The menu planning pantry terrorist

Menus-3Early this morning we geared up for our now once every-two weeks grocery store run at 7am. Masks, gloves, and extra sanitizer wipes at the ready and off we go. I’m still training myself to not touch the mask. This takes a lot of deep breathing. Are my eyes and nose that itchy normally, or only when I put on that blasted mask?

I’m not gonna lie, I’m pumped about our meal planning efficiency at this house. We’ve shifted gears from a very loose and frequent-trips-to-the-store approach to a tightly controlled sequence of meals and committed grocery items for each menu in the plan. Woe betides anyone who consumes an item “off script”, that was planned for a future meal.  The penalty could be as serious as being sent to the grocery store without a mask!

Arranging the menu to ensure two full weeks of three meals a day, including fresh fruit and veg right up to the last day, takes some puzzling out. I love the challenge. When I get near the end of the planning period I start moving things around to try to stretch the supplies even further. 

This drives my housemates nutsy and also increases the reign of terror over what you can and cannot use in the pantry. They get nervous — worried that if we let it go too long the stores will be emptying out and our pantry will be empty, and we won’t have any options. I guess we would just starve? Resort to more take-outs?

I’ve heard them complaining about me when they think I can’t hear. This is when it really gets fun. I am channeling my grandmother from the 1930s — I’m in my element. 

I’m a menu planning pantry terrorist and proud of it.

I sense a general rising nervousness about the food supply chain even though the press is trying hard to allay fears. Well, except for the reports popping up today about shuttered meat plants “pushing out country perilously close to the edge in terms of meat supply“. Personally, the only thing about a meat shortage I find worrisome is that the meat eaters might wander over to my veggie section and start hoarding that too.

If things get extremely tight I’m ready for the challenge. I may be pretty useless in a messy scramble to fight for a bigger share of the pie, but I’ll be great at maximizing what little bit of the pie I do end up with.


Coronavirus Haikus

HaikuOur writing class assignment this week is to write haikus (three-line poem with seventeen syllables, written in a 5/7/5 syllable count).

It was fun, challenging and soothing all at the same time. Of course, what else are we all going to write about now, except the one topic at the forefront of our minds.

Share back some of your own …

US top of charts
Leading number of cases
Hope not in my house

N ninety fives scarce
PPEs, gowns, gloves in need
Doctors, nurses scared

Zoom-ing in to meet
From far away see, talk, smile
Bye now, zoom back out

TP, pasta hoards
Fill garages and pantries
Who is eating this?

Tom Hanks, Bojo, Charles
Even privilege not immune
It just buys testing


It was like having unprotected sex

Mask - shockI heard that Whole Foods Market was opening an hour earlier for the over-60 crowd this week. Ok, I’ll admit to my age for this perk. On my early morning run today I thought I’d swing by and check it out. No big shopping trip, just a quick in and out, and maybe snag some fresh tomatoes, if they have some.

There was a security guard at the doors. I flashed my ID, though he waved me on with disinterest. Either they weren’t checking, or it was too obvious that I qualified. Not like the checkout clerk at Walgreens, who actually knows us, and still insists on seeing our ID for a bottle of wine — every single time. This of course launches my dear husband into a rant — also every single time, which I now have memorized. But I digress.

Back to the Whole Foods expedition, it was my first foray out into retail in almost a week. I had only seen pictures on the news, so wasn’t sure what to expect. I also wasn’t sure I should be here. Was I being reckless and cavalier?

There were lots of gaps in shelves which young stockers were working to refill before the 8am general opening. It wasn’t very crowded. I passed only one or two people down each aisle. Everyone looked similar to me: a just-got-out-of-bed look about them, nobody smartly dressed for the office, very focused on an efficient grab and go. There were few smiles or hellos.

As I headed to the checkout I saw where all the people were. Not enough checkers had shown up yet. Ugh. With a long line of heavy laden baskets snaked around the corner, I considered aborting mission. But hey, I’m in no rush, so I decided to wait it out. Observing my peer group more closely in line now, I realized that they may resemble me in many ways, but there was one notable difference: most of them had on protective gloves and many were wearing face masks too. Geez, what was I thinking? I had disinfectant wipes with me, but not all this hazmat equipment. Eeek! I suddenly felt naked, exposed.

What am I doing here? Decide again to stay, or bolt now? It suddenly seemed like wildly risky behavior — like having unprotected sex with a stranger. What new reality am I living in? Now I have to remember to bring  masks, gloves, disinfectant wipes and handsanitizer, as well as my own bags?!

I’m going back into my cave.