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How to prepare for a pandemic (what should you store)

Apr 23, 2020

Many times in history we have witnessed our world suffering. In a modern world where things were constantly improving, some things we have not quite conquered yet. As children of God we are strong, yet we know life is also fragile.

Trials will pass. While I cannot share with you how to prepare physically for moments of need in our homes, I wanted to share my deepest hope that all of us can also prepare emotionally and spiritually for this time.

I hope that the world will isolate more and we will all be at home, that many of you may be able to retract at home and use this time to ponder about life. Focus on something you have always wished you could do if you the time to, and I hope that you can know that things will get better and will not live through this with lots of stress, but with patience.

It is a set back for many of us to go through this. Many bank accounts will shrink rather than increase, but I hope that we can focus on one thing, and that is to remember to nourish our souls. To speak peace to ourselves and be still like the birds on trees.

Other the years, I have always prepared our home with at least a few months worth of food.

I have always had also a few items for what I call armageddon days. If those ever happened. It’s usually dehydrated food that can last up to 30 years that way I know I have food stored for emergencies, but I buy it once and not worry about it again until absolutely in need. For me this has often been a tender subject since I know in history there has been this type of need. My dad would often tell me that after World War II in Italy, that is where I am from, there was a period where food wasn’t as readily available. Women would have to stand in line and receive only certain rations at a time. They also would only receive a few items such as flour for example. This was a temporary situation. But in case that did ever happen, I think we could all agree that it would be nice to know that we have some extras stored at home. I don’t live my life in fear. I don’t think about it on a day to day basis, but better safe than sorry and that is why I like to learn from history, and while I believe in my capabilities I also sleep better at night knowing I am prepared. I don’t ever live my life thinking that I will need it, but it’s nice to have.

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Now for the case with COVID-19, I have been closely watching what is happening in Italy. So far everything that has happened there has slowly also happened here. Just 2 weeks ago the country declared a second state of emergency and while at first all non essential businesses were shut down, not even all the other businesses were closed as well. Many banks are closed together with hardware stores etc. Recently a new order has been issued as well were many people cannot go farther than 200 yards from their home. Now I know that here in the United States that may not be possible. In Italy there are many local shops were one can buy food from a stone throw away from home. Here the rules may be different a little bit, but it’s nice to prepare in advance. The biggest reason for all of this is not to create fear, but to impede the virus from spreading and to avoid the number of cases from increasing. So how do we prepare for this?

Remember that by having these items at home you will not only be prepared, but also will be home so that if it keeps on spreading you won’t risk catching it, and so that you can do your civic duty and stay safely at home.

Last but not least, exercise caution when bringing items at home. Remember that when bringing groceries and other items home you are bringing items that have been touched by many people, they slide on the check out stand where many put their items, they are touched by others at check out as well. Grocery bags are touched by many people as well. Ideally you definitely will want to remove your shoes when arriving home, and also to leave the bags outside your home. Make sure you don’t place everything on your counter top where you will be eating later on and touching things with your hands.

Here are some of the items to prepare for in advance.

  1. Have medications that are essential to your family ready at home. From the baby tylenol, to allergy medicine, to anything your family may need on a regular basis.
  2. Baby items. Diapers and wipes if you have a baby at home. Medications for the baby, products, the things you know you need on a day to day basis.
  3. Gloves, mask, hygiene kids. Anything that you think you will need to stay safe and protected and to stay clean. Antibacterial sprays especially.
  4. Food. Now here it comes the big one. Your list may vary depending on whether you are vegetarian, vegan, or have a medical condition. But here is the low down on some foods that will last a long time, and that you probably already use on a regular basis at home. If not, stick with me and I will be teaching many cooking tutorials as we go.

If you are vegan and eat lots of fruits and veggies, consider freezing a lot of those foods so that you don’t have to leave the house as much. Check out my other post on freezing and chopping foods for ideas on how to do it and which items you might be able to freeze.

  1. Baking essentials.
  2. Flour. If you can buy a bag of regular all purpose flour and one of whole wheat flour. I mix them both when cooking. It’s the best way to get the extra fiber and not have to alter recipes. If you use other types of flour, one of each can be a great thing to have around. I personally like to use corn flour for corn bread, and polenta grits. Raw organic sugar if you cook with sugar. I buy stevia and monkfruit as an alternative. If you use arepas flour from venezuela, now is your time to keep some in hand.
  3. Baking powder, baking soda, cacao powder, vanillla extracts, and all the baking needs for your recipes if needed to grab just one more of each. As long as you plan on using it and you don’t have enough of these already.
  4. Pasta and carbs. Yes, an italian is writing this so I will tell you to stock up on carbs. We love our pastas, and rice, and organic mac and cheese for kiddies. Asian noodles, too are great to have. I also buy the over the counter pesto and a few sauces for when we need a quick 15 minutes lunch for everyone to have something to go with plain pasta and give it some nice flavor.
  5. Butter! I freeze it too so it lasts a while. whenever i need my next cube i let it defrost in the fridge or the counter. IT won’t spoil either way.
  6. Beans. Dryed or canned these are great to have and very nutritious.
  7. Canned fruits and vegetables. Great for quick meals and also store for a very long time. I buy the reduced sodium cans, and I read the back label to make sure they don’t have any sugar added. Canned tomato sauce is one where some brands like to sneak in some added sugar. I particularly like canned corn, peaches, and pears. Pickled beets for salads aren’t bad either. Olives, artichokes, and peas can be great options as well. Pineapple for an upside down pineapple cake or pizza can be a great addition to your pantry list for example.
  8. Condiments. Try and see how often you usually go through these on a normal basis, chances are you won’t need as many. But who knows, maybe you do. And if you will be eating at home more, you may use them a bit more. I am talking Mayo, Salad Dressings, Olive oil, frying oil, jam and jellies, jell-o and puddings if you do use those. Salt and pepper, too.
  9. Breakfast cereals. I am talking oatmeal, oats, your favorite boxed cereal, cream of wheat and grits if you like those. I use my oats and cream of wheat, also known as semolina flour, for many recipes as well for dinner so I like to have 2-3 boxes of these at home. They usually do last up to 1 year, meaning it takes me that long to go through 1-2 boxes.
  10. Protein bars, protein powder, and supplements. Not just protein ones, but vitamins as well, and any type of dietary supplement you many need. I like to buy the vegan nutritional yeast for example. Great for vegan recipes, but also adds great nutritional value to any dish. Goes great when cooking vegetables, or doing many dishes that are sautéed.
  11. Meats and frozen veggies. These ones will obviously be stored in your freezer. I divide my meat into 1 meal portions and store them in Ziploc bags with the name and date on it. I freeze chicken, ground beef, sausages, bacon, ham, pork, pork chops, roasts, breakfast sausage, salmon, fish sticks, tritip… you name it. There are so many types of frozen meat and sea shell foods that already come frozen at the store. Some of these come canned as well. I personally have tried chicken and tuna only. I only buy tuna ultimately. Most canned foods just don’t taste good to me and I don’t eat them.
  12. Don’t forget your dairy. Some yogurts last a few months, plain greek yogurt is an excellent substitute for sour cream as well. Cheese lasts a very long time. I do like to shred mozzarella or buy it pre-shredded and then freeze the bag. I then grab some as needed (it defrosts and melts in the cooking process) or place the whole bag in the refrigerator to defrost once I need it and use it as I go. The original expiration date won’t count anymore, so make sure it stays good. It should still last for at least 4 weeks once defrosted. I like to have some feta and parmesan cheese on hand as well.
  13. Fresh fruits and veggies. This one is a tough one, but some types of lettuce will remain good in your fridge up to 3 weeks. Plums, mangoes, apples, oranges, cantaloupe, all of these types of fruit plus some more can last quite a while in your refrigerator. Even up to a month. Potatoes in a dark cool place will remain fresh. So do apples and oranges. Time frame will vary depending on your local whether conditions. Many fruits and veggies are great bought frozen. They retain their nutritional value a lot better regardless. But some fruits are just better fresh. Pears and avocados can last a few weeks as well. If some fruits aren’t ripe, I place them in a bowl in the kitchen when I am about ready to use them and some will ripen within a day once out of the refrigerator.
  14. Treats. Last but not least, at few will come in handy. Not so many that you will be tempted, but if you know you get cravings, stock up a few of your favorite chips, candies, ice cream, bars, you name it. Hide them where you can’t see them and only eat them occasionally.

Serena Essuman

   

Serena Essuman

   
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