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.


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?



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.



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.


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?


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?


goal 2(f) - three-month supply

Our current goal is gathering our Three-Month Supply.

Making a shopping list for your lunch menu.

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.


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.


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!"


goal 2(e) - three-month supply

Our current goal is gathering our Three-Month Supply.

Create a lunch menu.

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
Sugar - 8 cups (4 lbs)
1 – 25 lbs. bucket of sugar
Salt - 1 container
Oil - 8 cups (2 quarts)
DONE! (could be rotated)
Yeast - 47 tablespoons
2 packages of yeast
Peanut Butter (10 pounds)
26, 40, 48, 64 ounces =178 ounces
Jelly – (5 lbs.)
3 – 2 lb jars
Honey - (2 small containers)
Canned Chicken (34 cans)
4 cans
NEED 30 cans
Mayonnaise (60 ounces)
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
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
Dried Apples/Fresh fruit
Drink Mix (1 can)

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


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.


goal 2(d) - three-month supply

Our current goal is gathering our Three-Month Supply.

Shop for items on your breakfast menu.

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
Beans & Rice
Mandarin oranges
Apple sauce
Green beans
Juice mix