March 4, 2022

The Pantry Plan B

Author: Antony Perring
Category: Financial Freedom

The recent flooding in the Northern Rivers has made me grateful for the Plan B in our pantry.

Now, there’s not much that could have been planned for around the devastating and unexpected levels of flooding in Lismore and surrounding towns. The repercussions for those communities will play out for a long time to come.

Where we live, just a little further down the coast at Yamba is isolated by flood waters from those same weather events.

There’s only one road into our little town.

We are at the mouth of the Clarence River (Biirinba in the local Yaegl language) and there’s a lot of water still yet to come down past us and out to sea. The roads have been closed since Sunday and we are not expecting to get out until next week at the earliest.

What does all of that mean for us?

Well, along with many other hospitality venues we’ve closed our business because we can’t get access to food supplies. There is no milk for our coffees, no fresh produce, no eggs and the local bakeries are running out of bread flour.

The shelves are empty at our supermarket, and the roads may need repairs before any trucks can get in to resupply. There is talk around town of a helicopter resupply from the State Emergency Service, and a barge that may be able to gain access, but those will be small deliveries and should go to the folk in our community that need them the most.

We’ve done our best with what supplies we had but we’re closed for now.

While businesses are putting things on pause, it’s up to all of us in town to get by with the things we have in the fridge and pantry at home.

I’ve already worked my way through the leafy things in the vegetable crisper and we’re down to a couple of spuds, a small sweet potato, a bag of onions and the random contents of the freezer. We do have plenty of relish, mustard and other condiments, so that’s a bonus!

The pantry – the real star of this Plan B – is full of things we can use to get through the next week or so (fingers crossed).

I’ve always shopped on a budget, and I’ve always followed the advice of my Grandmother to keep something in the pantry that I know I can use, in her words ‘to pad things out’ and make things stretch a little further if you need them to.

Pasta, rice and beans are cheap, last almost forever and are vital to any pantry plan B. Serving something saucy with a plate of pasta or rice will easily fill bellies without much trouble.

A few tins of tomatoes can be used in Italian food, curries, Mexican or soups.

There’s a sweet potato curry, or pasta sauce in our immediate future. There are ingredients there to make gnocchi or potato salad. I’m sure there’s a lonely steak of some minced meat in the freezer we can make into something yummy.

As far as the dry ingredients go I’ve got flour and sugar and a few packets of dried yeast, so we’re good for bread.

I keep a backup block of butter in the fridge in addition to the one we’re using, but the eggs went into a frittata with the last of the spinach and cheese earlier in the week.

There are a couple of litres of UHT milk we can draw on, and there’s a pack of powdered milk I would normally use in some baking recipes we can crack into if it comes to that.  For now I’ll drink my coffee black, and switch to tea if that runs out.

There are lots of options in the spice rack.  It’s relatively easy to jazz something up with a sprinkle of chilli flakes, or some well placed cumin and coriander.

The mindset I have around the pantry plan B is to keep one back up of everything, just in case. Adding a can of tomatoes, or chickpeas to the trolley every week keeps thing topped up and ready to go, without feeling like a doomsday prepper with a basement full of canned tuna.

Being sure to use things periodically from your stash and then replenishing a little at a time also ensures things are within their use by dates and safe to use when you need really them.

There’s something strangely liberating about being forced to go to the pantry for dinner rather than ordering a takeaway or popping out to the shops.

I can’t get to the supermarket at the moment anyway, there’s water over the roads, but getting creative with what we have at hand is almost fun.

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