Why Latter-day Saints with Food Storage are Lining Up at Grocery Stores During the Pandemic

Customers wait in lines that stretch to the back of the store at a Costco Warehouse in Irwindale, Calif., Friday, March 6, 2020. (Ken Johnson via AP)

I live in Utah Valley, the most Latter-day Saint rich area on the planet. This is Zion, essentially, and yet the local grocery stores look like this:

bare shelves at walmart
Via Villages-news.com

Lines of people waiting to enter include many “Mormons,” and some of them have followed the prophets’ warnings to store food. Why then are they here?

Emergencies like the one COVID-19 has presented help us to correct mistakes we have made in our preparedness, so let’s learn from this one.

Information we have received from the Church in past years includes having a 72-hour “flight kit” for each person in the house—these are necessities for disasters during which we have to evacuate our homes. Secondly, we are to gradually gather a two-week supply of the foods we normally eat, and then a three month’s supply of those foods. Then a year’s supply of basics, adding clothing, bedding, and fuel, if possible.

Most of us have focused on disaster preparedness. We have candles, batteries, and maybe even a generator. But during a pandemic, the electricity, gas, and other utilities will keep on working. We are able to shelter in place with all of these nice amenities. (Please in your ministering, be aware that some don’t have a “place” to shelter in.)

So, let’s look at what has caught us off-guard in this case, even unbalancing people who are otherwise prepared.

1. Sanitary supplies

Ah, yes. Toilet paper! Toilet paper takes up a lot of space and it looks like most of us are panic-stricken by the thought of running out. People in some parts of the world are laughing at us…not because they don’t care about hygiene, but because they don’t rely on toilet paper. Here’s a WC in Asia:

Asian toilet with sprayer

While the Europeans often have bidets, many others have a spray hose next to the toilet to wash off with. This is a tough sell in most American buildings because we can’t get our floors very wet during a mishap. Buildings in many foreign countries have bathroom floors that are tile over cement, so an excess of water is just an occasion to wash the floor, in the middle of which is a drain. (Can you picture your toddler having a blast with this?)

We Americans can effect similar measures in two ways—buy a bidet spray attachment for the toilet (these are flying off the shelves), or created a squirt device of our own, which can be as simple as this—

squirt bottle

As far as disposable diapers are concerned, looks like we should be storing some cloth diapers for situations like this. Women’s sanitary napkins can be used for wounds in a disaster and would be good to have in storage when we have interruptions in deliveries and shopping.

2. Pre-made easy dinners

nearly empty pizza sauce shelf
Only the most expensive pizza sauces are left

Think spaghetti sauces and mac-and-cheese. Both are nearly as easy to make from scratch as from the bottle or box. So if your grocery store has run out of these, here’s what to do:

Easy Spaghetti Sauce

  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, or 1 1/2 tsp garlic salt and leave out the regular salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (rub between your hands as you add it)
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil (rub between your hands as you add it)

Simmer in a covered pot for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you want to make this with meat, brown 1 pound of hamburger meat or ground mild Italian sausage with one diced onion and then add sauce ingredients.

Mac and Cheese from Scratch

Make 10 – 12 oz of macaroni according to the directions on the box. Drain well. Then make cheese sauce and stir in.

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black (or white pepper)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups milk (or light cream) depending on how thick you want the sauce
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (mild or sharp)

Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in flour. Gradually add the milk, stirring, and bring to a boil as the mixture thickens, then reduce the heat to low/medium. Stir in the spices and then the cheese until it melts. Remove from heat. Then blend with the cooked macaroni. Vary by using another type or a mixture of cheeses. Instead of using the sauce for mac and cheese, try using it with cauliflower or other veggies. OR—If you use Parmesan Cheese and a pinch of nutmeg, you have Bechamel Sauce. If you don’t use any cheese you have white sauce. If you use Parmesan cheese and a bit of garlic, you have Alfredo sauce.

3. Snacks

empty snack shelfA Costco in D.C. not only sold out of TP, but also Goldfish crackers. This is logical. But now that the kids are home and need something to do, they can make snacks from the common ingredients you already have at home. Check out this article to see how to make crackers and pretzels and chips.

4. Frozen Veggies

empty frozen food shelvesLooks like the frozen foods at the grocery stores have gone quickly. One shopper said only the scallops were left, surely a cultivated taste and difficult to prepare properly. So you’ve bought fresh veggies and watched them spoil quickly. If you blanch them, however, you can freeze them yourself and they will last a long, long time.

Blanching entails dropping the veggies into boiling water (or you can use a steamer, if you have one) for a short time and then transferring the veggies into very cold water. They are then ready for freezing. This article tells you how to cut the veggies and how long to blanch them.

5. Frozen Pizza

homemade frozen pizzaGet your kids involved in creating pizza, both for dinner and dessert. Begin with this simple pizza dough:

Pizza Dough

  • 1 Tblsp yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tblsp oil

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the yeast with warm water (about 110°), salt, and sugar. Let rest a few minutes. Blend in oil and gradually stir in the dough. Add flour until the dough is almost too sticky to handle, but you can still work with it. Roll into a ball and then roll it out on a floured countertop or else spread by hand on a greased pan. If you don’t have a round pizza pan, you can make a round pizza on a cookie sheet, or even a rectangular one. Crimp the edges with your fingers. With your fingers or a pastry brush, brush olive oil all over the pizza. Spread tomato sauce all around, or use Alfredo sauce for chicken pizza, or even barbecue sauce. For Italian pizza with tomato sauce, sprinkle on garlic salt, oregano, and basil. Then pile on mozzarella cheese or any other cheese of choice. Add toppings of choice. Bake at 450° for about 18 minutes, or at 375° for 20 minutes or until crust is browned and toppings are bubbly. Reduce the amount of yeast if you want a flatter, crispier crust.

If you want frozen pizza, leave the uncooked pizza on the pan and put your creation into the freezer instead of the oven. Once it is frozen you can remove it from the pan and wrap it up to put back into the freezer.

For dessert pizza, put your ball of pizza dough on a sugared surface and then sprinkle the dough with sugar. Roll out. Transfer the dough to a large baking sheet and poke all over with a fork, then brush with some melted butter. Bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly.  Smear with Nutella, peanut butter, or melted chocolate chips. Drop on sweet toppings or candy, whipped cream, your choice.

6. There’s No Bread

hoarding bread
Via Winston-Salem Journal

Bread has flown off the shelves. If you can’t manage to grab some, here’s a super-easy recipe for white batter bread that needs no kneading (kinda fun to say that over and over—obviously I’m desperate for entertainment). Once you get the hang of this, it will be easy to put this task on repeat. Trying substituting 1 cup of white flour for whole wheat or something more exotic.

Aaaannndd now there’s a shortage of yeast. This article tells you how to make your own.

7. Everything that is Temporal is also Spiritual

family reading Book of MormonPresident Henry B. Eyring taught,

“Most of us have thought about how to prepare for storms. We have seen and felt the suffering of women, men, and children, and of the aged and the weak, caught in hurricanes, tsunamis, wars, and droughts. One reaction is to ask, “How can I be prepared?” And there is a rush to buy and put away whatever people think they might need for the day they might face such calamities.

“But there is another even more important preparation we must make for tests that are certain to come to each of us. That preparation must be started far in advance because it takes time. What we will need then can’t be bought. It can’t be borrowed. It doesn’t store well. And it has to have been used regularly and recently.

“What we will need in our day of testing is a spiritual preparation. It is to have developed faith in Jesus Christ so powerful that we can pass the test of life upon which everything for us in eternity depends. That test is part of the purpose God had for us in the Creation.

“… The great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God’s commands in the midst of the storms of life. It is not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage. And the tragedy of life is to fail in that test and so fail to qualify to return in glory to our heavenly home.

“Life [will] have storms in which we … have to make choices using faith in things we [can] not see with our natural eyes. …

“It will take unshakable faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to choose the way to eternal life. It is by using that faith we can know the will of God. It is by acting on that faith we build the strength to do the will of God. And it is by exercising that faith in Jesus Christ that we can resist temptation and gain forgiveness through the Atonement.” 

How did you prepare for times like this? What are you doing at home that we can learn from? Share in the comments.

Gale Boyd is the managing editor for ThirdHour.org. She is a Jewish convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has lived all over the world. She has raised 6 Third Culture Kids and is always homesick for somewhere.