The Survival Mom » Food Storage http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Mon, 13 Oct 2014 21:46:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Comforting Hot Drinks http://thesurvivalmom.com/comforting-hot-drinks/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/comforting-hot-drinks/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 15:00:08 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18412 Winter is coming and with the cooling air comes a desire to drink something warm. In fact, I’m learning that whenever I’m in the need for a little mental comforting I reach for something warm. It seems many of us do Read More

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Comforting Hot Drinks - Finding comfort for body & soul from food storage.Winter is coming and with the cooling air comes a desire to drink something warm. In fact, I’m learning that whenever I’m in the need for a little mental comforting I reach for something warm. It seems many of us do that, we reach for a favorite drink to help give us comfort and a moment of rest to face whatever needs facing. As we get ourselves prepared with the practical matters of flashlights, medical supplies, blankets, etc., let’s also take some time to prepare for some comfort in the form of hot drinks as well. Comfort in a cup, after all, can be accomplished for everyone in the family and easily be a part of our food storage plans. Need some inspiration? Here are some comforting hot drinks to get you started:

Hot Drink Ingredients to Stock

Keep your favorites as part of your food storage rotation – coffee beans, tea bags, cocoa powder, dried herbs for tea. Even a bottle or two of whiskey, brandy, or liqueurs for an extra adult comfort now and then. A person can always buy hot cocoa mixes but those tend to be full of artificial things many of us try to avoid and it’s easy and cheap enough to make from powdered milk, sugar, and cocoa powder anyway. Beyond the things like coffee and tea that come immediately to mind think of bottles of apple cider for hot cider, even orange juice concentrate can be used in a warm fruity punch.

Mixes to Make Ahead of Time

1. Hot Cocoa: 1/3 Cup Brown Sugar – 1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder – 2 1/2 Cups Powdered Milk.  Combine everything together well and store in an airtight container. To make a cup: mix 3 Tablespoons of mix with 8 ounces of boiling water or coffee.

That cocoa mix makes a great gift too, if you wanted to help someone else find comfort in a cup.  A splash of coffee or mint liqueur in hot cocoa is a nice relaxing adult treat.

2. Chai tea concentrate make and freeze for a quick fix when the need for comfort strikes.

Don’t Forget Your Health

Hot drinks are comforting to our minds but they’re also very often nourishing and healing to our bodies as well. Keep some things stocked to boost immune systems, soothe sore throats, calm upset stomachs, and generally care for your families bodies too:

Other Recipe Ideas

What’s your favorite hot drink recipe?

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Casseroles Forever! Pantry Substitute for Canned Cream Soup http://thesurvivalmom.com/casseroles-forever-pantry-substitute-canned-cream-soup/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/casseroles-forever-pantry-substitute-canned-cream-soup/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 06:00:12 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18424 It’s a key ingredient in almost any casserole: cream of mushroom soup. Or cream of chicken, or cream of potato, or cream of celery. I used to buy cans and cans of the stuff. Then, as I slowly started to Read More

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creamed soup

It’s a key ingredient in almost any casserole: cream of mushroom soup. Or cream of chicken, or cream of potato, or cream of celery.

I used to buy cans and cans of the stuff. Then, as I slowly started to substitute healthier items for what I had in my pantry, I discovered a healthy cream of “whatever” soup mix.

And, the best part – it’s made from easy pantry items that you can stock up on for emergency situation. Instead of cans of creamed soup, you just need dry milk, cornstarch, bullion, dried minced onion, and seasoning.

Cream of “Whatever” Soup Mix

Mix together and store in an airtight container:

  • 2 C powdered dry milk
  • ¾ C cornstarch
  • ¼ C bullion (chicken or beef, personal preference)
  • 2 TB dried minced onion
  • 2 tsp seasoning, such as Italian or vegetable (personal preference)

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together 1/3 cup of the mix and 1¼ cup water until desired thickness is reached. This equals roughly 1 can of creamed soup.

If a recipe calls for adding milk and a can of creamed soup, I often just double the soup mix instead. Mushrooms, potatoes, or chicken can also be added to the dish, if desired, to come closer to the old recipe with canned cream soup.

Now you can have casseroles at any time – emergency or not!

Recipes for this mix can be found on several websites, but I found this one at One Good Thing by Jillee.

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10 Condiments That Make Life Better http://thesurvivalmom.com/10-condiments-make-life-better/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/10-condiments-make-life-better/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 06:00:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16780 So something really, truly bad happens. The grid has been down for a month or a deadly pandemic has us sequestered in our homes. Or you’re simply out of work for months and the savings are gone. You are living Read More

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So something really, truly bad happens. The grid has been down for a month or a deadly pandemic has us sequestered in our homes. Or you’re simply out of work for months and the savings are gone.

You are living on your food storage.

Hey, it’s all good! You’ve got staples like grains,beans and rice. You’ve got a wide range of canned, freeze dried, dehydrated and home-canned foods. There’s a well stocked root cellar. You’ve even got waxed cheese and waterglassed eggs.

Guess what else you’ve got?

Scared people. And you’re one of them. One of the reasons for prepping is to provide a sense of continuity (not normalcy – things aren’t currently normal: river…Egypt…). Continuity is a tether to how things were and holds the hope of a return to that state or something like it.

No matter how well you’ve prepped, sooner or later you’re going to be eating a lot more basic staples than you’re used to. So imagine this: you’ve grilled up some bean-based veggie burgers or you’ve mixed up some mashed potato flakes and…then what?

Let’s lay aside spices, sauces and ingredients like honey for another day and confine ourselves to ready-made condiments. And really, even if things are perfectly normal, these are still great to have in the house.

The 10 Condiments that will save your sanity

1) Ketchup

Why? Because it’s ketchup, that’s why! Ketchup is the duct tape of the kitchen. Unrivaled for versatility on the table, it’s also indispensable on the stove and in the oven. It can make almost anything edible.

BTW,there’s more to ketchup than just tomatoes. Ketchups made from blackberries, lobster shells, onions, and more used to be produced at home and commercially. There are parts of England where mushroom ketchup is still commonplace. If you’d like to try your hand at these heritage flavors, you’ll have to resort to out-of-print cookbooks like an old Joy of Cooking. Or there’s this.

2) Mayonnaise

Sure, you’ll be making a lot of tuna and chicken salad with all that canned meat. But there’s also creamy salad dressing, pasta salad and the basis for tartar sauce. Mayo is an ingredient in a wide range of recipes.

This brings us back to Continuity. Try telling a 6 year old who’s life has already been upended that there’ll be no birthday cake this year. There are a lot of food storage chocolate cake recipes out there. Most taste odd or have  weird ingredients/procedures. Burrowing holes? Puréed beans?  No.

My mother used to make a good and simple one, but this recipe is even better. Top it with powdered sugar or soft-whip some canned cream.

3) Soy / Worcestershire Sauce

There’s a lot of overlap between them because they both have high Umami. That’s a Japanese concept that boils down to a savory, meaty flavor where (typically) no meat is present. It’s caused by naturally occurring amino acids called glutamates, which are the source of concentrated laboratory MSG.

Ketchup has a lot too, but soy sauce and Worcestershire don’t have the high sugar and fruitiness, so it’s a very different flavor profile. Either one is a great way to perk up sad stew.

WARNING: Glutamate-rich foods like salami, mushrooms, red wine,aged cheese and walnuts are often migraine triggers.

4)Mustard

Mustard has a staggering number of other uses besides the “barbie,” especially in pan sauces and casseroles. You can’t make civilized baked beans without it. Sneak a touch into Alfredo sauce, turkey tetrazzini, and mac ‘n cheese. There’s also plain old honey mustard on almost anything. Combine with onions, rosemary and peach or apricot jam for an epic meat glaze!

5) Jam

You’re gonna make some bread with all that wheat,right? Also use on pilot bread or crackers, and in innumerable recipes, like the technique above. It can be stirred into plain muffin or coffee cake mix to make any flavor you choose, or thin it down and substitute for pancake syrup. Try sweetening herb tea with it and save the honey and sugar for other things.

6) Salsa

Tortillas have an impressive shelf life. Fry some up and crack open a jar of salsa as a treat when nerves get frayed. It can also be tossed with rice or pasta for a quick one-skillet meal or added to soups and casseroles. If you bottle it at home you must use a pressure canner!

7) BBQ Sauce

BBQ sauce makes the list in part because it covereth a multitude of sins. It also covereth game meats your family isn’t used to yet.

I grew up in suburban Rhode Island but was once in a rural conversation where hunters were discussing the pros and cons of various game meats. The subject of squirrel was broached. I remarked, “I’ve never had squirrel.” Someone at whose house I’d eaten many times wryly informed me:  “Oh yes you have…”

8)Something Hot

Tabasco, sriracha , whatever your family likes. Even if you don’t use any, store a couple bottles for barter or the inevitable guests you’ll be taking in. It can also be used medicinally in soup to clear a badly stuffy head.

9) Gravy ( or the stuff and knowledge to make it)

Okay, not exactly a condiment, but for our discussion it functions like one. Think of all that rice, pasta , potatoes, canned/ freeze dried meats, and game. All just crying out for gravy.

Sure, you can make it from ingredients, but it’ll help to have some ready to roll, and it’s shockingly cheap around the holidays. It’s also another cheap thing that becomes a valuable barter item.

10) That Thing You Love

The condiment your family can’t live without, whatever it may be. If your family can’t go a week without Thai peanut sauce or Branston Pickle, you’d better store some – especially if That Thing is laborious to make or contains lots of arcane ingredients!

What’s Left Out?

I’ve left off things that aren’t used as often (plum sauce) or are easily and quickly made from common ingredients (tartar sauce and teriyaki). As for salad dressing, see my article here.

Hey, where’s the peanut butter?

(Warning: Heresy Alert!) I have several problems with PB.

  1. Classic PB is full of hydrogenated oil. Don’t be fooled by ” interesterified” oil, it’s even worse than just sounding like a made-up word from Calvin and Hobbs. It also contains a ton of sugar and varying amounts of salt. “Natural” PB has to be stirred and is often hard and rips up the bread or breaks the crackers.doit
  2. People use far more of it per serving than they think they do.
  3. Even if it’s all-natural and you only use a tablespoon, it’s a tremendous amount of fat for the protein you get.

In my search for the right wrap-up to this post , I let my family read it. When it was suggested to me that my beef with PB just might be sour grapes because I’ve become allergic and can’t have it anymore, my brother channeled Darth Vader: ” Search your feelings, Beth. You know it to be true…”

( Defiant huff…)  Fine. Be that way.

11) Peanut Butter

Being a pastry chef, I think of PB more as a baking ingredient than actual food; it’s baking and confectionary applications are almost endless. Then there are the obvious uses on bread, crackers, apples, jicama, celery. The “Fam” suggested the aforementioned Thai peanut sauce, fried PB sandwiches, curry, and more…

…if you’re into that sort of thing.

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Top 10 Foods for Stocking Up http://thesurvivalmom.com/top-ten-foods-for-stocking-up/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/top-ten-foods-for-stocking-up/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 22:00:55 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=1245 You’ll want to pin this list for future reference! Click here. To get started with the basic building blocks of food storage, these are the top 10 foods I recommend. If these aren’t a good fit for your family, for Read More

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You’ll want to pin this list for future reference! Click here.

top 10 foods for stocking up

To get started with the basic building blocks of food storage, these are the top 10 foods I recommend. If these aren’t a good fit for your family, for whatever reason, stock up on the alternatives that you’re currently using. Be very aware of the enemies of food storage and always try to store your food in the most optimal conditions possible.

Wheat 

Once ground, wheat is the building block for varieties of bread, tortillas, flat bread, pizza crust and more.  I’ve stocked up on hard red wheat for hearty breads, general purpose hard white wheat, and soft white wheat for pastries.

Rice 

On its’ own, it’s a side dish.  Mixed with herbs and a vegetable or two, it’s a simple main dish.  It’s a great meal-stretcher when topped with, or served alongside, main dishes such as a stir fry.  Note: brown rice contains oils which will eventually become rancid. If you can keep it stored at very chilly temperatures, say below 60 degrees, it will be fresher, longer. Otherwise, plan on a shelf life of about a year or so.

Dried milk

Without electricity, fresh milk will go bad in hours.  In an emergency situation, fresh will be difficult to come by unless you own a cow or a goat.  Dried milk provides not only milk to drink, but milk to use as an ingredient in other dishes. Also look for shelf-stable milk that comes in cardboard cartons. It’s a very good option to dried milk.

Salt

Stock up on table salt at your local Costco.  It’s inexpensive and has multiple uses. I’ve purchased boxes of Kosher salt, along with the regular iodized table salt.

Beans

Buy canned beans and dry beans in different varieties.  Versatile,  economical and a good source of fiber. Dried beans can be ground into a powder and added to everything from cookies to soups.

Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, tomato puree, etc.  Watch for them on sale and then grab a few dozen cans.  Learn how to can and dehydrate tomatoes. They’re the basis for salsas, soups, stews, and sauces. I’ll bet you’ve eaten something made from tomatoes in the past 48 hours!

Other canned veggies and fruit

These will help provide important nutrients, variety to your recipes, and have a very long shelf life.  If you can’t stomach canned veggies, try dehydrating your own or purchasing freeze-dried.

Peanut butter 

High in protein, yummy on warm, freshly made bread!  Add some honey and you have a winner! Keep a new, sealed jar in emergency kits for a quick dose of protein when you might need it most.

Oil

Without oil, you’re pretty much stuck with boiling your meat and veggies. The problem is that oil goes rancid very quickly. Most oils have a shelf life of only a year. Some food storage experts recommend packing vegetable shortening in canning jars and then using a Food Saver jar sealer to vacuum out all the air/oxygen. Stored this way, shortening can stay fresh for years as long as it’s stored in a cool location. When the time comes to use it, just measure out what you need for a recipe, melt it, and you have oil. While many of us have moved away from the use of vegetable oil, this is probably the best option for having a supply of oil on hand, long term.

Dried pasta

Another meal stretcher and a kid-pleasing dish any day of the week.  My own kids have been known to dip bow-tie pasta in ranch dressing. I really, really like the egg noodles from Ready Reserve Foods, which are actually dehydrated. As they cook they expand and become thick, hearty noodles, much like the homemade noodles my mom used to make.

Sugar and honey

Okay, that makes eleven, but I’ve known women who were ready to kill when deprived of sugar for too long! Both honey and sugar will last indefinitely.

NOTE: This article was originally published on September 3, 2009. My blog had launched only 4 months prior! This list continues to be what I recommend for basic food storage, so I wanted to publish it again with additional information.

 

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The Nitty Gritty of Commerical Food Storage Packaging: Oxygen vs. Nitrogen in Food Storage http://thesurvivalmom.com/food-storage-packaging/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/food-storage-packaging/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 06:15:08 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18129 It’s easy to pin this for later! Click here. Over the years, I’ve tried out dehydrated and freeze dried foods from many different companies. Nearly all of the packages I opened, whether cans, buckets, or pouches, had an oxygen absorber Read More

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oxygen vs nitrogen

It’s easy to pin this for later! Click here.

Over the years, I’ve tried out dehydrated and freeze dried foods from many different companies. Nearly all of the packages I opened, whether cans, buckets, or pouches, had an oxygen absorber inserted inside.

When I’ve packed my own foods in 2-liter soda bottles, buckets, or canning jars, I’ve also used oxy absorbers because they are the easiest technique in food storage packaging for removing oxygen, one of the main enemies of food storage.

However, there is actually a much better system for preserving food for the longest shelf life possible, and that is a system that removes the oxygen and replaces it with nitrogen. Ready Reserve Foods is one of only 2 or 3 in the country that use this system in all their food packaging. I’ve toured their facility and have seen this system in action.

Nitrogen vs. Oxygen

Because we typically use up the food in our kitchen pantries and refrigerators rather quickly, we don’t often see the results that oxygen has on food. Although oxygen makes up only 21% of the air we breathe, it can cause food to spoil, go rancid, lose its nutrients, as well as its flavor.

Oxygen allows microorganisms to grow, which results in mold, and when there are microscopic insect eggs present in dry foods such as cornmeal, flour, and pasta, the oxygen provides a friendly environment for those insects to develop and eventually hatch.

Nitrogen, on the other hand, is actually beneficial to food. When used in food packaging, it helps the food retain its flavor, smell, and appearance, and extends the shelf life.

So, when it comes to food storage, oxygen = bad! Nitrogen = good!

Oxy absorbers are the easy way out with food storage packaging

Removing oxygen from a can or pouch of food is time consuming. It has to be vacuumed out very slowly. This takes time and not a lot of companies have the time, or want to take the time, to do that. Generally, oxygen absorbers are okay but they aren’t nearly as effective for very long-term storage.

The food storage companies that solely rely on oxygen absorbers do so because its easier, less expensive, and, to a point, effective. When you and I re-package bulk food for storage, using oxygen absorbers is, by far, the easiest technique for removing oxygen. Regardless of where the food is packaged, oxygen absorbers do not remove all the oxygen.

Over time, though, the oxygen that remains in the sealed containers will have a detrimental affect on the food in spite of the absorber.

Buying food for the long haul

If you believe, like many Americans do, that keeping food stored for emergencies is a priority, you’ll want to take into consideration how that food has been packaged. Companies that use only oxygen absorbers and claim a 25-30 year life of their food are grossly exaggerating.

Under the most ideal conditions, including consistent storage temperatures of 70 degrees or lower, most foods will be at their optimum for 10-15 years, or so. When preservatives are added to the food, the shelf life can be extended for a few more years, but oxygen will still be present.

Ready Reserve Foods takes the time to slowly vacuum the oxygen out of every container and then fill them with nitrogen. The nitrogen pushes out any remaining oxygen and the container is sealed. At most, there might be 2% of oxygen remaining. This method, by far, is the most effective.

Should I throw out my foods with oxy absorbers?

Since most every food storage company relies solely on the use of oxygen absorbers, chances are the food you have purchased fall into that category. This doesn’t mean you have been buying rubbish, just that there are foods out there that have been more effectively packaged.

In my own food storage pantry I have foods from at least 5 different companies, including Ready Reserve Foods. The food I’ve purchased from them has been individual ingredients, such as parboiled rice (I love it!), chicken and beef stock for soups, noodles, and dehydrated vegetables. All of these can be used in my everyday cooking, but because of the way they’ve been packaged, I’m keeping many of them on hand for longer-term storage.

If all your food storage products have come from companies using the oxygen absorber technique, it’s more important than ever to keep that food stored in the coolest spot in the house. When it comes to food storage, cooler is always better.

NOTE: Until further notice Ready Reserve Foods is offering a 20% discount on all their food storage products. Use coupon code SURVIVAL.

 

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7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Join a Meal Swap & 5 Reasons Why You Should http://thesurvivalmom.com/shouldnt-join-meal-swap/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/shouldnt-join-meal-swap/#comments Sat, 13 Sep 2014 19:57:50 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17747 Over the years, I’ve participated in several different meal swaps.  If you aren’t familiar with these, it’s where a bunch of people, mostly women, get together and swap meals.  For example I might be in a group with 5 other Read More

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Join a Meal Swap

Over the years, I’ve participated in several different meal swaps.  If you aren’t familiar with these, it’s where a bunch of people, mostly women, get together and swap meals.  For example I might be in a group with 5 other women.  On the designated day I make 6 casseroles and so do all the other women using different recipes than mine.  Then we get together, hand them out to each other and we each go home with 6 different meals. (After some awesome Mom-time visiting of course)

The first one I was in was a Freezer-Meal Swap.  That meant that the meals we came home with were either already frozen or ready to be frozen.  I think it lasted for 8 months or so.

The next time I decided to join a meal swap, we decided it would be a Pantry Meal Swap.  All the ingredients needed to be shelf stable.

I was at lunch the other day with a friend  and she told me about a fridge-swap that she’d been part of. It was a  weekly thing and the meals just went in the fridge for that week’s dinners.

Now there are a few reasons that I’d like to share as why you might not want to join a swap,  Do any of these resonate with you?

  1. You hate to socialize with other people on a regular basis.  Commiserating on the trials of motherhood makes you ill.
  2. You love that angelic question that comes from the lips of your offspring each day, “I’m hungry. WHAT’S FOR DINNER?”
  3. Your brain just adores thinking of something new, creative, beautiful nutritious and delicious each and EVERY evening.
  4. You love extra work. In fact you search it out, as much as possible.
  5. You’ve never had the opportunity to learn about ‘motion studies’ from Frank in “Cheaper By the Dozen” (the original)
  6. Washing lots and lots of dishes after a hard day of Mom-ing makes you oh, so happy.
  7. Your family is perfectly content with the same 3 or 4 recipes for dinner.  They are just happy there is something….anything :)

Now, the readers of this blog are more intelligent than some and I’m sure you can tell by now that the title of this article was a bit (OK, a lot) sarcastic. In fact, I think everyone should be part of a Meal Swap at some point in their lives because:

  • It’s rejuvenating to meet with like minded people on a regular basis, if only to realize that we are not alone in our day to day struggles.
  • Meal prep happens in concentrated spurts rather than little bits here and there that can take away from other more important things, like reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books on the sofa to our children or grand children.
  • We get to try a variety of meals that we might not have otherwise experimented with.
  • Grocery bills are lower because we get to purchase ingredients in bulk.  I planned my swap selections around the current sales, like when I buy chicken in bulk.
  • Daily meal prep is as easy as preheating the oven and heating up a main dish.  Add sides and bread if you like and dinner is on the table.

Are you interested yet?  There is nothing to lose and so much to gain by sharing the burden and workload with others.  Ask around and if there are no swaps with vacancies, start one of your own.  The great thing about starting your own is that you get to make the rules.

In our Freezer Meal swap we set rules like these.:

–All veggies either had to be blended beyond recognition or big enough to pick out.

–Meals had to feed 8 adults which usually meant a 9×13 pan.  Our families were different sizes but for the smaller families that size left enough for dad to pack in his lunch the next day while still feeding the larger families a full meal, with second helpings sometimes.

–We emailed our meal choices early in the month so we could avoid duplication in the same month.

–Recipe cards were provided with each meal so that if it turned out to be a keeper we’d have it to make again.

In our Pantry Meal Swap (We called it our the PMS Group) these were the rules:

–All ingredients need to be shelf stable

–Meats for the dish were provided by the recipient, this allowed for flexibility at the time of use.  If there was power we could use frozen meats, if not we could use our bottled meats (In that group were a bunch of preparedness minded families and this was on our mind quite a bit)

–All ingredients fit into a box about 4 x 10 x 12 for easy stacking in our pantries or food storage rooms.  This wasn’t the most space efficient way to store the ingredients but it made it a handy grab and go size.  We did a bulk purchase on the boxes so they were very inexpensive.

Meal Swaps are a great way to expand your repertoire at meal time and add variety to the everyday ruts we get into.  Have you had a great experience with a meal swap?…or maybe a horrible one?  I’m itching to start another swap. Tell me what’s worked for you.

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6 Tips for Selecting a Vacuum Sealer http://thesurvivalmom.com/6-tips-selecting-vacuum-sealer/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/6-tips-selecting-vacuum-sealer/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 07:00:07 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17553 As harvest time rapidly approaches, many people are looking to get or replace the equipment they need to preserve the fruits of their hard work. Vacuum sealers have been around for home use since the 80’s and with so many companies out there, Read More

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Tips_for_Selecting_a_Vacuum_Sealer

As harvest time rapidly approaches, many people are looking to get or replace the equipment they need to preserve the fruits of their hard work. Vacuum sealers have been around for home use since the 80’s and with so many companies out there, your available choices can leave one feeling overwhelmed and unsure. Arming yourself with some basic criteria before you go selecting a vacuum sealer will save you sanity, headaches, and another trip to return the sealer in favor of one that will better suit the needs of you and your family. Before you buy anything, you should ask yourself a few questions:

  • What will I primarily use this for? (meat, veggies, etc)
  • How often will I use this in a year?
  • How long will the average package sit in the freezer?
  • Will I need to use the sealer outside or only inside?
  • Do I want/need a hose adapter on the sealer?

What will I use this for?

While most people buy vacuum sealers for food purposes, there are others out there who use it to preserve non food items as well. Consider whether you plan on using the sealer for mostly meats, which stay sealed better with a thicker seal band, or if you are going to use it just to freeze veggies and dried goods. A sealer with a thinner seal band is acceptable for veggies and dried goods.

How often will I use this in a year?

This is very important because, if you are like me and seal large batches a couple of times a year, you need something more heavy duty than the average $75 or less sealer. More sparing usage would be a dozen or so packages sealed at a time. For myself, it takes a full day to package up all the meat I buy twice a year (on sale, of course!).

I take time to make the bags the length I want and let the machine rest between every dozen or so bags. Most sealers have a safety system that will not allow it to run when overheated – but not all of them – and you can burn your machine out. Be sure you are certain that when you are selecting a vacuum sealer, it can handle the work load you will be putting it through. Better to spend the extra money for something that will work as you need it to for years versus saving $20 on a cheaper model that dies after one year of use.

How long will the average package sit in the freezer?

This is important for several reasons. If you expect food to sit in the freezer for a year or more, you will need a sealer that has a nice, wide sealing band which helps keep the bag sealed. With a thinner seal band (or seal line), you run the risk of it not sealing fully, especially if what you are sealing is moist. Moisture will prevent a solid seal from forming. If you think you will go through the sealed foods more quickly, a thinner seal line may serve you just fine.

TIP: When packaging moist meats such as fish, first wrap it in some Glad Press and Seal. It makes a world of difference!

Will I need to use the sealer outside?

This may seem an odd consideration for many people who use vacuum sealers. The sealer we have is designed to be taken into the field and used to preserve your food. It has an extra long cord and came with a 12 volt car adapter that plugs into the cigarette lighter jack. It also has a handle and locking mechanism that keeps the unit closed while carrying (if you do not have it in the carrying case, of course).

Hose AdaptorDo I want/need a hose adapter for sealing  jars and containers?

Some, but not all, vacuum sealers have an adapter where you can attach a hose and use it to seal other containers such as wide and regular mouth canning jars or vacuum seal containers specifically made to be sealed and frozen. I can tell you from personal experience that it is worth it! The options this gives you are endless! I have dehydrated veggies from the garden and then layered them in a quart jar with some spices as a stew starter. It is all sealed up with the adapter and will last for at least a year!

A vacuum sealer in the right hands can do so much more than just preserving food to last and protect against freezer burn. All it takes is a little imagination and you can amaze yourself!

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A Famine Menu — A Bare-Bones Food Storage Plan http://thesurvivalmom.com/famine-menu-food-storage/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/famine-menu-food-storage/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 15:47:38 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17695   I found this “famine menu” on a political forum, of all things, several years ago. There was no link to an original post nor was any author listed. I liked the plan and wanted to share it because too Read More

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famine menu food storage

You may want to pin this one! Click on the image to go to Pinterest.

 

I found this “famine menu” on a political forum, of all things, several years ago. There was no link to an original post nor was any author listed. I liked the plan and wanted to share it because too many Americans see the need to prepare but can’t. The paycheck, if there is one, doesn’t come anywhere near to meeting the necessities.

On this famine menu food storage plan you’ll find very basic foods that are available anywhere. If you’re using an EBT card currently, buying a few of these items each month will barely make a dent. Once you have these items in place, you can always begin to add additional foods that you and your family enjoy. I’d recommend adding additional meat and chicken, either freeze dried or home canned. (Read this article on home canning meats. When you can buy meat or chicken cheaply enough, this is a great way to stash some away for emergencies.)

Keep in mind that every food storage plan must be customized to your own circumstances. If someone in your family is allergic to one of the items on the list, buy less or substitute something else. Stock up on the spices you use most. Those vary from family to family.

If you’d like a printable of this list, click here.

The Famine Menu Food Storage Plan

Per day for one person

3 slices of whole wheat bread (lunch and dinner)

1 pot of oatmeal (breakfast, vary with spices and fruit from the orchard or dehydrated or nuts)

1 pot of rice (dinner)

1 pot of beans (dinner, vary with spices and vegetables from the garden)

1 glass of milk

In addition per week

1 pint of jam

1 jar of peanut butter

1 spaghetti dinner with hamburger

4 pots of soup (From leftovers and Soup for A Year)

7 jar sprouting seeds rotation

In addition per month

1/2 -#10 can popcorn

1 can potato flakes

1 can refried Beans

1 can white flour

Shopping list: Amounts to store for one Person, two persons, three persons, four persons

Grains

Wheat:  90 lbs, 168 lbs, 252 lbs, 366 lbs

Rolled oats:  24 lbs, 48 lbs, 72 lbs, 96 lbs

Rice:  60 lbs, 120 lbs, 180 lbs, 240 lbs

Proteins

Dry beans:  60 lbs, 120 lbs, 180 lbs, 240 lbs

Refried beans:  24 lbs, 48 lbs, 72 lbs, 96 lbs

Peanut butter: 17 lbs,34 lbs, 52-16 oz, 52-16 oz jars

Canned hamburger and other meats:  52 pints

Staples

White flour:  48 lbs, 96 lbs, 144 lbs, 192 lbs

Granulated sugar:  40 lbs, 80 lbs, 120 lbs, 160 lbs

Oil:  9 Quarts (See Bread for a Year), 18 Qts, 18 Qts, 18 Qts

Yeast:  (See Bread for a Year) 2 lbs, 4 lbs, 8 lbs, 8 lbs

Salt:  8 lbs (See Bread for a Year)

Honey:  18 lbs (see Bread for a Year), 36 lbs, 57 lbs, 57 lbs

Powdered milk: 16 lbs (kids 32 lbs), 32 lbs, 48 lbs, 64 lbs

Miscellaneous

Potato flakes: 18 lbs, 36 lbs, 54 lbs, 72 lbs

Spaghetti sauce:  52 Quarts

Spaghetti noodles;  60 lbs, 120 lbs, 180 lbs, 240 lbs

Spices

Multi-vitamins:  365, 730, 1095, 1460

Popcorn:  #10 cans, 6

Fruit jam:  52 Pints (one per week)

Sprouting seeds (Wheat, beans, seeds), 40 lbs, 80 lbs, 120 lbs, 160 lbs

In a dire emergency, you may not have electricity, or it could be subject to black-outs. In that case, start your famine menu using lesser amounts of food than you’ll need, since you won’t be able to refrigerate the leftovers. With each meal, add a little more food until you’re consuming everything within one day and tummies are all fairly satisfied.

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Top 10 Food Storage Tips from Food Storage Pros http://thesurvivalmom.com/top-10-food-storage-tips-food-storage-pros/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/top-10-food-storage-tips-food-storage-pros/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 18:40:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17099 10) Never underestimate the importance of the staples. You may receive products in a pre-designed food storage kit that you may not want, but someone else might. Even if it’s something you don’t want or need, it may be useful Read More

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10) Never underestimate the importance of the staples. You may receive products in a pre-designed food storage kit that you may not want, but someone else might. Even if it’s something you don’t want or need, it may be useful in the future for barter, pet food, or something else entirely. (If you don’t want to buy anything that you already know your family is allergic to or just won’t eat, a pre-packaged “survival food” kit probably isn’t for you.)

food storage tips9) Use your food storage to make sure you like it and you know how to use it. Do this before a big emergency hits! Just having food is a huge step in the right direction, but if you won’t eat the food or don’t know how to cook with it, what’s the point?

8) Rule of thumb: Oxygen absorbers work for years, nitrogen works for decades. It’s a fact, there is no better storage environment for food than nitrogen. Keep this in mind when your purchasing food storage or are packaging products at home.

7) Rotate, Rotate, Rotate. Every few years, pull out some of your oldest products, use them, cook with them, learn if you like them and then replace them. This keeps fresh food storage in your pantry at all times and you get to check off #9!

6) Store for your pets. I know this may sound silly, but your pet can be your biggest asset. Whether it’s for a home alarm system, hunting buddy, or just a companion, don’t underestimate your little furr-kid.

5) Buy and store quality – It’s like a parachute, it has to work. Sure, you got it for $.10 a box, but if it has absolutely no nutritional value and actually requires more energy to prepare than you get out of it, why would you store it?

4) Don’t keep everything in one place. Imagine you have a basement where all of you food and water is perfectly organized and stored, but then a massive storm rolls through and floods your basement and you and your family are stranded in the house. The food is directly below you, but completely ruined and inaccessible. The same goes for fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and any other disaster. Get creative. Try putting some of your food under beds, at the base of closets, behind the couch, anywhere.

3) Keep your food and water in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. Heat is the biggest enemy of foods and whether your foods are in Mylar bags or steel cans, that metal container will work like an oven in the heat or sunlight and cook your food, thus eliminating your nutritional value and destroying your shelf life.

2) Purchase and store foods you eat. If you’re purchasing a pre-designed unit that comes with foods you may not want, but it’s cheaper to get it that way, ignore me. BUT! If you have the option to individualize your food storage, do it! A lot of food storage companies out there today only offer combination packs of fruits or vegetables, but for me, even the thought of peaches makes me nauseous, so why would I want that? If you can find a company that sells those products individually without forcing you to purchase their variety, half of which you won’t eat, you may have a winner.

1) Your kids won’t always be kids, plan accordingly. Sure, you have a 6, 8, and 10 year old who don’t eat as much as adults, however, in just 6 short years, you’ll have a 12, 14, and 16 year olds who all can scarf down a whole pizza by themselves. If you plan on having to feed all adults, you’ll never be in the position of not having enough food when you need it.

This list contributed by the experts at Ready Reserve Foods, long-time friends of The Survival Mom and a new sponsor. Visit their website here. To get 20% off your purchases of food from Ready Reserve, use coupon code SURVIVAL.

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Why You Should Store Rubber Bands http://thesurvivalmom.com/store-rubber-bands/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/store-rubber-bands/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 15:00:36 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16631 If you have children you might have had a vision of living-room rubber band wars pop into your head after reading the title of this article… but that’s not quite what I had in mind. Of course having things that Read More

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Rubber Bands & Food StorageIf you have children you might have had a vision of living-room rubber band wars pop into your head after reading the title of this article… but that’s not quite what I had in mind. Of course having things that can occupy kids in a time of crisis is a VERY GOOD THING but we’ll leave that for another post.

In this case, the humble rubber band can help us to rotate and maintain our food storage supplies at the level we want for our families.

My food storage room is filled with shelves that house all the items (food and non-food) that my family will need to have if we can’t go to the store for whatever reason. We use this room daily. It’s not a dusty stockpile in a bunker that will never get used. It’s constantly rotated as things are needed for every-day meals.

Maybe our supply of ketchup consists of 12 bottles of ketchup for the time period we’ve chosen, (which for our family is 1 year)  That’s one bottle per month that we use.

How do I figure out how much ketchup (or anything else) we use?

  • Write the date it was opened, either on the container itself or on the calendar.
  • Use the item as we normally would.
  • When it’s empty or used up, write that date on the calendar.
  • Figure out how long the item lasted.
  • Calculate how many we’d use in a year.
  • Multiply that number by 1.5.
  • Note this number in your Food Supply Notebook.
  • That gives me 150% of that item (you’ll find out why 150% in just a minute).

In our ketchup example, we figured that one bottle of ketchup lasts for one month in our house. That would be 12 bottles of ketchup for a year. Then we multiply that by 1.5 and we get 18 bottles of ketchup. If I’m starting from scratch, the next time there’s a great deal on ketchup, I’ll go buy 18 bottles of ketchup. (You won’t want to hear the word ‘ketchup’ again after reading this article. ;) )

We bring those bottles home and lovingly place them on their assigned ketchup shelf. Then we admire our accomplishment. I know what you’re thinking: “You can’t live on just ketchup.” Yes I know, that’s why we are doing this with all sorts of shelf stable items. Ketchup is just the example.

The next step is to employ the services of the humble rubber band.  Count back in your line of beautiful ketchup bottles to bottle number 6. Apply the rubber band to that bottle. Now we wait…we wait for that bottle to make it’s way to the kitchen. When it does that is the cue that it’s time to replenish your  ketchup supply.

“But wait,” you’re saying to yourself, “you still have 12 bottles of ketchup sitting behind the rubber-banded one.” To that I would say, “Right! Your years supply is intact!” So no matter when The Crisis happens, you have a year from that point until you run out of ketchup.

We all have personal/family level   crisis-es (I don’t know how to spell ‘Kri-seez’)  emergencies that pop up now and then. Maybe it’s a temporary job loss or a medical bill or an unplanned car repair that has you dipping into the food budget so you can’t replenish your food supplies, or maybe an extended illness or bad weather keeps you from the grocery store.

What if these scenarios happened right before a regional or national event where the grocery stores, as we know them now, aren’t available? If we use the humble rubber band method, we could rest easy knowing we still had a full-year supply for our family.

This works for everything that a rubber band can fit around. For larger things like Toilet paper, just pull out the Sharpie and write ‘restock’ on the package that the rubber-band would have been on. Many big packages have smaller packages inside them, like four packs of TP inside the larger back, that you can mark. One roll per day is my year number for that. There are 8 bums in my house, and in a crisis there would be more!

How many ketchup bottles should be in your supply?

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