5-Gallon Food Grade Buckets

I received a bit of a jolt when entering a local food storage store in search of 5-gallon food grade buckets for several bags of rice and beans I recently purchased for emergency prepardedness.   Over SEVEN dollars for a bucket and lid.  And we aren’t talking gamma lids, here.  Nope.  We are talking just the plain old hammer it down with a rubber mallet type of lid.

As I stood there doing the math for the 10 buckets, mylar bags and oxygen absorbers I would need for the long term storage of my vittles, I also thought of how many more bags of beans and rice I could purchase for that $70.00 I would paying for buckets.

Where To Find CHEAP 5-Gallon Food Grade Buckets For Long Term Food Storage

You can’t eat the buckets, boys and girls.  And then, as if to add insult to injury, I turned the buckets around only to find the store’s logo covering the bucket from top to bottom.  It has always been a pet peeve of mine to have to pay for stuff that serves as advertising for a company.  Think about it.  If I’m going to be advertising for them, shouldn’t they be paying me?

But I digress.

I’ll admit.  I did purchase 4 of the overpriced, logo blasted, desperately needed buckets.  With my medically fragile son, I’m not able to get out as often, and I really needed those buckets.  I justified my purchase by telling myself I only purchased four instead of the ten I truly needed.

And, as I walked out of that store, I proclaimed to all who could hear, that I would never, ever pay through the nose for a plastic bucket again.  While I consider myself pretty lucky that my Mom was the only person close enough to hear my proclamation, once uttered, it still needed to be fulfilled.

My 5 Gallon Bucket Research

Bakeries will usually give out empty frosting buckets.  Yay! for free buckets, but yikes! for cleaning out the greasy frosting residue.  I’ve found that by making a solution of Dawn dish soap and vinegar then spraying it inside the bucket helps clean the frosting out.

Fast Food Joints will often give out empty pickle buckets.  However, the smell of pickles will pretty much forever be in these buckets.  A friend even power washed his buckets out to no avail.  If you are using mylar liners in your buckets though, the smell of pickle shouldn’t be an issue.

Lowe’s carries 5-Gallon Commercial food grade buckets for $4.50 each.

Use food grade 5 gallon buckets to store bulk foods.

My local Walmart carries food grade buckets and lids for $2.97 and lids for under $2.00.  I found them in the paint section, but I looked and they had food grade written right on them.

Look on your Local Classified Ads.  Often people sell 5-gallon food grade buckets and lids they are no longer using.

5 Gallon Buckets Too Much Work?

What?  You don’t want to wash out your own buckets, and the smell of pickles makes you shudder?  Nearest WalMart too far away?  Amazon will deliver your 5-Gallon Food Grade Storage Buckets right to your door step!

Thrive Life: The BEST Freeze Dried Foods

Some of you may not need to store food in the type of bulk that would require purchasing  5-Gallon Food Grade  Buckets.   I get that.   For you  prepackaged freeze dried food would be the perfect option.   Light weight and good for up to 25 years, Thrive Life offers the best quality in Freeze Dried foods that I’ve found.  Through Thrive Life you can create your own food storage pantry, saving both time AND money.

How do you store your  long term emergency food?

















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Homemade Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Elderberry Syrup is one of our family’s go to during the ‘sick season.’   Not only can Homemade Elderberry Syrup help your body  fight off potential colds and flu, it can help jump start your immune system even after you are sick.  I’m sharing my Elderberry Syrup Recipe today.

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Homemade elderberry syrup is used to prevent colds and flu and boost the immune system. A DIY herbal syrup used in folk medicine for centuries, we'll show you an easy homemade Elderberry Syrup Recipe that can be made both on the stove top and in the Instnat Pot! Natural remedies have never tasted so good!

Elderberries are naturally high in immune-boosting compounds that are shown to help stimulate the immune system and help you kick the cold and flu more quickly.

We are in the midst of flu season where I live, with the worst months being March and April.  It’s time to make sure we are well stocked up on Elderberry Syrup.  Since I needed to make a batch anyway, I thought I’d share my Elderberry Syrup recipe with you to show just how easy it is to make.

An Elderberry Syrup Recipe That Is Cost Effective.

Homemade elderberry syrup is used to prevent colds and flu and boost the immune system. A DIY herbal syrup used in folk medicine for centuries, we'll show you an easy homemade recipe that can be made both on the stove top and in the Instnat Pot! Natural remedies have never tasted so good!

For the same price as a bottle of Elderberry tincture, I can make several cups of homemade Elderberry syrup, that tastes great!    I’ve purchased Elderberry tinctures that nobody in my house would touch with a ten foot pole they tasted so bad.  This recipe not only tastes fantastic, it will make your house smell heavenly.  Score!

 If you’re under the weather now and need an immune system jump start,  I suggest trying the Black Elderberry Syrup by Nature’s Way.

Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Let’s get to it, shall we?

1  Cup Organic dried black elderberries .
3 1/2 Cups Filtered water
Juice From 1/2 of an Organic Lemon
2T Freshly Grated Organic Ginger
1 Organic Cinnamon Stick
1T Organic Ground Cloves
1/2 Cup raw honey  My parents rent out some of their land to a bee keeper in return for fresh honey.  It’s what I used.

Tip: You could switch out the lemon juice for dehydrated lemon peel OR orange peel to switch things up!   Add the dehydrated lemon or  orange peel to the Instant Pot with the rest of the ingredients.

1. Bring the water, black elderberries, ginger and spices to a boil.

2.  Reduce heat to a simmer and allow contents to simmer until reduced by about half.  This will take about 45 minutes to an hour.

You do NOT want to add the honey or the lemon juice while the other ingredients are still simmering.  You’ll destroy all the benefits of the honey and lemon juice.

3. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool until it is  lukewarm.  Strain the juice into a bowl.  Make sure to squeeze every bit of goodness out of those dried berries.  Toss the used berries into the compost heap.

4. Add the cup of honey and the lemon juice and stir until it has dissolved.  Store in the fridge in a lidded glass jar.  It should stay good for about 2 months

Homemade elderberry syrup is used to prevent colds and flu and boost the immune system. A DIY herbal syrup used in folk medicine for centuries, we'll show you an easy homemade recipe that can be made both on the stove top and in the Instnat Pot! Natural remedies have never tasted so good!

Instant Pot Elderberry Syrup Directions

1/2  Cup Black Elderberries
3 1/2 Cups Filtered Water
Juice From 1/2 A Lemon
2T Freshly Grated Ginger
1 Organic Cinnamon Stick
1T Organic Ground Cloves
1/2 Cup raw honey

1. Add all of the ingredients EXCEPT the honey and lemon juice to the Instant Pot pressure cooker.
Secure and lock the IP lid in place.

2. Close the pressure release valve.

3. Set to Manual for 20 minutes

4. When done, allow to naturally depressurize.

5. Strain off and discard the elderberries, ginger and spices.  Then toss them in the compost pile!

6. Allow to cool before blending in honey and lemon juice.  Remember, adding the honey and lemon juice to the hot syrup will kill off all of the honey’s beneficial enzymes.

7. Add honey and lemon juice and stir until blended.

8. Store in a glass jar in the fridge.

Tip:  The recipe above uses DRIED berries. If using fresh, I would decrease the IP time to around half.

 Tip:  Vacuum Seal your dried Elderberries in a mason jar using a Food Saver Vacuum Sealer and the Food Saver Jar Attachment.  (I prefer to use wide mouth jars and the wide mouth attachment.)

Homemade elderberry syrup is used to prevent colds and flu and boost the immune system. A DIY herbal syrup used in folk medicine for centuries, we'll show you an easy homemade recipe that can be made both on the stove top and in the Instnat Pot! Natural remedies have never tasted so good!

Elderberry Syrup Dosage

Our family takes the standard daily dose which is 1/2-1 teaspoon for kids and 1/2-1 Tablespoon for adults.  If we do get sick then we up our dose to every 2-3 hours instead of just once a day until we are better.

Elderberry syrup is a pretty gentle remedy.  I’ll always advice to check with a doctor when giving it children.  Although about the only thing I’ve seen with Parker is that we have to be careful with his dose so as not to irritate his Ulcerative Colitis.

What natural home remedies do you make for your family?

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How to make goat milk yogurt.

My son, Parker, follows the SCD diet for his ulcerative colitis.  This diet calls for yogurt.  Goat milk yogurt is our yogurt of choice.   Either powdered goats milk or fresh goats milk will work just fine.  This recipe also works for cow’s milk.   It’s important to know you can replicate any foods required for a special diet when the shtf, in one of it’s many forms.  

goat milk for goat milk yogurt
It’s actually a pretty simple process.   I used a gallon and a half of fresh goat milk and put it into a a clean pot, allowing it to slowly warm up to 180 degrees.  Make you that when you check the temperature you stir the milk so that you get an overall reading.  You’ll want to keep the milk at 180 degrees for at least 2 minutes.

Next, take the your pot of milk off the hot burner and onto a cool one.   I often just place the entire pot into a sink of ice water to hurry the cooling process.  You want to let your milk cool to 100 degrees.

Once you milk has cooled to 100 degrees, pour a bit out into another container.    Add your yogurt ‘start’ to that small bit, stirring to make sure there are no lumps.  Then pour your newly mixed ‘start’ into the large pan and stir some more.  You want to make sure the starter and milk are well mixed.

cooking thermometerHeat your milk to 180 for at least 2 minutes and then allow it to cool to 100 degrees.

I used about 1/4 of a cup of yogurt starter.  What is a yogurt starter?  It’s simply a bit of yogurt I’ve saved back from my previous batch of goat milk yogurt.

goat milk yogurt start

Is this your first batch of yogurt?  No worries.  You can purchase a container of plain goat milk yogurt and use that.  OR you can use the packaged yogurt starter.    Simply follow the directions on the package.

Next  I poured the soon to be yogurt into clean half gallon mason jars.  We use a LOT of goat milk yogurt so I tend to make a lot at a time.   Feel free to start with a smaller amount!

Next I screw on the tops and rings and place each half gallon into my Excalibur dehydrator.  Yup.  You can make yogurt in the Excalibur.  Sweet, eh?

I keep my yogurt fermenting at about 100-115 degrees for at least 24 hours.   After the 24 hours have passed, I put the yogurt into the fridge to chill for about 24 hours.

What?  You don’t own an Excalibur?  Worry not.  You can use a yogurt maker, or even put your covered pot of milk and starter into the oven and use the oven light as a heat source.  Or how about using your crockpot?

Do you have someone on a special diet the likes of which you will need to replicate in case of a time of crisis?

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Time to Update Your Emergency Road Trip Kit

Every year you should take out your emergency road trip kit, check it and refresh it because you just never know when you hit the open road, what sort of road blocks you will run into…Thanks to OnStar for providing today’s reminder.

road block

Things to Include In Your Emergency Road Kit:


  • An all purpose emergency car kit like the one pictured here that is good for  a variety of car troubles.Road_Side_Emergency_Kit
  • A reflective hazard warning sign (this one’s a carrying case)
  • Jumper cables
  • Ice scraper
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Ratchet set
  • Pliers
  • Screwdrivers
  • Electrical tape
  • Automotive fuses
  • Work gloves
  • Sunblock and Bug Spray. Great for those unexpected side trips that can occur!
  • First Aid Kit
  • Roadside Emergency Kit
  • Bottled water. I like to keep a whole case in the trunk as well.
  • Snacks. Some with higher protein and some just to keep your spirits up.
  • Baby wipes.
  • Cell phone with an external battery pack for your charger. Driving a car like some of the new 2015 GM models that have an LTE mobile hotspot built into your car is a great safety luxury. Onstar help is just a push of a button away and you never have to worry about a dead phone battery. Just because you are headed off the grid doesn’t mean you can’t be connected to what matters.
  • A Class B or C Fire extinguisher as rated by by the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA.  Class B fires are those that involve flammable or combustible liquids, such as gasoline, diesel fuel and kerosene. Class C fires involve energized electrical equipment such as switches, panel boxes and batteries. Be prepared for both.
  • Rain poncho for summer showers.


Don’t forget it will soon be time to winterize your emergency car kit.

I would like to thank OnStar for sponsoring this post. Do you like to road trip? I would encourage you to connect with OnStar’s #WhereInTheUSA campaign and share where you have been this summer. Share photos and use the #whereintheUSA hashtag and tag @OnStarUSA on Instagram to join in the fun. There are some great photo’s to inspire you to get out there like my funny buffalo road blocks from Custer State Park in South Dakota. SAFELY.

Disclosure: This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and OnStar blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

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Dangers of Standing Flood Water

Floods are a force of nature that bring many dangers, but after the initial flood, one danger that is often over looked is all of that standing water. Standing water poses many risks to our health and should be avoided. I cringe thinking of people letting kids play in it of all things.

dangers of standing flood water

Why Is Standing Water Dangerous?

Infectious Disease and Diarrhea to start.

Eating or drinking standing flood water can cause diarrhea. Flood water that collects after a large storm can cause many infectious diseases like E-Coli, TB, Encephalitis and West Nile Virus. To prevent this, first, keep your children and pets out of the water! But if they come in contact with it, practice good hygiene by washing hands or taking a shower and disinfecting objects that may have come in contact with it with a bleach solution: 1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 gallon of clean water. It’s very important to see a doctor if someone in your family becomes sick after exposure to standing flood water. Water borne illnesses can spread quickly in a family.

If you have a dog, it would be a good idea to make sure they are current on their immunizations and they have had a leptospirosis vaccine and booster. Dogs love rainwater puddles.

It’s also very important to limit your exposure to bugs (especially mosquitoes) that may be drawn to the standing water:

  • avoid going out during times when they are most active: dawn, dusk and early nighttime hours.
  • wear long sleeves and long pants when practical
  • cover infant stroller with mosquito netting
  • use a commercial mosquito repellent

The most effective solution though may be to treat the area with products you can buy that interrupt the larvae cycle: mosquito dunks and quick kill granules. The granules would work faster on standing flood water.

If you most work around standing flood water during the clean up process make sure to cover any open scrapes or wounds you may have with waterproof bandaging. Seek immediate medical attention if a wound exposed to standing water shows any signs of infection like redness, warmth or swelling. If your home has been flooded you will need to follow many more precautions. Please refer to the CDC’s Guide to Flood Water Cleanup After an Emergency for more ideas.

A crude oil storage tank lies on its side in floodwater after the recent floods in Colorado. John Wark/Associated Press

A crude oil storage tank lies on its side in floodwater after the recent floods in Colorado. John Wark/Associated Press

Other Dangers of Standing Water From Floods

    • Chemical hazards. Chemicals spill or leak into flood waters frequently.
    • Electrical hazards. Downed power lines can be hiding under all that water.
    • Drowning. It is difficult to tell how deep standing flood waters really are.
    • Displaced wildlife. Think snakes and other creepy crawlies.
    • Wounds. You don’t know what may be floating in the water. Pieces of glass and metal are likely.
    • Sewage. 


Standing flood water should never be a source of potable water. In an extreme emergency you could likely filter it and disinfect it for drinking using various methods if you were reasonably sure there were no electrical or chemical issues but the focus of today’s post is to keep you safe when you have standing flood water near your homes now.

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Preparing Freezer Meals

Freezer meals are a must to have on hand for dealing with the little family emergencies that come up from time to time. They are perfect to have on hand as a part of being prepared for the flu, helping to hedge against rising food prices, or just a night that you can’t get it all together and need a helping hand.

Whenever you cook a favorite family meal that could freeze well, double the recipe and cook two!  We do this every time my husband smokes meat. We have one brisket for meals that week and one well wrapped and put in the freezer for another week. If you watch sales carefully this is an excellent way to build up a supply of meat while prepping on a budget. Buying a stock of the aluminum pans at a big box store is excellent for this. The best part is, you freeze it already cooked so in an emergency you don’t have to worry about the fuel needed to eat this stocked meat. We also do this with chickens (smoked chicken bones make an excellent broth base).

But we can’t always freeze amazing smoked meat so I made a collection of some of my friends favorite recipes that will freeze well to have on hand for emergencies. My suggestion is to cook one for your family to have as part of your weekly meal plan and prepare one that can go in the freezer.

Favorite Freezer Meals Recipes

Freezer meals-black bean soup from Catherine Moss

Photo used with permission from EvolvingMommy.com

Jen from Two Kids and A Map suggests these:

  • Sausage and Egg Casserole

Catherine from Evolving Mommy suggests her two faves:

  • Thai Peanut Chicken (I bag the ingredients and freeze them.Then I can grab the bag from the freezer, dump it into the crock pot I expend virtually not effort.)
  • Black Bean Soup MANY friends have made this and loved it. It is so good she jars it for family at Christmas.

Emily for Colorado Moms went with a different twist and suggested a smoothie mix. I like this especially since fruit prices are so volatile.


Another approach to making freezer meals is a great idea that I found on Six Sister’s Stuff. I really like this because it promotes the idea of community and looking out for one another that I like to encourage in my prepping (to a point!)

About a year ago, I was part of a “Freezer Meal Group Swap” in my neighborhood and once a month we would all get together and swap freezer meals. I would usually spend a couple of hours in the kitchen one Saturday a month, cooking up a storm and in the end, it was so nice to have 5-6 meals prepared that I didn’t have to worry about for that next month.
This is just a starter list. If you have a favorite freezer meal, please leave the recipe in the comments (or a link to it if you have it posted online). Like I mentioned before, many of your families favorites can probably be quickly converted into a freezer meal if you cook double and prepare for emergencies!
Happy Cooking!
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