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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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We have a winner, folks! One of Preparedness Pro’s remarkable commenters from the last two weeks will walk away with this FoodSaver Mason Jar Attachment! How’s that for sharing your two cents’ worth?

FoodSaver Mason Jar Attachment photo c/o Amazon

FoodSaver Mason Jar Attachment photo c/o Amazon

And the winner is…

Jaime Makin!

Congratulations, Jaime! Please email sarah [at] preparednesspro [dot] com with your mailing addresso so we can get your FoodSaver Mason Jar Attachment out to you!

In case you’re wondering what to do with your new prize, here’s an excerpt from a past article that will explain it perfectly:

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.

Preparedness Pro will keep the commenting contest going through Thanksgiving, so whenever you feel so inclined, share your thoughts and insights on any of the Preparedness Pro articles and we’ll keep giving away fabulous prizes every two weeks!

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!

Slow and steady wins the race! Photo c/o redbrownandblue.com

Slow and steady wins the race! Photo c/o redbrownandblue.com

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By Kellene Bishop

Time’s a wastin’. Getting prepared takes a concerted effort on a regular basis. However, it doesn’t take require loads of money or fancy contraptions. It takes action. The good news is that even though I’m not surrounded with a particular need for preparedness right now, I’m still amply rewarded when I do a little something to improve my family’s state of readiness. I find that each activity I do and every effort I make in this regard increases my level of peace, confidence, and assurance substantially. Here are some ideas as to what you can do this weekend to be better prepared. Just pick one or even a couple of these activities and improve your readiness factor!

  • Organize an area of food storage. Just one area, such as soups, pastas, wheat, sugar, etc.
  • Run your family through a fire drill in the home 
    Fire Drill photo c/o njfamily.com

    Fire Drill photo c/o njfamily.com

     

  • Learn how to grow sprouts
  • Learn how to use a solar oven
  • Try making dinner on your butane stove
  • Learn how to use a pressure cooker
  • Bottle butter
  • Go fishing (Yes, ladies, that IS a preparedness skill)
  • Learn how to make a candle out of a tuna can
  • Make fire without a match (preferably NOT in your home.) 🙂
  • Cook in your Dutch Oven
  • Learn CPR
  • Fill those water barrels
  • Make notes on your laundry detergent, toothpaste, and toilet paper so that you know how long they actually last your family. (This way you know how much you need for a year)
  • Burn/cut up a credit card
  • Learn how to make bread
  • Sanitize your home including doorknobs, cupboard doors, refrigerator handles, air vents, and telephones
  • Try some powdered milk and find one that you like
  • Read for a half hour on Preparedness Pro to learn something new
  • Preserve your favorite dry foods with a FoodSaver 
    FoodSaver photo c/o foodsaverblog.com

    FoodSaver photo c/o foodsaverblog.com

     

  • Do a financial analysis of how you can allocate a bit more money each month towards eliminating debt
  • Make sure your family knows how to turn off the gas line to your home
  • Identify where all of your other water sources are
  • Attend a self-defense class
  • Attend a couponing class
  • Read the U.S. Constitution (Yup, becoming familiar with this is an act of preparedness in defense of foreign or domestic enemies.)
  • Practice target shooting at a range
  • Teach your family a “gathering plan”
  • Get your Concealed Firearm Permit
  • Learn how to use come common essential oils
  • Learn how to put up your tent all by yourself 🙂
  • Wax some hard cheese
  • Preserve some eggs
  • Go camping
  • Go for a 5 mile walk with the family
  • Learn a new recipe that you can make from what’s readily available in your pantry.

Bacon Potatoes in Garlic Cream Sauce

1 C. evaporated milk

1 ½ T. cornstarch

1 T. minced garlic (I prefer mine from the jar that’s in oil)

1 T. butter

1/8 t. salt

1 t. dried rosemary

1 T. of real bacon bits, or bacon flavored TVP

Two 15-ounce cans of whole potatoes, drained

Whisk the cornstarch into the milk until it is dissolved. Add the butter, salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary and bacon. Bring to a low boil and stir until thickened (This will take about 3 minutes.) Add the canned potatoes and cook for another 5 minutes—or until no longer hard. This side dish serves 4 nicely or you can also add some fried Spam and a drained can of corn and make it a main dish.

So which preparedness activity are you going to do this weekend?

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

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!

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

By Kellene Bishop

Photo c/o thespiceguys.net

Photo c/o thespiceguys.net

Someone mentioned to me this morning that they wish they had a farm.  I personally have been wishing that I had a space for a real garden.  I have recently embraced the use of square foot gardening and one thing I decided to do this year in my garden that has me practically giddy is planting herbs in the space that I normally have planted flowers.  I have to tell you, I’m thrilled with the results.  I never fully knew about the ease and magic of growing your own herbs!  I can’t believe I’ve been paying $3 to $8 for a bottle of herbs that are easily grown in my “flower” garden!  Let’s start at the beginning.

Most herbs love moist, sunny areas.  They like to be fertilized with Miracle-Gro or Osmocote about once every two week (whereas most garden items like being fertilized every week).  Herbs can be grown EASILY in the ground or in a pot or even in your home in the window sill or under a grow light.  While I’ve notoriously killed a lot of plants I’ve attempted to grow in the past, you can rest assured that I haven’t killed a single herb yet.  (Hint—that means that they’re easy to grow.)

Harvest the herb as it grows.  So long as you leave a few leaves remaining on your plant, feel free to pluck away. Oregano and basil respond to this particularly well as they tend to get more and more bushy as you pluck. 

You don’t have to eat them all as you grow them.  Isn’t that great?  You can EASILY dry them yourself simply by laying them out on a paper towel after you’ve cleaned them.  Then put them in a jar (I use the Foodsaver to seal the jar) and PRESTO!  You’ve got your own “expensive” bottle of herbs.  (Remember, you can keep getting into your bottle and simply reseal it each time with your Foodsaver.)

Photo c/o myrecipes.com

Photo c/o myrecipes.com

I LOVE how my “flower garden” smells.  Rosemary, basil, dill, oregano.  Yummy!  Fresh chopped basil on fresh chopped tomatoes with chunks of soft mozzarella, ground black pepper and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar is one of my absolute favorite dishes.  While I love using the fresh herbs, I’ve also surprisingly enjoyed the herbs that I’ve dried myself as well.  I love how my spaghetti sauce turns out with my dried oregano.  Fresh rosemary on tuna or lamb is delectable.  Sage… oh. I’m getting hungry just telling you about all of these! 

Russian sage goes wild fairly quickly.  But it has a beautiful purple blossom that accompanies it, so let it run wild, harvest it, and enjoy.  The Chinese actually think we Americans are crazy for drinking our expensive teas while they enjoy the simple effectiveness of sage tea and its health benefits.  Sage tea is good for settling a nervous stomach, relaxing, calming indigestion.  It’s also excellent for the health of your liver and kidneys, halts bleeding wounds when applied as a salve, and is a fever reducer as well as a great tonic for your hair.  Be sure you don’t boil sage tea.  Just steep it.

For those of you who love saffron rice but hate paying an arm and a leg for the saffron, you can substitute the yellow marigold blooms!  I like to plant a few marigolds among my herbs to help with the health of the garden and keep away pests.  Wow, a substitute for saffron AND a pest repellent?!  Don’t ya just LOVE the miracles of nature sometimes?  As a side bar, you can also substitute turmeric for saffron, but it’s a bit overpowering in taste, so I don’t care to use it.

Now let’s look at just how far we can go with growing herbs in our emergency preparedness.  As you know, there are a lot of herbs (especially teas) that are used for medicinal purposes.  Horehound and catnip are a couple of those and they are so easy to grow, dry, and then jar. 

Photo c/o herbal-supplement-resource.com

Photo c/o herbal-supplement-resource.com

Catnip is great for infections, including chicken pox or measles.  It’s also useful for cold and flu, even bronchitis or asthma and has long been used in years past to relax colicky babies.  Other common uses have been for headaches, menstrual cramping, sinusitis, constipation, stomach flu, croup, burns, insect bites, and cuts. 

Horehound tea is ideal as a mild laxative, cough suppressant, cleansing for wounds, and gastrointestinal disturbances.  (Note, just as ingesting large quantities of Nyquil aren’t good for your heart, ingesting LARGE quantities of horehound may cause an irregular heartbeat so don’t go overboard.)

Ultimately, growing my own herbs doesn’t feel like “gardening.”  There’s very little weeding and a speedy sense of gratification.  There really is ease and magic in growing your own herbs, not to mention the extensive money savings.  Growing my own herbs is one more of my preparedness tasks that I love doing that will bless the lives of those I love in the event of a crisis.

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

waste-food-storage-moneyThere’s nothing sadder to me than when I see someone who’s finally started taking steps to build up their food storage, only to hear that they’ve wasted tons of money by having to throw food out.  I see folks buy foods regularly without being mindful of the best way to store it.  More unfortunate is that folks are throwing away perfectly good grains when there’s no need to.  The good news is that you don’t have to waste your food storage money this way.  I’m going to show you how to maximize every precious buck!  This article is to help you understand how NOT to waste all of that hard work and food storage money.

Two things to keep in mind when storing food:

1) Environmental storing conditions

2) Storage containers.

When it comes to the ideal storing conditions, you always want to store your dry foods in a cool, dry place.  When I purchase MRE’s, I always request certifications or attestations of HOW they were stored prior to shipping them to me.  That’s a heck of a lot more important to me than when they were manufactured.  A cool, dry environment is your ideal storage condition.

When you’re buying foods, remember plastic is porous.  Aluminum and Mylar are much better, but well-sealed glass containers are ideal.  The sooner you can transfer things from a cheap paper box or plastic bag into a Mylar bag, a #10 can, or a Mason jar, the better and the significantly longer shelf life you’ll enjoy.  In fact, the shelf life of foods stored in this way usually last 3 to 6 times longer than your original expiration food information!  (See, we’re keeping up with the rate of inflation already.)

foodsaver-jar-sealerDon’t be afraid to buy chocolate chips, candy bars, or almonds on sale.  You don’t need to eat them all right away.  Simply store them in a vacuum packed Mason jar.  A Foodsaver comes with a jar attachment that you simply put on top of your partially lidded jar, suck the air out, and then put on the ring.  It’s that easy.  (See Foodsaver operation instructions for more details.)

If you have something finely powdered such as cocoa, cornmeal, or Kool-aid, put it in a bag first, squeeze out the air, and then put it in the jar.

With granola bars, candy bars and the like, simply poke a small pin prick in the wrapper, put them in the jar and seal them.  You can look forward to those peanut M&Ms for a few years down the road.

Think about all of the food items that this storing method will help you with!

  • Raisins
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Nuts (all kinds)
  • Volatile grains
  • Candy bars
  • Dried fruits (dehydrated or freeze-dried)
  • Bacon bits (real or artificial)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Cereals (warm or cold)
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Soup mixes
  • Spices
  • Dried herbs
  • Beef Jerky
  • Cookies
  • Malt-O-Meal

Now you can go CRAZY being sure to have the foods on hand that you actually LOVE.  You don’t have to waste your food storage money!  Woohoo!

The possibilities are literally endless!  The best part about this method is you can keep doing this so long as you have electricity.  Once you open a jar, you can simply reseal it as long as the lid hasn’t been damaged during the opening process.  You can extend the life of the foods that you’re living on every day.  It only takes a few second per jar to seal—the time is SO worth it!

Note: This method is NOT good for items that need to be refrigerated as a pressure canning process is typically needed to preserve such items.

Do you see weevils or critters in your dry foods?  Don’t worry about it.  Simply place that wheat, oats, rice, etc. on a small cookie sheet in your solar oven for an hour at 200 degrees, then sift through it, and your dried foods will still be just fine and nutritious without the unpleasant hitchhikers.  

I hear of way too many people throwing out their brown rice, complaining that it goes bad too fast.  Can I just say “stop that”?  You can store brown rice for years in a sealed Mason jar.  Oats sealed in a #10 can should keep their shelf-life for 10 years if stored under ideal circumstances.

If a product is stored in a dent-free, sealed #10 can, it should have a long shelf life of years!  If it’s a more volatile food, put it in a sealed Mylar bag with an oxygen absorber or a Mason jar and then rest easy for a long shelf-life.  

Speaking of oxygen absorbers, did you know that bay leaves also act as a great oxygen absorber?  All you have to do is put a couple of bay leaves in your quart jars, or about 5 of them in a #10 can, and voila!  You’ve got an inexpensive oxygen absorber that you can EASILY grow right in your own yard.  

mylar-bagA Mylar bag sealer with Mylar bags can be obtained for about $200 dollars.  It’s great for my more finely powdered items such as cornmeal, risotto, and coconut.  You can use a flat iron in a pinch to seal a Mylar bag, but it’s not as reliable for putting suitable pressure and heat on the bag.  So double check your bag if you’re using this method.

Remember, sugar is sugar no matter how old it is.  It simply doesn’t go bad.  You don’t have to worry about whether to store it in a 5 gallon bucket or a bag.  But if you store it in a bucket, you can put in a “brown sugar bear” in with it (easily purchased at any cooking store) and it will keep its fine consistency.  

Yeast has a shelf life of about 1 year on your shelf.  But if you keep it in your freezer, it has an INFINITE shelf-life.  I’ve been using my yeast for my bread right out of the freezer every time I make it.

If you open a can of food and it seems to have taken on the smell of the can, don’t worry.  You STILL don’t have to waste your food storage money by throwing it out.  All it usually needs is a little bit of aerating.  Just set it out in an open container and let it air out.  It can take a couple of days or a couple of hours.  A little bit of oxygen goes a long ways!

While your shortening that comes already sealed in a can will last 3 years as is, you can also can it by melting it and then sealing it.  You’ve now got a 5 to 10 year shelf life!  The same goes for butter!  You don’t have to ever be without REAL butter! (There’s been a great deal of controversy about bottling butter, but I’m finally willing to come out and say that it’s JUST FINE AND DANDY to do!)

In the future, think twice about throwing food out or storing it “as is” from the manufacturer.  Now you don’t have to waste your food storage money.    

For additional information on perishable foods, check out “Yes, You Can Easily Can Meat”.

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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