Published 30 March 2020, updated 1 September 2020.

In times of uncertainty, the familiar and the old school can become incredibly comforting. As we adjust our lives around self-isolation and find new ways to make our day to day manageable, the return of nostalgic skills and ways to be bring many benefits; we find new ways to sustain ourselves and our families; we develop skills and abilities we never thought we had; and we fill the days with meaningful activity, which is good for health on so many levels. 

Shopping local, supporting farmers

In the wake of panic buying and crowded big stores, the farmgate becomes an appealing purchasing option that gives you access to the freshest, most nutritious produce and helps a small business keep the wheels turning. Orchards haven’t stopped fruiting, and garden beds are laden with produce. The Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges are Melbourne’s food bowl so there are plenty of bulk buy options too.

Sew and grow 

Veggie plots across the region are being prepared for new seedlings, and for those who already have their fruit and veggie gardens humming along, there is often excess to share. Farm gates such as Rayner’s Orchard have extensive nurseries so you can not only buy produce now,  you can buy your own veg and fruit trees for later while you are there.

Preserving and storing fruit and veg

Of course, once you’ve stocked up on some fresh produce, ‘some to eat now-some to save for later’ comes into play. If you’ve been hanging onto those pasta sauce jars and empty food containers you’ve got the opportunity for an amazing day in the kitchen preparing portions to freeze, bottle, pickle and dry.  There are plenty of online resources to guide you, or ask your mum for a Zoom lesson!

Only one car trip a week

There is something to be said for sustainability and the ‘stay at home’ family. Minimising car trips means less stress, less traffic and less pollution. Plan your weekly trip and get things done and dusted for another week.  Slowing down has its own rewards.

Picnics for your people

Families from the same premises can still get some fresh air together and it’s important to create safe moments that bring you close (or at least lures the teens out of their bedrooms). While going to cafes and restaurants is not possible right now, many of your favourites are offering picnic packs and takeaway (remember how stylish they looked in Mad Men - recreate that!). Order home delivery and picnic in your own backyard or on your balcony. Want a speical hamper - click here for ideas. Ultimate picnic spots to get your outside and socially distanced are here.

Know thy Butcher 

There’s something personal about knowing your butcher. People attach themselves to butchers the way they would a favourite hairdresser (who we won’t be seeing for a little while - yikes).  If you’re not in the habit of seeking out the latest prime cut, or freshest fillet of fish, try supporting your local butcher where quality and a friendly face are guaranteed. You might even get a recipe tip or two.

Pre-ordering your weekly shop

A little old-fashioned planning goes a long way, especially if you’re watching the dollars.  Plan your menu for the week and shop accordingly. Utilise the benefits of click and collect online ordering, and home delivery to minimise your ‘out and about’ time.  These services are being offered by many small businesses in the region who have pivoted quickly to broaden their range and delivery options to bring you their best. 

Loving your local Baker 

Good bread is definitely an essential service. Your local baker is up way too early to bake fresh every day and if you haven’t mastered the ‘at-home’ bake, then mastering the pleasure of fresh bread has the potential to be a highlight of your day. Bread has kept civilizations alive and is a versatile ingredient in cooking, even when it’s stale! Google some recipes for how to use stale bread and maximise the benefit! (Hint Italian cooking has some masterful ways with stale bread – as cake batters, as puddings, and dried or fried for delicious toppings like pangrattato.)

And there’s no doubt that for a while the home delivery guy will be one of your favourite people – a highlight of the day even! And community matters – the virtual connecting we do with our neighbours, our suburbs and our towns – forms a web of interconnection that keeps us all together, even when we are apart.