UNDERwhelmed in Food Storage


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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.

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No, You’re Not Crazy
By Kellene Bishop

Do you have a skeptical spouse?

Do you have a skeptical spouse?

How to influence that skeptical spouse when it comes to emergency preparedness efforts is a query I hear frequently in my line of work.  I affectionately call it the “$64 million dollar question.”  Surprisingly, the question isn’t dominated by one particular sex or the other, either.  I guess both men and women are equally skeptical when it comes to this topic.  Obviously, it is tough to have one member of the family focused on something so important without the support of knowledge, enthusiasm and additional expertise from the other.  Being on the same page for this sort of thing boils down to more than just being able to “share in a hobby”—it’s literally lifesaving.  That’s why I address this query with some very specific and deliberate strategies.

  1. Money.  Money is usually the number one reason why a spouse is not on board with food storage acquisition.  The minute you go out and put a bunch of money on a credit card to obtain some emergency preparedness supplies, you’ve created a valid barrier.  Even if your spouse was on board with preparedness, that shouldn’t be an acceptable action.  Be just as prudent in acquiring your supplies as you are in the fact that you DO prepare for a rainy day.  I assure you that when you come home with a couple bags of emergency preparedness supplies and are able to tell your spouse that you got them for nearly free or cheap, you will have successfully taken down one of their most strident objections.  Just as many divorces ultimately end as the result of a disagreement about finances, emergency preparedness efforts are thwarted the same way.  If you are prudent and consistent in your preparedness efforts, you’ll be able to prepare without starting World War III in your home.
  2. USE and Familiarity.  Any spouse would be understandably frustrated to have their partner bring home a relatively large or significant investment such as a solar oven, a pressure cooker, a Glock handgun, etc., only to have it collect dust and take up valuable space.  No purchase you make for emergency preparedness should be disconnected or “foreign” to you.  You should incorporate it in your life on a regular basis.  It’s really not so much about “emergency preparedness” as it is just plain “preparedness.”  For example, I have a lot of folks who attend my “Bring on the Sun” solar oven class and tell me that they have owned one for ages but never knew how to use it.  Obviously they bought it “for emergencies.”  Argh!  That makes me cringe.  I have to wonder how their spouse felt about tripping over this big lug of inconvenience that was purchased “just in case the aliens attack.”  If you don’t use it folks, it’s no help to you and it doesn’t get attached to a realistic scenario in your spouses mind.  When you can present a delicious meal that was prepared in your pressure cooker, for example, the doubting spouse will simply see the meal as a yummy, simple, and efficient way of cooking—not another expense for a “fantasy ‘what if’ scenario” that they don’t believe will actually occur.  If the use of your tools and preparedness supplies is sporadic, it sends the wrong message to the doubters in your life about your level of commitment to preparedness.  If you’re committed enough to use money out of your family budget to acquire it, then you really should be serious enough to utilize and be familiar with the item as well. 
    Pressure canner for canning meat

    Pressure canner for canning meat

    I have the luxury of being equally yoked with my husband in our emergency preparedness efforts, but I can assure you that if I were to ask him to get me something that costs more than 50 bucks, I darn well better be prepared to show him the WHY I would like such a tool, and then immediately use it when it comes into the home.  For example, he bought me a large pressure canner for our anniversary recently.  I made sure that I was canning meat that very weekend, showed him how easy it was, and then followed up with making a couple of yummy meals from the results of that canning.  You can bet that he didn’t feel like the purchase was a waste.  (Especially now that I brought home over $50 of FREE steak to can this weekend. :))  If you bring home that handgun, be prepared to practice with it and participate in as many classes as you can.  If you purchase the Food Saver, start using it.  I think you get my point.  (By the way, I’ve discovered that the best bang for your buck on a Food Saver is ONLINE at Costco.  The Food Saver comes with all of the necessary attachments, plus the bags for only $78 bucks, including shipping.  Even in comparison to Ebay, that’s a great deal.) 

  3. Education.  Use every opportunity to factually educate your spouse—not preach to them.  For example, make a scrumptious casserole or brisket in your solar oven.  When you present it to your spouse and family for dinner, tell them how easy it was and how it didn’t require any electricity.  You don’t even need to mention the word “preparedness.”  The dots will get connected eventually so that you don’t have to translate everything into plans for an emergency.  If you aren’t able to spend the money on something until your spouse is “converted”, then borrow someone else’s and demonstrate it for them.  You’ll be better off mentally for having used it successfully, and you’ll be better for putting your mind in the position of a student, then a teacher.  It’s a win/win situation with this approach.  In order to properly educate those around you, be sure to be fully educated yourself so that your “teachings” aren’t just theory or supposition.  They are much more readily accepted when delivered this way.
  4. Patience.  Your own preparedness efforts take patience and faith.  The same holds true in educating the doubters in your life.  Patience is usually only fortified by consistency.  If the doubting spouse in your life sees a crack in your resolve, they tend to go after it mercilessly.  Make your plan and then execute it with the resources that you have available to you.  Be patient and faithful that those around you will receive their own enlightenment about preparedness little by little as well.  Your example will go a very long way in helping them to understand and internalize for themselves the importance of this mindset.  
  5. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

    Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

    Immersion.  A lot of folks believe that “doomsday” will never come.  They have heard about it for so long that they are just plain tired of hearing it and being beat up by it.  In other words, it’s not a reality to them at all.  To the unbeliever, it’s just a fantasy created by the makers of bottled water, camp stoves, and generators.  One of the easiest ways to educate someone on the reality of preparedness is to help “immerse” them in a world in which such may be needed.  Movies, books, and even “hypothetical questions” like “what do you think we would do if…” are very helpful in educating the mind of someone who may not “get it.”  As I’ve shared previously, I loved the books Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank, One Second After by William Forstchen, Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse by James Rawles, among many others.  These are enjoyable books but also enlightening, causing even the most educated “prepper” to consider the reality of areas or possibilities that they may have missed previously.  I also have found the right movies to work towards this purpose as well, such as “Independence Day,” “Twister,” “Outbreak,” “Red Dawn,” etc.  These tactics are beneficial to those who need to mentally expose themselves to the possibility of unexpected events, but they are also great ways to strengthen your mental preparedness, too, as you find yourself mulling over what you’ve read or viewed and ask yourself “What would I do if…?” kinds of questions.

    Clearly I wouldn’t be a preparedness pro instructor if I didn’t also encourage you to take advantage of various classes offered to help you and your family better prepare for disasters.  CERT training for example, doesn’t have to be about handling “the end of the world.”  It can simply be about being a better asset to a community.  But it will also go a long way in helping to transition the mind and the heart of resistant “preppers.”

     Obviously, getting those you love and care for on board with preparedness is an important task.  Unfortunately there isn’t a quick fix for it.  Your efforts will need to be informed, consistent, prudent, and patient.  But I can assure you that by using these efforts, you have the best chance of being successful.  Good luck!

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.

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By Kellene Bishop

Food Storage.  It really doesn’t have to be complicated.

Medical Emergency Preparedness photo c/o ehow.com

Medical Emergency Preparedness photo c/o ehow.com

When it comes to emergency preparedness, there are actually 10 different components to consider, listed below in order of priority:

  1. Spiritual
  2. Mental
  3. Physical
  4. Medical
  5. Clothing/Shelter
  6. Water
  7. Food
  8. Fuel
  9. Financial
  10. Communication

empty-grocery-shelvesFood storage is only one part, and in order of priority would actually be “#7” out of those ten components.  What that means is there are a whole lot of other components that need attention more than your food storage in order for your food storage supplies to be usable and effective for you.  And yet when I mention “emergency preparedness” to folks, the first thing—and sometimes the ONLY thing that comes to their mind is food storage.  If your mind is fixated on all the obstacles of food storage, then of course it’s going to be overwhelming.  If you feel like you’ve got such a long ways to go yet to be even remotely “ready” then of course it’s going to feel overwhelming.  But just how much more of a burden do people create for themselves by trying to ignore it.  I assure you, if you think it’s tough doing food storage now, try doing it when there’s no food on the shelves, no money to exchange, no possibility of travel, and no way to prepare it.   That’s all you’ll be left with if you attempt to ignore or marginalize what may seem an “uncomfortable” or inconvenient activity.   But if you’re making progress on something that was previously uncomfortable, unknown, or inconvenient, then the feeling of stress and anxiety is eliminated.  You start thinking of what’s possible to accomplish in your preparation efforts.  If you continue in being overwhelmed, you’re likely arrive to a point of paralysis once you realize just how much more there is to preparedness besides food storage.  I assure you that such does not need to be the case.

preparedness-pro-iconWhen I teach my “UNDERwhelmed in Food Storage” class, my goal is to make food storage accumulation and preparation much less taxing on the attendees.  I desire to make it more of a “minor thought” instead of an overwhelming one, and thus free up time and resources to be spent ensuring your preparedness in the other categories.

Thus far I’ve shown you that food storage is cheap or free to accumulate in most instances, it’s easy to prepare, can still taste GREAT—so long as it’s a dish or food that you’re already familiar with—and finally, it’s even easy to prepare without electricity.  In fact, if you actually put into practice what I’ve taught you so far about alternative ways to prepare your foods, while initially you may feel out of your element, I’m certain that you will actually enjoy the alternative cooking recommendations.  In fact, the reasons I use a pressure cooker and a solar oven now in my everyday life is because it takes so much stress and time off my plate as I work from home and teach a bazillion classes.  Additionally it delivers a superior taste, texture and nutrition level than I would experience otherwise.

mcdonalds-angus-burgersI think a lot of folks are overwhelmed simply because they don’t have the mental preparation necessary to succeed in their preparation efforts.  Let me give you an example.  What if you saw that your beef prices just raised to $12/pound and were of a lesser quality that you were accustomed to.  That would stress you out, right?  Whereas if you were able to obtain your desired beef for less a tenth of that price, and be assured that it was a quality product, your stress would be alleviated substantially, right?  Well, guess what?  If you go to McDonald’s right now, you can order a “1/3 pound Angus Beef Burger” for only $3.99.  Let’s see.  That makes that beef about $12 a pound.  You also have some serious nutritional concerns with such a burger due to the excess amounts of salt added to it, as well as McDonald’s reputation for using less-than-stellar grade beef.  So, my question is, when you pass that marquis outside of McDonald’s, do you feel a bit of anxiety to think that a “fast food joint” is selling beef for $12 a pound?!  Of course not.  But guess why that is the case?  Because you simply need a little more strengthening in your mental preparedness category.  Let’s explore this thought further. 

Look at it this way, if I was selling a product to you that was cheap or free, easy to use, safe, easily accessible, and it would save your family’s life, you would embrace it in a heartbeat, right?  Well, that’s exactly what food storage is.  The only reason why we think otherwise is because we’ve heard so much to the contrary for so long.  So really, why be overwhelmed with it? 

Now, contrast that with overly expensive, overly complicated, questionable quality and nutrition, inaccessible—especially during an emergency—and definitely NOT lifesaving for your family.  Just how fast would you embrace that?

Keep your food storage as simple as you need it to be.  Increase your knowledge and your food “repertoire” as you desire and in a pace you’re comfortable with.

Keep it as affordable as possible.

Keep it as nutritious as possible.

And keep on storing it.

If you do, you’ll find that “overwhelmed” is quickly replaced by peace and comfort.

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.

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A Case for Food Storage
By Kellene Bishop

In the matter of

One Year Supply of Food Storage (Plaintiff)

Vs.

Disbelief and Ignorance (Defendant)

“Plaintiff asserts that Defendant is guilty of unlawful endangerment, attempted murder, infliction of emotional stress, theft, criminal harassment, perjury, vandalism, disturbing the peace, racketeering, and fraud upon the citizens of the world.”

A Case for Food Storage photo c/o localwin.com

A Case for Food Storage photo c/o localwin.com

While many may have a tough time believing this when considering the case in favor of a year’s supply of food storage, I can assure you that the facts present themselves so abundantly in favor of food storage that were such a case to be brought before a court, this would be a slam dunk WIN for the “plaintiff.”  In my opinion, anyone who tries to convince you that you don’t need to be prepared with a year’s supply of essentials is plagued by some serious mental impairment.  I don’t say this coming from any position of religious belief regarding “the last days,” “Armageddon,” or “plagues, pestilence, and famine.”  The physical evidence is clear that we cannot continue to be oblivious to what’s going on around us and we must individually take action to prepare for a long-term interruption in our normal way of life—specifically when it comes to food and water.

Evidence #1: Worldwide food shortages.  Believe me, I know talking about food shortages sounds crazy, but I assure you that it only sounds foreign to us because it’s simply not a part of everyday life for most Americans.  I have written two pieces solely about food shortages on this site and provided ample evidence of such.  But in case that’s not enough for you, go to your favorite search engine and do a search on “food shortage.”  There are news articles from all over the world discussing this reality.  It’s not just restricted to 3rd world countries like you may expect.  Nations which have previously been top exporters of various food products are now IMPORTING food due to weather and natural disaster occurrences.

Photo c/o irishelection.com

Photo c/o irishelection.com

Evidence #2: Financial instability.  When an economy is in turmoil, it’s not just about consumers being able to afford to make purchases.  It’s also about manufacturers being able to afford to produce goods for consumers.  Consumers aren’t the only ones going without right now.  Companies are cutting back drastically everywhere.  Even flourishing food manufactuerers such as Proctor & Gamble have had to shut down plants, offer small amounts on their consumer coupons, decrease benefits packages, and freeze pay raises in various areas within the company.  P&G is one of the lucky ones.  Many others have had to completely shut their doors after decades of successful business.  The financial dance of the economy is a complicated tango. 

Right now the value of currency all over the world has been drastically reduced due to the financial meltdown within our nation.  We keep printing money to fund “stuff” without abiding by any consequences as to the actual value of that money.  In fact, the Federal Reserve has gone so far as to no longer produce the M3 report, which used to tell us just how much money was actually printed and in circulation at one time.  Let me share with you why that’s dangerous. 

mcdonalds-mealSuppose you ran a McDonald’s restaurant.  And suppose you elected to give out a coupon for a free McDonald’s meal.  Obviously, there has to be a limit to the number of meals your company can give to the community for free.  Even if you had a large budget for the campaign itself, you would still have logistical restrictions on the amount of beef, bread, manpower, and space that you would need to execute the coupon offer.  But what if one of your employees decided to make thousands of copies of that coupon and sent out stacks of them to everyone in the community?  Naturally you’re busy all day long making burgers, cleaning the restaurant, paying the employees and their benefits, and yet at the end of a month long campaign, all you’ve got to show for it is a stack of coupons that were exchanged for real meals.  Ultimately, you don’t have a business any longer—only the coupons are still in circulation.  So, tell me what those coupons are really worth to you—or more importantly how much they really cost you? 

Such is the case with our present financial condition in our nation.  We don’t have enough to back up the value of our “coupons.”  The gold is gone in Ft. Knox.  We have no idea how many “coupons” are in circulation.  And at some point (in the near future, I predict) it will be the “end of the month’s campaign,” and we will see that we’ve got a whole lot of useless paper in circulation with nothing but our last meal to show for it. 

So what happens?  People stop accepting your “useless paper” in exchange for your meals.  Instead they want something of “real value” such as gold, silver, or some other kind of “hard asset” trade in exchange for the goods you desire.  So how will you be able to feed your family for a year (or much more in order to provide enough time to fix such a mess) on what you’ve got in the form of “hard assets?”

This is exactly why I say that there is no better investment right now than FOOD.  Your money, or the value thereof, may be dwindling, but it can still be stretched a long ways in the form of coupons, rebates, combined with the “just plain cash” that we have now.  No matter what you pay today for it, it will still represent lifesaving nutrition for you tomorrow.  In fact, it will actually be worth MORE in the near future once an all out financial collapse occurs, because it will now represent a life saving asset that many will find themselves without.  

However, if you are smart and invest in a year’s supply of food now, you won’t regret it regardless of what happens on Wall Street. 

Evidence #3: Vulnerabilities.  The primary way that 98% of Americans receive some form of the nutritional needs is through technology and transportation.  ONE major earthquake along I-80, I-70, I-40, or I-20 in the United States and our nation will noticeably cripple our food and medical supplies.  A quarantine will cripple our access to emergency services, and depending on how long it lasts, even our access to running water, sewage, and electricity services.  Our nation runs pretty darn good when everything works well.  But it wouldn’t take much to put a major wrench in the flow of things.  One minor incident can cause a “food shortage” at your store within 30 minutes—no exaggeration.

Dragon Skin Body Armor

Dragon Skin Body Armor

Just as Dragon Skin Body Armor protects the wearer from a myriad of firearm hits (look it up, it’s AWESOME), food shortage protects from other ailments as well.  In the event that a particular staple becomes tainted in the market, you won’t have to “do without” because you already stocked up.  When prices sky-rocket because of rumor or natural disaster (just as rice and wheat have done over the last year) you’ll be a “foodlord” because of what you have already stored.  Your money will go further because your meals will be created as a result of what’s in your storage, not what you happen to pass by at the grocery store.  And a very definite sense of peace accompanies that storage in knowing that you have indeed provided for the well-being of your family and those you love.  

To summarize, food storage is every man’s defense against inflation, famine, pestilence, government regulations, financial instability, war, terror, natural disasters, and just plain market manipulation.  Why would you be without it? 

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.

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By Kellene Bishop

food-storage-shelvesHere’s one simple tip so you never have to worry about HOW to cook what’s in your food storage. 

Many folks just plain don’t know how to cook with their food storage.  When I hear this, I ask people why they’re storing foods that are unfamiliar to them or their family?  Sure there are ideal lists which include long lasting grains and legumes, but if you’re not using such ingredients now to feed your family with, it’s not going to be helpful to them in an emergency.

Think for just a moment what kind of chaos a financial collapse, an earthquake, an act of war, or some other kind of disaster could bring into your life.  Do you really want to complicate things by adding more stress into your life by consuming “foreign foods”?  You and your family are going to crave as much “normalcy” as possible.  Unless you’re already serving your family “Boston Baked Wheat” you don’t want to try it out on them while they are being quarantined for 90 days as the result of a flu pandemic.  In fact, it is exactly these kinds of times that you will want to provide the most comforting favorites for your family.  But…yes, there is a but…

Part of being prepared is being ready to live off of foods which are most nourishing and longer lasting than what your diet may currently consist of in your household.  (To this end I implore parents of picky eaters—or spouses of such—to do all they can to get them to embrace more nourishing foods.)  Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are great now.  But how will they be when you have to make the bread from scratch?  Will your family even touch them?  Don’t panic.  Just start learning the lost art of bread making now.  I can tell you from experience that it’s a heck of a lot more rewarding than besting someone at an online game of Scrabble.  

Try sprouts on a meat sandwich! Photo c/o scanwiches.com

Try sprouts on a meat sandwich! Photo c/o scanwiches.com

Slowly introduce your family to new things.  For example, my husband, who I can’t get to eat a vegetable unless it’s on a slab of beef, has agreed to try and start putting sprouts on his meat sandwiches.  Why?  Because I am trying to get him used to eating this easy and widely accessible source of nutrition so when we are in the midst of an emergency, he can handle it—not only emotionally, but physically as well.  Being ready to live off those foods doesn’t involve just having the appetite for them.  We need to be prepared to use them and work with them as well.  If you’ve never tried sprouting, don’t think that the sprouter you’ve got in the basement is going to do much for you in a time of crisis.  Using it under such circumstances will only cause you more stress due to its unfamiliarity and you’ll avoid it at all costs. 

You also need to get your body accustomed to eating such foods.  In fact, if most people attempted to go from their existing diet to one containing whole wheat at the majority of their meals, they would actually DIE inside of 30 days due to the dehydration and diarrhea their body would experience in so drastic a dietary change.  This is one reason why I counsel people to store what they eat—at least a 90 day supply—and then work on introducing other, more stable storage foods, into their diet along the way.  Yes, it’s a lot less expensive to store a year’s supply of wheat, legumes, honey, and powdered milk as opposed to the ingredients for your favorite casseroles, Navajo Tacos, and brownie mixes.  But I assure you that those items won’t get used for much of anything if you haven’t already familiarized your family with them prior to a disaster.  So be sure to have at least 90 days of the familiar and then work on familiarizing your family with other foods that will have a great shelf-life in your home.  Remember, stress alters the mind.  It races the heart.  It breaks down the immune system.  If you’re in a quarantine situation, for example, can you really afford to expose anyone in your family to any of these physical stresses simply because you weren’t prepared with a realistic menu for them?  Perhaps now you may better understand why I go to great lengths to learn how to make bread, sprout, store M&Ms, make sour cream out of powdered milk, wax my own cheese, store eggs long-term, and create recipes out of what’s on my shelves, etc.  I do it in anticipation of a situation in which food and nourishment will be a comfort to the mind and the spirit, not just sustain life.  (And yes, there are indeed those times in which M&Ms sustain me. :))

I’ve been asked how I remember where all of my food storage is since it’s scattered all around the house.  I remember because I’m always in it—except when I’m on that blasted diet.  I’m always using what I store.  I’m rotating it.  (In fact I have a Mason jar full—er, half full—of almond M&Ms next to me on my desk as I write this.)  Other than the years supply of MREs we have stored in the back of the basement, there’s not a single nutritional item in my home that is “uncommon” to me.  If you have anything that’s uncommon to you in your food storage, it’s nearly useless.

kuhn-rikon-pressure-cookerPoint being, no one should have trouble cooking with their food storage, because their food storage should contain what they are already consuming and thus what they are already familiar in preparing.  Practice making your food in a Dutch Oven, or in a pressure cooker over a small butane stove, or in a solar oven.  Go to classes to learn how to make the essentials.  They are usually free.  Go through cook books and experiment with “less than fresh” items as substitutes in recipes, such as canned chicken for frozen, canned green beans for fresh, etc.  Find out from your family what their absolute favorite meals are and then find the most efficient way to stock the items for those meals.  We’re not in the dark ages here, folks.  Cooking with your food storage doesn’t have to involve an Indian dance and an archaic tool for grinding your flour.  Even without the luxury of electricity, we still will have the benefit of the luxury of knowledge and technology galore. 

Keep in mind that in a previous article I wrote, I recommended that folks start their food storage by storing their food in “meals” as opposed to “pounds of items.”  In other words, if your family loves waffles, then be sure you have the makings for waffles.  If you have such ingredients sufficient to make them 12 times, then you only have to come up with 29 other meals.  (Or less, depending on how often you want to eat waffles.  I recommend coming up with a great variety for your family though so that they don’t suffer from “appetite fatigue.”)

It all boils down to this: Store what you eat and eat what you store.

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.

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Yes, You Can Find Space
By Kellene Bishop

We’ve all thought it.  “Where in the world would I put a years supply of food storage?!”  Unfortunately, such a question leads many to not even attempt to be prepared for an emergency.

55 Gallon Water Barrels

55 Gallon Water Barrels

When it comes to having somewhere to put your emergency preparedness supplies, it usually boils down to priorities.  I know you don’t want to hear that, and I realize this isn’t ALWAYS the case.  But throughout my emergency preparedness consulting, I’ve always been able to find “more room” for emergency preparedness—even in a small studio apartment.  The ultimate question you have to ask yourself is how important those emergency preparedness supplies are.  I understand a 55 gallon water barrel doesn’t usually match anyone’s décor.  But do you really think you’re going to care about that when your family needs food, water, or medical supplies?  Grant it, you could be artistically inclined and perhaps arrange the canned goods against your wall to resemble a Van Gogh, but I’m not talking about getting quite that creative.  

I understand when you have a 500 square foot apartment, space is limited.  But the question is limited to “what”.  While not everyone has a basement, storage rooms, or large pantries, I’ve been in big beautiful homes decorated to the hilt and have been told by the owners that they don’t have food storage because “they don’t have room.”  Geesh.  Clearly, I’m not talking to those people here.  I’m speaking to those who actually want to do something to better prepare their family for an emergency.  My hope is that you rethink your priorities of the storage of other items in your home and perhaps help you uncover some problem solving skills.  Here are a few additional suggestions on storing your emergency preparedness supplies.

  1. “Under the Bed” Storage.  I have yet to look under someone’s bed and not see stuff underneath it.  But it’s usually “stuff” that isn’t life saving or providing any semblance of security.  You can store an entire years’ food supply for one person underneath a twin sized bed.  Now, presuming that everyone in your home has a bed to sleep on, this can easily take care of your storage requirements.  I don’t recommend storing just the food storage for one person underneath their bed.  Instead, I would put the powdered milk and wheat under one bed, for example, pasta and beans under another.  For the record, I’m not saying to substitute your bed frame with your food storage.  I’ve seen folks do that.  When push comes to shove, I’m all about a comfortable nights sleep, and I’m not sure wheat bags are intended for that.  🙂
  2. Store things you don't use often in the garage. Photo c/o greendarlingblog.com

    Store things you don't use often in the garage. Photo c/o greendarlingblog.com

    Stuff the Cupboards.  You’ve already got food in your cupboards, but are they really full to the max?  I see a lot of homes that don’t maximize the use of their existing cupboard space.  Instead of using the space under your kitchen sink for detergents, use it for more practical purposes like Tupperware stuffed with pasta, legumes, etc.  Store those big kitchen gadgets like the George Foreman grill you don’t use very often in the shed or garage.  I assure you it’s equipped to handle the heat, whereas your supplies necessary for chicken ala queen can use that valuable space inside.  Maximize the cabinet space you already do have with emergency preparedness items.  These should be a priority for you. When you see space in your pantry or cupboards, think about what you could be storing there in the form of food storage.  Behind our towels in the linen closet you’ll find dried peaches.  In the corner of the entry closet you’ll find salt, powdered milk, and some other items.  Finding space for items is a lot easier after you’ve obtained them.  And acquiring them will do more to help you and your family. 🙂

  3. Compact Loose Items.  I store a great deal of items in used 4 gallon plastic square buckets.  They’re great for organization but also because I get the benefit of available height without spending a lot of money on shelves.  Besides, in the event of an earthquake, the square containers are waterproof and can take a bit of a beating, protecting what’s inside.  
    Square Buckets photo by Preparedness Pro

    Square Buckets photo by Preparedness Pro

    These square buckets can be obtained for free from bakeries and restaurants and they don’t waste any space like the 5 gallon circular ones.  I store ingredients for specific meals in them as well as specific categories like dental, pain relievers, bandages and pasta.  This way I don’t have loose pieces cluttering up space.  Minimizing loose pieces actually creates more space.  You’ll be surprised what you can store in a closet from floor to ceiling when you use these square buckets.  Just like you can utilize space under the beds, you can also utilize space at the back of deep cabinets, under the stairs, under the deck, the back of the shed, behind the couch, under the desk, in the crawl space, on the back porch, and in every closet in your home with these square buckets without intruding on the rest of your space.  

    For those of you who don’t want to go around asking for free buckets and cleaning them out, check out The Bucket Guy.  (They also have a great price on zip-lock Mylar bags and 1500 cc oxygen absorbers.)  Tell them that you heard of them through Preparedness Pro for a discount below what they advertise on their site. 

    Ultimately square buckets are about making the most of your existing space.  Other sturdy, square containers will accomplish this as well.  I don’t recommend using cardboard though—it’s not as sturdy or reliable against bugs, kids, and moisture.

  4. The "Waterbed" photo by Preparedness pro

    The "Waterbed" photo by Preparedness Pro

    Get Creative.  There are a couple of “crazies” out there who bury their food storage out in the back yard, but I strongly advise against this.  Why?  Because in an emergency you need to conserve your physical energy.  Having to locate and dig up your food just to survive is a bad way to use your energy.  Plus you have to be really, really careful how you store it underground so it doesn’t leak or get underground “yuck” in it as well.  (Let’s not call them crazy. Let’s just call them zealous.)  As you can see in the picture, my husband got a bit zealous himself and put several 55 gallon drums of water under a mattress set we have in a spare bedroom.  We affectionately call this our “waterbed”.  I cleaned out a great deal of scrapbooking supplies to make more room for a lot of freeze-dried foods I purchased on sale.  On the other hand, for years I had a round piece of wood covered with beautiful circular tablecloth at both ends of my sofa in the living room.  These full water barrels were the most “kid proof” furniture I owned.  And they weren’t unsightly in the least.You can always “hide” food storage with a full length curtain from the floor to the ceiling or some sort of a room divider.  I also like to hang things from the ceiling.  In fact, for years my husband had shelves hanging from the rafters in the basement with chains.  Now he has bunk beds going the entire length of the room and we use that as shelving.  This way we not only have the maximum amount of storage space, but in unfortunate circumstances, we also have more room for others to sleep.  

    You can also stack plywood boards and #10 cans or 4/5 gallon buckets on top of each other to make shelving, too.  In other words, your food and emergency supplies ARE your shelving.

    I also make use of the space behind a door and attach hanging door shelves on the backs of them.  Again, the key is to look at all of the unused space in your home and get creative with it.

  5. Use Your Outdoor Space. There are many items that can actually be stored outdoors, such as medical supplies, pasta, rice, water (so long as you leave room in the container for expansion), fuels, etc.  You can also store food storage sealed in #10 cans outside that are coated with double enamel.  They will only rust if they are dented.  My husband and I also obtain used 50 gallon barrels from a local cannery (for free) and store extra clothing, sleeping bags, pillows, etc inside after sealing them in bags that suck all of the air out of things.  (I know, eloquent, eh?)  That’s a whole lot of space that you can make available from within your home simply by transferring appropriate items outdoors.

Mind you, I can be a creative “pack rat.”  When my husband and I got married I was living in an 800 sq. foot apartment, but when we moved into our new home it still required a full-sized moving truck to transport everything.  Many close friends helped us load the truck that day.  Time and time again these same friends who frequented my home asked me where in the world I had all this stuff “hiding.”  I was still able to have an inviting home in spite of my food storage.  

Bottom line, if you WANT to store precious goods to help you and your family in an emergency, you will find a way to do it.  Really.  I’m not saying you haven’t wanted to up to this point.  But I hope I’ve helped you ask yourself the right questions to make it a higher priority. 

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.

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Yes, You Can Afford It

By Kellene Bishop

Photo c/o chathamjournal.com

Photo c/o chathamjournal.com

Let’s face it.  Watching your bags of groceries get smaller and smaller while the price goes up and up will overwhelm anyone–especially if you have food storage on the brain plus providing food for your family.  I don’t care how wealthy you are, paying more money for less groceries is upsetting, right?  Two nights ago I taught a class specifically to aid individuals in obtaining MORE groceries and other items for less.  To emphasize the message I created several dishes for the group of 40 people with serving sizes plenty for each person to try several tastes of each dish.  I made a dessert and two main dishes all for a total of $4.92.  I often tell people that it only costs $1 per person per day for a year’s supply of food.  But with the benefit of couponing, I find that price to be quite generous.  Why?  Because I am able to obtain so many items for FREE or even better, for less than free. 

Here’s an example of how I get something for “less than free.”  Albertson’s recently had a sale on General Mills cereals.  My husband enjoys Cheerios and I consider them relatively healthy.  I had a coupon for $1 off of a box of Cheerios.  They were on sale for $1.99 a box.  However, Albertson’s also distributed one of their own coupons which allows me to double the value of any coupon presented, up to a $1, on any product purchased.  I had my $1 off, Albertson’s doubled it, which made my box of Cheerios cost me negative 1 cent.  ($1.99 – $1 – $1 = $ -.01)  This kind of scenario happens in the stores I shop over and over.  To be honest, I never shopped at Albertson’s or Walgreens or Rite-Aid before because those stores were “too expensive.”  Now I can’t afford to shop at the warehouse stores!  Who needs to rob a bank anymore?  Taking groceries from a store is much more lucrative, legal, and fun.  And I have not yet been shot at trying to do so. 🙂

These kinds of discounts aren’t isolated solely to groceries.  I’ve purchased pain relievers, cough medicines, deodorants, toothpastes, feminine needs, razors, paper goods, bandages, and even rat poison at a deep discount.  In fact, I’m no longer impressed with “50% off” sales.  I tend to focus on “free,” “almost free” or “hey, we’ll essentially pay you to take this product out of the store for us.” 🙂

So here’s a question for you.  How many times would YOU want to get that kind of a deal?  If you could consistently get these kinds of deals on first-aid, medical supplies and groceries do you think you could easily accumulate your necessary food storage and some emergency preparedness supplies?  Of course you could!  The numbers of times you can get such a deal is limited only by your willingness to be aware of what’s going on around you in the form of sales, coupons, specials AND the number of newspapers and online coupons you’re willing to obtain.  I personally subscribe to five Sunday newspapers and regularly check 6 easy coupon websites.  More importantly for you to consider, I look at this as a part-time job.  I make my own hours, determine how much I make per hour (which turns out to be about $50-$100 an hour), work from the comfort of my own home.  Try getting a part-time job under those terms any other way today. 

coupon-binderThe biggest question I’m asked when teaching people about couponing is how much time it takes.  Usually this question is asked in an overwhelmed tone by the person, already anticipating that it will be yet one more thing on their massive list of things to do.  I usually spend about 2 hours on a Sunday night hunting and gathering my coupons.  I use a guillotine-style paper cutter to cut them so I can usually cut out 5 to 10 at a time.  Sometimes I have to cut the coupons down a bit more, but I use spring-loaded scissors for the task as not to wear out my hands.  (Of course, I purchased the scissors and the paper cutter on sale.)  Then I organize my coupons in a heavy, zippered, three-ring binder, divided into all of the categories of interest to me.  Then I insert the coupons into heavy duty baseball card holders.  I’ve researched a LOT of other methods for organizing coupons and I assure you that I’ve found this to be THE best way by far.  (Please take my word on this matter. You can go off and try to be a pioneer, but you know that they always come back with arrows in their back.) 🙂 I never have trouble finding or seeing the coupons.  They never fall out as the result of an errant slip, and as a result of my organization, I’m not a nuisance to someone who’s in line behind me. 

savvy-shopper-avatarIn addition to my own efforts, I’ve found a great ally who does all of the “watching” and accounting of the coupons for me—Amy at www.savvyshopperdeals.com.  Twice a week, Amy tells gives me a gauge as to what’s a good sale, a great sale, or a kick butt sale on her website.  I can go on her site, tell this amazing software what I’m looking for, what percentage I want to save, what store I want to shop, etc., and create my grocery list right there.  What I end up with is the perfect grocery list that tells me what stores the items are located, what coupons I need to have on hand (plus where they can be located, whether it be a website or a newspaper ad) and she even tells me what AISLE the products are in.  Best of all, this service is completely free.  This way I don’t have to waste time hunting through all of the ads.  I simply spend a little bit of time on her site after I’ve got my coupons organized, and I’m off to stealing…er, I mean buying groceries.  (Note: Right now Amy is local for Utah stores, however, she’s in the process of going NATIONAL very soon.  I’m excited for the rest of you.  Know though that there are similar services and forums online in your area as well.)

Couponing has several benefits.  Not only can you feed your family every day for cheap, but because you ARE feeding your family every day so affordably, it makes you think twice about going out to eat.  With easy recipes you don’t have to feel the need to “escape” to a restaurant for a break.  On those rare occasions when I do go out to eat now it’s only for something that I probably don’t know how to make like those dang biscuits at Texas Roadhouse.  I almost always have a coupon when I go out to eat now.  Even then I’m looking at my food and telling myself, “Do you know how much in groceries I can get for the price of these two meals?!”  Yes, I’m officially “coupon corrupted.”  But seriously.  Couponing really does change your perspective on money.  After you’ve had the experience of ringing up over $100 of groceries only to pay $4.92 for them, you sure think differently about paying for those “extra upgrades” in life.  When I see a quarter on the ground now, yeah, I’ll pick it up—‘cause that could pay for a couple meals if I use it right! 

There’s the stigma that couponing isn’t worthwhile and that it only saves you money on junk.  Part of the reason why I made great food for my class the other night was to dispel this stigma.  Here’s two great recipes that I used last night to show them just how yummy “cheap” can be.  (By the way, due to couponing, I got over $30 in free pork for this recipe the other day!)

Easy BBQ Pork (My total cost: $3.49. Serves 10-12)

In a saucepan over medium heat mix 2 jars of chili sauce and 1 regular sized jar of grape jelly.  Warm through. 

In a casserole dish, Dutch oven, or the sauce pan, place your cooked pork. (Canned, Hormel, Spam, etc.)  Drizzle the chili/jelly mixture over the meat and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until the meat is warmed through.  This tastes better if you are able to have sliced pork simmering in the mixture instead of whole large pork roast, etc. Y ou simply can’t get enough of the bbq sauce flavor.

Serve over cooked rice.

tuna-roll-coupon-cooking-Tuna Roll (My total cost: $1.11. Serves 8 – 10)

2 cans of tuna, drained

½ C Miracle Whip

½ C of Italian shredded cheese mix

½ package of cream cheese, cut into cubes

1 can cream of celery

½ T. granulated onion

1 T. Italian seasoning

2 cans of Pillsbury crescent rolls or crescent rounds

***

1 can cream of mushroom

1 C of parmesan cheese or 4 cheese Italian cheese mix

1/4 C of milk

Sprinkle of parsley

1 stick of butter

1 sleeve of Ritz crackers, crushed 

Mix the tuna, mayo, cream cheese, cheese mix and celery soup together in a bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Roll out the crescent rolls until they are in a flat rectangle.  

tuna-roll-first

Spoon the tuna mixture over the bread dough.  

tuna-roll-two

Carefully roll the dough like a “jelly roll”.  Place in a “Pam sprayed” casserole dish.  Bake at 350 for 12- 15 minutes.

tuna-roll-finished

In another bowl mix together the cream of mushroom soup, the cheese, and ¼ C of milk.  Stir consistently until nicely thickened.  Then spread over the cooked tuna rolls. 

Mix together the crumbled Ritz crackers and the melted butter. Top the dish evenly, then sprinkle a little parsley on top.  Return to the oven for about 10 minutes.  Serve warm.

I have so much more that I’d love to share with you on this topic, but that’s simply not practical on a blog.  So I’ll keep chipping away at different components on couponing and hope that in the meantime you’ll think twice about embracing this way of affordably gathering in your supplies.  

I’ve known folks who have been on food stamps who have been able to stand on their own two feet thanks to couponing.  I also personally know of a family of 7 that spends only $100 a month on groceries and HALF of that is for food storage.  Given that the value of our currency is in question and inflation keeps rearing its ugly head, I can’t think of a better way to fight back than to take advantage of couponing.

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.

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