The widespread food shortages we have been experiencing throughout the pandemic continue. Sometimes it changes, what is available and what is not. Some items have been consistently unavailable. For example, I have not had a banana in over a year because there are none to be had anywhere.
In addition to the widespread food shortages, there are shortages of supplies also. I have been unable to obtain toilet cleaner since running out. I now go “old school” and use baking soda to clean my toilet since cleaners are not available. Lately I have had extreme difficulty in getting cat litter. That is something new. You never know what is going to be in short supply. Last spring I was able to get allergy-friendly pasta but not allergy-friendly flour. Now I have plenty of allergy-friendly flour and am unable to get allergy-friendly pasta.
Combine the shortages with my precarious financial situation and No Spend 2021, I am having to get creative on some things. I have taken to looking around my house to see what I have that is not being used and trying to figure out how to use it. As I mentioned above using baking soda to clean the toilet, I didn’t realize how many uses there are for baking soda until now.
During this time of The Great Depression 2.0, I am going by the old adage: use it up, wear it out, make do or go without.
Today we are highlighting Use It Up.
I have always been one of those ones that when I start to get to the end of a container will turn the container upside down or use some sort of tool to try to get it all out. I do this with body lotion, shampoo, etc. I try to use it all and get what I can out of every container.
There are some things that I do keep in “stock.” For example, all of my allergy-friendly toiletry items come from a company in California. Ut typically takes 1-2 weeks for my order to arrive. I typically place two large orders per year from the company so that I can get free shipping and also to be sure I have plenty of toiletry items on hand. I get all of my shampoo, soap, lotion, sunscreen, etc from this company, as they are the only company in the country who makes items completely free from my allergens. It’s not fun to go into seizures in the shower just because your body wash contains almond oil (yes, I had that happen prior to finding this ONE allergy-friendly company I now use).
As far as toiletries, right now I have plenty of shampoo, soap, sunscreen, bug spray and body lotion. However, I just opened my last bottle of conditioner. I use hair conditioner for shaving, as there is not a single company in the entire United States of America that makes allergy-friendly shaving cream or shaving gel. So, I use a hair conditioner for shaving.
I do not want to place a large order from the allergy-friendly toiletry company when I technically only need one item. So I decided to look around the house and see if I could come up with anything else that could do dual purpose and act as shaving cream.
I am trying to literally use up everything in my house. So if something is lying around unused, I am actively trying to find a way to use it.
I read online that coconut oil can be used for shaving. I currently have three jars of coconut oil. I had originally purchased them to use for body lotion before I found the allergy-friendly company in California. The downside to using coconut oil to moisturize is that it completely ruins your clothes, sheets, and basically every single fabric it comes into contact with. So I have 3 jars of coconut oil in my cupboard that are not being used.
Since I have one bottle of conditioner left to use for shaving, I am going to rotate in coconut oil for shaving on a trial basis to see if it works for me or not. If it does, that’s great. I can save money by not putting in a toiletry order. I can use up the conditioner I currently have and then use the 3 jars of coconut oil that I have. Not to mention, coconut oil is cheaper than the allergy-friendly conditioner I buy. We will see if coconut oil for shaving actually works or not.
If, for some reason, using coconut oil for shaving does not work out, then I will have to find another use for the coconut oil. I will have to place an order for allergy-friendly toiletries because I will need conditioner. That is a worst case scenario. I am hoping that coconut oil for shaving works out for me. That would be the best case scenario.
I will continue to look around the house for things that I am not using and try to figure out how to use them. In this case, I am saving money on cleaning supplies by using baking soda to clean since traditional retail cleaners are unavailable. If coconut oil works out, that is an allergy-friendly option that will save me money from having to place a toiletry order.
What items do you have that you are trying to use up? Have you found creative uses for items to try to save money in the pandemic?
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Prior to the pandemic, I would do my grocery shopping at 2 or 3 grocery stores. I was really trying to decrease my shopping to only one store. With multiple food allergies, that was hard. In addition to grocery shopping for myself, I was also going to the “farm store” once a month for the cats. I felt like I was constantly running around town, and it was annoying. Not only am I a person that loathes shopping, but I like to get in and out when I do shop.
Shopping at 2 or 3 grocery stores pretty much meant that I blew my food budget every single month. I would go to one store and be on budget. But I was not able to get everything I needed. Then I would go to another store, and my food budget would be blown.
Remember the time I had to go to 14 different places in an effort to find allergy-friendly “milk?” I ended up paying like $10 for a half gallon of it.
In the beginning of the pandemic, I was subject to the mercy of where other people were shopping. Friends would call and say what store they were going to and I would add my items to their grocery list depending on what store it was.
Now that I am using Instacart, I am doing one-stop shopping. Yes, I can send an Instacart shopper to more than one store. However, Instacart shoppers need to be paid like the essential workers they are. I only use Instacart twice a month because that is all I can afford. If I sent the Instacart shopper to multiple stores, I would not be able to pay them like the essential workers they are.
The other thing with Instacart is that it is only available at one of the 3 stores that I had been using prior to the pandemic. So, that one store has now become my one-stop shop.
That store is Aldi. I wish I had made Aldi my one-stop shop years ago. I have had no need to go to 2-3 stores all this time. Prior to the pandemic, I had grossly underestimated Aldi’s accessibility for someone with multiple food allergies.
By shopping at only one store, I have a better control on my food expenses each month. Instacart is also a lot easier to use on a budget than shopping in a store. Shopping in a store, you have to constantly add up the groceries and if you go over, figure out what you are putting back, what you need to skip, back track, etc. With Instacart, I can see the total of all the items in the cart. It is much easier to add and subtract items from my virtual shopping cart to stay within budget than it is to try to do this in-store.
Of course, there are fees associated with Instacart, but mine average about $2-$3 per order. I only started using Instacart due to the pandemic. I am not supposed to be going to the grocery store or anyplace where I am indoors with other people. However, now that I am using it, I am going to continue to use Instacart even “after” the pandemic.
The other beauty of using Instacart to shop at Aldi is that I am able to find items on Instacart much easier than in the store. Have you been in an Aldi store? Those things are very fast-paced. People are typically in and out in about 15-20 minutes. If you linger or have to search for something, you will get run over. I’m sure some of the items I have been getting from Aldi through Instacart were there all along and I simply missed them because I was going through the store too fast. God bless the Instacart shoppers. They know the stores so well.
Here are some reasons why I underestimated Aldi for one-stop shopping and why I have changed my mind. Aldi is the best store ever. It is also the best store for one-stop shopping. If I can’t get something at Aldi, then I don’t need it. The only exception is my cats. Due to the food they eat, my cats have a recurring Chewy order. But our cat litter does come from Aldi.
- Food labels. As someone with multiple food allergies, food labels are key. In fact, reading food labels is what causes me to take forever in the grocery store. I have to make sure what I am buying is not going to kill me. Aldi has the best food labels for people with multiple food allergies. For example, I have severe anaphylactic allergies to both nuts and dairy. The only “milks” I can have are typically rice milk or coconut milk. Soy milk tends to have a warning label on it about possible nut contamination. However, at Aldi, the soy milk is very clearly labeled that it is both nut free and dairy free. They do a great job of clearly labeling their products for those of us with multiple food allergies. I can also get a full half gallon of soy milk at Aldi when the “milk” at other stores is not only more expensive, but more quart size. Thank you, Aldi. Part of why I was going to 1 of the 3 stores was for specialty allergy friendly items. Aldi has done a great job of stocking more allergy friendly items in recent years.
- Produce. This is an item that is hit or miss for some people at Aldi. I would typically buy things like potatoes at Aldi. I would get some produce there and not others. I am not sure why. Maybe it was because I had heard Aldi produce was hit or miss. However, this is completely unfounded. I have tried a variety of produce from Aldi and it has all been stellar. In addition to potatoes, I have gotten carrots, cabbage, apples, limes, garlic, peppers, blueberries, strawberries, zucchini, grapes, and many other items. All the produce has been great.
- Meat. This is another item that I had heard was hit or miss. That claim is completely unfounded. I have gotten fresh antibiotic free chicken breasts, fish, fresh pork chops, hot dogs, kielbasa, Cornish game hen, ground turkey, ground beef, bacon, and sausage from Aldi. I have yet to get a “bad” meat from them. When I have bought meat from other stores, it was either fatty, chewy, or had too many bones in it. I am very particular about meat. I had been going to another store all these years for meat items. Do not overlook Aldi meat. Their meat has none of the issues I mentioned. Most of their meat comes from local farms and suppliers so that it is fresh. Aldi has great meat. It may depend on what area you live in, though. Here in upstate NY, this is farm country. Our Aldi has great meat. I have also rediscovered “little link sausages” that I would always beg for as a child. At only 99 cents a box in the freezer section, you can’t go wrong with them. I like to have them for lunch as a special treat on Sundays with some maple syrup on them.
- Paper products. I had been getting my paper products and cleaning supplies at another store. At Aldi, I am now getting toilet paper, paper towels, tin foil, garbage bags, dish soap, storage bags, cleaning sponges, freezer bags, vinegar and baking soda. In the pandemic, cleaning supplies have been hard to get. I have not been able to get a toilet bowl cleaner this entire pandemic. I have instead been using either vinegar or baking soda to clean things. It is saving me money and my house is just as clean as before. There really is no reason to get any paper or cleaning products anywhere else.
- Keep an eye on special buys and seasonal items. My doctor has me on an over-the-counter dosage of vitamin D. I typically pay about $10 a bottle for it at the pharmacy. This fall, Aldi had vitamin D as a seasonal item for $3 a bottle, and lucky for me, it was the exact dosage my doctor “prescribed.”. I got a few so I have them. The same thing with items like tylenol and benadryl. Yes, they are Aldi brand, but they are much cheaper than name brand. They are cheaper at Aldi than at any other store. I have also found bird food at Aldi as a specialty item much cheaper than any other store (it went quick this fall, I only got one bag). I had sparkling grape juice from Aldi for Thanksgiving at under $3 for a bottle that is typically close to $6 at another store I had been using.
- Coffee. I am a little bit of a coffee snob. I do not have many luxuries in life on my budget, but I am willing to pay a little extra for a good coffee. I am not one of those ones who goes all out for high-priced coffee, but I don’t buy the cheapest available either. I have fallen in love with the imported German coffee from Aldi. I don’t want to drink anything else. I have one package of some other coffee left from before I started using Instacart that I am using up. Then, hopefully I will be drinking the German coffee from Aldi exclusively. I prefer the mild blend (blue package). It is the smoothest coffee I have ever had. It is definitely ground more finely than any other coffee I was buying. I’m not sure if it’s simply the grind – I think there’s something more. It’s stellar. Again, Aldi coffee often has mixed reviews. They do have a lot of options, so if you try one and don’t like it, don’t be completely turned off. They have the organic, the traditional, and the German. I am 100% in love with German coffee now.
- Tea. I paid about $2 for 100 tea bags. You can’t beat that price. The Aldi tea is the best orange pekoe I have ever had. If you need a good everyday tea, Aldi has it. You just can’t beat their prices. If you prefer herbal, they also have peppermint and chamomile on a regular basis. Sometimes they have seasonal teas also, like candy cane for Christmas. I tend to drink tea a lot in winter to help me warm up. I like to put honey in mine, which I also get at Aldi for a very reasonable price. Tea is also a comfort item for me, as it reminds me of spending time with my grandmother growing up.
Between using Instacart for our Aldi order twice a month and the cat’s Chewy service, we are able to obtain everything we need in the pandemic. We are so lucky! I have been saying that if I can’t find it at Aldi, I don’t need it! This is definitely true. I have been having to find work arounds in the pandemic due to shortages. The biggest workarounds are cleaning supplies. Who knew baking soda was so versatile?
Aldi is definitely the place for one-stop shopping. I wish I had figured this out years ago. It would have saved me so much time. But we cannot go backwards. We can only go forwards. I am so thankful we have an Aldi in my area and that Instacart delivers to my house.
If you Instacart in the pandemic, please remember to tip your shopper like the essential worker they are. I know that my shopper is risking their life to bring me food so I don’t have to risk mine. Instacart does not pay a whole lot to gig workers. Not only is the shopper taking time to do my shopping and risking their life, but they are also delivering my food. Maintaining a vehicle is expensive. So if you use a delivery service like Instacart, you really need to tip them like the essential workers they are. This is why we only Instacart twice a month.
Anyone else use Aldi 100% for their one-stop shopping?
Dear God, Thank You for hot dogs, pineapple and marshmallows. Thank you for the people who literally risked their lives in making my food and the ones who risked their lives in obtaining the food for me. Amen. It sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? It sounds like something a child would say? In the midst of enduring, widespread and prolonged food shortages, this is my reality this week. Welcome to America, where we are going hungry.
Someone dropped off hot dogs for me. It was the first time since May I have been able to obtain hot dogs. I almost cried. I received 5 packages of hot dogs. Some of them are in my freezer. We will see how long they last. I have been making my Depression-era “Poor man’s meal” of potatoes and hot dogs almost every day since I received the hot dogs. I am currently defrosting a second package of hot dogs.
I also received several cans of pineapple this week. If you remember from one of my early pandemic posts, I have not had pineapple since February. It has been 6 months since I have been able to obtain pineapple. The last time I was at a grocery store in person was the first week in March. I remember posting how (at the time) the only hole in the grocery store was pineapple.
Of all the things to hoard, people are hoarding pineapple. I still do not understand why. But for the first time in 6 months, I now have about 4 cans of pineapple. I am going to enjoy them as much as I can. In fact, now that I have pineapple again, I am kind of saving them. I don’t know what I am saving them for. I just know that receiving pineapple right now feels so precious and rare. I have an entire list of ways I want to eat pineapple.
I have a bag of marshmallows I am hiding. You could call it hoarding. But would you really call it hoarding if I only have one bag of marshmallows? Well, I have a bag of marshmallows that I am saving. I am saving the marshmallows for this fall when the weather finally cools down enough for me to use my fire pit. As soon as the temperatures drop from the current 100 degree weather into more manageable 50 degree weather, I am going to have a fire in my fire pit and roast marshmallows. It will be the closest thing to camping I get to experience this year.
Depending on how the pandemic goes this fall, I could even theoretically invite a friend over and share the marshmallows. I have been, after all, approved for “outdoor socialization.” This would be as long as we are masked and distanced and no one goes in the house, of course. That “no indoors with people” is the hard part. Dear COVID: You are a buzzkill. This pandemic even makes it difficult for me to share my marshmallows.
I am still grateful I have a bag of marshmallows and cannot wait to toast them outside. I know that marshmallows are a luxury item and not a necessity. No person can survive on marshmallows. I wouldn’t want to. I just like roasting them a few times a year.
I still say that when this is all over, I want pizza. Of course, the special pizza that accommodates my food allergies is not available right now. That’s because this is America, the land of food shortages. It’s ok. I can dream. I will wish for allergy-friendly pizza for Christmas. If the food factories are still closed by the pandemic, I will wish for allergy-friendly pizza for my birthday. If the food factories are still closed then, well, I just wish to be able to eat an allergy-friendly pizza once more before I die.
Have you obtained any hard to get foods among the food shortages that you have been so happy to have?
One of my really good friends of over 20 years passed away from COVID this week. This is the fourth person in 9 weeks that I know who has died of COVID. This pandemic has been very hard for me emotionally, and the fact that I am surrounded by irresponsible and ignorant people is not helping.
Last weekend I went into my work office and protesters were downtown wanting everything to reopen. I overheard one of the evil neighbor kids asking their parent what coronavirus was, and the parent responded “something people made up so you don’t have to go to school.”
My local school district has been delivering lawn signs to congratulate graduating seniors. They are doing this in large groups of 15-20 staff where no one wears a mask or bothers to social distance. They were all milling around in the street and hugging.
I will remember the irresponsibility and blatant disregard for safety displayed by my local school district by voting “no” on the school budget increase this year.
Everytime I see these things, not only does it make me terrified to leave my house, but it just plain makes me cry. I do not understand how people can be so ignorant and think that this is fake, when I have experienced such profound loss and death.
One person commented this week that everyone who is dying is elderly. This is not true. Of the four people I know who have died, they have all been in good health with no pre-existing conditions and under the age of 65. I have another friend whose 6 year old is currently in ICU with the disease.
How many more people have to die before people in my area wake up and take this seriously?
I am heartbroken and terrified.
Protesters complain about their “rights” and say they don’t have to wear a mask.
If you refuse to wear a mask, you should be charged with negligent homicide.
That’s what it is. It is a very simple concept to understand. It is exactly like drinking and driving. If you are stupid enough to drive when you have been drinking, you can kill someone. If you are stupid enough to leave your house without wearing a mask and staying 6 feet away from people, you can kill someone. They are one and the same. The only difference is that a car accident is a quick death; COVID-19 is a slow, long, painful one.
My greatest challenges are figuring out how to obtain food and working. As long as I can do those two things, I can manage everything else. The challenge is that I can only control myself. I cannot control people around me. If people around me refuse to wear a mask and social distance, then it is not safe for me to leave my house. That makes it very challenging for me to work.
My region of New York is reopening. Of course, it is too soon and people are acting stupidly. Our COVID rate has tripled since reopening started. But that’s ok. People in my county do not care if people live or die. I never thought I would live in a world where the value of a human life is nothing, but here we are.
On to the good stuff for this week …
After waiting over 7 weeks on an order I placed back in March, the allergy friendly flour and allergy friendly “milk” I ordered finally arrived! I now have food to be able to eat breakfast again!
Once the flour and milk are gone, that is going to be it for a very long time. The factories that make my allergy friendly specialty items are closed. They estimate that when they do reopen, it will take them at least 2 months to get back to capacity.
I currently have about 8 cups of allergy friendly flour. However, I am going to set about 2 cups of it aside to save for Christmas. I am anticipating that it will be a long time until I am able to obtain my speciality items again, and if I save 2 cups for Christmas, I can make something yummy to look forward to when we enter the second or even third wave of the pandemic.
I am so happy to be able to have breakfast again!
I have been working on minimizing my bathroom, and will be doing a minimalist bathroom post soon.
My neuro symptoms have been getting worse with the heat and I am relying on my rollator more. Luckily, I do not have to drive to work right now, so I am not a danger to anyone else when my vision goes and I am not balancing well.
As challenging as the tech issues are, I am very happy to be able to work from home. I enjoy being with my cats. I feel safe here. I am also afraid of what will happen to my house once I do go back to work with all of the children running around unsupervised. It was Memorial Day weekend last year when someone took a baseball bat to the side of my house and traumatized my cats.
Right now, I am taking one day at a time.
I am working from home with my cats where I am safe and very happy about it. I am so thankful to still have a job.
I would love to be able to go out and do something, but unfortunately, I am unable to do so because other people act stupidly. If everyone would wear a mask and abide by social distancing, I would be able to leave my house safely. I can only dream.
After knowing so many people who have died recently, I don’t want to be next. I can’t leave orphans.
Wear a mask. Stay 6 feet away.
When this is all over, I want pizza.
It sounds like a simple request. Restaurants are open for take-out and delivery right now. The challenge is that I have multiple food allergies, so I can’t just eat any pizza. It has to be allergy friendly pizza. The nearest restaurant that makes allergy friendly pizza is over an hour away. They can’t even get the ingredients to make the allergy friendly pizza.
Normally, I would be able to get a frozen daiya (allergy friendly) pizza. However, with the food shortages, they are not currently available. With the food shortages, I cannot even obtain the ingredients to be able to make one at home. I do cook almost all my food from scratch, but I like to treat myself to a daiya pizza about once a month or so.
The “specialty” items that people with food allergies require for everyday life are not considered to be “essential” items. Unfortunately, the food allergy community is hard hit in this pandemic right now.
When the only thing left on the grocery store shelf is a jar of peanut butter and you have a nut allergy … no one should have to make the choice about whether they want to die of starvation or die from eating something that will kill them. However, that is the situation that some people are experiencing in our community right now.
I realize that everyone is making sacrifices right now. I am very happy that I do have food to eat. I guess it’s just hard when there are certain comfort items you want and cannot have because they are not available. So, yes, I am whining that I don’t have pizza. It’s a first world problem. I will eat my lentil loaf for dinner tonight. I am making vegetable soup in my crock pot tomorrow.
As soon as allergy friendly pizzas are available again, I want one. I think that everything I “want” right now is a food item that is unavailable due to the food shortage.
Food shortages are real, folks.
I am very fortunate that I have people helping me with supplies. I have food and everything else that I need.
Right now, we are sitting tight waiting for anti-body testing so that things can reopen. The world will not be the same after this. We all have to try to find a new normal. Anti-body testing is probably a pipe dream, since there is no covid testing of any time in my county. We just have to hope that we can ride out the second and third waves of this virus.
What foods are you looking forward to having when they are available again? Hopefully the food shortages will end soon and not get worse.
Stay strong out there. #NYTough
Happy Veteran’s Day. This is the phrase I was attempting to say two years ago today. I’m not sure exactly how it came out, but that was the day I landed in the hospital with stroke symptoms. Today is my 2 year anniversary of the day that changed my life. Nothing has been the same since. I’ve had to slow down whether I like it or not. And, I don’t, by the way. I don’t like it – the slowing down or all the changes.
To celebrate the 2 year anniversary of my stroke, I participated in communion at church today for the first time in my life. Today was the first time that communion has ever been accessible for me since the onslaught of the multiple food allergies in my mid-20s. The most difficult allergen to avoid in this situation, is egg. Have you ever tried to find gluten free bread that is also egg free, dairy free and completely nut free? Let me know, because I don’t think it exists on a widespread commercial basis.
Someone at church went out of their way to find a local bakery in town who was willing to take on, tackle and accommodate all 5 of my food allergies. It was achieved successfully. I can’t tell you what it meant to be able to participate in communion with everyone else today and not be left out. It’s one of the few times when I have actually felt like God loves me. Someone actually baked something that didn’t kill me. There’s a first time for everything.
This is significant because I’ve been struggling lately. Ever since I bought my house, I’ve been experiencing negativity from the community. Pretty much, I’m being kicked while I’m down. I’m still down, by the way. But at least I’m not being kicked any more.
There are some people in this community who are not pleasant to me due to one of my “identities.” It happened again today. I try to blow it off and balance it with all of the people who are going out of their way to make me feel welcome. I figure there is no point in trying to make anyone else happy. I’m just going to be myself and people can either take it or leave it. I think that’s a pretty good attitude even if it doesn’t make the hurt any less.
Even though my life feels like a free floating shit show with no anchor right now, I am thankful and grateful for so many things. I just need some time to get my feet back under me.
I still have challenges post-stroke, but am considered “fully functional.” I am thankful that I am healthy, working, providing, and running. Running is definitely the greatest gift I have ever received in life. My goal for 2018 this year is to exceed the number of miles I ran in 2017. That would be an improvement.
I’m happy that two years after 11/11/16, I can say “Happy Veterans Day,” and it actually comes out sounding like “Happy Veterans Day.” I’m not in the hospital connected to tubes and machines being rushed into a machine that takes photos of my brain.
Happy Veterans Day. Thank you for your service that allows us to be free.