Y2k Preps for the Complete Idiot - Part II

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Y2k Preps for the Complete Idiot - Part II

Part I of this series dealt with simple breakfast ideas, dairy, keeping foods cold, etc. One item left out from that segment was milk for those with lactose intolerance. Non-dairy milk can be found at your local grocery in a 2.44 lb can of powder that when mixed with water will create 8 quarts. Price is $4.37. Also noted in that segment was the need to religiously observe expiration dates. Opinions vary on how long things will keep, but the complete idiot needs to be SURE these items will last as long as the anticipated need (or longer.) Some brands clearly mark expiration dates and others don't. It's probably less important to worry too much about this shelf-life now in July, 1999, but I purchased lots of items in July of 1998, so expiration dates were of great significance, and I didn't buy ANYTHING that didn't have one.

This part of the series will deal with simple lunch ideas and snacks.


Soups: Probably the most traditional lunch food in America has been soup. Campbell does an excellent job of clearly marking the expiration date on the top or bottom of the can. Sizes range from soup-for-one, through 11 oz cans, and bypass 19-oz cans. If you're alone or don't share similar soup tastes with others, 11 oz cans are best. Shared tastes can be accommodated by 19-oz cans. Anything larger than that assumes you have more mouths to feed than the idiot threads address.

Again, with variety the spice of life, one can obtain California Style Vegetable, Cheese Tortellini, Chicken Gumbo, Chicken Vegetable, Chicken with rice, Chunky Baked Potato, Chunky Chicken Noodle, Chunky Chicken Broccoli, Chunky Hearty Vegetable, Chunky Pepper Steak, Chunky Sirloin Burger, Chunky Steak and Potato, Chunky Tomato Cheese with Ravioli, Fiesta, Fiesta Chili Beef, Fiesta Nacho Cheese, Hearty Bean'n Ham, Hearty Tomato Ravioli with vegetables, Hearty Vegetable with Pasta, Italian Style Chicken, Oriental Noodle, as well as the standard Split-pea and tomato. The varieties listed are just the tip of the iceberg. MANY more types are available even under the Campbell label. Chunky varieties are typically a meal in themselves, and there's no need to add water. Prices range between $.50 and $1.39 for 11-oz cans. 19-oz cans range from $1.16 to $2.09. Chunky types are typically more expensive than the non-chunky types.

Some folks like crackers or some type of bread with soup. Crackers can be obtained, left in the cellophane packages, and stored in perma-seal containers. I'd hold off as long as possible before buying crackers and I wouldn't buy the ones on sale. If you're going to buy crackers, however, you may also be interested in sardines and crackers for lunch. My heritage allows me only to buy the Norwegian variety, and prices range between $1.29 and $1.65 per can.

Recipes for breads and even frying-pan cornbread can be obtained elsewhere on this forum. Ideas for baking bisquits and breads are also available elsewhere. Bisquick now has good expiration dates. A 3-lb box can be obtained for $3.12, a 2lb 8-oz box for $2.69. If you like brown bread, you can obtain 16-oz cans for $2.49.

Other Lunch Ideas:

Canned stuff: Chile (I don't have a price for chile. It was one of those days when the Chile made it to the cart but the price never made it to the receipt. I guess these days make up for those days when the price makes it TWICE to the receipt.) Tamales: Hormel has cans of tamales in beef and chili sauce. Prices range between $1.29 and $1.50/can. Corned beef hash: A 15-oz can can be obtained for $1.19. Beef Ravioli: Chef Boyardee Overstuffed ravioli can be obtained for $1.25/can. I took a chance on the overstuffed ravioli, as no expiration date was marked on the can. Lunch can always be topped off with some fruit. Oregon brand has seedless grapes at $1.79 for a 16.5 oz can and plums in the same size for $1.44/can. Of course Delmonte or your local store brand has the classic peaches, pears, apricots, fruit cocktail, etc. Canned fruits last several years from the date packed. Oregon brand clearly labels their expiration dates, but Delmonte and the others use a code to indicate date packed. It's typically a one-digit year of packing, followed by a julian date form of day packed. The larger the number, the most recently packed. Ignore the letter in the code. It usually represents the packing plant.


Cans of cashews and mixed nuts can be obtained with great-lasting expiration dates. The cans are 12 ounces and range in price between $2.89 and $3.49. Dried fruits can be obtained (again with dates through July, 2000) in 6-oz foil packs. The variety is endless, including dried apples, dried apricots, dried peaches, dried fruit bits, etc. Prices range between $2.29 and $2.89, with apples and fruit bits being cheapest, and peaches being most expensive. Cookies can also be purchased and stored in perma-seal containers. Like the crackers, the longer you wait to purchase cookies, the better, although I have some girl-scout cookies stored in this way since February....seasonal item, ya know. Bridgford sells a hard-salami in 12-oz form for $4.19. They also sell Italian Salami in the same size for the same price. This same company sells beef summer sausages. The 7-oz size is $2.79 and the 24-oz size is $5.39. Expiration dates on these sausages sometimes extend into 2001. An 18-oz can of raisins can be obtained for $2.39 and has a plastic top to reseal after opening. A 12-oz can of pitted prunes with the same lid deal can be obtained for $1.59. 4-oz cans of tiny shrimp can be obtained for $2.50 if you really want to treat yourself. A 32-oz bag of uncooked popping corn can be obtained for $1.19. You have to really search the bags for expiration dates. They're stamped in small blue letters somewhere on the bag. If you forgot how to make popcorn by shaking it in a pot on the stove, join the club. Other snack ideas are endless, but these are the simple, off-the-shelf items I've found with expiration dates ranging WAY out there. Again, be careful storing cookies, crackers, pretzels, etc. Perma-seal containers are the cylindrical plastic numbers with the rubber seal and metal clasp at the top. They aren't cheap, ranging in price from $6.00 to almost $9.00 each.


Apple juice can be obtained in 46-oz cans with prices ranging between $1.49 and $1.69. 64-oz bottles can be obtained for $1.89. Tomato juice can be obtained in 46-oz cans for $1.39. Campbell is the best for clearly labeling the expiration date. V-8 Splash can be purchased in 64-oz bottles for $2.50. White grape juice can be purchased in 64-oz bottles for $2.89. These juices require no water and only SOME brands of apple juice and grape juice clearly mark their expiration dates. As usual, I bought NOTHING that didn't have a clearly marked expiration date way out there into the year 2000. Drink mixes (requiring that water be added) can be purchased also. A jar of iced tea mix can be obtained for $2.69 and makes 30 quarts. If you'd prefer an iced tea mix with sugar and lemon already included, you can purchase same for $2.98 that makes 20 quarts. Country-time lemonade mix has no expiration date, but the manufacturer says it has a shelf-life of something like 3 years. One little jug makes 8 quarts for $2.98.

If you hate cranberry juice, despite its ability to keep your urinary tract healthy, you can buy raspberry/ cranberry juice in 64-oz bottles for $2.69.

Last-minute thoughts: Old Git mentioned a dislike for corn oil. Olive oil can be obtained at the local grocery at $4.29 for 7 oz. and $5.38 for 34 oz. Don't worry about expiration dates. This stuff lasts forever. In addition, peanut butter is a nice addition for lunch, either on crackers or bisquits. An 18-oz jar of creamy costs $1.38. Not all brands have expiration dates, so watch for them. Skippy lost my business to a generic brand due to their lack of good expiration date labeling. I'm pleased to report that the generic brand tastes JUST like Skippy.

-- Anita (spoonera@msn.com), July 20, 1999


In my opinion it's good to have a little protein with every meal. Break up your protein into smaller portions. Too much sugar type food without a protein portion (three ounces) isn't good for you.

-- Mara Wayne (MaraWAyne@aol.com), July 20, 1999.

Gosh, great information! Anita has put a lot of time and effort into this comprehensive series. I'll add a few bits for the vegetarians and diabetics.

Soup is a great lunch for veggies/diabetics too, of course. For veggies, even Kroger now has house-brand vegetarian vegetable soup. Knorr makes some very good dehydrated veggie soups--I love the leek. Cheese-type soups make great quick sauces, of course, as do any of the cream-style soups.

We're currently eating saltine crackers that were bought in October last year. They were stored in their original packaging, then in a jumbo ziplock, air squeezed out. However, I must note that they're no-fat crackers--the more fat in a baked product, the faster it will go stale. Ours are a supermarket brand. Don't forget melba toast and other crackers for variety; croutons are good too.

I love chili for lunch and veggies can simply buy the cans of Chili Fixin's and just don't add meat. Or add TVP. Lumen Foods (catalogue on-line at soybean.com) has TVP chili mix; it also comes with rice in complete, properly sealed dinner pails (good for five years), about $65-70 for hundreds of servings. There are also canned versions with TVP in the health food section of your supermarket, as well as organic cup-a-soups.

Snacks are difficult for the diabetic because everything has to be so carefully balanced. But crackers or pretzels with a little processed cheese spread and 1/2 a cup of canned fruit are always acceptable. Graham crackers are allowed and for variety, check out the British or Canadian cookies made by Carr's and Peak Frean's. You'll find the sugar content much lower than US cookies. Lumen Foods has fake beef jerky--very good stuff to chew on! Cheddar flavor rice cakes are good for diabetics too.

Juice is pretty much out for the diabetic, of course, unless you're slipping into a hypoglycemic coma. Drinks are going to have to be water, plain soda or seltzer, or one of those artificially-sweetened things. And of course, unsweetened coffee or tea. Speaking of coma, you might look for those honey sticks at check-outs, honey in stiff plastic packaging like a pencil--handy to carry around for diabetic crises and last forever. Be sure to wear your bracelet or necklace all the time and carry honey sticks with you everywhere.

I don't dislike corn oil, only the method used to press the supermarket brands--the high heat destroys any goodness in the oil. Co-ops or whole foods markets have the vitamin-packed, cold-pressed kinds. Olive oil CAN go rancid (it's very unpleasant), so be sure and keep it in the coolest part of the house if the power goes out. Keep it in the dark, too.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), July 20, 1999.

Although this thread is "storing for idiots" I've found that it is well worth a side trip to shop at ethnic markets...usually found in bigger cities. When we go see the Cardinals we stop at a great Italian market and get gals of olive oil for the price of two pints anywhere else....and 10# bags of pasta. Several oriental stores we frequent have great prices on real Soy sauce and other condiments plus rice in bulk. Eating ethnic is a economical way to save..we have been adding to ours stores by eating from the garden and freezer the past two months...using up all the stuff you don't like as well when you get your hog or beef back.....cut the grocery bills in half and tried alot of new recipes.

-- MUTTI (windance @train.missouri.org), July 20, 1999.

Thanks for the olive oil correction, Old Git. I once thought I'd not be able to purchase olive oil because I'd seen none with an expiration date. An Italian fellow told me that it lasts for YEARS, but he DID mention not to keep it on the stove (due to the heat.)

I have another correction to make. I had said to keep a piece of cardboard under honey in case it leaks. I'm changing that to put the honey in a ziploc bag before storing, as I just found little bitty ants gathered around the base of the honey jar. I'm fortunate that it was at the front of the pantry shelf and I could spot the ants easily.

-- Anita (spoonera@msn.com), July 20, 1999.

Anita, great practical ideas, especially helpful to a newbie just getting started on food purchase....so how do I find Part I?! Thanks for the time/effort and the research, it helps to have the benefit of someone else's thought process (can you say re-inventing the wheel?)...my brain is fried with all this stuff............

-- Deb (deb@needhelp.com), July 20, 1999.


It's right here

-- Anita (spoonera@msn.com), July 20, 1999.

Anita, Yeesh!! I did find it, all by myself, a little lower down on the same page--talk about Complete Idiot!....guess I still do "need help".......thanks

-- Deb (deb@needhelp.com), July 20, 1999.

Anita, Super post. The variety made me rethink my stash. Huh. Decided nobody can eat that much Dinty Moore and stay sane.

Crown Prince is tops for fish. Must be my Swede/Finn part.

Thanks also for making me brave enough to try something other than Skippy. Well, maybe.

-- Carlos (riffraff1@cybertime.net), July 20, 1999.


I agree on the tip about ethnic foodstores, the ONLY place I've ever seen canned, full cream butter, (not ghee), except in Australian Army 10 man ration packs, is at our local Chinese Market. Also dried mushrooms, much used in Chinese cooking, are a good substitute for meat, IMHO. Ours has bulk packs of fried red onions which go great on top of, or mixed through, reconstituted potato flakes, they even have canned quail eggs! Tons of good stuff, take a look around!

A lot of the stuff is a bit of a gamble regarding use-by dates, but I'll take a chance if TSHTF.

Ron D

-- Ron Davis (rdavis@ozemail.com.au), July 20, 1999.

This may not be for the Complete Idiot, but its really easy and soooo cheap.

I saw it on another thread and tried it. I bought potatoes on sale and wondered how was going to store them. I have a few stored under the ouse, but I wanted a better way. So I peeled them, cut into fry size and steamed them til they were done. I have a steamer that I bought at Sears many years ago, but you could use a double boiler/steamer.

After I steamed them til they were fork tender, I dehydrated them! Takes about 12 hoursat135* in my dehydrator. 5 lbs of potatoes will fit nicely into 2 and 1/2 gallon ziplock bags.

To use them, I can fry them, bake them or toss a few into a soup or stew. I can also re-hydrate them and use in casseroles.


-- sylvia (msbrit@usit.net), July 21, 1999.

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