Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Prepare Today: What I'm Buying?

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Stocking up on preparedness supplies is an on going process.  It's a cycle of buying and using, and using and buying.  I find myself continually filling in the gaps in my storage room.  I made a trip into the big city the other day and bought a few items that I had on my shopping list.

My first stop was Honeyville Grain in Salt Lake City.  I needed a few baking staples but while I was there these two cans caught my attention.

They are sealed cans of non-hybrid seeds, on sale for $10.00!!!  I almost wish I had purchased more than just the two cans.  They are shelf-stable for about 15 years. These cans sound like an amazing idea, but don't put them on the shelf and hope you'll never need them.  Plan a garden and learn all you can now, before you have to use seeds to survive.  Seeds in your storage are also perfect for people who are on specific diets and can't live off of starches and high carbs, such as pasta and rice.  

I've always been and advocate for chocolate in my storage room.  It is one of the main food groups in my house :), but did you ever want to be able to store ice cream long-term?  

Freeze-dried chocolate chocolate chip ice cream!  Just like the astronauts!  I couldn't resist, and it is actually pretty good.  It melts in your mouth and takes just like chocolate, with chocolate chips in it.  Win, win in my book!  The #10 can cost $16.99 on sale.  

After Honeyville I headed to Walmart.  I have been looking for a flashlight and this Energizer rechargeable plug-in is perfect for blackouts.  If the power goes out the light automatically comes on.  Just leave it plugged in and it will be ready to go in time of need. And at around $8 it's a great price point. I have seen these also online. 


Towards the end of summer I like to stock up on seasonal items like pool shock and solar garden lights.  

Pool shock is an essential item to have in your storage.  A 1lb. bag of pool shock can purify 10,000 gallons of water.  It doesn't expire like bleach and has a long shelf life.  Check out my post on water purification HERE for more information.  The box above was around $13.00 at Walmart.

Outdoor solar lights are a great addition to my preparedness supplies.  These were only .97 at Walmart.  Leave them outside to soak up the sun and bring them in at night for cheap emergency lights.  I collect a few every year and add them to my storage supplies.  They are inexpensive and easy to use! 

These are the items that I added to my storage room this week. What have you done this week to fill in your storage gaps?  Remember that smalls steps lead to big things!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Back-To-Basics Frugal Food Storage Part 3: Bread Recipes

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One of the ways that I am able to save money is to make my own breads at home.  The ingredients used for making bread are dirt cheap, have you noticed how much they charge you in the grocery store for artisan breads, even french bread.  It's outrageous to pay that much for flour and water. 

Here are a few of my favorite bread recipes.  Don't be scared of yeast, some people think it's tricky, but after using it a few times you'll get the hang of it.

Don't spend money on bagels either....click HERE for a bagel recipe that works for me.

If you try a new recipe give yourself time to learn it.  I remember trying to make bread the first time without a Bosch mixer and hand kneading.  It.took.forever.!!  And the final result was less than appetizing.  It took me almost 2 years, I'm a slow learner, to get my bread to a point of looking and tasting the way we like it.  Don't get frustrated and give up if it doesn't work the first time. Make a goal of trying a new bread recipe this week!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Back-To-Basics Money Part 2: Frugal Food Storage

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Stocking up on life's essentials, plus food storage, can cost quite a bit. Being frugal is something I take pride in (my email is jrfrugalmom@gmail.com) and it's also how I am able to feed a family of 7 and still stock up on food storage and emergency preparedness supplies. For the most part I watch grocery sales and ONLY buy things on sale.  We don't eat out very often and hardly ever go to a movie, but we do rent movies and have cookouts in the backyard for family fun.  It's all about priorities and realizing that even if you miss the latest movie, life goes on, and most likely that movie you missed will be online or tv later.

I have written a few posts on frugal food storage because I feel no one should go into debt to acquire food storage.  Here are some of the ways that I save money while still stocking up.
 Click HERE to view a post on Frugal Preparedness.  It's all about shopping for preparedness items in the least likely places. 

Click HERE to view a post on inexpensive First Aid Supplies.

Click HERE to read all about making your own cleaning suppliesThe granite cleaner is my FAVORITE!!!!!!

Make your own crackers and save a ton of money!  Click HERE to see my favorite recipe.

Save money by making bulk mixes.  Click HERE to see that post.

Extend the life of your fresh produce by using these tricks.  Click HERE to see how!!

And click HERE to see how one blogger friend of mine affords her food storage....for only $10 a week.  

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses............
One of the excuses that people have for not having their food storage is that they can't afford it. I am here to tell you that you CAN afford it.

  • Eat out less
  • Take advantage of sales
  • No impulse buying
  • Cook from scratch (anything a manufacturer can make, so can you)
  • Plan menus!!
  • Entertainment: stay home, use the library, buy second hand
  • Keep your car longer
  • Have a money jar for spare change (cash in the change and use for your 72-hour kit or to buy food storage items)
  • Be Thankful: if you are constantly thinking of things you have to have you won't appreciate what you are blessed with.
Most of us DO have money we could channel into food storage but without focus it is all too easy for the money to slip through our fingers. Keep this in mind: (all the cans are #10 cans size)
  • magazine subscriptions for a year can be around $40=1 year supply of canned spaghetti
  • Wii games are $49.99=6 cans of sugar, 6 cans of pinto beans & 3 cans of oats
  • Movie tickets for 1 child and 1 adult (no snacks) $17.50= 6 cans of potato flakes
  • DVD's cost $19.99=7 cans of white rice
  • E-books cost $14.99 (average)=8 cans Hard Red Wheat
  • Red Lobster dinner for 2 $50= 9 cans of apple slices
  • New hardcover books $17-$25= 6 cans macaroni
Just keep in mind where the money spent is going and think of some alternative ways to find the items that you feel you have to have. Renting dvd's and borrowing movies and cd's from the library are some options. If you make your food storage a priority you will find ways to finance it. I love this quote:

 "The money slips through our fingers as we munch our way through life's countless Burger-McWendy's or avert our attention from the fact that PayPal really isn't always our pal". 

All we have to do is to decide, commit to it, and then keep that commitment. Blessings and miracles will happen!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Back-To-Basics Financial Reserve

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The last focus for the big three of the Back-To-Basics series (1. Water, 2. Food click on the back-to-basics tab above for all the back-to-basics posts)  is Money.  Not necessarily the easiest topic, but here we go.

We all use money, everyday.  Our lives depend on how much is coming in and going out.  Why do we need it in our food storage?
  • money is needed to buy your storage
  • money is needed in times of stress such as: job loss, extended sickness, bread earner in college, economic distress
  • small amounts of bills will be needed if there is ever an emergency that knocks out power.  No ATMs will work and neither will credit card machines.  
Today we live in a society of thinking that we can just go buy a new one, of almost anything.  We need to retrain the way we think, and hold onto what we have for a little longer.  Sew clothes instead of getting new ones, hold onto our cars for a few years longer, learn to cook from scratch and not buy convenience foods, make do with what we have.  So many of us are not prepared for "a rainy day".  We haven't saved up a reserve of money to help us through a tough time. And the rainy days that I am talking about are not zombie apocalypses.  The fridge, washer, dryer, car, house, they all seem to have a problem, and at the most inconvenient time!  Kids need money for school, soccer, football, tennis, new shoes, birthday presents for friends, doctor/hospital visits.  The list could go on forever.  A serious illness or extended hospital stay can devastate a family financially. Having money set aside for these events will give you peace of mind because you won't go into financial ruin to pay for them.

I know it's difficult to just get by every month, but lets look at a few ways to start saving money:

  • Pay yourself first every month.  No matter how little it may be, take out money for yourself and put it in a savings account.  It may seem difficult at first, but it will become habit.  
  • Don't use credit cards, unless you pay them off every month.  
  • Don't try to get out of debt while still going into debt.  You can't get out it if you are still buying the latest and greatest thing.  Hold off on those impulse purchases!
  • Save a few dollars every month and put it in your 72-hour kits.  If you only have large bills, a bottle of water may cost you $20 in an emergency when there isn't any electricity for credit/debit cards.
  •  Live within your means.  Don't watch your friends and neighbors and try to keep up.  This one is really hard, but you have to remember the long-term goal of having money set aside.  And most of those people with fun toys are probably in debt to pay for them.  Don't get caught up in the hype!
  • Having food storage will always pay off in a situation where  money is tight.  Cutting the food budget is the first thing you can do.  If you have food storage you can do that!  Learn to cook from scratch and always have basic food ingredients on hand. 
  • Discipline! You have to exercise control when spending!
  • Make and stick to a budget.  Writing things down makes a huge difference rather than thinking you know how much you spent.  There are a TON of apps you can have on a phone or tablet to keep track of your budget.  I find it really convenient and it's so easy to pull up and look at what I have spent.
  • Speaking of phones....is it a necessity?  Think about a cheaper phone, or phone plan.  Do all of your children need a phone?  This goes for tv's, satellite plans, insurance plans, there always seems to be a better deal, and switching companies can save you money.  There are also so many ways to watch tv and movies, whether it's online, or renting, there are ways to cut back the costs. 
  • Wants vs. Needs....be realistic on what your wants are.
  • Become financially independent over time, gradually.  Just as with food storage, this is a process and not a one time event.  Be patient with yourself and save a little at a time.  It will add up.

These are just a few ideas of what you can do to save money for a rainy day fund.  It takes time and patience to accomplish. Get your whole family involved in saving money.  Teach your children about money, working, and budgets.  Keeping the communication open about money will alleviate the stress level for children.  They know when we are stressed, talking about it will help them feel safe.  It is really difficult, and expensive,  to raise children, but communicating with your children will teach them valuable life lessons when it comes to money and hard work.  Dealing with money is HARD, and we ALL stress about it, but make saving money a goal and commit to that goal.  Be ready for that rainy day!

Here is a link to view the pamphlet from the LDS church on having a financial reserve.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Back-To-Basics: 3-Month Supply Part 3- Storage

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Click HERE for part 1 and HERE for part 2 of the 3-month supply posts.  Today's post will be....

Storing food has two rules:
  1. Store food properly to maintain the nutrients, keep it edible, and save you money.
  2. Use the containers, jars, buckets, #10 cans, etc. that work FOR YOU!
Although I said to store food in containers that work for you please only store food in containers that were manufactured to store food.  Plastics will absorb what's in them.  If a bucket had some kind of chemical in it, don't use it for food.  Same goes for used buckets that had food with vinegar, garlic or other strong flavors.  It will be almost impossible to get those smells out of the buckets.  Vinegar flavored oats does not sound appetizing.

Most foods that will be in your 3-month storage will be smaller and can be stored in their original packaging.  But there are ingredients that I use in my daily cooking that I buy in bulk and need to be stored properly.  Wheat, flour, oats, millet, sugar, brown sugar, rice, are all bulk items that I use regularly.  I am going to show you what works for me and how I store my food, both short and long term.  It may or may not work for you.  Hopefully I have convinced you that #10 cans of "just in case" food aren't the best plan.  Your stored food needs to be foods you use daily, and they will need to be accessible, or you won't want to bother getting it out and using it. 

Now, hard core preppers may think I'm crazy to show you what I have and how I store it, but I am comfortable in showing my storage room.  It's to help you, I hope ;)  I am lucky, very lucky, to have a storage room just off of my garage. It is just steps away from my kitchen and it holds A LOT!  The bottom row all around the room are 5-gallon buckets.  Around 70 of them.  I know this because I carried them into the moving truck and back out again.  I keep wheat, rice, sugar, oats, millet, and flour in them.  Most, if not all of them have gamma lids for ease.  I use these buckets to fill my smaller kitchen pantry containers.  It's soooo much easier to have a gamma lid when I need to refill a smaller container. 

I tried using different colors for different items, but it turned into just using what I had when I needed a bucket.  I am kind of OCD when it comes to organizing and I really want the lids to all match....some day.  

Buckets are great for long-term storage.  I do have #10 cans of long-term wheat and milk that will last 25-30 years, but I like buckets for most of my storage. Mylar bags inside of the buckets will give you another barrier against air, light, and rodents.  I live in a very dry climate and so far, no rodents.  I'm OK with no Mylar bags, see rule 2 above.

 Pastas and other grains....

For my pastas I use these bins that I found at a local discount store.  We use this food in a year or less, so I feel a #10 can would be overdoing it.  I take the pasta out of these bins and put them in my kitchen pantry in vertical storage containers. 

I can pour directly from these containers, also found at the same local discount store, into a pan of boiling water.  Plus I love the way they line up and have labels. 

I also have a variety of these containers for mixes and larger amounts of food like rice and wheat.  The brown nuggets are actually beef tvp, not dog food, like my kids call it.

There are a few items that I store in mason jars.  I am a big fan of the foodsaver! I love to seal up dehydrated foods that I have dehydrated at home, and also food from #10 cans that I won't be using in a timely matter before they go bad. (click HERE to view all my posts on using the foodsaver)

Oh, and I like to seal chocolate too.  Click HERE to see that post :)

I opened my #10 can of freeze dried cheese to use it one night, but needed to make sure the remaining cheese stayed freeze dried.  I sealed the remaining cheese in mason jars.  We use a lot of cocoa powder at my house and I make sure it stays fresh by sealing it in jars with the foodsaver. 

Storage Re-Cap

-BUCKETS:  Decide how often you are going to use certain foods, long-term or short-term, in your storage and use containers that are appropriate for that use.  Don't buy sealed buckets, or #10 cans,  if you are going to need to use an item often, this is where gamma lids come in handy!  Decide if buckets, #10 cans, or a little of both work for you.

-#10 CANS:  #10 cans are perfect for long-term storage and for items that you aren't going to use on a daily basis.  I have powdered milk, freeze-dried fruits and veggies, freeze-dried cheese, rice, oats, and wheat stored in #10 cans.  If they were canned properly, all of those items are good for 25+ years in a #10 can.  Sugars, pastas, and other grains I prefer to keep in buckets. I use them more frequently and feel having them canned would waste money.

-ORGANIZATION:  Having shelves organized and labeled will allow you to rotate through your food before it's expiration.  I have buckets, #10 cans, plastic bins, smaller canned food, mason jars, a little of everything, stored on shelves, in buckets in my storage room, and smaller containers in my pantry,  and I rotate bulk items from the larger containers to the smaller containers.  This is what works for me and allows me to find what I need quickly.  There are many can rotater shelving units on the market and even a few homemade versions on pinterest.  I store my smaller cans in a Can Organizer.  Click HERE to view a post on how I put them togetherIt's another area you need to research to find what works for you.  *Remember rule #2 :)

-STORE PROPERLY:  When I purchase food I immediately put it away.  This is a not a time for procrastination!!  Get the buckets out and fill them. Put cans away.  Don't let food sit out.  Label cans with dates, if that helps you to remember when to rotate it. Remember FIFO- first in first out- older cans go up front and newer cans go behind.  Don't assume you'll remember when you bought things.  (that's from experience too :)

-EAT IT:  Most importantly....eat what you store!!! Don't store foods just because a website or book says you are suppose to have x amount of something.  I detest most canned veggies, I'm sorry, but I can't eat them, so I have dehydrated and freeze dried versions, and extra water stored instead.  I do have #10 cans of milk and buckets of wheat that I don't use everyday, but almost everything else in my food storage gets used, almost daily!  That is how it has to work for rotation.  Store what you eat....eat what you store!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Back-To-Basics: 3-Month Supply Part 2

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Part one of the back-to-basics 3-month supply was all about WHY and HOW to begin a 3-month supply.  Click HERE if you missed that post.  Today we are going to learn....

So, how do you acquire all of this food storage??

After you have planned out your meals, made an ingredient list, and know how much to buy, you will need to go shopping.  

-Unless you have the budget, DO NOT go out and buy everything you need at once and put it on a credit card!  Slow and steady wins the race. But DO put aside a little every month for your food storage.  Or put off your wants until you have fulfilled your needs. Will that fancy vacation or fun new boat feed you in rough times? Priorities!

-Peruse the local grocery ads weekly and keep your eyes peeled for the items you need for your family.  Shopping when items are on sale will save you money!!  Purchase only the amount of items that your budget allows! Even if you only buy a couple of extra items each time you shop, you'll have food storage.  Remember.... "A Case of food is you can...A Can if you can't."  Coupons can also help tremendously, if you want to go that route.

-The grocery store sales cycle about every 3 months, so if  you missed a good deal this time, it will most likely be back in 3 months.  Plan ahead when to spend your money and save up for bigger purchases.

-In Utah we are lucky to have Case Lot sales at our local grocery stores.  Food is sold in cases at a discounted price. Check with your local grocery manager, they might be able to order cases for you if you don't have case lot sales.

-Group orders and buying in bulk.  Plan with friends, family, or neighbors and split the cost and bulk. Most food storage retailers have an online store.  Sign up for emails and you'll get a heads up on sales! Black Friday, last November, had some amazing online food storage deals.

-When buying dehydrated or freeze-dried food/meals, make sure you have tried them first before buying in bulk.  Every manufacturer is slightly different and you don't want a room full of dehydrated apples that no one wants to eat because the peeling is still on them. (guess how I know :) 

-Plant a garden to save money and also to learn.  Gardening is hard work and definitely has a learning curve.  Practice now while mistakes won't cause hunger. Store seeds!!

-Share and glean fruits and veggies from neighbors, family, and friends.  This is a great way to have extra food for canning and dehydrating.  And who doesn't love getting homemade jam from a friend!

 -Learn how to dehydrate and can.  Saving money sometimes requires buying something in bulk that may have an expiration date.  You can dehydrate almost anything and store it for use later. Click HERE to see how I store my dehydrated foods using a foodsaver. Canning also allows food such as meats and veggies a much longer shelf life in storage.

-The LDS Cannery is a great place to buy bulk items.  If you have a friend that is LDS they can go with you to purchase items.  There are also several staples that can be ordered online and shipped to your home for a very reasonable cost.  Check out lds.org for more info. 

-In the western United States there is a store called Winco.  They have amazing prices on food.  I especially love their bulk bin area for spices, cocoa powder, couscous, orzo, etc.  Spices are really affordable in bulk and I highly recommend checking this store out if you live near one.  

-Be on the lookout for stores that are closing.  There was a store this week in my town that was discounting everything 20-40% off.  I got medicine, feminine products, paper goods, trash bags, and deodorant for less than shopping with coupons!  There are also great savings at closeout stores, and dollar stores.  Just being aware of what is around me, I am able to save money and stock up!

 -Walking around the grocery store today I noticed many closeout prices on medicine and personal hygiene.  The stores don't like to keep inventory around when it isn't selling. Keep a look out for sales that aren't advertised. 

It really is quite easy to accomplish a goal of having food in your home that will last three months.  It will take a minute of your time to organize your recipes and shop but, if you commit to doing this, and do all you can, you will be blessed.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Back-To-Basics: 3-Month Supply Part 1

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Every memory I have of food storage always included lots and lots of #10 cans of food in my parent's basement.  They were never used and my parents actually moved some of those cans, across the country, four times.  Last year I helped my dad clean out the basement and we threw away many of those cans from the 1960's.  

Thank goodness there is a more efficient and affordable way to plan out and use food storage today! Those of us who are Mormon have been raised with the idea that we need to have our one year supply of food on hand.  It has been that way since I was little (almost 40 years ago) and at one time we were also asked to have a 2 year supply.  In 2007 a new pamphlet came out from the Church that described a new approach to storing food.  We are now asked to have a 3-month supply of everyday, "normal", food.  When that is accomplished we are encouraged to continue and store longer-term items. This is sound advice for everyone, not just Mormons....emergencies, disaters, and job losses don't discriminate.

 Now, take a moment and consider WHY you personally want to have food storage?  

-Do you feel the need to be obedient to the counsel given by our Church leaders to become self-reliant?

-Do you want a feeling of peace that comes from having food and supplies stored away for a rainy day?

-Do you want the feeling of comfort if there is a job loss or sickness in your family, and you can still provide for your family?

-Do you want to be ready for any kind of weather related emergency? Know what weather may threaten your area!

-Do you fear an economic collapse and want the peace of knowing you could thrive in a time of despair for most?

-Or are you a hard core prepper that wants to be ready for the end of the world? 

-My main reason is....I don't want to see my children suffer from anything and if I can store extra food and supplies....I will do it now while I can!

Any one of those reasons is reason enough to store food for your family!  But take this into consideration......No one else is going to be there to rescue you, not the government, not the LDS Church, not even family.  If there is an earthquake in Utah, you may not be able to reach family and use their food storage.  Don't count on anyone but YOU to feed your family!!  Once you have the "WHY I am doing this"....you should be motivated to do it! I'm not comfortable relying on others to have food for my children.  How will you feel, watching your family go without food, knowing you could have done something to prevent that NOW?!  

The "new" way to do food storage is to store what your family eats on a regular basis.  Foods that are normal for your family and foods that fit within your dietary restrictions.  You get to customize what goes into your food storage!  The foods you use everyday are the foods you'll store and rotate because you're using them regularly.  Think of what is in your fridge and freezer, that is part of your 3-month supply.  

Some people also like to store in a way of "what ifs?" and that is ok too.  That means you don't want to rely on having electricity to use your 3-month supply.  You think in what if  scenarios, what if this or that happens?  How would I use my 3-month supply without electricity to cook and cool it?  What if I had to bug out somewhere besides my home?  I do count my refrigerator as part of my supply, but I also have canned and dehydrated options to fill in for those fresh foods, just in case. 

Three months is an interesting time frame, if you think about it.  If there was a quarantine, and you were forced to be in your home the whole time, it would probably last 8-12 weeks.   If you have 3 months worth of food and supplies you will be ahead of the rest, and it will give you time to figure out what to do after the 3 months is up.  If there was a disaster and there was a long term effect on food supplies, the 3 months would be a kind of buffer between what you know to do and what you will have to figure out to do later.  

 Planning.  That really is the key to a successful storage plan.  You have to know what your family eats and how much to buy.  Otherwise you end up with a room of food you don't use, or no one will eat.  Oh, and you will need to know how to cook, at least a few basic meals.  Sorry, but that is how it goes. Prepackaged food from the grocery store only lasts so long, and is quite expensive to stock up on and count it as your storage.  Learn to make bread, muffins, pizza dough, crackers, granola bars...you get it.  Follow the guidelines below and you'll be on your way to food storage success! This is what works for me and it may not work for you.  But try it out and see if works for you! I started with just dinners, but you can make a master list of all the meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and shop for them all the time.  Starting with just one mealtime is a little easier.

It's really all about buying extra whenever you find a good deal at the store.  Sometimes my grocery shopping looks kind of odd.  I'll have 10 packages of butter and 4 packs of toilet paper in my cart, and that's all I'll need that week.  Once I bought 20 bags of chocolate chips and the cashier asked what I was making.  I replied that the price was too good to not stock up for my food storage.  She was surprised and said what a good idea that was.  Don't let strange comments or looks bother you, maybe you'll influence someone to start storing too!

Once you have your dinners complete make a list of recipes and ingredients for breakfast and lunch.  Or, you can only do breakfast and dinner.  If there wasn't electricity, cooking would be done mostly with a sun oven for me.  I would do my baking in the morning and early afternoon.  No sun=no cooking in a sun oven so no dinners started at 5:00 p.m. I am  planning on having a big afternoon meal and then a snack type meal of breads or muffins for dinner.  I have breakfasts and dinners planned for my family but you can plan all three meals.  Not all reasons for having a 3-month supply will mean we don't have electricity.  Having 3 square meals a day planned would be routine and your family would have a sense of normalcy.  Decide what works for YOU, plan it, and commit to do it!! 

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