Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Be prepared

This does not make for a positive shopping experience.
I'm not a survivalist, or a prepper.  I'll start off with that at first--not that I think there's anything wrong with it, it's just that I'm pretty sure that there are so many scenarios where things could go badly quickly that you can't possibly prepare for all of them.  Also, I simply do not have the resources to buy a compound out in the country and have a second location, etc.  And I should not be allowed anywhere near firearms. I might not survive my efforts to stay alive.

However, I do try to take reasonable precautions.  When Hurricane Irene was heading up to New England, I had a GOOD bag (Get Out Of Dodge bag) ready in case I had to evacuate somewhere (those bags are for evacuation, not for long-term survival).  I also had enough of food and so didn't need to run to the store only to be left with batteries and stale Pop-Tarts as an option.  I used to have a Coleman stove because I enjoyed making nabe, a Japanese communal hot pot dish, and it was useful when the power went out (we have electric stoves in my complex).  However, fire regulations meant I had to get rid of the Coleman stove because it required canisters of gas under pressure, and you aren't supposed to have those above the first floor here.

I do not have a stocked pantry because I'm convinced the world is going to end--I have a stocked pantry because I stock up when things are on sale, and save money over the long run.  And, in the case of my CSA (and hopefully my garden this year), I get a lot of vegetables and would rather they not go to waste, so I can or freeze what I'm not able to eat right away.  I also despise shopping--the first time I had to set foot in a grocery store this year after eight months of a CSA, my head almost exploded.  It was so irritating--grocery stores, why do you put displays out in the walkways?  Why do you never have enough registers open?  Why are your shift managers so bloody rude?  It was quite a culture shock to properly shop in the grocery store after all that time when before, I only ventured in for a quick trip to replenish pasta, rice, oatmeal, sugar, or tea supplies.

It's easier when you're making meals--just look at what you've got and go from there.  I've made the decision to eat what's in my pantry before doing another shopping run, so these days I take a look and have been coming up with old favorites and new, creative dishes.  Sometimes I'll make zucchini soup but since I don't have the potatoes it calls for, I use white beans that I canned.  Sometimes I'll make butternut squash (or winter squash) and apple soup.  Or I'll make a quiche with spinach and mushrooms and red peppers (the spinach and peppers being taken from my freezer and heated up).

So, my advice (completely un-chirpy advice, by the way) is for people to have more than three days' worth of food stocked up.  You don't want to get in the middle of a run on the grocery stores if a hurricane or a blizzard or a nor'easter is coming.  And frankly, if you can stock up on things as they go on sale, you'll save money.  And if you want to stock up for just-in-case-the-power-goes-out scenarios, keep some staples on hand--bread, peanut butter (lots of protein, filling, tasty), energy bars and/or granola, etc.  During Hurricane Irene, the power went out in my place for most of the day.  My freezer was fine--it was filled to the brim with food and containers of frozen water, so everything stayed frozen.  I wasn't hungry or worried, I was irritated and bored because the power was out and when I tried to use the flashlight to read, the cat kept trying to pounce on the beam (note to self: GET A HURRICANE LAMP).  I had candles, but they weren't great for reading.  I ended up entertaining the cat by having her chase the flashlight beam.

Most of the time, the lights stay on but you cannot get to the store.  It's kind of nice to be snowed in with chili simmering in the slow cooker.

What's not nice, however, is trying to brave the stores in the event of nasty weather, or in the event of "OH MY GOD I HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO EAT AND I HAVE TO GO TO THE STORE NOW."  You're at the mercy of ridiculous prices.

Also.  If you're looking for actual prepper advice, I'm not the one to give it to you.  Any prepper worth their salt would look at where I live and my (comparatively pathetic) stores and cringe for me.  I stock up enough for the next sale, not for the apocalypse.  I also don't live in a house, so in the event of a really bad situation, I'd be evacuating.

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