Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Shopping With Emergency Essentials

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We live in a world with a wide range of products available for purchase, especially food storage products.  We are very blessed to be able to order almost anything we need online and have it delivered right to our doors. I live in a small town without many choices for shopping, so shopping online has been such a time saver for me.  But there are times that I really want to see a product in person before buying it, but this requires some planning on my part.  Taking a trip into the city, 25-45 minutes away, usually includes several stops and my lists are carefully planned ahead of time. This week I headed down to Orem, Utah where I visited the Emergency Essential store and I also stopped by a local grocery store to pick up a few case lot items. I can't ever pass up a case lot sale :)

 I receive the Emergency Essentials catalog every month (sign up for a catalog HERE) and I always want to order a few items, but I never get around to it.  This month I decided to head to the closest store to me, about 30  minutes away to check them out.  I have shopped with them before in Salt Lake City, but never at this location.  

 Emergency Essentials
216 East University Parkway
Orem, Utah 84058
United States
(801) 222-9667

Store Hours:
Mon. 10:00 am-6:00 pm
Tues.-Sat. 10:00 am-9:00 pm
Closed Sunday
 
Please note that I have been a very loyal Honeyville Grain shopper, but I do like to branch out and check out all my options. I do think that Emergency Essentials is a little higher in price point than Honeyville Grain, but the quality of the food is about the same. 

 Here's a fun fact:  when you type in a company name into Google Maps, make sure that the location you pick is the retail store and not the company headquarters.  Guess how I know this fact?  See the picture above, that is the company headquarters for Emergency Essentials.  I met the nicest receptionist while I was there and she gave me directions to the Orem, Utah store front location.  I am so glad that the store was only about 10 minutes away from the company headquarters.  Gotta laugh at yourself sometimes :)

I did eventually make it to the retail store and it was worth the hassle of finding it.  It was light, bright, very organized, and the staff was very helpful.  They were out of a few items that I wanted but that just saved me money :)  

 Emergency Essentials carries more than just freeze-dried food in #10 cans, which they do carry quite a variety of!  They have water purifiers of all kinds, buckets of emergency food for 72-hour type kits, cookbooks, all sorts of preparedness gadgets, sleeping bags, Volcano stoves, fire starting gadgets, and more!

Here you can see the sleeping bags in the rear of the photo and the wall of Mountain House freeze-dried meals and MRE's.  There is also a test kitchen along the back wall of the store.  I was impressed by the look of the store and the helpfulness of the employees.  

 Here's a picture of my loot and the register where I checked out.  The big bucket in my cart is actually breakfast cereal!  A 5-gallon bucket of frosted flakes!  I know it's not the healthiest, by far, but in an emergency it will come in handy for an easy breakfast. 


 Do you see the inside view of the broccoli on the side of the can?  Ok, it isn't really a window into the can, but what a great view of what each product really looks like.  The image on the front of the can doesn't always represent the food that is on the inside of the can. Notice the fresh looking head of broccoli on the front of the can verses the freeze-dried image on the side of the can.  I like knowing what the freeze-dried food looks before I open the whole can.  I give Emergency Essentials and A+ for this "inside the can" image idea!

Here is another view of the inside image of the freeze-dried mushrooms that I purchased.  This can is also the smaller sized can that Emergency Essentials sells.  This is great for single people, college students, couples, or small families.  This smaller sized can is also a great way to try out a food before committing to the larger #10 can size.  I had to buy the smaller cans because they were out of the #10 cans of freeze-dried mushrooms.  I have noticed that most food storage retailers are also out of freeze-dried mushrooms.  I hope there isn't a mushroom shortage!! 

 Important information:  Most of the freeze-dried food at Emergency Essentials has a shelf life of 25 years! So if you have sticker shock from the freeze-dried cans of fruit, just know it will last a looonnngg time on your shelf!  My kids are banned from my freeze-dried peaches and oranges!  There will literally have to be zombies in the back yard for those cans to get opened anytime soon! In all seriousness, the freeze-dried fruits are tasty and they go fast in my house!!

All in all I was very impressed with the Emergency Essentials store.  If you don't live near one of the retail store fronts (their 4 locations are all in Utah), don't worry because you can order online anytime!  (beprepared.com) They have a flat rate shipping charge of $6.00 for orders shipped in the continental United States. If you aren't familiar with Emergency Essentials, check them out.  I do recommend their products, but please do your own research and price comparisons before purchasing anything.  I am NOT compensated for this post, or for any post that I write.  These are my true opinions of the products that I buy. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday

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Plan a family meeting about home fires.  Plan escape routes for everyone in the family.  Practice your escape routes several times, or until you feel everyone is comfortable with the routes.  Have a meeting place outside of the home where everyone in the family knows to gather in an emergency.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturdays

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Saturday is the one day of the week where I feel like I can catch up on life, and maybe have a minute or two to focus on finishing up the many projects I have.  It is also a great day to take a few moments and accomplish a food storage related task.  I was inspired by the Mormon Channels January of Self-Reliant Saturdays.  I am going to run with this idea and post a Self-Reliant Saturday idea/goal/quote, every weekend here on Prepare Today.  I will also link you to the Mormon Channels posts every week. Sometimes the larger goals that we make can overwhelm us and we don't ever complete them. My hope is that by sharing a few of the smaller self-reliant goals and ideas that I have, maybe you will feel inspired to accomplish them, and then feel motivated to move onto the larger goals.  

Today's Goal
 Gather a change of clothing (winter clothing if necessary), including underwear, shoes, and socks, for each family member.  Include winter coats, boots, gloves, hats, etc. Store them in your 72-hour kits, or in an accessible plastic bin that is ready to go at a moments notice.  (Remember that it's easier to turn winter clothing into summer clothing. ie: cutting pants into shorts and longer sleeved shirts into short sleeved t-shirts. You can store clothing for both summer and winter, but if you're short on space go with winter clothing only.)

Here is the link for week 2 of the Mormon Channel's Self-Reliant Saturday post.  Click HERE

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Everything In Its Place...Organizing The Storage Room

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How are all of your January resolutions going? Did you read my last post on my food storage goal for 2015?  Click HERE is you missed it. Since it's still January, I'm going to continue with the organizing theme.  Remember...

A house of order can transcend to all aspects of our lives, but let's start with our food storage.  I hope you were all able to accomplish the organizing assignment in the last post.  The assignment was to inventory your food storage pantry or storage room.  This may seem monumental but I promise it will help in the long run of having a useable food storage system.  (Scroll down the page to see a picture of how I keep an inventory on a white board of all my #10 cans.)



After inventorying your food and supplies the next step is to organize your food into a system that functions for you.  
I am going to show you what works for me and what keeps my food rotated and useable, but there are many other ways to organize your food storage and I'll mention those at the end of the post. 

I have been blessed with a large storage room where I keep all of my extra smaller cans, #10 cans, bulk foods, paper goods, etc.  This is the room that I go to when I need to refill the containers in my kitchen pantry.  The pictures in this post are going to be dark, I apologize but there isn't any natural lighting in this room. Which is a good thing for food storage!  Remember that light, temperature, moisture and bugs/pests all need to be considered when you pick an area for your food storage. 

In my storage room I try to group "like" items together.  That way I usually know where everything is and goes.  I group my #10 cans in a different area then my smaller cans.  The smaller cans are stored in my kitchen and I only keep them out in the storage room when I have too many to fit in the kitchen. 

This is a small sampling of how I organize my #10 cans of dehydrated and freeze-dried foods. 
I have most of my fruits and veggies grouped together.  This helps with knowing how much I have, but it also helps my kids know where things are when they are sent out to the storage room to grab something for me.  The powdered milk and other dairy items like sour cream powder, buttermilk powder, powdered eggs, freeze-dried cheese, powdered shortening, and powdered butter all get stored together.  I also have baking supplies like baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa powder on that shelf.  There is actually a shelf below the milk shelf and it holds my salt, oils, cornstarch and any other baking items that I might buy in bulk.  

How do you store oddly shaped containers, like condiments?
I use the free boxes I get from case lot sales and food storage retailers to group them all together on a shelf.  I also live in earthquake territory and I feel this gives me added protection if the room started shaking.  I really need to instal a small lip on my shelves so things don't go sliding off, but that is on the to-do list :)

All of my bulk items like wheat, oats, rice, sugar, etc. are stored in buckets around the perimeter of my storage room.
I love gamma lids!!  They make it so easy to open and close, and it doesn't feel like such a chore when I need to refill my kitchen pantry containers.  It is very dry where I live so I don't use the mylar bags inside of my bulk buckets.  I pour the bulk bags directly into my buckets.  And I am also comfortable resting them directly on the concrete.  Some may not feel comfortable doing that, but my room doesn't fluctuate in temperature too much and the concrete doesn't get wet.  I feel the chemicals from the concrete are not leaching into my buckets.  This is one of those examples of what works for me may not work for you ;)

And finally, this is how I keep track of all those #10 cans of food.
In all honesty here....this is my goal....to update this white board.  Notice I didn't take the picture too close...haha.  This proves I'm not perfect and I need a food storage refresher too.  The cans that get used the most are the fruits and veggies, so they need to be updated first.  But this is how I keep a visual of what I have.  Some cans are things that I won't use unless I absolutely have too, like the canned cheese and butter.  But having it listed on the board with hash marks allows me to know at a glance what I have in my storage room.  

Other Food Storage Options
 Some people may like using the commercial can rotater systems, but I don't have the room for them.  I have found that I can easily add newer cans to the back of my shelf without having a rotating shelf.  But you can decide if that will work for you.  You can also store like items together or groups of ingredients into complete meals.  Like the meal in a bag idea. Or maybe you like to make meals in a jar. Or maybe storing your food like the grocery store, with different types of food together, like Italian, Mexican.  I know of some people who like to store their food according to breakfast, lunch, or dinner meals.  It's all up to you!! It is really up to what works for you so you will USE your food storage!

Remember this rule with any food storage system....
F.I.F.O


This is how you rotate your food!  Always place the newer foods in the back.  This may seem tedious and hard to do but knowing you are using the oldest food first will save you a lot of $$.  Take the few minutes when you buy your food to put them in the proper place...behind the older food! 

Food Storage in Smaller Homes 

Many of us may live in smaller homes or apartments.  How is is possible to have food storage....and to store the larger amounts of food needed?
  • Think of the space under the beds in your homes.  For long-term foods (#10 cans that lasts 20+ years) they can be stored in their boxes under a bed.  Think about taking the bed off the frame and using the food storage as the base.  The food from the cannery like rice, wheat, oats, powdered milk, would all work great for this option.  They don't need used as often. 
  • Do you have extra space above your kitchen cabinets?  This unused space could easily store cans of food.  
  • Instead of end tables, place stacked cans under a tablecloth and use a wood or glass topper to create a small table.  
  • The space behind your sofa and the wall can hold food storage as well.  It can be covered with a cloth or if you know someone handy, they could build a cover for it out of wood. 
  • Do you use all that extra closet space on the shelf above your clothes?  Think of how high you could stack #10 cans if they went all the way to the ceiling of the closet.  
  • Buy several over the door pocket hangers, that are made for shoes, and you'll have a great area for smaller items. Think of all the doors and closets that you have and think if an over the door organizer would work there.  
**All of the above ideas take organization to a new level.  You will need to have a record of what you have stored and where you put it.  Keep a notebook with every item listed, where you put it, how much you have stored, and the expiration date.

It takes a little creativity and thinking outside of the box, but I know if you make it a priority to have your food storage you will be blessed.  Thoughts and ideas will come to your mind as you pray to know how to prepare for your family.  

Friday, January 2, 2015

Organize and Prepare Every Needful Thing

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I have been away from my blog for too long.  I apologize!!  Sometimes there are more pressing issues in my personal life that I need to take care of, and the blog was put on the back burner.  The issue was more important then food storage...shocked...I know :)  But in all seriousness I needed an emotional time out and I took the time to take care of my family.  

But I am back and it's a new year!! Happy 2015!!  Since so many of us set goals in the new year, I thought it would be a good time to set a few goals relating to food storage. 

Can you tell where I am going with that scripture??  Yes, we are going to start off the new year by organizing our pantries and food storage.  It doesn't do any of us any good if we have our food storage, but it goes to waste because we can't find it to use it!  Organizing your storage area and kitchen is a big part of food storage.  Being able to find what you need, and also using food before it's expiration date, are both important in a usable food storage system.  

There are many ways to organize your short-term and long-term food storage and there isn't a right way, or a wrong way.  Whatever system works for you is the right way of doing food storage.  



 Click HERE to read a post that I wrote a little while back on how I store my food.  I really like buckets with gamma lids to store my long-term staples. Plus you'll get a peak at my pantry.  




In the food storage world there are large #10 can rotating shelving units and smaller plastic can rotator systems on the market.  They are usually quite expensive, especially for the amount of cans that I would need to store. But...I found a great cardboard rolling can organizer for a relatively low price from the canorganizer.com company.  Click HERE to see my post on how I put them together and organized my smaller cans.  I have had them for several years and they hold up great, even through a move!!

These are just a few of the ways that I organize my food storage.  I'll admit that I love organizing and that it comes easily to me.  I don't say this to brag, but I am hoping that something that I do might help someone out there in the food storage world.  Food storage becomes a way of life, usable, and you'll actually want to do it, IF it is organized and user friendly.  I promise if you take the time to organize your storage and stick to a system that works for you...you will love having and using your food storage!!  Stay tuned for more posts with ideas and suggestions on how to organize and use your food store storage. 



The first thing that I want you to do is inventory your pantry and anywhere else that you have food stored.  You need to know what you have before we can organize and shop for items that you're short on.  Make a list of the foods you have and also the amount of each item.  This can be kept in a notebook, on the computer, on your phone, or on a giant white board. (I like to use a giant white board in my storage room so I can erase and add food when we use it) Whatever works for you....do it!! We'll use your inventory list to organize in future posts. Let's all commit to making food storage user friendly in 2015!!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Homemade Body Wash

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I have had the recipe for homemade body wash on my to-do list for a very long time. Although time hasn't been on my side lately and it got pushed to the back burner.  Well, when you're down the the last drops of shower gel and you don't want to pay the big bucks for a new bottle, you make time to cook up a batch.


The original "recipe" comes from HERE. It looked pretty straightforward.  I mean if I can follow a recipe for homemade bread I can for sure melt some soap in a pan with some water.  Haha!  I did figure out how to make it but there was some trial and error involved.  

The recipe is as follows.  

Homemade Body Wash
3 Bars of Dove soap
6 C. water
Grate the soap into the pan
Add the water
Heat on low and stir until all the soap is melted
Cool in mason jars (no lids)
Pour into body wash bottles or place lids on the mason jars


So here is where my troubles began....

"Just grate it" they said.  "It's so simple." they said. 

After 10 minutes of grating the first bar of soap my arm muscles were burning, my grater felt like it was going to break, and the soap was melting in my hot hand.  It was literally a hot mess!!  I turned to my trusty food processor.  I had read that some people grate their soap in it, so I gave it a try. 


You can't really see it in the picture, but the soap wouldn't budge and I ended up with soap all over the blade and nothing in the bowl.  I pushed the soap harder through the chute and my processor literally stopped.  I think I broke it, but I'm too scared to try and turn it on again. It got cleaned and put back in the cupboard.  (which by the way you would think soap would wash right off of kitchen appliances...it doesn't!  It's so sticky!!)

 I resorted to chopping it up the old fashioned way and what I noticed is that the soap just breaks apart naturally.  I tried to cut the pieces into similar sizes so they would melt all at once.  

 After chopping all three bars of soap I added in 6 cups of water and brought the mixture to a low simmer.  I stirred pretty consistently with a whisk.  Now, I have to warn you.  If you do not like the smell of the soap in it's bar form, then you will be forced out of your home for several hours while the smell permeates your residence.  It was strong!!  It took about 15 minutes for all of the soap pieces to fully melt.  I then poured the liquid into mason jars to cool.


I filled two quart mason jars and let them sit for several hours while they cooled.  They will turn from a runny liquid to a thicker body wash type gel.  I then poured one mason jar into my leftover commercial body wash container and placed a plastic mason jar lid on the extra body wash.  

 I haven't done the math, but I am sure this is a great deal compared to purchasing Dove body wash for upwards of $6.00 a bottle.  It was a messy, soap smelling process, but I will try this again.  I learned what worked and what didn't.  I have been using the body wash for just over a week now and I LOVE it!!! I use one of those poof type spongy things and it foams up just like the store bought stuff.  And the Dove soap really moisturizes my skin.  I have not had that dry itchy feeling after my shower.  I am sure you can make this with any bar soap, I just had Dove on hand.  This was a to-do list win!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Post Disaster Meals - No Cooking Required!

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*This is a a re-post from Oct. 2012

{While talking to a neighbor last night this post came to mind and I thought it would be a good reminder for everyone. We were discussing what we would eat in the days immediately following a disaster.  Even those of us who like to eat fresh food most of the time, the hours and days after a disaster will require a different approach to eating.  The concept of having at least three days worth of food will go right along side your 72-hour kits.}

Post Disaster Meals--No Cooking Required! 

I read a great post over at Homestead Revival and it got me thinking about the minutes, hours, and first days after a disaster.  What would I be doing?  What would my family be eating, drinking, sleeping on, etc?  Amy, from Homestead Revival, described a situation just like Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath that ensued.  I was inspired by her words and her challenge to come up with enough meals for 3 days that required NO cooking.  This is definitely a challenge!  I do  have ways to cook without power, but in the hours following a disaster I don't know if I will be able to get to my butane stove, and have the sense to even want to think about cooking a meal.  

The first meal that Amy put together was tuna, crackers, a small container of mayo, pickle relish, canned fruit, and small bags of trail mix.  She keeps this in a Rubbermaid type container and has it labeled.  Everything required for the meal would be contained in the box, even a can opener, and there is no cooking needed.  Amy then challenged her readers to come up with their own meals to add to a disaster kit.  I sat and thought what could I possibly have on hand for breakfast, lunch, and, dinner without cooking.  Here is what I came up with......

Breakfast would include:
  • Cereal
  • Shelf-stable milk
  • bowls and spoons


 Lunch  #1 would include:
  • Tuna
  • Saltine crackers
  • Mayo
  • Pineapple (for in the sandwich or a side fruit)
  • Chex Mix


Lunch #2 would include:
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Saltine Crackers
  • Oranges



Lunch or Dinner idea:
  •  Soup (different kinds for picky family eaters)
  • Saltine Crackers
  • Spoons & bowls
  • Pears
The soup wouldn't be warm, but it is edible.  


 Dinner would include:
  • Taco shells
  • Black beans
  • Olives
  • Salsa
  • Oranges
  • And I forgot the utensils in this pic :)


Now I need to put all this food into a water safe container with a variety of crackers, more silverware, napkins, and utensils.  I added some peanut butter and crackers at the top of the picture for a snack.  I might just add a few pieces of Halloween candy to keep our sweet tooth happy too!

And don't forget a......


What meal ideas would work for your family??  This is only the beginning, I will have to ponder this subject some more and see what else would work for us!  This idea will supplement our 72-hour kits nicely and having it all in one bin will allow me to rotate it easier, and I know that all our food is in one place.   
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