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Take stock of what’s on stock

If you had to stay in your home without leaving for 14 days, could you do so in comfort? That’s the question and it’s causing a lot of concern. The intention is to be prepared should you choose to not leave your house.

Current information says it’s unlikely our access to electricity or water will be disrupted. We’ll be able to go to the store for supplies as needed. So, you don’t need six months of nonperishable food and supplies.

If you see empty shelves today, don’t worry. The items that are out of stock will soon be restocked. There’s no shortage of food, cleaning products or toilet paper in the U.S. This is a consumer-driven shortage that will right itself.

Begin by taking stock of what you already have in your house. You probably have more than you think. Take inventory of all you have in your freezer, fridge and cupboards.

The obvious stock-up items are in short supply. Here they are when you can find them: rice, beans, pasta and sauce, peanut butter, canned meats, fish, soups, fruits and vegetables, frozen fruits and vegetables, meats, fish and poultry, powdered milk, cooking oil, salt, sugar, spices, foods for those with dietary restrictions, baby food and pet food.

The obvious aside, here are some useful tips you may not have thought of.

To free up refrigerator space, many fruits and vegetables keep well for weeks stored in a cool, dry place. These include apples, cabbage, carrots, citrus fruits, hard-shelled squash, onions, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

If frozen vegetables are in short supply, you can purchase fresh vegetables and freeze them. Look online for instructions.

You can freeze milk; just leave room in the container because milk expands when frozen.

Eggs freeze, too. Remove them from shell, scramble and add either ¼ teaspoon salt (for savory dishes) or sugar (for baking sweets) for each cup of eggs. Place mixture in freezer-safe containers for up to one year. Use an ice cube tray for single egg servings.

Storing items like cottage cheese, sour cream and yogurt upside down creates a vacuum in the container that represses bacteria and mold from growing.

Corn meal is very versatile and can be used to make grits or polenta, corn muffins, cookies, cakes, hush puppies, casseroles, dumplings, a crunchy coating for baked and fried foods and even corn dogs.

Oatmeal is another versatile food. Besides oatmeal, you can make granola or cookies or add it to yogurt and smoothies. It can be ground into flour for baking or soaked to make oat milk.

If you’re feeling the urge to stock the freezer, here’s an easy and inexpensive chili recipe. You can use it as a base for meals like burritos, tacos or taco salad. Serve it over baked potatoes, rice or pasta, make chili mac, use it as filling for omelets or just eat it with tortilla chips.

10-MINUTE CHILI

Yield: 4 servings

What you’ll need:

1 pound ground beef, pork or turkey

1½ cups onion, chopped

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon dried minced garlic

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

1 15-ounce can red kidney beans

Salt and pepper to taste

Here’s how:

Heat skillet to medium-high. Place ground meat and onion in the skillet, stirring occasionally.

While the ground meat cooks, open the beans and tomato sauce and rinse the beans. Set aside.

When the meat is nearly done, drain the excess fat from the skillet. Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic, tomato sauce and beans. Stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let cool and divide into freezer safe zip top bags for future use.

Bonus recipe: To make hand sanitizer, in a mixing bowl blend together 2/3 cup 99 percent rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol, 1/3 cup 100 percent pure aloe vera gel and 8-10 drops essential oil for fragrance (optional). Use a funnel to place into a pump bottle.

Lastly my friends, remember: Facts, not fear. Clean hands. Open hearts.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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