The Simple Life – Simple Grocery List During Hard Times

As a follow up to the previous post, I thought that this topic would be of some practicality. I’ve met all kinds of people in my lifetime, rich people, poor people, and people in between. Each person views the world/life in a different way. Their life situation determines how they see the most basic things. Some people might consider eating steak daily, or an iPhone, a necessity, while for others it is a luxury. Their views are different according to their experience. For some people, “hard times” might be lacking the luxuries they are accustomed to enjoy, but for other people, it might mean lacking the basic necessities such as food, water, electricity … At the grocery store, I have seen people putting a basic staple back on the shelf, the shopping cart containing only a couple of necessary items. I’ve also seen the frustration in their faces. What would you do if you had to come up with a small grocery list that would give you the most for your very limited budget, last longer, and provide basic nutrients? Would you know what to buy or how to make it last? Would you even know where to start?

When having a very limited budget sale price is important, but also, brands and organic products might have to be passed by if the cost is much more than you can afford at the moment. Price per ounce or servings might become important instead, and knowing shelf life might be necessary, in case you cannot shop in a longer period of time. Knowing how to preserve and make last what you bought might also be important. During hard times, your brain will be rewired differently, and you will start thinking in ways you have never thought before. Words such as ration, preparedness, long-lasting … and other words will become familiar words. Suddenly, your vocabulary has been expanded, and so has your old world.

Once I met a very educated elderly lady who had been very prosperous. Her world change one day when her country became a communist country. She was left with nothing. Her nephews and other family members were shot against a wall, and she had to escape her beloved country in a cargo boat, thanks to a captain she knew and was her friend. She left her country with only the clothes she had on, and her daughter, hidden on that boat. I will never forget the lessons I learned through that lady.

Your world, your situation can change in a short period of time (there is no blame here). When life changes and hard times come, how you respond to change is extremely important. I also met a rich gentleman who once told me that his kids only received one gift for Christmas. He wanted them to appreciate what they had and see the season for what it truly was. I met many people for whom the only source of food was the local food pantry and not the supermarket. All of them beautiful souls in very different circumstances.

What would you do if suddenly, food became an important challenge in your life? You would probably go back to simple basics. Here is an example of a very simple, basic, and long-lasting food and basic essentials list. Although this list is very basic, I know that for some people it might seem a long list (26 items), depending on the circumstances. The list requires for you to know how to cook, combine meals or ingredients, and ration meals. Also, assuming you only can purchase one of each, or what your budget allows.

  • milk (any kind). Powder milk is long-lasting. A source for calcium, vitamin D, your dairy.
  • butter or oil (your fats, also for cooking.
  • flour – for many uses (any kind of flour, and also will last)
  • rice or pasta – a little fills you up.
  • beans – good source of protein; you need protein to live.
  • bread or crackers – fills you up, carbohydrates/sugar give you energy. Can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can also make your own bread or crackers by using flour.
  • eggs (liquid or powder too, powder will last you longer). Source of protein. Can use any time as a meal.
  • salt – for flavor, cooking, and medicinal. Also supplies iodine which you need to survive.
  • pepper – for flavor.
  • cheese – (your dairy and protein). Any kind will do in an extreme situation, even powder cheese or Velveeta cheese, which are long-lasting.
  • coffee or any powder drink – Although not essentials, (you can drink water if needed) some people need their caffeine, and many powder drinks provide sugars and are enhanced with vitamins or minerals.
  • meat, fish, or poultry – for extra protein, but if you cannot afford these, an alternative is canned meat or peanut butter. Peanut butter is long-lasting and does not require refrigeration. It will provide fats, sugars, and protein for your body. It is also affordable in comparison to other items.
  • fruit – for vitamins and antioxidants.
  • tomato sauce (or canned tomatoes, puree) – for cooking
  • sugar or honey – for cooking or if you cannot go without it for flavoring meals.
  • canned veggies – if you cannot afford more expensive veggies these will do.
  • apple cider vinegar – for cooking, but also aids in digestion, and also for cleaning.
  • baking soda – for baking, but can also be used as a toothpaste, for acid and indigestion, or even cleaning your home.
  • bar of soap – for bathing, but also cleaning and laundry.
  • toilet paper
  • toothpaste
  • pain relief pills/alcohol/hydrogen peroxide/Vaseline – first aid as needed. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to clean your teeth.

If you can afford a bottle of multi-vitamins that will help provide what is lacking in your diet.

One can make bread, crackers, tortillas, cookies, cakes, pancakes with flour.

Anything in powder form or canned is longer-lasting.

Pets, kids, and people with special diets or medical conditions will require other food items, meds …

When in need, your local food pantry, church, or community action center can be of much help. They can also direct you to other services.

I hope this list is helpful, however, when in need, I will also add a prayer to your Creator. I hope you enjoyed this post.

Love and light.

“I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.”

Psalm 119:45

Less Will Have to Be More

Glancing back this month and reviewing our budget, I realized that expenses are on the up and up. Not that we are spending more, but that things are costing more. If you have been paying attention, not to the news but to the world around you, you might have noticed inflation creeping in. If you pay attention at grocery prices from month to month, you already know it. When people refer to “less is more,” they usually do so in the context of aesthetics, décor, clutter… I think that with our current “real” state of the economy, not what the news are reporting daily, but what you see people live day by day, less will have to be more. If you have no clue of what I am talking about, on your next shopping trip to the grocery store (a definite need) be a bit more observant and glance at people’s grocery carts on line ready for checkout. It is an eye opener. When people are downsizing basic needs, it is a sign of how real things are becoming. It is true that the pandemic caused much damage in many households, and for many people income dropped, while for others, unemployment assistance became a blessing, increasing their income compared to the job they had before being unemployed, hence why many people are not interested in returning to work right away, but that is another subject. So for many others, less will have to become more. Less groceries will have to be stretched out for more people/servings for a longer time. If you think that the pandemic already did this in 2020, wrecking people’s lives, incomes … you are right. Post pandemic it will be inflation.

For us who have been around in the 1980’s, we remember inflation. Interest rates to buy a home were at 14% or more, and the cost of living was high. In my opinion, and I am not a financial expert, only someone who observes life, the difference this time around will be that the salaries have remained pretty much the same since that time while everything else has gone up in price, and possibly much more if inflation hits us hard. For the younger generation, it will be an eye opener, as their purchase power will be challenged much more than it already is. Old timers will not be as shocked but will see the difference, especially, if they are on a fixed income. What a recipe for scrambled eggs, hopefully not kept in one basket. Maybe it will be a lesson in grateful living and appreciation of what one already has, and going back to basics.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” Matthew 6:26 NIV