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Menu planning with grocery shortages


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4 minutes ago, alisoncooks said:

Is everyone just winging it? LOL. Usually I sit down and plan out meals based on what we want/haven't had in a while. Then I order those specific things online and pick them up. The end. 

I can't even get a grocery pickup in the next week so it looks like I'm shopping in person. The store is about 50% in stock, judging from my cursory glance as I quickly grabbed a couple of items today. 

Idk how to plan like this! Teach me, please! I guess I need to shop with an idea of how many main dishes we need for the week, and then some potential foods that could fill those spots (dependent on what's available). Then I guess I need an idea of potential sides/veg to look for. 

How's everyone else doing this? I have a food stash but it's all carb-y, shelf-stable stuff that I'm not going to eat until 1)the food supply has stabilized and back to normal or 2)there's *no* food available for purchase and we have to eat it. 

 

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I figure out how much meat I need and buy whatever I can find/afford that totals that number of lbs.  Then I assume two vegetable sides per dinner and buy an approximate amount.  Then I wing it.

I pick a few flexible carbs to serve as a side.

I keep lunch options and breakfast options the same all week, and I’ve been able to find those staples.  

Normally I’m a creative cook and like trying new recipes, but these are probably going to be meat/veg/starch dinner days.

It helps to have flexible themes for the week, too: pasta, Mexican, vegetarian, breakfast for dinner, fish/pork/beef, etc.  Then I can assemble based on whatever I find.

Also, check out local CSA’s and farmers markets.  Many local farms supply restaurants and have serious excess right now.  Lots of choice there.

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In the past few years, I've been successful with doing online searches for recipes that use what I have on-hand. I input the top 2-3 ingredients that I have and need to use, and do a search for "recipes with _____, ____, and ____" -- or -- "recipes that use _____, ____, and ____".

Maybe start that way?

Edited by Lori D.
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I just went to the grocery here (we are on EST) and there was no meat other than pork that I could see. Zero chicken and zero beef.  There were no tortillas and the canned food was decimated. Honestly I guess I wasn't sure what to expect but it was still shocking. I kept thinking of the Friends episode where they are trying to move the couch and the one guy keeps yelling, "Pivot!"  I am fortunate as it didn't derail my plans that much but if I went in with meat "needs" it absolutely would have.  Adjust, adjust, adjust I guess?  Hang in there.  

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I'm a wing it kind of cook on good days but I'm sure I will be doing even more of it now.  When grocery shopping just gather up whatever meat, veggies and starch you can find.  Don't worry how well they go together especially if your store is having shortages, just get enough food and worry about putting it together later.  Also if possible due to finances and storage buy some extra and with will give you more flexibility in the future.

As far as how to make meals, what I do is start with your most perishable items first and build from there. 

Example, For me, I have some very sprouted potatoes I'm trying to use up.  Then DH bought 8 pork roasts for me because they were on sale right before the lockdown but I didn't have room to store them whole, so I've been cooking them and stripping them down so they take lest room.  So I was working with potatoes and shredded pork and I had pork broth for cooking them down.  I googled a bunch of recipes and decided on something of a cross between chili and chili verde.  I also used up some old stuff in the cupboard (which since I always keep big stocks of things on hand sometimes things get lost and I have to make an effort to use them up).

So take whatever will go bad first (usually some kind of produce) and build from that.  If it's lettuce make salads or tacos, etc.  Once you have a few things in each food category it gives you choices as to what to do with it.  And even if they don't "go" together as long as you are giving them a variety of food, they will be getting the necessary nutrition.

Also, I know I love to be creative with cooking and I'm sure others here are as well.  If you are truly stuck, you can also post "Hey, I have x, y, and z, what can I make with it" and I'm sure people will give you ideas of things you can make.  

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Dh asked me why I don't do grocery pick-up.  I'd love to, but, if the store is out of what I want, I need to get something else.  There is no way for me to tell the app that if the store doesn't have spaghetti, I want penne, if no penne then spirals, ... no dried pasta, I'll take fresh or frozen.  If there is no pasta in any form, I need extra rice or potatoes. 

So far, my grocery has been well stocked with fresh produce but frozen, dried, and canned have been hit or miss, mostly miss.  

I told my crew that I will do my best, but some meals won't be their favorites and we may have a lot of repetition.  I aim for balanced lunches and dinners.  Breakfasts choices are cereal, bread, or leftovers.

I am looking for recipes in which grits are a well-hidden ingredient.  I found one for a bread I may try.  

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I have a pretty good stock here.  We are cooking with staples and whatever we have in the fridge that will go bad first.

Today I took left over pinto beans from supper (that the kids weren't thrilled about) and some left over rice....added a can of corn and can of tomatoes and taco and ranch seasoning and made a taco soup they LOVED.

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I've never been able to wing it with shopping. Always have a list. My parents used to wing it, and they usually started in the meat aisle then went to the boxed/canned items to pick up things to go with the meat, then fruits/veg and dairy/frozen. 

I spent part of today making a hopeful menu of dinners to make when the current planned meals run out. Then I made a list of what we would need for that menu to happen. I now have 3 lists. 1 post it with non food things to get if I see them. 1 post it with the fruits/veg we need at farmers market for next week and a couple things to pick up at the store for next week if I do decide to go. And one bigger list with items to grab if I see them over the next couple weeks. The harder part will be the meat. Based on what people are saying, meat aisles have been pretty wiped by noon every day, and I am not interested in lining up with everyone at opening. I forsee more vegetarian dinners in our future. 

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For those concerned about  meat, definitely check around for local sources.  In both my current city and my hometown I know of farms that usually supply restaurants with meat who have an excess that must be moved.

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I'm thinking I will maybe try to shop a week ahead. So yesterday I made a menu for next week, and then this morning I went out shopping the grocery flyers. It worked pretty well. That gives me some time to try again if something is missing. I also have shelf stable pantry items I could fall back on if needed. I'm not sure how I'll find shopping time next week after spring break ends, though.

All the stores I was in this morning were restocking shelves.

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4 minutes ago, medawyn said:

For those concerned about  meat, definitely check around for local sources.  In both my current city and my hometown I know of farms that usually supply restaurants with meat who have an excess that must be moved.

This. Locally sourced meat will be more expensive, but better quality than factory-farmed meat too.Plus you'd be supporting a small business . Tyson isn't in any danger of going out of business.

Seconding the go early, like 6:30 or as soon as they are open. Place an order for early pick up a day to two away so that they will fill the order overnight when people are not there and        they have restocked. I have had better success at more high end stores (for us Publix) than at Walmart or Aldi or more cost efficient stores. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Ottakee said:

Today I took left over pinto beans from supper (that the kids weren't thrilled about) and some left over rice....added a can of corn and can of tomatoes and taco and ranch seasoning and made a taco soup they LOVED.

Ooo, we like rice and beans, but I hadn't thought to use them for taco soup. Yum!

Yes, the meat in our groceries are pretty slim pickings. So if you eat meat, you're probably going to start there, see what you find, and build out your plan. Like tonight, I wanted some ground turkey, but all that was left were two packs of ground chicken, and that was between two stores!!! So I guess we're eating ground chicken, lol. 

You'll find something. The main thing is eat before you go, be good to yourself. What do you do to lower your stress? I went out today and bought some dumbbells/weights and a 52 lists of happiness.                                             52 Lists for Happiness: Weekly Journaling Inspiration for Positivity, Balance, and Joy                                       You can buy this at Target for about the same price if you order it online. My whole brain was just going really down, and I'm going to have to work really hard taking care of myself, kwim? I saw business owners today who were very depressed. They don't want to lay off people, but people aren't showing up for services, rent has to be paid, and the governor may cancel more things. The whole vibe is down, and we have to take care of ourselves.

 

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As for a plan, I try to alternate poultry and fish, and one night a week do something meatless like split pea soup. If I'm lucky I have leftovers. And lunch is starches, so baked potatoes in the instant pot, that kind of thing. 

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I usually plan each night depending on what the activity is, but since every night is free now, I’m throwing that plan out the window.

Instead, I made a list of every meal we have the ingredients for (no shared ingredients, just one meal per one meal’s worth of chicken).  I put the list on the fridge, and we’ll pick and choose depending on produce freshness and what sounds good and who’s cooking.  There’s about 3 weeks worth of dinners, but I only put things like tacos once (we have enough for 3-4 meals) and didn’t list our normal Friday “Junk Food Night” at all.

I’ll try to keep replenishing and adding meals to the list as we go on.  But other than Taco Tuesday and Junk Food Friday, I didn’t schedule anything for specific days.

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Ya know I used to think I was a passable cook. Not great but not without some basic skills. 

And then at 2am last night I was streaming Preacher and Tulip made dinner. Tater tots with a little vanilla for seasoning. And normally, pre-cv, I would have thought all of that was a tragedy to potato-kind. But last night, I actually stopped my crocheting and made a note to think about that possibility more.

And the other night at what I suspect will the last dinner I share with friends for a while, one of the kids used the last of the ketchup bottle and I vividly had a flashback to my grandma admonishing me to NEVER through away a used bottle until you added a 1/2 cup water and shook it up really good and then squirted the remains into an ice tray to save to use for sauces and such. I told everyone at e table about the flashback and the kids all said, “What’s a ice tray?”

Idk why I’m even responding to this thread. I’m tired and stressed that maybe I have failed to breed children that will survive in the wild on their own. 

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My nearest supermarket that I can easily walk to is still out of meat. I’m using the perishables I bought just before the shelter in place. In terms of cooking, dishes are either stir fried or steamed. My kids aren’t into rice or noodles but we do have those for lunch or dinner.

What I bought from Trader Joe’s, Costco, Safeway:

ginger, 🧄 garlic cloves, chicken drumsticks  🍗 , hot dogs 🌭 , ham for sandwich, yogurt for parfait, mushrooms, daikon, jicama, gyozas, meatballs, tomatoes 

When we stop over at IKEA for lunch on Sunday, we realized the marketplace was well stocked. We’ll head there for meatballs if Trader Joe’s run out. My kids like the IKEA crepes, jam and cookies too. (ETA: IKEA is unfortunately closed too for “Shelter in place/stay at home”)
I do have many supermarkets within a 30 min driving radius so we sometimes go to three or four at a time to get our favorite food at each supermarket. 

Edited by Arcadia
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10 minutes ago, Arcadia said:

When we stop over at IKEA for lunch on Sunday, we realized the marketplace was well stocked. We’ll head there for meatballs if Trader Joe’s run out. My kids like the IKEA crepes, jam and cookies too. 
I do have many supermarkets within a 30 min driving radius so we sometimes go to three or four at a time to get our favorite food at each supermarket. 

Can you shop for food online at IKEA?  Because they closed all stores for in-person shopping today.  https://www.ikea.com/us/en/this-is-ikea/newsroom/an-update-on-our-response-to-the-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-pub50ffa2cf

 

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I’m mainly doing:

Mixed vegetables soups with something for protein

Bone broths and vegetables

stir fries possibly over rice 

 

omelette or breakfast mixed scrambled.  

Hash browns with cheese (I’d rather save that since it would last well but it’s filling and helps stop mutiny).

all of this is just winging it with ingredients available, no recipes.  

My winging it plan mainly has to do with how long things last and space and cleaning up.

Freezing what I can.  

 

 

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Tonight I made oven baked chicken breasts: one pan cooked with golden Italian salad dressing, one pan cooked with butter and dry seasoning. Served with boxed mac and cheese and tomato wedges.

Yesterday my MIL made old fashioned Quebecois baked beans.

The day before that I made tacos.

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5 hours ago, alisoncooks said:

 

I am a menu planner. But on Monday I made the decision to go stock up for us and my parents.  I had no time to plan or think. I googled   Pandemic shopping list and made a quick grocery list.  I bought lentils, rice, beans. Frozen veggies....frozen fish and chicken  ( we have some beef still in the freezer). I asked Dh for his list and dss for his list.  Dh had a lot of snacks foods...frozen pizza popcorn etc.  the pandemic list made me realize I needed laundry soap, bleach, dog food, cat litter. And wine. 😉 

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Monday dss made borscht....last night we made fish tacos...and tonight we had salmon, fresh Brussels sprouts and leftover rice.  Tomorrow I am making beans, fried potatoes and cornbread. 

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

I am a menu planner. But on Monday I made the decision to go stock up for us and my parents.  I had no time to plan or think. I googled   Pandemic shopping list and made a quick grocery list.  I bought lentils, rice, beans. Frozen veggies....frozen fish and chicken  ( we have some beef still in the freezer). I asked Dh for his list and dss for his list.  Dh had a lot of snacks foods...frozen pizza popcorn etc.  the pandemic list made me realize I needed laundry soap, bleach, dog food, cat litter. And wine. 😉 

Yes, I did something similar to this. A few weeks ago, I stocked up on rice, beans, canned stuff, toiletries, cleaning products. On Sunday, I got frozen meats, produce and milk.

I guess I'm just struggling to make cohesive meals. Tonight was fine: salmon, salad, roasted Parmesan cauliflower (all things I randomly grabbed on Sunday's Walmart run). I guess I'll aim to provide fairly well-rounded meals and not worry about the planning bit. (Maybe there's the stress: all the food planning/meal providing falls on me; even when DH cooks, I've planned it out...)

Edited by alisoncooks
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I've been thinking and rethinking this for the last week.  We have a large family and all 8 of us eat 3 meals s day plus snacks- it's a lot of food!  We are rural and have a beef and deer in the freezer and fresh eggs.  I typically shop 1x per week and drive about an hour to the store.  I cannot go multiple times looking for potatoes or something.   I will have to get what is available when I go and hope I dont run out!  This is what I'm planning to build up to.  Lots of things were sold out this week.

My current plan:

Veggies- 7-10 days worth or as many as we will eat before spoiling.   My kids eat a lot of fruit, but we will have to get what is available.   Dried hashbrowns and possibly potato flakes for emergency.

Meat- we have beef and deer in the freezer.  For chicken,  I've decided to try to keep 1 months worth in the freezer.  I am not being picky on the type, as long as we will eat it.  I will restock each week if possible.   Pork- we dont eat a lot but I'll try to keep a pork loin in the freezer, too.  

Canned goods- trying to build up my canned fruits to 1 months worth.  It is mostly for a quarantine time if we get sick and cannot shop.  We prefer fresh fruit.  Pineapple- 12 cans, fruit cocktail-12 cans, peaches 6 cans, green beans-24+ cans (I'm almost out and we eat these almost every day!), diced tomatoes- 12 cans (thinking these will be very versatile).  

Boxed items- anything we will eat in 3-4 months time.  I think these items will stay picked over.  That means big bags of rice, beans,  cereal,  oats, and the cereals we eat.  We don't eat a lot of pasta, but I'll definitely keep us stocked if I see more!  Not going to stock up on junk like granola bars, though.

Jarred goods- pasta, pizza sauce, pickles- all these items were gone from my store.  I think I should build to about a 2 month supply.  12 jars pizza sauce, 6 jars pasta sauce, oil

Other pantry items like broth- 6 containers, enough to last at least a month.  

Baking- I was shocked at the baking row this week.  Definitely stocking up to 2 months worth of stuff!  Flour, sugar, yeast, cornmeal, ect.

Dairy- milk I buy each weeks worth-im not freezing it.  We can do without milk if necessary (and I have a neighbor with a dairy farm).  Butter- months worth.  Cheese- I think I need to buy and freeze some. Yogurt- just a week or two worth.   

Frozen- frozen fruits and frozen veggies- just the ones we normally use, 1-2 months worth.

TP, wipes, diapers and feminine products (I use cloth mostly)- 2 months worth.

 

Seeing everything missing this week really shocked me!  I knew it was going to happen and had stocked up stuff to stay at home 2-3 weeks.  Now I know that's not enough, especiallyfor things like flour.   If I could go more often, I wouldn't necessarily get quite this much.  As of right now, I need quite a bit more.  Having a big family makes things like limits really difficult.   While I am set for meats, veggies and ingredients might be a problem if supply chains are disrupted.   I have told my kids nothing to worry about!  We aren't going to starve... but you might not have all your favorite foods available. 

If this is going to go on through the summer, I'll have to put in a big garden in May.

 

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31 minutes ago, BusyMom5 said:

If this is going to go on through the summer, I'll have to put in a big garden in May.

😭  I have not had a big garden in probably 6 years (just a few boxes with herbs and some veggies).  Love the produce, hate the work.  I suppose my kids are big enough to help now, but the thought of needing to garden😭

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I normally have a good food store because I don't like to shop or menu plan.  I just want to have anything that I feel like eating, to be available at home.  I have meat, fish, and chicken in the freezer.  I buy dairy and produce at least every week.  Usually, while we are out and about, I have and take many opportunities to run to the store and get extras.  I am trying to extremely limit shopping now.  I do not want to be around the costco crowds at all.  Today, I planned the meal around what I need to eat up.  I had a lovely big box of mushrooms from my last costco trip on Friday.  Still looks nice, but needs used.  So tonight we had chicken tarragon because I put mushrooms in it.  Has a cream sauce and served over white rice.  Had peas (from frozen), green salad, and a leftover 3 bean salad.  I am really careful to not let any leftovers be forgotten and wasted.  Tomorrow, i need to use the rest of the mushrooms.  I was thinking asian salmon and stir fry with mushrooms and sesame noodles.   We'll see if I can think of a better option tomorrow.  Not much appeals to me lately. 

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5 hours ago, sassenach said:

You can't go wrong with meat, veg, starch. You can nearly put any meat with any salad dressing marinade and it'll work out just fine.

This is dinner at our house two or three nights every week.

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I think we will all have more practice in flexibility when this is done 🙂

So far my meals haven't been really affected because I had a decent stock and got things before they started getting so sparse. I'm expecting an increase in rice and beans before this is over, we regularly eat beans at least a couple of times a week but that could well be daily or near it. Don't forget seasoning makes a big difference, I have a good selection of both to keep things yummy, even if the ingredients are rather humble. I have many pounds of oats and porridge for breakfasts. Pounds of nuts and nutbutters for some protein and fat and add-ins. 

I also went to the discount store to stock on cheap snacks for treats here and there. These don't fill you up but having a stash put back and being able to have a little something different here and there can help stave off feelings of deprivation.

Currently plans are using things in order of spoilage. Planning for a weekly shop to get what fresh food I can, restock dried goods and dairy we've used and meat we can find. WE'll go from there. I've got a good amount if I can keep stocked what I have we'll be doing well but I expect things will be up and down.

I have a fair amount of ground beef (bought from my uncle who raises cows) and chicken in the freezer (bought fresh and frozen) and random things- fish, a turkey, large ham. We live near a river for fishing and my parents have a stocked pond. I wish we had lots of deer meat but we were crushed with so much to do this fall.

I aiming to seriously watch food waste so we wisely use what we do have. Less meat and more rice/veggies/starch. 

Tonight is chicken shwarma, rice, roasted cauliflower and carrots as everyone has been clamoring for it. 

Tomorrow night is tomato soup(made with canned tomato puree and pantry seasonings) and grilled cheese.

 

Edited by soror
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1 minute ago, alisoncooks said:

DH had to go to 3 stores just to get all my shopping list (minus TP): ground beef, a few chicken breasts, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, potatoes, salad stuff. That'll get us through the next week (with things I already have).

I haven't been placing big orders because who knows what's in stock! And I can't get pick up slots. Which means I'm shopping every few days...which means I'm in public 3x as much as normally (normal = 1 drive up order per week).  That seems to defeat the purpose of social distancing. 

Carrying this over from another thread...

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When in times of scarcity...I default to 'ethnic' meals that are designed for scarcity:

  • Fried rice with whatever veg. you have. I always have onion and frozen peas/carrots on hand. No meat is required.
  • Canned green beans w/pork jowl bacon 
  • Dried beans with smoked meats
  • Pasta and sauce (we only use onion, garlic and oregano in ours) and flour has been easy for me to find.
  • Posole (to use up the leftover pasta sauce) which uses cheap cubes of pork, canned hominy, "real lime" crystals and dried chilis (these are a pantry staple for us), semi-dried cilantro (this stuff is miraculous, also a personal staple), shredded cabbage and raddish. You can throw on tortilla chips for crunch or, as I do, thicken it with some masa (nixtamalized corn) flour.
  • Salisbury steaks with mashed potatoes (boxed will do in a pinch) and canned corn. For a variation on the same theme...shepherd's pie.
Edited by Sneezyone
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Well, I've had a bit of practice in the past from sheer forgetting-something-obvious-I-needed when shopping... but the last few years I've made meat less central, so I'm not stressed if there isn't any. And I definitely feel rewarded for having bothered to teach myself to cook.

If you run into trouble, I'd suggest trying a theme for ethnic or seasonal bowl meals, which rely more on spices and less on being able to get an exact main ingredient--often with some little unexpected splurge that distracts from the fact that we're having beans again.  For example:

Italian: cannellini beans or similar in a garlic-butter or lemon-thyme sauce, tomato product of some kind with olive oil and oregano, some kind of pasta or potatoes or bread on the side, roasted Brussels sprouts or a shredded leafy green or similar. Then if you happen to have a bit of meat or fish, you can add a small serving per person. If your family likes olives, that's a nice bonus.

Indian: red lentils (or whatever you can get), with onions cooked with oil and curry powder, tomatoes or any other veggies you can get (and you could also throw in a little shredded cooked chicken if you happen to have it, but lots of people in India don't choose to), brown rice or naan (easy to make). Bonus points if you can give everybody a slice of mango. If you have ginger root, you can make a sweet drink that may impress your people, or simply make tea.

Mexican: black beans with onion and Mexican spices (if you have ground meat, cook and mix in just 1/4 cup per person to add fat, and freeze remaining meat for another day), bell pepper if you like, corn (I like Stahlbush Island Farms, which is a GMO-free frozen one) or sweet potatoes, leafies as available, tortillas (flour tortillas are easy to make if you have/can eat flour) or tortilla chips, avocado if you can get it. Many people like salsa and/or hot peppers, fresh or jarred. Bonus points if you make roasted pineapple in the oven at the same time, or saute plantains or green bananas.

Japanese: sauteed mushrooms, broccoli and/or carrots in peanut or sesame oil with a little fresh or powdered ginger; edamame from the frozen section, or peas if you can get them; rice, sauteed turnips, purple sweet potato, or whatever you have. One scrambled egg per person is a nice addition. Tea to drink?

French: French green lentils (nice with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some thyme); new potatoes (or any kind of potatoes), boiled; celery, carrot, onion and garlic sauteed in olive oil, and/or some steamed green beans with butter. (ETA: I recently learned that radishes, which I despise raw, are fantastic roasted--mild enough for young kids. Another option if you don't find other things.) A hard-boiled egg or even 1/2 per person is optional, or a bit of tuna. Grape juice to drink if you've got it. We normally have tap water with dinner, so a special drink distracts from any concerns about nonstandard foods. 🙂

PS I know some of y'all are going to make this a family geography lesson, and you're cute, FYI.

Edited by whitehawk
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11 minutes ago, whitehawk said:

Well, I've had a bit of practice in the past from sheer forgetting-something-obvious-I-needed when shopping... but the last few years I've made meat less central, so I'm not stressed if there isn't any. And I definitely feel rewarded for having bothered to teach myself to cook.

If you run into trouble, I'd suggest trying a theme for ethnic or seasonal bowl meals, which rely more on spices and less on being able to get an exact main ingredient--often with some little unexpected splurge that distracts from the fact that we're having beans again.  For example:

Italian: cannellini beans or similar in a garlic-butter or lemon-thyme sauce, tomato product of some kind with olive oil and oregano, some kind of pasta or potatoes or bread on the side, roasted Brussels sprouts or a shredded leafy green or similar. Then if you happen to have a bit of meat or fish, you can add a small serving per person. If your family likes olives, that's a nice bonus.

Indian: red lentils (or whatever you can get), with onions cooked with oil and curry powder, tomatoes or any other veggies you can get (and you could also throw in a little shredded cooked chicken if you happen to have it, but lots of people in India don't choose to), brown rice or naan (easy to make). Bonus points if you can give everybody a slice of mango. If you have ginger root, you can make a sweet drink that may impress your people, or simply make tea.

Mexican: black beans with onion and Mexican spices (if you have ground meat, cook and mix in just 1/4 cup per person to add fat, and freeze remaining meat for another day), corn (I like Stahlbush Island Farms, which is a GMO-free frozen one) or sweet potatoes, leafies as available, tortillas (flour tortillas are easy to make if you have/can eat flour) or tortilla chips, avocado if you can get it. Bonus points if you make roasted pineapple in the oven at the same time, or saute plantains or green bananas.

Japanese: sauteed mushrooms, broccoli and/or carrots is peanut or sesame oil with a little fresh or powdered ginger; edamame from the frozen section; rice, sauteed turnips, purple sweet potato, or whatever you have. One scrambled egg per person is a nice addition. Tea to drink?

French: French green lentils (nice with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some thyme); new potatoes (or any kind of potatoes), boiled; celery, carrot, onion and garlic sauteed in olive oil, and/or some steamed green beans with butter. A hard-boiled egg is optional, or a bit of tuna. Grape juice if you've got it.

 

Yep. Every culture and region of the world has 'down home' foods designed for scarcity. Cook those. We are a little more meat-heavy here b/c teens (DS is a MAJOR consumer) but we cook the cannellini beans w/garlic (add canned tomatoes and frozen spinach in lieu of fresh at the end) and black beans in lard and chicken broth for flavor. We aren't big on lentils but dried pigeon peas plumped and cooked in coconut milk (with spices) is amazing with rice. We have a pantry full of dried beans. InstaPot is getting a workout, lol, but you can do the same thing by soaking overnight.

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6 hours ago, whitehawk said:

Well, I've had a bit of practice in the past from sheer forgetting-something-obvious-I-needed when shopping... but the last few years I've made meat less central, so I'm not stressed if there isn't any. And I definitely feel rewarded for having bothered to teach myself to cook.

If you run into trouble, I'd suggest trying a theme for ethnic or seasonal bowl meals, which rely more on spices and less on being able to get an exact main ingredient--often with some little unexpected splurge that distracts from the fact that we're having beans again.  For example:

Italian: cannellini beans or similar in a garlic-butter or lemon-thyme sauce, tomato product of some kind with olive oil and oregano, some kind of pasta or potatoes or bread on the side, roasted Brussels sprouts or a shredded leafy green or similar. Then if you happen to have a bit of meat or fish, you can add a small serving per person. If your family likes olives, that's a nice bonus.

Indian: red lentils (or whatever you can get), with onions cooked with oil and curry powder, tomatoes or any other veggies you can get (and you could also throw in a little shredded cooked chicken if you happen to have it, but lots of people in India don't choose to), brown rice or naan (easy to make). Bonus points if you can give everybody a slice of mango. If you have ginger root, you can make a sweet drink that may impress your people, or simply make tea.

Mexican: black beans with onion and Mexican spices (if you have ground meat, cook and mix in just 1/4 cup per person to add fat, and freeze remaining meat for another day), bell pepper if you like, corn (I like Stahlbush Island Farms, which is a GMO-free frozen one) or sweet potatoes, leafies as available, tortillas (flour tortillas are easy to make if you have/can eat flour) or tortilla chips, avocado if you can get it. Many people like salsa and/or hot peppers, fresh or jarred. Bonus points if you make roasted pineapple in the oven at the same time, or saute plantains or green bananas.

Japanese: sauteed mushrooms, broccoli and/or carrots in peanut or sesame oil with a little fresh or powdered ginger; edamame from the frozen section, or peas if you can get them; rice, sauteed turnips, purple sweet potato, or whatever you have. One scrambled egg per person is a nice addition. Tea to drink?

French: French green lentils (nice with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some thyme); new potatoes (or any kind of potatoes), boiled; celery, carrot, onion and garlic sauteed in olive oil, and/or some steamed green beans with butter. (ETA: I recently learned that radishes, which I despise raw, are fantastic roasted--mild enough for young kids. Another option if you don't find other things.) A hard-boiled egg or even 1/2 per person is optional, or a bit of tuna. Grape juice to drink if you've got it. We normally have tap water with dinner, so a special drink distracts from any concerns about nonstandard foods. 🙂

PS I know some of y'all are going to make this a family geography lesson, and you're cute, FYI.

Really liked these ideas -- thank you!  

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The stores I go to seem to be re-stocked late morning.  A couple of times, they've told me that by 10:30 they were really running low.  Then trucks came around 11:00 and by noon they were ready to go again.  So, I'd suggest going late morning or early afternoon.

Apart from that, I've learned over the years that a little bit of flavor can make almost anything taste good!  Fresh garlic, curry paste, canned tomatoes, onions, spices, bouillon, fresh ginger, fresh lemons, fresh limes, salsa., and any fresh herbs you can find...  All of those can make something bland taste at least decent.  

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Oh my word.  I made my Asian dinner and forgot to put mushrooms in my stir fry.  So I still need to do something with the mushrooms.  There are quite a few.  I want fish tacos tomorrow, not mushroom anything! 😖

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I am trained for this because I am too lazy to go to the store. Last time I ended up digging up shredded mexican cheese out of the freezer (didn't have mozzerella)  and opened a can of tomato sauce added seasoning. Then found olives, diced a half onion that was left over from something and found some frozen breakfast sausge and viola- mini pizzas. 

I think because I married young, was poor, and didn't like running to the store I learned to just make do after the meal plan expired. 

Carb, protein, veggie and you are good. 

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31 minutes ago, parent said:

Oh my word.  I made my Asian dinner and forgot to put mushrooms in my stir fry.  So I still need to do something with the mushrooms.  There are quite a few.  I want fish tacos tomorrow, not mushroom anything! 😖

 

Breakfast omelet

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I was super flexible when I shopped.  I hit the meat first and spread it out in my cart.  Then I just thought of what would go with it and put those things next to it.  I had little piles of meal kits in my cart.  After that I filled in with extras and breakfast stuff.  My family eats such a wide range, and I know how to cook, so I didn't find it too limiting.  I have a go-to recipe for most cuts of meat and it makes no difference to me if I skip chicken for a week.  I had TP stocked before anything went down and I make my own bread/buns anyway, so those empty aisles didn't effect me.  I did end up going to the Asian grocery to get eggs. 

I'm food secure for about two weeks, but I'm getting really tired of cooking.  I did the crockpot mushroom cube steak thing and botched it.  It went a little too long and the gravy was good but the meat was nothing to write home about.  We ate it anyway, but a sucky meal does not help morale. I'll have to redeem myself tomorrow.

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Just now, frogger said:

 

Breakfast omelet

That's what my husband said, but it is a lot of mushrooms, and I have been eating an omelet every day.  I don't feel like marinated mushrooms, and these are too big for that (bigger criminis).  They would work for stuffed mushrooms, which is how they might end up.  We had burgers with mushrooms last Friday, and cheesesteak with mushrooms earlier that same week.  I just don't feel like heavy beef and mushroom combos.  I make chicken marsala but don't feel like that either.  I would guess they would freeze terribly and turn into rubber. 

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On 3/18/2020 at 3:55 PM, Tanaqui said:

Most places are restocking, they just sell out. Go in the morning.

My dh went yesterday morning.  What was sold out was flour and grains.  He was able to get everything else if he could find it - he didn't know where honey was, for example.

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On 3/18/2020 at 3:56 PM, Lori D. said:

In the past few years, I've been successful with doing online searches for recipes that use what I have on-hand. I input the top 2-3 ingredients that I have and need to use, and do a search for "recipes with _____, ____, and ____" -- or -- "recipes that use _____, ____, and ____".

Maybe start that way?

I do that a lot too

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3 minutes ago, TravelingChris said:

My dh went yesterday morning.  What was sold out was flour and grains.  He was able to get everything else if he could find it - he didn't know where honey was, for example.

In his defense, I swear every store puts honey in a different place.  Is it with the jelly?  By the teas? In the breakfast aisle? With the produce? The natural products?  WHO KNOWS? Dh bought some at the home brew store because I stocked up at an unfamiliar store and couldn't tell if they were out of honey or just hiding it from me.

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So, inspired by this thread, I will soon be making chicken schwarma.  I have everything for it and everyone loves it.  But I have avocados now, so will need to do fish tacos first, which will now wait until Saturday.  My husband is taking full advantage of his sick leave (which is really, stay home from work to avoid bringing covid home leave) and going fishing tomorrow.   He is leaving before 5am and coming home well after dinner.  So, I do not need to make a big dinner, which means I won't.

I am thinking of making enchiladas next week too since my online order substituted an 80 pack of tortillas because the 18 pack was not available (same price!).  Next week might be mostly Mexican week.  

I will make something BBQ soon.  Wish I would have gotten ribs today.

I will make wolfgang pucks hungarian goulash with spaetzle because everyone likes it.  I do not use his spaetzle recipe.  I use the kaese spaetzle recipe on allrecipes.  This goulash is so deeply flavored and delicious.  I use game meat.

We have been eating a lot of rice, so I should insert a dinner with potatoes.  I have half of a small bag left.  I hate peeling potatoes.   Maybe that will be Sunday.  I wonder if my mushrooms would last until Sunday.  Could do roast, mushrooms and mash potatoes.  Bleh.  Fried potatoes for breakfast sounds much better.

I am going to try to work with what we have for 2 weeks.

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5 minutes ago, parent said:

We have been eating a lot of rice, so I should insert a dinner with potatoes.  I have half of a small bag left.  I hate peeling potatoes. 

I hate peeling potatoes too so I just stopped.  We leave them on for everything, potato soup, fried potatoes, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, potato salad, absolutely every potato dish I make includes the peeling.  Besides the peeling has lots of good nutrition so you are really wasting that by removing it.

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