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?
Quarantine Food Storage Challenge Series
Why We’re doing a Quarantine Food Storage Challenge, Pantry, Food Storage, Fridge, & Freezer Tour
UPDATE #1– What we’ve eaten, Food Tips
UPDATE #2– What we ate, Theme Days, Baking Supplies, Snacks, Seeds
UPDATE #3– What we ate, Trying New things, Garden Expansion?
UPDATE #4– What we ate, Food Storage FAQ
UPDATE #5– What we ate, New things to try
UPDATE #6– What we ate, New Things we tried
UPDATE #7– Pantry Update after 2 months of our challenge
UPDATE #8– What the kids think of the food storage challenge
Kerri L Denton says
We weren’t planning a serious garden either but this quarantine changed our minds! Now we’re watching tiny seedlings grow and it feels like it takes forever haha! I love following your challenge updates here and on Instagram!
Hi Kerri! I’m glad you’re enjoying the challenge! I am totally with you on it taking forever for seedlings to grow!! It sure is amazing to think about all of it coming from a little seed though! 🙂
Is there any way you would consider posting your recipe for the potato and sweet potato curry, in addition to your naan bread? It looks really yummy! Thanks
Hi Mindi! Of course! I’m hoping to share a Naan video and post next week. For the curry I roughly used this recipe but modified it according to what we had (I never follow recipes exactly!) and added both potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Thank you! Your pantry post and food storage challenge posts are fascinating. Keep up the good work!
Thank you Deb! I’ll keep them coming!
I hope you will be sharing some of your gardening photos with us?
I started a small potato garden last week, admist keeping hope that I know what I’m doing 😁😁😁
We moved into a new apartment with some space in the backyard, so I’ve been planting any seed I set my eyes on 😂😂😂
I am desperately hoping they grow into something worthwhile!
I’m an ardent reader of your blog, I love how you manage cooking and meal plans.
YES! I’m planning on sharing our gardening with you. That’s great that you’re taking advantage of the extra space to grow things! Best of luck!!
Ahh I love the cake mix waffles! They would be so tasty! Everything on the menu looks good.
Gardening — we’re renters and our property is weird, so we don’t really have the space to do a lot of gardening but hubby did end up buying bags to grow potatoes in? Have either of us ever grown potatoes before? No. But he has been spending a lot of time trying to learn over the last few weeks. Should be a fun experiment, if nothing else!
Our grocery stores have been short on baking staples lately, which is disappointing. Hoping I’ll have more success on this upcoming grocery order!
That’s exciting! I’ve never grown potatoes in bags– I can’t wait to hear how it goes! What kind of bags are they?! I love that you’re taking advantage of whatever space you have! I hope you can get your hands on some baking supplies!!
We just got our garden put in today! Our yard is mostly gravel (desert landscaping) and previous owners threw grass seed over it all! we moved into this home about 2 months ago and when this all went down, decided we better go ahead and try a garden! It’s kind of small, mostly because we want to try it out and don’t want more weeds or a higher water bill than we can handle. we have tomatoes, bush beans, peppers, zuchinni, butternut squash, and lettuce (in a pot). I’ll plant some herbs in various pots next week. We’re also starting to plan chickens! Probably just 3 for now, see how it goes, how annoyed the neighbors are (they’re allowed in our town, but we dont want to ruffle any feathers with our new neighbors… haha)
We’ve been making lots of no-bakecookies too! And banana cookies, banana bread, banana muffins…
I think those are some good garden choices! And that will be fun to have chickens too! As long as you don’t have a rooster, your neighbors probably won’t have their feathers ruffled. 😂 Good luck with everything!! I’m excited to hear how it goes!
I am shortening the chicken run and making the reclaimed 24’x8′ into a little garden!!
We are focusing on tomatoes, basil (we love pesto), spinach & baby lettuce, zucchini/summer squash.
A few years ago we had broccoli and it was amazing! We had so much broccoli! And every morning I would go pick off the green worms for the chickens! It was great. I think I just talked myself into broccoli, too…
That’s a great way to make a garden and great veggies to focus on! Keep us posted on how it goes (or how it grows 😂)!
I have a black thumb (I can even kill daisies!) so I always feel like I’m torturing plants when I try my hand at gardening; but we’re giving it a go anyway. We’re going into winter, so our garden looks different to yours. We had some lettuce that was doing really well, but the birds ate it all. I’ll try replanting it. We’ve got some broad beans and onions coming up at the moment. Mostly we’re relying on frozen veggies for the time being; we’ve got heaps of those.
Glad you’re giving the garden another go! Now is the time to make it work! It will be your covid victory garden!
Torrie @ To Love and To Learn says
I was on a roll with menu-theme days until my husband got diagnosed with celiac a few weeks ago…blurgh. It really is sooo messing with my cooking and baking mojo! We usually did soup/breadsticks, Mexican night, pasta/Italian night, pizza night, and Indian/rice night. Lately, it’s just been Instant Pot throw-togethers (mostly with rice, because…gluten-free) every night, ha ha.
Ugh! I can’t imagine a drastic diet change like that (at least for us it would be drastic) on top of everything else that’s going on! And a new baby! You are awesome! Rice for every meal– yes! Cheap and gluten-free!
Love these “normal” day to day posts in this insane world. Thank you for this!
Thank you Saar! I’m having fun making them too! 🙂
I have two kids who love to be outside and garden. We have planted tomatoes, beans, beets, spinach, garlic etc.
We are also working on a bigger retaining wall area in the sunniest part of our yard. I’m conflicted about this because it has taken us to the hardware store much more often but it will give us an opportunity to plant more this summer and we were planning on doing the project this summer and have the time right now to get it done and be able to enjoy for the rest of the summer- which will be great if we are stuck at home all summer.
It is a great time to build a garden! Just don’t make going to the hardware store a full family outing. Just have one person go, keep their distance, and wash up when they get home. Good luck!!
Jen @ Bookish Family says
We’ll be growing our usual garden this year which sounds similar to yours. Except I will also grow herbs, like sage, thyme, basil, dill, and parsely, plus lots of asian greens, especially bok choi which I ferment to make my own kimchi.
And as for snacks, we’ve been enjoying popcorn, as well as the occasional batch of cookies too.
That’s awesome Jen! I don’t think I’ve ever bought or even eaten bok choi before! Sounds exciting! 🙂
I just started eating bok choi and now leeks good for inflammation they are tasty use both in stir fries and leeks in my salads also.