As a child, I heard about rations during WW1 and WW2. My grandmother told me stories about buying sugar and other groceries with her ration book.
Although we’re not currently at war, we’re experiencing rationing in our stores due to the panic the Coronavirus is causing. It started with toilet paper. Stores and online sites have been without toilet paper in stock for a couple weeks now.
I went out the other day to the grocery store and realized our current state of affairs when it comes to buying regular household essentials. Walking around the store I saw many limit 1 and limit 2 signs posted all around the aisles. I came up with a few ideas while shopping to help make navigating our current norm a little easier.
NAVIGATING RATIONS WHEN GROCERY SHOPPING
From Oxford, rations are a fixed amount of a commodity officially allowed to each person during a time of shortage, as in wartime.
The first thing to do when shopping during times of grocery shortages is to realize that there are going to be substitutions. We do our best to buy good quality, pasture raised, organic, nongmo, etc… products. I do a lot of shopping with local farms when I can. Sometimes, however, those things aren’t available. You may not be able to buy the best quality of everything. Your favorite brand of yogurt or cheese might not be available. You may have to relax your standards a little. Hopefully, the entire situation is only temporary.
The next thing is to ask exactly what the rules are at each store. When I was at Sams Club there were many signs in the dry goods area of limit 1 or limit 2. I was assuming the posting meant of each group of food. Luckily, I learned I was wrong. For each of the limits it meant that particular item. For instance:
Peanut butter. I like to buy the fancy, organic stuff in my monthly co-op order but we are close to out and peanut butter is a great food to keep on hand. Make a sandwich, it has protein, most children love it. Good thing to have in the pantry! This Jif peanut butter was limit 2 and I only needed 2 but if I wanted more I could have gotten 2 of the crunchy and 2 of the creamy. If I really wanted to stock up, they had the Peter Pan peanut butter available as a limit 2 item as well.
Cheese. This was a limit 1 item. I know that for a few of my large family friends they buy blocks of cheese to shred themselves because it’s normally less expensive than buying the bagged stuff. In my house, my husband is a huge cheese fan. He loves to make little snack trays of cheese, crackers, sliced pepperoni and homemade bread & butter pickles (gag) for a midnight snack occasionally. I buy cheese in the big blocks at Sams because it’s less expensive per pound than buying the smaller ones. When there are limits in the store you have to be creative. I found our favorite cheddar cheese available but if we needed more, I could have grabbed a different brand for the second one.
Meat. Again, this was a limit 1 item. We are low on beef. Slim pickins is an understatement. I was able to find a whole beef sirloin tip and a large roast. Buying the biggest pieces I could get in each one was a good idea. I couldn’t find ground beef so I had to substitute. The beef could easily be chopped into small pieces for a shepherd’s (cottage) pie, taco soup or chili.
Rice. Another limit 1 item. Luckily they had 4 options available so if a family relied heavily on rice they had several options for their pantry and could get more than one type.
The last thing is grocery shopping is going to take longer. The lines are long and going to several stores might have to be an option if you really need something. Lots of things can be substituted so that’s always an option as well. Just remember to think with current rations in mind.
Another thing to think about and something I will be focusing on is to be better prepared next time.
Until things go back to normal, it’s going to feel a little like we’re grocery shopping during the Hunger Games. May the odds be in your favor!
How are you handling this new way of life?
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