is most easily available. This is what survival mode eating looks like. Until we can return to normal and eat whatever our heart desires. So relax and just do it.