Life hacks

Postcards from The Inside – Food

My husband, Don, died unexpectedly eight weeks ago and our family has been “sheltering in place” since then. We are oddly comforted by the fact that the world has now joined us in our hibernation – although we are deeply saddened by the cause.

Here in California, we have officially been on “lockdown” for nearly two weeks. As the rest of the country slowly joins us, our experience might be helpful as you prepare, so this first postcard is focused on the most basic of necessities: food! We’ll get to all the creative ways to work, exercise, socialize and actually enjoy this time later!

Store What You Eat, Grow What You Can

This global pandemic presents a unique opportunity to create the pantry of your dreams, just remember to store what you eat, grow what you can. Think about what you enjoy eating, make a loose menu plan for a month and shop with those recipes in mind. Don’t forget to include daily medications and food for your pet on your list.

We are mostly plant-based and so we know what that means for us – lots of beans, rice, quinoa, pasta, eggs, almond milk – plenty of broths for making soups, onions, garlic and jars of gourmet sauce to make our pasta delicious. For us, fresh produce is the issue, so we are growing herbs* and lettuces, we have frozen ingredients for our daily smoothie, and we added a weekly CSA box to supply what we typically would get from the farmer’s market. Some of these things you will be too late for – like the CSA (community supported agriculture) box or toilet paper delivery from Who Give a Crap – but join the waitlist and then consider keeping when life goes back to normal, so the suppliers can count on your business. 

*Herbs have been used since ancient times to fight viruses and boost immune systems – so get growing!

Plan for Emotional Eating!

Don’t forget to stock up on baking supplies + ice cream! Baking your own bread can be a fun activity as much as a necessity and occasional batches of cookies or ice cream can provide a much needed emotional boost. You also may be exercising more (we’ve loved the live classes our local studio is offering and “joining” friends at theirs) so consider the indulgence your reward!

When You Have to Venture Out

We are able to use Instacart, and schedule our deliveries on Monday or Tuesday when the stores are restocked. If you must go out to shop, if possible limit to one person, once a week. Reusable tote bags can sustain the COVID-19 and flu viruses — and spread them throughout the store – so experts recommend leaving them at home or wash them after each shopping outing. Some stores here is CA are temporarily banning them and returning to paper – so check your local store for guidelines. 

Many stores have worked out clear systems and visual cues in place (ie tape on the floor) for spacing out when waiting in line – so be patient, follow directions and remember to thank the employees providing their essential service.  Protect yourself and those around you by wearing gloves and a mask (a buff is a good solution) if possible, and remember to remove your gloves before you get back in your car to drive home. Wash your hands, shower and wash your clothes immediately, and disinfect any countertops used for unloading. (Don’t forget to follow this protocol when unboxing any deliveries – as the virus can live on cardboard for 24 hours at a minimum.)

Silver Lining

I recognize that many are struggling financially, emotionally and physically, but hopefully, this postcard from the inside will provide some practical solutions you can adapt to your situation. It is up to all of us to embrace this new world with bravery, creativity, humor, gratitude, hope, and intelligence – things my family has learned a lot about recently – and find the silver lining in it all. Wishing you continued health and safety, Sarah

17 Comments

  • ANDREA FONO

    Exceptional letter.
    I felt like you were reading this directly to me. Yes I mentioned to my mom we ought to start up her garden again which was a full half acre production for 35 years. We had a full time gardener and they grew many things fot the restaurants. In fact lots of basil and rosemary for the focaccia breads. Of course all organic. What I never understood Is that they never bragged about the home grown veggies and herbs. It is so like my dear parents who practiced “impeccability” for the simple cause of excellence. They never had the need to flaunt their exceptionalism which is quite a virtue to sustain through a 49 year restaurant career.

    So upon retirement when they chose to allow the Babbo’s lease to expire at Standford Shopping Center , the demand for an operational garden production ceased as well. Coincidentally when they closed Babbo’s the California’s drought was in full swing…and frankly, the gardener of 30 years was ready to retire as well, so the fresh veggies and my free-loading delicious meals ended all at once.

    But! The day has come to remained that. Frank and I are in our apartment in San Carlos so we are not quarantined at their home in Atherton. Still they are doing great and we visit, drop off groceries and wave to them through the glass sliding door windows.

    I’ll bring up the idea of a small patch of garden for arugula and who knows what else.

    Please keep sending your thoughts.

    All my love, Andrea

    Forgive me, I enjoy telling stories however my grammar is horrid. My first language is Hungarian and the sentence structure is the opposite to English and as a dyslexic artist I just never saw my way to correct English grammar. You see …just like that sentence.

  • Kate

    Going to make a little herb box!

    What would say to people who don’t have the medical masks? Amazon is always sold out!

  • Sarah Lucas

    Andrea – Thank you for your note! Your parents have always been extraordinary members of the community and I am so glad to know they are safe and healthy! Happy gardening to you and Frank and surely the silver lining is the kick starting of a glorious garden + free-loading delicious meals once again! SL

  • Sarah Lucas

    Kate – So glad to know you are going to plant an herb box – a perfect solution for those in an apartment or urban setting!

    Your mask question is a good one. Studies have found that something as simple as two layers of a cotton T-shirt is highly effective at blocking virus particles. There was additional evidence found this month by Oxford University that simple fabric covering the mouth and nose are effective and officially acceptable for hospital use when N95 masks aren’t available. We are using our exercise buffs.

    Some people are still questioning the use of masks at all. George Gao, director general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, stated, “Many people have asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections. If they are wearing face masks, it can prevent droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others.” Masks aren’t enough to stop the spread – experts still point to hand washing as the best defense, but a good precaution none the less.

  • Maggie Lilienthal

    Sarah–this is excellent! I enjoyed it very much & thank you for some good advice. I’m inspired to be more plant-based now! You’re amazing.❤

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