Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Food boxes

Mrs ERJ is fond of telling a story of a social worker who advised a low-income client to find a box (I think the social worker pointed at a case that used to hold long-neck, returnable beer bottles) and when client received her next check to fill the box with boxes of mac-n-cheese and cans of condensed soup and boxes of crackers.

That way, when the client had month left after she ran out of money, she could still feed her babies.

Then, when the check arrived to replenish the box before blowing the rest of the check on single-serving sized bags of Doritos and single cans of soda-pop from the gas station.


Belladonna intends to implement the same plan.

But rather than a cardboard box she will use a plastic tub with a lockable lid.

It will get the mac-n-cheese but also Hamburger Helper, pasta, Alfredo sauce in jars, Jasmine rice, crackers, peanut butter, cans of tuna fish and other easy-to-prepare non-perishables.

Even in The-Big-City there are times when you want to camp-out in your apartment. It might be after a snow-storm when it is prudent to stay off the streets so clean-up crews can go about their jobs unencumbered by frantic shoppers or perhaps at the end of a really long shift when you just don't have the stomach to face shopping.

If social unrest becomes more common then being able to hunker-down becomes pretty attractive as well.

Ten days worth of vittles is not a deep larder but it is enough food to give a body options.


  1. It does feel good when you see your own kiddo doing it right ! Out of my 6 grand children I have one , the oldest girl , that has listened to her elders and is living large because of that wisdom that got through to her . She chose a trade and got trained in it while the rest are wage slaves . Now all in our tribe go for our haircuts and hair doos right next door. She bought and now owns her own home and ten acres at 36 years of age while the rest are renting . Wisdom is it's own reward . Bella has it ! Congratulations ERJ.

  2. Check to see if LDS has a store in her town. I recently dropped 100 bills at my local outlet. Convenient storage in those #10 cans and cases.

  3. A good start, and it gets them thinking ahead.
    My next step would be to add enough for a power outage - water, flashlights, a very basic cooking set up.

  4. When I worked in public health, I inspected a housing unit pursuant to landlord/tenant troubles. I looked in the cupboards. Nothing at all except for a box of baking soda.
    I looked in the refrigerator. Nothing at all except for a box of baking soda and three Coronas.
    There were three children in the place and I asked the adult what he fed the kids.
    He looked at me as if I had just asked the stupidest question ever. "Hell, when they get hungry I give 'em a dollar and they go over to the liquor store and get a hot dog," was his reply.
    This is not unusual.

  5. Agree with Jonathan H. Once the food tub is done, a power outage tub is a good complement. A flat of water bottles, candles, lighters, flashlights and batteries, and something to cook on. A Sterno stove is cheap and easy to use, there are many alternatives as well.

  6. Smart move. I'd add a case or two of water to that list.

  7. I've often suggested much the same thing - locally, grocery store ads come out on Wednesday, and are on the internet at 0001. Look at ads for the stores closest to you and the ones you drive/ride/walk by on the way to work. Pay particular attention to the BOGO deals on canned stuff you WILL eat. Buy one BOGO for "ready use," one for The Box. Buy smaller cans because with larger containers it will probably spoil before it's empty when power is out, so smaller containers are better. a 16 oz can will make an AM and PM meal with aluminum foil to seal it, but I wouldn't trust it past 8-10 hours at room temp.
    Pro Tip: have multiple manual can openers and a couple old fashioned "church keys." Canned meats and veggies will keep for years, canned fruit probably no more than 6 mos beyond the "best buy" date because meats and veggies are cooked before canning and "ready to eat" right from the can, fruit isn't cooked before canning. Instant non-fat dry milk can be made and used at room temp, and stored for 24 hrs at room temp; to make it "more like real milk" add a small (6 oz) can of condensed milk per 2 qts to restore the milk fat and taste.

    And tweel's suggestion for a power outage box is excellent but exercise great care with candles. An 8.5 oz single-serving can (beans, etc.) and some sand makes a great candle holder - put the candle in, pour sand around it to hold it upright, makes a weighted base. When i tbruns dow to the sand, replace candle and save the stub, several stubs can be melted to make new candles (1" EMT - 1.16" OD, 1.05 ID) makes a good very cheap candle mould, when the wax sets heat the EMT just enough to loosen the candle inside to remove it by pushing it out with a length of 3/4" dowel. A 1.125" hole in a piece of 4X4 (with some sanding or carving to enlarge it a little) makes a good base to hold a 12" length of EMT vertically to "cast" candles. Drill the block to pass the wick through, knot it to hold it, and hold the loose end above the end of the EMT for a couple minutes while pouring wax).


  8. Built a power outage kit for a daughter. I set the criteria of no open flame in accordance with her lease. Led lights, glow sticks, hand and body warmers, hot water bottles (the gas stove would still work). These are dorm friendly options as well.

  9. One thing people overlook is big cans of refried beans, I keep at least 10 and rotate them. Easy to spice up and a little cheese goes a long way.

  10. Not a fan of candles unless there is no other option. I have plenty, but they're for a Real Emergency. What I like is the solar-powered outdoor landscape lights. Use a piece of 2x4 with an appropriately sized hole for a stand and you're golden. The sun is your charging station. If you need a little light, get a small round one. If you think you might want concentrated, bright light, there are spotlights. They used to be cheap and easily available and may still be for all I know. The downside is that the batteries might eventually fail to hold charge after long storage. Take them out and charge them occasionally. Get ones with easily replaceable batteries and have spare.

    Always something better than open flame for light.

  11. It's money, but a large (1500VAC) UPS or "portable power station" (the UPS will be cheaper) and the shortest string of white LED Christmas lights you can find. The UPS stays plugged in so it's always charged, if/when power comes back on it automatically recharges. In the meantime the UPS protects your PC from intermittent power outages.

  12. All good ideas here. Shelf stable (UHT)milk and cold cereal was the go to for me when I lived alone.
    Stay safe

  13. For a $25 a week outlay, you can put up a lot of rice and beans.

  14. We do something similar here and fill those large cereal keepers with plain macaroni; same with flour. Rice and oats stay in their OEM wrapper / container. I would lose my mind without canned / powdered milk, soda also keeps for decades despite the best by label and is a wonder in breaking up the monotonous limits of plain water or tea. Coffee... etc.

    For those in the city, a jet-boil may prove essential.


  15. Don't forget the "treats". In any situation where you'll be relying on the box, you'll doubly appreciate any small "luxuries" you managed to squirrel away (be it Gummy Bears, chocolate, small packets of freeze-dried fruit or, the absolute necessity, coffee and spices). That mundane, repetitive, boring diet will be so much more appealing if you can spice it up, have a treat and a cup of coffee along with it.


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