By Katie and Charlotte of http://www.democratickitchen.com
We love food, and want to prepare healthy and enjoyable meals for our families. But planning, shopping, and making meals has always been a daily grind, and the Covid-19 epidemic has suddenly made those tasks significantly harder. It is no longer possible to simply ‘pop to the shops’ for a forgotten ingredient or to restock on milk or bread. Every trip to a supermarket brings with it the risk of taking home a deadly disease, and there is no guarantee the ingredient you want will even be there. We are writing this post to acknowledge this new reality, and reflect on some of the things we feel we need to do to get through the next unspecified number of weeks.
To state the obvious, to make a meal, it is necessary to have food in the house. We have tried to avoid going to the shops as much as possible, though it has been very hard to avoid doing so completely. Delivery slots from the major supermarkets are incredibly scarce, and there is some guilt attached to taking them when there are other households in more desperate need. Local shops in some areas are also offering home deliveries, which has been a great way to support them and get tasty foods. But a lot of this depends on where you live, what’s available, and what finances allow, plus you often lose some convenience. One business may offer home delivery, but only for a minimum (and quite high) spend and some lack of flexibility in the choices. We have found ourselves trawling the internet late into the evening hoping that one more search will make a local farm with a nicely priced veg box scheme magically appear. If only!
Assuming you have found somewhere, or a mix of places, to source food from you need to work out what and how much to get. If you were already a master at doing only one weekly shop, we salute you! Many of us are also adjusting to having all the meals of the week at home. Usually some were at work or school, or even (gasp!) a restaurant, but now everyone is at home all the time eating everything. We have in utter disbelief watched what look like generous stocks of bread and fruit quickly disappear from the kitchen as though our partners and children are part-locust.
Whilst we would always liked to have thought of ourselves as cooks that avoided waste, these circumstances have really made us look again at opportunities to use every last bit of the ingredients we have. The squeezy marmite jar has been completely dismantled in order to scrape every last bit from the lid, neck and sides. The stalk of the broccoli became a focus of a recent experiment and was meticulously peeled and sliced so that there would be more vegetable in the dish. Lightly coated in oil and roasted along with the florets, the stalk came out not unlike water chestnuts. Not a revelation of taste and flavour, but good, and importantly it meant more meal from the one vegetable.
We are not quite ready to embrace our 1940s lady’s ‘can do’ approach to canning and preserving. I’m not sure what we would use anyway since the only thing the garden is abundant in right now is withering bluebells and cocky dandelions. However, what we can do is bung some things in the freezer. As space is limited, having the spatial awareness to play freezer tetris with the weekly shop is a key skill. Getting a loaf of bread in there is useful for toast or sandwiches later in the week, though too much squishing did lead to a couple of interesting attempts to toast bread frozen into a right angle.
And so, on to another day, which of course brings with it the need for another set of meals, another set of snacks, all alongside work and schooling commitments, and god forbid a bit of time for yourself to stay sane.