Guest post by Kelli Herlevi.
Seven years ago or so we were living in Mississippi. My husband was in training for his career and our budget was pretty tight.
We were trying to stretch our food dollars as far as possible to include purchasing food storage items each time we went grocery shopping. I found myself at the supermarket one day when a display featuring a fantastic deal on peanut butter caught my eye.
Now, we had already evaluated our needs for peanut butter and considering our preference for peanut butter, we had already determined our one-year supply to be 6 jars. Plus, we knew that in 12 months it would be highly probable that we would be relocating to different part of the county. We didn’t want to be stuck with an unreasonable amount of food storage when it came time to move.
However, I was still drawn to the display for the peanut butter deal. It was just too good to pass up.
I was faced with a big decision: Creamy or Crunchy? Unable to decide, I chose both. A case of crunchy peanut butter and a case of creamy peanut butter.
What in the world was I thinking? I strolled around the supermarket for a few minutes contemplating my decision. I determined that it did fit within my budget, so I promptly paid for my groceries and headed home.
Then when I got home I had to make yet another decision: where to hide the peanut butter so that I didn’t have to explain to my husband why I spent our entire grocery surplus on peanut butter.
I hid it with the cleaning supplies. Certainly, it was safe there for an extended period of time. I knew he’d never find it. And sure enough, the peanut butter stash was not discovered…for a few weeks at least.
About 6 weeks later we found ourselves in the midst of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath. We were safe. Our home was safe. Our neighbors were safe. Phone communication was sketchy at first. But on day 3, we received our first phone call. A member of our church was calling to check on members of our congregation.
We reported that we were safe, what our needs were and what goods we had to offer to others. She told us that a national grocery chain had made arrangements to bring in an 18-wheeler full of bread and other grocery products to the Jackson Coliseum that was being used as a shelter. They were looking for local donations for items for sandwiches that would not require refrigeration as the whole area was still without power.
I was speechless for several seconds. Tears filled my eyes. I remembered the 2 cases of peanut butter hidden amongst the cleaning supplies.
We immediately filled our small car with items to donate: towels, sheets, blankets, pillows, coloring books, crayons…and 2 cases of peanut butter.
I will never forget the overwhelming feeling of gratitude I had as we pulled up to the Coliseum and began unloading our goods. I was completely overcome with emotion as I walked into the dark halls lined with mothers and young children displaced by the storm. Many of them had only the shirts on their backs. I was quickly directed to a hall where tall racks of bread were being stored, waiting to be made into sandwiches for so many unfortunate people.
That event left an impression on me that I will never forget. I will forever be able to see those faces in my mind of the people lining the halls, hungry, tired, waiting for relief. I will also never forget my impression 6 weeks earlier to buy 2 cases of peanut butter.
Just in case you’re wondering about my obsession with peanut butter, here are a few reasons to store the nutty stuff:
- Peanut Butter has a relatively long shelf-life when stored in a cool location. The “use by” date is typically one to years out, but it can actually be stored indefinitely in a cool place if it is unopened.
- It does not need to be refrigerated upon opening. It can stay good for at least 6 months after opening.
- It is high in fiber, protein and micronutrients.
- An interesting nutrient found in peanuts in Resveratrol, a natural antimicrobial agent produced by the peanut plant found to ward off potential pathogens. It provides anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties to the body.
- Peanut Butter is available in a variety of sizes. Sealed packages range in size from single serving containers, 18 oz, 40 oz, 48 oz. to a #10 can size.
- Peanut Butter Powder is a healthy option. It’s sold in a #10 can and has a shelf life of 4 years which can be extended if it is refrigerated.
I prefer to store a variety of sizes as well as a mix of creamy, crunchy, and super crunchy. Keep in mind those with peanut allergies. If the allergy is severe enough, even being in the same room with a PB&J sandwich can be harmful. For those with peanut allergies, almond butter or cashew butter might be an option. Nutella also has a similar shelf life to peanut butter when unopened. I can’t vouch for the shelf life an opened bottle of Nutella because at our house an opened jar of Nutella does not last long enough to measure.
Perhaps there are people out there who hoard food with no intention of sharing, ever. But there’s just something about having a little bit extra and being able to share it with someone in need that keeps me focused on storing food whenever I can.
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