We've been slowly but surely building up our stockpile of food and necessities for about six months and you would think we would have had it all figured out by now. But I had an epiphany last weekend when I opened a new bottle of ketchup. It was one of those big 64 oz bottles. It had lived on the shelf in the cupboard for several weeks since I bought it. But now that it was opened, it would need to be refrigerated. Then it hit me ...what would we do if we were actually living out of our stores in the worst of scenarios ...no power for weeks or months or even longer? Anything that we opened and didn't consume completely in one sitting would go to waste. What a tragedy that would be.
I had already decided to process food in one-meal quantities (canning quart jars of stews and soups) with the idea that in a real crisis where lack of power might go on for longer than a few days or weeks, we would not have a way to refrigerate and store leftovers. It would also help us ration our stores to be able to look at the shelves and count jars to know how many meals we still had ahead of us. I thought I was being smart to process foods in quantities that we could consume in one meal, and I still thinks it's a good idea. But I had not carried the thought through far enough to consider things like condiments. How many condiments do we all commonly use these days that are shelf worthy only until you open then ...they all say 'refrigerate after opening' right there on the label. Waste is never a good thing, but in a crisis situation, it's downright sinful.
There's nothing I can do about the stores I already have set back. But from this point forward. any condiments like mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise or pickle relish that I want to stockplle, I will buy boxes of them in the little single squeeze packets at Sam's. Any time we go to a burger joint or drive through and they offer such condiments, I will smile and say, "Yes, please" and take as many as they are willing to give me. Chicken places often have little packets of honey and even butter, free for the asking too.
Use the large quantity items you already have stockpiled now that will require refrigeration after you open them. In the meantime, never turn down a free condiment, people. You never know when that might be the best thing you tasted in ages!