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When does ‘having reserves’ become greedy stockpiler? I don’t think I know but think I’ve crossed the line.

Last week I reached for a tin of (dolphin friendly, line caught) tuna. Before I’d even opened it, I wrote ‘tuna’ on my shopping list. Why? So I had a tin to replace this one. I already had another one in the cupboard. So I had two spare tins. I never use more than one at a time so I’ve always got one spare. But regardless, it seems in my mind I’m insecure unless I have two tins of tuna fish.

I surveyed the tin cupboard. Soup, beans, corn, fruit… probably things most people have. But always in pairs. What a waste of space.

Does having all those tins of food make me feel I’d be OK if all the shops closed for a week? Some bizarre strike to teach us a lesson that we should be more self-sufficient. Well I am! I have all those tins.

A buzz of panic invades my body when I reach for a tin and can’t see another identical one in reserve. What will happen if I want to cook and don’t have a tin of the required tinned ingredient? What will we all do?

Suddenly I feel my family will suffer hardship if they have to eat eggs and nothing else one night. What if I don’t’ have any eggs either? (With eggs no less than half a dozen keeps me feeling secure.) I could use two and then… Godl I’d only have four left. What if I needed five for something? I panicked prematurely6. Maybe six eggs aren’t enough after all. Maybe to stop any panic I should always have twelve. But my fridge egg tray only holds ten… And then I have to use the space usually reserved for little containers of unused food. (Homemade Chinese dipping sauce, a little bit of grated cheese, mayonnaise…) That would mess up my fridge system.

Let me be clear. I don’t have two tins of every tinned food available. Just the ones I use regularly. Though I do have tins of things I haven’t used in months namely Borlotti beans, pilchards (I didn’t buy them) and mixed beans (I did buy them.)

I wonder how my psyche would cope if I donated all my tins to the bucket in my supermarket appealing for food for those in need. I’d feel needy and probably raid the bucket the next day searching for my own tins. I certainly wouldn’t want someone else’s. Tinned carrots, mackerel in olive oil, chopped tomatoes with herbs? You can keep them for the needy. I want what I’m used to, what I’m familiar with. Security.

So I admit to having low level Hoarders Disease. I think I can cure myself but only slowly. Start with just having one tin of each in my cupboard. And get rid of the pilchards.

It highlights a social illness. Now that shops are open almost 24 hours a day, I’m more fearful of not having tins than people were when their cupboards were virtually empty, shops had a limited stock (tinned corned beef) and closed half day Wednesdays.

I’ll post a follow up in a month when I hope to have used up at least half my tinned foods. Any recipes which include pilchards in tomato sauce, Borlotti beans and maybe mixed beans welcome.

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