This blog has moved. Please visit us at www.preparednesspro.com.

By Kellene Bishop

expiration-date-browniesIf you’ve read my articles in the past, then you know that I usually take issue with folks who are naïve and spread their ill-informed opinions around—usually to the demise or hindrance of other’s preparedness efforts. Well, yesterday I was commenting on a couponing forum to a gal about how her addiction to brownies no longer needed to be hindered by the expiration dates on her mixes if she was properly equipped with a FoodSaver. Unfortunately, a naïve, very ill-informed person got after me and claimed that it was unethical and just plain wrong for me to tell anyone that they could store any food product for that long. She even went so far as to present the grid that FoodSaver publishes which is their official claim in terms of how long food can be preserved with the benefit of a FoodSaver. (Obviously, the claims were nowhere near the time periods I had expressed.) So, today’s article is in honor of those who have been duped into believing that the expiration dates printed on a food product are some kind of a Cardinal rule to live by. And I’m even going to tell you exactly why they are not.

In a previous article I shared with you that “expiration dates are created for one reason and one reason only” and that was to protect the food manufacturers from any legal liability. It’s not liability from food poisoning so much as it is false advertising. For example, if you store your cereal that claims it has 100% of a days worth of Vitamin C, well, that won’t be accurate if you store it forever, right? Eventually the nutritional value will be lost and yet they will still have printed on the box an assertion regarding the Vitamin C content. With this article however, I’m also going to show you a couple of other darker sides in the use of expiration dates.

One of my food storage heroes, Wendy Dewitt

One of my food storage heroes, Wendy Dewitt

First of all, let’s face it. Food doesn’t poison a person. Germs and molds IN the food do. So let’s make sure we’re battling the correct culprit here. If you can store a food in such a way that you inhibit the growth of “critters,” then you will outlast the deadline of any expiration date on the planet. Oxygen, light, and heat are your enemies when it comes to preserving food. If you can control the exposure your food has to those beastly enemies, then you can control the longevity of your foods. One of my personal food storage heroes, Wendy DeWitt, has successfully stored Snickers candy bars for eight years by adhering to this battle plan. (How she refrained from eating it that long is beyond me.) The Snickers tasted just as wonderful as it did the day she bought it. I have successfully stored brown sugar, brown rice, oats, Keebler Fudge-Striped Cookies, nuts, chocolate chips, Peanut M&Ms, pudding mixes, Rice-a-Roni, and other packaged foods (even with hydrogenated oils) successfully in my cool, dry, basement for over 10 years by eliminating oxygen, light, and heat!

Of course there’s no manufacturer on the planet that is going to say “You can store this $2 box of cake mix for 10 years, so stock up when they are on sale and never think about buying them again for 10 years”, right? Think about this for a moment. You can store sugar for years and years. You can store cocoa for years. You can store spices for years. And you can store oils for years. So what makes a package of brownie mix exempt from being stored just as long? Oh. It’s that mean, ole’, ugly, expiration date on there, eh?

Rotting macaroni. Photo c/o wichita.edu

Rotting macaroni. Photo c/o wichita.edu

This leads me to another one of the dirty little secrets of the food manufacturing industry. Another key reason for issuing an expiration date on a particular product (and in some cases their 1st consideration) is for marketing purposes. They don’t want you to take advantage of that special at the grocery store in which you can get a box of brownie mix for only .47 cents, stock up, and not buy their brownie mix again for years. Their strategy, when they work with retailers to create a special sale, as well as print and distribute coupons, is that you will TRY a product that you may not have tried otherwise, and/or to increase their sales by 3-12% in order to keep stockholders happy. But darn it. They can’t combat the savvy couponers out there who will stock up on products when such deals come along and who then buys 10 boxes of brownies, or cereal, or pasta sauce, etc. So what counter measures do they employ in order to force even the coupon crazies to fall in line and buy the product again and again? They convince the consumers that the food will be rotten, disgusting, and just plain scary after the expiration date. This isn’t about rationing food or keeping you safe, folks. This is about selling more product. Tell me you haven’t fallen for it before? Sure the cereal tastes stale after it’s sat in your pantry for too long. But you didn’t repackage it, did you? Sure you’ve had salad dressing that goes rancid after being stored too long. But that doesn’t make the expiration date rule the be all and end all for every food. (Note: I haven’t found a way to make salad dressing last much longer than 6 months outside of refrigeration past the expiration date. So instead I like to also store items that I can successfully MAKE dressings with to use on my sprouts.) 

Also, here’s another little secret to let you in on. When the coloring changes in a food, it does NOT mean that the original nutritional value has been altered yet.

About 8 years ago I read a study that the Army had done to determine the expiration of MREs. (I WISH I had known that I would be writing like this professionally many years later so that I could provide it to you. But even a lengthy look on Google didn’t turn up anything—yet.) While MREs are indeed created to undergo more extreme storage conditions, the key results of the study were interesting. The Army study discovered that despite the intended expiration date of 3 years the meals continued to provide their original nutrition value for 25 years and only then began to have coloration variances.

Just in case some of you are wondering what the heck a FoodSaver has to do with significantly extending the life of your foods, I’ll remind you of one of my well-used tactics.

Foodsaver lid. Photo c/o cabelas.com

Foodsaver lid. Photo c/o cabelas.com

You can stuff a Mason jar with any dry ingredient such as rice, nuts, chocolate chips, granola, etc. Place the lid, no ring, on the jar. Connect the air port from the FoodSaver to your Mason Jar attachment with the hose that comes with the FoodSaver. Place the jar attachment on top of your jar. Turn on your FoodSaver, and bzzzzzz…a moment later you have successfully sucked out the oxygen from your jar. After doing so you should store it away from heat and regular light. As such you will win the battle against expiration dates.

Foodsaver Canister

Foodsaver Canister

Here’s some really good news. As it turns out, if you have the canisters that typically come with the FoodSaver, you don’t need the Mason Jar attachment. All you have to do is put the jar with the lid on it inside the canister and then seal the canister like you would with anything else inside. Doing so actually sucks the air out of your jar. Simply remove the seal to the canister once you’ve done the seal process and then store your jar. Pretty cool, eh? (To be on the extra safe side, I would use the jar sealer though if I had my druthers.) The nice thing is WHEN you do get into that jar of Peanut M&Ms, so long as you don’t ruin the lid trying to dig in feverishly, you can simply reseal the jar again and again. In fact, since your seal is not reliant on the rubber ring getting hot, you can even use old lids that you may have left over from other canning projects. Simply make sure they are nice and clean when you use them.

Just in case any of you are looking for the jar attachments, FoodSaver isn’t offering the regular sized one right now, only the wide-mouth. But a Google search will easily pull up several options for you.

Well, I hope that clears up expiration dates for you. And I hope that you are never duped by them again.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing!

food-challenge

This blog has moved. Please visit us at www.preparednesspro.com.

Don’t forget, folks, that you still have one more week to participate in the Preparedness Pro Food Challenge! The Preparedness Pro Food Challenge goes through the entire month of August and constitutes going an entire two weeks without going to the grocery store for any food or household supplies.

Even if you haven’t started yet, or this is the first you’ve heard of the Preparedness Pro Food Challenge, I would challenge you to jump in with both feet and see how you do without any preplanning or hitting the grocery store to “stock up” on the way home.  As you accept and experience this challenge, visit the original Preparedness Pro Food Challenge blog and document your experiences. Each comment will count as an entry to win AMAZING emergency preparedness prizes! There is no limit to the amount of comments you can leave. We have 12 gifts that will go to randomly drawn winners on September 1st.

ALSO, here are 3 easy ways to enter the contest and increase your chances of winning great prizes! Become a fan of Preparedness Pro on FacebookFollow @preparednesspro on Twitter or subscribe to Preparedness Pro – these will each count as an extra entry! Does it get any easier than that?!

Leave your comments on the original Preparendess Pro Food Challenge blog HERE!

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing!

This blog has moved. Please visit us at www.preparednesspro.com.

Every once in a while it’s good to bring the “what if” scenarios a little closer to home. Sometimes an emergency doesn’t need to be brought on by Mother Nature, or a major financial collapse. Sometimes it can be brought to the forefront by a lack of common sense. So today I thought I’d share this clip with you regarding a very real, man-made water crisis in California. This is indeed a man-made disaster. But it is real nonetheless, with real consequences, dire in nature. It gives us just one more reason to remind us that we need to be prepared with appropriate stores of food, water, and financial strength. We also need to be more adept at recognizing the domino effect of situations. This particular water crisis in California actually affects the food supply of ALL Americans. And I’m certain that this type of stupidity is just the tip of the iceberg of what more can come. 

One final thought on this, I feel that the only anti-venom to such a scenario as this is for us to be prepared and to be more involved in what goes on around us. Where in our Constitution does it state that we are to protect the lives of wildlife at the risk of protecting our own? Where do we give Congress or anyone else the authority to put the life of a two inch fish over the strength of our commerce, our crops, and our livelihoods?

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing!

This blog has moved. Please visit us at www.preparednesspro.com.

By Kellene Bishop

Italian "Wheat Meat" Dish by notonlypizza.com

Italian "Wheat Meat" Dish by notonlypizza.com

Wheat Gluten, commonly called “wheat meat” or Seitan, is a great staple to your food storage. As I addressed some of the whys and wherefores of “wheat meat” yesterday, today I’m going to share with you HOW to create your own wheat gluten. Just to get your imagination going here, you can make countless WONDERFUL dishes with “wheat meat” in place of your traditional fare. “Meatballs,” “ground chicken or beef,” “steak slices,” “ham,” “sausage”, etc., can all be deliciously created from your wheat storage. 

12 cups of whole wheat flour will yield about four cups of raw gluten, varying slightly based on the quality of your wheat and its protein content. Hard red wheat or wheat from cold climates will produce the most amount of gluten. Four cups of raw gluten will then bake into about nine cups of ground gluten which is equivalent to about three lbs. of cooked hamburger, 150 “meatballs”, or 20 “steak slices.”

For my meat loving readers, a good way to introduce “wheat meat” into your diet is to add it to your ground beef/chicken dishes at present. Start with half meat and half gluten. (This works well to indoctrinate not only into the meal, but also into the digestive system if you’re not already eating wheat.) Being married to a major meat eater, I’m confident that you’ll easily be able to go to a ¼ meat to ¾ gluten ratio in no time, with little or no resistance. And then of course move on to full fledged meals with the “wheat meat” as your only source. The nice part about “wheat meat” is that it doesn’t have a definitive taste or color. It readily takes on the appearance and flavors of what you cook with it.

Keep in mind that I’m not writing about using commercial wheat gluten.  You prepare commercial wheat gluten differently than when you use your own whole wheat/flour. The last thing I want to do is put one more thing on your list to store, such as commercial gluten. Good news is that storing commercial gluten is not necessary if you’ve got a good supply of wheat. Your flour contains raw gluten. All you have to do is extract it from the flour. Fortunately, that takes very little effort on your part. 

Photo c/o Herbi Ditl

Photo c/o Herbi Ditl

To begin preparing your “wheat meat”, simply mix 12 cups of whole wheat flour (you can use white flour as well, but you won’t get as much gluten) with 7 cups of water. You can do this in a mixer, or you can do it by hand. If you use a mixer, this process will only take you about 5 to 10 minutes. The consistency you want to end up with is flexible. It’s going to look a lot like your bread dough does before being completely kneaded. You don’t want dry, or watery. You want it to look a bit rubbery. You can adjust the amounts of flour or water after your initial mixing in order to get the consistency you need. When you’re finished mixing this together, set it aside and cover the surface with plastic wrap or a towel to ensure that it doesn’t dry out. Let it rest for about 20-30 minutes. If you have to ignore it longer than that, then I would refrigerate it.

Now, place your dough in a colander/strainer over an empty bowl in the sink. I prefer a metal colander. For about 5 to 7 minutes, run lukewarm water over your dough. You want a slow flow on your water and you want to be sure that you have a bowl underneath your strainer to collect the water. (There are a whole lot of uses for this precious mineral/vitamin rich water. So don’t throw it out.) As the water is running you want to continue squeezing the dough and working with it in order to squeeze out all of the starch. You will know that you’re done squeezing the dough when the water coming through the strainer is no longer coming out a milky color. Rather it will be clear. As you’re working with the dough, you will begin to create a rubbery ball. Continue to work the gluten into a ball as the starch separates from the gluten. Your final ball won’t look very beautiful. It won’t look like a ball of bread dough because it doesn’t have any air in it. It will simply be a dense, rubbery ball of gluten mass. (Sound appetizing yet? Don’t worry. It gets better, I promise!) Here’s one thing I do want to share that I had to learn the hard way. Just before your dough is the right ball consistency when you’re rinsing it, it gets a bit stringy. It’s easy to think that you’ve messed up. But actually this is just the “storm before the rainbow.” Once the stringy-ness occurs, you’ll know you’re close to being finished with perfect gluten! Once you’ve got your ball of gluten, you’ve done the “hard work.”

Cutting your wheat glutten into pieces. Photo c/o toptrailchef.com

Cutting your wheat glutten into pieces. Photo c/o toptrailchef.com

What you want to do at this point is to cook the gluten prior to adding it into your preferred dish. There are two ways to cook your gluten at this point—steaming it and simmering/boiling it. 

The steam method is ideal for shaping your gluten into familiar shapes and textures. You simply form it into the shape that you want by hand, or wrap it in cheesecloth, and then place it in a vegetable oil-sprayed steamer. (Just like the instrument you would use to steam your vegetables in.) You can cook the entire ball of “meat” this way, or you can shape it into smaller portions. Place the steamer in a pot of boiling water and steam your gluten for about 30 minutes.

You can boil wheat meat. Photo c/o toptrailchef.com

Boiling "Wheat Meat". Photo c/o toptrailchef.com

The boiling method is also easy and it adds extra flavor to your “meat.” In this instance I prefer to cut my gluten into smaller pieces so as to season them well.  Simply drop your strips or pieces of gluten into a pot of boiling, flavored broth. Simmer for about 30 minutes. It will just about double in size in this method. You can simply use a broth made with bouillon cubes, or you can create your own. Here’s my favorite broth to start out with.

  • 10 cups of water
  • About a cup of soy sauce or Braggs Amino Liquids
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A t. of garlic powder
  • A t. of onion powder

Slice your gluten into small pieces, about the size of chicken nuggets. Place them in the hot water and continue to simmer for about 30 minutes.

"Wheat Meat" Stir Fly photo c/o when-mia-cooks.blogspot.com

"Wheat Meat" Stir Fly photo c/o when-mia-cooks.blogspot.com

From this point you’ll discover the fun of creating “meat” out of “wheat”. You can now chop, grind, slice, steam, marinade, sauté, smoke, BBQ, or fry your “wheat meat”. The “trick” is all in how you prepare it visually and how you season it. It’s that simple—REALLY! (You can store your “wheat meat” in the fridge for the same amount of time that you would “regular” meat.) You’re now ready to cook the gluten as you would any of your other protein sources. I like to fry it in a bit of oil or butter until it’s golden brown on both sides, and then add a bit of BBQ sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes. It tastes like tender chicken or beef. I also like to grind up my steamed “meat” and use it instead of ground beef or chicken in my meatloaf, soup, burger, casserole, or chili recipes. I especially like how the “ground sausage” turns out.

I also like to bread it with Panko bread crumbs, salt and pepper, and then serve a yummy, brown gravy over my “wheat meat”, just like chicken fried steak.

I also enjoy sprinkling slices of Monterey Steak Seasoning on it and then grilling it. It’s even better after I let the “wheat meat” marinade in a steak marinade first. 

Dang. I’m getting hungry. I’m going to sign off for now and go make some “wheat meat” for myself. I’ll share some detailed recipes for “wheat meat” with you on Monday, and I’ll also share some great ways to use the left over starch water with you next week as well! In the meantime, give this a try by making your own “wheat meat” this weekend. 

Wheat Meat Series

  • Part I: Discovering Wheat Meat
  • Part II: Preparing Wheat Meat
  • Part III: Great Wheat Meat Recipes
  • Part IV: Working with Gluten Water
  • Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

    Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing!

    This blog has moved. Please visit us at www.preparednesspro.com.

    By Kellene Bishop

    As you all know, I’m big into using coupons to build up my food and other emergency preparedness supplies. With the coupon culture comes some unexpected consequences that one may not anticipate. The most obvious consequence is that I buy a lot of the smaller containers as opposed to the large, warehouse size. The good news is that smaller containers are actually a good way to store your food in preparation for an emergency. In an emergency survival situation, smaller is definitely better. Here’s why.

    Post Cereals on display in Palo Alto, CA. Photo c/o AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

    Post Cereals on display in Palo Alto, CA. Photo c/o AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

    Smaller is Better Reason #1: Cost. We all know that you usually get better value on bigger containers of an item. However, when it comes to using coupons, I’d much rather get 5 free small jars of mayonnaise than pay over $5 for a large one. Most coupons do not come with size restrictions on when you can use them. Some do exclude use on trial/travel size, but not all of the time. And most coupons only require that you buy at least their smallest “regular” sized item in order to use the coupon. So let’s compare for a moment. The other day I got 5 boxes of Post Raisin Bran for 88 cents each in the 20 oz. size. The Raisin Bran cost 04 cents per ounce. Now, at Costco, I could get it for 15 cents per ounce. (Keep in mind there’s a membership involved to get that price as well.) So, perhaps now you can better understand why I believe that I can’t afford to shop at the warehouses in most cases. I reserve my warehouse spending to meats, cheeses, eggs, and perhaps some other specialty items like the tarps I like so much at Costco. At least these items can be canned or otherwise preserved. Even then, I still keep my eyes open with the coupon usage in regular grocery stores. I got a gallon and a half of milk for only 17 cents and 2 pounds of block cheese for $2.99 the other day. Costco and Sam’s Club can’t match that.

    Condiment Packets photo c/o clubheinz.com

    Condiment Packets photo c/o clubheinz.com

    Smaller is Better Reason #2: Waste. Obviously in the event of a long-term emergency survival situation, we will be without the luxury of refigeration. This is another reason I’m a big advocate of buying small. When I open a warehouse size of Miracle Whip in the midst of an emergency, I’d better plan on using it all to feed an army or throwing it out due to spoilage. However, when I open a small 15 oz. jar of Miracle Whip, it’s probably just the right amount for a pasta salad or white sauce. I am also a big advocate of saving small condiment packets you are given at the fast food restaruants. I’ve got a lot of salt, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, relish, and other items this way, so when I want ketchup for a sandiwch, I don’t have to open an entire jar. I can just open a couple of condiment packages instead. No wasting. No refrigeration necessary.

    Smaller is Better Reason #3: Trade. Just as I advised my clients to only keep small bills of U.S. currency on hand for an emergency, the same goes for food items as well. It’s a heck of a lot easier to trade a small can of tuna for what you may need rather than trying to get the best bang for your buck with a large warehouse size of it. In a time of emergency in which food, water, and ammo is king, you may have a hard time “finding a market” for trading your larger items for something that you really need, and thus you’re likely to “under trade” for it. 

    Smaller is Better Reason #4: Portability. I’d much rather stuff a small can of Vienna Sausages and a couple packages of ketchup in my travel pack than a big 24 oz. container of chicken and a large bottle of ranch dressing, wouldn’t you? In an emergency, even if you have to leave your home temporarily during the day, you shouldn’t do it without some food and water supplies on you. You may be able to assist someone you find along the way, or you may get held up somewhere as well. Regardless, it’s obvious that the smaller containers will travel better than the large ones.

    Square Bucket Storage photo c/o Preparedness Pro

    Square Bucket Storage photo c/o Preparedness Pro

    Smaller is Better Reason #5: Storage. It’s easier for me to safely store a lot of little items in containers and place on the shelf rather than large items. For example, when I find a great sale on plastic bins, I’ll take them home and stuff them with toothpaste, or mustard bottles or baby wipes. I’m able to get a heck of a lot more in that enclosed container than I would be able to stack on the shelf or slide under the bed and have them remain there–organized. Given that we’re all struggling to find room for everything, the easier storage component of the smaller items shouldn’t be underestimated.

    Dollar for dollar, I’ve discovered that the smaller items make more sense for an emergency. Smaller definitely is better in an emergency. 

    Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

    Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing!

    This blog has moved. Please visit us at www.preparednesspro.com.

    By Kellene Bishop

    Dharma Food Supplies

    Food Storage photo c/o westword.com

    If you could only store four foods for you and your family, what would they be? Come on, take your best guess. The good news is you could indeed survive with some knowledge and creativity on just four foods for you and your family for an entire year, and you wouldn’t necessarily get bored either. The reason I share these four foods with you is in response to so many pleas to simplify food storage. Although I feel more strongly about storing what you eat and eating what you store using the “meal method”, some folks just simply won’t tackle their food storage needs unless it’s broken down to ultra simple. Well, here’s ultra simple, broken down to just four foods.

    Allow me to share with you what I call “The Vital Four.” I don’t call them that to be cute or cunning. These four foods are not only ideal and relatively simple to use, they are also still relatively affordable.

    Hard White Wheat photo c/o pgward.org

    Hard White Wheat photo c/o pgward.org

    So, what would The Vital Four be? In order of priority:

    • Wheat
    • Powdered Milk
    • Honey
    • Salt

    Now, before you get crazy, these foods would NOT be appropriate if you currently aren’t eating wheat. Remember that due to the significant lack of fiber in our diet today, if you were to go on an all wheat diet, you would be dead within 30 days due to the shock to your digestive system. So don’t plan on using these foods “cold turkey”, folks. You’ve got to get your body used to this kind of fiber ahead of time if you intend to survive on it. With four of the most simple foods, could this list be any more “ultra simple?”

    So why this particular order?

    Vital Four #1: Wheat. Wheat is at the top of the list due to its enormous amount of protein, multiple uses, fats, amino acids, carbohydrates, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins—not to mention its longevity in your storage. An unbroken wheat kernel has the ability to retain its fat without going rancid. For those of you who don’t know, wheat was discovered in the Egyptian pyramids dating back to 2500 BC. The story is told that 36 of the kernels were planted and grew and thrived into 1,500 bushels of wheat over six years. Even those who are gluten intolerant can still use wheat by sprouting it. Once you sprout it, it’s no longer a gluten compound. It’s a vegetable—particularly high in vitamin C and B which is great for blood sugar regulation and energy. (1 ounce of sprouted wheat contains an entire day’s supply of vitamin C.) In other words, sprouted wheat can compensate for the absence of fruits and vegetables in a diet. As you’ve heard me say, sprouting is ultra simple.

    Milk is Good for Bones. photo c/o franklinpierce.edu

    Milk is Good for Bones. photo c/o franklinpierce.edu

    Vital Four #2: Milk.  An important part of the “promised land” duo, milk has a great nutritional content–particularly protein and vitamin A and D, multiple convenient uses, and also stores very well–especially with today’s technological advances. Milk is a quality food which is found to be important for the proper function of the muscles and the bones, but even more so in times of stress. Very few foods can claim to assist the body in these two critical areas in one fail swoop, and none of the others I’ve found which do assist the body in this manner taste very good in baked goods, cheeses, and sauces like milk does. I mean really. Whoever heard of spinach cheese?  There’s nothing difficult about using milk. Measure it. Water it. Mix it. That’s it. Super simple!

    Vital Four #3: Honey. Honey is the ONLY food which stores indefinitely (except maybe Twinkies. But it remains to be seen whether we can really call the Twinkie “food”). It was also found in the Egyptian pyramids, and serves as a necessary sweetener in everything which may call for sugar. As you may have read in a previous article, it also has amazing medicinal virtues. One aspect you may not have considered is that the sweetness of honey is so fulfilling, it’s not likely to be over indulged in. The last thing you need in an emergency is to be addicted to a particular food. Unlike so many other sweeteners out there, honey is NOT addictive. In fact several university studies have shown that withdrawing from sugar is just as challenging to most humans as withdrawing from heroine. Honey also has small amounts of protein, iron, and vitamin C. Hmmm… sweet, nutritious, and an indefinite shelf-life. Sounds like a food storage dream.  

    Vital Four #4: Salt. Many folks are surprised to hear “salt” on my list of The Vital Four. Frankly, I’m surprised as well. I’m not one to “salt my foods. I rarely use it in my cooking, preferring other sources for a salty taste instead. In actuality, our bodies are just as reliant on salt as we are on water. In fact, it keeps our fluids in balance. It is necessary to all of the cellular processes in our body. ALL of them. It’s particularly necessary for muscle contractions, such as your heartbeat, nerve impulses, and the digestion of proteins. Our bodies do not produce salt. We deplete it through normal function. And we deplete a lot of salt when we’re involved in heavy labor or intense stress. Thus we must conscientiously feed it to our bodies. In addition to all of this, it’s also a great preservative for meats and vegetables without the need of any fancy equipment. Better yet, working salt into your diet doesn’t take any trickery.

    If you want to still keep things ultra simple but add a few more “luxury items” to the list, I would recommend vegetable/olive oil, peanut butter, legumes, yeast, molasses, and dried fruits.

    Passport to Survival photo c/o amazon.com

    Passport to Survival photo c/o amazon.com

    In summary, I find it interesting that The Vital Four are referred to in the Bible as foods of prominence: wheat—“the staff of life,” “land flowing with milk and honey” (mentioned 70 times in the Bible), and salt—“the salt of the earth” and “savor.” If you want a bundle of easy and creative recipes to use with your ultra simple food stores, I highly recommend Esther Dickey’s book, “Passport to Survival.” It was published in the late 60’s so you will most likely acquire a used copy on Amazon. But I find my copy to be just as useful—if not more so—today than perhaps it was intended to be several decades ago.

    So I’ve made food storage as simple as is absolutely possible. Got any more excuses for delaying your food storage?  :)

    Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

    Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing!

    This blog has moved. Please visit us at www.preparednesspro.com.

    By Kellene Bishop

    (Please note: This article is not for those who are repulsed by the use of puns. :-)

    Incorporate dairy into your food storage. Photo c/o cookmyfoodstorage.blogspot.com

    Incorporate dairy into your food storage. Photo c/o cookmyfoodstorage.blogspot.com

    When it comes to long-term food storage, many feel that getting enough dairy is a significant challenge.  Well today, I’m going to show you how you can milk the most from your powdered milk to provide your family with the dairy products you love.

    For starters, I cannot state emphatically enough how good powdered milk is today. When I teach my “UNDERwhelmed in Food Storage” class, I insist that those who attend at least try the powdered milk samples I’ve got. You should see some of the faces I get when I make this announcement. You can tell that some of these folks have some serious nightmares from their childhood when it comes to powdered milk.  But inevitably, ALL courageous tasters admit that it tastes VERY different than when they were growing up. While I still have some folks who feel that it doesn’t take “just like ‘real’ milk” they will at least concede that they could live with it if they needed to. Personally, I find it delightful. I LOVE the independence I feel when running out of milk doesn’t mean a trip to the store. And when I purchase it in the big 50 pound bags at the wholesale stores, it breaks down to only about $1.27 per gallon—a great deal in this economy. Today, the only time I actually buy milk is when I’ve got double coupons and can get it for less than 50 cents a gallon. (I just got a gallon and half the other day for only 17 cents!)  In fact, the taste of powdered milk has come so far, that my otherwise persnickety husband actually grumbles a bit now when we have to drink the “real” stuff now.

    So, what can you do with powdered milk? You can make some downright heavenly items that you usually pay a small fortune for. So let’s see how we can milk the most from your food storage.

    Homemade Condensed Milk photo c/o examiner.com

    Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk photo c/o examiner.com

    One of the pleasant surprises I discovered is how easy it is to make sweetened condensed milk. I make it in a blender presently, but I have practiced a couple of times and can easily make it with a non-electric blender. All you have to do is combine a ½ C of hot water, 1 C of non-instant powdered milk, 1 C sugar and 1 T of butter. (Yes, butter. You know, the stuff that you’re now canning for a rainy day?) Just mix it all in a blender and presto! You’ve got your very affordable, sweetened condensed milk to use in any great recipe!

    Making evaporated milk is just as easy. To make 12 ounces of evaporated milk, simply mix 1½ C of water with a generous ½ C of non-instant powdered milk.  You may not be aware of this, but you can use evaporated milk successfully as a substitute for cream, half-and-half, or even whole milk in any recipe. Pretty darn simple, eh? I LOVE to mix 12 ounces of this in a sauce pan along with ½ C of butter and  about 1 C of strawberry puree to make humdrum pancakes taste a bit more gourmet! Also, The Food Network showed me that adding some evaporated milk to your meatloaf is the key to keeping it moist and yummy!

    Add some powdered milk to some flour and butter and you’ve got the makings for some GREAT white sauces to go on pasta, vegetables, and even as a soup base. YUM!

    And last, but not least is using powdered milk to make buttermilk. Just take 1 C of  your milk (made from powdered, of course) and add 1 T of white vinegar or lemon juice. Let it stand for 5 minutes and then proceed to use it in your recipe that calls for buttermilk. Some of my favorite treats are made from buttermilk and I’m not about to do without them. So, just because I love my readers, I’m going to share my two most favorite buttermilk treats. You’ll LOVE them!

    Celestial Syrup

    Pancakes, anyone? Photo c/o unabashedlyvegan.blogspot.com

    Pancakes, anyone? Photo c/o unabashedlyvegan.blogspot.com

    Combine the following in a small sauce pan:

    ¾ C sugar
    ½ C buttermilk
    ¼ C butter

    • Boil for one minute.
    • Remove from heat and add ½ t. baking soda and 1 t. vanilla.
    • The puree of any fruit can be added, but is not necessary. It’s heavenly without it.
    • Serve over pancakes, waffles, or your favorite ice cream.

    Chocolate Buttermilk Pudding

    2 small boxes of instant vanilla pudding
    2 C of cold buttermilk (If you don’t have refrigeration, this will still taste just fine.)

    • Whisk together until well blended.
    • Fold in 1 16 oz tub of Cool Whip. (You can make whipped topping from powdered milk as well, of course.)
      Fold in 2 small drained cans of mandarin oranges. (I like to cut the oranges in half to create more “perfect bites.”)
    • Then fold in the entire package of Keebler Fudge Striped cookies, crushed. (I just got a bunch of them for only 50 cents each and then sealed them in a large Mason jar for maximum shelf life.)
    • Chill for about 30 minutes or more. (Again, refrigeration isn’t necessary to serve this dish–only if you’re going to store it. I like to fold in the cookies just before serving, but this is a still yummy even a couple of days out!)

    There’s more to discover to your powdered milk. Just keep exploring and “milking it” for all it’s worth. We haven’t addressed yet everything that’s possible to make out of powdered milk, but it’s a worthwhile start. Enjoy!

    Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

    Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing!

    This blog has moved. Please visit us at www.preparednesspro.com.

    By Kellene Bishop

    Wheat Shortages. Photo c/o bloomberg.com

    Wheat Shortages. Photo c/o bloomberg.com

    As of May, the U.S. just sold the very last of their wheat reserves. As of now the U.S. government wheat reserves are totally empty. The U.S. has no intention of replenishing these supplies until the prices have stabilized.

    As a comparison, during the 80’s the U.S. had on hand about 358 million bushels of wheat. During the 90’s they decreased that to 133 million bushels.  Now they are at zero.

    Since the U.S. government is out of storing wheat, this leaves the private sector as the primary source.  Unfortunately, (and grateful for the freedom as well) there are no minimum wheat crops to be harvested in the U.S.

    Food Shortages: Wheat. Photo c/o economicsuk.com

    Food Shortages: Wheat. Photo c/o economicsuk.com

    As best as can be evaluated, there are just over 305 million bushels held privately and on business farms throughout the U.S. as of June of this year. That’s less than one bushel per person in the U.S. It’s also the lowest level it’s been in 60 years.

    Texas has decreased their wheat crop this year by 30%.

    Holdings for corn, sorghum, and rice are also at nearly zero in the U.S. Larry Matlock of the American Agriculture Movement also states that there is no powdered milk, cheese, or butter in reserve in the U.S. either. In other words, we have an entire nation living hand to mouth, much like many of the consumers in their own homes.

    Chinese Wheat Crop. Photo c/o Xinhua Photo

    Chinese Wheat Crop. Photo c/o Xinhua Photo

    Now, let’s add another little twist. The Chinese crop of wheat is considered to be the largest in the world. Surely you are familiar with the fact that they are experiencing a record drought over the past year. Keep in mind that their consumption is the largest in the world as well. In spite of the rumors that China has 60 million metric tons of wheat in storage, there still is a genuine concern here. If they truly did have such amounts of wheat in stores why would they invest over 86 billion yuan to aid in the drought relief in this type of a market?  Additionally, no storage of the 60 million metric tons has been verified.

    Egypt’s wheat reserves are at 4.023 million metric tons—which is not quite enough to get them through 2009. They have also hit record lows on sugar, rice, vegetable and soy oil resources, and rice.

    What have I been telling you? Food is your BEST investment right now—whether in your own pantry or on the market. Get it and get ready for a serious challenge, folks. As I’ve said previously, please don’t allow the years of plenty to fool you into believing that they will always be there.

    Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

    Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing!

    This blog has moved. Please visit us at www.preparednesspro.com.

    By Kellene Bishop

    Natural Disaster photo c/o history.com

    Natural Disaster photo c/o history.com

    Typically when I mention emergency preparedness to someone they automatically think of “food storage” or “the Mormons.”  Unfortunately, a focus on either will not save your family in a time of crisis.  There are actually ten vital areas to being prepared for an emergency whether it be a natural disaster, act of war or financial collapse.  Food is only one component that we’ve addressed recently.  So let’s take a look at all 10 areas of being prepared.

    I’m listing them for you in the area of importance.

    1. Component of Emergency Preparedness #1: Spiritual. This category has everything to do with your belief system.  It’s where you draw on peace even in the midst of chaos.  It’s also where you draw on knowledge and understanding of that which is to come.  Your spiritual preparedness needs to be fed on a regular basis.  It will be incredibly invaluable in a time of great need, such as a catastrophic emergency.  If your spiritual preparedness is lacking, not much else you focus on will be of benefit to you.
    2. Component of Emergency Preparedness #2: Mental. This category has to do with your knowledge level, skills, and mental rehearsals for chaotic scenarios.  This area requires constant nourishment, education, and deliberate thought.  Unless you mentally prepare for a situation such as self-defense, or mass chaos, or the fact that all hell can really break loose, then you will be physically and emotionally paralyzed from being a leader and a protector to anyone, let alone your family and loved ones.  The mental preparation is what prepares you in spite of the crazy looks and comments you get from friends and loved ones.  Immerse yourself in movies, books, and conversations relevant to emergency preparedness (see #5).  Expose yourself to as much learning experiences as you are able.  Work that mental muscle as much as possible.  It will serve you well in a time of crisis as well as long-term survival.
      The key to your mental preparedness is Attitude, Skills, and Knowledge. Fortunately all three of these aspects can be obtained without monetary cost as there’s so much available through classes and online.
    3. Component of Emergency Preparedness #3: Physical. This area covers a great deal.  Physical preparedness has to do with your physical strength and ability to maximize your physical strength, such as the
      Exercise photo c/o healthspablog.org

      Exercise photo c/o healthspablog.org

      use of wagons or wheel barrels, your ability to protect yourself and your family, as well as planning for any necessary travel needs.  Keep in mind that your physical strength will be your primary asset when it comes to travel.  Since most of us aren’t trained extensively in military tactics and maneuvers, firearms are a key consideration for physical self-defense.  Make sure you have tools like small wagons, bikes, wheel barrels, etc.  You can strengthen your physical preparedness by adjusting your diet now to avoid foods that impede your performance or you won’t have access to later.  And no, I’m not going to rattle them off because you already know what you’re doing wrong in that regard.  Exercise is critical for your physical preparedness as well.  You will inevitably be called upon to be more physical in your survival efforts in an emergency.  Perhaps you will need to trek 30 miles.  Or perhaps you will need to do some heavy lifting to create a suitable shelter.  You will also need to function without air conditioning or heat like you’re accustomed to.  Take precautions now so that you are better physically prepared later.

    4. Component of Emergency Preparedness #4: Medical. This includes having what you need for first-aid, solutions for your existing medical needs, as well as sanitation.  First-aid needs includes bandages, a field surgical kit, pain relievers, herbs and essential oils, as well as the knowledge to use such items.  Your existing medical needs will be a challenge since most individuals can’t get a year’s supply of prescription medicines.  If I were you, I would make sure to study up on alternative options available, such as herbal nutrition, essential oils, homeopathic care, etc.  Recently, as a result of my goal to be more prepared medically, I set a goal to eliminate all of my prescription drugs.  I started the New Year with seven prescriptions on my nightstand, and I’m now down to one.  The most recent I was able to get rid of was my thyroid medicine by incorporating quality nutrition products into my diet instead of my thyroid medicine.  While my doctor wasn’t happy with the approach, he did acquiesce just this last Friday that my blood tests showed that I was no longer in need of my thyroid medicine!  I feel much more independent and capable now.  While I can’t supply a years worth of pharmaceuticals safely, I sure can keep a year’s supply of various nutritional products.  (Just FYI, I elect to use Reliv products.  No, I don’t sell them but you can locate them easily online.)
      As far as sanitation is concerned, you have to be sure you’ve thought this one through.  Digging a hole out in your back yard will not do.  You’ve got to have the chemicals on hand to break down the waste.  I assure you that if the hole in the back yard was everyone’s strategy, everyone within a 50 mile radius will be dead within 30 days!  The holes have to be dug deep.  Plan on using some type of a disposal breakdown chemical regularly.  Disposing of the waste, keeping it covered, and minimizing its location and effect on everything else around you will be critical in a time of emergency.  Understand that this aspect of preparation will not be simple.  You should expect a lot of diarrhea initially as a result of stress, different foods, and drinking less liquids.
    5. Component of Emergency Preparedness #5: Clothing/Shelter. This category is a higher priority than food and water.  Many folks really overlook this critical area.  While being able to survive in your own home is ideal, it’s not necessarily possible for a myriad of different reasons.  Be sure that you’ve got SPARE clothing available for all of your children’s ages and have it readily accessible.  This may mean you need to go to a local thrift store and purchase clothes for a year in advance of your children’s sizes right now.  Sturdy shoes will be critical—especially if you have to walk long distances to get to safety.  Also, be mindful of your clothing and your shelter accommodating either warm or cold weather.  Be sure to have hats and gloves for everyone—spares so that there’s no chance of them “getting lost” in the event of a crisis.   Even if you are able to survive in your present dwelling, be sure you have tools on hand to reinforce it, such as hammers, nails, sheeting, duct tape, and even some plywood.  (My preferred sheeting is purchased at Costco.  It’s twice as thick as others, you get twice as much, and it’s less expensive.)  Be sure that you don’t have to rely on electricity and batteries for the use of your tools as well in the event of a solar flare or an EMP attack.
    6. Component of Emergency Preparedness #6: Water. Let me be perfectly clear on this.  A two week supply of water is NOT sufficient.  That’s short-term.  I hardly EVER address short-term preparedness in my articles, and am almost always focusing on long term.  As overwhelming as it may sound, you need one gallon of
      Water Barrel Storage photo c/o homelandpreparedness.com

      Water Barrel Storage photo c/o homelandpreparedness.com

      water, per person, per day.  That’s 365 gallons per person.  Yes, that’s a lot of barrels.  But that’s just the MINIMUM.  You’ll be using water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, sanitation, and bathing.  There are a myriad of different ways to conserve water, but you’ll want to employ those even if you do have the 365 gallons per person.  Water is the only thing that will keep your organs functioning properly.  You need water just as much in the cold as you do in the heat.  Your kidneys process hundreds of gallons worth of water each day.  You do not want to treat your kidneys like a teenager treats their oil filter, right?  You’ve got to continue to give your organs new water in order that they will not shut down.  Your body uses flavored water very differently than it does real water.  You use more energy to benefit from the flavored water than you do just straight water.  In addition to storing enough water, I also store a lot of paper goods that I can use that won’t require cleaning afterwards.  I also store cleansing cloths.
      You don’t need to treat your water before storing it if you’re using tap water.  Plan on treating it afterwards if necessary (8 drops of Chlorox for each gallon of water).  You can rotate your water once every 5 years and be just fine.  Stale water can taste a LOT better if you simply aerate it—such as pouring it back and forth from one container to another before serving.

    7. Component of Emergency Preparedness #7: Food. As I’ve shared in the last 8 part series, be familiar with the food that you’ve stored, be prepared to cook it without electricity, and be sure that it’s nutritious.  90 days of food is SHORT-TERM.  It’s not the end result.  One year of food supply for your family is absolutely necessary.  Also be sure that you have all of the tools on hand you will need that don’t require electricity.  Be sure you have nothing in your equipment stores that you have not used yet.  (In other words, don’t just buy that solar oven and put it in your basement.  Use it.)
    8. Component of Emergency Preparedness #8: Fuel. Your fuel should be usable on as many tools as possible, and every responsible member of the family should be familiar with its use.  I store butane for my small oven, propane for the grill, and kerosene for my lights, heaters, and another stove.  I also have some
      Butane Stove photo c/o manventureoutpost.com

      Butane Stove photo c/o manventureoutpost.com

      charcoal and some wood for other forms of cooking.  I’ve experimented with my cooking fuel coupled with my pressure cooker and have learned that I can cook 2 meals a day for 3 weeks on one can of butane.  It’s critical that you know how much fuel you need for your family.  It’s also critical you know that the lights you’re relying on can actually put out enough light.  We bought these “100 hour candles” only to discover one night that they barely put off enough light for us to see the match and the wick so that we could light the next one.  I recommend to all of my clients to try a day or two without electrical lighting.  I also recommend that they go a whole week without using any electricity to prepare their food—including the refrigerator.

    9. Component of Emergency Preparedness #9: Financial.  Financial preparation isn’t just about having debt.  Most of us will have a mortgage if nothing else.  I recommend my clients pay their utilities and their taxes in advance whenever possible.  It’s also critical that you have goods with which to trade such as wheat, sugar, and other stores that will be in high demand.  Anything more than $500 cash on hand is a waste, in my opinion, as a crisis will quickly make money worthless.  If you don’t already have what you need, you will NOT be able to buy it amidst a mob of crazy people who are unprepared. 
    10. Component of Emergency Preparedness #10: Communication. All of the other areas of preparedness I discussed are focused on you and your family.  This is the only area of preparedness that focuses on reaching out to others.  In order to be prepared for communication in an emergency, you should have a very specific plan of communication with you family and friends.  You should have a specific point of gathering agree upon for everyone to meet in the event of a disaster.  Additionally, plan on other forms of communication such as a HAM radio, accompanied by the license and skill to operate.  Also plan on good old fashioned message delivery.  (Another good reason to employ physical preparedness.)  Being able to coordinate with the outside world will become important during and after your initial crisis reaction.

    Don’t get overwhelmed with all of this.  Just put it on your radar and start chipping away at it.  Look for opportunities to learn and strengthen your spiritual and mental preparedness first and foremost.  Everything else will appropriately follow.

    Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

    Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing!

    This blog has moved. Please visit us at www.preparednesspro.com.

    What to store in your food storage?
    By Kellene Bishop

    There are 3 aspects that you need to concern yourself with when it comes to your food storage.  Nutrition, preparation, and rotation.

    Photo c/o crusa-soccer.com/

    Create balanced meals. Photo c/o crusa-soccer.com/

    The nutrition aspect has to do with WHAT you store.  Be sure it’s not food that will simply enable you to survive, but THRIVE.  Feeding your body quality nutrition in a time of stress is critical.  It’s one thing to try and live off of fast food and such when you lead a mostly sedentary lifestyle.  You may not think of food much now in your every day life.  But having nourishment will be one of your most overriding primary instincts to kick in during a time of survival.  (Yet another reason why to try and get the picky eaters in your family to expand their food repertoire.)  I’ve read messages from some folks that they have a years supply in dry cereal, or Kraft Mac & Cheese, etc.  While these “foods” may give some comfort immediately, they will not provide the nutrition you need and appetite fatigue will surely set in. 

    What should be a part of your food storage?  As you plan your meals, go back to creating balanced meals.  You know, fruits, vegetables, protein, and grains.  Each meal you plan for your long term food storage should provide at least one serving in each of these categories. Keep in mind that you will use and require more carbohydrates in a crisis scenario than you most likely do now. 

    Remember, the key is to not get overwhelmed with the food storage.  If I were to tell you that you needed to store 300 pounds of grains (wheat, pasta, flour, etc.) per person over the age of 7, no doubt that would stress you out and overwhelm you.  (Even though that figure is correct.)  This is exactly why I encourage folks to create their food storage based on meals and dishes rather than pounds.  THEN when you feel like you’ve accomplished your goal in that regard, do a little bit of calculating using this food storage calculator link and see if there may be some items to add in various categories such as fats and oils, or legumes, or sugars.

    If you store based on “meals” then you don’t have to really concern yourself with “oh yeah, I need 3 pounds of cinnamon for the year” or other seasonings and sauces.  You will essentially have a year’s supply of menus figured out and thus you’ll have all of the seasonings you need for those dishes.  Add the extras after the fact.  Planning this way will also save you LOTS and LOTS of money too.  You’ll be less likely purchasing something just because it looks like a good deal, and only purchase what you know you and your family will use in specific meals. 

    Propane Stove

    Propane Stove

    The next aspect of your food storage is preparation.  Do you have the tools and resources you need to prepare the food?  Do you have the recipes stored with the dishes? While it’s great that you may have recipes memorized, what if you’re ill or otherwise unavailable and aren’t the one preparing the food?  Do you have a hand beater stored since you won’t be able to use an electric one?  Do you know how to use your solar oven, Dutch oven, charcoal, propane stove or wood burning stove?  How are you going to clean up from cooking?  How are you going to ensure sanitized cooking conditions?

    The last consideration of what to store in your food storage, is rotation.  If you find a great deal on 30 gallons of cooking oil, great, get it—but ONLY if you already use such an oil and can do so in an appropriate period of time.  Very little of your food storage should be purchased or stored with a “store it and forget it” mentality.  You need to look at just about everything you’ve got from a rotation standpoint.  This is a monumental task if you’re not already using what you store. 

    Personally, I think making an excel spreadsheet of one’s food storage or taking time to label each container of food prior to putting it away, is a major pain in the fanny and certainly yet another deterrent to being prepared.  I store my food left to right, front to back, and I use it right to left and back to front.  I don’t put any labels on the food (other than when I bottle or freeze it) and I don’t have a special software accounting system.  As I bring things up from my food storage, I make a note on the grocery list to replace them.  The “system” is as easy as that.  As a result, I keep a pulse on what I have and its condition.  Very little of what I have purchased over the years gets wasted this way. 

    As you can see in this series, the key is to make your food storage as underwhelming and second nature as your grocery shopping and meal preparations are today.  Your food storage efforts just need a little tweak in your mental preparedness and you’ll find that you have the time and energy to focus on the other aspects of preparedness that may more appropriately stretch your skills and time.

    Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

    Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing!

    Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

    Join 99 other followers