This morning I read that King County in Washington, where the coronavirus has had the most U. S. deaths, has asked that workers be allowed to work from home and that people over 60, those with underlying conditions, those with weak immune systems and those who are pregnant stay home and avoid crowds.
The question I would love for everyone reading this to answer: If you woke up this morning with news that you needed to stay home – do not leave your home unless it’s a dire emergency and you’re headed to the hospital – how long could you be comfortable with what’s in your home? If your answer isn’t at least two weeks, I urge you to think about it . . think along the lines of the quickest, easiest, least expensive you can remedy this.
For so many years, I’ve preached and begged that people prepare for whatever circumstances you feel are necessary. In all my prepping years, I figured I was prepping for a weather related event or possibly some reason we had no power for an extended period or a food shortage – which I thought was possible after realizing how little grocery stores keep in stock in the back and all it would take for the stores to be low on stock would be a time when the trucks weren’t running.
In many areas now, there’s panic buying and that can cause empty shelves, which results in further panic buying.
If you’ve never done any prepping and you think about food for 14 days if you couldn’t go to the store, it can be overwhelming but take it slowly, plan a bit and it really isn’t overwhelming.
If you’ve never done any prepping, and you’ve never thought about it, and you feel like maybe this might be the time you want to do a little planning and prepping, here are the steps I would take.
Note #1: I am not taking into account special dietary needs. There are so many issues to consider but the rest of this post will be for those of us who have no dietary restrictions.
Note #2: The plan I’ve outlined below assumes the power will not be interrupted. For a virus running rampant, I can’t see any foreseeable reason why the power would go off. Anything is possible, but not likely as far as I see it. So let’s just assume the electricity and gas stay one; the fridges and stoves continue to work.
Note #3: Buy only what you like! When I was growing up near the Gulf coast, often we were in the path of a hurricane and would buy hurricane supplies. Always, we bought vienna sausage and always, those got thrown away after the hurricane had passed and we hadn’t needed them. Nowadays, there are plenty of foods that we like that have long shelf lives so there’s no need to buy anything you would dread eating.
Note #4: Plan to eat every meal at home. Forget going out to eat. Forget having food delivered. It’s all coming out of your pantry/fridge!
Note #5: Make Bread! If you don’t know how to make bread, today is a good day to learn. Amish White Bread is a recipe that is almost impossible to screw up. It’s also an excellent recipe for making “fry bread”. Just pull the dough into pieces, either roll it out or pull it out with your hands, and fry it in a skillet with a little butter. All it takes is a bit of yeast, flour, salt, oil, sugar and water. The bread turns out fine with half the sugar for those not wanting so much sugar.
Keeping bread for two weeks once it’s warmer weather can be a problem. It will keep in the fridge or even the freezer but if we’re ever looking at more than a two week quarantine, being able to make bread can be such a benefit.
Note #6: Any time we’ve had . . I don’t want to say an emergency, so let’s call it an “occurrence” . . when the power is out, or there’s a snow/ice storm and we’re stranded at home, I’ve tried to make meal time special, a celebration almost. Instead of wringing my hands and trying to figure out what we’re going to eat, I’ve tried to make it special. That’s especially important if you have children and they’re probably already a bit unnerved about the situation. If Chad was hungry and wanted a snack, I always tried to treat it as I would normally and not say or do anything that would cause him to think we might run out of food if he ate something.
I feel like as the wife or mom, I’m the keeper of the home and I pretty much set the tone for how things are going to be in our home. I’ve always felt it was my responsibility to feed my family and that’s a responsibility I do not take lightly. I plan the meals. I plan how I will use the leftovers. The worst thing for me about not having the food my family needs, and knowing how to put meals on the table from that food I have stored . . would be that I’ve let my family down.
Let’s do a little plan for 14 days.
Plan & Calculate:
Say there are two of you and you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner:
- Breakfast #1 – 2 eggs each, bacon, toast, fruit, milk
- Breakfast #2 – oatmeal, sausage, berries, juice
- Breakfast #3 – cereal, banana, milk
For 14 days, consider having each of those breakfasts five times (I know . . 5 x 3 = 15 days).
- 2 eggs each = 4 eggs x 5 times = 20 eggs – buy 2 dozen eggs.
- bacon – you’ll need 10 servings of bacon
- toast – this could be bagels, bread, tortillas – whatever you like
- Everything else – calculate what you need for 10 servings.
Plan the things you like.
- Pioneer Woman’s tomato soup is made from shelf table ingredients except for the cream and it usually has a long expiration date.
- Tuna salad or chicken salad – canned tuna and canned chicken drained and mixed with boiled eggs, pickle relish, celery, onions, chopped apples or dried cranberries – get creative.
- Sandwiches – Make traditional sandwiches, or tortilla roll ups.
For dinner, I love making dishes that have multiple servings.
- Ham – Hams are great to have in the freezer. Bake it and serve it for dinner. Leftovers can be used for breakfast (ham slices or ham & cheese omelettes or ham chopped with potatoes). It can be used on sandwiches. Make ham and split pea soup. Use the bone in other soups.
- Meatloaf – Make two or three at a time and freeze the extras. Leftover meatloaf can be used to make a meatloaf sandwich. I love making something like a shepherd’s pie – slice the meatloaf thin or even crumble it if it isn’t cooperating when trying to slice. Put it on the bottom of a baking dish. Top with mashed potatoes, then drained cut corn. Add a little grated cheese. Bake til it’s all hot (everything is already cooked). Mix up a packet of brown gravy mix and serve to be poured over the individual servings.
- Mississippi Pot Roast – This is something we’ve all probably made and it has a lot of names but it is so good and is a good use for a chuck roast. Around here, chuck roasts are on sale often and I always stock up because there’s so much that can be done with them. If you have a few chuck roasts in the freezer, all the other ingredients are shelf stable. This leftover roast makes the best sandwiches. We like to use a crusty bread, put the hot shredded beef on the bread, top to a spicy cheese, stuck under the broiler to melt the cheese. Make a mayo/horseradish mix for the top bun. Yum.
With a little planning, you can quickly and relatively inexpensively stock up. When you consider a chuck roast and that Mississippi Pot Roast is probably going to provide two adults with at least four meals each.
Plan some sides to go with these meat dishes – canned green beans, dry beans, baked potatoes or sweet potatoes, canned corn, steamed broccoli, cooked cabbage.
Plan salads – green salad, potato salad, slaw, black bean & corn salad.
One thing I highly recommend is dry beans. There are so many varieties and by changing up the added ingredients, you can make them so many different ways. Take pinto beans for example. Borracho Beans (my favorite!), every day Pinto Beans, Refried Beans, add to soups or chili (though I do not put beans in my chili), make bean dip
Are you seeing how easy this really is? I hope so. Please – add to this if you’re a long time prepper and ask questions if you are unsure about anything. Prepping is one of my greatest passions and I never mind helping anyone because I believe it’s so important.
Again, every single thing you buy should be something you will use – whether in some time of emergency or just in every day use.
Prepping and having supplies on hand for at least two weeks (of course, I prefer longer, but two weeks is a minimum), in my opinion should be ordinary, not radical and not hoarding. We’ve all gotten too comfortable running to the grocery store several times a week, counting on always having everything available and being able to get there. Let’s all try to be a little more self-reliant.
Emilie Bauer says
Great post! I am here in King County Washington and a little over 60. I resent the assumption that 60 is the dividing line between sick and well. Keep yourself healthy and fit should go on your list.)
Judy Laquidara says
Don’t resent it. I don’t. They had to put some age. I don’t see a 59 year old being someone who should be going out and partying while a 60 year old should stay home. Statistics have shown that the virus is affecting older people more severely. It’s easy to say “stay healthy and keep yourself fit” but my guess is a whole lot of people think they’re staying healthy or keeping fit, and yet they aren’t so “60 and over” is much easier for us to identify with.
In my opinion, this is a time to work together and not pick apart what leadership is doing. They’re in a hard spot. Do too little and they’re criticized. Do too much and they’re criticized. Let’s all be a part of the solution and not be critical of those doing the best they can in a bad situation.
No need to be resentful. Medically speaking, it’s a fact that most of us will get to the age of 60 without a major health event/issue. I was 60 plus one month when my event happened. My husband was 68 for his. Very much out of the blue. Neither of us had any symptoms.
Thank you Judy for the prepper ideas. We stay prepared since we live in a very rural area and have had major weather events in the last 30 years. Keep the ideas coming y’all.
Thanks for the information, appreciate your taking the time to give ideas for all of us who want it.
Judy Laquidara says
You’re welcome. I have a tendency to think everyone should do the things I do but with having a supply of food and supplies for at least a couple of weeks, I think that’s just commonsense.
Cinda Moulds says
We are not in any panic mode over this virus but we are trying to be more aware of our situations and different possibilities. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on preparedness. The more we all learn, the better off we should be.
I know I can stay in place for at least 3-6 months since I started stashing things away for that rainy day. I went to a grocery store the day before a forecasted ice storm. Since observing that panic, I keep building my supply.
First – a good place to read is worldometer site. It lists cases by country and gives links to the sources. Bookmark the cdc and your state’s health department website. If you go out on a daily basis, jot down where you went. If you hear about a cluster of cases, you can reassure yourself that you were not near that place during the time frame.
Then – Judy discussed the foods, don’t forget your basic supplies. I just restocked my supply of toilet paper, kleenex, trash bags, paper towels, soaps (hand, dish, antibacterial), toothpaste, shampoo, first aid supplies, bleach, laundry detergent (I make my own with borax, washing soda and fels naptha soap).
Food basics – salt, sugar, yeast, dried milk/buttermilk, flour, rice, beans, condiments, bouillon/soup base, coffee and tea, spices, honey. Also consider getting some vodka and whiskey for hot toddies. What are your “comfort foods” when you get sick – mac & cheese, chocolate, grilled cheese and tomato soup? Check into artisan bread recipes – some of them you can make a batch and then store the extra dough in the refrig so small batches of bread are possible. Perhaps try that sourdough starter for bread.
Freeze-dried/emergency foods – stay away from the “meals” and opt for the cans of the basics. I use Thrive Life and have a basic supply of fruits, veggies, meats, starches. I can make a wide variety of soups and meals with a bit of this & that.
Medicines – if you are on a script, check with your pharmacy as to when you can reorder. In my case, I can reorder when the script is 80% done or day 72 of a 90 day script. Since a recall last year on a BP med, I’ve been reordering early, so I do have extras to deal with a shortage. Don’t forget any supplements that you take. My CVS always has a BOGO sale going on vitamins. Get extra aspirin or other pain reliever, rubbing alcohol, antibacterial – antiviral essential oils, witch hazel (itching), allergy meds since spring is coming, I already have a supply of face masks since spring cleanup always has me sneezing.
Seeds – get some seeds and start planting. Who knows what food supply chain will be disrupted, but, a few seed packs of microgreens which come up fast just add that special touch to a meal. A tomato plant, squash, cucumber and other veggies will give you something to tend to as well as something to look forward to later in the year.
Power – If you can, consider getting a small solar panel to help charge things up in case of a outage. Do you have a camp stove & fuel to heat up food? Assume that you might have a power outage since spring storms are coming.
Entertainment – books, sewing, decluttering, whatever. Have some projects ready to go.
Sorry about being so long – I’ll blame Judy since she really got me thinking about food storage and prepping.
Judy Laquidara says
You’re braver than I am. I’ve learned not to say so much online about what we’re doing. 🙁
I don’t talk about what I have to my friends around here for the security reason.
And, I am single, so a large pack of some items can last a long time. I buy what I use and I use what I buy, so occasional replenishment has to happen. With spring storm season, it was time to check levels. And, then there are the sales that I take advantage of. I still remember some of your posts about buying tuna fish, TP, and so on.
Judy Laquidara says
We still do those things. We bought a case of tuna from Aldi a while back. I thought the cans were 3 deep but they were 4 deep so it was 48 cans instead of 36 cans. Doesn’t matter – we’ll use it but it made me laugh to think about buying 48 cans of tuna and we probably won’t have to buy more for another year.
RUTH CHOW says
Do you know of a fry bread recipe for whole wheat flour?
Judy Laquidara says
Any bread dough recipe will do for fry bread.
Great posts Judy and Liz, when we lived in northern NY, on 8 acres,I thought the same way, and was prepared.
We recently moved to NC and downsized considerably, I still can and try to be prepared, but I have gotten a bit lazy and have the mindset of just stopping at the grocery store on my way home from work. Although we could last at least a week, you guys have me rethinking my new bad habits…lol…
I also read Jackie Clay Atkinson’s blog…she and her husband live off of the land and she has several books out for people getting prepared exactly the same way that you have discussed. Her blog is ask Jackie-clay and you can also find her through backwoods home magazine.
Are you still using the freeze dryer? How long will that foodlast?
We went to Aldi today for some fresh salad greens, mine are flowering. I picked up something and Randy said”Did Judy in Texas recommend that?”
The other thing to think about is activities to keep everyone occupied…..I am covered until the next century plus we have board games and books.
Thanks for the advice!
Judy Laquidara says
I do still use it. Meant to cut asparagus today and get it in the freeze dryer. We’re at a point where we don’t have much to freeze dry now. Once the fruit trees start producing and the garden produces more, I’ll keep it going non-stop. Freeze dried foods that are properly stored should last at least 20 years.
Without children here, I don’t worry a whole lot about being occupied. We’re almost always busy here. I have plenty of yarn. We have games downloaded on tablets and enough books on the Kindles to last for years! We can charge devices via solar but if there’s no power, we won’t have internet.
Nelle Coursey says
Pat asked me today if we were quarantined, how much food did we have on hand. I told him I thought at least two weeks. But that did not count in potatoes and bread.
I’m in total agreement with y’all. I keep my garden growing vegetables all year long and especially lots of greens because of their high nutrient value. Also, I keep a stash of broccoli, radish and alfalfa seeds because I can have sprouts or microgreens within days of starting them. I used to ferment veges because of the health benefits and am just starting back into that. I am currently reading and will probably start my own kefir and kombucha. My husband used to drink kombucha but the whole scoby thing turned me off but you, Judy, have me rethinking that. I wish my husband was alive to see that I’ve come around and finally have embraced what he was trying to tell me. It’s delicious!
Susan Nixon says
One thing I’ve done is buy basics like wheat. I know a lot of people don’t want to have it, don’t know what to do with it. I bought a Use-Your-Food-Storage cookbook and learned a lot of great things you can do! I love making wheat berry chili, for instance. A lot of people think it has meat in it, but it’s wheat. I use regular chili seasonings and I think it’s delicious. There are salads and other things you can make, too.
The only thing is, you don’t want to wait until you have to live off those emergency wheat-powdered milk – basics that you can store for 25 years. You want to learn to cook things when you ARE NOT in an emergency! And you want to slowly accustom your body to having them instead of plunging in to eating them like crazy because there’s nothing else. I also keep lots of beans – usually Anasazi – for protein, as well as other legumes. And I store a few treats, too, because Heaven knows you’re going to need a special treat in emergencies! =)
Also don’t buy the things that promise to feed a family of four for a month! The calorie count on those is low, and you’ll need more energy, not less, in most emergencies which occur. You really can’t be out clearing downed trees, or tornado rubble while living on 1200 calories a day.
Judy Laquidara says
Some of the survival food companies have done better with their meals. We did a good bit of research before buying what we bought about 5 years ago. Their food plans average 2,000 calories per day. I buy those because if we had to leave and I couldn’t take all my food – freezer, jars, etc. Any time I go out of town, I take two buckets, which contain a 4 week supply. It might not be my favorite foods but if it’s all I had or I’m at someone’s house who doesn’t have a stock of food, it’s definitely better than nothing. Not what I rely on for every day but what I count on in a special emergency.
Excellent post and comments. Thank you!
Brandy M. says
I live in King County and work at a hospital that is accepting possible and/or confirmed COVID-19 patients. We live in a condo and simply don’t have the space for a full 2 weeks of prep food. However, maybe the emergency food buckets would be a great idea for our situation.
Just also want to make sure people know that most people are not “Required“ to quarantine. We’ve got a LOT of people working at home for the next few weeks, but it’s to reduce large scale risk (1 sick person infecting dozens of people they work with). For that same reason, many events are being cancelled or postponed. However, most people can still go out and gather per their own comfort level.
Thankfully, people who are quarantined, friends/family could do a shop & drop for needed items (deliver outside the door). But I absolutely agree that this situation brings to light that being prepped is the smart thing to do!
Thank you for this post, Judy. It makes me feel like there are a lot of things we can do to be better prepared!!
We’re just about ready! Tomorrow I’ll do another grocery run to get things like extra cereal and almond milk and fresh fruits and veggies, but my freezer is full. I have frozen chicken, frozen veggies, frozen fries fruits, etc. I have the macaroni the kids like though I need to get more wraps and lunch meat and chips for lunches. Truly though, we would survive if I couldn’t do that (and even if I couldn’t use our one local Aldi’s grocery delivery service).
Judy Laquidara says
Good job! Hopefully this won’t get any worse but sounds like you’re ready.