I think there is now a broad consensus that it would be dangerous to ignore the potential risks of the new coronavirus (COVID-19). The virus spreads very quickly and affects everyone around the planet. A few hundred infections can become hundreds of thousands of cases within weeks. The situation is a challenge, especially for older adults or people who are already ill.
It’s serious but it’s not about panic and fear
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not here for scare tactics. As this SUCCESS article correctly points out, panic and fear are perhaps the greatest risks in this developing situation.
But it also states that we can all do something, as long as these are things we can control. Washing your hands, staying at home, allowing home office (if you are an employer), offering help to others – there is a lot we can do to reduce risks while staying committed to social responsibility.
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This also includes preparing yourself and your family for a pandemic. Here are some ideas about what I do. Some of what I say may feel like an exaggeration. You have to decide what is best for you and your loved ones. Take what you want, adjust it, and skip the rest.
I’m sure you’ve heard this many times before, but the most important thing is proper hand hygiene. I wash my hands much more often and for longer than in the past, as explained in this handwashing video by the World Health Organization.
Adopt these habits along with other things like coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your elbow. It’s also important to talk about the importance of these issues to your kids so that you don’t have to remind them to wash their hands as soon as they walk in the door.
Also, I no longer shake hands, and I avoid touching things like handrails and the like as often as possible. I also have a bottle of hand disinfectant in my bag that I can use whenever needed. With it, I bridge the time until I return home and can wash my hands properly with soap and water.
I have just finished my emergency prep shopping, but I still go to the store occasionally to stock up on fresh produce.
Since I can work from home (yes, I realize how lucky I am at the moment), I do not go out unless it is absolutely necessary. I stopped eating out and ordering takeaways. The only activities outside the house are short walks or quick visits to the supermarket at times when there are fewer people in the store. Other ideas include;
- ordering more stuff online
- getting your medication delivered
- calling your doctor instead of going to the doctor’s office to renew your prescription
- cancel social activities like dinner parties or meeting with friends
Remember, it’s not just about protecting yourself. It is about doing everything possible to prevent someone who will not survive an infection like this one. It’s also about preventing our hospitals from overflowing. We must all do our part to protect our loved ones and our community.
The importance of a well-stocked pantry
One of your biggest safety cushions in the coming weeks will be your pantry. Depending on where you are in the country, you may or may not have time to spread this over the next few days or even a week or two.
However, do what you can today or tomorrow. People will run to the shops when your community is hit. The stores will be empty. We already see it in parts of the country – many stores are out of toilet paper, and hand sanitizer is nowhere to be found.
Here’s what I have in stock. None of this is expensive food, but if it’s not in your budget, take a big bag of rice, a big bag of dried beans, and a big jar of peanut butter.
I do not foresee this becoming a problem, but better to be on the safe side. I have ten bottles of water, which should be enough for a few days. I also began to store bottles to fill them with water when needed.
I have several large bags of white and brown rice that I can cook. It is cheap, it is filling, and with a few additives (a few beans, a can of soup, a can of tomatoes), it is a cheap emergency meal. And the best part is that I know we will use it up if I don’t need it all (or nothing) in this crisis.
Dry beans and canned beans are another staple food in my pantry. My staple food and most of my current stock are pinto beans, which I eat with rice. They are satisfying and a cheap source of protein. And it’s a staple food that lasts for a while and which I know I’ll consume in the coming months, no matter what.
In addition to the dry pinto beans, I have several bags of red beans to make red beans and rice in an instant pot. This is also what I like to use these days to cook all the dry beans. But it’s just as easy to cook them on the stove or in a pot if you prefer.
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I have a few bags of black beans and several cans of beans, including some cans of chili beans. Together with other beans and a can of tomatoes, they make a quick vegetarian chili.
Peas and lentils
To mix things up, I also grabbed several bags of split peas and lentils for soups and stews. If you like Indian food, cook lentils in some vegetable and chicken broth until they are tender. Add a block of frozen spinach together with a can of tomatoes. Season with your favorite curry powder and cook until the spinach is hot. I serve this over hot boiled rice.
Flour is an important basic foodstuff for me. I use it for baking bread, muffins, simple cakes, and the like. In no time, you can bake bread with nothing more than flour, salt, yeast, and water. Or even a flatbread without yeast.
If you have the opportunity, practice baking this beginner’s bread before you get stuck at home. Don’t get discouraged if the first loaf is not perfect. It takes a little practice, but it will still taste good.
If you don’t want to bake bread, freezing bread bought in the shop is another viable option, if you have space in your freezer.
Complete pancake mix
Yeah, you can make pancakes from scratch, and I do it a lot. But you need fresh things like eggs. For an emergency, I’ll stick with the mix. You can find them cheap at your favorite dollar store or big box store. Just add water, boil it, and you’re ready for breakfast.
I have a large container of regular oats and six containers of steel-cut oats from which I make my instant oatmeal. In no time, I can make it with simple water, but as long as I have milk, I use this recipe. Shelf milk or powdered milk is, of course, always an option.
Canned vegetables, both mixed and single, are ideal for making simple meals. Combined with some minced beef, you can make excellent beef and vegetable soup. They are also a quick side dish that needs nothing more than to be heated. Here are the canned vegetables I currently have in my pantry. The quantities vary.
- Green beans
- Tomato paste
- Canned beans (black beans, chickpeas, roasted beans, and chili beans)
- Seasoned green (cabbage and mustard green)
- Sweet potatoes
Dried fruit, canned fruit
I also keep a few glasses of unsweetened apple sauce, which is a nice addition to oatmeal, muffins, cookies, and even pancakes.
Usually, I’m not into canned fruit, but for a change and for dessert, I brought a few cans of peach and pineapple slices.
Peanut butter is an excellent staple food all year round and fantastic comfort food in a crisis. Make them into crackers, make sandwiches, get creative. I’ve got three big jars of that stuff in my pantry.
Crackers and chips
I keep two boxes of salt crackers ready to eat with soups and to make meatloaf. They are good as a snack with some cheese or peanut butter in a pinch. I have two extra boxes, a few bags of potato chips and tortilla chips. I also have salsa for the chips and for preparing my instant pot of red beans and rice.
If you are too tired to cook dinner, heat up some frozen, canned beans (or pureed pinto bean leftovers) and serve them with chips and a little salsa.
I don’t have much of a freezer in my current house. I work with the freezer in the refrigerator. In it, there is some frozen broccoli and some pizzas. In other words, I don’t have much extra space right now. I picked up five boxes of frozen spinach. They don’t take up much space, and it’s easy to heat one of them up as a side dish or add it to the lentil dish described above.
Canned ham, tuna, and chicken
I can’t honestly tell you how much I have available, but I keep them all year round. Canned ham is excellent for frying, for sandwiches, for eggs. I use tuna for sandwiches. The canned chicken is also suitable for chicken salad, but it also goes great in soup.
Not to forget salt and pepper for seasoning and the like.
That’s about it. I’ll keep a few treats, but these are the staple foods I work with.
I hope this list will help you decide what to buy in stock and how to prepare. If you have any questions, please leave a comment or send me an email.
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