Doing more with less is something my elders taught me what I was young. I’ll share what I’ve learned over the years.
These Are Trying Times
Covid-19 (Coronavirus) is here to stay for a while, and it will change our way of life for a very longtime, especially my home state of Florida. Many of us are trying to figure out life now that we’re without a job, no child care, no school, and little or no money to prepare for the sudden changes like providing school lunch. Most people haven’t experienced poverty or lack, ever. I have, so I wanted to share some tips and tricks my elders taught me to get us through these tough times like the ones on the horizon. I am fortunate to be one of those folks who can work from home, but many people aren’t so lucky. Now is the time to help each other. Leave petty for another day.
Try To Avoid Feeling Guilty
Our lives our going to change and fear of the unknown can cause anxiety. You may have to lose something because you lose your job. Many of us may have to live with family members for an extended period to stay afloat. You’re accustomed to giving into your children’s wants and whims because you could afford it and you had the freedom to do so. Well, this pandemic is not a respecter of persons, and it hasn’t come to play with any of us. We must learn how to cope. Don’t feel guilty for not being able to do what you did in the past for your family.
Life is all about adapting to change, and people who don’t do change well usually end up suffering terrible consequences. In this instance, not adapting to social distancing and quarantines could cause you to lose your life. Say no, be safe, and cry when needed. Every hero doesn’t have a cape, and some heroes don’t have support systems. It’s normal to worry, and it’s appropriate to grieve. Many of us are losing a way of life we love dearly. Grieving is a natural thing. Take the time to do so throughout this journey if it’s necessary and know you’re not alone.
Learning The Difference Between Needs and Wants
If you never knew the difference between a need and want, this pandemic is about to teach you. Most of us have been taught to consume lots of things we don’t really need. Coronavirus (affectionately nicknamed Rona) has in a matter of a few days stopped the entire nation. Because many of us will choose between needs and wants because of limited/zero incomes, it’s vital to ask yourself before buying anything if you really need every item you will purchase, or is it a want. A want is something you don’t need or require for your survival. Understanding needs and wants will be critical during these times.
If you have children, now is the time to sit down and talk to them about the pandemic. If you will not be working and don’t know how you’ll make your ends meet, you don’t have to share that, but please share with your children these are uncertain times and it won’t be business as usual regarding socializing with family and friends, shopping, eating, and dining out habits. This is real and our lives our depending on it. Trying to maintain normalcy puts you and others at risk. Rona is an equal opportunity killer.
Foods To Buy/Keep On Hand
When you’re scrapped for cash, you need your dollars to stretch your dollars as far as they can go. To make your dollars stretch, you will need to discard your pretentious attitudes regarding brands and types of things you purchase. The very first thing you need to know is that you eat to live, not live to eat. You don’t need a more expensive store brand to survive. To stretch your budget, consider store brand/off brand items. They are cheaper; they serve the same purpose, and if you’re starving or low on cash, you’ll be thankful you did so you add something else you need in your cart. Necessary food items:
Dry Goods: Bags of rice (20lb bags for households of 3 or more people), dry beans of all kinds, oatmeal, all purpose flour, meal, dried pastas, cake flours, sugars (brown, white and/or natural, and powdered), baking soda, cereals, crackers (saltines, Ritz), noodles (all kinds). These are core staples you need to have to keep your kitchen going. Flour can make pancakes, breads, biscuits, cookies, cakes, gravies, and to bread/fry foods. Pasta can be used for soups, frozen/canned veggie dishes, or can be consumed with many sauces or gravies. Dry beans can be eaten with rice or added to soups to make hearty, healthy meals.
Drinks: Coffee, teas, powdered drink mixes to help with dehydration (i.e. Gatorade, Pedialyte or other Electrolyte products) for comfort and in the event. Don’t bother buying bottled water if you have tap water unless you’re uncertain about whether you will have issues paying for water services. Also, if you live in hurricane zones like I do, start prepping little by little to purchase items in case the pandemic runs into a major storm this summer. Our government isn’t coming to save us. Prepare yourselves for all the just in cases should you need to care for yourself in the home. Don’t wait until you’re sick to go to the store making other folks sick. Prepare NOW!
Here in Florida we’re told to prepare for anything because government help can take up to 10-days if they show up at all. Help yourself now if you can.
Herbs and Spices: Stock up on seasonings, bouillon cubes, herbs, and spices. These items can make soups, season rices and pastas, and flavor any and everything you have, no matter how bad things get. Flavored rice could save your life. Study the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. We could very well end up there again. Practice eating less and buying less so it won’t be so difficult if and/or when that time comes. Discount grocers and dollar stores can be your friend. Nothing is beneath anyone trying to survive. Pride comes before the fall. Drop that pride and stay on your feet.
Oils & Butters: Buy salted and unsalted butters, vegetable oil to fry and cook with, and Crisco sticks can be used to make oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies, cornbread, biscuits, pancakes and many filling foods and/or comforting foods during times like these. You can freeze most of these items if you buy in bulk, and the Crisco does not require freezing.
Meats: I eat pork, so I purchased a huge Armageddon ham (lol) to freeze in the event things get a little tough. It can be used to make sandwiches, make pasta salads, eat with breakfast sides (i.e.) grits, etc. I found one on sale so I can slap it on the grill or throw it in the oven and it will feed many people. Also purchase leg quarters chicken (by the case is cheaper) and cut them up myself when the meat department wants to charge me. Also buy hot dogs and processed sandwich meats to prepare for the kiddos for lunch.
Processed meats freeze well and if necessary, a sandwich may be all you can afford sometimes. Large rolls of ground beef can be used for 3–4 meals to make chili beans, tacos, meat loaf, to make meat balls or to put into soups. When possible, buy in bulk from butchers and meat markets. They may not be in your community. Search online. Most times your local grocery isn’t the best option to shop for meats. Again, this is no time to be pretentious. A storm is coming.
I love to buy turkey legs and wings because the meat is dense and it can be used to make soups and many other dinner dishes. For Caribbean and Latin American folks, if you have extra money, you can buy other types of meat (I love goat, oxtails, various salt-water fish, etc.). Most times during crisis those items become luxuries because they are very expensive. Buy what you can and make the best of the situation. Some people don’t have any money to buy food. Be grateful.
Vegetables and Fruits: Canned fruits in water or natural sugars (if available) should be maintained in your home. You can buy fresh fruit from time to time, but they won’t last long if you’re planning for a long quarantine. Frozen vegetables are a must! They can store for long periods of time and have less salt than canned vegetables. There are some items that cannot be purchased dry, so you must figure out what types of vegetables will store well based on your family’s consumption habits. Please try to consume vegetables daily to maintain optimum health. Don’t forget to buy a 10lb bag of potatoes if you have a large family. You can make french fries, homemade mashed potatoes, hash browns, potatoes cakes, potato soup, add potatoes to other soup dishes, and they can be stored in a cool, dry place.
I have a little extra money right now, so I am starting a raised garden (I am not connected to the company or product, it’s just the one I chose) in my backyard (pray for me lol). I haven’t really tried to maintain a garden since moving here to Florida because the weather is so crazy, but I’m getting ready to learn. I chose a raised garden in a moveable planter so I can bring it indoors during a hurricane. There is nothing like picking your own veggies and fruits.
Starting a mini-garden can be a great way to grow tomatoes, peppers, onions, greens/salads, and other items that can be used in your kitchen should the income stop flowing. It’s a great life skill to teach kids too. We all gotta eat and growing food is a life skill. If you get a stimulus check, you might start a little garden, even if you have to do it on your balcony or porch. Food could become scare, and so could your financial resources. Be proactive, not reactive. There are plenty of starter kits online, no matter your skill level. Food is life, and we are eating to live. We all need veggies.
Other useful items: I like buying condiments (mayo, ketchup, mustard, relish) to make many items like barbecue sauces. Vinegar can be used for cooking and to clean. Cocoa powder can be used for baking and for making hot cocoa with the kiddos. A crock pot if you’re working from home all day and trying to home school kids can save your life. Put the meal on in the morning by 8am and dinner is ready by 4pm. A grill (I prefer a charcoal grill) can be used in the event you lose power or if you’re unable to pay a utility bill due to job loss. Buy a grill and some charcoal. You can prepare an entire meal on the grill. I do when necessary during hurricane season when we need to.
A gas grill is nice until you can’t get propane, and that’s my biggest issues with them. Here in Florida the well-off folks buy up all the propane tanks and there are none when there is a hurricane approaching. Charcoal and hardwood are much easier to find in a pinch. I also purchased an indoor clothing rack in the event we don’t have power and I need to hand wash clothing, or to avoid using the dryer to conserve my utility bill in a pinch. Cooking at home reduces the likelihood of being infected. Don’t know how to cook, no problem. Use free recipe sharing sites like All Recipes, Martha Stewart, Nestle, Crock Pot, and the Food Network. Use reputable sources so you won’t be disappointed by wanna-be chefs. If you can read and have a phone or tablet, you can cook.
Cleaning Products: Cleaning products are scarce now, but by a little every time you go to the store to clean your home. Ordering online and picking them up in store may be the only way to secure such items these days. Bleach is a must during this virus, but if there is no bleach because the hoarders are buying it up. Make sure you buy something that can disinfect your counters, bathrooms, sinks, door handles, etc. There are plenty of inexpensive off brands and different brands people overlook. Get what you need without breaking the bank.
Where To Shop: Learn to bargain shop. Look at sales papers that come in the mail, explore discount grocers, and understand big box stores may not always offer the best deals. Look at quantity and prices, forget the words packaging and bulk. When your dollars need to stretch, it’s good to comparison shop. Shopping in one store guarantees you will lose money. If you can’t shop in multiple places because of transportation or if you live in a food desert, this may not be an option. Do the best you can with what you have and make lemonade with the lemons we’ve been dealt.
Setting Schedules For Kids/Teens
Many people have more than one child, and allowing them to run through the pantry all willy-nilly can put a huge dent in your grocery budget. With limited or no income coming in, you must create schedules to ensure your groceries last until you’re able to get your next unemployment payment, last paycheck, etc. Creating a Breakfast, lunch, midday snack, and dinner schedule will help keep your children on a schedule similar to the one they had when schools were open, and help you stay out of grocery stores while risking catching Rona.
Remember, we eat to live, we’re not living to eat, so your kids should have what is needed at least. Additionally, if everyone is in the stores trying to buy food for the kids, store shelves will be emptied soon, so be cognizant of that fact and stick to the schedules allowing stores to restock. This is not the time to be selfish. We must all do our parts and be concerned about overworked and overwhelmed store employees, truck drivers, packers, etc. People are risking their lives to make sure we continue to live. My dad is a truck driver delivering loads up and down the East coast. Be respectful, please.
Explain schedules, the purpose of your schedules, and ask them to help you out by not consuming more than they should. Make it a teachable moment about finances and what’s happening out in the world. Actions have consequences, and if it means buying fewer things they want the next month to teach the lesson of being responsible and adhering to meal scheduling, then it’s worth it. They have meal schedules at school, so no need to feel guilty at home about having one. None of us have ever experienced anything like this. Your children may have to survive the next pandemic. Teach your children about budgeting, sharing, conserving, rules, frugality, and preservation during these difficult times. They are our future, and your kids are what you pour into them. If you teach selfishness and recklessness, that’s what you’ll send out into the world.
Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment
You gotta have a way to entertain the kiddos while quarantined, and parents will need to decompress from reality. Because I live in a hurricane zone, I already had plenty of gently used board games, a karaoke microphone, playing cards, a bingo game, and other games that can aid in distracting from this new life indoors. I even have poker chips. I purchased games from the thrift stores years ago, and when I visit I always browse the shelves for games, I don’t have. Having games when you’re without power or stuck indoors during because of local and national orders to stay indoors.
I got my games for $2 and under from area thrift stores. You may or may not be able to find games once stores open back up. If you buy anything used these day, please make certain you disinfect them prior to using them to avoid spreading the virus to your family. I’m ordering my grand kids educational supplies and sending them to South Carolina because I can’t spend time with them on Spring Break. I don’t want them to think this time is just for playing. I also have treats from the Dollar Tree that I have as prizes. Even teens will play games for a prize. We talk trash during game time which makes it hilarious. I don’t recommend this is your household is sensitive as it could hurt feelings and pride.
Remember this soon shall pass and you don’t want kids to have mush brains from not doing any learning. Buy books, use Khan Academy, listen to old music, make home videos, scrapbook, watch educational shows on television, and for goodness sake please study up on American and World History. Google is free!
Dealing With Anxiety
Anxieties will be high. Kids will be at home all day, parents stressed about how they will make ends meet while trying to make sure the family is okay, we’re working from home, sharing tight spaces, hunting basic necessities, and worrying about family members we’re forced to be away from will surely cause us to be more anxious. Calm yourself. Go into your bedroom, close the door, and listen to easy-listening music. Have sex. Buy a sex toy and masturbate if you’re all alone. Follow local disc jockeys (DJs) online. Read a book. Find a hobby. Maybe have a social media cocktail hour where you video chat with friends and loved ones with a glass of wine or adult beverage and share your fear, anxieties and accomplishments.
Share what you’ve found to work in your household. Focus on aiding others instead of your own woes for a while. You’ll find during these times there is always someone worse off than you are. Sit outdoors on your stoop (alone) and get some fresh air, even if it’s late night. Be grateful for the small things during these times. Try to decompress throughout the day. We are all having to deal with something unexpected, and most of us are quarantined just like you. Adapt and let’s get through this.
Keep The Noise Levels To A Minimum
I was sitting outside last night and one of my neighbors infringed upon my right to some peace with his loud 70s style rock-and-roll music. They just lit up the entire lake. I was pissed. This is NOT the time to be inconsiderate of your neighbors. Be mindful that your music tastes may not be the same as your neighbors. Your kids shouldn’t be running up and down the hall of your apartment complex disturbing your distressed neighbors, north should they be jumping around all day as people working from home are trying to conduct business calls. If you have a business call and your dogs are barking incessantly, please mute your phone and don’t act like we don’t hear Fido.
If you’re working from home and your kids are home from school, teaching your children how to share space is an invaluable life skill that can be used throughout their lives. We all must share spaces with one another, including the earth, teach your children to be mindful of sharing their space with you as you try to work from home. Rona is teaching us how to be selfless, something Americans aren’t that good at. Take advantage of this time to teach your children to be mindful of their noise levels, indoor and outdoor voices, and respecting the personal space of others. As parents and neighbors, we should all be modeling respectful and considerate behavior.
Lastly, Be Kind To One Another
I was at the store yesterday and an elderly woman was having an issue with her shopping cart. She shouldn’t have been out with no personal protection equipment (PPE) because she’s in a high-risk group, but she was. I didn’t ignore, allow her to struggle. She’s someones loved one and needed help. I helped her before I helped myself. She was very appreciative, and it cost me nothing but a few moments of my time. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be mindful of everyone and every situation. We’re all stressed, we’re all trying to take care of business and keep Rona off our asses, and it’s not fair to take your frustrations out on innocent people.
Don’t curse out the people working in the stores. Don’t hoard. Take what you need and leave some for others. Practice social distancing, even when walking. I see lots of people not wearing masks and and entire families gathered going down a sidewalk, not moving 6ft away from others walking. A hard head will make a sick ass.
Practicing social distancing is being kind to others.
This pandemic is unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes, so it’s important to make sure we understand how precious life really is.
Call or video chat with neighbors, friends, elderly parents and family members. People are lonely and isolated, and some people may even be suicidal. Studies have shown isolation, and a lack of human contact is bad for us. Loneliness kills. We will need to find new ways to connect with those who may be alone or suffering from loneliness, but we must be safe while doing so. If someone crosses your mind, call or text them. You may be saving someone’s life. Likewise, if you are feeling isolated and lonely, reach out to friends and loved ones for support or just a casual conversation.
Any time you sashay out of your home, you risk coming in contact with Rona (Covid-19). Stay home, follow the laws and rules for your local and state jurisdictions. There are lots of rules to adhere to and plenty of misinformation out here about how the Coronavirus is spread. Besides getting info from the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, check your state Departments of Health, the Office of the Governor and other infectious disease resources required to disclose truthful information real-time. I have zero faith in this administration.
I’m looking to states like New York and California and their governments on how to survive Covid-19. They appear competent and appear to be trying to deal with this unexpected disaster. We must fend for ourselves. Our federal government has proven once again they are unable and/or unwilling to rise to the occasion of saving us.
We. Must. Save. Ourselves.
This is no time to be racist because Rona doesn’t care what color, ethnicity, or nationality you are. She’s an equal opportunity killer. This is not time to be stupid either. Stop listening to stupid, incompetent people. It could save your life. Finally, this is not time to be selfish. We must be considerate of others. Let’s get back to the basics. We need each other to survive. Period.
I need you to survive, and I need you to help me survive. We need each other. Going from having to not having is a lot easier when we understand we’re nothing without each other, regardless of your political affiliation. Change is inevitable. You can adapt or be left behind.
Got helpful tips to help someone survive this economic downturn or quarantine? Please share below. Thanks so much in advance. This is the time to share our knowledge and expertise. Sharing is caring.