How is anybody supposed to feed a family like this?
We're only a few days into this new world order of homeschooling and working from home, and I've already learned so much about my family.
For instance, my wife is a serial snacker that calls meetings "phone hook-ups" and likes to work in a space surrounded by empty coffee cups and piles of scrunched-up notes. Meanwhile, my kids' idea of remote learning involves turning on the TV and watching six hours of SpongeBob SquarePants straight.
The other thing I've learned is the extreme amount of food they eat. Back in the good old pre-COVID days I used to moan about spending most weeknights packing school lunches. What I didn't realise was this was a covert form of rationing. If they ate all their lunch by recess, they'd have three options: barter with a mate, 'starve' until dinner, or eat the crusts from their sandwich.
But now my kids have 24-hour access to the fridge and pantry. As you'd expect, they've eaten their way through our two-week food stockpile and have even dipped into the emergency back-up stockpile consisting of three packs of Saladas and a tin of creamed corn.
All this means I'll have to go to the supermarket again, which is filling me with all sorts of dread. Namely, how am I going to adequately replenish our stocks with very strict buying limitations in place?
The recent introduction of draconian limits on every day items came after the great toilet paper ransacking of 2020 and multiple punch ons in the pasta aisle. Supermarkets say they've done this to cope with what they describe as the "unprecedented demand" on essential products, which is fair enough in theory, but much tougher in practice.
At Woolworths, you can't buy more than two items of basically anything now - including rice, pasta, tinned tomatoes, flour, and mince. (Yes, like cigarettes in a maximum-security prison, minced meat has now become its own form of currency.)
Now I'm not sure if the heads of our national supermarkets have ever tried to feed a family of five on one batch of spaghetti bolognese, but anyone who has knows the conundrum.
Earlier this week, mum-of-four Bec Judd also pointed out the toilet paper shaped elephant in the room, explaining, "every time I go to the supermarket people look at me and give me the crazy side-eye like I'm stock piling, and I feel like I need to wear a sign saying, 'No I'm not. I've just got four kids'".
She continued, "I have 18 litres of milk a week. I have seven loaves of bread, eight packs of meat. Like, this is what I need in a week!"
And while we're more of an oatmilk family ourselves, I see her point. Because, while yes, we only have ourselves to blame for such harsh restrictions, in a time of social distancing it's probably not the best idea having families heading into the supermarket every day.
Mercifully, though, there are no limits on Easter merchandise. So marshmallow eggs and chocolate bunnies can now replace all your pantry staples … until April at least.
Darren Levin is a columnist for RendezView.com.au
Originally published as How is anybody supposed to feed a family like this?