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The Prepared Pantry

The Prepared Pantry

Update: 2020-03-23
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On today’s show we’re talking about preparation for the next several weeks. It’s stunning to me that I still talk to people on a daily basis who have made zero steps to prepare for a possible period of complete social isolation. Many who I spoke with in the past week had less than a week of supply in their pantry.


We’ve starting preparing for the possibility of a social lockdown over a month ago. As of now, we have about 8 weeks of supplies such that we can remain isolated for 60 days without going shopping if we need to. We are still going out to the grocery every few days and making sure we keep the pantry topped up.


We’re also mindful that as the disease spreads through the community, so too does the risk of going out even for a trip to the grocery store. Sooner is lower risk than later. Our latest visit to the grocery shows that the shops are empty of many essentials at this point. There is no flour, very little in the way of paper products like toilet paper, no rice, no coconut milk, no tofu. 


We made sure to have a large supply of canned items and dried goods that have a long shelf life. Canned goods have the benefit of being easy to trade if there’s something you need that someone else has.


In our family, we have a Vegan diet which means no meat and no dairy. At some point if we face a lockdown situation we may have to rely upon what food we have in our house completely for an extended period of time. We will be relying on beans as a primary source of protein. So we have a lot of chick peas, lentils and beans that we can use in preparing meals.


We also purchased a fair bit of frozen vegetables. This is not something that we would normally consume, but if we are not going out, they will come in handy in meal preparation. We have a healthy supply of spices. When we speak about food tasting good, that has more to do with the seasoning of the food than the taste of the underlying ingredients. We recognize that part of our own emotional well-being will center around how we care for ourselves and how well we eat.


We have a few meals of prepared foods that are frozen and can be quickly heated and served. We don’t have a lot of these because they take up a disproportionate amount of space in the freezer.


We have dried foods like Rice, and Pasta. Some wonder how to calculate how many days of food are in their cupboard. For example, a one pound package of pasta will feed about 4 people, or about 100 grams per person if you do the math using the metric system.


There are some things we have not purchased. For example, we have not bought freeze dried foods, what some people call astronaut food. It’s partly because these portions are about 4 times the cost of regular food. They have a long shelf life, but it’s far from something we would normally eat. We felt that sticking as close to real food was the best choice for our family.


We have made certain assumptions about what will remain operational. For example, we expect that running water will continue to function, and that electricity will be reliable. So far we haven’t seen any cases of mass outages in the West. There is some risk. If you’re relying on your own well water for drinking water, then you should definitely stock up on drinking water. If you faced an equipment failure, it could be a long time before you got service to come and fix your pump. 


We made sure we have about a two month supply of soap for the dishwasher and for the laundry. We do laundry on a regular basis, and this will be even more important if we go out for any errands. When we come back in the house from the grocery, the clothes go straight into the laundry and we go straight into the shower.


If you do the math on the social isolation required to protect our healthcare system, you quickly conclude that the period of social isolation we’re talking about is not measured in weeks. It’s measured in months.

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The Prepared Pantry

The Prepared Pantry

Victor Menasce