The last freeze here in Maine took the last of our tomatoes. A poignant reminder that winter and all of its complications is preparing to arrive.

I’m looking ahead to my cold-weather pantry needs. It doesn’t look like COVID is going anywhere soon, and that means that while standing in line outside at grocery stores when it was warm wasn’t so bad, it will be a new experience in winter. Standing in the cold is not something I enjoy. How about you? Plan ahead!

I began my list by figuring out what we use over two weeks and what we use monthly. Over the next few weeks, when I shop, I’ll add the following:

· Ketchup and other condiments – Ketchup can substitute for tomato sauce, kids usually want it on everything, and it stores virtually forever.

· Canned goods – Even if you have home-canned goods, there may be areas needing reinforcement. I choose corn, tuna, juice, pineapple, pears, and peaches.

· Soups – a category all by itself because it’s versatile and classic comfort food. Dress up plain soups with herbs, spices, cream, vegetables, or thickened and use as a sauce.

· Aromatics – garlic, chilies, ginger, onions, and carrots store well without refrigeration and deliver as a foundation for flavor.

· Pasta – Different shapes and varieties serve as the basis for inspiring meals. They’re quick to prepare.

· Sweet and white potatoes – Potatoes store well in a cool place.

· Cereal and pancake mixes.

· Water – we prepared emergency water last year and sealed it in canning jars.

· Flour – a survival basic.

· Dried fruits, nuts, candy – I’m not kidding about the candy. Candy relieves stress, brings up low blood sugars, and adds enjoyment to life.

· Toilet paper – not a food item, but if you don’t already have enough for the rest of your life, pick up what you will need. Leave the rest for others.

Start preparing now by picking up a few items at a time, so you aren’t full of regrets when the cold north winds hit! Remember the best defense is a great offense! If you are

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