Grocery Diaries

I Live In Austin, Texas — Here’s What I Ate the Week After Winter Storm Uri

updated Mar 2, 2021
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Credit: Courtesy of Claire

Name: Claire
Location: Austin, TX
Number of people in household: 1 (plus my dog, Pickle)
Age: 31
Occupation: I was formerly a Marketing & Planning Consultant in the hospitality and tourism industry, but experienced a COVID-related layoff. I am currently doing independent contract work and volunteering with multiple organizations while I look for a permanent, salaried job.
Grocery shopping for how long? One week
Where did you shop? H-E-B
How much did you spend? $93.20. ($44.79 for groceries, $48.41 on takeout)
Dietary restrictions? I participated in my first Whole30 last month. Since then, I have really cut back on dairy, fried food, bread, and alcohol. 

Credit: Courtesy of Claire

How were you affected by Winter Storm Uri?

Last month was a real doozy as Texas experienced freezing temperatures, power outages, and loss of water. To prepare, I went as early as I could on Sunday, February 14, to fill my tank with gas. I also made a list of items I had around the house already that I may need in case of an emergency. I had plenty of mesquite wood (due to my Texas barbecue obsession!) and brought it all into the house to burn in the fireplace. I really rationed my wood usage because I was not sure how long the power outage would last. I also raided my pantry and kitchen and filled as many containers as I could with filtered water.  

My house lost power for two days (February 16 to February 18) and water for four days (February 17 to February 20). Austin was on a boil notice from the 17th to the 23rd. My house was 40 degrees inside, but I was fortunate to have a roof over my head and a fireplace that helped keep me warm at night.

For most people I know, this was their first time experiencing snow, ice, and freezing temperatures. It was scary, no doubt, but our community really came together to support one another in a time of need. 

Credit: Courtesy of Claire

How did you choose where to buy groceries?

I shopped at H-E-B for essentials and ordered takeout multiple times. I also visited multiple local businesses providing free meals to residents affected by Winter Storm Uri. Austin Food and Wine Alliance, in partnership with other local organizations, distributed food supplies to local restaurants so they could provide warm meals and feed those in need.

Last summer, I learned about Austin Shift Meal (ASM) and I have been assisting with weekly meal distribution ever since. ASM works to provide individuals in the restaurant/bar/catering/and events industry with free meals. As the Volunteer and Engagement Manager, I’m proud to work alongside such wonderful people who care so deeply about our community and make sure we get meals into empty bellies.

Credit: Courtesy of Claire

How did you meal prep?

Because of the winter storm, the following week’s meal planning and meals were very different than usual. This is because I didn’t know what would be in stock at the store (not a lot, it turns out!) and mentally I was not in the mood to meal prep after a hard week of many uncertainties. Here’s a look at what I ate (and spent) day to day.

Saturday (February 20)

Today, because the snow and ice had melted from roadways, I was able to leave my house for food. First, I stopped for lunch at Salty Cargo. The restaurant provided a delicious coconut curry soup with seared salmon. It was a warm and delicious meal that felt lovingly prepared.  

Credit: Courtesy of Claire

Then I made my way to La Pâtisserie which was offering free drip coffee and muffins all weekend, while supplies lasted. The wonderful ladies running the shop were so cheerful, sweet, and welcoming. Let me tell you: A hot coffee after a week of record-setting cold temperatures in Texas just hits different. The bottom row of the display case contained day-old pastries that were free, so I paired my coffee with a banana chocolate chip muffin. I also had a tart with toasted marshmallows, which was delightful.

Credit: Courtesy of Claire

Sunday (February 21)

The Austin Food and Wine Alliance was providing meals from Garbo’s, so I stopped by for a cheeseburger with a side of chips. Knowing that grocery stores were scarce with food, and that my water pressure was still low on top of the Austin water boil notice, I was eager and appreciative of the meal.  

Monday (February 22)

Today I ventured to my grocery store, H-E-B. The only two things I had written down on my list were whole coffee and eggs. I usually am better prepared for a trip to the grocery, but this visit was different because I knew many things would be out of stock. There were tons of empty shelves which should have stocked water, eggs, cheese, milk, ready-made meals, and more. I came home with one apple, five tomatoes, mini sweet peppers, a head of romaine lettuce, roasted herb turkey breast, a dozen eggs, Dave’s Killer Bread, Tate’s chocolate chip cookies, and dark roast coffee ($44.79). This was the first loaf of bread that I purchased in 2021. After a wonky week, I was really craving sandwiches. 

Credit: Courtesy of Claire

For lunch I made a sandwich with toasted bread, turkey, tomato, sweet pepper, lettuce, spicy mustard, hummus, and pickle slices. A few hours later, I stopped at Colleen’s Kitchen for dinner. The Austin Food and Wine Alliance was providing meals from there, so I picked up fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans. 

Later that evening I signed on for a virtual class with Antonelli’s Cheese, benefitting Austin Shift Meal (ASM). As the Volunteer and Engagement Manager for ASM, I was offered a free ticket to this event. I sampled seven different cheeses and it was perfect.  

Credit: Courtesy of Claire

Tuesday (February 23)

This morning I brewed myself a cup of coffee and drank 40 ounces of water. Tuesday is the day I get to serve my community at ASM. From 10:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. we hand out 80 meals to members of the service industry experiencing hardships as a result of COVID-19. Each week ASM includes four meals from local restaurants along with other goodies including bread and beer/wine/seltzers.

This week’s offerings included the following:

(For lunch I had the ham and swiss sandwich from Salt & Time Butcher Shop, and for dinner I had the chicken flauta, rice, beans, pico, and guacamole from El Chile Café y Cantina.)

Credit: Courtesy of Claire

Wednesday (February 24)

Today for breakfast I made a sandwich with scrambled egg, lettuce, sweet pepper, leftover mashed potatoes (from Colleen’s Kitchen), leftover blueberry lemon thyme chevre + coupole (from Antonelli’s cheese class), tomato, and leftover turkey breast. I also had some morning coffee.

Credit: Courtesy of Claire

I spent the majority of my day doing pick-up and drop-off of meals for Good Work Austin (GWA). GWA is a community of local restaurant businesses in Austin, TX, committed to providing a living wage to employees ($15/hour), affordable healthcare, and ensuring that at least 50 percent of all foods are sourced through local farmers. They have raised more than $30,000 to provide meals to members of the community experiencing food insecurities. Lucky Robot donated 300 meals to the Georgian Manor community (still without water). And Thai Kun donated 90 meals to Texas Baptist Children’s Home.

After my shift, I stopped for an afternoon coffee from Cenote and ordered an iced coffee with a splash of vanilla and almond milk. ($5.29)

For dinner, I had ham and cheese Parker House rolls with arugula salad from Hank’s (provided by ASM) and three Tate’s cookies for dessert.

Credit: Courtesy of Claire

Thursday (February 25)

This morning I woke up and had coffee and water (which I have a new appreciation for). I typically have 128 ounces of water daily, but I didn’t have access to water for four days the week of Winter Storm Uri. 

For a quick, early lunch before heading out the door to pick up/drop off more meals, I ate the leftover chicken flautas and rice from El Chile Café y Cantina.

After that, I made some deliveries: The first stop was to Dobie College Prep School, where Texas French Bread provided sandwiches. I assisted with distribution and we were able to provide meals, dry goods, and water to over 200 families. The school is located in a predominantly Latinx community. I’m bilingual and enjoyed being able to converse in Spanish with members of the community while placing supplies in their vehicles. 

The second stop was with Ka-Prow, who donated 60 meals to distribute at Millenium Youth Complex. 

Later that night, I used the air fryer to bake two sweet potatoes, some carrots, and mini sweet peppers. I made a giant salad and added mashed sweet potato, carrots, and mini sweet peppers to the bowl atop romaine lettuce, tomatoes, turkey breast, cheese crumbles (Antonelli’s leftover), onion, cracked pepper, and Greek salad dressing.

Friday (February 26)

This morning I took a seasonal gardening class online and created a crop plan. In an effort to save money on food, I decided that this year would be the year that I would plant a veggie and herb garden in my backyard. I minored in horticulture and my family owns a landscape and nursery company, and a tree farm. (I figured I’d get back to my roots.) This class is a nice refresh on what I learned in school and focuses on the climate of Central South Texas.

I’ve created my crop plan based on vegetables and herbs that will perform well in the Texas heat. This spring I’ll be planting tomatoes, bell peppers, squash, basil, oregano, thyme, green onions, and dill. 

After the class I had a free coffee and mini chocolate chip pecan cookie from Yelp Austin and Thoroughbread. I bought a banana Nutella coffee ($4).

Credit: Courtesy of Claire

For dinner I ordered takeout from New Fortune Chinese. I had soup dumplings, pork shumai, shrimp toast, shrimp and pork wontons, basil chicken wontons, onion pancake ($28).

Saturday (February 27)

This morning I woke up late with no time for coffee or breakfast before volunteering at 9 a.m. I helped distribute 420 meals, dry goods, and water to families at Guerrero Thompson Elementary. There was no need to sign up beforehand. Those in need just needed to join the car line to receive supplies.

Afterwards, for a late lunch/early dinner, I ordered a Torta Cubana from Tropicana Cuban Restaurant ($11.12).

Total Spent: $93.20

Thank you for sharing, Claire. To donate to the Austin Shift Meal, click here.

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