The Survival Mom » Preparedness 101 http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Thu, 27 Nov 2014 07:00:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 20+ Foods that must be re-packaged for long-term storage and how to repackage them http://thesurvivalmom.com/20-foods-that-must-be-re-packaged-for-long-term-storage-and-how-to-repackage-them/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/20-foods-that-must-be-re-packaged-for-long-term-storage-and-how-to-repackage-them/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 20:11:24 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=11969 As a follow-up to my blog post about which foods you shouldn’t plan on storing long-term, here’s a list of foods typically found at grocery stores that can be stored but must be repackaged. Keep in mind, that by repackaging Read More

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Tutorial for20+ Foods that must be(3)As a follow-up to my blog post about which foods you shouldn’t plan on storing long-term, here’s a list of foods typically found at grocery stores that can be stored but must be repackaged.

Keep in mind, that by repackaging these foods you will also be protecting them from oxygen, pests, and humidity, three of the five enemies of food storage. (The other 2 are heat and light.)

  • Raisins and other dried fruit
  • Oatmeal
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Any type of cookie or cracker
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Bread crumbs
  • Cornmeal
  • Candy
  • Pancake mix (Sometimes these are packaged directly inside the cardboard box without any type of inner plastic bag.)
  • Pasta, rice, and potato convenience mixes, such as Rice-a-Roni, Pasta-Roni, instant potatoes, scalloped potato mixes, etc. (These may either have microscopic insect eggs inside the package already and/or be invaded by insects and rodents from the outside.)
  • Tea bags (Repackage for best flavor and longest possible shelf life.)
  • Dried, instant milk (If not already in a sealed can.)
  • Spices and herbs packaged in plastic bags
  • Shortening (Pack it into canning jars and then seal using a vacuum sealer.)
  • Chocolate chips, baking chips of any flavor
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Sugar, brown sugar and powdered sugar
  • Any type of mix to make bread, cornbread, pizza dough, etc.
  • Most anything else that is packaged in flimsy plastic bags and/or cardboard. This type of packaging is not intended for long-term storage, but that doesn’t mean the food inside can’t have a longer shelf life if repackaged correctly.

Repackaging with a vacuum packing machine

A vacuum packing machine, such as the Food Saver is my own preferred method of repackaging small to moderate amounts of food. These machines can be found on eBay and Craigslist at very affordable prices. Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Cabela’s carry them as well.

Pour the food into one of the plastic bags suitable for your machine and follow the machine’s instructions for vacuum sealing the bag. Use a Sharpie to mark the date sealed on the outside as well as the name of the food. (“Golden raisins, June 21, 2013″)

If a food can be easily crushed, such as cookies or crackers, place them in a large canning jar and seal it with your machine and a jar lid attachment. This is very convenient and gives long term results. If you want to store shortening, pack it into a canning jar, place the lid on top, cover with the jar sealer and seal it. Here is more information from the Food Saver company.

All the foods on my list can be packaged in canning jars. This is especially handy if you are storing food for just 1 or 2 persons or cannot lift heavy buckets and large mylar bags.

This video shows how to seal foods in canning jars.

Some foods with sharp edges, such as pasta, can wear through the plastic storage bag. To avoid this you can seal the food and then place it in a second sealing bag and seal a second time or place it first in a zip-loc bag (do not seal) and then into the food storage bag. The machine will suck the air out of both bags, sealing them shut at the same time.

Use food safe plastic buckets

Yes, the big plastic bucket — a staple in many a prepper/survivalist pantry. These buckets are popular because they can hold a very large amount of food, making many smaller containers  unnecessary. The plastic protects food from light, and although rodents and some insects can chew their way through the bucket to the food, that takes some time, and hopefully, you’ve pest-proofed your pantry!

It’s easy to obtain 5 gallon buckets, but smaller sizes may be harder to come by. If you’re lucky enough to live near a food storage retail store, such as Honeyville Farms, you can buy them in person. Grocery store bakeries buy things like frostings and fillings in food safe buckets and those are smaller. Often they will sell used buckets and may even give them away for free.

The biggest downside to the 5 gallon bucket is its weight. I cannot easily lift one of these when it’s filled with food. Dragging it along the ground is about all I can manage. And, once the bucket is opened, you’ll have to plan on using the food inside within a reasonable amount of time, say 6 months or so if storage conditions are optimal, or reseal the bucket.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to protect the food in an opened bucket from pests and deterioration caused by heat and humidity. I recommend using Gamma Seal lids to make it easier to open and close buckets. They will also help to keep pests out of the food.

I’ve written about storing food in buckets with more details here.

Add oxygen absorbers to extend shelf life

Pour your food into a canning jar, mylar bag or a food-safe bucket of an appropriate size. Just before sealing with the lid, drop in oxygen absorbers according to this chart:

100 cc absorber            32-ounce canning jar

300 cc                             #10 can

300 cc                              1 gallon container

1500 cc                            5 gallon container

For more detailed  instructions, read this. Oxygen absorbers are available on Amazon, from food storage retail stores, and I’ve even seen them in Winco grocery stores.

I also use empty and sanitized 2-liter soda bottles for things like rice and oats and add a 100 cc absorber just before capping the bottle.

Keep mind that as you open the package of absorbers, they start absorbing oxygen. You’ll know this is happening because they get hot. Quickly place the required number of absorbers in each container with the food and then store the remaining absorbers in a canning jar. (The lid of a canning jar gives a much tighter seal than other jars.)

The process of vacuum sealing using a Food Saver removes most of the oxygen that exists inside the bag. This will prolong the shelf life of those foods. However, over time I’ve found that air can and does leak into the sealed bags. When storing these vacuum sealed bags, do check on them at least once a year to see if any have refilled with air, and if so, open the bag and reseal.

A word about dry pack canning for long term storage food

Dry pack, or oven, canning is a process that involves pouring DRY food into canning jars, heating the jars, and then sealing them with lids and rings.

To be very clear, dry/oven canning is not the same as traditional canning, which uses a water bath or pressure canner. It’s simply heating up dry foods in canning jars and then closing them with seals and lids.

Since this article was first posted, I received a number of questions about dry canning, sometimes called oven canning. At first, the method sounded like an inexpensive way to repackage dry foods but with quite a bit of research, I haven’t come up with any true advantages and there are a couple of reasons to avoid this method.

From my research, it seems like the only advantages to this process is possibly killing insect eggs with the heat and that it doesn’t require the expense of a Food Saver.

A much better way to insure insect eggs are killed is by placing tightly sealed containers of food in the freezer for at least a week.

Heating these jars in the oven does not remove oxygen, which is a necessary step in prolonging shelf life. Storing any food in glass jars continues to allow the food to be affected by light, which also deteriorates food. (Store filled glass jars in boxes, under beds, and in any container that doesn’t allow in light for longest possible shelf life.)

The possibility of glass breakage exists since canning jars are designed to be heated in wet environments, such as a hot water bath, and not in a dry oven. Canning jars are made from tempered glass, which is designed to break into hundreds of fairly harmless little particles, not shards. However, to be on the safe side, it’s best to use canning jars for their original purpose only.

How dangerous is dry/oven canning? If only dry foods, such as flour or oats are involved, I’d say the risk of a glass jar exploding in the oven is very slight. Bacterial growth in such foods is negligible as long as no moisture is present. Some nutrients will be lost due to the application of heat, but dangerous? In my many hours of research, I’m not convinced, but there doesn’t seem to be any reason to use this method, either! All it seems to do is heat up the food, maybe kill insect eggs, but little else.

The previous repackaging methods I’ve listed are far easier and more effective in lengthening the shelf life of food, which is the main point of this activity in the first place!

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The Living Off the Land Fallacy http://thesurvivalmom.com/living-off-land-fallacy/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/living-off-land-fallacy/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 07:00:39 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=19054 A common plan tossed around by survivalists and preppers is this idea that in the event of martial law or some other crisis, they are going to head off to the hills, presumably for weeks or months, and just live Read More

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living off the landA common plan tossed around by survivalists and preppers is this idea that in the event of martial law or some other crisis, they are going to head off to the hills, presumably for weeks or months, and just live off the land.  While this sort of plan might appeal to the pioneer and bushcraft spirit, if nothing else, the reality is that for most people, this is just planning to fail.

Basic Problems

There are a few problems with falling into what I call the Living Off the Land Fallacy.  For starters, while the DNR isn’t likely going to be enforcing fair hunting rules, you aren’t going to be the only goofball out there with a rifle or bow.  If you’ve ever gone hunting with someone brand new to it, you know just how frustrating, even dangerous, it can be.  They don’t know how to be quiet.  They want to take shots that are risky at best.  They just don’t know what the heck they are doing, right?  Now, multiply that times a thousand as there are going to be a ton of other folks, just like that, out there looking for their own dinners.

On top of that, it won’t take long before tens of thousands of house pets are going to turn feral and be competing with you for the small game.  Granted, some folks might look at that as just being an addition of potential targets for lunch.  Even so, competition is going to be fierce.  It won’t take long before even the ubiquitous squirrel is scarce.

Fishing

What about fishing?  Okay, not a bad plan but do you really think you’re going to be the only Babe Winkelman out there wetting a line?  Plus, likely as not you’re also going to have at least a small segment of the population who will sit on the sidelines and wait for someone to reel in a good sized bass, then take it from them by hook or by crook.

I grew up in an area where deer hunting is akin to religion.  The school district darn near shuts down during gun season, given how many students head up north with their parents to see about adding a trophy to the wall.  These people have been hunting for generations and know all the tricks.  Yet, for all of that, only about a third of them are successful in a given year.  Granted, that’s big game, but still, food for thought.

Wild Edibles

As for wild edibles, that’s something to consider, but you need to know what you’re doing so as to avoid poisonous lookalikes and such.  Plus, consider the fact that the crisis may hit in the dead of winter, when not too many things are growing in abundance.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you abandon all plans for hunting/fishing/trapping/gathering.  Instead, consider those options as ways to supplement what you’ve stockpiled and grown on your own.  Generally speaking, the plan would be to have enough food packed away to get you through at least one, if not two, complete growing seasons.  Have plans in place for growing much of your own food from seeds you harvest yourself.  Raise chickens, goats, and other potential meat sources.  Learn now the best ways to preserve meat if you don’t have access to electricity, and thus freezers.

Above all, abandon the attitude of “Me hunter. Me go kill meat for family.”  That way of thinking will indeed likely result in a death, but probably not of the four-legged variety.

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Try it Today: Build your Food Storage from Scratch with Canning http://thesurvivalmom.com/food-storage-canning/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/food-storage-canning/#comments Sun, 09 Nov 2014 07:00:08 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=19259   Stocking your pantry with home canned goods is not only prudent, it’s a simple and inexpensive way to build your food storage. When you can up what is in season (at the peak of freshness, flavor and low price) Read More

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food storage canning

 

Stocking your pantry with home canned goods is not only prudent, it’s a simple and inexpensive way to build your food storage. When you can up what is in season (at the peak of freshness, flavor and low price) you’re taking a seasonal approach to your canning. I know that in June or July, I’ll be canning as much strawberry jam as I possibly can. I know that in the Fall it’s apple pie filling and applesauce, and in Winter it will be venison soup with fresh venison and all those potatoes and carrots I stored away from the garden!

We can year round, in bulk. We can jams, condiments, soups, fruits & veggies, chili, stews, meats and more. When I started canning I had no idea that first batch of Apricots for my husband would turn into my primary method of food preservation for our family. Canning has turned into a lifelong endeavor for me. I really enjoy it, not to mention what a blessing it is to our family.

Canning is very simple to do; fills your pantry with delicious healthy foods, and gives peace of mind. Yes, it takes time and effort, but ‘anything worth doing’ does!

Canning has become a lost art; a lost method of food preservation. Folks let themselves be intimidated, thinking, “surely it must be too difficult” – not at all. With a few safety rules engrained in your brain, the proper equipment and instruction, you can build your food storage from scratch!

In canning, there are 2 types of processing: Water Bath and Pressure Canning. We’re going to start with Water Bath canning and the supplies and tools you’ll need to get started.

Must Haves:

Canning jars

Deep kettle with jar rack

Canning jar lids and rings

Lots of old kitchen/ hand towels & hot pads

Canning Tongs & Wooden Spoon

You’ll want a “Ball Blue Book of Canning” – a must have. You can find them at Amazon, or any place that sells canning supplies & equipment, it is the “canning bible”. I constantly refer back to mine each year!

Jars! You can buy canning jars, again, at any store that carries canning equipment. They can range, from $8 to $15 per case of 12. I scour garage sales in the summer hunting good canning jars. When buying from a second hand source, be SURE to pick up every jar and inspect it for cracks and for nicks in the mouth of the jar. If the mouth of the jar has one little nick in it, the lid will not seal or if it does it won’t hold or will result in bad food that could possibly make your family sick. Make sure to double check the jars!

I often hear ‘what size jar do I use’? Well, that is relative to your family. Are there 2 of you? More than likely half pints & pints will work (depending on what you are canning and your preferences) if you have 4 or more in your family, chances are a half pint of anything is a waste of time & effort– you might want to can in only quarts! I use a variety from half pints to quarts, depending on what I am canning. Anything larger than a quart, is NOT recommended, as you may not get your food to hot enough temperatures, evenly, inside the jar due to its size and therefore your food can end up being unsafe. I tend to can in quarts for the most part, that serves our family well, fits my canners well and saves me on wasting lids.

A deep canning kettle and rack are for water bath canning and can be bought online or anywhere that sells canning equipment, or look to relatives that possibly don’t can anymore, estate, garage or tag sales! I picked up the two I have, at garage sales for $1.00 or less each–they’ve served me for years!

Canning Jar lids & Rings; you will need brand new lids to seal your jars. Lids have long been that of the metal with rubber seal, one time use only, variety. Those are great, I’ve used them for years—and the rings, are obviously something you save and use repeatedly. I’ve stocked up on these through a couple places that I found the best price for bulk buying. I’ve also discovered REUSABLE canning jar lids! These are fantastic, and can be found at www.reusablecanninglids.com I’d highly recommend checking into them. Great to have on hand, especially when ‘running to the store’ for more disposable lids, is not an option.

You will go through a lot of towels; between setting jars on them, to wiping rims (the rims of the mouth of the jar must be perfectly clean to meet with the rubber on the lids and form that ‘seal’), and of course the occasional mess to clean up! Have a bunch on hand; garage sale or thrift stores are a great place for these if you don’t already have them on hand.

You’ll want canning tongs (this is just what I call them—they are just ‘tongs’ that you’d use in everyday cooking) and a wooden spoon as well; simple things that make the job easier. Canning tongs, a magnetic wand “lid lifter” (or a plain ol’ dinner fork) will lift your lids out of very hot water; enough said. Having a wooden spoon (or a chopstick!) on hand is great for poking down into your filled jars to release any air bubbles. I pick up extra wooden spoons at garage sales often, I love to cook with them and the old ones are sturdy and last!

Some other ‘nice’ but you can ‘get by without things’ are the canning funnel to keep your foods IN the jar and save you messes and loss of spilled/lost food, I have a couple plastic ones & a stainless steel one—LOVE them all and they’ve saved me countless messes! A jar lifter is quite handy, really great tool to SAFELY lift your jars out of the water– this should be on the MUST HAVES LIST, but you can let your water cool and then get them out that way, too. The magnetic wands they have out these days are pretty nice too–but then again an old pair of tongs or a fork will do the job as well. A ladel would be wonderful for scooping hot jam or soup or chili into jars, but an old coffee mug does the job too.

As you can see, much of your canning equipment can be picked up pretty cheap (think grandma’s attic, thrift store and garage sales!), and it’s completely worth it– the food you preserve is tastier, healthier and just all around better for you and yours; not to mention it is a great way to stock the pantry as foods are in season and at their best price! This is the ONLY way for me to get healthy produce on my table year round, keep my pantry stocked and keep adding continually to my food storage. When I am not canning I attempt to keep all my canning ‘stuff’ tucked away in my water bath canner on the shelf, that way, it’s all easy to find for the next batch of whatever I am blessed to put up for my family!

I watch for things on sale at the store and as I go through my freezers or if I have a neighbor that is giving away their garden overflow…always be on the lookout for things you can put up and you’ll have those shelves stocked before you know it.

Some other items you’ll want to have stocked up and on hand for canning are:

Pectin: You can buy this by the little box or in bulk, you can get a variety from no sugar, to some sugar to full sugar to all natural (Pomona’s Pectin).

Canning Salt: Lots of varieties, and every canner has their own preference. There is standard in the box Canning Salt, Kosher Salt, Sea Salt…the list goes on…use your favorite (just not standard “Iodized”) I like Kosher Sea Salt.

Sweetners: Some folks use good ol’ “C & H Sugar”, some use raw honey, some use organic sugar and some doesn’t use any sugar and use grape juice in their jams (I do all of the above depending on the recipe and my family’s preferences). Whatever you choose, have it on hand.

Vinegars: White and Apple Cider (Braggs is fantastic).

That’s our ‘get prepared list’ for Canning 101. Get your canning supplies together and let’s stock our pantry!

Let’s start with Applesauce; it is versatile, easy to make and is great for everything from just eating out of the jar, to baking with, creating a base for baby foods and more! There are as many ways to do this, based on your taste, as there are apple varieties! For us, it goes something like this:

We take our apples (any variety or a mixture, depending on your favorites!) and wash them. My grandmother always used Pink Ladies or Jonagolds; she was right, they make the most beautiful applesauce! When stocking the pantry I’ll use whatever apples I can get a hold of. We then peel them & slice off pieces (smaller sized chunks or thinner slices-no ‘half apple’ pieces here) of apple down to the core, right into a stock or crockpot. Once we have our stock/crockpots about 3/4 full or so, I turn them on low, add in about a cup of water, and a cup of sugar. Then put the lid on and let it cook for about 30 minutes on a stove top in a stockpot or 4-6 hours in a corckpot (depending on temps, etc) , checking it every hour (or a little more often, you do not want it sticking or burning–if it gets dry, just add a bit more water) and giving it a good stir. Once it has cooked down and is the consistency/taste we want, we prepare to water bath can it.

Now, that being said, you can certainly add in some other goodies to create a different flavor to your applesauce! We’ve done ours with cinnamon, sugar, brown sugar…I’ve even heard of folks adding a few ‘red hots’ candies to each jar! Some folks will sprinkle their apples with a tiny bit of lemon juice before putting the lid on the crockpot, some cut up their apples into a bowl of water and lemon juice to prevent browning; however it will brown up a bit when cooking in the crock nonetheless. Crockpot applesauce is extremely forgiving and simply adapts to the makers personal preferences, it’s a beautiful thing! When I do make a batch with cinnamon, I just sprinkle a bit in at a time and stir, until my taste-testers unanimously agree on the end result.

I water bath my pints for 20 minutes and my quarts for 25 minutes; check your Ball Blue book or County Extension office for times based on your elevation.  Putting up homemade applesauce is a great staple for the pantry and one of the easiest ways to preserve the apple harvest.

Look for more lessons in canning and preserving– coming soon– learn to build your pantry and food storage, from scratch, through canning!

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Simple Food Storage Meals for Tight Times: Stock up on three months worth, fast! http://thesurvivalmom.com/simple-food-storage-meals-for-tight-times-stock-up-on-three-months-worth-fast/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/simple-food-storage-meals-for-tight-times-stock-up-on-three-months-worth-fast/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 07:31:51 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=7276 When a summertime monsoon storm is on the way, I quickly track down my kids, bring them indoors, and prepare to hunker down.  It’s a mom-instinct.  We  unplug the computers, make sure all the windows are securely closed and locked, and Read More

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fresh vegetables on wooden tableWhen a summertime monsoon storm is on the way, I quickly track down my kids, bring them indoors, and prepare to hunker down.  It’s a mom-instinct.  We  unplug the computers, make sure all the windows are securely closed and locked, and if my husband isn’t home, I call to make sure he’s okay.

A storm of a different kind is on its way to America and has already been wreaking havoc with family incomes and our sense of security. No one knows what the extent of the damage will ultimately be, but moms everywhere are responding to their maternal instinct to gather everyone together.  Since food and meal preparation is part of our responsibility, food storage is a basic, simple step to take in order to keep our families healthy.

Having enough groceries on hand for a period of three months is a good first goal, but if buying enough for three months is too daunting and not in the budget, start with buying enough to have a pantry fully stocked for one month.

If you’ve been losing sleep over the state of our economy or your own personal finances or you’re worried about an Ebola pandemic or just a really bad winter storm, there’s no time to waste.  Use coupons and grocery store sales to get the most bang for your buck, examine your budget for anything that can be cut (temporarily) until you’ve reached your food storage goals.

To get you started, here are some of the simplest ways to stock up.

Plan for simple food storage meals

Stock up on ingredients to make 24 batches of soup

That’s two batches of soup per week for three months. If you make a double batch, you’ll have leftovers for the next day. As a first step, buy high-quality bouillon in bulk, such as Ready Reserve Foods beef and chicken stock. I like this brand because you can buy it in larger quantities.

Add to your soup stash:

  • 1-2 #10 dehydrated potato dices.  This will provide potatoes for both soups and chowders.
  • 1 #10 can of each vegetable (dehydrated or freeze-dried) you typically use in soup: onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, corn (for chowders), mixed vegetables, etc.
  • 1 #10 can tomato powder for tomato based soups.  You can also use this to make homemade pasta and enchilada sauces.
  • 1 #10 can instant milk for chowders
  • Rice, beans, and small pasta can be added for extra bulk, calories, and variety.

Do you have to buy these ingredients? They will end up lasting longer and will be more cost effective in the long run, but go for store-bought cans of soup if that’s what it takes to get you going! Use coupons, buy generic brands, and shop store sales, and you’ll end up with a very large stash of canned soup, quick.

Calculate how many cans you’ll need for 24 meals and then set that number of cans as your goal.

Learn how to bake a loaf of homemade bread 

If you already know how to do this, stock up on enough ingredients to make a loaf of bread per day if you have more than four people in your family, or a loaf every other day for smaller family units or individuals.  Keep the recipe very simple, as your goal is to stock up quickly, using every penny and dollar wisely.

You’ll use bread for sandwiches, toast, garlic bread, French toast, bread crumbs, etc.  If you don’t have a grain mill for grinding wheat, buy enough flour for not only bread but other, occasional treats such as cookies.  Before storing the flour, place it in a container with a tight lid and freeze it for at least ten days.  This will kill off any microscopic insect eggs so there won’t be any nasty surprises when you’re ready to use the flour.

Check out this list of Depression-era meals that show just how versatile bread can be!

Plan at least 15 pasta meals

They are inexpensive and pasta is very versatile.  You can buy 15 jars/cans of ready-made pasta sauce or buy enough ingredients to make 15 batches of homemade sauce.  Plan on eating a hot vegetable and slices of garlic bread with each meal.  This utilizes your homemade bread and hot veggies can either be from your stash of dehydrated/freeze-dried, canned or frozen veggies from the grocery store, or home grown.

Whip up white gravy

A batch of white gravy is easy to whip up with flour, milk, and some form of fat (butter, bacon grease, or oil). Buy a #10 can of sausage crumbles and make your own sausage gravy served over homemade biscuits.  If you’re stocked up on ingredients for bread, you’ll only need to add a can of shortening for the biscuits.

Use butter as your fat, add a little garlic, salt, and you’ve got a nice white sauce to pour over pasta or egg noodles. With some cooked vegetables, you have pasta primavera.

Plan on a “white gravy” meal once a week with a couple of biscuits and gravy breakfasts thrown in the mix.

Tuna or chicken casserole

Tuna casserole is a simple budget-friendly dinner. Multiply the ingredients in your recipe times 12 in order to serve it once a week for three months.  Keep in mind that the size of tuna cans has been decreasing, much like those containers of ice cream that keep getting smaller and smaller!  You might have to buy more cans of tuna in order to have the same amount of actual tuna.

My recipe includes cream of mushroom soup, canned/fresh/freeze-dried mushrooms, and sometimes cheese. Use canned chicken if you can’t stand tuna, or plan on making both versions for variety.

In order to make this once a week, buy 12 cans of the soup, 12 cans of sliced mushrooms (or use freeze-dried mushrooms), and splurge on a #10 can of freeze-dried jack or mozzarella cheese.

Rice and beans can be your budget’s best friend

The classic meal of beans and rice is versatile and the ingredients can be stored for years.

Keep in mind that repetitive meals can be quite boring, so stock up on a variety of beans, buy multi-bean mixes, and different types of rice. Most importantly, stock up on spices, herbs, and seasonings! Keep them stored in a dark, dry, and cool location for longest possible shelf life.

Just this simple array of ingredients will allow you to make dozens of different dishes. Check out this recipe book for more ideas.

More simple dinner ideas

For more simple dinner ideas, buy 100-day Pantry by Jan Jackson.  Choose a recipe, multiply the ingredients by 12, and start shopping!

Your dinner menu will be complete with soup/chowder twice each week, a pasta meal or two each week, tuna or chicken casserole, white sauce with vegetables served over noodles, and two dishes of rice and beans.

Keep the simple theme going with breakfasts

Oatmeal. Oatmeal is simple.

Oatmeal makes a healthy and filling breakfast and has the added advantage of being versatile.  It’s also inexpensive.  Some stores carry oatmeal in their self-serve bins, along with beans, cornmeal, etc.  Three pounds of oatmeal will provide 30 servings.  Figure out how much you need to buy in order to have an oatmeal breakfast 3-4 times per week, one serving per person, per day.

For an easy change, make baked oatmeal.

Buy extra if homemade granola, oatmeal cookies, and homemade granola bars sound good to you.  In addition, buy 6 pounds of brown sugar and/or 2 quarts of honey, extra cinnamon, raisins, and any other add-ins you and your family enjoy.

A few other breakfast suggestions

Plan on eating pancakes (homemade or using a mix like Bisquick), French toast (from the loaves of bread you’ll be making), homemade muffins, gravy and biscuits, and eggs for the remaining breakfasts.  Leftovers are good, too.  Keep breakfast quick, easy, and filling.

Miscellaneous tips

Cooking three meals from scratch will get old fast.  There’s nothing wrong with planning on canned ravioli, chili, tuna sandwiches, canned stew, peanut butter and jelly, and even Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (stock up on instant milk and butter powder).

Freeze-dried cheese is pricey, but it can be used in quesadillas with homemade tortillas, sprinkled over a baked pasta dish, pizza, and so much more.  When it’s rehydrated, it melts and tastes just like real cheese.  In my opinion, it’s worth splurging on a can or two, and then using it as a luxury ingredient, sparingly.  I keep cheese in my freezer, but for long-term storage AND a quick way to reach your food storage goal, freeze-dried is a really good option.

Finally, make sure you have at least one alternative way to cook your food and heat up water.  If a Sun Oven is too pricey, many people make their own solar cookers.  Many moms on this blog have been using an energy efficient rocket stove, such as EcoZoom, and find them easy to use.  Should your power go out or energy rates skyrocket, cooking a few meals off the grid will be smart.

What other easy food storage ideas do you have to share?

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Get Started With Food Storage: 24 Meals Everyone Will Love! http://thesurvivalmom.com/get-started-food-storage-24-meals-everyone-will-love/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/get-started-food-storage-24-meals-everyone-will-love/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 16:00:08 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18208  Get Started With Food Storage! I get asked on a daily basis: How do I get started with food storage? It can be very confusing because everyone you ask will give you a different answer! I’m not professing to have the best Read More

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Get Started with Food Storage: 24 Meals Everyone Will Love!

 Get Started With Food Storage!

I get asked on a daily basis: How do I get started with food storage?

It can be very confusing because everyone you ask will give you a different answer!

I’m not professing to have the best and only way to get your food storage (OK, maybe a little), but for anyone I consult with my #1 advice is:

“Store What You Eat & Eat What You Store”

Too many people go about it the opposite way (which I guess is better than nothing)! I just feel if you’re going to go through all the work and expense of buying and storing food, why don’t you benefit from it now, instead of letting it rot in a corner for TEOTWAWKI?

One of the best ways to make sure you are storing what you eat, is by doing doing just that – STORE WHAT YOU EAT! Find your family’s favorite recipes and then figure out how much food you’ll need to be able to make those meals for 3 months, 6 months, or however long you want to hide out in your home away from zombies. ;-)

You might have to make some minor adjustments to your recipes –  like having canned chicken on hand, or buying some freeze-dried fruits and veggies – but if you plan ahead you will have everything you need in case Ebola strikes your town and you need to hide out for awhile.

Food Storage Meals (That are Actually Good):

Don’t have any favorite recipes? Maybe looking to add some variety? Or do you still believe food storage is Yuck? Well don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

I went to the experts of food storage to find the very best meals out there. These are tried and true meals you can easily add to your food storage! I’m only going to share the top 24 with you, but if you need more inspiration be sure to check-out my expert panel for more recipe ideas!

The Food Storage Experts:

24 Meals You Can Make From Your Food Storage!


Let’s Get Cooking:


1- Baked Shells Casserole

2- Italian Chicken

3- Taco Soup

4- Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

5- Pasta Fagioli Soup

6- Chicken Parmesan

7- Mexican Tortilla Lasagna

8- Chicken Helper: Shelf Stable

9- Bayou Chicken Pasta

10- Pizza (A must in our home!)

11- Sweet and Sour Chicken

12- Lasagna Rolls

13- Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce

14- Quick Pantry Clam Chowder (This is seriously the best clam chowder ever…and it’s food storage)

15- Hearty Chicken Chipotle Soup

16- Hawaiian Sesame Chicken

17- Chicken Cordon Bleu

18- Chow Mein Casserole

19- Cream of Celery Condensed Soup 

20- Beef Stroganoff

21-  Blender Wheat Pancakes (It’s always fun to have breakfast for dinner!)

22- Simple Sesame Noodles

23- Creamy Enchilada Soup

24- Pantry Jumbalaya

 

 Bonus Food Storage Desserts:


Dutch Apple Pie

Rice Pudding (try it using coconut milk…yum!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Best Krispie Squares

Cake-Pops

How to Calculate How Much Food You’ll Need to Make These:

Now that you have your meals, go ahead and calculate how much food you’ll need! Make sure to substitute your own families favorite recipes! Most recipes can be adjusted with ingredients that can be stored long-term.

First, you need to decide on how long you want the food to last. For example, three months is approximately 92 days (365 days per year divided by 4) and one year is 365.25 days. Next, count the number of different meals / recipes you plan to store for. Then divide the number of days you want to save for by the number of recipes you like, whether is 24, 17, 7, or 43. This will tell you how many times you can expect to make that particular meal in your time frame.

In the examples below, the number is rounded up to the next whole number because wouldn’t you rather have a little extra than go hungry?

  • 3 Month Supply of Food Storage Meals –> 92 divided by 24 meals = 4 of each meal (3 months worth) (3.8 needed of each meal, rounded up to four)
  • 6 Month Supply of Food Storage Meals –> 183 divided by 17 meals = 11 of each meal (6 months worth)
  • 12 Month Supply of Food Storage Meals –> 365 divided by 7 meals = 52 of each meal (12 months worth)

Now that you know how many times you will make it, you can figure out how much you need to store of each ingredient and start shopping for it. Once you’ve finished your calculations, you should now have a grocery list of items that you need to complete your food storage. You can take it slow and budget it out over months/years, or you can buy it all at once – your choice!

Next Steps

This is just for one meal. You will need to decide if you want to store food for all three meals every day, two meals and assume lunch is found elsewhere, three meals plus a hearty snack, etc. Keep in mind that your meal needs may vary on different days, and almost certainly for different meals. If you always, always, always go visit the grandparents on Sunday, you may not need to store food for that meal – but you’ll probably want to make sure the grandparents have enough to cover everyone who visits on Sundays.

Once you have reached your goal, you can either extend your goal or add more items. If you have stored enough to make 7 meals for 3 months (approximately 13 of each one), you have a choice for continuing your food storage. You can add another 3 months (or whatever) of that meal, or you can choose new and different recipes and store the items for those. That might be breakfast food to start filling your tummies well for that day, or it could be more dinner items to extend how many months your food storage is good for.

The main point, of course, is that you can do any number of meals, by any number of days or months, and customize it until your heart’s content! If you have any questions or need some help with calculations, just post your question in the comments for some help.

Good luck!

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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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If You Just Moved Here… Living in Tornado Country http://thesurvivalmom.com/just-moved-living-tornado-country/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/just-moved-living-tornado-country/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 06:00:51 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17123 Where exactly IS “tornado country?” Most people know about Tornado Alley which includes northern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska at its core (though the boundaries are not completely defined).  Some may even know about Dixie Alley, the Southeast’s tornado corridor Read More

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AVR Living in Tornado CountryWhere exactly IS “tornado country?”

Most people know about Tornado Alley which includes northern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska at its core (though the boundaries are not completely defined). 

Some may even know about Dixie Alley, the Southeast’s tornado corridor that encompasses much of the lower Mississippi Valley, including parts of Texas and Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and parts of both North and South Carolina. Tornadoes are less frequent in numbers in Dixie Alley but often are stronger and have longer tracks. They also cause more damage because of greater population density than in much of the Tornado Alley region.

Here are some facts that many people DON’T know… 

The United States has more tornadoes than any other country, averaging about 1,200 per year.

EVERY state has had tornadoes. Most occur east of the Rocky Mountains. Florida has the most per year per square mile but they are typically small. Oklahoma has the most violent tornadoes per year per square mile. Alaska has only had two tornadoes since 1950. Texas. Mississippi and Alabama have had the greatest number of tornado deaths.

Tornadoes have occurred in EVERY month of the year. The main “season” is March through August but different areas have their own “peak” months. For example, historically Alabama sees more tornadoes in April and November than any other month.

Tornadoes have happened at EVERY hour of day and night, but are most common between 2 and 8 pm.

So, if you’ve moved into a more tornado prone area, here’s what you need to know.

Understand the Terminology

Tornado Classification

Tornadoes are classified using the EF (Enhanced Fujita) Scale from weak EF-0 tornadoes to a catastrophic EF-5s. The scale is based on wind speed and expected damage to certain types of buildings and vegetation.

AVR EF Table

Watch-Warning-Emergency

You may hear the weatherman giving you information about tornado watches, warnings, and emergencies. Here’s what each means and what actions you should take.

  • Tornado Watch – Conditions are favorable for thunderstorms that can produce tornadoes. Prepare your safe place if it is not already set up.
  • Tornado Warning – A funnel cloud has been reported, a tornado has been sighted, rotation is seen on weather radar, or a waterspout is headed toward land. If this is in your area, you need to be waiting it out in your safe place.
  • Tornado Emergency – A strong or violent tornado is on the ground and significant, widespread damage, injuries, and loss of life is expected. If a tornado emergency is declared and you are in the path of the storm, you must be taking shelter, preferably underground, and bracing for impact.

Watch the Weather!

While you can learn a lot and get broad information from a source like The Weather Channel, nothing beats your local weather forecasters. They know the specific meteorological history, topography, and unique characteristics of the areas they cover. With the advanced weather forecasting technology available today, forecasters can sometimes give several days “heads up” to potentially tornadic weather.

One of the best ways, besides watching local news, to keep on top of impending weather is to have a weather radio in your home. It can be programmed for your specific location and will run on batteries during power outages. Most can even be customized to only alert you to certain information. Mine is set up to sound for warnings and emergencies, not for watches.

Determine if your neighborhood has tornado sirens. If it does, find out what each warning sound  means to you. Some only have one sound. Others have multiple sounds depending on what they are warning for. For example, on or near military bases, there may be different sounds for weather, for general shelter in place order, and for hazardous materials issues.

Remember, tornado sirens are really intended to warn people who are outside of their homes when impending weather approaches. You may not hear it from inside your house during the day. During the relative quiet of the overnight hours, the tornado sirens might be more clear inside, but do not depend on them to wake you up. (But your weather radio will!) If you do hear a siren, be sure to move indoors and turn on your television or radio for more information.

There’s an App for That

You can still get warnings even if you aren’t at home as a storm approaches. There are plenty of weather apps available for your phone. The American Red Cross has a tornado app and many news stations have their own specific weather app.

Like your weather radio, you can often customize the warnings based on your address, current location, and/or type of warning you prefer. A benefit of many of the weather apps is that you can put in other addresses besides your home and receive alerts for all of them. You can include the address for your work or a family member’s home, or even your child’s school or college.

Stay Safe

A lot of articles have already been written about how to stay safe in a tornado. I encourage you to start by reading these:

Shelters are your best option during a tornado, but what if you don’t have one? Click here to read “No Shelter, No Basement, No Problem.

Want even more tips? Read “23 Tips to Help You Prepare for Tornado Season.” 

Don’t be scared! Be Prepared!

Even in more tornado prone areas of the country, the odds of a twister hitting your home are slim. But it does happen. Be as prepared as possible, stay informed, and be alert.

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5 Reasons Why Bugging IN is Smart http://thesurvivalmom.com/5-reasons-bugging-in-smart/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/5-reasons-bugging-in-smart/#comments Sat, 12 Jul 2014 10:00:59 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=15800 I have seen many articles and posts about bugging out should some major disaster happen. These writers go on and on about having Bug Out Bags (BOBs) and heading to their Bug Out Location (BOL) to hide away until it Read More

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5_Reasons_Why_Bugging_IN_is_SmartI have seen many articles and posts about bugging out should some major disaster happen. These writers go on and on about having Bug Out Bags (BOBs) and heading to their Bug Out Location (BOL) to hide away until it is safe. I can imagine several reasons why having a bug out plan is a good idea but honestly, it should be a last resort.

If your immediate home is not threatened, staying put and “bugging in” should be the first option for several reasons. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether or not to hunker down or Bug Out, but consider the following reasons for staying in, at least at first.

Why Bug IN?

  1. Higher security. You know the layout of your home. Most people feel safer in familiar surroundings. Knowing the quickest way through the house gives you an advantage of being able to get to a weapon before some intruder gets to you. If you are bugging out, you are out in the open and more vulnerable. You also know escape routes out of the home in case it is imminent that you will be overcome.
  2. Knowledge of  the Neighborhood. Unless you just moved in last week, you know the immediate area around your home. Chances are you know what your neighbors look like, if not their names. You may even be close friends and that is very powerful. You can identify people who are new to the area. An armed stranger is more of a threat, generally speaking, than your next door neighbor. Having a group of ‘known’ people come together in a crisis raises everyone’s chance of survival. There are more eyes for security and more hands to do the work. Yes, there are more mouths to feed but also more people to acquire the food needed.
  3. Knowledge of Terrain Layout in Surrounding Area. Since most people commute, they know a rather large area out from their home. If you really stop and think about it, you can estimate the terrain – the cities, towns, and neighborhoods close to your home. All that knowledge will help you locate resources and avoid dangerous areas. Chances are pretty good that if an area had a high crime level before the disaster, it will be even higher and more desperate afterward.
  4. Home Base has more supplies and resources. There is no way you could pack all the items you need to survive and be as comfortable as possible in your car or on your back. Even if you focused solely on food and water, there is still no way you can carry what you need. If you bug in at home, you have more resources to get by. An example would be stuff in the junk drawer; you open it and find 2 adapters for charging some electronic you aren’t even sure you have anymore. What can that wire be used for, even if the power was out indefinitely? How about that end roll of duct tape? The bottom line is you are more adaptable in your own home with all your ‘stuff’ in one place.
  5. People who love you will look there first. Unless you are some hardcore survivalist and have a plan of action for your friends and family, the ones who love you will come to your house first to try and find you. It is truly the most logical place to start looking and head out from there, retracing steps if needed. If you do not know your neighbors or have a group to rely on, holding out for your loved ones to find you may be the very best option. Many people claim they will be the lone wolf, but that is unrealistic in my opinion. Eventually, even the lone wolf needs the pack. The same is true with humans. We need each other and people we can trust to make it.

 

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The 15 Commandments of Food Storage http://thesurvivalmom.com/15-commandments-food-storage/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/15-commandments-food-storage/#comments Wed, 04 Jun 2014 10:00:06 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=14665 Who doesn’t love that bit from Mel Brooks’ History of the World ,Part 1 where Moses descends from Mt Sinai clutching three stone tablets proclaiming: “The Lord has given you these 15 ( one tablet falls, smashing into a thousand Read More

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food storageWho doesn’t love that bit from Mel Brooks’ History of the World ,Part 1 where Moses descends from Mt Sinai clutching three stone tablets proclaiming: “The Lord has given you these 15 ( one tablet falls, smashing into a thousand pieces on the desert floor)…Oy, um…ten! Yeah, Ten Commandments!”

Ever wonder what those other five might have been?

Try as I might I just couldn’t keep limit myself to only ten commandments when it comes to food storage. So if 15 commandments are good enough for Mel Brooks, it’s good enough for me!

The 15 Commandments of Food Storage

1.  Start now

If you buy even one extra can of tuna tomorrow or box of crackers tomorrow, it will give you a sliver of peace of mind until next week. Worst case scenario, it’ll keep you alive for another few days. Over time, every bit adds up.

2.  Store water, too

All the food on an Army base will do you little good without adequate water.

Remember the survival Rule Of Threes: you can survive three weeks without food but only three days without water (three hours without shelter, three minutes without air).

Don’t count on canned food for more than a tiny amount of water. There’s not much in there and most of it is swimming with salt or sugar.

In addition to storing water, it’s essential to have at least two ways to collect and purify more for replenishment. The internet and your local library abound with advice on both replenishment and conservation.

3.  Store what you use and use what you store

We’ve all heard this, but what does it really mean? A couple years ago, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons or LDS), the original food storage experts, reiterated the call to start with three months of ordinary foods your family eats every day while building up basic staples like wheat and dry milk.

Some people had a rude awakening when they realized just how many Spaghettio’s and chicken nuggets they were eating. Convenience foods are also more expensive and typically occupy much more space than staples. Which leads to…

4.  Eat and cook real food

Not food-like substances. It’s cheaper to eat the real thing, it keeps longer, is healthier and far more versatile! A can of chili is a can of chili. But a can or bag of kidney beans opens up a whole world of possibilities and doesn’t contain a nutritionally criminal amount of salt.

You can pay the grocer or the doctor when a poor diet gets the best of you, and the grocer is cheaper. The cry of the last 20 years that healthy food is more expensive than chemical and additive laden convenience food is total codswollop, and there are whole books and websites devoted to it. If you haven’t read Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, it takes less than an hour but the benefits last a lifetime.

5.  Don’t buy a years’ worth of one thing at a time

Buying basics in bulk is economical and absolutely should be part of your plan, but what happens when all of one item expires or goes stale at the same time? If you spread out your buying, then you spread out your expiration dates, particularly with basic staples. In an actual disaster, how would your family fare if you’ve got 100lbs of wheat, 100lbs of rice, 50lbs of powdered milk – and nothing else – to actually live on?

6.  Condiments will save you

Extracts, herbs, and sauces spice up a bland diet, and a years’ worth of cinnamon only costs about $6!

Since the goal is to cook real food, picture this: you’re making pasta sauce from jarred tomatoes, olive oil, and onions from your root cellar but…no oregano, rosemary, or bay leaf. That’s not going to make much of an impression with your loved ones.

I talked to someone a few years ago who was living on their food storage due to prolonged job loss. One day she realized that she had a vast array of baking ingredients but no vanilla. Or any other extracts.

Every family is different, but for most families the most versatile ones to start with will be ketchup, soy sauce, and something spicy like chili powder. They’re good for something else,too…

7.  Have a few convenience/luxury foods for barter and illness

As has been asked here on The Survival Mom, what if you were sick, injured(or worse) and your 9 year old was suddenly in charge of feeding the family? They need the temporary option of popping open a can and sticking a spoon in it.

Now imagine a prolonged disaster. Power has been out for over a week, propane and gasoline are gone, or nearly so. People are cooking basic staples and wild game in fireplaces and back yard pits either in their homes or in evac shelters.

Under those conditions, what do you think would be the new value of a $2 box of water-only pancake mix? How about “luxury” items like chopped clams or chocolate chips? I just bought 14 cans of chopped clams because I had a rain check that got me extra gas points.

8.  Replenishment is the 8th commandment of food storage

What if the emergency went on for years? It doesn’t have to be Zombie Apocalypse. It happens in war all the time.

What if your preps were stolen? How do you get more food? Sharing and barter are helpful, but it’s folly to count on them.

That leaves three choices: foraging, hunting/fishing, and gardening. Do you know how to find and identify wild edibles? Do you have even rudimentary fishing/hunting equipment and knowledge? It’s harder than it looks.

Store heirloom, non-hybrid, non-gmo seeds and learn how to grow them! Remember to include grains, beans, herbs, and even fruits, if you can. Protect them from moisture, heat, light and oxygen in that order. A brown paper lined canning jar in the fridge or freezer does nicely. If you buy a ready made “vault”, make sure it is from a seed company and not a food supplier.

9.  Store the rainbow

My parents used to say that God color-coded the plant world for a reason: eat all the colors and you’ll be healthy. We laughed and thought they were hayseeds. Who’s laughing now? There are different protective chemicals attached to each color and you don’t want to miss any. In both food and seeds, make sure to have multiple sources of all colors plus some vitamin tablets, just to be safe.

10.  Multiple layers of storage

Simply put, have some dry, some canned, some freeze dried, some frozen, etc. When the fridge is gone, there’s dry. If you can’t cook at all, there’s canned, etc. Just make sure you have a good can opener for the canned goods.

11. Store multi-use items

Your food storage can include medicine, hygiene items, and household cleaners. Vinegar, baking soda, coconut oil, lemon juice, peppermint, and ginger, among others, serve myriad purposes besides cooking and baking. That’ll save space, money, and toxic chemicals.

12. FIFO and Par

Those aren’t Norse gods. They’re restaurant concepts. FIFO means “first in, first out.” Write the date you buy it or the use-by date ( whichever works for you) on items and rotate them so the oldest is used first. This also helps you track how much you really use of an item.

Par is the amount you’ve decided to keep in stock. When do you buy/make more? At half-par. Let’s say you’ve decided to keep 40 lbs sugar around. You buy more at 20 lbs. Going lower is a good way to invite disaster. Kind of like the way washing your car causes it to rain.

13. Dishes

What are you going to eat all this food on? Traditional dishes and dish washing eats up a lot of precious water and space. Buy some multifunctional dishes like shallow bowl/plates, pie tins, sporks, and metal cups that can go on a fire. Dishes can be wiped with a damp cloth and sanitized with alcohol or witch hazel. Cast iron pans and can go right onto coals and should never be subjected to soap. Sturdy paper plates can be used several times and then composted or used for tinder.

14. Location, location, location

This means store your supplies in more than one location. There’s potentially some loss at any one location due to water, natural disasters, mice, or whatever. The rest is safe.

One of the biggest threats is theft. Unless we’re talking about a total Road Warrior scenario, marauders tend to hit and run quickly. If there’s stuff in every room, under the beds, behind the books, in the suspended ceilings and so forth, they’ll never find it all. Which brings us last, but certainly not least to…

15. OpSec

Operational Security. If you ever watch “Doomsday Preppers” and similar shows, the people sometimes get their score and cryptically comment that they didn’t show the cameras everything. And they often use the phrase “undisclosed location.”

Then there are other people whose house is easily located by their identities. They then show you where the guns are, where 90% of their food is, and even the “secret” escape hatch in the garage floor.

Which of those approaches sounds least likely to get your carefully collected preps stolen? Also, when others don’t know exactly what you’ve got then they also don’t know what you AIN’T got, which is equally important. I don’t just mean guns and dogs. Say it comes down to barter time and someone knows you’re out of something vital like medicine or fuel. They’ve got you over a rather large barrel, haven’t they?

Everyone has to eat, so food is the most obvious place to start getting prepared. Just remember the goal. This is not panic fodder. It’s panic prevention.

I was a child when the Blizzard of ’78 hit New England in the days before Doppler radar and we had no idea how bad it was going to be. People were housebound or stranded all over. Stores ran out of supplies in hours. People were unprepared and all my friends’ parents were pretty scared.

My parents hardly raised an eyebrow because they were Upstate New York farm kids. We always had several months’ food in the house and I had no idea that other people shopped week to week. I had trouble wrapping my mind around causing so much anxiety and danger when it’s so easily avoided. I still do.

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Step-by-Step with The Survival Mom: Lesson 2, Define your disaster & Set priorities http://thesurvivalmom.com/step-step-survival-mom-lesson-2-define-diaster-set-priorities/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/step-step-survival-mom-lesson-2-define-diaster-set-priorities/#comments Wed, 02 Oct 2013 21:26:47 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=12507 Click HERE to download the complete lesson and study sheet. As a mom, it’s sometimes hard to set priorities. Is it more important to get dinner ready, put the laundry in the dryer before it molds, stop the kids from Read More

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Click HERE to download the complete lesson and study sheet.

The_Survival_Mom_1As a mom, it’s sometimes hard to set priorities. Is it more important to get dinner ready, put the laundry in the dryer before it molds, stop the kids from fighting, or listen to my husband telling me about his day?

Not even Calgon can take me away from days like this!

I get the same feeling at times when I start thinking about preparedness. There are emergency kits to pack and maintain, food to store (and make sure it’s in a cool, dark, dry place), security issues to worry about, and so much more.

It’s a good thing that Survival Moms are more than capable and can leap over screaming toddlers in a single bound.

Today’s lesson is all about defining what we should be prepared for and then setting priorities. These 2 steps, along with taking action, will ease any panic and make Calgon baths a luxury, not a necessity!

Define your disaster

When we first begin thinking of planning for a disaster, we may feel reassured since these aren’t events that happen every day. Depending on where you live, you might even feel insulated against hurricanes, earthquakes, or tornadoes. Those things happen to other people, right?

Well, in today’s world, there are other concerns to prepare for, events that touch us all, no matter where we live. In the words of our own government, there are “man-made disasters” that include terrorist attacks, power grid failures, environmental disasters, wildfires, nuclear events, wars, riots…

Still feeling insulated?

Add to that pretty impressive list of man-made disasters are a variety of personal crises, everything from a cancer scare to divorce, and it becomes even more necessary to define exactly what to prepare for.

In fact, random preparedness, going in all directions at once, can actually do more harm than good because it may provide a sense of security without any actual, real security!

To get started defining the first disasters you should prepare for, read pp. 6-13 in your textbook (Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios).

You’ll be listing the disasters that are most likely to affect you on the chart in the downloadable study sheet. This activity will provide a visual of your own reality and might even be a comfort to you when you realize how many things you don’t have to worry about!

Before completing this lesson’s study sheet, be thinking about:

  • The top natural disasters that might affect you, depending on where you live and spend most of your time.
  • The top man-made disasters that are most likely to occur in your area
  • The top extreme weather events to prepare for
  • The most likely personal disasters/crises that would affect you and your loved ones

Peace of mind

Years ago when I ran a home-based business, it seemed as though I always had a dark cloud hanging over me with all the many things I had to do or had forgotten to do. The cloud contained my guilt, my failures, worries about all kinds of things and I never felt free to enjoy life.

I hated that cloud.

If you’ve felt like a black cloud has been hovering over your head filled with fears for the future, scary headlines from the news, and all of the prepper things you’ve been meaning to do, the step of simply defining what you need to really prepare for will make that cloud a little smaller and give you more peace.

As part of this lesson’s assignments, you’ll be identifying only the top 4 disasters that are most likely and imminent in your particular circumstances.

Four big, scary events may still seem daunting, but what if you reviewed the list and selected just one for your primary focus? You may not have the time or resources to prepare for a job loss, tornado, EMP, and a winter blizzard all at once, but certainly you can prepare for one of these!

Remember, this curriculum is called “Step-by-Step…” not “Your family is going to DIE because you didn’t prepare!!”

Of the 4 events you have identified, only one will be your Top Priority Emergency. This will be your first, primary focus.

Dark storm cloud, gone. Poof!

Setting priorities

Once you’ve determined your Top Priority Emergency, you’ll need to tackle it in a smart way.

All too many new preppers immediately rush to buy an expensive water purifier or a truckload of “survival” food. Before you go crazy with that Visa card, let’s establish the most important areas, regardless of the event:

  • Water
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Security
  • Special needs unique to your family

(Shelter, security, and special needs will be included in Lesson 3.)

Water

Water storage sounded so silly to me at first until I heard about an outbreak of meningitis in a town not far from me. Two young children died from the bacteria in their drinking water. I was so grateful for the 50 large water bottles I had stored under various beds throughout the house!

For details on how to store water and different ways to purify it, read pp. 21-28 and complete the Family Preparedness Plan worksheet on p. 34, if you haven’t already done so.

By the way, if a job loss or reduction in hours is a major concern, you may want to pay a bit extra on your water bill each month, just in case. The City will come out to turn off your water if a bill remains unpaid, but a nice credit on your account can help avoid that.

Food

I spent 2 chapters and almost 70 pages in my book devoted just to food storage. If you want to get the full dose of this information, read Chapters 4 and 5.

Otherwise, I want you to start your emergency food storage by focusing on foods that are shelf stable, meaning they can be stored at room temperature, and can be prepared and eaten without any cooking, if necessary.

No one ever died from eating cold ravioli. That I know of.

A list of these Handy, No-Cook Foods can be found on p. 71 or at this link.

Organize your emergency food by meals (breakfast foods all together in one bin, lunch foods all together, and so on) or in containers with enough food for each day. Example: a small bin contains all the food for one day, breakfast (oatmeal energy bars, fruit cups), lunch (cans of juice, cracker/cheese packets, jerky, and cookies), and dinner (canned beef stew, pilot bread, pudding cups, and vodka).

This lesson’s assignment is to collect at least 2 weeks worth of these foods. Write out a daily menu for 14 days using the foods you have stored and still need to buy. You’ll find a form for your daily menu in this lesson’s study sheet.

Store this emergency food in a location that is easily accessed but won’t be so available that the kids will be sneaking into it whenever they’re hungry for a snack! The food should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry place. Yes, storage conditions are important and can greatly increase, or decrease, the shelf life of your food.

Read pp. 100-108 for more details about proper storage conditions.

A word about organizing supplies

I don’t know about you, but in a severe crisis, the first thing to go is my brain. When the adrenaline is pumping through our veins and we’re faced with something sudden and scary, we very often find it hard to make rational decisions and might easily forget where certain things or stored or even our home address.

Even if you are organizationally challenged, take some extra time to categorize and label emergency supplies.

For your containers of stored food include a list of what they contain and a menu. Don’t assume that you’ll be thinking clearly when the tornado siren sounds.

Organizing now means even more peace of mind later.

Moving forward

After you’ve completed this lesson and its activities, you will have identified your Top Emergency Priority, along with 3 other likely emergencies, and will have stored enough water and food to last you and your family for at least 2 weeks.

In Lesson 3, we’ll focus on making your home disaster-proof, security steps you can put into place, and any special needs considerations.

Click HERE to download the Lesson 2 Study Guide and worksheet.

 

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