Why You Should Store Food NOW.

I’ve had people ask me why they should store food now rather than waiting to see if a crisis event takes place.    Many would rather have their money earning interest in a bank so that if the s-ever does hit the fan, they have the finances to deal with their new normal.  Having a stash of cash is important in an emergency situation.  However, I believe that the time to get your tangibles is before the crisis, not after.  There really are times when food is more valuable than money.

Store Food

 

How do I come to this conclusion?

* You can’t eat money.  In times of crisis, store shelves will be wiped out in the blink of an eye.  It won’t matter how much money you have on hand if there’s nothing around to purchase.

* Items from your food storage will be highly valued barter items.  Cash stands a huge chance of being devalued to the point of worthlessness.

* Food prices are only going up.  And up.  And after that, they’ll go up some more.   When you store food now, using a variety of techniques, it’s like money in the bank that is actually earning interest in the form of  being exempt from rising food costs.

* A one dollar package of humble garden seeds will increase the value of that buck 20x in the form of fresh veggies, compared to vegetables purchased at a grocery store.  Where else can you increase the value of that greenback in such a dramatic way within one mere growing season?

Nobody can control the economy.  But we can control how it affects our lives.  Storing food is one way to prepare for what ever uncertainties the future may hold.

Do you store food in case of emergency?

*Photo Credit:  Visual Hunt

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Egg Prices are Going Up. Way Up.

Egg prices are going up.  An announcement was made at the beginning of January alerting consumers to a price hike in eggs as California starts requiring hens be raised in spaces big enough to move around in.  This means that states selling eggs to California must also meet these standards in order to continue selling eggs in the Golden State.

Anyone thinking  this new requirement meant that chickens would suddenly be living out their days in luxury digs with prices staying the same, needs to think again.  Because of the new standards, chicken farmers are sending their flocks to their Heavenly Rewards rather than building new, larger buildings to house the hens in.

Less chickens could mean less eggs, which would drive up prices.

powdered eggs
I was able to attend the Augason Farms scratch and dent sale last Friday.  I grabbed these beauties for $13.99 each.

I’m thinking it’s a good time to make sure my preps include some powered/dehydrated/freeze dried eggs.

How about you?

A great way to combat rising food prices is to purchase on sale and in bulk.  This allows you to ‘lock in’ the price of a food.   Purchasing enough to last a year will give you amble opportunity to begin looking for a good sale price before you run out and are left at the mercy of what ever the going price of an item is.

Here are some sources for eggs in long term storage form:

Augason Farms

Emergency Essentials

Thrive

Rainy Day Foods/Walton Feed    (You can also find Ova Easy Egg Crystals freeze dried eggs on this site.  More expensive, but better tasting I’m told.)
Eggs in a can not what you are dreaming of?   Then freezing eggs might be a good fit!

Tip:  How do you use powered/dehydrated eggs?  It’s easy.  In any recipe calling for eggs use 1 T. dry egg powder + 2 T. water for a medium egg or 2 T. dry egg powder + 1/4 c. water for a large egg.

Remember, most companies all source their powered eggs from the exact same place.  So even if one company’s directions tell you to use 2 or 3 tablespoons of powered eggs for the replacement of 1 fresh egg, all you really need is ONE Tablespoon of dry egg powder. 

Have egg prices gone up where you live?  Do you store eggs?   Do you use powered eggs in place of fresh ones?

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The Pros and Cons of MREs

Most preppers and outdoor enthusiasts are familiar with MREs. MRE stands for meal, ready-to-eat, and they are most common as field rations for the military. MREs are meant to feed one individual for one meal. Fortunately, these meals in a bag or box have come a long way since hardtack, cans of Spam, and freeze-dried meat. Modern MREs offer a wide range of foodstuffs and now include heating elements, desserts, and beverage powders. There are even MREs made for cold weather that pack plenty of extra calories when you need them to stay warm.

All of the items included in modern MREs make them extremely popular for preppers and outdoor recreationists alike, including campers and backpackers. You might be wondering, though, if MREs are right for you as part of an emergency preparedness kit. Before you run out and buy cases of MREs to have when disaster strikes, it is helpful to know both the advantages and disadvantages of these.

pros and cons of mresThe Pros:

  • Versatility – Modern-day MREs offer a wide variety of options when it comes to food. MREs from the U.S. military offer a great diversity that was missing even just a few years ago. You can now select those with chicken, beef, or pork as the main dish or vegetarian meals. There are also a large variety of carbohydrates like pasta, rice, oatmeal, and applesauce. MREs come in breakfast, lunch, and dinner choices.

  • Heating Elements – MREs now come with some kind of heating element so that you can have a hot meal even if you don’t have access to a stove, and these heating elements come right in the bag. This makes MREs perfect when you are left without electricity or when you find yourself out in the wildness miles from civilization.

  • Sheer Number of Items – MREs come packed with numerous food items including a main dish, side dishes, desserts, energy bars, beverage flavoring powders, instant coffee, and, of course, the customary salt, pepper, toilet paper, spoon, chewing gum, and Tabasco sauce if you’re lucky. What is included in one MRE differs immensely, and no two are ever exactly alike!

  • Portability – MREs can be easily thrown into a backpack or bug out bag. Once you open a MRE, you have everything you need for a meal.

The Cons:

  • The Amount of Calories – Since MREs were designed for soldiers in combat, one meal contains a large amount of calories. Each MRE contains about 1200 calories and that makes it great for outdoor pursuits but hard on the stomach for more sedentary individuals. An entire MRE should probably not be consumed all in one sitting.

  • Weight – MREs weigh more than freeze-dried meals. It is something to take into consideration if you are thinking about packing them around all day.

  • Cost – MREs are more expensive compared to fresher foods and freeze-dried meals. On average, a single MRE costs around $8 to $10, and a case of twelve can cost around $80 to $100.

  • Availability – MREs are not something that you can find at your local grocery store. Special military supply stores or outdoor stores might carry them but they will probably be limited in quantity and variety. Thanks to the Internet MREs are now available from several online retailers. If you order online, however, you will obviously pay more for shipping.

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Pressure Canners Tutorial

Tis the season!  No, not that season.  Canning season! The season where families like mine harvest their garden goodness, plop it into little jars, and process it in one of my pressure canners to last at least through the winter.  If we’ve had a really great harvest we might even get lucky enough to can up enough of summer to last a couple of years.

Often people hear the word ‘canning’ and run for the hills.  I promise it’s not that hard, and it is very safe as long as you follow a few simple directions.

how to use a pressure canner

The Pressure Canner.

This is the type of canner you might be the most familiar with.  This is actually an All American Canner.  You can find cheaper varieties, but after years of canning we finally traded up to this baby and I wish now I would have done so much sooner.  The All American has no need for the rubber gaskets that other pressure canners require.  It also comes in a size that allows you to process 14 quarts at a time.  It’s built to last too.  I’ll be passing this sweet thang down to my kids when I cross over to the great canning season in the sky.

Modern pressure canners are lightweight, thin-walled aluminum or stainless steel kettles. Most have twist-on lids fitted with gaskets. They also have either  a dial gauge for indicating the pressure or a weighted gauge (which both regulates the pressure and indicates…..that’s the ‘rattling noise you’ll hear). Pressure canners can usually handle either one layer of quart or smaller size jars, or deep enough for two layers of pint or smaller size jars.

Foods that REQUIRE a pressure canner:

  • vegetables
  • low acidic fruits
  • meat

These items need a pressure canner rather than a water bath canner because ordinary water bath canners can only reach 212 F and can not to kill the types of bacteria that will grow in low acid foods. This temperature can be reached only by creating steam under pressure as achieved in quality pressure canners.

A few thoughts on canning dairy.  I know a lot of people who are now ‘canning’ butter.  The professionals at my canning extension suggest that home canning butter is not a safe idea.  There may be a ton of people who have canned their own butter and lived to tell the tale.  I choose not to put my family at risk.  The fat found in butter can actually protect C. botulinum and toxin formation even if the butter has been pressure canned. I may be a wuss, but I’m a wus that won’t end up in the emergency room.

Here are a couple of the best websites for canners-

National Center for Home Preservation:  This website gets into the nitty-gritty of canning including safety requirements.

Food in Jars:  I dare you to spend time on this site and not want to start up your own canning engines.  From book reviews to their Canning 101 posts, this site is pure canning crack.  Go ye now and dream.  You can come back and thank me later.

Now there may be those of you wishing I had written this post much earlier in the season…..like when your area hadn’t already been blasted by the first frost of the season.  The idea that canning isonly a summer/fall activity is no longer true.   Do you participate in Zaycon Foods?  You could spend a day or two pressure canning hamburger or chicken!

Are you an experienced canner?  A beginner?  What do you can the most of?

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Creating An Emergency Preparedness Blueprint

Emergency Preparedness.  Food Storage. Water.  Flash Lights. Batteries.   When I first began prepping, I thought about earthquakes and fires and droughts,  which are the usual concerns for my state.  I prepped more for short term than long term emergencies.

Life changed.  My family’s preparedness needs changed.  I found myself learning a lot of lessons on how to be prepared for an unexpected emergency the hard way; smack dab in the midst of it.

Emergency Preparedness Planning

What will YOUR emergency preparedness need be?

Our emergency came in the form of a tiny, premature, 5 pound baby boy.  Along with my 6th child came Life Flights, oxygen bottles, a list of diagnoses I’d never heard of before, 15 medications, so many surgeries we’ve lost count, durable medical equipment that would rival a PICU, and a list of specialists a mile long.

Even though we had savings and insurance, we found ourselves in sort of a no-man’s land between what our insurance paid out, what we were responsible for out of pocket, and what we brought home each month.

Grocery shopping didn’t make it as one of the line items of where our paycheck would go for months at a time.

Good thing I had my food storage, right?

Except.

In the midst of my emergency I discovered :  

 

*There simply wasn’t enough time to grind my wheat and make my own bread.

*My family HATED the brand of powered milk I had purchased.   We’ve since switched to Thrive’s powdered milk and will be using the other for baking and other products.

*My family needed more protein, yet  I had no where near enough protein stored.

*I couldn’t make everything from scratch and still have the time and strength keep my kid alive.  More quick and easy recipes would have come in handy.   While I prefer homemade chicken noodle soup, the canned stuff at least kept my kids happy.  And  why hadn’t I ever found the time to can some of my own homemade soups  before?  That would have been the perfect solution.

*If you don’t keep stuff rotated, it will, indeed, go rancid on you.

*Going down to my food storage room only to discover that I had most of the ingredients for a lot of different meals, but not all of the ingredients for any of them was frustrating.  This is especially discouraging when you don’t have the money to go to the store to purchase the remaining ingredients you need for your food storage menu plan.

*No matter how much my family has always loved rice, they WILL get tired of it and refuse to eat it if I serve it every single day.

*It makes NO difference how hungry my family is, they will never, ever, ever, ever eat oatmeal.  Yet I had 100 pounds of the stuff.  Why?  That money could have gone to other food items in my pantry that my family would have eaten.

Emergency Preparedness brings peace of mind.

What emergencies could you face?

-Job Loss

-Extended Illness

-Skyrocketing Prices

-Earthquake

-Flooding

-Snow Storms

-World Affairs
These are just a few of the unexpected types of emergencies a family could find themselves in the midst of.  I’m sure that if you think about it you’ll come up with a few more ways your family needs to prepared for the unexpected.

Create An Emergency Preparedness Blueprint That Meets Your Family’s Unique Needs

Sit down and make a list of the potential emergencies you and your family could face.  Start with the most important and the most probable and work your way down that list.   How would you make it through each scenario?

Envision yourself in the midst of the emergency and what you would need to make it through successfully.   Next, create a blueprint that will see your family safely through a time of need.

While my family prepares for an earthquake with great attention to detail, an atomic bomb attack is much further down on our list.  However, our biggest emergency preparedness plans center around our medically fragile child with special needs. 

While it’s great to read about what all of the ‘experts’ say, remember that your emergency needs are going to be unique.   Taking the time to identify what your emergency might be will help you focus on how to prepare for it.  A good place to find a basic emergency supply checklist is ready.gov.   Of course,  you’ll also want to check back here, as well as follow us on Pinterest and Facebook, to learn other great preparedness strategies.

What is your Number One Emergency Preparedness concern right now?  What plans are you making to successfully get your family through your emergency?

 

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Gleaning | Prepping on a Budget

It used to drive me nuts.  Driving by fruit trees that were loaded with rich, ripe fruit that was simply doing nothing more than going to waste.  I’d think about how much I wish I could go up and ask to pick that fruit, but I didn’t have the nerve.  Things changed one day when a friend of mine told me that she had asked the farmer behind her home if he would let her go gleaning in his tomato patch after he had picked enough to fill all of his orders.  Not only did the farmer agree, he was happy to have someone who could use the not perfect enough to sell part of his crops.

Gleaning is the biblical practice of hand gathering crops after the harvest, or gathering crops nobody else may want.  I think of it as a modern day sort of urban foraging.  There are even gleaning organizations set up in partnership with growers to glean their fields and orchards and give their bounty to food banks.

gleaned vegetables

I began my gleaning career nervously.  What would people think if I asked for the produce they weren’t in need of.  Instead of walking up to doors and knocking, I put a short blurb in our church newsletter.  The very next day I had offers of apricots.  So many apricots.  Trees and trees full of apricots.  Seems as though lots of people plant apricots that don’t really like eating apricots.

I always accept each time I’m offered the opportunity to glean from someone’s garden or fruit trees, even if it’s something that our family might not be fond of.  I can always find another family who would love that very thing, and it keeps me fresh in people’s minds for the next time they’ve grown more than they can eat.

I take notice if the people who are opening their fruit trees for gleaning have a garden or not.  I find it’s a nice touch to return with some of what I may have extra of to say thank you for what I’ve been offered.  I’m big on win-win situations.  This year a neighbor gave me a bonanza of plums.  I returned her kindness with a few jars of jam that I made with those plums.

gleaned fruit

This year I’ve been offered the opportunity to glean peaches, pears, cherries and plums.  Most of it has gone directly into my freezer for my son’s special blenderized diet.

Organic, local and free.  Prepping on a budget. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Have you ever gleaned before? What tips do you have? 

Are you following these top Preparedness Pinners on Pinterest?

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How To Freeze Eggs

Remember the good old days when eggs used to go on sale for .25 .50 a carton?  In my area we’re  lucky if we see .99 a dozen.   Eggs have gone up in price, which makes knowing how to freeze eggs an excellent skill to master.

How to freeze eggs for all of your baking needs!

When To Use Frozen Eggs

Eggs that have been frozen are good for baking and recipes such as waffles and pancakes.   Frozen eggs tend to be a little rubbery for scrambled and other egg dishes, but if you want to give them a try, well, you only live once, right?

Fresh eggs from backyard chickens.

How To Freeze Eggs:

1. Crack your eggs into a bowl and whisk them.  You aren’t trying to make them light and fluffy with lots of air, as a matter of fact, the less air the better.  You just want the white and yolk well mixed.

2. Put about 3 T of your egg mixture into an ice cube tray.  I used baby food trays because I know that they are BPA free.

3.  Stick your tray of eggs into the freezer and let them freeze.

Freezing eggs in ice cube trays

4.  After they are frozen, pop them out and put them in a zip-lock bag, and stick them back into the freezer.  DATE YOUR BAG and write down HOW MANY CUBES MAKE AN EGG.  You may THINK you will remember this, but you won’t.  Trust me. (ahem)

5. Speaking of how many cubes equal and egg…..two ice cubes is about 1 egg.  Just remember how many eggs you mix, and how many ice cube trays it fills up to figure out the cube per egg ratio.

Defrost as many ice cube eggs as you need for your recipe.  Don’t microwave them to defrost them because you will start to cook them.  Use your defrosted eggs right away.

These eggs should last up to a year in your freezer if you use your Food Saver and seal them in Food Saver bags.  About 6 months if sealed in regular baggies.

Shelf Stable Eggs

Freezing eggs not really your thing?  Worry not!  There excellent shelf stable eggs available from Thrive Life.   Easy to add to your baking or scramble up for a quick breakfast!   Remember, eggs are an important part of both your long term, and short term food storage plan.

Yes! You CAN freeze eggs! Here's how!
Want to compost those egg shells?  Here some information on how to do it from eHow.

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Vacuum Sealing Mason Jars | Food Storage

You may remember a few weeks ago Tammy talked about vacuum sealing mason jars to store fresh nuts that she buys in coops for prepping on a budget.

vacuum sealing mason jars od Saver

We received a lot of questions about using this method of food storage but have both had a lot going on in our personal lives and haven’t had a chance to address them. Imagine how happy I was to see that Lisa Bedford recently did a how-to video tutorial for vacuum sealing mason jars showing exactly how to use this method using her Food Saver. She even vacuum seals chocolate and keeps it much longer than a year. I hope by sharing Lisa’s video it helps shed some light on the wonders of this little Food Saver attachment and all it’s versatility. Hint: make sure when ordering you get one for both wide mouth jars and regular mouth jars.  Happy vacuum packing!

Vacuum Sealing Mason Jars

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