Just a stream of conciousness list of “lessons learned’ from the stuff bought and stored for prep for this first Chinese Wuhan Covid lockdown.
Bear in mind that here, in California, we have had both a very hard lockdown for a long time, and nearly no ‘enforcement’ at the personal level (businesses get the whack though…) with so many “essential workers” that it’s kind of like ‘weekend normal’ for traffic and grocery store visitors.
Let’s just say I’ve had fresh vegetables and salads and meat pretty much the whole time. This has NOT been a real EOTWAWKI, more like a “holiday shutdown schedule things out of stock sometimes”. So in a REAL End Of The World As We Know It, things might be different from these lessons.
1) Bush’s Baked Beans get eaten a LOT faster than canned plain beans that are faster than dry beans.
1a) Buy a lot more Bush’s Baked beans and maybe not that 25 lbs sack of dry beans. (Unless real EOWAWKI happens).
2) Ramen and noodle cups are a LOT more likely to be eaten for breakfast or lunch than “making something” especially if it involves making a loaf of bread first.
2a) Buy a lot more noodle lunch cups. Lots lots more. Cheap, fast, easy, keep well, just add water.
3) A few dozen cans of Refried Beans and a bag of rice with ability to make a tortilla is a “nice idea”, unless you do not make the tortillas.
3a) Get better at making tortillas if you are taking that path.
3b) Commercial tortillas do not keep long, being a fresh product, so if you are not going to make your own, consider a different ethnicity of food to store “for that day”.
3c) Buy more Bush’s Baked beans and less Rosarita’s Refritos IFF you are not going to make tortillas you lazy S.O…
4) It takes a Very Long Time to eat 25 lbs of rice. The small packages of Saffron Rice run out very early.
4a) Either buy a lot more saffron rice packets, or find out how to make it and buy the spices. I make a very simple and very nice dinner with jars of canned chicken parts and saffron rice. Put it all in the rice maker, add some canned peas as desired, and turn it on. I have a lot more jars of canned chicken parts and no saffron rice packets left.
4b) IF you are planning to eat 25 lbs each of beans and rice, make sure you know how to season them AND have the proper seasonings in hand, or else you will use up all your pre-packaged stuff long before a dent is made in the “plain white rice”.
5) Crackers crackers crackers. The snack foods went very fast. (The spouse got into the GORP, jerky and dried fruit early and it was essentially gone by the time I “finished” buying the total stock of Prep. Even the 2nd round of it that I bought (and hid…) to replace the first did not last anywhere near long enough. Ritz Crackers and saltines go very fast too. So whatever crackers and gorp and jerky and such you plan to buy, triple it, at least. Cookies too. And fruit bars. Snack-O-Matic stuff just gets snacked up ‘right quick’.
5a) Hide the snacks better.
6) Meats. It would REALLY benefit me to have a deep chest freezer, but I have no place to put one. If at all possible, have one and fill it. I used canned hams (1 lb each that don’t need refrigeration) and canned chicken (done myself at home) along with Tuna, Salmon (from COSTCO in 6 oz cans), Sardines and some odd bits (kippers, oysters, etc.) as my meat prep. It wasn’t enough. The Salmon went more slowly than expected. It almost but not quite will substitute for tuna in some dishes, but the tuna goes way faster. Close to 1 can / day average for 2 people. Sardines I have to excess, but only I eat them, andI am not prone to clearing out a whole stash of something, but pace myself. Were it not for a tendency to have ‘creaky joints’ from beef, I’d have bought a lot of Corned Beef in tins.
6a) Hotdogs and Sausages from the freezer ran out long before the jars of sauerkraut. Figure out a better way of storing sausages (or buy that freezer…)
7) Drinks. I’ve still got a couple of tubs of lemonade powder and Tang like stuff. Spouse has had me buy a LOT of canned sodas over the period. Do not expect folks to change their habits in drinks without EOTWAWKI conditions. Stock the canned stuff for the expected duration. Instant Coffee freeze dried granules are “barely OK”. Buy more coffee in cans and store it well if at all possible. “Someday” you will need to drink that stored coffee and you will really prefer “old stored well” real ground coffee. Tea, in oxygen barrier storage, keeps very well. Foil pouches or decanted into glass jars or tins. Tea takes up less space than coffee.
8) Paper goods. I’d figured on just using a ‘dedicated wash cloth’ if things went all EOTWAWKI, but then it didn’t. We’ve not run out of paper towels or “other papers”, but buying sometimes was at different places and odd brands. Pay attention to the paper goods inventory. Bulky it is, so storage a problem can be…
9) Booze. Who Knew that wine and Scotch and Gin were important items to stock. ( I know, everyone but me). But really, I had near zero stock (at least after week 3…) and it’s been “buy as you drink it” since then. Very unexpected.
10) Regular noodles and sauce. Not moving nearly as fast as I’d expected. Lots of dry noodles, marinara, and Alfredo in stock still. Likely would be different had we not had constant access to the store and meats. Oh, and we went through a fairly large amount of dry salami early on. While it was expected to go on lasagna and into other sauces, the reality is that it went with cheese and crackers down the throat… Nice to have the EOTWAWKI stock still in the cupboard, but would have been better to have more tuna (still have lots of boxes of Mac & Cheese mix to add tuna and make a nice casserole).
11) Oils. Nice thing here is that substituting Olive Oil into various recipes (like Mac & Cheese box) works very well. I’ve used up about 3/4 of the 2 large tubs of coconut oil, and about 1/2 to 1 gallon of olive oil (out of a couple…) and only now started testing uses for the Beef Tallow I bought on a whim. So yeah, bought too much oils, but wasn’t sure what would store well so overbought. Nice thing is all of them stored well. (Soybean or corn, not so much. Stick with monounsaturated O.O. or saturated and avoid the polyunsaturated that goes rancid fast.) We’ve bought a LOT of butter over the lockdown year as I’d not learned how to can it in advance and figured I’d just substitute other oils. In a real Aw Shit, canned butter would be a feature. The tallow would have worked OK I guess… but we didn’t need to ‘go there’ and instead went to the store and bought butter every week.
12) Baking. Making various breads worked out very well. From the “prepper nan” I posted about to yeast bread using the bread maker, it was all good. Also biscuits (‘savory scones’). Did discover that for really good biscuits you need that low protein self rising flour (so more of that needs to be stored) and the 25 lbs of “bread flour” I bought is not well suited to biscuits as the protein content is high. OTOH, at a loaf of bread every 3 days, it’s been about right for bread. (Stored in individual 1/2 gallon containers to keep bugs and air out…)
12a) Oatmeal cookies want a lot of raisins. I had way too much oats (until EOTWAWKI…) but not enough raisins. “Snacks” took ’em ;-) So, OK, hide a few boxes of raisins or other dried fruit so the cookies budget works right ;-)
13) Oats. Why a whole section on oats? Because I bought a lot, in a few kinds, and I like oats. They are very good for you. So, first off, the “near instant packet oats” with fruit or brown sugar already in them works really well. We’ve gone though 100 to 150 packets (and only have about another 50 left. ;-) 2 packets in a bowl and 1 cup boiling water makes a fast breakfast. Add a pat of butter and splash of milk to make it very nummy. The traditional Rolled Oats has had one full tub end up in cookies and is now, finally, gone. The 2 tubs of “Quick Oats” (not instant) are still here, as is the few pounds of steel cut oats. Turns out I’m not that fond of steel cut oats as they stay a little harder than I like. I’ll maybe need to cook them longer with more water.
13a) If you don’t know how to cook and use an item, not familiar with it, like me and steel cut oats, don’t buy so much. If you have a use in mind, like cookies, buy proportional to expected run rate. Easy and pre-packaged will be used before “DIY and cook on the stove” even if “quick” oats.
14) Milk and Dairy. Canned sweetened condensed milk works GREAT in tea or coffee. Already has the sugar in it, and keeps forever in the fridge even if it does turn to taffy… Canned evaporated condensed works fine in cooking and some direct consumption uses (like very flavored cereal, oats). Bought a few 24 can flats and still have some left. OTOH, spouse puts some kind of “plant milk” on her cereal and I’ve bought a jug of goat milk for my drinking pleasure on a regular basis, so only using the stored milk about 1/2 as fast as ‘normal’. We’ve gone through a fair amount of ‘store bought cheese’. Slices and grated. The shaker jug of dry cheese (“parmigiana”) is not being used very fast and the 1/2 gallon of “cheese powder” not at all, other than that included in the packages “Mac & Cheese” boxes. Butter was addressed under oils above.
14a) IF real cheese is available, you will not use much dry stuff. But the dry stuff is OK in a pinch.
15) Spuds. The Betty Crocker various “Au Gratin” and “Scalloped” and whatever other flavor boxed spuds keep very well and worked out very well. With some dice of ham or SPAM in them, makes a nice meal, all from stored. (You do need some canned milk and oil to make the sauce step, just like with the boxed Mac & Cheese). We have bought a couple of bags of Real Potatoes, so didn’t use as much of the prep as expected. The boxed instant mashed is an “OK not great” mashed potato in a real Aw Shit. So far I’ve only used the instant in one meal and as an adjunct in my bread mix (6 oz flour and 2 oz dry potatos) but the mashed with the meal was “OK”. The dried hash browns have been a BIG hit and I’ll be using them long after “prep” is a distant memory.
15a) Dried works so well, I need to take my food dryer and learn to make and store my own. It’s pretty trivial. Thin slices on drier shelf. Dry. Into jar. But I need to actually do it and get fast / good at it. Why? Paper boxes are not rodent, bug, and water proof. Glass jars are.
16) Fruits and preserves. I had quite enough preserves for the fist 6 months or so, now back to buying. Dried fruit about the same. Canned fruit was gone in about 3 weeks. Note to self, buy more canned fruit… Preserves on home made bread is way good, BTW. Notice I said preserves, not jelly. Preserves has the real fruit in it, not just juice and sugar. Dried fruit had that “Snacks gone fast” issue… so buy a LOT more if you or your spouse has a sweet tooth.
17) Sugar, salt, condiments. All have lasted just fine. I had a lot of them. Not yet needed to buy any added salt, sugar, mustard, mayo, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, etc. Did have to buy a new jug of pepper corns. So maybe make sure to have a years worth in storage for “15 days to stop the spread”…
18) Canned goods. Did a pretty good job on this, modulo the fruit issue. We’re just now running low on canned vegetables. Some choices used up (mixed veggies, carrots) and others hanging in there (green beans, peas). These are a really nice thing to have for making meals “work”. Oh, and all “interesting small bits” are used up. Canned ravioli, oysters, etc. So more of them would have been better (had we know it would be this long…)
19) Lentils & Other dry seeds. I’ve not used these nearly as fast as I expected. Not making as much soup as I thought would happen. Mostly using rice and not making mixed grain pilaf. Having more oatmeal for breakfast and not as much Kashi or barley. Not what I’d expected. I made a batch of lentils using dried garlic and dried onions, then after cooking, light bit of butter added. Very nice and the spouse ate it (she will not eat my curry lentils & potatoes). I’ll likely make more of it just to get the lentils moving. I also need to find a way to use more dry beans that isn’t a meat dependent chili… or competing with Bush’s baked beans ;-) All in all, I think I could use more lentils and barley if I paid a bit more attention. Dry beans not so much without making chili.
20) Dog Food. We bought a 20 lb bag of dry dog food. The dogs (2 x 16 lbs or so) will eat it, but prefer the canned. So I’ve bought a lot of canned over the last months. About 1 x 22 oz can per 3 days. We still have some of the dry left. In a real Aw Shit, the dry would have carried us for a few months.
21) Dry Packaged Cereal. The spouse likes things like corn flakes and Cherios for breakfast with “plant milk” and toast. I didn’t have nearly enough boxed cereal. I DID have enough for a few months. Then things drug on… These keep a very long time in the package. For very long duration I decant them into 1/2 gallon glass jugs (that bug, rodent, and water issue, along with air oxidation barrier). They are just not as dense as whole grains, so you need a few extra large boxes for any length of time. Measure a bowl weight, do the math, and buy the station wagon load… Or hope stores stay open.
22) Vitamins. The BIG bottle Multivitamin bought at the Big Box store is still going strong. We’ve had to replace some of the specialty bottles a couple of times. (Things like Vit-D3, Zinc, etc. to bounce up some RDA into what you really ought to have ranges)
That’s all for now. If I think of more, I’ll add it.
Not bad, really, especially when you consider this was to be “15 days to slow the spread” and my target was more like “a few months if it all goes sideways” when what we got was “Has it been a year already?”…
So, OK, I’ve got some surplus on a few things. Enough beans and rice, still, for the next year. Since they keep a few years, I’m OK with that. I’ve learned what we run out of first, and know to buy more of it (snacks, canned fruit, meats be they frozen, dried, or canned, tuna, cheese & butter).
A bigger freezer would help a lot. (Then again, I didn’t care at all when Gov. Nuisance announced rolling blackouts). Having a bit more “prepping skill in DIY” for things like dried potatoes and canned butter would help too. Yet buying boxed spuds and freezing butter would work just as well, perhaps better, and certainly with less effort.
Overall, I’m quite happy with what we could have done had it been a real hard lock down and quarantine. We’d have done just fine for about 3 months, then “Not happy but OK” about another 3, and then likely “I’m pissed and don’t want to see another bowl of beans and rice again, but fed” for about 6 months more. Knowing it would / could get the year done is a nice feeling. Makes going to the grocery store a “perk” not an obligation.
I’d also note that water service never failed. That’s a whole ‘nother topic. What would have happened if utilities broke down. I have fuel and stoves for about 4 to 6 months I think. But didn’t need to use any of it. (I did make coffee and oatmeal a few times on my stoves, but just to play with them, really. One cheap Chinese butane cartridge stove clogged up. Why I have 4 of them.) Water for only a few weeks on small rations. Way under prepped for a water outage. But then again there’s a lake fed creek about 5 miles away and I have a station wagon and buckets… plus filters.
In the end, I have to rate the prep as “Very good, not great”. Some math time would have made quantities more appropriate and kept things in ratios that work together for meals. A bit of self awareness would avoid things like running out of snacks (either by buying a lot more, or storing them, er, “better”…) Buying “what you know you eat” would avoid things like “Steel cut oats are not my favorite now what do I do with 5 lbs of it?”, then again, it is OK and in a real EOTWAWKI you want some foods that were not snacked away… Big Bag of Beans & Rice is a nice $40 instant-prep for EOTWAWKI, but if you have more than 10 minutes, a station wagon load of cans and dried boxed stuff you do eat would be a lot more familiar and will be eaten first.
So I’m happy, but with some lessons learned.
I’m also happy to have a leg up on what to do should Illegitimate Biden become POTUS (in name only) and announce a real 1 year Lock Down (and die, damn you just die and leave your property to the globalist cabal…). I can be “prepped and ready” inside a few hours. So I”m looking to the future as one I can handle.