wheat-investment

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By Kellene Bishop

How long will your wheat last? What’s the best way to store it? How do I keep insects out of it?  What do I do when it smells like the can?

Today I was doing a training which involved going over the shelf life of various foods. One woman in attendance incorrectly stated to the entire class that “wheat goes bad easily because it has oil in it, and so it goes rancid if you’re not careful.”

I got to talking to my husband and asked him what other misinformation he may have heard about wheat. Turns out, there sure is a lot of MIS-information out there. So, I decided to help dispel some of the rumors so that you can more confidently store this vital food.

First of all, what IS the shelf-life of wheat?

Wheat does have an oil in it. It’s called vitamin E. It’s what gives the grain some fat content which makes it an even more complete food. (Nice how God is so thorough that way, eh?) In fact, by extracting the oil in wheat, you come up with the expensive oil called Wheat Germ oil. (Very healthy for you, by the way.)  However, oil doesn’t go rancid because of its mere existence. It goes rancid when it’s exposed to oxygen, primarily. 

Storing wheat for 30+ years is a drop in the bucket—excuse the pun. The key is to store it in its whole grain form. I do the same thing with dent corn. I store dent corn in its whole grain form so that I will have plenty of cornmeal on hand when I need it, otherwise just plain cornmeal would go rancid relatively quickly. In the cornmeal stage all of its oil is fully exposed to oxygen. Oil exposed to oxygen is what makes things go rancid. It’s nice that whole dent corn is easy to store for 30+ years. I’d never get that far with cornmeal. The same goes with groats instead of oats. Groats are the “whole” form of oats.  By the way, when you store grains in their whole grain form, you can sprout them—YUMM-MEE.

Use the whole grain Photo c/o uniflour.com

Use the whole grain Photo c/o uniflour.com

The ideal temperature for storing wheat for the longest shelf life is 75 degrees or cooler. However, yes, you can store wheat in a warmer environment so long as it’s packaged well. Ideally you’ve got it in a double-bagged packaging. Or in a bag and then in a bucket. Or better yet, in an number 10 can—although more expensive to buy that way (you can always buy it in the bags and then use a canner). Wheat stored in a Mylar bag in a bucket would be another good method, however, it’s also more expensive than the simple bag or bucket method. So long as you keep your wheat off of a heated cement floor, and out of direct sunlight, you’ll have success in storing it long term. Remember though, the cooler, the better and the easier the wheat will be to work with in your recipes too.

Continuing on with the temperature issue… Keep in mind that wheat was found in the pyramids, and Egypt is NOT known for its cool climate. 🙂 I had someone comment to me recently when I told them this: “yeah, but the deep dark corners of the pyramids are rather cool.” First of all…have you been to a pyramid? It’s flippin’ HOT in there. Sure it’s COOL-ER than outside of it. But it’s not a cool 75 degrees. (Although SOME have been found to maintain 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Why can’t I build my home to do that?!) Second of all, such a statement presumes that the wheat came fresh off of the stem before it was put in the pyramid. *heavy sigh* In other words, it’s presumed that it was never exposed to any heat prior to being placed in the pyramid tombs. As I’ve shared in a previous article, when I lived in the Philippines, they would frequently “dry” their grains by spreading them out on the road for a couple of days. And yes, it is extremely hot and humid in the Philippines, and yet whole grains are the most vital food source they have. Whole grains are just another one of these neat miracles that God has given us to feed us, if you ask me. They are temperamental foods that the majority of the world can’t store without refrigeration.

A metal can is the ideal way to store wheat simply because varmints can’t chew through it. But to be forthright with you, I have very, very little wheat stored this way. Most of mine is in the big, thick, double 50 pound bags. The wheat of my mother’s that we kids moved around for 18 years was also stored this way. I’m sure many of you have parents and grandparents with their wheat stored the same way. Remember, that if you do get little bugs in your wheat, there’s no need to throw it out. Simply put it in 180 degrees for about 20-30 minutes and Voila! You no longer have bugs. You simply have extra protein. (Don’t worry. You’ll get over it.)  

When you open a can of stored wheat it may smell a little “tin-ish.” Don’t worry about that. It’s natural for the ingredients to take on that smell. But the good news is that it’s not permanent. Simply aerate the wheat for a couple of hours outside of the can, and you’ll eliminate that smell just fine.

I don’t mess with buying the more expensive wheat. I almost exclusively store the hard red wheat. It’s more environment- hearty and tolerant to store than the hard white wheat. My bread, pie crusts, and cookies turn out just dandy with the hard red wheat. When selecting your wheat for storage, make sure that it doesn’t have a moisture content higher than 10 percent in order to successfully store it long-term.

Well, I hope this helps answer some of your grainy questions about wheat. (Sorry, I’m in a punny mood today.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Homemade Condensed Milk photo c/o examiner.com

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk photo c/o examiner.com

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

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

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

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

Celestial Syrup

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

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

Combine the following in a small sauce pan:

¾ C sugar
½ C buttermilk
¼ C butter

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

Chocolate Buttermilk Pudding

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

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

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

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

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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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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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