Food Storage, Smood Smorage.

Quick Tips Ahead

The purpose of this blog is to get you charged about food storage.  Yeah, yeah.  You’re weary.  You’ve heard it all before.  But listen.  It doesn’t have to be overwhelming; (two years supply of food).  Neither does it have to be expensive; (two years supply of food).  Realistically, food storage must start small and a little at a time.  We’ll start with a three month’s supply. 

Each week or so, I will be posting a quick tip or assignment about home storage or self reliance.  I guarantee that there is something anyone can do, even with limited resources.  With this in mind, keep a look out for the QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK.  I think you will enjoy it.

August 18, 2008 at 11:16 am Leave a comment

It’s Okay To Let Go

Food Storage Tip #14 – Rotate and Remove

January has begun and until Valentine’s Day, there is not much going on.  I have started my annual clean everything and toss the crap mode.  The Goodwill box has been submitted and the empty is being refilled.  Every closet is subject to my ransacking and hope for order.  My mister is scratching his head as to where the heck is his somethingorother he used to have around here somewhere.

The pantry is one of my clear out stops.  I found some cans of pumpkin pie filling from two years ago that I should have used instead of the new ones I bought last month.  Why do I have so many snack crackers?  and ketchup?  A few hundred cans of mushrooms that the kids don’t like.  Unidentifiable canned goods my mother gave me years ago.  What the heck?

My home canned goods look respectable in their shiny mason  and I’ve been stingy with them.  All are bright and polished to be admired in a nice straight row forming a block.  There are wide mouth quarts of peaches in one area; narrow mouthed pints of light and delicious apple sauce in an other.  Lovely pickles that remind me of the friend I picked them with.  Between you and me, there is still a flat of canned pears I am hiding under the guest bed.

Yes, I get attached to my wares.  It is all psychological, really.  But here’s the bad news.  Peaches change color and though edible, aren’t as appealing.  Nothing can save old flour that smells funny after several years of improper storage.  Homemade grape juice, my jewel, my prize, can lose color if held back for too long.  Then you wonder if it is grape juice at all. 

It is hard, but I am giving myself a little permission slip to go ahead and release the canning I created this summer.  The following are ideas to keep things in order, and make the most of your items you either don’t want or really use.

  • Plan meals with the items you find that remind you of why you bought it.  Use what you have and make a note to replace as desired.
  • Keep things tidy.  Organization (ugh.) is hard sometimes, but it will keep things fresh.
  • Teach kids and husbands (argh!) to write incidental items on a list.  Then you don’t overbuy.  Include things like soap and shampoo.
  • Home canning is best if used the year it was preserved.  Let it go.
  • Move.  Nothing like having to pack stuff up to discover what storage is most important to you.
  • Give good items you won’t use to friends, or better yet to charity.  Even if the scouts don’t come around until November, I am certain there is still a food bank in your town.

As for my ketchup, my four sturdy jugs of ketchup – I could have given everyone in the extended family a bottle for Christmas if I had been thinking.  They are nice BIG bottles.  Door stops?  Maybe they could be balloon weights for my next party.  I’ll find a way.

Proverbs 31:21:  (A virtuous woman) is not afraid of the snow for her household:  for all her household are clothed with scarlet.

Assignment A:  Organize your pantry.  Decide about items that need to be eaten soon.  It even might give you an idea of what to cook for dinner tonight.  or B:  Let your family use some home canning.  It is hard at first, but you can do hard things!

January 29, 2009 at 9:58 am Leave a comment

Certified Gifts

 

Home Storage Quick Tip #13 – Food is a Gift

I grew up in the 70’s when every morning every mother I knew of  made a nice hot bowl of oatmeal for her family.  We hardly knew what cold cereal was except for commercials.  Or if we went to my Grandma’s house.  We were delighted to have shredded wheat with as much sugar on it as we wanted there.  One Christmas it was so exciting!  Each of the six kids got a wrapped box of their favorite cereal!  Wow.  I packed my Lucky Charms off to a secret place in my room and savored it until Easter.  It was a symbol of the pure love of Christmas.  Food storage as a gift.

When I was in my twenties, the best Christmas present ever was the pressure canner from my parents.  My sister and I were starting families then, and both got one.  They were beautiful.  Bright and shiny with a lovely gauge and black bolts that made their own music as you carried it up from the basement.  They were tall and heavy, and double, holding up to 14 quarts each.  That gift provided not just food, but memories.  We worked together with babies underfoot in the early years.  The older children remember snapping beans in a big circle, laughing and having fun together.  I wonder how many massive amounts of food trickled from that perfect gift.  I plan on handing it down to my kids.

There are a multitude of gifts that you can give to enhance someone else’s food storage.  Baskets with a few meals inside (pancake meal, pasta meal, peanut butter meal) all dressed up like a Christmas tree are wonderful.  More expensive items like honey are fun to receive when you haven’t had the resources to buy it yourself.  If you love somebody, and you love spaghetti, give them pasta.  It’s symbolic.

I know there is a certain amount of detachment when you think about food storage as a gift, but for those of you who really want to be prepared, there are some things that could be presented incognito, a hit of the party, and used in the future.  (Maybe inadvertantly by you 🙂 )

  • Cute flashlights for the whole family
  • Extra extension cords (you already want to put colored lights on the house)
  • Camping stove with fuel (Lots of time together in the woods)
  • Other camping supplies (In the name of quality family time)
  • Shovel (I love shovels personally.  I wish I could collect them)
  • Jumper cables (Do you have a daughter learning to drive?)
  • Work gloves (Cute ones with flowers for her.  Leather long-lasting ones for him)
  • Heavy duty blankets or sleeping bags (Strawberry Shortcakes aren’t very warm, however)
  • Spices or seasonings (To keep the spice in your marriage or to symbolize a seasoned marriage)
  • Dutch oven (Oh yeah!  Enough said)
  • Complete 72-hour kit (A labor of love)
  • Food dehydrator (Don’t every give your’s away when you move)
  • Meat Smoker (Smelly, but he’ll love it)
  • Shelf systems (Good shelves re every woman’s dream)
  • Generator with accompanying fuel storage (So he can be in charge)
  • Wet surface vacuum (If not for big emergencies, at least for cleaning up after sick kids)
  • Freezer (Chest or upright)
  • Rope or baling twine (Satifies when you have it and you need it)
  • BBQ Grill (One that lasts forever)
  • Bread Mixer (Lovin’ from the Oven)
  • Wheat Grinder
  • Space Heater
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food Storage Buckets
  • New bank account with cash for emergency only
  • Coupon for fruit tree in the spring

The most important thing is to feel the joy and fun of giving to others.  Use your imagination!  Remember:  Nothing says Merry Christmas like a 100 lb. bag of certified hard red wheat.

December 8, 2008 at 12:21 pm Leave a comment

Half Full or Half Empty?

Home Storage Tip #12 – Water Storage

My Grandma used to say that as long as there was water in the river, we didn’t have to worry about running out.  I swam in and swallowed lots of river water, and believed her wholeheartedly.  Things are different today.  By man or natural disaster, contamination is the real issue.

It goes without saying that we need to store water.  The percentage of water in our body (71%) is pretty close to the ratio of water to land on the earth’s globe (73%).  If you are a glass full person, you have probably already started stocking up.  If you are a glass half empty person, you should begin now.

Question:  How much water do I need to store?
It is hard to tell. Most sources recommend 1 gallon of water per person per 14 days.  That would make about 50 gallons per person per year.  I am assuming they are referring to drinking water only, as I don’t believe I could still take many bubble baths on that.  If you have special needs, such as health or baby in the house, you must use your best judgment.

Question:  How should it be stored? 
Rule of thumb; containers should be food grade or PETE (safe for animals.  If a farmer uses it for feed, you can consider it safe.  Specifically, plastic containers that are PETE numbers 1,2,4, and 5 are best for food.  You can find this information on the container.  The numbers will be inside a triangle of arrows.   http://www.thegreenguide.com/doc/95/containers .

Make sure that your continers are sterile before filling.  As long as the water is from a safe pretreated water source, you may store it.  In our area, the water is good.  Boiling water is good for sterilizing the water itself if it is possibly contaminated.  You may also add 8 drops of regular (not scented) bleach per gallon if in doubt.

Store Bottled Water:  I keep a couple of cases of 10 ounce bottled water around.  They are for an emergency and someday when I get around to it, 72 hour kits (guilty as charged).  The down side to me personally, is that my kids think this water is for them, and deplete my supply.  (Sounds like a personal problem to me).

Refilled Liter Bottles: The next time you have a wild party, be sure and save the 2 liter soda bottles and fill them immediately.  If your neighbor has a wild party, and you pinch bottles from his recycle bin, you might want to do this under the cover of darkness.

Water Barrels: I have some 50 gallon barrels I use.  They are food grade, reconditioned and sterilized.  There are several places on the Internet where you can find them.  Here is a link that is very reasonable.  http://www.bayteccontainers.com/waterbarrels.html?gclid=COD2jOn8mpcCFQ89awod2C1DGA   If you prefer new barrels, go here: http://beprepared.com/category.asp_Q_c_E_137_A_c2c_E_tn_A_name_E_WaterStorageandWaterFiltration .  The cost is the only issue.

Gas Cans?  I am not sure about PETE on these containers, but check out this photo.  Gas cans would be easy to handle, less weight to carry, and stack to save space.  NOTE:  BE sure and label them as water on the outside.  http://foodstoragefordummies.wordpress.com/

A word about milk jugs:  For short-term supply, a milk bottle is perfectly fine.  But don’t drink this water.  Milk jugs absorb odors and the plastic breaks down quickly.  You may use this water however, for flushing toilets, bathing or cleaning.  Water use adds up quickly.  If there ever was an emergency, it would be tough to give up your very critical drinking water for those uses.

Assignment A:  Decide on a method of water storage.  Calculate what you need for a three  month supply.  Buy or find appropriate containers(s) and fill this week.  Resolve to add to your store on an ongoing basis.  B: Add 2 gallons of bleach to your storage shelf.  C: Add six units of canned goods to your pantry.

November 29, 2008 at 12:24 pm 2 comments

Mind over Money

Quick Tip # 11 – Frugal Shopping

I don’t know about you, but I am not too keen on the idea of shopping in any form.  Yes, I’m an odd bird, but my aversion is generally because I spend too much.  Do I need it?  Is it a good deal?  Did I pay too much?  Sometimes I get home and I’m not sure I even like what I bought.  I sense some stomach upset with the knowledge I will have to go back for exchange.  Even if I feel good about my purchases (aka grocery shopping) I am afraid there is nothing in the fridge to eat when I get home.  Most people like shopping.  There is a word for my kind of infirmity.  Agoraphobia.  It is a Latin word meaning “fear of the marketplace”.

The holidays are coming.  All over the media right now, people are talking about their debt.  They want out.  I feel warm and fuzzy when I see single mom Suzy Q talking about her three teenagers and how she is going to cut down for Christmas this year. “The economy is my opportunity to show my kids that Christmas is more about giving and family, than stuff”.  You go, girl!

It is a high when we save a lot.  There is nothing better than to find a jackpot of 75% off and look at a receipt that shows a savings of $800!  But that is not real.  Being on a budget is sometimes like being on a no-carb diet.  Your intentions are good, but your house is worth less than you paid for it and you are still starving for something tasty.   I’m here to tell you, you can spend less.  You just need to sharpen your tools, refresh your resolve, love your family, and feel the power!

Here are some of my recent gleanings for your inspection:

  • Shop the ads from the paper, but take a list and adhere to it.  It is cheap entertainment to picture a crowd cheering as you walk out with ONLY the listed items.  Take the ad with you just in case.  There are places that price match (Walmart) saving you the headache of running around.
  • Consider time and fuel when shopping store to store.  Are you juggling kids in and out of the car every stop?  Will you save more by buying at a reasonable price now or driving 7 miles down busy streets or all they way downtown just to save 25 cents?  On the other hand, if you are having quality family sing-a-long time, maybe it is worth it after all.  You get to decide.
  • Use coupons carefully.  If you have a buy one get one free, and don’t need the item or love it, (as a friend) it really isn’t a good deal regardless of the advertising.  I have done this, specifically with clothing.  The result is several months in the closet, to appear later, brand new, in the Goodwill donation.
  • Set an approximate limit on how much you will spend for each person.  The word “limit” means limit.  The word approximate keeps you free from that no-carb diet thing.  The important thing is not to go overboard.  Make an exchange if you find something better later on.  The good news is, there will be many merchants motivated to move sales this year with the economical downturn.  You may find more items per amount spent.
  • Use good old fashoned cash.  When you set up your expenses with real money, you realize how fast money is spent.  Keeping a spending journal keeps you real on how much is going out of your wallet.  Credit cards, on the other hand, well… you know.  It didn’t feel like you spent that much this billing cycle.
  • Don’t make eye contact with items at the impulse isle.  It’s a trap!  Store owners carefully plan that spot just between your cart and cash register.  They know you may have to wait in line.  It is a conspiracy that they also know your kids will be there waiting.  Remembr that it is perfectly all right to pass on buying kids something every time you pass through.  Trinkets add up.  Proof of that is the forgotten quick buy under the seat of your car that never even made it in the house.  Save them for surprises.
  • Shop online.  If you don’t go to the mall, you won’t buy as much.  Or if you find it at a store, and it seems high, compare online.  Some sites have “web only” deals that beat all.  Many places are offering free shipping right now, so hasten to your computer with a cup of cocoa and go for it.  In addition, it already feels like Christmas every time the UPS man comes to my door.
  • Finally, many food storage items are at their peak of savings this time of year.  Baking items, crackers, and olives are at their lowest during November and December.  When you get a turkey at peak savings, buy two.  You can pressure can it for your pantry.  Real butter is my weakness, so I have saved room in my freezer while it is low.  Even whipping cream can be frozen.  It might not look the same, but it whips just fine when thawed.

Ideas of your own?  let’s hear it.

LINKS:
Shopping tips from the federal trade commission: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt082.shtm
Reader’s Digest has tips in both October and November issues about shopping.  This five star article will connect you to links that pay off big.  These are just what I am looking for and my favorite shopping tips of all time.
http://www.rd.com/advice-and-know-how/best-deals-and-bargains-on-gas-cars-and-more/article99717.html

November 13, 2008 at 2:56 pm Leave a comment

In A Nut Shell

Food Storage Quick Tip #10 – If you don’t have the money, don’t buy it.

I am on vacation with my Mister this week.  For those of you who want to take their mind off of the economy 🙂  I offer the following Saturday Night Live video featuring Steve Martin.  It is a sure fire way to get out of debt.  Humor is the best medicine.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/1389/saturday-night-live-dont-buy-stuff

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“Many more people could ride out the storm tossed waves in their economic lives if they had their year’s supply of food … and were debt free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: They have at least a year’s supply of debt and are food free.” – Thomas S. Monson, President, LDS Church

November 4, 2008 at 4:29 pm Leave a comment

Make Mine To Go

Food Storage Quick Tip #9 – 72 Hour Kits

I’m back from a weekend with the family with observations, of course.  My girls, (the three-pack), take half the household when we go on an overnight trip by car.  They bring their pillow and a couple of bags each.  We have electronics and quilts.  I pack some extra shoes, even boots if it will be chilly.  I can’t decide what the weather will be, so I gather up both coat and jacket for myself.  And each one of us, excepting my mister, lug our own blow dryers, curling irons, shampoos, etc.

In contrast, if we travel by plane, sensibility kicks in.  Each of us pares down to take only basic items onto the aircraft.  One blow dryer is selected.  A medium weight jacket for all occasions.  Small condiments to fit in a quart-sized Ziploc bag.  And, we all desire that the whole shebang be small enough to fit in an overhead bin.  It is what we call, carry-on luggage. 

A 72 hour kit is like the carry-on.

I did confess last time that I didn’t have a 72 hour kit.  But I did watch a documentary on Katrina in the meantime.  It opened my eyes a little, and I realized that many of those people who hadn’t eaten for 2 days, could have ridden out the storm with just a little sustenance.  (Even a stick of gum would be better than nothing!)

To be honest, I think that my big problem with the 72 hour kit is the actual presence of the thing.  Here are some of my innermost (guilty) thoughts that move on a looping tract in my head:  Where do I store this stuff?  It is just one more thing to take up space under the stairs.  How can I be expected to have everything on the list and still be able to carry it?  It seems impossible.  With small children, if they each have a small backpack, who is really going to carry it?  Me!  What if my husband is out of town when the disaster hits?  How much time, then, would it take me to simply get everyone in the car?  I’d say more than a couple of minutes.  That’s discouraging.  So personally, it is more of an “Obedience” 72 hour kit.  Maybe it is the same for you.

We know a 72 hour (4 day) kit is a critical component for your emergency plan.  You will need food, water, and warmth.  I like the idea of making your own, as it is more cost effective and you can use real food (aka: food that will fly with your family tastes).  Still, there are complete kits that you may purchase online or at emergency supply stores.  Regardless, how about we start today.

Putting it together should be practical.  A backpack works well.  A duffel or drawstring bag is fine.  A bucket with a lid is also fine (easy to move and may be used as a potty if necessary).  It remains unknown whether you are leaving on foot or by automobile, so consider both.  Don’t stress yourself.  The point is, have SOMETHING ready.  And in one place.

Water is the heaviest item, and most vital, so let’s start with that.  Small bottles of water are easy for kids to handle.  However, a liter bottle or gallon  provides more volume of water for a sharing situation (wipe the lip between the sip).  While you are at it, fruit juice boxes may also be added for a pick me up.  There are also milk products in different flavors that don’t need refrigeration that may provide nutrition, expecially for a small child.  Both of these items have a relatively long shelf life so rotation is not a major deal.  Dehydration may be your main obstacle if you have to migrate.  It is recommended that each person is allowed 1 gallon/4 liters.  If you have an itsy bitsy baby, it is essential that you allow extra water for formula or yourself if you are breastfeeding.

Here’s a link with very basic suggestions for a 72 hour kit.
 http://www.avertdisasters.org/html/72_hour.html

Assignment A:  Find a transportable bag, box, bucket or container that will accommodate your family’s needs for your obedience 72 hour kit.  B:  Start with water, adding some boxed drinks for variety and nutritional content.  C:  Time to check and fill your gas cans if you have stopped mowing for the year.  A few gallons may save the day if asked to vacate your property.

October 27, 2008 at 3:30 pm 1 comment

Shelf Confidence

Food Storage Quick Tip #8 – Shelf Life

I had an experience the other week after buying the Albertsons 20 for 10 soups by the case.  In interest of rotation, I tidied my whole supply.  As I got looking at the cans, I noticed that many of them, quite a lot of them, expired in 2007.  Time flies when you are thinking food storage, huh.  Of course, bulging cans should be discarded regardless of the date.  I fully understand the decline in quality and nutrition over the shelf life of the item, but honestly, that won’t matter a fig if my children are walking around with empty bellies.  My belief that wasting perfectly good food is a sin, goes deep.  So what should I do about it?  Do I use it, or do I pitch it?

Now, I have a friend, who, for the sake of anonymity, we shall call Angela :).  When we left Washington, I left two 20 lb buckets of honey with her, because they were heavy and we didn’t want to move them.  Angela was delighted to have the honey, and held onto it for years, feeling well prepared and toasty warm inside.  In 2007, she was organizing her attic and noticed the date on the honey was 1999.  Feeling it was a matter of safety and relying on my hand written date on the bucket, SHE TOSSED THE HONEY!! In a matter of weeks, the honey long gone via Jim’s Sanitation, she learned that honey keeps indefinitely, and to replace 40 lbs of honey was over the top of food storage allowance.  Today, Angela is riddled with guilt and can’t sleep nights.  Unfavorable dreams.  Impairment of self esteem.  The whole deal.  Poor Angela.

What is up with the expiration date anyway?  Keep in mind, once again, that there in conflicting informaton on the Internet.  Only in America are we regulated so that paranoia visits us every day.  The truth is, the dates mean different things, depending on the product.  The FDA only requires date stamps on canned food, meats and produce, and those dates are more indicative of quality rather than safety.  One source even mentions that the dates are more of a guideline than a command.  So basically you get to decide.

TYPES OF DATE STAMPS:

– Sell by
date tells the store how long to display the product for sale.  It is a basic guide to the retailer so the store knows when to pull the item.  As in the case of my soup, it can last up to 3 years after the sell by date.  Eggs, for example, will keep up to 5 weeks beyond their date stamp.
Best if used by (or before) date refers strictly to quality, not sfety.  It is the date for best flavor or quality.  Sour cream is already sour, but the has the best flavor when freshly sour (oxymoron).
Guaranteed fresh until date refers to bakery items and is not required. Items are still edible after that date, but not be at their peak.  Freezing the item prolongs it for even a longer period.
– Use by date tells you the date is at peak quality as determined by the manufacturer.  These dates are used to preserve the label reputation of the company who produces it.  These items can also be used at a later time, but don’t expect your Cheese Whiz to be creamy and elegant after 7 years (that happened to me once).
– Pack Date is tricky.  It may simply be a code used by the manufacturer and may be reverted to the Julian calendar (whatever the heck that is).  For example, January is 0001-0031, December is 334-645 and gets wierder and complicated.  So generally, it is not a favorable indication to the consumer, as it is simply the date when the can left the cannery.

What about dry foods like wheat, rice, sugar, flour, or beans?  The guidelines at Provident Living show that shelf life is much longer than previously thought.  These items may last 30 years or more when kept in a cool, dry place.  Did I mention that HONEY will last indefinitely?

What did I do with my 50 cans of outdated soup?  Should I tell you about it?  What should I do?  Well, what would you do if your mother asked you?

Assignment A: Go to your pantry and bulk storage with the oldest dates in the front.  Then to the freezer and do the same. B: Make a couple of meals this week with items that need to be used.  Resolve to rotate all food storage as you go.  C: Spend $10 this week replacing seriously outdated food or adding to your pantry and bulk supply.

Link: Here is a link to a slide show more specific to items you want to store.  It is informative and short.:
Here is a link to a slide show more specific to items stored. It is very informative and short.
http://images.businessweek.com/ss/06/09/foodlabel/index_01.htm

October 20, 2008 at 10:47 am 1 comment

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