By Annette A. Ferrer
I am a foodie and cook, and over the years, I’ve really learned how to stock my pantry for both pleasure and survival. I initially drafted this list to send to a friend as little kodigo for her lockdown grocery run. But a few other people have been asking me here and there about what to do with this and that.
Below is a grocery list for the zombie apocalypse of our time, este the COVID-19 lockdown. I hope it is simple enough for beginners and non-cooks. It has also some ideas on what to do with the food items.
Hope you find it useful!
Cheers! Let’s all stay safe at home. But let’s also eat well, healthy, and with as little to no waste as possible!
GROCERY/PALENGKE LIST FOR WHEN YOU’RE IN QUARANTINE
AROMATICS, NO REF (NR)
(I keep these unrefrigerated until they are looking needy. These are the last things I put in the fridge or eat at the end of my normal-life-no-lockdown week.)
Cabbage (If it’s looking sad and you’re about to use it, peel off the outer leaves until it looks pretty again. If limp, soak in some cool/cold water until it livens up again. The cold water goes up the plant’s veins. Applies to most leafies.)
Whole kalabasa (When cut, put in fridge na or cook everything na. You can make it into different dishes, eg. Soup, ginataang kalabasa with other veg. Freeze the soup.)
STURDY VEG, but refrigerate now or soonish. OK pa rin kahit kulubot.
Green papaya (Use for soups like tinola. Or make a Thai green papaya salad – dressing would be sugar, patis, kalamansi.)
Sayote (For soups or ginisa with carrots, spring onions, bell peppers, hibe, giniling.)
Labanos (Make a Vietnamese style pickle with suka, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic, carrots. Theoretically, this should be ok unrefrigerated, but in an airtight container. Gonna try this. But in refrigerator, it will definitely keep – tested.)
STURDY VEG, but ref now
Green beans, Baguio beans, sitaw, French beans!
Okra (Ok kainin kahit kulubot na. But get it as fresh as possible if you plan to store.)
VERY STURDY, NO REF
*Tomatoes (semi-sturdy): Get them at different stages of ripeness. I never refrigerate my tomatoes, even if they are red because they turn a yucky, sandy texture. I let them ripen outside next to my garlic, etc.
Pomelo – can last 2-3 weeks in my experience, unopened, unrefrigerated
Apples – kahit kulubot na, ok pa rin. Wag lang itim.
Pahihinuging mangga at saging, saging na saba
*Pineapple: You can make vinegar, and even a boozy drink. Google tepache! If I ever get to go out and make a run, that’s what I’m making!!! Need booze!
HERBS / SPICES
Spring onions – crisper
Leeks – crisper
Cilantro, parsley, basil – can last, but wash them na, spin in salad spinner (or pat dry), cut off roots and such, then arrange flatly in a tupperware or ziplock lined with kitchen towels on top and bottom. This will keep them from going moist and rotting in the condensation. Can keep for like a week.
Sili – Do the same line-with-tissue method
HOW TO KEEP VEG IN THE FRIDGE LONGER
Take them out of the plastic bags if they are, except for stuff that will make a mess, e.g. green beans, small things. If at all possible, store in a paper bag or wrap the green beans in paper. Too much moisture will make the veg rot.
Line the bottom of the crisper with paper or cloth or paper towel. Put the veg in, with the sturdier, harder vegetables at the bottom first. Then the more leafy or delicate ones on top. Usually, if the veg is already hard, it will be sturdy.
When you’ve arranged everything, put a handtowel or old t-shirt on top. The lining and the “blanket” will absorb and wick away any extra moisture. 😀
THINGS YOU CAN PRESERVE – Do NOT use iodized salt for any fermentation or preservation projects. It will taste like metal. The cheapo “rock salt” available at the palengke is good enough. Unadulterated, pure salt.
Dayap (All you need is salt, a jar, and something to weigh down the dayap in the jar – unrefrigerated. Look up YouTube: Preserved lemons, Joshua Weissman.)
Kalamansi, other citrus fruits (Pigain mo na, keep bottle in fridge. Will last virtually forever.)
All the dry beans you can grab!!!
Keep in jars or containers so they don’t get attacked by bugs or rats.
Dry fish and shrimp. Pampalasa sa panahon ng kagipitan.
OTHER PALENGKE THINGS
Eggs (Look up Chinese tea eggs.)
Bigas (Malagkit can be made into arroz caldo or champorado!)
Fresh gata, if you can.
GROCERY SUGGESTIONS (Things that will keep, but also brighten up your meals and mood)
Pancake mix (For your overripe bananas. Mash the bananas and mix into the batter. You can make the batter in advance, keep in fridge if you are not using immediately. You can also make these into crepes.)
Flour and or cornstarch (Can make pudding, with additional ingredients like bananas or chocolate/cocoa powder, vanilla flavoring)
Bay leaves, spices
Olives, capers, tomato paste (for putanesca, or for banana ketchup – yung tomato paste)
Wakame (Hinalo ko yung wakame sa instant mami, sarap. At some point, I’ll make a Korean seaweed soup.)
Nori(Wrap whatever you’ve got up. Add mayo. Or make a toyo-mayo dressing. Even just these few things will be great: julienned cucumber, toyo-mayo, pepper, wrapped in nori.)
Korean red pepper paste (Many uses. But can make bibimbap with leftovers.)
Korean miso, or any miso packaged well
Sesame oil (Just a little goes a long way. Do not use this to cook stuff. This is only for drizzling at the end of a dish, before serving.)
Peanut butter (Can be a dessert, palaman, or even the base of a savory Asian noodle dish. We use this as our sweetener with oatmeal and fruits.)
Ready marinades (I think Lee Kum Kee has. Yung mga soup base for hot pot, Mapo Tofu.)
Spice and sauce mixes
**Don’t forget your ziplock bags and other containers so you can keep them in fridge longer or in an organized manner!
CANNED GOODS THAT HAVE A MULTITUDE OF USES
Canned corn – salad, mais con hielo, add to sauteed things
Cream style corn – mais con hielo, soups
Canned tomatoes – the base for soups and stews
Capers and olives – add both salt and acidity to dishes
Canned halo-halo condiments
Condensed milk (With some biscuits, cream, condensed milk, fruit, you can already make a fridge/freezer cake; cheapo tiramisu feels.)
STEAM VEG IN THE MICROWAVE!
Leafy greens like pechay, cabbage, napa cabbage, alugbati and other veg like okra, sliced eggplant, French beans, green beans can all steamed in the microwave. Clean and slice them, put in a microwaveable container with a lid with a few tablespoons of water. Then NUKE! I start with one minute, then check if the veg is done to my liking. Add time in 15-30 second intervals if you’re just trying it out for the first time. You’ll soon get a hang of how long things take to steam.
**Wag [lock type] type container though — I’ve had those seal shut on me! I use [press down to seal] type containers. If all else fails, just cover with a plate!
This is a much more time and resource-efficient way to steam versus 1) having to boil lots of water and wait or 2) putting them in a rice cooker and risking the veg being overcooked and mushy.
My family and I just eat the steamed veg as is — no salt — because we eat it with saltier ulam like adobo, etc.. But feel free to jazz it up after it has steamed. Like Kikkoman and sesame oil on top of eggplants, maybe add some toasted sesame seeds or nuts or crumbled chicharon!