For those who missed it, our family is doing a 100% food storage challenge. We are challenging ourselves to not go to the grocery store until the pandemic passes. This will not only keep us and other safe, but it will give us a chance to “try out” our food storage to see how it goes and learn what things we need to add to our long-term storage inventory.
At this point the kids have been out of school for 4 weeks. Mike has been working from home for 4 weeks. The last time I went grocery shopping was March 25th, when I stopped by Grocery Outlet before I decided to quit going out altogether. So as of today it has been 17 days since we last went to the store.
Normally that would be no big deal, but since we don’t know when this will end, it’s a little more challenging. We definitely want to ration out the exciting food so we don’t eat all the “good” stuff first and end up with just a bunch of wheat to eat.
If you want to see what our pantry, food storage, freezer, and fridge looked like at the beginning of this challenge, check out the videos in the post that introduces the challenge.
In this update, I’ll go through some of the things we’ve eaten in the past couple of weeks. Then I’ll talk about some things that have been hard as well as some surprise blessings.
If you’d rather watch the video than read, you can watch the coordinating video below (there are lots of food clips in the video):
What we have eaten so far in quarantine:
Oatmeal: We are actually low on oats in our long-term food storage. They are something we eat very regularly, but we hadn’t restocked up recently. We usually buy oats as 25 lb bags at Winco and had about 35 pounds left when we started. We also have some instant oatmeal packets. Normally the older kids would eat 2-3 of the packets each for breakfast, but to make them stretch, we add 1/3 cup of regular oats to the instant oatmeal packet (and increase the water) to make a heartier serving. We also sometimes make a pot of oats on the stove and add brown sugar and raisins.
Cream of Wheat: Mike and the kids call this “bear mush.” I think that’s a Goldilocks reference. We buy it from the bulk bins at Winco. We don’t have a lot on hand, just what we buy on a monthly grocery haul. We will just keep it in our breakfast rotation until it’s gone. We add brown sugar and raisins.
Sourdough Waffles: Mike’s mom often makes sourdough waffles (from Mike’s grandma’s recipe) when the family gets together. Everyone LOVES them. Mike started his own sourdough start about two weeks ago. His mom also gave us some of her start in case Mike’s didn’t work (but it did!). I made some syrup to go with them.
Eggs: Mike makes the best scrambled eggs in the electric skillet. Some mornings we have fried eggs. We have 17 hens, so the eggs keep coming, though I assure you, with the price of chicken feed, they are not cheaper than store bought eggs.
Cold cereal: If you watched the video of our food storage tour (or saw our recent Grocery Outlet haul video), you know that we got lots of rice crispy cereal at $.50 per box. When we ran out of regular milk, we started making powdered milk. Thankfully the kids don’t mind at all.
Baked French Toast Casserole: Using leftover dried bread we found in the freezer, we made a huge pan of Baked French Toast Casserole. It was delicious!
Pancakes: We make pancakes from our own whole wheat pancake mix. The three older kids know how to make them, so it’s a breakfast that they can start in case mom and dad are still in bed (not that that ever happens 😂). We eat canned peaches, pears, and applesauce on top of our pancakes.
Cinnamon Rolls– For a special birthday breakfast, I made cinnamon rolls with cream cheese and blueberry frosting.
Peanut Butter and Jam Sandwiches– Once we ate through the five loaves of store bought bread that were in the freezer we started baking bread. I usually bake 4 loaves at a time. We’ve made our regular whole wheat sandwich bread, soughdough bread, and French bread from whole wheat flour. We have lots of wheat in our food storage. Some is pretty new, and some is from as far back as the 1980s. The really old stuff doesn’t rise as well, so we grind it up with some newer wheat to get a medium-rise whole-wheat flour.
Egg Salad Sandwiches- We get a dozen eggs or so from our chickens every day, so egg salad is a great option for lunch. Sometimes I’ll make both kinds of sandwiches and slice them in halves and let everyone choose what they want.
Orange Slices- We have orange slices almost every day. We picked boxes of oranges from a friend’s trees and these makes a great addition to lunch and work as snacks between meals.
String Cheese- My younger kids love string cheese, so I started breaking them in half to stretch them so they’ll last longer. We don’t have them everyday, so we still have some left.
Pretzels– We ate a bag of pretzels we had on hand.
Graham Crackers– We’ve eaten a few boxes of graham crackers. The kids love these for snacks.
Smoothies– We make smoothies for any meal, but lately we’ve had them for lunch. We add homemade yogurt, oranges, frozen fruit, spinach, and milk.
Bean soup– I cooked up some pinto beans in the crock pot along with some dehydrated onions and other dehydrated veggies from our food storage. I made a giant crock pot full, so it lasted for several meals. We added some sliced sausage to half of it. We ate it with a little sour cream and cheese. In one of its appearances as leftovers, I made cornbread in a skillet to go with it. Another day we had more leftover beans with rice.
Lentil tacos– To make lentil taco “meat” in the instant pot, put 1 cup of lentils, 2 cups of water or broth, and 2 Tablespoons of taco seasoning in the instant pot. Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes with a quick release. Easy peasy! We double it.
Spaghetti– We used one of our cans of spaghetti sauce and had a canned grean beans along with our spaghetti.
Macaroni and cheese– In our food storage I found a #10 can of cheddar cheese powder that we inherited from someone. I had never used it before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It turns out it looks just like the pwedered cheese packets that come in boxed mac and cheese, so I used it just like that.
Salad– We made sure to make salad from all of the romaine lettuce that we had in the fridge. We had a couple of dinners of salad with bread and saved some lettuce for tacos.
Butternut Squash Soup– We have a wonderful recipe for butternut squash soup. We enjoyed it with freshly baked french bread.
Bean Burritos– We had several variations of burritos depending on what kind of beans we had leftover.
Orange Chicken and Rice– When I was cleaning out my fridge and freezer, I found an orange chicken freezer meal I had made before our last baby. It was delicious!
Plum sauce cake– We have lots of plum sauce that we canned several years ago, so I looked up a recipe for applesauce cake and just substituted plum sauce. I put walnuts on half of it for those of us who like them.
Sponge Cake– Since we have plenty of eggs (but are running short on other leavening agents) I tried a sponge cake with some homemade chocolate frosting.
Brownies– In our family we prefer brownies to cake just about any day, even birthdays. We made fudgy brownies from a jar one day. Then we had a birthday in the family and made a brownie layer “cake.”
Orange Glazed Cookies– I found a recipe for orange flavored cookies with orange glaze. The kids were surprised that the grated orange peel was actually delicious in the final product.
Surprise additions to our food supply
While we haven’t made any trips to the store in the past 17 days, we have had some surprise additions to our food supply which have been a huge blessing!
Sweet potatoes— A friend from church left us a few sweet potatoes in our mailbox
Butternut squash and banana squash— Mike’s dad dropped off two butternut squashes and a giant banana squash (which cooks up like pumpkin) from their garden harvest last fall.
Oranges— A friend whose house is on the market invited us to go pick some citrus from their trees. We have been loving and appreciating them!
How We’re Feeling About Quarantine Food
When we first did an inventory of our food storage, freezer, etc, I was feeling pretty confident about the challenge of living off of just what we have at home. Not long after that, I started to get a little stressed every time I thought about food.
The trigger of the stress was that we were lacking in a few important areas, primarily leavening agents. I realized that we only had about a pound and a half of yeast, a little over a pound of baking powder, and about two and a half pounds of baking soda.
While that would last us a while under normal circumstances, with baking everything from scratch we could easily go through that really quickly, so I knew we needed to ration it. The problem is that we don’t know how long we need to ration it for. Rationing our leaven over two months would be a lot easier than rationing over six months.
The stress was really starting to affect me, so I looked at some bulk food sites online and found somewhere that I could get those items in bulk. I made an order and hopefully it will come through. Until I have it in my hands, I’m still being careful with rationing.
Aside from that, I’ve been feeling pretty good. As the weeks go by, I’m realizing that we are barely making a dent in what we have. I’m glad we started incorporating the boring things in now, so that we can spread the interesting foods out.
A Few Tips From This Week’s Food Storage Challenge
–Ration out good ingredients so you’ll be able to enjoy them down the road. I rationed out our remaining cheese into 5 containers and put 4 of them in the freezer so we can spread out one of our favorite add-ins.
–You can use HALF the amount of yeast that a recipe calls for and just let it rise longer. I did this with French bread and cinnamon rolls and it worked perfectly!
–Having even a simple dessert really makes you feel like your life isn’t so bad. We have made several desserts lately, which helps keep things exciting and helps encourage kids who are suspicious of eating foods that aren’t their well-loved favorites.
–Be conscious about how much you’re eating and stop when you are satisfied. It’s so easy to keep eating because something tastes good. This has always been a struggle for me as I’m trying to lose all this baby weight, but now that we are trying to make our food last, I have another reason to not overeat and it has been effective!
How are YOU managing?
I hope this was helpful to take a look at what our family is eating from our food storage during this quarantine time. I would love to hear how YOU are doing?
- What are YOU eating?
- What are some of your go-to food storage meals?
- What ingredients do you wish you had more of?
Stay home! Stay safe!