As I write this it’s almost 70 degrees outside in Central Indiana and it feels glorious. It’s such a welcoming feeling–a promise of summer. It’s something I think we all need right now. This morning, as we sipped our coffee and greeted a wet, misty day, I nearly recorded all of the birdsong and woodpeckers singing the sun into the sky.
I feel so fortunate and privileged that, although we are in week three of social distancing, and heading into our first full week of official shelter-in-place orders (the order went into effect on Wednesday of this week), we have this house, in this place to be. It isn’t a vacation home in somewhere amazing. It isn’t even very big. But it’s our home. We’ve remodeled and rebuilt it together over the last 10 years, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than right here during this time.
Grocery Shopping in the Time of COVID-19: Last week, thanks to a tip from a friend, I got wind of the Governor’s impending shelter-in-place order a few hours early. I had not had time to shop much before the kids’ school got moved to e-learning the week before, but had been trying to stay at home and not go out. For several weeks, I had been following the news out of China and the early news in Italy, and had, very deliberately, been buying a little extra of things here and there, so we did, unlike some people, have plenty of TP and cleaning products. I even have Kleenex. Since I hadn’t been able to shop the week prior, though, I was aware of how bare the shelves were based on accounts from friends, so I was also deliberately allowing stores time to re-stock before ordering my first delivery. Yet, on Monday, as I learned of the shelter-in-place order, my delivery was still a few days out. I knew the stores would be even more bare after this, and so I made the difficult decision to go to the store myself.
I was very careful. I’m an obsessive hand-washer all the time, regardless, so this is not new territory for me. I don’t think I’m necessarily a germa-phobe, but I was a professional chef and all of those Serv-Safe classes really leave an impression. Trust me. I went to Costco, where I waited in a long line outside, confused at first, until I realized they were only letting so many people into the store at once. Major bonus points to Costco. I shopped with more than six feet of clearance around me, was able to get almost everything on my list (no flour, but I had bought a few extra 5 pound bags over the past month, so we have enough for now).
I went home, unloaded those groceries, and then braved Meijer, a regional supermarket chain. By the time I got there, the order had been announced and it was just starting to get busy again, but I’m a fast shopper, so I managed to beat most of the crowd. There was no line at check-out, and I did shop n’ scan on my phone to make it faster. There were a few close encounters with fellow shoppers, but I came home and changed my clothes and washed my face and hands, so, while I’m nervous about my potential exposure, I think I did as best as I could have given the circumstances. I managed to get a lot at Meijer; not much that was on my list, but given my chef’s eye I was able to make some discerning choices based on what was left that it would have been very hard to ask a delivery shopper to do for me, so I was glad I made the trip. We’ll know fairly soon if I’ll remain healthy.
The Weekly Meal Plan: This morning I woke-up and made a list of every meal I could make with the ingredients I have on hand. I filled a notebook page with two columns and then quit. I still have things I could make. Excellent. It was my goal to try to limit the number of delivery orders I would need for several weeks for all kinds of obvious reasons and less obvious ones, such as I feel inherent guilt putting another person in the line of fire while I sit at home, safe and cozy in my house. This virus has certainly made the lines of class and privilege more apparent. How fortunate I am to have my fast wi-fi internet access inside my comfortable, well-decorated and pleasant-to-be-in home with a job I can do remotely and still get my full paycheck. How fortunate I am to have been able to purchase food and goods ahead of this in amounts that exceeded my normal weekly budget; and how fortunate I am, now, to have been able to go to two stores and drop the amount of money I just did to stock-up. These societal inequalities aren’t problems I can solve by myself on this blog, but I am aware of them.
I also feel fortunate to have the skills that I have. I know how to cook almost anything. If you don’t feel like meal planning is necessarily something you enjoy or excel at, stay tuned: I’ll be posting tricks and tidbits as time goes on. For now, I will say that meal planning in this instance was simple because I have a record of most of the recipes I cook regularly, or have cooked in the past, and so I simply went down my lists in various places (Notes on my iPhone, Pinterest, my old blog, and a flash drive or two) and wrote down names of things that fit the ingredients I have on hand (I also shopped with these lists in mind, but my chef-brain is a recipe archive, which allowed me to be more flexible at the store). Keeping track of your most-used recipes somewhere accessible can often be the first step in making meal-planning easier.
So, on the list for this week:
Saturday: ground turkey hobo dinner
Sunday: creamy white beans and fennel casserole (NY Times recipe I’m trying out)
Monday: italian beef sandwiches
Tuesday: chicken gyros
Wednesday: broccoli & cauliflower gratin
Thursday: teriyaki chicken and rice
Friday: spring pea pasta
Upcoming on the Blog: I’ll be doing a recipe post from meals from this past week. It’s my hope to keep you all updated at least once a week with a “recipe dump,” which means that recipes from this week’s meal plan will be posted next week. I’ll also get into more details with the garden expansion progress in a post coming later this week. We’re working on the greenhouse this weekend. It’s my hope that my meal-planning posts and garden posts offer some small amount of support during this time. I don’t believe myself to be an “expert,” and indeed, I tend to feel and position myself most as a learner in life, but we are all in this together, and so whatever experiences and/or mistakes I have made and will make may be useful. At the very least, it’s heartening and even entertaining to read someone else’s trials and errors. We all mess up. Isn’t that comforting? Let’s be messy together.