Last week, I shared some reader emails discussing what they learned from the pandemic “lockdown” period and how these experiences have shaped what they might do differently in the future. I’ve received many tips and emails from readers, and I’d like to share more of them with you this week:
Hi Jill: Your last article was full of good advice for stay-at-home situations for many people. I’m one of those who neither has the extra money (Social Security is my only income) nor the extra space to store bulky things, like packages of bath tissue, paper towel, facial tissue, cleaning supplies or personal care products. I can’t afford to keep much money tied up in things for very long either.
I live in Florida’s hurricane and tropical storm country and deal with power outages frequently. Each new year I slowly build a “hurricane stash” of nonperishable food that doesn’t need cooking to use as needed. In fall, when the season ends, I begin using any food that’s left. I consider it a good year when my hurricane stash shelf is still full! — Essie R.
Dear Jill: When I was younger and did more camping and canoeing than I do now, I fell to an easy remedy for making ice to keep my food fresh. I found that the standard paperboard half-gallon milk cartons are useful, especially now that they have plastic screw-top lids. One can rinse them out and allow them to dry. Then fill with water and leave in the freezer until needed. This produces block ice, rarely available these days from the store. Don’t put more than one in the freezer at a time. (Too many all at once will cause the frozen food to defrost.) These blocks of ice thaw much more slowly than do bags of crushed ice. They are reusable, too. I keep several in my freezer so that when there is a power outage, the frozen food will stay frozen much longer. This same technique could be used in the other part of the fridge.
Just take a few of the cartons from the freezer and quickly put in the other section.
This is not a long-term solution, but it can buy some time and allow for the use of frozen food before spoilage. The old saying that fore-warned is fore-armed comes to mind. Do not procrastinate! — Edward S.
Hi Jill: Just finished reading your article about at-home preparedness. You mentioned keeping a supply of candles. I would like to suggest that instead of so many candles, people should have a supply of solar lights, like the ones used to light a walkway or along flower gardens.
Solar lights can be set outside to power up during the day and moved indoors at night. They last all night and are far, far safer than candles.
I used them during a weeklong power outage and it was like having indoor lights on. No flickering, just steady light! — Judy L.
Dear Jill: I have been re-evaluating the way I shop in light of the unrest in our world in 2020. Not just the coronavirus situation, but the civil unrest and calls to abolish and defund police departments across the country.
These experiences have changed the way I shop now, and I believe it is a permanent change. I had never purchased groceries online before, but I do now. I choose contactless delivery and wait until the delivery person has left everything on my porch.
My store of choice has free delivery for orders over $100. I place an order about every two weeks, but I am also buying ahead of what I need and keeping small stashes of nonperishables and paper items at home in case something happens. The “somethings” I worry about range from my store being looted to truck drivers refusing to bring products due to lack of police protection in our city.
I am not sure when I will actually go to a grocery store again. — Lillian R.