The squirrels are frantically stashing and losing and re-stashing their winter supplies of nuts, seeds and whatever else they race around for in advance of winter.

The squirrels must know that “The Old Farmer’s Almanac,” founded in 1792, is predicting an early (and long-ish) winter with frequent cold spells and above-normal precipitation and snowfall.

This translates to: Stock up now for the winter!

My suggestion: skip the regular grocery store with its jammed parking lots and head for Wilmot Township where I found everything I needed, and more. Just 20 minutes southwest of Kitchener, a day trip to Wilmot is fairly easy!

Chances are, if you’re into preserving, you’re admiring rows of canned pickles, applesauce, jams, and stewed tomatoes on the shelf and frozen corn, carrots and strawberries in the freezer.

But the holidays are just weeks away, which means a few extra parties and gatherings. Some extra goodies in the cupboard for that unexpected drop-in make those invitations easy as pie.

Here’s your ‘stock-up’ route, beginning in New Dundee, ending in Baden.

The New Dundee Emporium

Proprietors Mark Harrison and chef Danny Duchesne have the shelves stocked with jams, jellies, preserves, frozen take-home meals and baked goods all made in-house, from the restaurant kitchen. They will even send you recipe suggestions for making their Bacon Marmalade or Basil-Banana Pepper Jam into delicious dressings or topping for warm brie cheese.

Mountain Oak Cheese

Adam and Hannie van Bergeijk are making the freshest Dutch gouda cheese with milk straight from their 230 dairy cows on their Huron Road farm, just east of Haysville.

Find specialty flavours such as Wild Nettle, Black Truffle, Fenugreek and Celery along with their award-winning aged gouda. Their farmstead cheese is aged on-site where someone has the task of turning each round every day. Some large wheels of cheese weigh up to 25 lbs!

Sweets by Too Nice to Slice

Not into holiday baking? Chrissie Boon and her team of baking goddesses want to bake cookies for you. You can order their 10 dozen “Cookie Package” and pick them up at the Sweets Wilmot store on Huron Street in New Hamburg. Shortbread, jewel cookies, pecan croissants, thumbprint cookies. are ready to order in advance for select Saturday pick up dates. No doubt you’ll find a few other treats once you step foot in the door.

Nith Valley Apiaries

Tucked on a side road between New Hamburg and Baden, in the hamlet of Luxemburg, the ‘Honey House’ at Nith Valley Apiaries smells like pure comfort to me.

Find local honey gathered from 500 hives around Waterloo and Perth regions and related products made with honey including beeswax candles, soap and food wraps. Grab some of their small-batch flavoured honey very soon. Bring your own container to fill from the bulk honey tank. It smells so good you won’t want to leave.

Baden Coffee Company

Located on Gingerich Road, Baden, this small-batch coffee roaster is the place to end your day. Grab a bowl of soup at the cafe and buy up enough freshly roasted beans to last you until the new year.

Take your cue from the squirrels — stock up early, shop local and close-to-home. Just remember where you put everything!