Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nine meals away from anarchy

Work with me here - this is a bit of a rambling path of a post.

I recently heard a radio interview with someone from CHOICE magazine about their Shonky awards and the main part that I heard was their critique of Coles' Feed a Family of 4 for under $10 promotion. CHOICE said:

Shonky for ten-buck blow-out goes to... Coles

When we were culling our list of nominees down to a manageable eight, the clouds of conundrum hovered over Coles: so many potential Shonky awards, but which one to give?(snip) However, we decided to give the Shonky for its loaves-and-fishes $10 meals, where you can supposedly make some Curtis Stone MasterCreation to feed four people for less than $10 – provided, it turns out, if you happen to have some of the stuff in your pantry already and you manage to convince Coles to let you buy two cloves of garlic or one bay leaf. We calculated Curtis’ $7.76 Coq au vin would cost $37.74 if you bought all the necessary ingredients – including the integral half-litre of vin, which somehow wasn’t included in the $7.76 (though you’d perhaps hope not for that price). And it wasn't just that recipe - the $9.99 Chicken Tikka Masala set us back $39.74.
And the person from CHOICE being interviewed snickered and chortled about "who has that well-stocked a pantry" and "why would you have half the ingredients in your pantry when a supermarket is just around the corner" and so on. The interviewer agreed with her, all the while agreeing that it was unreasonable to have things like wine, stock, herbs, spices, garlic and so forth on hand.

I take a lot of pride in our pantry. I should take a photo of it to put here but for now I can tell you that I could probably feed my family for about 3 weeks on what is in there, maybe more. I have flour, sugar, salt, yeast, milk, cream, pulses and lentils and beans, vegetables, pasta, rice, tinned tomatoes and a whole lot of other things that are stocked in there. If I had a larder I would be serious about stockpiling our food. We also have a chest freezer full of meat. With a Thermomix now, we don't need to have food precooked so much - just a few bits and pieces in the freezer for a true emergency or for someone else to feed us with, rather than heat-and-eat meals.

This is for two reasons. Firstly, our income can be a bit cyclical and when we've got more income, we can stock up on things and "save" that way.

Secondly, as peaktavists, we are sure that at some point soon we will have an energy crisis that will mean there will be a problem with food supply, even here in Adelaide in an established first world country. It happened in the UK just this year. And it will happen here in Australia sometime soon. Milk and bread will go first. Then fruit and vegetables. Then canned and frozen goods, toilet paper, first aid/pain relief and packaged items like pasta and chocolate.

I recently heard another discussion, on the ABC so I should be able to add it in later, about organic food and food security - which, like water security, will be buzz words of 2011 I think - and someone spoke about the situation where any country is only 9 meals away from anarchy. Some say it's only 4 meals though.  

And so - we have a well-stocked pantry. I'm working on building it into a larder, with extra things like toilet paper and spices. We have a "zombie store" as well - extra long lasting foods, in tins, as well as water and toilet paper. For the impending zombia apocalypse. We have a garden that will hopefully produce more than just spinach soon. We have friends with eggs, and we have skills to trade.

And that is what is going to help us. I can bake, and I have a recipe book - or a dozen - because yes, I do use the internet for a lot of recipes but in the real world one day the internet might not be there. I can make soap, make a lotion, make a cream, make a balm. I have good aromatherapy knowledge and a stock of oils to use. I have books to refer to for first aid as well as the skills. I have a strong TheHusband who can do all kinds of mechanical and labouring type things. We try to be low maintenance in general with our health and wellbeing.

And so, I maintain a pantry. Just in case one day we can't access the superpantry, just-in-time, don't worry I'll just pop out and get some life that is being foisted on us. It's not paranoia, but a form of saving for a rainy day.


Eric TF Bat said...

The internet may... m-may not be th-there?

Quivers in terror at the thought of a time without Google.

That's it, I'm voting Liberal. Reality is too horrible; I need to take refuge in the nice, safe 1950s again. Hi honey, I'm home!

Georgie said...

I totally agree!

The only thing from that Coles recipe I wouldn't always have on hand is the wine, but you can buy a bottle of wine for $5 if it's only for cooking! I often just sub other liquid for wine if I don't have an open bottle, although it is kind of integral to a coq-au-vin.

This kind of reminds me of a guy I know who enjoys cooking but rarely cooks proper meals "because they're expensive". He goes and buys every single ingredient for a recipe ... and then usually throws out the leftover ingredients as he just doesn't plan to work them in to other recipes.

I can't imagine NOT having at least a few herbs & spices on hand, garlic and stock (before I made my own stock I used to keep powdered on hand, yes it's got crap in, but it was non-perishable and affordable), that's just a no-brainer.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Choice, but only up to a point. Things that would cost a cent or two each, eg a pinch of salt or a drizzle of oil, need not be counted in the total cost. But if a cost of a 'pantry' item is significant, erg a bottle of wine, then they should include it.

I wonder what the extra ingredients are that Choice says adds $30 to Coq au Vin and Chikken Tikka? I've looked at the recipes and I can't imagine what they might be, unless the 'metal skewers' it calls for are gold-plated or you buy a 1 litre tin of imported extra-virgin oil. I'm sure I could do both recipes for neat the $10 estimated.

Ange said...

You'd love our pantry. It's much the same as yours by the sound of it. However, I don't have an actual pantry to put it in, so I've got two shelves in the shed.

Two shelves piled high with tins, extra spices, pulses, uht milk and all sorts. It's awesome. :)