How much food do you have available?

My hubby and I are embroiled in a “discussion”. ūüėČ Yep, discussion. On how much food I like to keep available at any one time vs the available space in the kitchen. The food has rather taken over the kitchen, and even taken over part of the garage. I’m not one of those end-of-the-world preppers! But I do believe in buying things when they’re on sale so that I don’t have to pay full price later. But there have been some good sales lately, so everything is rather overflowing with food.

Full Pantry

No, this isn’t my pantry.
But it’s pretty close!
Image from

I have probably 20 lbs of pasta – purchased at approximately 50 cents per pound.
A dozen cans of green beans, a dozen of corn, and 6 of baked beans – purchased at 33 cents apiece.
About 15 cans of tunafish – purchased at less than 75 cents apiece.
Three loaves of bread – free because of a deal with a local restaurant.
About six pounds of fish – purchased at about $1.50 per pound.
Boxes and boxes of couscous, rice, and similar starchy sides – purchased at less than 75 cents each.
About two dozen cans of diced tomatoes – purchased at approximately 25 cents each.
About 20 home-canned cans of pinto beans and black beans – purchased dry at less than 50 cents a pound.

And that’s just an example. I have more food than that. ūüôā And a garden. Plus the eggs from the laying hens. Plus the chickens we butchered last year that we haven’t finished eating yet. So a lot of food.

But that’s how we handle living on a grad student’s living. I don’t know how I’d handle living in a place where the culture said you go to the market each day to purchase just what you will cook for that day. I would HATE paying the going price for everything, all the time.

Also, it’s great to have this much food available for when life happens. If I don’t get to the grocery store when I expect to, it’s no big deal. I can be sick, or have a flat tire, or get a last-minute invitation to do something, and it’s OK. I can run by the store for milk and forget the rest until the next day or so, because I know I have plenty for dinner that night – and the next. I can invite people to dinner with no advance planning. I can attend a last-minute potluck without stressing (and without buying chips or a veggie platter!).

But – storage has become an issue. My idea¬†of clean is – organized, knowing where everything is, and nothing is dusty. Hubby’s idea of clean is – empty. Quite a difference there! So I need to either curtail the sale-shopping, or build some shelves in the garage where out of sight is out of mind.

So what’s in your pantry? How much food do you have available? Could your local grocery store workers go on strike for a week without bothering you much? Where do you store food that you aren’t going to eat right away?

Or in other words – just how far out of the norm am I?

Edited to add – hubby just posted his version on his own blog. You can read it here:¬†Come on, readers, read them both then come tell me I’m right! The inches of storage space may be on his side, but the dollars in the grocery budget are on mine! *grin*



Midnight adrenaline!

I read once that having livestock was publicly announcing your willingness to run outside, at any hour of the day or night, in any state of dress or undress, to deal with whatever emergency happened. I scoffed at that. Certainly there is time to put on pants or a jacket, right?


Hubby and I were getting ready for bed tonight when he heard an animal scream. “Something’s wrong with the animals – they’re screaming” he shouted from the other room. And the adrenaline kicked in.

I dropped whatever it was I was doing, and headed for the back door. Thankfully my shoes were right there and I could step into them without slowing down. But no jacket. No time! The flashlight is *always* by the back door. I couldn’t get the back light on, it gets finicky in the cold weather, so I kept on going without it. Halfway through the yard the flashlight picked up the chicken coop – with the chickens outside in the run.

What? “It’s rabbits¬†that scream, not chickens”, I thought. I had been headed for the rabbits and just happened to see the chickens on the way.¬†But a quick flashlight beam across the hutches showed all rabbits in their cages and quiet. Whatever was going on, it was about the chickens. And with them outside their coop in the middle of the night, whatever was going on was INSIDE the chicken coop.

I opened the run and stood in the doorway. Without realizing how useful it was, we had built the chicken coop so one could see inside the pop door from the entrance to the run. I bent over and shone the flashlight beam inside.

Two small red eyes. My heart took an extra-hard thump before I saw the rest of the animal hiding behind part of the perch. An opossum!

I was simultaneously relieved and concerned. Possums aren’t known for attacking people, unless they’re truly cornered and terrified. At least it wasn’t a fox or similar quick-moving and more aggressive animal. But at the same time, I didn’t have room to swing a shovel in the close confines of the coop. I was going to have to persuade slow-moving, comfort-loving, not-afraid-of-humans opossum to leave the coop of his own free will.

Hubby had joined me only half a second behind, coming from a different room. Wearing his boxers. Because, being a good livestock owner, he hadn’t stopped to put on pants! So I had him grab the pitchfork for me, and then hold the flashlight while I opened the chicken coop. (In addition to the small pop door the chickens use, the entire front of the coop opens up like barn doors. I wanted it that way for ease of cleaning, never thinking how wonderful it would be in persuading a reluctant predator to depart!)

First I showed the turning fork to the possum, which hissed at it. Then I poked the possum with it, and it squealed in anger. Ah, finally the source of the “scream” hubby had heard! Maybe one of the chickens pecked it? Maybe it bumped an exposed nail? I poked it again, and the possum bit at the tines of the fork, realizing they weren’t going to move. It ran to the other side of the coop, where I followed it. It ran back to the original side, and into the nestbox. I threw forkfuls of bedding at it, which really annoyed it. Finally it went out the front of the coop and down to the ground, immediately darting behind the door support. I prodded it again and it went up the run fence, pausing at the top where I unceremoniously pushed it over into the brush on the other side. It walked away unharmed.

I want to say I saw the chickens applaud, but it must have been completely in my head because of course chicken wings don’t bend that way. But I closed up the coop, put the ramp back where it belonged, and watched the girls one by one return to the coop to roost for the night.

All but one. Not sure what’s going on with her. I picked her up and saw no blood, no injuries. But she acted a little shellshocked. I gently put her in the coop with her flock, figuring the normalcy of the surroundings might be best for her. Then we closed and locked the door.

We’ll be better now at locking the coop door when it gets dark, rather than when we go to bed. Lesson learned.

Second lesson learned – if you are short on eggs, look for an egg-eating predator. I probably could have caught that opossum several days ago if I had listened to my gut about all the eggs that I thought were being laid but that weren’t in the nestbox when I went to collect them.

Hopefully the short chicken memory will serve my flock well and they’ll be back to normal as soon as they got inside. On the other hand, you can see that¬†I’m still awake typing this out, because the adrenaline needs a bit of time to leave my system.

But hubby did look cute outside in his boxer shorts!¬† ūüėČ

Oops – I drank the water

Water in the Philippines is not good for visitors to drink. Heck, it isn’t always good for locals to drink! Most restaurants have filters installed so the water they serve to customers (in drinking form or in ice) is fine to drink. But after 10 days of eating at that kind of restraurant, even I can get a little lazy about asking.

Which is why I didn’t ask about the iced tea. **Sigh**

We went to a restaurant with our host – a pizza restaurant run by a couple from Switzerland. VERY good pizza! Thin, crispy crust, lots of meat, even green bell¬†peppers which are a rarity here. A tiny bit of cheese on top, pretty good for a local place. Anyway, the choices for the drinks were Pepsi products or iced tea. I don’t care for Pepsi and nobody else had a preference, so we ordered a caraffe of iced tea for the table. It was sweet tea, which I don’t really care for so I only drank a few sips. My husband loved it and drank two glasses.

Our host forgot to ask if the water was filtered. I forgot to ask. My husband forgot to ask. So now we’re remembering how much we appreciate Imodium!¬† :-\

Nothing too graphic here, but a discussion about how different symptoms can be. Hubby’s hit within the hour of us leaving the restaurant, but was very short lived. Mine didn’t hit until the middle of the night, but kept me up for hours. (Remember he drank two glasses and I had only the top inch of mine? Traveler’s Tummy is not a fair ailment.)

So far that seems to be all that we’re experiencing from it. I skipped breakfast this morning,¬†so the¬†wife of our host¬†came to check on me (she’s a doctor). She was very concerned, they had already figured out from what my husband told them that¬†it was probably the iced tea. I got a lecture on remembering not to drink the water unless it was filtered, and was offered some medicine. I had already taken the Imodium, so she was pleased with that. I felt well enough to continue with our plans for the day, especially since I knew we were going to be near bathrooms.

As a cultural note, apparantly its OK to discuss the health status of visitors here! We saw the doctor a few hours into our day, and she had already told one of her coworkers about the problem. So I had to answer all the same questions from her that I did from the doctor we are staying with. I had thought it on the normal side when the doctor herself had asked all those questions (timing of those midnight¬†bathroom runs, frequency, consistency, you get the idea), but answering them for yet another doctor when I wasn’t the one who told her I was ill was … unsettling. I had forgotten how open the Filippinos are about topics like that. Of course they would have to be, with diseases like Dengue Fever, Typhoid Fever, Hepatits A, and others making the rounds. (Remember we’re spending time¬†in the poorer areas – squatter villages and slum areas.) I kept assuring my host that I would be fine, that I didn’t have a fever, it was only digestion, etc, but I could see a hint of all the things she was concerned about in the back of her eyes.

Sometimes it’s nice to have people who worry about you, even when you’re an adult. I’m sure if I run even a one degree fever in the next few days, she’ll pack me off to a hospital for observation.

Drinking coconut water in the Philippines

Drinking coconut water in the Philippines.

We ate lunch at a new restaurant, and our host ordered coconut water for us. It’s a young coconut, still green, and they bore a hole in the top of it for you right there. Safest water on earth. Tastes lightly sweetened, and not at all like regular coconut.¬†And it’s naturally cool, no ice needed.¬†The inside of the coconut has a layer that can be scooped out and eaten, too.Very good, and good for my stomach. This, along with some nicely predictable red meat and rice, and my stomach is back up to par.

And now that I’ve had my lesson, I will take steps to ensure I never forget to ask if the water is filtered again!

McDonald’s without computers

Vacation over, time to start blogging again! I had an interesting experience today. I went to McDonald’s to get out of the house for a while. They have free WiFi, so I can do my computer work while sipping a Coke in an environment that’s a little more exciting than my living room.

Anyway, when I walked in I did not hear their standard greeting of “Welcome to McDonald’s”. Instead I was greeted with “We can only take cash right now.” Well, my family is on a cash-only budget system, so that was fine with me. Their whole computer system was down. When a customer ordered something, the employee had to turn around and find it on the menu board to know how much to charge. Then write it down on paper, do the addition for multiple items, collect cash, do the math to give the customer correct change, and have the manager unlock the cash drawer so they could count out the change to the customer. Then the manager would come over, read the paper to know what was ordered, and tell the people in the back what to make.

It was interesting to see the employees have to deal with basic math skills. The man who took my order didn’t have too much trouble with it, but in similar situations in the past I’ve seen employees really struggle with that. I’m glad I live in a state with no sales tax – can you imagine the mess if they had to add, say, 7.2% sales tax to the sales? It was difficult enough seeing the employee have to add up the 7-item order the person behind me placed. I can’t imagine the delay if they had to figure percentages, too. I paid with exact change, which the employee appreciated.

It was also interesting to see how much the employees relied on the computers to do much of their jobs. Nobody knew how much things cost. While I was there, the manager realized she had overcharged the previous customer 60 cents for her Frappe, charging her the amount for something else instead. We learned that a regular hamburger is not on the menu board, so I agreed it was probably a 95 cent item and paid that amount. Without an automatic timer on the french fry station, an employee had to be stationed right there to watch the fries cook and take them out at what they believed was the correct moment.

I was rather pleased with how the employees handled things this morning. I have seen similar situations where the problem was not managed nearly as well. But it did remind me how depended some people and places have become on their computers. It is amazing to me that one can work for a restaurant but not know what menu items are available – or how much they cost – off the top of their heads. It was interesting to watch the employees do actual math to figure correct change, since I was taught a way of counting back change that doesn’t require that much math and works faster, too. Apparantly that way isn’t being taught anymore, because it is no longer needed on a daily basis. It was interesting seeing a kitchen where all the timers were computerized – not one manual kitchen timer in the whole place. Outages like they experienced today must be so rare that it isn’t worth it to keep a few battery operated items around for emergencies.

Personally, I believe in being prepared for problems. Emergencies happen no matter how well we work to avoid them, and it is prudent to be able to handle them when they happen. Murphy’s Law tends to apply to anything touched by humans or nature! I use electric lights, but own candles and a shake-powered flashlight. I use a nice stove, but own camping gear that can be used on the outside fire ring if needed. We have electric and gas heat in the house, but I have a large bin in the garage stuffed with at least 8 large blankets and quilts. Being prepared for the unexpected is simply prudent.

I hear some loud beeping coming from the McDonald’s kitchen now. Seems like their stint without computers may be over. I wonder if they wish they had been better prepared.

How prepared are YOU for the unexpected?