Has anyone had to live off their preparedness supplies? (Pinching Your Pennies, various authors, February 2009)
ELDER ROBERT D. HALES
"The first building block may be described as provident living. This means joyfully living within our means and preparing for the ups and downs of life so that we can be ready for the rainy-day emergencies when they come into our lives. Provident living means not coveting the things of this world. It means using the resources of the earth wisely and not being wasteful, even in times of plenty. Provident living means avoiding excessive debt and being content with what we have."
"It is important to understand that self-reliance is a means to an end. Our ultimate goal is to become like the Savior, and that goal is enhanced by our unselfish service to others. Our ability to serve is increased or diminished by the level of our self-reliance. As President Marion G. Romney once said: “Food for the hungry cannot come from empty shelves. Money to assist the needy cannot come from an empty purse. Support and understanding cannot come from the emotionally starved. Teaching cannot come from the unlearned. And most important of all, spiritual guidance cannot come from the spiritually weak” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1982, 135; or Ensign, Nov. 1982, 93)."
"As Latter-day prophets have counseled, some of the most important welfare building blocks have to do with preparing for the future. Preparing for the future includes making a spending
and savings plan with our income. . . Preparing for the future also includes obtaining an education or vocational training and finding gainful employment. . . If you are seeking a new job, increase your faith in the Lord’s desire and power to bless you. Also seek counsel from those you trust, and don’t be afraid to network and ask for help in finding a new job. If necessary, change your lifestyle—and possibly your place of residence— to live within your means. Willingly seek additional training and learn new skills, regardless of your age. Maintain your health and stay close to your spouse and children. And, above all, be grateful. Express your gratitude in prayer for all that has been given to you."
"Every year Church members contribute to the digging of wells where there is no other source of drinking water. Consider the benefit of just one of these wells, dug in a remote village. While some might characterize it as a strictly temporal blessing, what are the spiritual blessings to a mother who had previously walked hours to get water and more hours to bring it back to her children? Before the well was dug, what time did she have to teach her children the gospel, to pray with them, and to nurture them in the love of the Lord? What time did she have to study the scriptures herself, ponder them, and receive strength to bear the challenges of her life? By putting their faith into action, Church members helped quench the temporal thirst of her family and also provided a way for them to drink freely of the water of life and never thirst again. By being faithful in living welfare principles, they were able to help dig “a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14)."
JULIE B. BECK
“Self-reliance means using all of our blessings from Heavenly Father to care for ourselves and our families and to find solutions for our own problems.” Each of us has a responsibility to try to avoid problems before they happen and to learn to overcome challenges when they occur."
"How do we become self-reliant? We become self reliant through obtaining sufficient knowledge, education, and literacy; by managing money and resources wisely, being spiritually strong, preparing for emergencies and eventualities; and by having physical health and social and emotional well-being."
As I cut and paste these quotes, I find myself tempted to post everything. The entire talks are worth reading!
*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)
*Fruit trees or bushes (weather dependent)
*Gardening supplies (varies)
*Grill/Dutch oven/Firepit/Woodburning stove etc.
*Home storage foods (#10 cans, bottles of juice, home bottled preserves, buckets, etc.)
*First aid kits($5+)
*Car safety 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?
"From time to time, dubious methods arise for preparing and storing various food items. Current information being circulated about the merits of dipping cheese in wax and placing it in storage for many years can be placed in this category. Consider the science.
• Waxing cheese is a method to minimize mold growth on the surface of cheese. It cannot prevent growth or survival of many illness-causing bacteria. In fact, it may promote anaerobic (absence of oxygen) bacteria growth, such as botulism. The practice of waxing cheese for storage is considered extremely unsafe.
• Before the days of refrigeration, cheese was dryer and fermented to a lower pH (higher acid). These types of cheeses were traditionally stored at room temperature with wax covers. The very low pH and fermentation byproducts could inhibit foodborne illness bacteria. An example is parmesan-style cheese. Acid, dryness and fermentation byproducts make this cheese storable at room temperature.
• Today, many cheeses are made strictly for storage under refrigeration. These cheeses may not have a low pH and other factors created in the manufacturing process to prevent illness-causing bacteria growth because the manufacturer knows the cheeses will be kept refrigerated. If someone waxes this cheese and places it in food storage, there is no science indicating any level of safety. In fact, there is evidence to the opposite ? placing cheese meant for refrigeration at room temperature is a significant risk and hazard for foodborne illness.
Contact your local USU Extension office for further information on safe home food preservation and for storage advice." (Brian Nummer, Utah State University Extension food safety specialist, September 9, 2009)
As a result of this information, I no longer recommend waxing cheese for storage.
Part of being prepared is being educated. It's a good idea to know how to turn off your gas in case of a gas-leak, which can happen at any time, but may be more likely in an earthquake. You should store a wrench next to the gas meter or in an easily accessible location so that you can turn the gas off if needed.
"Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional."1
From The San Fransisco Chronicle:
"It's estimated that 90 percent of the damage caused by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake was due to fires caused by ruptured gas lines - over 30 fires leveled 490 city blocks. In light of this, it would seem prudent to shut off the gas main in the event of a major earthquake, right? Not so fast says Pacific Gas and Electric Co. spokesman David Eisenhauer. "If you do not smell or hear gas do not shut off," says Eisenhauer. "If you shut it off and there's no damage it could take days to turn it back on." Once shut off, PG&E also does not recommend residents turn it back on themselves. This is because either someone from PG&E or another trained professional should inspect the house first for any damage to gas lines."2
If you determine that you need to shut off your gas, simply turn the valve one quarter-turn with a wrench (as shown in the diagram above). You can significantly reduce the likelihood of a gas leak in an earthquake by securing your water heater. Water heaters often rock loose during and earthquake and sever the gas connection.
2- How To Prepare For An Earthquake (Paul Kilduff, special to The San Franscisco Chronicle)
Diagram Source: http://www.doh.wa.gov/phepr/handbook/utility.htm
So, I've started collecting recipes that use the grains and legumes that I've stored. I try to experiment and practice using these recipes so I can gain a familiarity working with legumes and grains. My goal is definitely a work in progress. I might make one new recipe a month or try a new technique here and there. Hopefully, over time, I'll also have the added advantage of slowly rotating through my longer-term supply.
Below, I've included some links that are great resources for longer-term supply recipes and techniques. I want to emphasize that your three-month storage should be made up of meals that you normally eat. So, these recipes are more for experimentation and use of longer-term food supplies - not three-month supply foods.
Longer-Term Storage Recipe Resources:
All Is Safely Gathered In - Intermittent recipes both for three-month supply and longer-term supply.
NEW GOAL: Find a recipe or new technique and try it in the next few months!
Found a great food storage recipe site? Let me know! I'll add it to this list.
I'm not up to writing a full post today, but thought you might enjoy reading this post from Adventures in Mormonism - Remembering the Loma Prieta Earthquake (1989). If you live in earthquake country, it might give you some ideas about preparedness. This family experienced the earthquake just a few miles from the epicenter.
Last week, I stocked up on some olive oil, shortening and canola oil for my storage. I had to squint to see the recommended expiration dates on the bottles, so I rewrote those dates on the bottles with my marker. Doing this makes it much easier to pick the bottle with the closest expiration date, especially when I'm in a hurry.
You can get permanent-ink markers in many different colors. If you were really ambitious, you could color code purchase and expiration dates. You could also color code products based on contents. Click here for a previous post with more ideas for labeling home storage.
Having a one-year supply is not a bad thing. In fact, if you already have a one-year supply, you can be pretty confident that you are fairly well prepared. You can still set a *personal* goal to achieve a one-year supply. You can do this by completing a three-month supply and then choosing a *personal* goal to have 9 months of a longer-term supply. However, you can also be obedient to the counsel of the prophet without having a one-year supply. The First Presidency said, "We encourage you to store as much as your circumstances allow." It is up to you to determine an appropriate amount of longer-term storage for your family.
There is a lot of peace that comes from knowing you've been obedient. And with the changes in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint's home storage program, it is easier than ever! Instead of emphasizing a one-year supply as they have in the past, now the church emphasizes four aspects of home storage:
1) Three-month supply
2) Water storage
3) Financial reserve
4) Longer-term supply
Home storage is no longer just about powdered milk and wheat. Part of your storage should be a three-month supply of foods that you regularly eat. A three-month supply provides an important aspect of preparation and shouldn't be neglected. In fact, several quotes from the church indicate that we should worry first about our three-month supply, a water supply and a financial reserve before we worry about having a longer term supply.
So, be willing to let go of the "one-year supply" objective and instead think in terms of the new revelation which teaches 1) three month supply, 2) water supply, 3) financial reserve, and then 4) longer-term supply.
1 - All Is Safely Gathered In - Family Home Storage
2 - Family Home Storage - A New Message (Ensign, March 2009)
3 - Lay Up In Store (Keith B McMullin, 177th Annual General Conference, April 2007)
iPrepared post on versatility.
iPrepared post on substitutions.
Baking soda has a long shelf-life.1 Steer clear of those small cardboard boxes in which baking soda is often packaged. Instead choose baking soda in #10 cans or repack it into a PETE container for ideal storage life. A typical #10 can contains 576 teaspoons.3 I also store baking powder and yeast as a part of my longer-term storage. All store well in cool, dry conditions.2
1 - LDS Church News
2 - USU Extension
3 - Emergency Essentials
All of these oil-based products have very short shelf lives – anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. When they get too old, they are usually inedible. Because of this you HAVE to rotate these products regularly. One way that you can keep these products regularly rotated is to donate any items that are close to date expiration (but not over) to a local food kitchen. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is supposed to store longer than other oils, but is also the most expensive. By storing and using a variety of oil products (see above), you are more likely to be able to rotate within appropriate time frames.
The thing that I've noticed about using older oil from my storage is that it tastes/smells just fine when I first open the container. But if the oil is very old, it becomes rancid very quickly. Because of this, I like to store my oil in very small containers. It makes it more likely that I'll be able to completely use (and not waste) a container of oil before it goes bad. It also helps to keep oil products in a completely dark area. I double pack my oil bottles into boxes so that light exposure is limited.
1 - World War II Food Rationing
Salt is a good preservative, but I would say that taste is the most important reason to store salt. Have you ever had cookies/oatmeal/fill-in-the-blank without salt? It's terrible! Salt, like sugar, makes most things taste better.
Sugar stores well unless it gets wet. If you live in a humid climate, it's a good idea to store your sugar in a PETE container or #10 can so that the moisture in the air doesn't turn your sugar into a brick. But even if that does happen, your sugar is still usable. Sugar, stored in a #10 can in ideal conditions can last up to 30 years.
Storing sugar does not just mean white sugar. You can store honey, brown sugar, powdered sugar, molasses, maple syrup, corn syrup, jam, jello, and powdered fruit drink (with sugar already added). Most of these items, however, are more suitable for a three-month supply because of the short shelf lives. Brown sugar is also not recommended for longer-term storage because of potential microbial growth as a result of the moisture content.1 Honey will crystallize over time, but can be warmed and returned to a liquid state. Do not use honey that has developed mold in storage.
1 - Provident Living
Note: Check your milk containers to compare conversions. Amounts to use actually vary by brand (and by non-instant vs. instant).
Researchers at BYU have found that powdered milk can be stored in #10 cans for up to 30 years in ideal conditions. Non-instant and instant powdered milk both store well long term. Powdered milk costs anywhere from $7 to more than $18 per #10 can. Milk can also be purchased in cardboard boxes or other containers. If you purchase it this way, you'll need to transfer the powdered milk into PETE containers and add an oxygen absorber for long term storage.
Make sure that you taste the brand of milk before you store large quantities of it. LDS home storage milk is the one of the cheapest brands ($7), but many people (including me) don’t like the taste. Don't know which milk you like the best? Have a powdered milk tasting party/enrichment. It's a fun and inexpensive way to sample the different milks without buying a large can of each.
I also recommend that you read the labels before buying large quantities of powdered milk. Some are actually milk alternatives and have added sugar and/or hydrogenated fats and less protein. Some kids prefer powdered milk made this way. However, these added/substituted ingredients can affect cooking and baking.
Here is an older post on powdered milk that talks more about specific brands and easy ways to rotate it from your longer-term supply into your three-month supply: More On Powdered Milk.
Here are some highlights:
"When Ron Shiflet's wedding was about a month away, he received some unexpected advice from his bishop, who encouraged him to begin storing food. The bishop explained that there was a simple an inexpensive way for his small family to succeed in home storage -- even as poor college students.
They soon discovered that their home storage was not a laughing matter, when six months later, Ron found himself without a job -- and without money for food. He and Lorene relied on the supply in the closet to sustain t hem, and they immediately recognized the blessings of the principle of preparation.
Blend cooked beans and a little bit of water in your blender (the water just helps the blender to work well). You can also mash the beans yourself, which will result in a chunkier texture. Substitute beans measure-for-measure for all or some of the fats in brownie, cookie or cake recipes. Or you can also simply add some of the blended beans to the recipe, which will result in a heavier, more moist dough. Are you afraid that your family will scoff at the bean "bits" that appear in the recipe? They are almost invisible in anything chocolate. Using white beans make them almost invisible in lighter-colored recipes.
Freeze mashed beans into an ice-tray for long term accessibility. After the beans are frozen, pop them out and store the small bricks in a freezer bag for easy use. My standard-sized ice trays yield 2 tablespoons per brick. 4 bricks would give you 1/2 cup; 8 bricks for 1 cup.
Another great thing about beans, most kinds in fact, is that you handle them similarly. With the exception of lentils, split-peas and black-eyed-peas (which don't require soaking), beans are soaked and cooked in the same manner. There are two main steps to preparing dried beans: soaking and cooking.
First rinse and clean out any debris from the beans. In preparing this post, I've read about hot soaks, cold soaks and even gas-free soaks. It seems that it is important to soak them, but not for too long or too little. In all cases, discard the water in which the beans have been soaking and use fresh water for cooking (helps reduce gas). I'll try to summarize some of the options:
COLD SOAK - Cover 1 lb. of beans with 10 cups of water. Cover and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
HOT SOAK - Add 1 lb. of beans to 10 cups of boiling water. Let water come to a boil again. Cover tightly, after removing from heat, and let sit for two or three hours.
QUICK SOAK - Add 1 lb. of beans to 10 cups of boiling water. Let water come to a boil again. Boil beans for two or three minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let sit on counter for one hour.
GAS-FREE SOAK - Add 1 lb. of beans to 10 cups of boiling water. Let water come to a boil again. Boil beans for two or three minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let sit on counter overnight. You can further reduce gas by rinsing the beans multiple times and changing the soak-water several times.
Don't want to do all of this extra work? Beano works great when added to your beans. Also, eating beans regularly will acclimate your body to beans and reduce gas.
Discard soaking water and add water equivalent to three times the amount of beans. Boil from 45 minutes to 2 hours or until beans reach desired tenderness (which is usually when you can squeeze the bean between your fingers). Don't add salt or anything acidic until the end of the cooking process. Refrigerate or freeze remaining beans. One pound of dry beans usually makes between 5 and 6 cups of cooked beans.
Sources:Bean Fact Sheet - University of ConnecticutMayo Clinic
In the interest of full disclosure, I want to tell you that I do not make money off of ANY product affiliations, reciprocal advertising or product promotion. This approach helps to keep my blog and my recommendations as unbiased as possible. I do try to keep posts in line with the provident living recommendations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which I am a member.
I believe that preparedness principles should benefit everyone free-of-charge. I am more interested in helping you to become prepared than I am in making money. I also recognize that most of my information comes from a not-for-profit resource (see link above) that is also only interested in helping you become prepared. I've been asked multiple times to post reciprocal business links or to participate in advertising promotions for food storage companies. I could benefit by getting kickbacks from these sources, but again feel like this information is intended to be free-for-all and compromises my ability to be unbiased. So, I have refused these offers.
Thank you to all of you bloggers that disclose your advertising affiliations. It makes it easier for me, as a reader, to understand your loyalties and read your content accordingly.
We've almost completed a full circle by discussing the three-month supply, water storage, financial reserve and longer-term storage.
1) What home-storage topics would you like to learn more about?
2) What questions do you have about home storage?
3) Which past posts have been the most helpful?
Thanks! And thanks for all of your insights and comments along the way!
The longer dry beans are stored, the longer they may take to cook. First, sort and rinse the beans. For each cup of beans, bring 3 cups of water to boil, add the beans to the boiling water, and boil for two minutes. Next, add 3/8 teaspoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) for each cup of beans, cover, and soak for 1 hour or more. More baking soda may be required for older beans. Next, drain and rinse the beans thoroughly, cover with water, bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 1-2 hours or until tender. Do not add salt or other ingredients until the beans have softened adequately. (Instructions from the Provident Living FAQ)
Because baking soda is helpful for cooking old beans, it's a good idea to store some baking soda with your beans. Optimum shelf life of baking soda is about 2 years. If you use baking soda regularly, it can be rotated as part of your three-month and long-term supply so you'll always have some on hand.
Beans are not cheap. I've seen them recently for about $50 for a 25 lb. prepacked bucket. The church cannery offers them for around $5 for a #10 can. They have black, pinto and white beans. Beans are also available in bulk bags from the home storage centers for approximately $16 for 25 lbs. The Provident Living website states that beans can be stored for 30 years or more in ideal conditions.
Pasta packaged in #10 cans (or PETE bottles) with oxygen absorbers will store the longest. Pasta can also be purchased in many other types of packaging. If I buy my pasta already sealed in a plastic bag, I'll simply store it in a 5-gallon bucket (without opening the package). A lot of pasta comes in boxes without any additional packaging (plastic lining etc.). I try NOT to buy this type of pasta. I've had more than one experience with boxes of pasta also transporting critters.
I use pasta regularly as a part of my three-month supply. I also include it as a portion of my longer-term storage "grains."
1 - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Total cost of repairs: Almost $2500!
But the peace that came from knowing we would be okay because we have a financial reserve: Priceless!
Because foods packaged for optimum storage sometimes carry a price premium, I am usually hesitant to open and use some of these storage items. I debate about whether to eat or not to eat those storage foods. "Sure," I think to myself, "I'll use it eventually -- before it goes bad." And then these products sit on my shelves unused and untried. I'd really rather use my cheaper, familiar onions than open a huge #10 can that I'm not really sure I'll like or know how to use. "Plus, it's supposed to be for storage," I rationalize. "If I use it, I'll have to buy more."
I have decided that it is important to try and use ALL of the items that I've stored for my three-month supply. I already use most of my storage items in my regular cooking. But there are a handful of products that I've ignored. I still haven't tried my canned cheese, freeze-dried onions, freeze-dried fruits, fruit drink mix, dried refried beans, or my butter powder (just to name a few). My canned butter also fell into this category until just a few weeks ago (see previous post on canned butter). But I've tried the butter and now I can be confident about the canned butter's use as a substitution if needed.
I'm going to do better! I'm resolved to try more of these ignored products, even if it is just one at a time, over the next year. There will probably be a small extra expense for doing so, but I'll chalk it up to the importance of becoming familiar with my stored foods. I keep reminding myself that this is actually an essential step in storing foods. If I hadn't tried the LDS home-storage dry milk, I wouldn't know how much I hate it. Can you imagine getting into a situation where you need to use your three-month supply, and only then discovering that you hate (or can't use) what you stored?
Are you with me? Will you resolve to try some of your ignored storage foods in the next year? I would love to have you share what you learn. In fact, I'll include your information and experiences if you're willing to share. Look for some future posts discussing my own experiences eating and cooking with my "ignored" storage foods.
I opened a 12 oz. can of Red Feather Brand butter, which I purchased at a local grocery story for about $5. There are only two ingredients in these cans: cream and salt. My first impression was that it didn't really look like butter because of the grainy texture that was created as I released the lid. However, as I continued to work with the butter, the texture became smooth and looked more like real butter.
Our first test was to make toast. My 11 and 13-year old boys were the guinea pigs. The canned butter spread on and melted similarly to regular butter. There might have be a slight increase in greasiness and I did miss that little bit of saltiness. But I would not hesitate to use the canned butter for toast. My boys liked it as well, even though they were not sure they wanted to try it.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly. Remove from cookie sheet; cool completely on wire rack. About 2 dozen cookies. [from Hershey's Chocolate Cookbook]
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