Saturday, December 26, 2009

Variety is the Spice of Food Storage

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Now that Christmas is over winter could be done too in my opinion. The dark, cold days of winter can get very monotonous. I wish spring with all the vibrant colors would get here a little faster than it does. While thinking of this I also thought of food storage and how it can also become monotonous and bland.

If you were to eat from your food storage for the next month with NO trips to the store for any item, could you do it? I bet we would find some gaps in our food storage. At first we may have fresh fruit or veggies, but after 2 weeks or so they would be gone and then what? If you have canned or dried substitutes your family may not even realize you had to use them as a substitute. But most of us would be eating pretty bland food.

Some food that we use all the time is cheese, but do we have it stored for long term use. Some of the big blocks of cheese at the grocery store are vacuum sealed cheese (Tillamook is a great example) and will last months in the fridge if unopened. You can also vacuum seal your cheese after opening with a Food Saver and it will last a lot longer. Freezing shredded cheese is also a great option and cheese powder in a #10 can would work for some baking recipes. I've also read that if you wrap your cheese in aluminum foil, with no air gaps, it will last a lot longer too.

I thought of other food items that would add spice to an otherwise bland storage. We can have wheat, pasta, rice, flour, but without some added flavor we would be sick of eating it after awhile. 

Items to spice up your bland food storage: (only buy what your family uses)


-Spices of all kinds
-Cocoa powder (stores indefinitely)
-Chocolate chips (vacuum seal in mason jars for maximum shelf life)
-Brownie and cake mixes
-Eggs (powdered eggs are amazingly simple to use)
-Butter (butter powder is available)
-Drink mixes to add some variety to water
-Shortening/oil (not much baking can be done without it)
-Soy Sauce
-Candy/Chocolate (store candy in #10 cans marked as pinto beans and no one but you will know they are there, that way it will stay part of the food storage and not some late night candy raid :)

We also need to have variety in our everyday storage. Think of all the pastas that are out there. My kids will think I have made a new dinner just because there is a new pasta in the pan. Store more than just spaghetti. Sugar also has more than one form, white, brown, powdered, honey and molasses. There are many dinners that you can make starting with bullion or soup base. Don't forget to store beef, chicken, and even pork varieties. (Winco has soup base in their bulk bin area for a great price). Having just a little variety will make your storage last a lot longer with-out your family getting bored. 

A great non-food item to store would be cheesecloth. You can use it to make cheese from powdered milk and also need it to make cottage cheese. (Rennet tablets also come in handy for cottage cheese making)

One of the most important items I think to store are canned FRUITS AND VEGGIES. Your family needs to store 185lbs of EACH (on average) to have a year supply. That's a lot of produce. This summer and fall I bought fresh fruit and veggies when they were at their cheapest and we ate what we could and I dehydrated the rest. I then vacuumed sealed the dried food into mason jars and they should keep for a couple years on the shelf. I recently dried celery after having a bunch left over from Thanksgiving time and it shrunk down to nothing and I used it in soup (after reconstituting it) and it was wonderful. A dehydrator is a great investment to make and I can't believe all the things I have dried: green onions, celery, apples, white onion, cilantro, carrots, bananas, grapes (that was fun to see turn to raisins) etc. This also saves a ton of money by buying the food when they are in season and then we able to use them all winter and not having to pay high prices.

During fruit tree season ask neighbors and friends to let you have fruit that is not getting picked or is on the ground. You can cook with them, freeze them or dehydrate and save lots of money too. Canned or dried vegetables are also a must. I love to look at my canned food storage and see all the different colored labels, it means I have variety, think spring and how colorful it is. Our food storage needs to look like that as well. Here is a list of fruits and veggies to store (of course only store what you will use):

Applesauce (also great for an oil substitute in baking)
Dry fruit (raisins, coconut, apples)
Fruit cocktail
Mandarin oranges
Carrots  (dried)
Green beans  
Green Chilies
Instant potatoes
Mixed vegetables
Onions- dried minced
Spaghetti sauce
Tomato paste 
Tomato sauce 
Tomato soup 

As you can see there are many ways to store fruits and veggies. Pick a few to focus on in the next couple of weeks and add some variety to your food storage.

Here is an easy recipe using canned items.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken
1 can black beans drained an rinsed
1 can corn drained
1 large bottle salsa
2-3 chicken breasts
Add all to a slow cooker and cook on high 2-3 hours. Shred chicken when cooked all the way through.
We eat this on tortillas with some rice.

Self-Reliant Goals for December:

Long Term Goals:
Flour 75lbs PP
Sugar 60lbs PP

3-Month Supply Goals:
Substitute a canned version

of a fresh ingredients in one of your recipes sometime this month. Even if you love to use fresh ingredients, you will need a canned version if there was no electricity or major disaster.

72-Hour Kit Goal:
Try to find the little Hotties body warmers. The packs of body warmers will definitely be needed if we encounter a disaster in the dead of winter. They even have an adhesive product to stay where you want it. Make sure that everyone in your family has gloves or mittens. Trying to find a matching pair in the dark and in a hurry could potentially be impossible :) The body warmers should also be kept in your car kits as well. Mylar blankets are a great thing to have in a car kit and 72-hour kit. Make sure to have 1 per person

Saturday, December 19, 2009

When The Lights Go Out & You Have No Heat

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On Sunday morning, a few years ago, the power went out. I lay in bed with my electric blanket that slowly got cooler and wondered how long this was going to last. It was cold outside and I knew we didn't have long before we were going to be cold too. We all put socks and sweatshirts on and thought of ways to keep busy. I knew we had warm sleeping bags (that I could pull out, but are for Christmas) if we got really cold, but we really had no other heat source. This really got me thinking of what it would be like if this had been an earthquake and we didn't have power for days or weeks. I do have a wood fireplace, but we don't have any wood stocked for it. Plus if the chimney had collapsed during an earthquake then what would we do? I do have a Sun Oven so we have a way to cook, so my focus is going to be a way to heat my home and keep my family warm.

What to do when your power goes out: (from

  1. First, check to see if your neighbors have power. If you are the only home without electricity, check the main fuse in your electric service panel or fuse box to see if the main circuit breaker has been tripped or if a fuse has blown. If you don’t know how to check, consult a qualified electrician. If your neighbors do not have electricity either, then you know there has been a power outage in your area.
  2. Report your power outage to your local utility company so they know which area has lost power, especially in a storm. Only call once to report your outage.
  3. Turn off all major non-essential appliances such as your electric range and washer/dryer. Turn off the majority of your light switches, but leave a few on so you know when the power has been restored. This reduces the electrical demand once the power has been restored.
  4. Unplug sensitive electronic equipment such as your TV, personal computer, VCR and microwave. This will reduce chance of damage caused by electric surges.
  5. Try to keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed to conserve the cold inside. You never know how long the power will be out, and you don’t want your food to spoil.
  6. Open the window shades to allow more light to come in.
Take the time to prepare for a power outage and to gain the knowledge needed to respond safely and effectively during the emergency. A few simple preparations can greatly reduce the inconveniences caused by a power outage.

I also strongly suggest printing out this handout HERE and keep it as a reference to living without light. I will quickly list the ideas Debbie Kent suggests if the lights go out.

-List what your family's needs

-What will you cook and how?

-How will you heat your home?

-What lighting will you use? (all main rooms of your house should have some form of emergency lighting, like a flashlight or crank flashlight)

Debbie then lists in detail; lighting sources, kinds of flashlights, cooking, heating, power sources, batteries, and fire starters.

If you need some last minute Christmas presents, crank flashlights, or headlamps would make a great gift. Even for children, they would love having a headlamp to play with or light sticks for their 72-hour kits.

I found a store called Recreation Outlet on 3160 S. State St. in Salt Lake City, Utah (801-484-4800) that has a lot of emergency preparedness items for a lot less. They have hand warmer packs, headlamps, portable stoves , crank flashlight/radios , full 72-hour kits in a backpack , mylar emergency blankets , coats, boots, clothing, sleeping bags, snow shoes,etc. I could spend all day in that store. :)

I want you to think of your family and what would be an essential to have if we had no power for 1 week. I would be miserable without heat and if my children were suffering because of the cold I would be really stressed. I think a propane heater may be on my birthday list and finding a way to store cut wood for our fireplace is another idea. What are your goals for warmth this winter?

Self-Reliant Goals for December:
Long Term Goals:
Flour 75lbs PP-Sams club has 25lb bags for $10
Sugar 60lbs PP

3-Month Supply Goals:
Substitute a canned version of a fresh ingredients in one of your recipes sometime this month. Even if you love to use fresh ingredients, you will need a canned version if there was no electricity or major disaster.

72-Hour Kit goal:Search out little Hotties body warmers. The packs of body warmers will definitely be needed if we encounter a disaster in the dead of winter. They even have an adhesive product to stay where you want it. Make sure that everyone in your family has gloves or mittens. Trying to find a matching pair in the dark and in a hurry could potentially be impossible :) The body warmers should also be kept in your car kits as well.  Mylar blankets are a great thing to have in a car kit and 72-hour kit. Make sure to have 1 per person.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

December is Baking Month

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December is the month for baking. The stores have great sales and
with the holiday's there is no excuse to not be in the kitchen. This month we are gathering flour and sugar for our long term self-reliant goal, but these are two items that are most likely used in your cooking on a daily basis. I thought it would be fun to go a little more in depth and see just how much we need to store for baking ingredients and other miscellaneous items that we need to put our meals together.
 After you have gotten great deals on your food you will next need to use these ingredients in your everyday cooking. Which means that yes, you will need to learn how to cook, and cook from scratch. Don't run away....keep reading :) It is not as hard as most people think. Just learn to make one or two things a month that you don't already know how to do. Try the maple syrup recipe (scroll down the page) or try using unflavored gelatin instead of eggs in a recipe. As long as you are learning to use your food storage you are on the right path. Alright, let's jump in. Purchase only those items that YOUR family will eat and what you use in cooking.  Store what you what you store!!  (thanks to for the info)

  • Cooking oils:  Canola or vegetable oil are used in baking. Unopened bottles only last about 1 year. You can substitute applesauce for oil in baking recipes or pureed beans will work also. Click HERE to see how to use beans as an oil substitute in brownies.
  • Peanut Butter:  Peanut butter supplies the good fat that we need and will stay good for 6-9 months.
  • Mayonnaise: Is used in salads, sandwiches, pasta salads and although we don't "need" mayo it does make food taste better. Shelf life of 2-3 months.
  • Salad Dressing: You can use store bought or make your own. Watch for expiration dates as dressing does not last long.
  • Shortening:  Has a longer shelf life than most oils. Shelf life of 8-10 years if unopened and kept in a cool, dry place. Melt shortening to use as oil in recipes.
  • Granulated Sugar:  It is used in a lot of food storage recipes and is very important to store. Shelf life of 20+ years if kept dry.
  • Honey: more expensive, but can substitute for sugar in recipes and it doesn't have quite the reaction that sugar does to your blood sugar levels. Crystallized sugar can be warmed and used as normal.
  • Brown Sugar: Used in baking and some bread recipes. Shelf life is 6 months stored in airtight container. Some people store white sugar and molasses to make their own, and not have to deal with brown sugar going bad.
  • Molasses and Corn Syrup: These are used as sweeteners in recipes. Store as much or as little as your family needs.
  • Flavored gelatin: Store 6 boxes PP. Is used in molded desserts and to thicken cold soups.
  • Powdered Fruit Drink: Is used to make water more drinkable. Shelf life is 3 years unopened.
  • Maple syrup: Real maple syrup can be used as a sugar substitute, but the imitation maple syrup is only good on pancakes and waffles. (recipe to follow)
  • Nonfat Dry Milk: It is much cheaper than regular milk. To make it taste better try adding 1 t sugar and 1 t vanilla to a gallon.
  • Evaporated Milk: Can store cans or make your own from powdered milk. Mix 1 -1/2 C. water and 1/2 C.+1 T dry powdered milk and blend very well. Check out the post on evaporated milk HERE.
  • Powdered Eggs: These are cheaper than regular eggs and they have been pasteurized so now you can lick the beaters without worry about getting ill. Purchase at Macey's grocery store, Winco, and sometimes at Walmart when they have food storage items. 
  • Butter:  It can be purchased in can form. I have found it at Macey's, Emergency Essentials, and Blue Chip Group store (33rd S. 5th W). Don't can your own butter due to botulism poisoning. You can also purchase butter powder at emergency preparedness stores. Real canned butter is pricey so I would only purchase a few and when your budget allows.
  • Sour Cream: is available in powder form at emergency preparedness stores. This isn't necessary to store, but would make certain dinners seem normal in an emergency situation.
  • Baking soda, baking powder, and Salt:  They all have an indefinite shelf life if unopened. Definitely store these to be able to bake.
  • Active Dry Yeast and Instant Yeast:  Needed to make bread. Store in freezer for indefinite shelf life.
  • Knox unflavored Gelatin: This is such a cool thing to know. Use gelatin instead of eggs in baking. 1tsp gelatin + 3 T cold water and stir until dissolved then add 2 T hot water and stir. When you use this in your recipes decrease the water in your recipe by about 1/4 C to account for the "egg". You can order Knox unflavored gelatin in bulk from (search for "unflavored gelatin")
Now that you know a few things about storing baking items, you'll next need to know how to use them in recipes. These are recipes that I use and my family loves. 

Maple Syrup (from the Essential Food Storage Cookbook)
1 C sugar
1 C brown sugar
1 C water
Boil and stir constantly and cook 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and add:
1 t maple flavoring, 1/2 t vanilla, and 2 T butter.
Stir until butter dissolves and store in bottle. (We save old syrup bottles and use those)
**Note ** Watch for maple flavoring to go on sale. Or buy 32 oz from Farmer Brothers Coffee Wholesale 2230 S. 2000 W. West Valley. 801-974-5427. It was around $6.00 for 32oz. Make sure you call first as they are only open to the public on certain days until noon. That bottle will last a long time. 

Whole grain Hamburger Bun or Rolls (makes 8)
1 C. water room temperature
2 T oil
1/4 C honey
1 T molasses
3 C whole wheat flour
1 t salt
1 T yeast (I use instant yeast, straight from the freezer to the bowl. You won't need the second rise. Just form into the shape you want, raise 30 min and bake.)
Add all ingredients to mixer and knead 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Let rise until double. (omit if using instant yeast) Shape dough into 8 buns or rolls and let rise on pans for 30 min. Preheat oven to 350 and bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown.
I will also use this recipe to make bread bowls for soup. Just make bigger rolls than just a dinner roll size. 

Chocolate Mint Parfait Bars (from Jennifer Schreiter)
1 chocolate or devils food cake mix
1/3 C butter or margarine
Mix together with beaters until crumbly and press in 15x10 pan and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin dissolved in 1/4 C boiling water
Add 1/2 C powered sugar to gelatin with
1/2 C butter
1/2 C shortening
1/4 t mint extract
Beat until smooth-about 1-2 minutes. Blend in about 3 1/2 C more powdered sugar and spread onto COOLED base.
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
3 T butter (has to be butter)
Melt together and let cool just slightly and spread over filling. Keep refrigerated. These are to die for and are so yummy!

So there you have it, baking ingredient storage 101. Keep track of what baking ingredients you are using and stock up when they go on sale this month. Try to make something from scratch and remember it doesn't always have to turn out the first time. (Guess how I know :)

Self-Reliant Goals for December:
Long Term Goals:
Flour 75lbs PP
Sugar 35lbs PP-Nothing great on sale, be patient :)
3-Month Supply Goals: Substitute a canned version of a fresh ingredients in one of your recipes sometime this month. Even if you love to use fresh ingredients, you will need a canned version if there was no electricity or major disaster.
72-Hour Kit goal: Search out little Hotties body warmers. The packs of body warmers will definitely be needed if we encounter a disaster in the dead of winter. They even have an adhesive product to stay where you want it. Make sure that everyone in your family has gloves or mittens. Trying to find a matching pair in the dark and in a hurry could potentially be impossible :) The body warmers should also be kept in your car kits as well.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Evaporated Milk Info & Recipes

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Evaporated milk is one of those food storage items that I know I should have, but I don't have a lot of recipes to use it up and rotate. As a challenge I went on a search for ways to use evaporated milk. It is recommended that you store 3 cans per person per year of evaporated milk, IF you use it. Don't worry if you don't have any, or if you run out, because you can make your own. Follow this recipe.

Homemade Evaporated Milk (from
1-1/2 C water
1/2 C + 1 T dry powdered milk
Blend VERY WELL in blender. Makes one 12oz can.

Now onto some yummy food recipes:

Italian Meatballs (from The Essential Food Storage Cookbook)
1-1/2 lbs ground turkey or ground beef
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 c. evaporated milk
3/4 C. dry bread crumbs
1/3 C. Parmesan cheese
2 T dried parsley
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. onion powder
1/2 t basil
1/4 t thyme
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
Preheat oven to 425. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients thoroughly. Toll into 1-1/2 " meatballs (about 24) Place on a greased jelly roll pan with sides. Bake for 20 minutes until browned.

Vanilla Ambrosia Ice Cream (from the Essential Food Storage Cookbook)
4 eggs, beaten well
1-1/2 C sugar
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 cans (12oz size) evaporated milk
2 T vanilla
1 t salt
1 C powdered milk (reconstituted)
In a 2qt pitcher mix eggs, sugar, milks, vanilla, salt, and powdered milk until well combined. Add enough water to make 2 quarts total and mix well. Pour into ice cream maker and process according to directions. May need to freeze for several hours before serving. Serves 8-10 (can stir in chocolate chips or crushed candy bars before freezing)

Egg-Chili Casserole (from the Essential Food Storage Cookbook)
8 eggs
1 can (12oz) evaporated milk
1-1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese
1-1/2 C shredded Jack cheese
4 T biscuit/baking mix
1 4oz. can diced green chilies
1 C. chunky salsa
Preheat oven to 325. In a large bowl mix eggs, milk, cheeses, biscuit mix, and chilies. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until just set. Then top with spoonfuls of the chunky salsa spread over the top. Return to oven for about 10 minutes. Watch carefully so it doesn't overcook. Serves 6

I hope these recipes give you some new life for evaporated milk. They are simple and quick recipes too. Watch for this and other baking items to be on sale in December. It is the number one baking month of the whole year. And I buy all my baking supplies for the year during this month.

December Self-Reliant Goals:

Long Term Goal: Sugar and Flour

3 Month Supply Goal: Keep watching the sales for the items that your family uses.

Water Goal: keep storing until you have at least 14 gallons per person.

72 Hour Kits Goal: Warmth! Make sure you have sleeping bags for everyone. Recreation Outlet on 3160 S. State has children's 0 degrees sleeping bags for only $34.95. Stock up on those little hand warmers that you just have to open to heat up. The silver emergency blankets are also a must for your kits. Both these items should be in your car kits as well. Chap stick and lotion would be great items to add as well. Chapped lips can be beyond irritating.

Keep up the great work! Please leave me a comment if there is a topic or item that you would like me to post on.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Prepare Today Homemade: Pumpkin Pudding

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Short Term and Long Term Goals: December is a great month for baking supplies to be at their lowest prices. This is a great time to stock up on flour, brown or powdered sugar and notice that spices are 40% off at Smiths. Our self-reliant goal this month is all about baking supplies. Take stock of what you have and of all the spices that you use. Do you have enough for at least 3 months? or how about a years worth?
Water goals:  Keep some in your car kits and make sure everyone has some in their 72-hour kits.

72-Hour Kit Goals: Hotties heat packs (the small pouches that heat up when you crush them) Also check everyone's sleeping bags for wear and tear or wash and store for the winter.

I made a great recipe this week and it uses food storage items, try it out. And for all those that have evaporated milk and don't know what to do with them, this one's for you :)

Pumpkin Pudding (really like pumpkin pie without the crust)
1/2 C sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/4 t each ground ginger & ground cloves
2 large eggs (I bake with powdered eggs)
one 15 oz. can pumpkin
one 12-oz can evaporated nonfat milk

Mix sugar, spices, salt in small bowl. Beat the eggs in a large bowl (if you use powdered eggs just mix in with other ingredients, it saves a step) Stir in the pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually add the evaporated milk. Pour in 13X9 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. It should still be wiggly in the middle. Cool and enjoy warm or cold.
Refrigerate leftovers if you have any :) I make graham crackers to eat with it. My kids love this stuff!
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