It’s time for another Quarantine Food Storage Challenge update! For those who are new here, we are doing a food storage challenge during this time of sheltering in place. We are challenging ourselves to not go to the grocery store until the pandemic passes, or as long as we possibly can.
Not only will this keep us and others 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.
Last week I shared lots of the meals we’ve been eating so far, as well as some of the struggles we’ve had and how we’re facing them. If you missed that update, you can read it here.
Today, I’ll talk about how we’re planning our meals, what we’re having for snacks, and a few things we’re doing to ensure that we’ll be able to stretch our food storage challenge even longer. If you would rather watch or listen to me tell you all about it, feel free to watch the video below instead.
Making a Menu with Theme Days
Last week I made a menu with theme days to help prevent me from having a mental block when it was dinner time. They weren’t necessarily the same sort of categories I would have picked in pre-pandemic, but they focus on main categories of meals that we can make from our food storage.
I brainstormed 4-5 meals in each category to make sure it was a viable category, and came up with:
- Breakfast for dinner
I also assign a day for leftovers, because we always have lots. One of the things I love about leftovers is that everyone can choose what they want instead of complain about what I made (does that ever happen at your house?). I also love that I don’t have to cook every day. And it’s great that eating leftovers a lot means we don’t waste any food!
I wrote out a little whiteboard menu of what we would be eating since I made the last video. As you can see below, plans changed. 🤣
Turns out we had some form of leftovers four times! But the food was good the first time, so eating it a second time wasn’t hard!
The meals that weren’t leftovers were:
Potato and Sweet Potato Curry with Homemade Naan
Pork Loin, Mashed Potatoes, and Peas with Homemade Bread
Creamy Taco Casserole. I didn’t get a picture of that, but there is a picture in that ancient linked post. I promise the photo really doesn’t capture the deliciousness.
To keep the leftovers exciting, on the first leftover night I got out some tortillas to go with all of the different beans we ate last week. We had leftovers from the meals above on a couple of the leftover nights.
Another night, I made some whole wheat French bread and we ate it with leftovers. Plus I made some tuna to go along with it. We had open-face Tuna sandwiches and curry on bread. Some of the kids prefered to have beans with their bread.
Cake mix waffles– Our 8-year-old made cake mix waffles from a red velvet cake mix. It’s such a fun way to use a cake mix. It’s like cupcakes only less crumbly. I might have chosen a less colorful option, but this was his project.
Homemade Cookies– We froze some of the cookies we made last week so they wouldn’t immediately disappear. Basically that means hiding them from myself! It worked, so we had cookies this week too.
Dry Cereal– We have some sugar cereal we got at Grocery Outlet pre-pandemic. For a snack, the kids sometimes have some in a bowl without milk, just for a sweet, crunchy snack.
Graham Crackers and Frosting– My mom always made the best homemade frosting for graham crackers. Whenever I make frosting for any occasion, I always try to make enough so there is extra for graham crackers.
Popcorn– We don’t normally eat much popcorn, so it’s a special treat when we get it out. It’s also great because it’s super cheap for a treat! We have two #10 cans of popcorn. It’s from my grandma’s food storage so it’s old, but it still pops. Mostly.
Oranges– We are still eating the oranges that we got a few weeks ago from our friends’ trees.
Chocolate No-bake Cookies– Around here we all LOVE chocolate no bake cookies! A LOT. We haven’t made them in a while, so everyone was excited. Want to know our favorite way to make them?
Update on Baking Supplies
Last week I told you how I ordered some yeast, baking soda, baking powder, and cocoa from a bulk foods store online. Since I had never ordered from them before and everywhere is out of things like yeast, I didn’t want to get my hopes up until the order was actually in my hands.
I’m happy to report that BulkFoods.com didn’t disappoint! Their prices were reasonable and they had $5 shipping for orders of $75+, which is partly why I added the extra cocoa to the order. The other reason is … well… chocolate!
Before quarantine started, I had 3 gallons of oil, 5 lbs of butter, a wee bit of coconut oil, and just enough shortening to grease bread pans. Wanting to increase my oil supply, I ordered some vegetable oil from Amazon (they also have canola oil, but it was a little more expensive). I also got some shortening online from Walmart. I usually only use shortening for two recipes (pie crust and molasses sugar cookies), but we will make some exceptions during quarantine when we run out of butter.
Now I realize that this is spending money on food, but it didn’t require us to go to the grocery store, so I’m deeming it okay–everyone gets to make the rules for their own challenge! Plus, these purchases weren’t just random wants or cravings. They are staples that will allow us to use the other long-term food storage that we have.
If you’ve watched our pantry and food storage tour, you know we have hundreds of pounds of wheat. Our storage was lacking enough fat and leavening to go with all of that wheat. Adding oil, yeast, baking powder, and baking soda will make that wheat go a LONG way.
We weren’t planning on a full garden this year, just a few tomato plants in one raised bed that we put together last year. The majority of our property is pretty steep, so we need to do some terracing, build raised beds, and haul in real dirt (ours is mostly rock).
That wasn’t in the plan for this year (and still isn’t), but realizing that this coronavirus craziness (and all of the hardships that come in its wake) will be lasting into the summer, we thought it prudent to plant as much as we can. We started some seeds inside and some out on the back patio.
We had a collection of seeds from years past, but I also ordered some more varieties on Ebay.
Here’s what we’re planting:
Lettuce and spinach— for salads, tacos, smoothies
Tomatoes— for eating fresh and canning
Carrots— for eating fresh, adding to soups
Zucchini, yellow squash— for eating plain and baking with
Watermelon— what’s summer without watermelon!?
Pumpkin, butternut squash, banana squash— great for baking
Peas— a fun veggie for munching
Berries— We planted some raspberries and blackberries last year and earlier this year. We shared most of last year’s harvest with the birds and deer, so we’ll see what we can do about that this year. Hopefully having dogs will at least help with the deer.
Nothing will be picture perfect this year. It’s all a little thrown together, but with the real understanding that what we grow will be a more serious contribution to our eating than it has been in the past.
How about you?
Are you planting a garden during quarantine? What will you grow?
What are your favorite make-at-home quarantine snacks?
Do you have menu theme days?