Relay: Be Prepared!

I’ve long poked fun at his penchant to overprepare when it comes to supplies
A potpie for the masses Carissa Katz

There’s something about living in the woods that brings out the stockpiler in me, and my husband couldn’t be happier. 

I’ve long poked fun at his penchant to overprepare when it comes to supplies. We had 50 pounds of white rice in advance of Hurricane Sandy, and more than five years later, we still have 50 pounds of white rice. The same 50 pounds. We don’t eat a lot of white rice under normal circumstances, but I guess if things had turned out worse for us in East Hampton and we had been cut off from the outside world, we would have been glad for all that rice. But why buy six extra deodorants when just three ought to last you a couple of months? Or 36 rolls of paper towels when 18 would probably be adequate for the foreseeable future?

My husband, in turn, has long been stumped by my reluctance to resupply until after I’ve used the very last drop of something and can no longer shake loose the tiniest bit. 

Living these past five months at the Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island, way down at the end of a long, long driveway, my husband is in his element. A Boy Scout by nature, he now has every excuse and then some to be prepared. There’s no easy popping out to the store, and once you’re home, you enter your own happy bubble in the woods and you don’t want to leave. Heaven forbid you forget something after leaving the house. Provided you’re still on Shelter Island, getting home will take 15 minutes round trip at best from the paved road. 

Each weekday I go to East Hampton for work and almost every day I find myself at the grocery store getting one thing or another that I forgot the last time I was there. A lot of times it’s rice. . . . Just kidding.

Seriously, though, you cannot arrive home at the end of a two-and-a-half-mile dirt driveway and then ask yourself what’s for dinner because some days the answer would be “nothing” or maybe “clams” or “white rice.” But my daughter is allergic to clams and she doesn’t like white rice, so I have to be prepared. I have to stockpile. 

Two weeks ago while shopping in Riverhead, we decided to do a walk-through at Costco. It was snowing and it was lunchtime and we’d been impressed before by the samples on offer to hungry shoppers. By the time we left we had a membership, five pounds of pita chips, and the biggest chicken potpie I’d ever seen.

“We’ll see if we use it,” we said to each other, meaning the membership, not the potpie. 

At the store we wondered why anyone would need a five-pound bag of pita chips, but once we got home and got into it we wondered why they don’t make a 10-pound bag, and why we hadn’t bought three of them. 

Back in Riverhead last weekend for a children’s birthday party, I was at Costco again browsing the dinosaur-size bags of organic kale, pallets of marinara sauce, and eight-pound blocks of cheese. Another $300 later and I’ve got a four-month supply of Ritz crackers, 10 pounds of pita chips, a five-pound bag of organic quinoa, 70 AA batteries, 18 apples, and enough table crackers to last until June. While the organic chicken thighs were a great price, I couldn’t see a circumstance in which we could use or store 12 pounds of them. 

“Our pantry looks like a grocery store,” my daughter exclaimed. 

“Mom, just saying, you did go a little crazy at Costco,” my son gently admonished, while my husband happily organized the shelves. 


Carissa Katz is The Star’s managing editor.