Ask The Survival Mom: Re-using glass jars, food storage brands, budget camping gear, and dehydrating dairy and eggs
From Stacey: Hi! I have been following you for several months now and planning, planning, planning. I have done as you suggested and saved 2liter bottles and glass jars for cheaper storage of dry goods, but I am a little confused about using glass jars (formerly pasta jars, etc). can I just put dried goods in the jars and use the same lids to vacuum seal the goods inside, or do i need to purchase canning lids? Before I waste my time, I was hoping you have some advice and I didn’t see anything on your site. thanks!
SURVIVAL MOM: Stacey, you really do need canning jars. The lid has a rubber seal around the outside that does a much better job of keeping food fresh. Since you won’t be using these for actual canning, you can use the lids and rings again and again. The Classico jar openings are compatible with standard canning lids/rings but most other jars aren’t. You can definitely re-purpose those jars to help organize your non-food items, for example, but I don’t recommend using them to store food.
Lulu asks: I’m late in jumping on board the survival train and could use your help. Since my main concern regards the economy, something tells me I don’t have much time. So, buying trial sized storage foods and taking my time in deciding which brands are the best is not advantageous. So, could you spare a few minutes and help us newbies? Write the best of the best of foods and include the brand name. Thanks a million!!!!
SURVIVAL MOM: Lulu, I agree that the number of choices out there are overwhelming and it could take a very long time to go through each one.
From my own experience, you can’t go wrong with Shelf Reliance, Honeyville, and Augason Farms brands. Those are the brands I buy most often and have never opened one and said, “Ugh!” Their freeze-dried fruits and vegetables are all very good. I don’t buy a lot of freeze-dried entrees but Mountain House brand consistently ranks at the top of taste tests and they have a very long, lab-tested, shelf life.
Heidi wants to know about budget camping supplies: On your website I was looking for suggestions for camping gear. I am on an extreme budget. What is the best bang for the buck for essential gear?
SURVIVAL MOM: The worst camping experiences I have ever had were when I was using cheap camping equipment! A flimsy tent, thin sleeping bags, and no sleeping pad makes for some very long nights!
When it comes to camping supplies, go for the highest quality that you can afford when it comes to your shelter (tent) and sleeping bags. Check Craigslist, eBay, and even Freecycle for bargains. We love our sturdy REI tent and got it when it was on clearance at www.rei.com. Same thing with our sleeping bags, although I’ve found that as I get older, a good night’s sleep is more important to me than it is to my kids!
In warmer weather, you can get by without any sleeping bags at all, just sheets and a light blanket, but make sure to keep track of nighttime temps so you’re not caught in “unseasonably” cold weather!
By the way, your tent doesn’t need to be fancy with extra “rooms” or a “garage”. You just want it to have very sturdy seams that won’t leak and a good rain fly (outer “layer” that covers your tent and protects from rain). A couple of brands you might look at are Kelty and Wenzel. When a tent description says that it sleeps 4 or 5 or whatever, subtract one person to get a true idea of how much space you’ll have and keep in mind that you might be using this tent for many years and your kids are just going to keep getting bigger and bigger.
If you have a great tent and are insured a good night’s rest, then most everything else can be cobbled together pretty cheaply. An old piece of carpet or an old doormat is good for placing right in front of your tent’s door to keep out excess dirt. We have air mattresses that are about 8 years old and going strong. They aren’t necessarily the “best” brand, but they haven’t leaked yet! There are always at least 2-3 tarps and plenty of rope in our supply box and we’ve used them for extra shelter from rain and the sun as well as wind breaks. Those are not pricey by any means.
You will quickly learn what supplies are essential to your family’s camping experience. It’s better to add necessary things as you go and not spend a lot of money up front on items you end up rarely using. I have a whole closet full of camping “stuff” and we never take all of it with us when we hit the road!
Lisa asks: I heard you cannot dehydrate eggs and milk but so many different mixed messages out there leave me confused. I found YouTube videos showing how to do it, but the people commenting are contradicting what the video says. I am so confused.
SURVIVAL MOM: The contradictory information about dehydrating certain foods applies to canning, too.One person will say you can can any recipe you like and others will say, “Do that and you’ll die!!”
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