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Friday Catchall: In search of lentils, few things remain at stores

Empty store shelves may be a surprise, but check back – more supplies are on the way. (Courier file)

Empty store shelves may be a surprise, but check back – more supplies are on the way. (Courier file)

The Friday Catchall:

• SHOPPING — On Wednesday, March 18, I was on a quest: green or brown lentils.

Seriously, they are a main ingredient in a Sloppy Joes recipe (healthy, I might add, as part of a diet helping me to drop now to 215 pounds bringing my total loss so far to more than 50 pounds in over a year).

I went to five stores – Fry’s (Miller Valley), Sprouts (Prescott), Safeway (Willow Creek), Natural Grocers (Willow Creek) and Fry’s (Willow Creek).

Call it my very own economic stimulus trip.

In part, though, it also was to witness all that I have heard about the empty shelves; it is one thing to receive a photo at my desk, it is entirely another to go there yourself. Well, I was disappointed — because of the lack of choices at the stores.

I found few items on the shelves. Cans of anything were gone, though a few products remained. Also toilet paper, bleach and cleaning products, hand sanitizers and the like — all gone.

I got some apples and green bananas at the first Fry’s, oatmeal and potatoes at Safeway, some Kombucha at Natural Grocers and some ripe bananas at the second Fry’s store, among a few other items.

It was insane. At each location, to stand before an empty aisle — canned goods, paper products or whatever — elicited a quiet “huh?” or “really?” from me, to be answered by someone standing near me, “Yea, pretty crazy.” Every time. I laughed out loud the fourth and fifth time, wondering if I was caught in a Groundhog Day movie scenario. I wondered if Bill Murray was going to jump out at one point.

I can say this, one item is very unpopular. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), which is a high-in-protein grain crop for use in salads, for example. It was available at all of the stores, along with something called falafel.

Then there are the snack foods — chips, popcorn, etc. I guess everyone is on a health kick; those were in plentiful supply.

Oh, and pastas? Everything there was gone, except what I call “designer mac and cheese” (with the pre-made cheese pack). Those were easy to find; never have liked those, must be the cheese.

I also learned, talking with store employees, that deliveries come almost every day. You have to check back regularly because a shipment of something such as toilet paper can be gone in minutes.

By the way, I never did find the green or brown lentils. I did buy the last bag of red lentils at Safeway, but they supposedly dissolve in the recipe. Go figure.

Happy hunting out there!

• COVID-19 UPDATES — Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, the Courier has made all related content for this free on We also have put it all together on one page — (in addition to being on the home page or in regular sections).

The COVID-19 Updates link — accessible from a banner ad at the top of the home page – takes you to our local and regional updates and stories on the topic.

Please visit it and read the lot of them. A lot of closures, postponements, advice and updates exist. (To update us, email

Stay safe out there, folks.

• QUOTE — “Temper us in fire, and we grow stronger. When we suffer, we survive.” — Cassandra Clare

• PICK OF THE WEEK — (Proving there’s always something good to do in the Prescott area that’s cheap or free): Here is a thought — visit the local art galleries ( Cool stuff!

Tim Wiederaenders is the senior news editor for the Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333, ext. 2032, or

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