Home Storage Specialists 2

I met with our Stake President last night and received an additional calling. I am now serving as the "Assistant Stake Home-Storage Specialist." For those of you that would like me to say that again in non-religious terms: I'm now one of two main people responsible for teaching home storage principles to a group of over 4,000 people.

Like I said in an earlier post, I've had some responsibility for the ward (about 100 families) application of home-storage principles. But this is obviously much bigger. Our leaders want us to emphasize getting a three-month supply. They want us to make things as simple and accessible as possible -- and don't want us to cater only to food storage "hobbyists." We have also been encouraged to find ways to reach out to the single mothers in our area (for whom home-storage might be particularly overwhelming).

I just sat and wrote down a list of my ideas. This list is just a beginning. There is a lot of praying still to do in regards to what Heavenly Father wants us do. I've shared a similar list before, but this one has my own Stake's objectives in mind. I thought I would share it with you even though much of it is a repeat.

Some of you have had similar responsibilities before. I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. I would especially appreciate any ideas on helping the single mothers to acquire their three-month supply.

Short Term:
*Meet with leaders to discuss the goals and objectives of the stake.
*Be a broken record about the three-month supply.
*Make retraining the ward home-storage leaders a priority.
*Set up a communication lines with the ward home-storage leaders.
*Eliminate the stake workshops - encourage the new program to be taught at the ward level.

Medium Term:
*Attend Bishopric training and RS training and present a message about the importance of the three-month supply. Encourage them to emphasize this in their wards and support their ward "home storage" leaders as they try to do so.
*Offer to teach fifth Sunday lessons or Additional RS Meetings as needed or encourage use of ward home storage leaders to teach these lessons.
*Set up an email newsletter (OR set up a paper newsletter) to go out to the wards anywhere from monthly to quarterly.
*Develop a worksheet that simplifies (walks you through) the process of getting a three-month supply.
*Place motivational quotes/reminders on the bulletin boards in the different building RS rooms.
*Contact (or encourage ward home-storage leaders to contact) those in charge of printing bulletins and ward newsletters. Have them include motivational quotes and reminders about a three-month supply.
*Provide outlines for FHE lessons to support the family in teaching these concepts.
*Create a description page and schedule for families who want to reserve stake canning equipment.
*Encourage ward home-storage leaders to volunteer to meet with individuals and/or small groups and help them as needed.
*Help ward home-storage leaders to know about new information including Ensign articles.

Long Term Ideas:
*Maybe do a every-other-year home-storage fair - emphasizing the new program.
*Coordinate and carry out a Stake emergency simulation.


Wheat Grinder Owner's Manuals

You know that you should always read your owner's manuals, right? Well, so do I - but I don't always. I didn't read my owner's manual for my wheat grinder. If you had asked me 20 minutes ago, I would have told you that I knew how to use my grinder without any hesitation. Today, I found out that I was wrong.

Earlier this week, Crystal at Everyday Food Storage posted a video showing how to correctly use a Blendtec Wheat Grinder. I was drawn to watch because it was the same wheat grinder that I use. And guess what? I haven't been using it correctly. Like Crystal, I thought that the cup that came with was just measuring cup. It turns out it has a functional purpose.

So, I encourage you to read the manual for your electric grinder. You might discover some information that you've been missing.

Don't know where to find the manual? Here is a list of several online sources:
*K-Tec/BlendTec Mill - Crystal's Video;
*Wonder Mill - PDF; Video
*Nutrimill - PDF; Video
*L'Equip Vitalmill - PDF


Fat Pantry

I don't know who coined the term, fat pantry, but I'm a believer in this concept. Don't know what a fat pantry is? Let me explain:

A fat pantry is a pantry (or shelves, cupboards or whatever) where you keep a large stock of foods that you regularly eat. I've heard some call a fat pantry their own personal store. The idea is that you stock up when items are on sale (or regularly if it's something that never goes on sale) so that you always have several of an item on hand. Then you can shop out of your own pantry.

This is the way my mother shopped. She could make hundreds of recipes on the spot without having to go to the store because she had shelves full of things that she regularly used. In fact, I only remember a handful of times that she had to purposefully pick up something at the store for a recipe. She just always had one of everything on hand.

Now, I use the same method in my own home. It's taken some time to get a well-stocked or fat pantry. But I try to have some of everything on hand.

There are so many great things about using this method. First, I am able to always save money on my groceries -- I rarely have to run to the store (and use gas) to get an item that is likely not on sale. I buy a lot of my foods on sale -- and when it is discounted I stock up. The second great thing about this method is that I am never locked into a menu. Planned for enchiladas, but really in the mood for wild-rice soup? No problem - ingredients for both are usually on hand. I can make the majority of my favorite recipes right now because I have all of the ingredients in my "fat" pantry.

Finally, if you think about it, a fat pantry can also be a three-month supply in disguise. A three-month supply is an important part of a good family home storage plan. I recommend following the family home storage plan outlined by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In their plan, a three-month supply is just one of four important steps in gathering a complete home storage. By having a full fat pantry (three-month's worth) you can complete this part of the storage plan. You also gain some of the promised blessings of peace by knowing that your family is better prepared.

Do you have a fat pantry? How do you make it work for your family?


Rotating Emergency Kits

I always intend to rotate my emergency kits each year, but I don't always get around to it. Obviously that makes my kits less effective. In fact, you can read about my past 72-hour kit failure here. We currently keep the bulk of our emergency-kit food in a separate bag just inside the back door to reduce any spoiled food from the extreme temperature in our garage. Each person also has their own backpack, stored on hooks in the garage, with a little bit of less-perishable food in addition to this main bag.

Determined to create a new habit of rotation this year, I decided to follow some advice given by others and connect it to general conference and make a family tradition out of rotating the contents of our emergency kits. This could also be a fun Family Home Evening activity, especially if it was paired with practicing a preparedness skill such as an earthquake or fire drill.

Early last month I informed my family that we would be serving lunch from the food in our food-emergency-kit. Honestly, there was a lot of moaning and groaning. But I was determined. I let them choose anything from the kit. Well, that's not completely true. My twelve-year-old would have eaten just Tootsie Pops if I had let him.

My husband chose a tri-tip roast Compleat (which is a shelf-stable meal). He warmed it up and lamented that it probably wouldn't taste very good cold. My oldest son chose beef jerky, which was completely predictable. In fact, I had packed it just for him to eat because I didn't think he would eat anything else. My youngest two had a can of vienna sausages each. I had a Sensations tuna kit. We all shared a can of mandarin oranges and one of pineapple.

I know - no veggies. I actually don't store any extra vegetables in my kits. I've thought about this and figure that my kids resist eating veggies normally, so I'm pretty sure that they wouldn't eat them in an emergency (consequently taking valuable storage space). Plus, I figure that they'll be fine without veggies for three days.

I learned some important lessons as we ate our food. First, my tuna was spicy Thai - and boy was it spicy! I really needed some milk to dilute the spiciness, but only had water. So I won't be including spicy foods in the future. Second, the emergency kit was really heavy. I will probably chose fruit cups instead of pop-tab cans in the future - just to lighten the weight. Third, I realized that it would make more sense to include some plates and utensils in the food kit instead of just in the individual kits. Last, I concluded that we really needed more variety in the kit. My kids suggested including small cereal boxes. My husband suggested replacing the Compleat with a flavored tuna fillet which would taste better cold. As I shopped to replace the items we ate, I also added some crackers and a jar of peanut butter/jelly. I would really prefer to store individual restaurant packs of the peanut butter and jelly but I haven't been able to find any.

So - some good lessons learned. And even though they complained, I think it was a fun (or maybe just unusual) way to rotate the contents of our kits. It was an extremely valuable experience for me.

When/How do you rotate your kits?