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By Kellene Bishop

I’ve have to admit I’ve got buckets on the brain right now. A friend suggested that I share with you why that’s the case. To put it simply it could just be because that’s how I alleviate anxiety. But for some of you, buckets may be a way to peacefully organize your storage items, including food and preparedness supplies, in a more strategic manner.

5 Gallon Buckets with Gamma Lid photo c/o Home Food Storage

5 Gallon Buckets with Gamma Lid photo c/o Home Food Storage

I’ve stored food, medical, camping, and many other supplies in plastic buckets for as long as I can remember. They are tough enough to store nails in and very versatile. If there ever is a flood, I’ve ensured that a lot of the supplies in buckets will be undamaged, and if there is an earthquake, a great deal of the items will stay in tact and unbroken. I make sure that I use food-grade buckets only. When it comes to the lids, I use regular 5 gallon lids, but I have several gamma lids also. I replace the old lid with a gamma lid once I’m getting into the bucket regularly for items such as wheat, beans, and rice. The gamma lids have a great seal on the bucket, but can be easily unscrewed in the inner circle of the lid for my use. The gamma lids cost about $5 to $7, so that’s why I don’t just use them on all of my buckets. The 5-gallon buckets also have “toilet seats” for emergency sanitation. (I’d like to pat the guy on the back who came up with that idea.) I’ve been using 5 gallon buckets to store a great deal of my items almost exclusively until about 2 years ago. That’s when I discovered the 4 gallon square bucket.

4 Gallon Square Bucket with Flip Top Lid

4 Gallon Square Bucket with Flip Top Lid

Although only 42 years old, it doesn’t take much for me to throw my back out, so hefting a 5 gallon bucket isn’t exactly my favorite thing to do. Also, when I see a group of round buckets, I can’t help but notice the space I’m wasting—both inside and outside the buckets. So when I discovered 4 gallon square buckets, my biggest concerns were alleviated. They are manageable to lift, they store nice and tight with the wall and other items, and are easy to fill more thoroughly. They can also stack about 6 or 8 high comfortably (depending on the weight of the contents). While there isn’t a “gamma lid” contraption for the square buckets, there are rubber sealed lids with essentially a flip open top. Much like I use the gamma seal lids, I use these more rugged lids in place of the standard ones when I’m regularly using the contents of a square bucket. They even have a nice little “stay open” feature when I’m scooping contents out. Then all I have to do is snap the lid back into place.

Since discovering the 4 gallon square bucket, I’ve begun using them even more than before. One way I utilize them is by storing all of the contents of a particular meal in a bucket along with the recipe. This way, I don’t have to go hunting for the various ingredients when I go down to my pantry. And in the event of a survival situation, I can give myself some peace of mind without having to stress “what will I cook?” since I label the buckets according to the meals that are inside. Sometimes I have enough for 20 servings in each bucket, sometimes 50. It all depends on how “ingredient intensive” the meal is. For example, for my Chicken Poppy Seed casserole, I put the Rice-A-Roni in a FoodSaver bag (in its original box), along with the cans of chicken, cream of chicken soup, Ritz crackers, poppy seeds, powdered sour cream, salt, and pepper with a large label on the bucket that says “Chicken Poppy Seed Casserole.” I’ve created several recipes for items which are “pantry friendly” that I know the hubby and others already love and have buckets of these meals stored accordingly. Can I just tell you what kind of a peace it gives me to go into the pantry and see buckets of meals that actually sound good and are easy to make? I mean really, which would you rather see? A bucket labeled “wheat” or a bucket labeled “Beef Stroganoff?” 🙂

When I use items from the buckets (which I do all of the time) I simply replace the ingredients with future grocery shopping trips OR with other items I have in my supplies. Either way, what I don’t want is a false sense of security when I see labeled buckets. I want to know I can rely on them to have the meals inside. It’s also MUCH easier to take a semi-annual accounting this way.

Stacking Square Buckets photo c/o Preparedness Pro

Stacking Square Buckets photo c/o Preparedness Pro

Buckets are also great to keep other types of contents in them. For example, I’m frequently getting good deals on small bottles of olive oil. (Thank you, coupons!) Instead of stacking them on a shelf and leaving them to the wiles of an earthquake, I wrap them up with newspaper (again–thanks to coupons) and place them in a bucket marked “olive oil.” (Yes, I came up with that brilliant label all by myself. Hee hee.) Now, with these square buckets full of olive oil, I can easily and securely stack them on top of each other. Whereas with my large containers of olive oil that I got from a warehouse, all I can do is have their big selves take up space on the shelf or floor in a single layer. That sure is a waste of height, don’t you think? This way I’m not forced to shell out for expensive shelving for everything. The same goes with BBQ sauce, spices, salad dressings, etc. Some items simply come in awkward sizes and shapes, but the buckets sure make things nice and organized for me. Since I don’t buy my items “by the case” usually, I can’t store them that way. 

Here’s another thought. If I had only a day’s notice to move all of my things, wouldn’t it be a heck of a lot easier to take buckets out of the pantry than stopping to pack regular sized bottles or boxes of food and supplies?

I also use buckets for storing medical and hygiene items, as well as groups of supplies such as cheese waxing, egg preservation, sewing, dental, etc. This prevents me from purchasing or paying “too much”. What I mean by that is when I see deodorant on sale for 59 cents, I may think that’s a good deal. But when I go downstairs and see two buckets marked “deodorant,” I’m easily reminded that anything more than FREE is a bit expensive to me. In other words, when I know I’ve got a bucket full of a particular hygiene or medical item, chances are I already have enough and don’t need to spend the money.

Now remember, you can put diatomaceous earth IN your buckets of goods and prevent the insect critters from bothering anything. I would definitely put the DE in the bucket if it’s a grain, legume, rice, or pasta. But when you have a cluster of buckets full of items that don’t already come with their own supply of insects *grin*, then you can simply sprinkle DE around your grouping of buckets instead of putting it inside of them.

Where do you find these buckets? There’s several options. “Wally World” sells them, but I hate their prices. You can easily get used buckets that were used for food grade purposes. During the harvest season you can get them directly from fruit growers for 50 cents or so. You can also obtain them from bakeries in your local grocery stores for FREE. So try making a few calls and make the most of those options first. However, in many areas I’ve lived, getting them year round has been a challenge. Thus I’m in love with Five Star Preparedness as my bucket source for this reason. They have used, 4-gallon, food grade buckets all the time, and tons of them too. (You can get about 25-28 pounds of grain and such in each bucket.) Each used bucket and lid are $2 each. They guarantee that each bucket and lid will be in sound condition or they will replace it cheerfully. Even better, for those of you who are in Utah or who come through the area, if you pick up the buckets yourself they are only $1.50. They will ship them in increments of 10 all over the continental U.S. with no additional handling charge. Another option is that you can have them make a massive delivery to your area based on a minimum bucket order. Apparently they frequently have church and community groups that request these by the hundreds. The minimum bucket count for the order depends on where they are being delivered. You can also get the new lids that I mentioned as well for only $2. I found these same lids at “Wally world” for more than 3 times their price! You can e-mail them at fulfillment [at] fivestarpreparedness [dot] com or you can call them during business hours at 801-734-9596 (which is answered in the same office as our executive answering service in Utah.)

So now perhaps you’ll look at buckets a bit more differently. Didn’t you know? Plastic is the new gold? 🙂

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

By Kellene Bishop

Hey Folks. Several months ago I was waiting for a solar oven business to finally post it’s site. They didn’t. Why? Because they were bought out by another company–Five Star Preparedness. So when I found that out, I made friends with Five Star. (It wasn’t really hard because they use the same executive virtual office that we do. Hee hee) Anyway, their site is not yet live, BUT…I wanted to let you know that they ARE able to take solar oven orders now. All you have to do is call them at 801-734-9596. They only offer two solar ovens, but they are the only two that I recommend. And the best part is, that they are offering a KILLER price on these. After they shared the price with me I thought, “Hmmm…that’s pretty much in line.” But then they shared with me that EACH solar oven purchase includes two 3-qt enamel pans, thermometer, and a WAPI–oh, and the prices included shipping. In that case, I have to say that they are the best priced that I’ve seen. In fact when I went to the manufacturers sites, they didn’t even offer them for these prices.

five-star-preparedness-global-sun-ovenI’ll give you the run down on the ovens for your education. The heartiest one is the Global Sun Oven. It’s got a 15 year guarantee and is intended to be used everyday for 15 years. (You’re not likely to use it that much. So that should tell you about it’s ruggedness.) It weighs 21 pounds, but it has a “suitcase” handle on it and is easily portable. It gets up to 450 degrees and you can double stack pans in it. It also has a leveler in it, so that regardless of you having to tilt its base in the winter time, your food stays level.  I have personally done a 17 pound turkey in mine (about a pound shy of what they claim you can do in them…but I couldn’t find a bigger bird.) Anyway, the limited time offer price through Five Star Preparedness is $255. That includes shipping, thermometer, two 3-qt. dark enamel pans, a water pasteurization indicator, and the reflector, of course.

Photo c/o Solar Cooker

Photo c/o Solar Cooker

The other oven is the SOS Solar Oven (also known as the Sport). This one weighs only 10 pounds. It’s intended for regular use for 5 years. It has a wider surface than the Global, but it’s not as deep. I like mine for that reason, but it’s not as rugged as the other. The limited time offer price through Five Star Preparedness is $175. That also includes shipping, a recipe book, thermometer, WAPI, and two 3-qt. enamel pans.

I’ll provide you guys with a link when they give me one. But in the meantime, you guys can at least get yours for a killer price. By the way, I tried to get a discount for Prep Pro folks, but they claim (reasonably enough) that every day, every item is priced rock bottom so that they can get as many of these into people’s homes as possible. Makes sense to me.  Let me know how you guys like them. I LOVE mine. (And am even thinking about getting another Global in the event I have to cook for a small army of folks in a disaster.)

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

Rotating Can Shelves photo c/o The Sassy Saver

Rotating Can Shelves photo c/o The Sassy Saver

Last weekend I was speaking with a very excited man who is a relatively new acquaintance of mine. He claimed that he had finally broken down and bought a years supply of food for his family and even purchased those “nifty” little shelves to hold all of his cans. He was so excited, he just had to show me. So he took me to his storage room along with his pleased wife and with the flare of a Broadway emcee, displayed his years’ supply of food storage. As I stood there thinking of him and his wife and their 5 children, I was dumbfounded. I thought for sure that I was missing something. I looked around the small room to see where else he may be pointing. But nope. He had a small set of rotating can shelves full of cans of foods. The problem was, by my somewhat flawed math estimates, I could only see about 200 cans of food. It doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that one can per person PER day would only amount to about 28 days of ONE meal per day. I frankly didn’t know how to kindly break it to him. So I did what I do best. I was blunt. *grin* I told him that I was so happy that he started his food storage and asked him how it made him feel. He said it was a GREAT feeling. I asked if he felt like he could handle a little bit more of that feeling. He said, “Sure!” So I proceeded to point out that what he had wasn’t even enough to feed one adult for a month, let alone his family for a year. Feeling a bit dejected he moved our conversation out of the basement and into the family room that was attached to the kitchen. From there I could see remaining cans of tomatoes, corn, and beans they had used to create an aromatic taco soup.

Taco Soup photo c/o His Daughter

Taco Soup photo c/o His Daughter

I asked him, “How many people did you feed with this batch of soup tonight?”
He said, “All of us, but we all had seconds.”
“Why did you all have seconds?”
“Because we were hungry and it tasted good.
I asked him how many cans he used to create dinner.
“Nine, plus some spices and a pound of ground beef.” 
“Do you feel overly stuffed from your meal?”
“No.”
“Do you feel content from your meal?”
“Yes.”
“Don’t you think that in a time in which you’re stressed with a chaotic environment that feeling content will be important to your family?”
“(Sigh) Yes.”
(You would have thought that I’d taken away Winnie-the-Pooh’s honey pot.)

During this conversation, some of the kids volunteered that after dinner they’d gotten into some snacks because they “still wanted some more to eat.” The wife sheepishly admitted that she had to have some Dove chocolate to “take the edge off of the day.” (I had to empathize with her on that one, for sure!)

Ok, so the point? I have been shown a person’s food storage on many occasions. The majority of those who believe they have enough food do not even have 3 months’ supply, let alone a year.

First of all, understand that food is a lot like cash in your wallet. It sure does seem to go quickly. Secondly, don’t underestimate the amount of food your family will need to feel healthy, calm, and content. Food indeed will be a way to “ground” your family in some sort of normalcy when all heck breaks loose.

As you accumulate and organize your meals, keep in mind generous servings, not minimal. Be realistic. I once had a gal tell me that she could feed her whole family on one box of mac-n-cheese. When I asked if she had ever put such a theory to the test, she replied no, that usually each teenager wants their own box. 

Beef Stroganoff photo c/o Creating Post-it Notes

Beef Stroganoff photo c/o Creating Post-it Notes

When I take an accounting of our food storage, I have a lot of my records by the serving, not the pound or ounce. Also, I store the recipes and ingredients for entire meals in 4-gallon square buckets. (These are invaluable in my home as they stack higher, take up less room, etc.) For example, let’s say I’m planning on serving Beef Stroganoff. Inside a 4-gallon square bucket I have the cans of cream of mushroom soup, cans of beef chunks, bags of pasta, seasonings, cans of veggies for the side dishes, and a bottle of applesauce to finish the meal off. That way when my husband asks me “what’s for dinner?” (tonight or in the future) I can simply go downstairs, look at the rows of buckets and pick a meal knowing that I already have everything I need for it right in there, along with the recipe. This makes life a lot less stressful NOW and in the event of a future food shortage scenario. I’m telling you, there’s a great deal of peace when you can look and see these meals neatly stacked and labeled in your food storage. Each bucket represents at least one meal based on how I have the bucket labeled. Sometimes I can fit a couple of meals in each bucket depending on the number of ingredients.

So the moral of this story is to take an actual accounting of the numbers of servings you have in your food storage, use what you store regularly, and try to store your food in clusters of meals that you know your family already loves. Be generous in your estimation of serving sizes and account for the entire meal as opposed to just a single dish.

4-gallon-bucket(By the way, a great place to find 4-gallon buckets is Five Star Preparedness. They have used 4-gallon square buckets that take up less space than the round ones. They also enable me to stack them much higher securely than the others. Since they are only 4 gallons, they don’t present as much of a physical challenge to me as do the 5-gallon ones. The 4-gallon buckets are $2 each and come with a lid. I love that I can buy a new lid with a hinged, stay-open feature and rubber gasket seal for only $2 (less than what they sell for at Wal-Mart) and use the new lids once I’m getting into them regularly. You can reach Five Star Preparedness at 801-734-9596)

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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