Saturday, March 21, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturdays-- Clearance Sales

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There are two words that make me really happy....clearance & sale.  Becoming totally prepared in every way can be a pricey endeavor and I couldn't do it all if it weren't for sales and clearance aisles at the store.  While at my local Wal-Mart today I passed by the clearance aisle in the camping/outdoor section of the store.  I was on the lookout for flashlights and I hit the jackpot.  They had all sorts of flashlights, headlamps, smaller lanterns on clearance from $2-$7 each.  I was ecstatic!  As I perused the aisle a little longer I noticed a camping shower tent on the bottom shelf for $25!!  I have been on the lookout for one of these enclosures to use with my portable potty and also for my solar shower.  I couldn't believe the price, and there were several on the shelf.  I bought the shower tent, multiple flashlights, several headlamps, and two boxes of fire starters.

My preparedness tip for this Self-Reliant Saturday is to always walk by the clearance section of every store you visit.  

The selection is always varied and you'll never know what is there, but it will save you money! This is also an example of why I keep a running list of things that I need to purchase for my family.  You can run across those items on your list at the most random places and times.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

100-Day Pantry -- A Book Review

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"The purpose of this book is to help you prepare your pantry so that you can eat from it for one hundred days."

The first sentence of this book totally grabbed my attention. An organized approach to having long-term food storage...I was sold!  Is it sad that organization makes me happy? Anyway, I was excited to read this book and try out all the recipes.  The concept of having a pantry full of shelf stable foods and being able to feed my family for at least 100 days, and also having a system that works of rotating through the food, is always intriguing to me, see organizing really does make me happy :)  Click HERE to visit Jan's website 100daypantry.com.

Sorry for the unflattering photo. I was rushing.
 I met Jan Jackson, the author of 100-Day Pantry, at the Self-Reliance Expo a few years ago and after talking with her I had to buy her book.  There are over 125 recipes using only ingredients that are stored in your pantry.  Making a pantry meal once or twice a week is how I rotate my food storage, and Jan's book has a similar concept.  This is a great book to have in your food storage cookbook collection because there are always times when you need to use up pantry items and need a quick recipe.  Think of the case lot sales that we have here in Utah, you could stock up on a few cases of food and this cookbook goes right along with it.  It would also be great book to have in an emergency if you didn't happen have your everyday recipes organized before the disaster. (gasp!)  You could pull out 100-Day Pantry and probably have most of the ingredients on hand to make a meal for your family.  The recipes are easy to follow and the ingredients are quite typical of what most of us have on our pantry shelves.  

Jan graciously allowed me to share on of my family's favorite recipes from her book..... Basil Tomato Soup!

This recipe is really as easy as grabbing a few pantry staples, opening them and heating them up. Don't forget to have a few good manual can openers in your storage!!
Pantry staples at my house include chicken broth, tomato soup, canned tomatoes, spices, pastas, and Parmesan cheese. (The cheese can be purchased in smaller containers and stored on the shelf before opening them.  I  know that my local Dollar Store carries the smaller size Parmesan Cheese containers.) This recipe would also make a great Meal In A Bag meal.  Because I had all the ingredients in my food storage, I would be able whip this meal up once a month and I would be rotating through my food storage regularly. 

The best part of this recipe is that all you literally have to do is open the cans and start pouring them into a large pot.
Everything cooks in one pot for about 12-15 minutes and dinner is ready!

I wanted to show you the actual recipe from Jan's book because I love how she organizes (surprised?) her ingredients.  They are categorized so you know which pantry items are coming from which part of your storage.  Jan also has a section in her book on how to organize all these pantry items. She lists several ways that might work with this system of pantry cooking.  There is also a section in the back that is set up for vacation cooking. Who wants to lug all their spices on a vacation?  But with a few pantry staples you can cook food in your vacation condo/house and save money. It's all planned out for you and even has a shopping list!

I think that this book is a great resource for anyone with food storage in their home.  There are soups, pasta dishes, chicken and beef recipes, vegetarian recipes, and even dessert included in this book!  It's a great way to rotate through those cans in your storage, but also while eating food that tastes good!!  100-Day Pantry is available on Jan's website and also on Amazon for around $11.00.
 (I was NOT compensated for this review. I only post books, gadgets, recipes, etc that I use myself and that I feel may help my readers in their food storage adventure)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday -- Learn, Prepare, Live

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LEARN FROM THE PAST:
  • Look up Depression Era cookbooks and find simple recipes that use basic foods, like potatoes and onions, for meals. Click HERE for some ideas.
  • What foods grow in your area?  Look up the history of your town to find out how farmers or gardeners grew food in your area.
  •  Learn about cold storage rooms/root cellars and how food was stored without refrigeration. Click HERE for a quick overview of a root cellar.
PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE:
  • Every time you go to the store you should be buying extra food and storing it. 
  • How many long-term grains do you have stored?  
  • Do you have money in a savings account for a rainy day?
LIVE IN THE PRESENT:
  • Be grateful for the life that you have and the many wonderful blessings that occur in your life every day!
  • Use the food storage that you do have and rotate through it regularly.  Store what you eat....eat what you store!
  •  Exercise, eat healthy foods and take care of yourself.  If we did have an emergency you might have to walk a long distance, lift/carry more than you're used to, dig holes, rebuild/fix your home, manually cook a lot of food (kneading bread for 15 minutes isn't easy), work in a garden/field to grow food, etc.  Many things we're not used to physically doing in today's world. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What I'm Storing-- The Freezer Edition

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It's recommended that we all have a 3-month supply of food and other necessities in our homes.  The food in your 3-month supply should be the everyday, normal food that you and your family eat.  The food in your pantry and even the food in your freezer are all part of a 3-month storage plan.  It is kind risky to have a lot of frozen food because of the possibility of a power outage, but storing frozen food for a rainy day type situation is a good idea.  Plus, if you store canning jars, a large canner, and a propane stove the frozen food can be processed in the event of a power outage.  Or maybe just plan on a neighborhood BBQ party :)

I wanted to give you a glimpse inside my freezers.  It's always fun to see how someone else lives, right?  I have two refrigerators, one in my kitchen, and one in my garage.  I must mention that I don't buy, or cook, a whole lot of meat because I am a vegetarian, so my freezers will not contain a massive amount of meat.  But I'll share what I do freeze....

 This is the freezer in my kitchen.  It's a typical household freezer.  I'll run down the numbers and describe what I have in here. 
  1. I keep my instant yeast in a resealable bag in this shelf. I can easily grab it for recipes that call for yeast. 
  2. The shelf above number two is where I keep my unopened yeast storage and some of my frozen butter.  (yeast stays fresh if frozen for a long time)
  3. This shelf has mostly bags of shredded cheese and most of the butter.
  4. Tortillas, freezer meals, and leftovers from dinner are on this shelf.
  5. This shelf is my baked goods shelf.  I store extra bagels, waffles, dinner rolls, and tortillas here. 
  6. This basket holds frozen fruits and vegetables.  My kids love smoothies and so we always have a large bag of frozen mixed fruit.  
  7. This area in the door holds mostly ice packs for injuries and a few baggies of frozen tomato paste, a few frozen bananas, and when I have frozen OJ it goes here. 



The garage freezer, where a lot of my food gets lost.  Just kidding, but it's hard to remember what I have out here sometimes.  (maybe I need to work on inventory of the freezer) I don't have that much in it right now because this is a really cheap fridge and if it gets too cold in the garage it won't turn on.  So I don't want to risk losing my food in the freezer out here.  The kids frozen popsicles go in the door cubbies.  In the main compartment I have several whole chickens, tilapia, more instant yeast, homemade bread sliced and ready to make toast, frozen ravioli, and leftover ice cream from my daughter's birthday.  You'll notice we don't have much in the ice cream department.  We aren't big ice cream eaters in our house. 

As you can see I don't freeze a whole lot of food, but what I do freeze are the foods we eat regularly.  I really love finding a great deal at the grocery store and stocking up my freezers.  It really helps extend my food budget.  For example, I found a great sale on butter a few months ago and I have plenty stored in our freezer that we'll use over the next few months. I also love having a few freezer meals ready to go as well.  


Nothing makes me happier on a busy night than knowing that I have dinner all put together in the freezer.  Making baked goods and storing them in the freezer is my other time saver tip.  When I bake muffins, or rolls, I make an extra batch and freeze them.  My kids eat bagels in their lunches every day, so when I bake up a batch, I double or triple the recipe and freeze the surplus.    

Remember that most food will last in your freezer for up to a year, IF wrapped correctly.  That means using freezer bags, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, a Food Saver, etc. to protect the food from freezer burn.  But....even if they are wrapped correctly freezer meals will only last about 3-6 months, label them with the date as soon as they go into the freezer.  Don't let the extra few steps of wrapping and labeling your food keep your from storing it in the freezer.  Even if it takes a few extra steps to freeze your food, it will be worth it because it gives you peace of mind knowing it's stored for when you'll need it!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday-- Freeze it!

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Do you use your freezer as part of your 3-month storage?  If not, you should be!  I know there are skeptics that say you shouldn't use your freezer in case of a power outage, but for a short-term emergency such as a job loss, money issues, etc, having food stored in your freezer could be a lifesaver.  I love having a few freezer meals in my freezer for busy nights, nights that my kids cook, and the nights I just don't feel like cooking.  This week's challenge is to freeze a few meals for a future need.  Remember that freezer meals will only last about 3-6 months.  Label them well, with the date and reheating instructions!! If there is pasta in your recipe under cook by a few minutes so it doesn't become mushy when thawing.

Check out the Dinner Is Ready blog for great info on creating freezer meals.  I have used Deanna's method of making 30 meals in one day before and it really helped me when my kids were little and dinnertime was really stressful.  Click here to see her blog.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Prepare Today Newsletter-- March Edition

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As part of my calling in Church, I hand out a monthly newsletter on  preparedness.  I had a request to share it online so I will try to get it posted here once a month on, or around, the first Sunday of the month.  This month we are focusing on stocking our freezers and making freezer meals.  

Our lesson this Sunday in Relief Society included a request from our compassionate service leader to freeze the leftovers from our meals, or even make a little extra and freeze it.  Having these freezer meals will help tremendously in serving those in our ward and neighborhoods.  With each of us doing a little part we can help so many. 





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