12.29.2008

setting home-storage priorities

I noticed in the article, New Year, New Progress, that I posted last week, that under longer-term supply it states,

"If you have succeeded in gathering a three-month supply, increase your home storage to meet longer-term needs based on your individual circumstances."

This is not the first time that I've read something from the church that suggests that the three-month supply, drinking water, and financial reserve take priority over longer-term storage. At providentliving.org, under the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), it states the following,

"Where do I start? -- Start by adding a few storable items that you typically eat, storing some water that is safe to drink, and saving some money, if only a few coins each week. Then over time, expand these initial efforts—as individual circumstances allow and where permitted—by storing a longer-term supply of basics such as grains, beans, and other staples."
And another quote from the FAQ page:

"Church members are encouraged to prepare for adversity by building a basic supply of food, water, money, and, over time, longer-term supply items."

Longer-term storage is an important component of the Church's program. I'm not suggesting that it be ignored or down-played. However, if you are just starting out, these quotes make it pretty clear to begin with the other three categories of home storage (three-month supply, drinking water, and a financial reserve). If you are a beginner, I would make those three categories your priority. You can worry about storing grains and beans once you get these other other three categories well on their way and you're ready to move on to your longer-term supply.

You may notice that I often discuss advanced/expert home-storage topics, and at some point I'll set up some blog goals that deal with gathering a long-term supply. Please don't feel overwhelmed or confused by these posts. My primary objective in writing this blog is to help you get started. But each of us is at a different place in the journey. Hopefully the posts here can help you regardless of where you are in your home storage.

This is also from the FAQs at Provident Living:

Get started! If you have already begun, faithfully continue your efforts. As President Hinckley taught: “We can begin ever so modestly. We can begin with one week’s food supply and gradually build it to a month and then to three months. I am speaking now of food to cover basic needs. As all of you recognize, this counsel is not new. But I fear that so many feel that a long-term food supply is so far beyond their reach that they make no effort at all. Begin in a small way, my brethren, and gradually build toward a reasonable objective” (In Conference Report, Oct. 2002, 65; or Ensign, Nov. 2002, 58).

12.25.2008

Merry Christmas!

What a wonderful gift Heavenly Father sent to us in the birth of His son Jesus Christ which we celebrate at this time of the year. I know that Jesus Christ lived and died for me and for you.

Merry Christmas!

12.23.2008

everyday security

Often, when people talk about preparedness and home storage, they often also talk about catastrophic events. But preparedness is just as much about giving us security in every day situations such as job loss, loss of electricity, or winter storms. Sometimes these events are unexpected, but often they are not.

Grocery stores don't generally keep much merchandise in stock. Often before a predicted storm, an upcoming holiday, or just on a Saturday evening, I've seen the shelves at our local stores become severely depleted. In extreme situations, such as a predicted hurricane, those supplies completely vanish.

This extreme weather bulletin was posted this weekend for the Seattle area:

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN SEATTLE HAS ISSUED A HIGH WIND WATCH...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM SATURDAY MORNING THROUGH SUNDAY AFTERNOON.

A MAJOR AND POTENTIALLY DESTRUCTIVE EAST WIND EVENT SHOULD DEVELOP FROM THE CASCADES INTO THE FOOTHILLS AND THE EAST PUGET SOUND LOWLANDS ON SATURDAY AFTERNOON. THIS EVENT SHOULD THEN CONTINUE THROUGH THE DAY ON SUNDAY.

DURING THIS EVENT...SUSTAINED WINDS COULD REACH 50 TO 70 MPH WITH PEAK GUSTS OF 70 TO 90 MPH. IN THE LOWLANDS...THE STRONGEST WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO IMPACT COMMUNITIES IN EASTERN KING COUNTY SUCH HAS NORTH BEND...MAPLE VALLEY AND ENUMCLAW. HOWEVER...STRONG WINDS WILL EXTEND ALL THE WAY WEST TO NEAR LAKE WASHINGTON AND THE HIGHWAY 167 CORRIDOR.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

NOW IS THE TIME TO PREPARE FOR THIS POTENTIALLY DESTRUCTIVE WIND EVENT. TAKE THE TIME ON FRIDAY TO PREPARE FOR THE EVENTUALITY OF FALLING TREES...WHICH COULD BLOCK HIGHWAYS...AND PROLONGED POWER OUTAGES. BE SURE TO HAVE A FULL TANK OF GAS IN YOUR CAR AND ENOUGH FOOD ON HAND TO FEED YOUR HOUSEHOLD FOR SEVERAL DAYS. CONSIDER SAFE WAYS TO KEEP YOUR FAMILY WARM IF THE POWER GOES OUT WHILE OUTDOOR TEMPERATURES REMAIN BELOW FREEZING. WIND CHILL VALUES DURING THIS EVENT WILL BE NEAR ZERO IN THE LOWLANDS AND ABOUT 25 BELOW ZERO NEAR THE MAJOR MOUNTAIN PASSES.

I love the precautionary/preparedness suggestions that are part of this warning. However, if everyone were to respond to the suggested actions, would there be enough food for everyone to weather the storm? Maybe not. It's a good idea to have a three-month supply on hand for everyday - even expected - situations and circumstances .

12.22.2008

New Year, New Progress

I got my January ENSIGN this past week. I love the article on home storage found in the Random Sampler section of the magazine. I've already written a post on setting goals for the new year that is slated to appear after Christmas. But this article has so many good ideas that I want to include it now.


New Year, New Progress

When it comes to implementing a successful home storage program, the most important step is to start. With the beginning of a new year, now is the perfect time for individuals and families to review the First Presidency's guidelines on home storage in the pamphlet All Is Safely Gathered In. The First Presidency encourages all Church members to gradually establish a three-month supply of food, store drinking water, set aside a financial reserve, and when possible, eventually increase home storage to a longer-term supply.

By following these simple guidelines, Church members can prayerfully consider their circumstances and set one goal to begin or continue their own home storage program. As we prepare ourselves and our families for trials and adversity, we will receive temporal security and be able to "provide for our needs as we walk in faith and obedience." 1 Here are a few ideas that you and your family can begin in 2009.

Three-Month Supply
*Consider your normal daily diet and make a list of foods that you can purchase, store and rotate.
*Choose a few items on your regular shopping list every week to add to your home storage, and purchase double amounts of those items and finances allow.

Drinking Water
*Begin to save and clean durable bottles that have been used for soda or juice. Rather than purchasing new bottles, save he clean and sanitized bottles and use them for water storage.
*Purchase a few water bottles every week to add to your home storage water supply. Be sure to rotate your water supply regularly.

Financial Reserve
*Add a certain amount of your income to your financial reserve each month. Set the money aside immediately after paying your tithes and offerings.
*Create a budget based on your spending last month. After looking at your spending habits, consider limiting the money you use on nonessential items and adding it to your financial reserve instead.

Longer-Term Supply
*If you have succeeded in gathering a three-month supply, increase your home storage to meet longer-term needs based on your individual circumstances.
*Learn how to properly package and store longer-term food storage items, such as wheat, white rice, and beans.

1 - All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage (pamphlet, 2007)


(January Ensign, page 68-69) - bolding added

12.19.2008

dehydrators

Are you still struggling to decide on a Christmas gift for someone? A dehydrator could be a fun gift. I don't suspect that dehydrators are in high demand right now, so you still might be able to pick one up at your local store. Dehydrators can be a resource to help you become more self-reliant and can help add items to your three-month supply.

I personally own a Nesco Snackmaster dehydrator. My husband got it for about $45 from our local Wal-Mart and gave it to me for Mother's Day. It was on my wish list. I really like my dehydrator. It came with 5 trays and I can expand it up to 12 trays. I can also add fruit roll trays, which I use all the time. It takes less than a day to dehydrate the fruit roll-ups. The dehydrator does warm up my kitchen, but it also make our home smell delicious.

There are a lot of different dehydrators available - just search for "dehydrator" at Amazon.com. Before you choose one, I would recommend reading the reviews.


12.17.2008

dehydrating foods at home

Dehydrated (or dried) foods are different than the freeze-dried foods that I discussed in last week's post. They tend to have a firmer texture and exhibit more natural browining than freeze-dried foods. Dried foods store well, are easy to use and would be a great addition to any three-month supply. You can buy dried/dehydrated foods at the local grocery store.

The biggest advantage of dehydrated foods is that you can also dry and preserve your own foods at home. You can store many of your own garden herbs, vegetables and fruits this way. You can also purchase cheap seasonal produce and dry it at home. You don’t have to have a dehydrator to dry your foods. It can be an easy (fuel-less) method of food preservation and you can dehydrate almost anything – fruits, vegetables and meat (jerky)! You can make fruit leather, fruit chunks, banana chips, dried onions, tomato powder, sun-dried tomatoes, dried veggies, etc.

Basic Instructions
Cut parchment or freezer-wrap paper (glossy side up) into the shapes of your cookie sheets or Pyrex cake pans (do not use plastic wrap or waxed paper – they will melt and stick). For fruit leather, cut the paper to overlap up the sides of the pan. It's helpful if you lightly spray (and wipe to spread) a little vegetable oil spray to coat the paper. The dried food doesn't store as long, though, if you use oil. [In a pinch, when I didn't have any paper to line my trays with, I've used vegetable spray directly on the cookie sheet. The leather didn't peel off neatly, though.]

Thinly slice fruit or vegetables or puree for leather (recipe below). Place slices or fruit puree onto the trays and place in your car, oven, or in the sun (see below for instructions).

Easy Fruit Roll-Ups
Blend any combination of fruit in blender.

Optional:
berries (for color)
applesauce (for sweetness or to extend your fruit)
lemon juice (to keep fruit from browning)
honey (to balance the tartness of the lemon juice or to add sweetness)

Pour into pan (at least ¼ inch thick). You want it to be thicker than you think! Wrap finished fruit leather in plastic wrap. Store in a dark, cool place. (Mine never makes it to storage – my family loves it!)

Car Drying (my favorite)
My husband thought I was crazy the first time that I did this – but he’s a believer now. He laughed as I made apricot fruit leather and carried the trays out to place in the back of our old yellow Toyota Celica. He laughed until I carried beautiful trays of perfectly dried apricot leather into our house the next day. I remember my Mom doing this in our old brown Subaru.

It MUST be a completely sunny, warm day to do this (85 or above). If it is overcast at all, it won’t work. Move your car out into a sunny place on your driveway or in the street. If your car has tinted windows, then make sure you put the trays in the front seats. The trays do not have to be in the sun. Leave your windows up and leave the trays alone. I've even driven around town with trays in the back. Your car will smell wonderful! It can take up to 2 days for items to dry. If after 2 days, items are not done, then move to oven method to “finish.” This method doesn't work in very humid climates.

Sun Drying
On a dry, sunny day (at least 85 degrees), place thin slices onto trays and cover with cheesecloth (to keep the bugs off). Place in a sunny place (like on a porch). This method doesn't work in high humidity.

Oven Drying
Set your oven on the lowest temperature. The ideal temperature is 130 to 150 – any higher will cook it more than dehydrate it. Open your oven door slightly. Place oven-safe trays inside oven and check regularly. Oven drying can take many hours. Several times I've had to turn my oven off while I go to bed and turn it back on the next morning. I use this method to “finish” dehydrating if weather turns overcast with above methods.

Dehydrator
Mine cost about $45 and came with 4 trays. I have added trays and have purchased “fruit roll trays” because we use them so much. Instructions are included. This is an easy method – but has more upfront cost.

12.15.2008

alarms

I enjoyed reading Gary's post this morning over at Perpetual Preparedness titled "Do you know the sound of your alarms?" Unfortunately, we've learned the importance of recognizing our alarm sounds first hand.

After enjoying an evening out, we returned home to our children (our oldest was babysitting) and a high-pitched, ear-piercing sound. The boys immediately explained that something must be wrong with our television. As I moved through the room, however, I quickly discerned that the sound was actually coming from somewhere else. Using my ears as a guide I turned down our main hallway towards the bedrooms. I realized what the alarm was as I stepped in several inches of water. It was our basement water-heater alarm!

After one of our boys had used that toilet, the valve had not shut off, the toilet overflowed, and we figure it had been overflowing for as much as an hour. We had two to three inches of water in two bedrooms, three closets, the hallway, the bathroom, and it had seeped through an air vent into the basement and into our main heater/air conditioning unit. Needless to say, it was a long night and several days of extracting water from our home. Now we all know exactly what that water-heater alarm sounds like! And we won't miss it again.

By the way, a water alarm is just a small box that you set on the floor. I purchased it for about $10 at Home Depot after our parent's water heater failed and flooded their basement. I place the water alarm on the floor next to our water heater. If there is ever water on the floor, the water makes the connection between the two terminals and sounds an alarm. These alarms also work great in bathrooms where kids regularly overflow toilets. :o)

Thanks for the important reminder, Gary. Some alarms that you might want to sample for your family: fire, carbon monoxide, water, security system, and/or window & door alarms.

12.11.2008

freeze-dried foods

Many nights after I've gotten ready for bed and while I wait for my husband, I'll change the channel from our local news to my favorite tv show - Unwrapped. If you've never seen it, then you're missing out! As a kid I lived for the "how-do-they-make-it" segments on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Unwrapped is basically 30 minutes of those Mister Rogers' segments. I love it.

Well about a week ago, they did a feature on freeze-dried strawberries. This link, though not from the show Unwrapped, is basically the same presentation:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/videos/spaceage-strawberries/24384.html

Interesting, huh? I've always wanted to know how freeze-drying works.

Freeze dried foods are a great alternative food source for your three-month supply. And they don't just freeze-dry fruits, but also vegetables, meats, dairy, soups, and complete meals. These foods never require refrigeration, store well, can be eaten right out of the package (though they don't always taste good that way), and can be easily used in recipes or reconstituted. They are available in Mylar pouches, small cans, and large #10 cans. The only downside? They do tend to be more expensive.

Freeze-dried foods have a more light, porous and crisp texture than similar dehydrated/dried foods. I have personally used freeze-dried fruits, soups and meals with success. I have to be careful about opening packages of freeze-dried fruits, because my family loves them and they disappear quickly. I also have to be careful about keeping a lid on them (or sealing the package) because freeze-dried products absorb any liquid present in the air and quickly become mushy.

I haven't noticed much difference in brands -- just cost. Here are some places that sell freeze-dried foods (comparison price is for a #10 can of sliced strawberries):

Honeyville Grain - $16.99* (smaller cans also available)
Emergency Essentials - $22.95* (Mountain Home pouches also available)
Shelf Reliance - $22.69* (can't tell if these are sliced or whole)

These are all companies with whom I've had personal experience and can recommend. I'm sure there are many others. I've also seen freeze-dried foods/meals in my local grocery and camping stores.

(*I have not included shipping costs.)

12.09.2008

bottled butter

Have you heard about bottling your own butter? I did only recently and was intrigued. Who wouldn't want butter in their food storage?

As I did research on the internet, I discovered that for some bottled butter is a very controversial topic. I know that many of us (me included) bottle foods a certain way because that's the way we were taught by our mothers and grandmothers (and "no one has ever died"). I felt like it was important, though, for you to be aware of some possible dangers and then armed with the facts, you can decide how you'll proceed.


Jana Darrington, family consumer science agent for Utah State University extension stated, "When canned at home, items like butter and breads can provide fertile grounds for the paralytic illness botulism. We're just in the beginning stages of researching and trying to develop a safe method. Commercial enterprises have certain equipment and an ability to process that we can't do in our own kitchen. . . We don't know if there is any safe method for canning butter at home at this point."

I rely on extension services for a lot of my information on storage and canning. I'm excited about the possibilities of extension services developing and recommending a method for canning our own butter. But it sounds like we'll need to be patient and proceed with caution.

These articles suggest that you are currently better off buying commercially canned butter. I've seen this product at my local grocery store recently. You can also purchase powdered butter in #10 cans at food storage stores. I have actually stored a little bit of both, but haven't tried either product. Let me know if you've tasted commercially canned butter or powdered butter and can comment on the taste!

12.05.2008

three-month supply goal

Have you completed your breakfast and lunch menus yet? Have you purchased the items on your shopping lists? [Let me know by responding to the poll on the right.] I have finished my breakfast menu shopping, but haven't finished acquiring items for my lunch menu. I'm about 60% done.

December is typically a busy and expensive month. So, in order to not move forward too quickly, and also to not add stress to the holidays, let's just keep working on buying food for our breakfast and lunch menus. Now is a great time to buy any baking items that you've planned for these menus. Muffin mixes, pancake mixes, flour, sugar and many other basic supplies are on sale right now.

12.03.2008

fruit

We encourage you to grow all the food that you feasibly can on your own property. Berry bushes, grapevines, fruit trees—plant them if your climate is right for their growth. (President Spencer W. Kimball)

Gardening doesn't just mean vegetables. Fruits and berries are also great fresh resources for your three-month supply. Almost every climate in the world can support some kind of fruit. Don't have a yard? In many climates you can place potted fruit trees and berry bushes on a porch. You can even grow citrus trees or a pineapple plant indoors!

We currently have a peach tree and an apple tree (with four different apple varieties growing on it). Fruit trees can get huge if you let them, but correct pruning techniques will keep them as small garden trees. I have strawberry and raspberry plants right in my garden. Both, like the fruit trees, require maintenance and pruning to keep them from overtaking the area. Strawberries can make beautiful under-the-tree plants, which will also help contain them. (I have to place a net, weighted down with rocks, over my strawberries each year or the birds get them first.) Fruit trees and berries also work well as ground covers, or bedding plants. We also eventually plan on planting grapes.

Fruits and berries can be bottled, made into jam or syrup, dried, frozen or juiced. Because fruits have a higher acidic content, the shelf life is even better than vegetables. Our combined trees and berries produce fruit from around May until late October or November. Apples store well for several months in a cool area. So, we have fresh fruit for almost seven months of the year (and we're in a fairly cold winter area). If you live in a warm area, you can grow citrus, bananas, pineapple, figs, etc, as well as apples, peaches, and berries all year round. Besides the ongoing pruning, there is not much maintenance - besides picking and there are no seeds to store. And best of all, the trees and bushes are so inexpensive. I think we paid $20 for our peach tree. Our apple tree was $15 at Costco. The raspberries were free (starts from neighbor's gardens).

I think of fruit as a bonus when it comes to our three-month supply. There are so many yummy recipes and ways to use fruit in the meals that I already have planned. It's worth it to find a way to add fruits and berries to your gardens.

12.01.2008

seed shelf-life

After reading Marie's question on the shelf-life of garden seeds, I spent some time trying to find the answer. Many resources disagree on seed storage length. One site said to keep them in your freezer, another suggested that freezing breaks the cell walls. One resource suggested that seeds need oxygen, a different one said that oxygen isn't necessary. It was difficult to separate all the facts from the opinions.

Gardening Tips (specific for the arid south-west) by John Begeman from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Arizona was the most reliable resource that I could find.

"According to Agriculture Science Experts at Penn State University the (seed) shelf life of some popular vegetables are as follows:

Five Years: Cucumber, endive and muskmelon.
Four Years: Cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, pumpkin, radish and squash.
Three Years: Beans, celery, carrot, lettuce, pea, spinach and tomato
Two Years: Beets, and pepper seeds.
One Year: Sweet corn, onion, parsley and parsnips."

These times are based on optimal storage conditions which include keeping seeds cool and dry."


These facts are consistent with my own experience. I've used four year-old pumpkin seeds with success. But like I said in an earlier post, my two or three year-old onion seeds didn't yield a single plant.

I did buy a #10 can of already-packed seeds to add to my long term storage. Sellers of these #10 cans suggest a possible 90% sprout rate after 8 years and 50% after 15 years. Those seeds *might* be viable if I have to use them. They aren't all seeds that I regularly plant (like swiss chard), so it would be a gamble as to whether or not I could get all of them to grow. I'm also not sure that my family would eat a veggie that they aren't used to. I think my regular garden seeds are a better bet. I buy a new set of seeds each year, but actually only use the seeds that I bought last year. If you like this idea and are just starting a garden, just make sure to buy two sets of seeds your first year.

This links to a personal experience that Angela shared about her 9 year-old seeds stored in a #10 can:

11.28.2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm so thankful for so many blessings. I'm thankful for my family, for the Savior, for prayer, and for the peace that comes from being prepared.

When I accomplished my goal of completing a year's food-storage several years ago, I was amazed to find such peace - as if a burden on my shoulders had been lifted. I wish that for all of you. Keep at it! It's worth it.

11.26.2008

home storage christmas gifts

Is there anyone on your Christmas list for whom you have a hard time finding a Christmas gift? Well, home storage gifts can solve all of your problems! It really is rare to find a person that is completely prepared. Here are a few ideas that might solve your gift-giving woes.

*Water Storage Containers ($3 to $80)
*Water barrel wrench and pump ($8 to $15)
*Food storage shelves ($40 to $300)
*Gamma lids ($4 to $8)
*Food storage buckets ($4 to $8)
*Three-month supply meal baskets (Put ingredients for a three-month supply meal into a basket. Add bows and gadgets for fun. This would be easy to do with pasta & sauce or pancakes & syrup. Add a cute card that tells how many servings are included as well as the expected shelf life. Here is an example: In a basket place a package of pancake mix, syrup, powdered milk or cocoa mix, and a jar of fruit.)
*LDS home storage kits ($24 to $44)
*Wheat grinder ($60 to $400)
*Bucket of wheat (around $20)
*Camp stove & propane tank ($50+)
*Canning supplies (bath canner, bottles & lids, or pressure cooker)
*Dehydrator ($40+)
*Fruit trees or bushes (weather dependent)
*Gardening supplies (varies)
*Grill/Dutch oven/Firepit/Woodburning stove etc.
*Generator ($500+)
*Home storage foods (#10 cans, bottles of juice, home bottled preserves, buckets, etc.)
*Water filter
*First aid kits($5+)
*Car safety kits.
*72-hour kits.
*Fire safety ladder.
*Money for financial reserves.


Want to have some fun? Give a lump of coal (i.e. a bag/bucket of charcoal)!

What are your ideas?

11.24.2008

gardens

My family always had a garden. It wasn't until I was around 10 that I understood that they had a garden in part because the prophet had asked them to grow one. President Spencer W. Kimball said, “We encourage you to grow all the food that you feasibly can on your own property. Berry bushes, grapevines, fruit trees—plant them if your climate is right for their growth. Grow vegetables and eat them from your own yard. Even those residing in apartments … can generally grow a little food in pots and planters. Study the best methods of providing your own foods. Make your garden … neat and attractive as well as productive. If there are children in your home, involve them in the process with assigned responsibilities” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 170–71; or Ensign, May 1976, 124).

You can have a garden in any living situation, whether on a farm or living in an apartment. You don't even have to have windows. Terrariums can be used to grow sprouts, herbs or even a tomato plant. You can grow garden plants in your flower beds, in pots on a porch or in gardening boxes. A garden doesn't just produce in the summer. We live in an cold-winter area, yet our garden can be productive almost year round. Don't know where to start? Check out a book from your local library or visit your local extension service online.

Gardens are a wonderful resource for your three-month supply. They can provide your family with fresh, frozen, dried, stored, and/or bottled vegetables and fruits all year round. Like I mentioned in my last post, gardens don't just work out the first time you plant seeds. It takes some practice to understand the ways that plants grow in your area, climate and soil. So don't wait until hard times to think about starting a garden. In fact, now is a great time to plant or plan a garden for your family.

As part of my three-month supply, I store garden seeds. You can buy a #10 can with seeds packed inside, but these don't have a long shelf life. Having fresh seeds is pretty important when it comes to success in a garden. I used old onion seeds this year and didn't get a single onion. I usually buy extra seeds each spring and always have a year's worth of seeds that way. As your skills increase in your garden, you can start learning about hybrid and nonhybrid seeds. Eventually you can learn how to harvest your own seeds and thus perpetuate your garden without ever having to buy any seeds.

11.21.2008

self-reliance

Marie, at Food Storage, A Necessary Adventure, recently wrote about the importance of perpetuation, or the need to gain skills that allow you to replenish your storage supplies from your own resources. Marie is currently learning about storing and using her own pumpkins. I love her thoughts on perpetuation. If you are able to consistently replenish much of your storage with items that you produce and preserve, you become self reliant and the idea of "If you are prepared, you shall not fear" (Doctrine & Covenants 38:30) translates into a whole new level of confidence.

You may recall from a recent post on home storage centers that Kevin Nield, director of bishop's storehouse services for the welfare department of the LDS Church, said "Following the guidelines of the First Presidency is about "the spirit of preparation" and the "idea of being strong and self-reliant . . . " So, in my own words, the purpose of home storage is a lot about self-reliance.

Becoming self-reliant in a way that you can count on, however, definitely takes practice. I think that is the main reason that we've been counseled to grow a garden. As much as you might wish it was different, you can't just pick a spot and grow a successful garden. We've been growing a garden for more than 10 years now and we still have regular failures. It takes practice to grow a garden, to preserve peaches and to gain the skills that allow us to be able to count on more successes than failures.

Initial efforts with home storage, especially for the beginner, are often centered on simply acquiring supplies. That's great! As you acquire food supplies, you are doing exactly what the prophets have asked us to do. I suspect that as you gather your supplies, you will be filled with the "spirit of preparation" and have a desire to be more self-reliant. That's what happened to me. And now I find myself wanting to gain the skills of producing, preserving and personally perpetuating my home storage.

11.19.2008

how do I cook this stuff?

One of my personal concerns as I collect my three-month storage is whether or not I'll have electricity to prepare those meals. A three month supply is an essential resource for many different situations in which I would have electricity. Job loss, trucking strikes, failed crops, financial crisis, or a pandemic are all examples of emergency situations where electricity might still be available. But there are some other emergencies, like inability to make power payments, snow storms, earthquakes, hurricanes, or war, where we might not be able to use our stoves, ovens or microwaves.

So how do I cook this stuff when there is no electricity? I tried to plan my three-month storage with the premise that we won't have power. Many of our planned meals could be prepared without cooking anything. Cold cereal, canned chili, oatmeal packets and refried beans are a few examples. You'd have to eat these items cold, but it wouldn't be terrible. For the rest of the meals a little bit of cooking/warming is still required. I would need a way to cook tortillas, bread, and pancakes. Here are some ideas for cooking when you don't have electricity:

1. Use a gas stove.
I had one of these when we lived back east and I loved it! We were always able to cook when the electricity was out. We had our own propane tank, so there was no problem if gas service went down as well. Obviously, this solution won't work for everyone. Many homes are not piped for gas service. Also, many cities won't allow personal tanks. You're lucky if this is a feasible resource.

2. Use your fireplace.
Often gas supply stays in service even if the electricity is out. You might loose the ability to power your fan, but you will likely be able to run a fire in your gas fireplace. Wood fireplaces are a sure bet for cooking in an emergency.

3. Use your wood stove.
Preparedness would be the main reason that I would consider buying a wood stove. It would be a great resource for both cooking and heat in an emergency.

4. Use your patio grill.
We keep three propane tanks filled for our grill. It's not hard to rotate this fuel because we often grill (even in the snow). A grill side-burner could make cooking some things more efficient, but pretty much you could cook anything using your grill - even bread.

5. Use a charcoal grill.
You can store charcoal in food storage buckets. You can lengthen the storage life of charcoal and increase the convenience of using it by sealing 8 or 9 pieces (equal to about 350 degrees) in food-saver bags and then putting those into your bucket.

6. Use your camp stove.
Some brands of camp stoves can be hooked up to the large propane tanks used for larger grills. We don't own a camp stove, but I'm seriously thinking of asking for one for Christmas. It would make cooking with propane, in some cases, more efficient.

7. Use your patio fireplace.
Do you have a decorative patio fireplace? If you keep even a small supply of wood around, you'd be able to cook foods using this fireplace.

8. Use/create a fire pit.
We'd like to create a fire pit in our backyard. It would make for fun family times, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. In an emergency, it would also be a great resource for cooking. You could use either wood or charcoal. A grill rack could also be added to ease cooking.

Depending upon the severity of the emergency, you could also dig a fire pit in your yard and use it for cooking. You could extract old wood from your house, yard or surrounding areas (green wood would be difficult to burn).

9. Use a dutch oven.
You can make fantastic bread with a dutch oven and a few pieces of charcoal.

10. Create a cardboard-box oven.
I made one of these with the help of our ward food-storage coordinator. A great food storage blog, Safely Gathered In recently posted detailed instructions on how to make one of these. These boxes work a lot like a dutch oven with a few pieces of charcoal.

11. Use fondue pots.
You can use Sterno fuel under a fondue pot to cook almost anything that you usually cook in a sauce pot. This can be used indoors.

What other ideas do you have for cooking without electricity?

11.17.2008

using whole foods

As stated in the Word of Wisdom (Doctrine and Covenants 89), an ideal diet is one filled with fruits, vegetables, and grains. I'm going to refer to these foods as "whole" foods.

My longer-term supply is full of grains and beans, both of which are whole and versatile. Choosing whole items for our three-month supply has been more difficult. I want to plan for meals that store well, but I also have to consider my two year-old that hardly eats anything. So, in several cases, I've opted to store some foods that are less whole (i.e. canned ravioli/chili, cold cereal, commercially canned meats, etc.). These are foods that we eat less regularly now, though we eat often enough to give us some rotation and familiarity. I also wanted to have some meal options that were VERY easy to prepare. For some of my menu items, we could eat them cold and right out of the can/box. I've tried to balance these less-than-whole food selections with some that are more wholesome. Ideally my garden would be full of fruits and vegetables (or my pantry full of these bottled items) to supplement my three-month supply when needed.

How have you balanced the need for whole foods with concerns about convenience, storage life, rotation, and picky eaters?

11.14.2008

goal 2(f) - three-month supply

Our current goal is gathering our Three-Month Supply.

Previously:
Making a shopping list for your lunch menu.

Now:
Start shopping.


You probably haven't finished shopping for items on your breakfast menu yet. No worries! I recommend that you keep your breakfast, lunch (and eventually dinner) menus together and handy. Keep a copy in your purse or car. Then when you see a sale, you can purchase any needed menu items or restock as needed.

11.12.2008

flu pandemic

One potential emergency, for which having a good three-month supply would be invaluable, is a flu pandemic. Health & Human Service Secretary, Michael Leavitt recommended that every person store food in preparation for a possible pandemic.

"When you go to the store and buy three cans of tuna fish, buy a fourth and put it under the bed. When you go to the store to buy some milk, pick up a box of powdered milk, put it under the bed. When you do that for a period of four to six months, you are going to have a couple of weeks of food. And that's what we're talking about." (Preparing for a Pandemic)

That all seems like a lesser version of a three-month supply to me. In fact the church's link (below) discusses sheltering-in-place in a pandemic for up to 12 months. With a three-month supply you would be able to shelter-in-place for the duration of any quarantines.

For additional information in preparing for a pandemic, this link (Pandemic Preparedness Planning) connects to an obscure corner of the Provident Living Website. There they discuss the following pandemic preparedness topics: home and family preparedness, personal hygiene, personal protective equipment, infectious disease cleanup, sheltering in place, social distancing, workplace preparedness, and health care worker preparedness.

The scenario of a pandemic is worth discussing with your family. And having a three-month supply would allow you to stay out of public stores and better protect your family from any infectious disease emergency.

11.10.2008

when in doubt, throw it out!

This morning, a can of sauerkraut sitting in my pantry caught my eye. I confess that I don't know how long I've had that can. It was definitely bulging and not just on one side, but on both sides. So, I threw out the can.

You might find that you have some canned-food as part of your three-month supply. Normally, those canned goods shouldn't cause you any hesitation to use them. Canned foods store well in cool areas for at least several years. The US Department of Agriculture states,

Store canned foods and other shelf-stable products in a cool, dry place. Never put them above the stove, under the sink, in a damp garage or basement, or any place exposed to high or low temperature extremes. Store high-acid foods, such as tomatoes and other fruit, up to 18 months. Low-acid foods, such as meat and vegetables, can be kept 2 to 5 years. While extremely rare, a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum is the worst danger in canned foods. NEVER USE food from containers that show signs of “botulism”: leaking, bulging, rusting, or badly dented cans; cracked jars; jars with loose or bulging lids; canned food with a foul odor; or any container that spurts liquid when opening. DO NOT TASTE THIS FOOD! Even the tiniest amount of botulinum toxin can be deadly.


Here is an alternative link on storing canned foods (University of Minnesota Extension).

My can of sauerkraut did have an expiration date, but it was in some sort of code. The University of Nebraska extension service actually has a site that can help you interpret the coding dates on your cans. You can save yourself from having to look up this information on every can by dating your cans with a permanent marker when you buy them. Recently canned-food makers have done a better job of dating cans in a language that I can understand. I find that I have to mark my cans far less often than I used to (which is probably an indicator that that sauerkraut was older than I had imagined).

You'll likely be storing some canned goods in your three-month supply. So, it's a good idea to know and recognize signs of a can-gone-bad. A phrase comes to mind: "When in doubt, throw it out!"

11.07.2008

goal 2(e) - three-month supply

Our current goal is gathering our Three-Month Supply.

Previously:
Create a lunch menu.

Now:
Making a shopping list for your lunch menu.
[Remember to adapt your menu for three months.]



(Here is how I came up with my own shopping list)

My Lunch Menu:
1 - PB&J or honey Sandwiches (117 servings)
2 - Chicken Sandwiches(117 servings)
3 - Soup (39 servings)/Ravioli (39 servings)/Spaghettios (39 servings)
4 - Pasta & Cheese (87 servings)/Tomato Sauce (30 servings)
Fruit - Mandarin Oranges/Fresh Fruit/Dried Apples (93 meals or 465 servings)
Fresh Veggies
Fruit Drink Mix (93 meals or 465 servings)

Three months = 93 days. I need to feed a family of five for 93 days. That means I need to have 465 lunch servings (93 multiplied by 5). There are four meals on the lunch menu, so I divide the 465 breakfast servings by 4 meals (465 divided by 4). So, I need 117 servings of each lunch menu item. This time things are more complicated (than breakfast) because I'm using some variety in the four-meal rotation. I'm just going to make sure that my serving totals add up to 117 for each meal in the menu.

(This is the hardest step for me. It means I have to go look at recipes and serving sizes as well as do a lot of math. But after you've done it once, you shouldn't have to do it again unless you alter your menu.)

My LUNCH product list
Bread (234 servings) or 47 loaves of bread
Flour/Wheat - 141 cups
Sugar - 8 cups
Salt - 1 container
Oil - 8 cups
Yeast - 47 tablespoons
Peanut Butter (117 servings)
Jelly – (97 servings)
Honey - (20 servings)
Canned Chicken (117 servings)
Mayonnaise (117 servings)
Canned Soup (39 servings)
Canned Ravioli (39 servings)
Canned Spaghettios (39 servings)
Pasta (87 servings)
Spaghetti Noodles (30 servings)
Pasta Sauce (59 servings)
Dried Cheese (59 servings)
Mandarin Oranges (72 cans)
Dried Apples (#10 cans)
Drink Mix (1 can)

My Inventory

Flour/Wheat - 141 cups (35 lbs of flour/wheat)
2 - 25 lb buckets flour/50 lb buckets wheat
DONE!
Sugar - 8 cups (4 lbs)
1 – 25 lbs. bucket of sugar
DONE!
Salt - 1 container
DONE!
Oil - 8 cups (2 quarts)
DONE! (could be rotated)
Yeast - 47 tablespoons
2 packages of yeast
DONE!
Peanut Butter (10 pounds)
26, 40, 48, 64 ounces =178 ounces
DONE!
Jelly – (5 lbs.)
3 – 2 lb jars
DONE!
Honey - (2 small containers)
DONE!
Canned Chicken (34 cans)
4 cans
NEED 30 cans
Mayonnaise (60 ounces)
DONE!
Canned Soup (20 cans)
12 cans
NEED dry soup mix
Canned Ravioli (20 cans)
NEED 20 cans
Canned Spaghettios (20 cans)
8 cans
NEED 12 cans
Pasta (117 servings)
48 servings
DONE!
Pasta Sauce (6 jars)
4 jars
NEED 2 jars
Dried Cheese (59 servings)
NEED #10 can of powdered cheese
Mandarin Oranges (72 cans)
84 cans
DONE!
Dried Apples/Fresh fruit
DONE!
Drink Mix (1 can)
DONE!

My Shopping List
#10 can dried soup mix
20 cans of ravioli
12 cans of spaghettios
2 jars of pasta sauce
#10 can powdered cheese
30 cans of chicken

11.05.2008

rotating long-term storage into your three-month supply

In the All Is Safely Gathered In: Home Storage Pamphlet, underneath the heading, Long-Term Storage it says, "A portion of these items may be rotated in your three-month supply." So what exactly does that mean?

I guess there are several ways that I process that comment. First, we can rotate products in our longer term supply by using a little bit regularly. Even if just one or two of the meals in our three-month supply contain longer-term items, it would allow us to very slowly rotate those longer-term supply products. Second, It would also help us to be familiar with meals made out of longer-term supply. An occasional meal of beans and rice helps to acclimate the kids to the idea of foods that might be foreign to them. Third, it teaches us to cook with our longer-term supply. Though you would probably not go hungry if you had to use your longer-term supply in an emergency, it certainly would be nice to have some knowledge of how to prepare those foods correctly. Some familiarity with the properties of grains and beans would likely help meals to be more palatable.

There are several three-month supply meals where our family uses (or could use) some longer-term supply items. Grains and beans make up the core of the longer-term supply recommendations now. I already have beans and rice on my dinner menu as well as refried beans. I also have bread, tortillas and pancakes on my menus. These are all easy ways to use wheat flour. Oatmeal is one of our three main breakfast meals and a great opportunity to rotate and use a bit of that stored oatmeal. You may want to add a meal or two to your menus that work in products from a grain/bean longer term supply. You might not have any grains or beans stored for your longer-term supply yet. But you can start by storing enough with your three-month supply for even a couple of meals.

There are so many great sites out there with tons of great longer-term supply recipes. Several are listed to the right. I'll do an in-depth post about those recipe sites once we start working on gathering our longer-term supply.

11.03.2008

goal 2(d) - three-month supply

Our current goal is gathering our Three-Month Supply.

Previously:
Shop for items on your breakfast menu.

Now:
Create a lunch menu.
[Determine which meals you regularly have for lunch. Decide which meals are compatible with a storage plan. Include any accompanying foods. Write down your menu.]


My Lunch Menu:
A - PB&J or honey sandwiches
B - Soup - Ravioli - Spaghettios
C - Chicken sandwiches
D - Mac & Cheese//Pasta & Tomato Sauce

Accompanying Foods:
Mandarin Oranges
Fresh Fruit (preserved or dried)
Dried Apples
Garden Veggies (fresh, preserved or dried)
Juice Mix

All of these meals will work fine for three-month storage. The one element that gives me pause are the chicken sandwiches. I really like my chicken salad sandwich to have Mayo or Miracle Whip. I already store both, but once they are opened they need refrigeration. I've thought of several possible solutions. I could buy single servings of mayo (expensive and hard to rotate). I could buy smaller jars (wasteful if there isn't refrigeration available). I could learn how to make my own mayonnaise. However, I think that it requires eggs. I'll look into these problems. In the meantime, I'll store a combination of single serving packets and jars. Garden veggies will work fine for my lunch menus because I plant carrots which can be left in the ground throughout the winter.

The assumption that I'm making for this storage plan is that I cannot get to the store (or the store has run out of supplies). I am assuming that I can cook. Even without electricity, I have access to a fire pit or a grill. I am not relying on refrigeration for any of these meals.

My Sister's Lunch Menu:
(Note: She does not separate lunch and dinner menus)
Chili and rice
Mac & Cheese
Raviolis or Spaghettios
Tuna, turkey & chicken sandwiches
PB& J sandwiches
Soup
Beans & Rice
Spaghetti
Mandarin oranges
Apple sauce
Green beans
Corn
Juice mix

10.31.2008

home storage centers

This article appeared yesterday in the Mormon Times, a subsidiary of Deseret News: Church Works to Meet Increased Canning Demand. (Parenthesis added)

Here is a segment:

Long-term food storage, however, is just one of four directives found in "All is Safely Gathered In," a pamphlet distributed throughout the church last year that outlines the "basics of family home storage." The counsel includes building a three-month supply of "food that is part of your normal, daily diet," storing drinking water and developing a financial reserve in addition to a longer-term supply of food.

Using the home storage center is helpful in meeting one of those directives for those who live in proximity to a facility, but all four must be balanced, Nield said (Kevin Nield, director of bishop's storehouse services for the welfare department of the LDS Church). Long-term storage is also less applicable in areas of the world where such endeavors might not be possible.

"People have more opportunities now than ever before to use the church as a place to help get some reserves, but these kinds of reserves, the three-month (supply) or the water or the money, they don't come from a home storage center," Nield said. "And that's the more immediately accessible element and that's the more worldwide church element.

"Following the guidelines of the First Presidency is about "the spirit of preparation" and the "idea of being strong and self-reliant," Nield said. It's not about fear.

"All is Safely Gathered In" discourages church members from going "to extremes" and incurring debt to establish a food storage. "With careful planning, you can, over time, establish a home storage supply," it reads.


I have a friend who is a manager at a large local grocery store. He said that anytime food storage or signs-of-the-times are mentioned in general conference, there is always a run on food storage products. Individuals will go "to extremes" and fill several carts and put thousands of dollars on their credit cards.

Like Kevin Nield says above, home storage is about preparation and being self-reliant. Fear can drive you to make large, expensive one-time home storage purchases. But when you really understand the purposes of home storage, you're more likely to make gathering your supply and consequently becoming "strong and self-reliant" an ongoing effort.

10.29.2008

advantages of a three-month supply

Who knew that a three-month supply could bless us in many unanticipated ways. I've discovered several advantages that come from having a good three-month supply:

I can cook almost anything!
To add versatility to my three-month supply, I always keep items that I use regularly in cooking on hand. For example, I have two packages of yeast, baking soda, sour cream in my freezer, 1 or 2 cans of water chestnuts, and several cans of green chilies. By having a few extra of everything, I can basically shop from my pantry. If I decide to make honey chicken on a whim, I'll have everything I need. Need a quick batch of cookies? Well, I've got oatmeal and raisins stored for my breakfast menu. Funny thing - my neighbors are always borrowing food from me. Guess why?

We save money.
Because I have a good stock of food supplies on hand, I almost never have to buy items at full price. If you keep a list of your three-month supply items, you can stock up whenever you see a good sale.

I go to the store less.
This not only saves gas and shopping money but also saves time. I already have most ingredients on hand. Rather than running to the store every few days to put together a meal, I only go when I want fresh milk (which works out to be about twice a month). If circumstances demanded it, I could go a lot longer without going to store at all.

We eat better.
Because I have considered and planned for food supplies ahead of time, I am more likely to prepare wholesome meals. Isn't it interesting that the foods that store best are often in their most natural form? Because those are the foods that I typically store, I'm motivated to learn new recipes and techniques for cooking with those whole foods.

We're prepared for emergencies.
This might seem like a "duh" category, but I couldn't leave it out. Because of our food supply, we're better prepared to face many potential problems. Having a good three-month supply would certainly reduce family stress in times of belt-tightening, job loss, economic crisis, natural disasters, pandemics or whatever.

We have peace instead of fear.
There is a scripture that says, "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." (Doctrine & Covenants 38:30) Having a three-month supply, as the prophets have asked us to, gives me confidence and peace which replaces any fears of the future.

What other advantages have you found?

10.27.2008

economic crisis

What does the current economic crisis have to do with home storage? Everything! Families are blessed in myriads of hard times by having their home storage, which includes a financial reserve. We recently saw families in the Houston area that relied upon their home storage during a natural disaster. Many families in our area are using their home storage to survive gaps between jobs. Now, most of us are contemplating rising food prices and reduced income. Having stored food in a situation like this is a sure bet! In inflationary times, money can become worthless, supplies can dwindle, and the prices of food can become outrageous. But your family will not go hungry when your pantry is already full of food.

10.24.2008

buying in bulk

As I shop for items on my three-month supply list, I always find myself with the dilemma of whether or not to buy in bulk. Typically buying in bulk will save money. But you have to be smart about it -- if you don't know comparison prices, you might find yourself unwittingly spending more. It's easy to just assume bulk store prices are lower, when in fact they are similar or even more. With a little searching on the internet, you can usually get an idea of what a good price per ounce/pound is.

I also have to remember to pay attention to the container sizes. It doesn't do me any good to save a bunch of money by buying a gallon of mayonnaise, only to have it go bad before we've used half of it. With mayonnaise, for example, I try to find the best price on the smallest possible container. Some bulk items come in large package sizes, but can be redistributed to make smaller servings and reduce waste. I do this with ground beef and shredded cheese (neither item is on my three-month supply list) that I buy at a bulk store. I just repackage into smaller containers before I put them into my freezer.

If you plan your three-month menu trying not to rely on refrigeration like I am, then you also have to consider how quickly your family will consume the menu items. Some products can sit on a shelf unopened for quite a while, but once they are opened, they need refrigeration. Pasta sauce or canned chili are good examples of this. Both require refrigeration once opened. It would be better for me to buy meal-sized jars of pasta sauce and chili rather than gallon-sized cans.

10.23.2008

powdered milk

Unless you have a cow, powdered milk might be a product on your three-month supply breakfast menus and shopping lists. Yesterday, Gracie (http://urbanprairieliving-gracie.blogspot.com/) asked about powdered milk. So, today I'll write some thoughts on powdered milk.

Recently, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints changed their powdered milk shelf-life estimates. Recent scientific studies showed that powdered milk can be stored for up to 20 years (depending upon storage and packaging conditions as well as the quality of milk). 20 years gives you a long time to rotate through your powdered milk.

There are a lot of different companies that make powdered milk. Most stores even offer in-house brands, though these are usually sold in boxes. I would strongly suggest that you buy powdered milk in #10 cans rather than in cardboard boxes, which are poor containers for storage. If you like a brand that comes in a box, make arrangements to use a canner and transfer the milk into #10 cans.

Some common brand names of powdered milk are Provident Pantry, LDS Cannery (not really a brand name), Morning Moo, Carnation, Country Cream, and Country Milk. The prices vary widely from around $8 to $18 per #10 can. It's important to taste the milk you're storing. Brand preference seems to vary widely. Which milk you prefer will likely depend a lot on the kind of milk you normally drink. To save yourself from buying a lot of milk, only to discover that you hate it, share samples with your neighbors or start by buying only one can (small if possible) of any brand of milk.

I've tasted most of these brands and personally found Country Cream to be most similar to the 1% milk that we drink. Country Cream is more expensive than most powdered milks. I buy it, though, because I know that my kids will drink it. I don't like the cannery milk, but know some that really like it. You're lucky if you fall into that category, because cannery milk is also one of the cheapest powdered milks. If you find that you like Morning Moo, you need to be aware that it is a milk ALTERNATIVE. They've added sugar and partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil (trans-fats) to it as well. I like the taste of Morning Moo, but would hesitate to cook with it.

You can also store evaporated milk or shelf-stable milk to supply your milk. These are both more expensive alternatives.

If your family doesn't normally drink powdered milk, but you want to use it for your three-month supply, you can mix some and add it to your regular milk. You might start with proportions like 1/2 regular milk and 1/2 reconstituted powder milk. If you gradually increase the proportion of powdered milk over time, it may help your family to get used to a different milk taste. Powdered milk can also be added to basic baking recipes like bread, pancakes, oatmeal and sauces. Because of the longer shelf-life and by using powdered milk regularly, you should easily be able to rotate your powdered milk.

10.22.2008

do I wait for a sale?

What a hard question! This is such a personal question. Each of our situations and especially our finances are different. Only you can determine how you should proceed with this question.

Today, I purchased a few extra boxes of cold cereal for my three-month supply breakfast menu. The cereal wasn't on sale. I bought it anyway. I'm eager to complete my three-month supply and have the peace/confidence that comes from know that it's complete. On the other hand, when finances are tight, sales can make getting your storage affordable. You should not go into debt to get your storage! Nor should you buy things faster than you can afford them.

I have a budget for home storage. So, I usually look for sales. But, if I can't find a good price after a month or so, I might purchase my items anyway. I'll only buy a minimum amount. Or, if I have items to buy in a different category that are on sale, I may spend my food storage budget on those things and wait to buy others. Once you get a pretty good basic supply, then you have time to wait for the sales. You'll also figure out pretty quickly when and if certain items go on sale.

10.20.2008

goal 2(c) - three-month supply

Our current goal is gathering our Three-Month Supply.

Previously:
Making a shopping list for your breakfast menu.

Now:
Start shopping.

Unless you have saved the money, this won't be a single shopping trip. When you go to the store, pick up an extra package of pancake mix or an extra box or two of cereal. Remember what President Hinckley said, "We can begin ever so modestly. We can begin with a one week's food supply and gradually build it to a month, and then to three months. Begin in a small way, . . . and gradually build toward a reasonable objective."

10.17.2008

breakfast inventory/shopping list (example)

This is how my inventory/shopping sheets look. I save a word file with this exact list. Then, each time I do inventory, I delete the old inventory, recount and edit what I have and what I need.

Three-Month Supply:

Breakfast Menu:
1 - Oatmeal and juice (155 servings)
2 - Cold Cereal and milk (155 servings)
3 - Pancakes and milk (155 servings)

Breakfast Item List:
A - Oatmeal (5 - 3lb cans of quick oats)
B - Powdered milk - used for all three meals (6 - #10 cans of powdered milk)
C - Salt (1 container of salt)
D - Sugar (2 - 2lb bags of brown sugar)
E - Cinnamon (1 large container of cinnamon)
F - Cold cereal (16 boxes)
G - Pancake mix (2 - 10lb packages of pancake mix)
H - Syrup (4 - 2qt jugs)
I - Juice (31 jars)
J - Fruit (freeze dried, dehydrated, canned to add to oatmeal/pancakes as desired)
K - Water

Inventory
A - Oatmeal (5 - 3lb cans of quick oats)
3 – 3lb cans of quick oats (93 servings)
120 Oatmeal packets (85 servings)
DONE!
B - Powdered milk - used for all three meals (6 - #10 cans of powdered milk)
6+ #10 cans of dry milk
DONE!
C - Salt (1 container of salt)
1+ containers of salt
DONE!
D - Sugar (2 - 2lb bags of brown sugar)
2+ bags of brown sugar
DONE!
E - Cinnamon (1 large container of cinnamon)
DONE!
F - Cold cereal (16 boxes)
3 boxes of cold cereal (all currently opened)
NEED – 16 boxes of cereal
G - Pancake mix (2 - 10lb packages of pancake mix)
2 – 10 & 8 lb packages of pancake mix
Flour and all ingredients to make from scratch
DONE!
H - Syrup (4 - 2qt jugs)
2 – 2qt jugs
NEED – 2 -2qt jugs (would like to also store maple flavoring)
I - Juice (31 jars)
17 jars
NEED – 14 jars/cans of juice
J - Fruit (freeze dried, dehydrated, canned to add to oatmeal/pancakes as desired)
3 packages of raisins
1 #10 can of freeze-dried strawberries
6 #10 packages of dehydrated apples
DONE!

Shopping List
16 boxes of cereal
2 - 2 quart jugs of maple syrup (Costco)
Maple flavoring
14 cans/jar of juice (6 or 9 to be bottled this weekend)

10.16.2008

goal 2(b) - three-month supply

Our current goal is gathering our Three-Month Supply.

Previously:
Create a breakfast menu.

Now:
Making a shopping list for your breakfast menu.
[Remember to adapt your menu for three months.]

I previously created the following full breakfast menu:
1 - Oatmeal and juice
2 - Cold Cereal and milk
3 - Pancakes and milk

Three months = 93 days.
[You can round this number to 100 if it's easier to remember]
I need to feed a family of five for 93 days. That means I need to have 465 breakfast servings (93 multiplied by 5). There are three meals on the breakfast menu, so I divide the 465 breakfast servings by 3 meals (465 divided by 3). So, I need 155 servings of each breakfast menu item.

Want an algebra equation?
f=number of family members,
m=number of meals in your menu,
s=how many servings you need of each meal
(f x 93)/m =s

Here is my resulting shopping list (155 servings each)
A - Oatmeal (5 - 3lb cans of quick oats)
B - Powdered milk - used for all three meals (6 - #10 cans of powdered milk)
C - Salt (1 container of salt)
D - Sugar (2 - 2lb bags of brown sugar)
E - Cinnamon (1 large container of cinnamon)
F - Fruit (freeze dried, dehydrated, canned to add to oatmeal/pancakes as desired)
G - Water (already stored)
H - Cold cereal (16 boxes)
I - Pancake mix (2 - 10lb packages of pancake mix)
J - Syrup (4 - 2qt jugs)
K - Juice (31 jars)

It's a good idea to make a master copy of this list. Not only can you use it for a shopping list, but also as an inventory list (I'll post an example tomorrow).

10.15.2008

more three-month supply alternatives

Sara R at The Pantry Panel commented on the original three-month alternatives post (last Friday) and said that she inventories and plans her three-month supply annually, which allows her to include preserving garden vegetables in her plan. She indicated that she thinks through her three-month supply and longer-term supply simultaneously as an overall one-year's supply.

She wrote, "I made up a master list of ingredients and typed it on the computer. I started out with the ingredients I already had in my storage, and what I wanted to get. I looked at my recipes (we have a family cookbook of our favorite recipes) and added any "storable" ingredient. I also looked at other people's lists got some ideas from them.I guessed how much of each item to store. Sometimes I figured out how many cans of tomato sauce I would use in a week; other times I just guessed how much I would need. If I wasn't sure, I buy more than I think I need. Most items store longer than a year if you don't use it all.

"Once a year I walk around the pantry with my master list (printed from the computer) and count everything. I make a shopping list of the items that need replacing, and I place that in my household notebook. I look for those items over the next few months, trying to get a low price. But some items never go on sale, and eventually I give in and buy them. We aren't on a strict budget and we have a small savings account, so this works. We would have to figure out another method if we needed to be careful about spending even amounts each week."

Thanks for the great thoughts, Sara.

10.14.2008

caution on customization

Yesterday, I posted examples of my (and my sister's) three-month supply breakfast menus. Eventually, I'll also post sample lunch and dinner menus. Feel free to copy, modify, use or whatever. But please make sure that you customize these menus for YOUR FAMILY! Your three-month supply should consist of foods that YOU regularly eat and will consequently rotate. By using someone else's menu, without customizing it for yourself, you may not have food that your family will eat or rotate. This can result in a lot of unnecessary waste and expense.

10.13.2008

goal 2(a) - three-month supply

Our current goal is gathering our Three-Month Supply.

Now:
Create a breakfast menu.
[Determine which meals you regularly have for breakfast. Decide which meals are compatible with a storage plan. Include any accompanying foods. Write down your menu.]

Here is the process that I went through to create our three-month breakfast menu:

Typical breakfasts at our home:
1 - Oatmeal
2 - Cold cereal
3 - Pancakes
4 - Toast and Yogurt
5 - Scrambled eggs
6 - Omelets
7 - Cream-of-Wheat
8 - Muffins

Oatmeal, cold-cereal, pancake mix, bread, cream-of-wheat and muffin-mix are all pretty easy to store. The supplies, however, for eggs and yogurt and harder to store, so I'm going to drop these from the menu. I could choose to still have these items on my menu IF we were willing to eat powdered eggs and keep a constant supply of yogurt starts on hand. [Note: I am choosing to not count on my freezer or fridge as a storage source.] I'm also going to drop cream-of-wheat (since I'm the only one who really eats it), the toast (since I'm not storing yogurt to go with it), and the muffin mix (requires a long cooking time).

So, I narrow my breakfast menu down to:
1 - Oatmeal
2 - Cold cereal
3 - Pancakes

Now, I need to create a full breakfast menu for each of these days.

My Breakfast Menu:
1 - Oatmeal, juice
2 - Cold cereal, juice
3 - Pancakes, milk


Breakfast is pretty easy, in my case, because my family doesn't eat much and doesn't demand much in variety. We have three meals in our breakfast menu. They are all items that we eat very regularly. Rotation will not be hard. I added juice and milk to my menu. My family is okay with drinking powdered milk (it also lasts a long time in storage, so I can take my time using it up). I also store bottled grape juice, which my family likes.

You might have five or seven different meals. Do whatever works for you. Store what you eat! This is extremely individual and there is really no wrong way to do the menu.

Here is my sister's breakfast menu (which ended up being remarkably similar to mine):
1 - cold cereal and powdered milk
2 - pancake mix and syrup
3 - oatmeal
4 - cream of wheat
5 - breakfast bars (this is what her husband normally eats)
Chocolate Milk Mix (to accompany all meals)

10.10.2008

three-month supply alternatives

Choosing how to approach your three-month supply is highly personal. I've waffled back and forth with several methods and have finally settled on the one that I think will work best for our family. But just because it is best for us, doesn't mean that you have to approach things the same way. The sub-goals that I'll be using can be applied to most of the following methods of gathering your three-month supply. Continue to follow along, but feel free to use your own approach. The goals should help you regardless.

Here are some different methods of tracking/collecting a three-month supply:

Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner Menus
Create a menu for breakfast. Buy 93 days worth. Then work on lunch and finish with a dinner menu. (This is the method that I'm using. I'm choosing to use this method because it allows me to work with smaller menus, yet still buy items in bulk.)

One-Week Menu
Create a 7-day menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Work on getting one-week's worth of food. Continue acquiring food in weekly chunks until you have 14 weeks of food.

One-Month Menu
Create a 31-day menu. Multiply by three for three-months worth. Shop sales to acquire your food supply.

Three Month Menu
Figure out your entire menu for three months. Shop for ingredients in bulk.

Breakfast/Dinner Method
Make two separate menus for breakfast and dinner. Double the amount for dinners and count the double towards lunches. This is the method that my sister uses. She doesn't want to keep track of separate menus for lunch and dinner.

Test Method
Live entirely off foods you have in your pantry for one week (or one month). Keep a detailed list of everything you use. Use that list as a weekly/monthly menu and shop accordingly.

What method do you use? Please post your approach and I'll either add it to this page or devote a post to your ideas!

10.09.2008

three-month supply

Our next set of goals will focus on gathering a three-month supply of food.

Here are the new instructions from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage pamphlet):

Three-Month Supply
"Build a small supply of food that is part of your normal, daily diet. One way to do this is to purchase a few extra items each week to build a one-week supply of food. Then you can gradually increase your supply until it is sufficient for three months. These items should be rotated regularly to avoid spoilage."

Under Longer-Term Storage in the same pamphlet it says:
A portion of these items may be rotated in your three-month supply.

I also want to include this quote from President Hinckley which seems to capture the idea of gathering a three-month supply:

"The best place to have some food set aside is within our homes. . . ."We can begin ever so modestly. We can begin with a one week's food supply and gradually build it to a month, and then to three months. . . . I fear that so many feel that a long-term food supply is so far beyond their reach that they make no effort at all."Begin in a small way, . . . and gradually build toward a reasonable objective."16

10.08.2008

more general conference counsel

Here are President Monson's remarks on preparedness from the Priesthood session of General Conference (as reported by The Deseret News):

"With the world facing difficult economic times, Latter-day Saints must increase their efforts to live prudently, avoid debt and prepare to provide for those who are adversely affected, President Thomas S. Monson counseled on Saturday. His remarks came during the evening priesthood session of the 178th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"Many areas of the world have experienced difficult economic times. Businesses have failed, jobs have been lost and investments have been jeopardized," said President Monson. "We must make certain that those for whom we share responsibilities do not go hungry or unclothed or unsheltered." Working together, the priesthood of the church can make "near miracles take place," he said. He repeated long-standing advice that church members be "prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living and avoid excessive or unnecessary debt." The financial affairs of the church are conducted within the same guidelines, he said, "for we are aware that your tithing and other contributions have not come without sacrifice and are sacred funds."

10.07.2008

general conference counsel

Some preparedness gems from General Conference:

"The challenges we face today are in their own way comparable to challenges of the past. The recent economic crisis has caused significant concerns around the world. . . We know from the scriptures, that some trials are for our good and are suited for our own personal development. We also know that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. It is also true that every cloud we see doesn't result in rain. Regardless of the challenges, trials, and hardships we endure, the reassuring doctrine of the atonement wrought by Jesus Christ includes Alma's teaching that the Savior would take upon him our infirmities and succor his people according to their infirmities.

"The scriptures and modern prophets have made it clear that there will be lean years and plentiful years. The lord expects us to be prepared for many of the challenges that come. He proclaims, 'If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.' . . One of the great blessings of the scriptures is that they warn us of challenges that are unexpected but often occur. We would do well to be prepared for them. One form of preparation is to keep the commandments. . . Clearly having the blessings of the spirit, the ministration of the Holy Ghost, is an essential element to truly prosper in the land and to be prepared."
(Elder Quentin L. Cook)


“Newspapers are filled with reports of the current housing crisis. We’ve been encouraged from almost every general conference that I can remember, to not live beyond our means. Our income should determine the housing we can afford, not the neighbor's big house across the street. President Grant once said, "From my earliest recollection from the days of Brigham Young until now, I have listened to men stand in the pulpit urging the people to not run into debt. I believe that the great majority of our troubles today is caused through failure to carry out that counsel." One of the better ways to simplify our lives is to follow the counsel we’ve so often received. Live within our income. Stay out of debt. Save for a rainy day, We should practice and increase the habits of thrift, industry, economy and frugality. Members of well managed families do not pay interest, they earn it.”
(Elder L. Tom Perry)

10.06.2008

water storage summary

How is your water storage coming?
Check in by responding to the poll at the right.

Here is a summary of the water storage goals:

1) Determine which storage containers and storage locations you will use.

2) Begin purchasing or collecting those containers.

3) Fill your containers with water.

Purchase new water containers or save and clean pop bottles. Plan to store enough water for a minimum of 28 gallons per person. Don't store your water directly on cement or in the light. Most people can simply fill their containers with water from the *tap.

*Click on "Water" in the Table of Contents to find additional requirements if your water is not already chlorinated.

Not finished? That's okay. Really, even for those with a good water storage, it is a continual effort. Keep collecting and buying containers. Even a little bit of water storage is a good start. When you're ready to move onto a new goal, just click the Goals link under "Table of Contents" to the right. All of the goals will be posted there.

10.03.2008

fill 'em up!

Failing to fill your water containers is a common mistake with water storage. It doesn't do any good to collect containers only to leave them empty. My parents had a 55-gallon barrel that sat empty in our garage for almost two decades. Just recently, I talked them into filling it up. It isn't hard, it just takes some time. Remember, if your water is already chlorinated when you fill your containers, you don't need to add anything to the water.

Tomorrow is a Saturday. It would be a great day to fill those water containers. You could get it done between conference sessions. Make it a priority. Plan on an hour to fill a family's worth of water.

10.02.2008

pull-tab cans

For years we've used soda cans with pull-tabs on top. Applying the pull-tab concept to all sorts of canned goods is one of the greatest preparedness innovations I've seen lately. I've always needed to store a can opener in at least one of our 72-hour kits (and probably should have had one in every kit). Can openers are heavy, bulky, and awkward even if you found the light-weight version. But, it was necessary to pack them in order to open and eat any ready-to-eat canned foods. Now, I can skip the can opener. I specifically choose only cans with pull-tab tops to store in our 72-hour kits.

10.01.2008

emergency binder

In an emergency, you could potentially be without electricity or internet access. You might not be able to access your computer, your files, this blog, or other resource links. It would be helpful to purchase a binder in which to collect all that great online emergency information.

Choose an unusually colored binder (orange, fluorescent green, or whatever) to help you find it (see it) in an emergency. Purchase a package of tabbed dividers if that helps you organize your binder. As you work on your preparedness, if you see a post or page that contains particularly valuable information, print it out and put it into your binder. You may also want to make duplicate copies and store two binders in different locations.