17 August 2020

Filling the Pantry One Thing At A Time

For the last few weeks I've been working on filling the gaps in our pantry. Dehydrating carrots here. Making chocolate sauce another day. Picking parsley and garlic chives from the garden and drying them near the fire. Using the older onions to make caramelised onions another day. Limes from the fruit bowl and oranges off the tree for marmalade and lime butter. Turning powdered milk that needs using into condensed milk and caramel sauce for the pantry.

It sounds like a lot of work, and if you were to do it all at once it would be. But I spread it out. A little each day, and the gaps filled up quickly. 

A singe batch of marmalade  takes about an hour and half from start to finish - but most of that time is when it is cooking in the microwave. I'm not standing in the kitchen all that time.

Slicing a bunch of celery and getting it into the dehydrator only takes about 5 minutes, but it fills a gap in the pantry for very little effort.
Picking the parsley and chives and laying them on a cake rack on the top of the fire took just a few minutes and refilled the spice jars in the cupboard. 

Little by little,  just one or two things a day, will fill the pantry. You don't need to spend hours in the kitchen, working up a sweat and having a heap of washing up to do.

If there are things you can't make, adding one or two a week to your shopping list, or deliberately searching for them on half price, will fill the gaps quickly, with little effort and little, if any, affect to your grocery budget. 

Right now fill the gaps as you find them. Don't wait. Supermarket shelves are emptying. They may look full, but have a good look. Things are spread out. They are in different areas to fill the gaps (see, even supermarkets are trying to fill the gaps, although that's an attempt to pull the wool about shortages over our eyes). 

Keep a list of what you have and what you need to fill the gaps. Put it in your handbag or on your phone. Use it. 

Do this for all your pantries: food, laundry, bathroom, cleaning, garden, first aid, gifts. Look to see what you need. 

You may well be wondering why, when I'm a dedicated once-a-year shopper, that I'm filling the gaps now.

Well, just in case you missed it, we are smack bang in the middle of a pandemic. This pandemic has brought my city of Melbourne, Australia, to a halt. 

We are on what are called Stage 4 Lockdown. That means just one person per household can leave the house for food shopping for just one hour a day, and cannot go further than 5km from home. There are other restrictions too, but this is the one that I'd like to focus on.

One person per household per day for no more than one hour a day may sound reasonable. And to the average Melbournian, for food shopping it probably is. 

But folks, there are empty shelves. There is a shortage of meat and poultry and fish. Not everything I like to have is available, although our Premier has done his best to assure us that we won't go hungry.
Yes, our State Government warned us of the shortages (and this past week, our state and national news sources have been reporting on current and coming food shortages). 

Along with these shortages there is predicted to be a 60% increase in the cost of fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry and fish. Can your grocery budget stand a 60% increase? I know mine can't. 

So I am filling the gaps, little by little, every day. 

This isn't panicking. This is being wise, a good steward, taking care of your family and your home so that you won't go without, and you won't need to pay the inflated prices just to survive. 

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