Friday, April 22, 2016

Food Storage Teacher/Mother's Day Gifts

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One of the greatest gifts you can give anyone is the gift of preparedness!  I leave no one safe from my preparedness gift giving.   I give preparedness gifts to my friends, family, and also as wedding and baby shower gifts, instead of gifts that may be unused.  (I am not saying you aren't prepared if you get a preparedness gift from me, I just love to help everyone get prepared) I have given cookbooks, wheat, #10 cans of mixes, #10 cans of dehydrated fruits and veggies, water containers, and meals in a bag (which make great shower gifts for newlyweds and new moms).  Last year my children gave their teachers, secretaries, and principal buckets of wheat that they could keep in their storage or use to make blender wheat pancakes without a grinder.  

 I found these great little buckets at the Honeyville Grain store in Salt Lake City and I filled them with wheat.  

 On one side of the bucket I added the saying "We hope you have a sa-wheat summer".

On the other side of the bucket I added a recipe for Blender Wheat Pancakes.  The teachers LOVED them and thought they were quite unique.  This would make a great gift for your child's teacher, or even for a birthday/Mother's Day, or a gift for family, friends, or neighbor.  Maybe it will spark their interest in preparedness and get them going :)

Blender Wheat Pancakes
1 C milk (1 C water + 3 T non-instant powdered milk)
1 C wheat kernels
2 eggs
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 T oil

Place the milk and wheat in a blender and blend on high for 4-5 minutes or until smooth.  Add eggs, oil, baking powder, and salt and blend until mixed.  Don't over mix. Pour batter directly from the blender onto a hot griddle.  Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side.  

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Storing Complete Meals

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Here's a question:  Do you have cans of food in your storage that you don't use? Do you have a case of pasta sauce, but no pasta to go with it?  

The answers to these questions will matter one day when you are hungry for a spaghetti dinner but you only have pasta sauce. If you buy a case of spaghetti sauce you will need to store pasta and maybe grated Parmesan cheese and a vegetable, or fruit, to round out the meal.  Every time you purchase a food item, make sure you are storing all the other items that round out that meal. 




I don't like to have food in my pantry that will only partly make dinner.  I like to have all the ingredients on hand to make a complete meal.  I have found a system that works to have complete meals in my storage. I started out by writing down all the dinners that my family enjoys, then I listed every ingredient needed to make those meals. Now I have created a shopping list, and I know exactly what to buy, and have on hand in my pantry at all times. The list is what works in my food storage plan....I always know what ingredients I need to have in my storage.  This also works for building my 3-month supply of food. I have 5 weeks worth of dinners planned, and if I multiply each item by 3 I then have enough for 3 months worth of meals.  It keeps my meal plan organized in a way that I'll have all the ingredients on hand to make many different meals, without having to go to the store for last minute items. (click here to see my recipe binder)

My ingredient list that becomes my shopping list.

Example:
  1. I have 5 weeks worth of different dinners planned out with side dishes.
  2. I wrote every ingredient on a piece of paper to make each meal, including the side dishes.
  3. The ingredient list now becomes my shopping list.
  4. Multiplied by 3 (to equal 3 months worth) and I now have enough food to make a meal every night for 3 months!
  5. I know how many cans of chicken broth I need to make those meals and also how many cases to buy at the case lot sales.  
  6. COMPLETE MEALS!  I am now storing all the ingredients to make complete meals. Including the side dishes, which include muffins, quick breads, veggies, and fruits.  

It doesn't matter how many meals you have planned out.  I just happened to have 5 weeks worth of recipes that we really like to eat.  Start with one week's worth of meals it that is easier for you.  Multiply your 7 meals by 13 to have 3 months of food storage. There are roughly 13 weeks in 3 months, so if your plan only has 7 different meals in it you'll multiply by 13. Then begin shopping for those ingredients. 

 What If I Want To Eat Fresh Produce....

While we all love to have fresh produce as our first choice when cooking, you'll need to think of a back-up if those fresh items become unavailable.  For longer-term storage of fresh produce, think of dehydrated, freeze-dried, or canned items to fill in for fresh ingredients.  Give freeze-dried foods a taste.  There aren't many that I wouldn't eat.  Fresh dairy is also an area that we don't want to be without.  Freeze-dried cheese, powdered butter, canned butter, and powdered milk are also an important item to have in your storage. 

Back to complete meals....

Once you have your ingredients in your storage you can make many meals with them.  But even with careful planning like my example above there may be times that you''ll have to know how to cook something you would normally buy at the store.

Let's take a look at a breakfast example: 



If you make pancakes, french toast, or waffles, do you have the ingredients to make syrup?  Or have freeze-dried or bottled fruit as a topping?  Do you know how to make the bread to have the french toast?  Do you have all the ingredients to make bread?  

Meals need to be broken down this way. Yes, you may have bread in the freezer as part of your 3-month storage, but if you were in a situation where the grocery store wasn't an option anymore, you'll need to know how to make bread.  Think of all the items that you buy at the grocery store.  Do you know how to make a homemade version of them?  Go through your menu plan and see if there are items that you buy that could also be made at home. Even if you plan on buying them as your 3-month supply, there may be a time when that isn't an option anymore. Here are a few of the things that I know how to make at home instead of buying at the store.
Of course there are many things that you can be bottled.  Grow a garden and save more money by making your own spaghetti sauce, canned fruit, applesauce, salsa, pickles, etc.  Think of how self-reliant you could be! No more running to the store for something for dinner. It's my goal to be that way someday.  As you're shopping, and adding to your storage, always think of what you are purchasing and how you're going to eat it.  It does no good to have 50 cans of tuna, but no mayo, pickle relish, and a bread recipe with all the ingredients on hand to make it. Plain tuna from the can would get old really fast, I promise :)

Monday, February 1, 2016

When The Furnace Stops Working

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It never fails, the snow falls, the temperature drops (I'm talking like -18 in the mornings), and the furnace stops working.  I kept hoping that it would magically kick back on but I had to call a repair man.  Unfortunately he couldn't make it to my home for 2 days.  This was a prime time to open up the Mr. Heater Buddy propane heater. 

There were several things that I learned while using this heater...
  1. It works very well and we didn't need to sit too close to feel the warmth.  It kept my kitchen comfortable.  It sat about 6ft away from the kitchen table and we could all feel the warm air.
  2. I went through the small propane tanks pretty quickly.  I used 3 of the canisters, with the heat setting on high, in the 2 days that we used it.  I didn't have it on constantly only when we were cooking and eating meals, but in an emergency I would definitely ration the propane for essential heating only.  
  3. It didn't smell and was quiet to use. I also need to store more D batteries to be able to use the fan option on the heater.  That really did heat the room faster.
  4. The heater didn't like to light when I turned it on.  I had to clean the small wick piece every time I turned it back on. 
It was nice to know that this heater worked and that it kept us warm.  In a true emergency situation I would be using this heater in a smaller room (ventilated).  My kitchen is very open to every other room in the main floor and the heat wouldn't be keeping us all warm.  I would have to hang blankets and close off the larger areas of the house to keep the heat in one area.  I would recommend this heater and I also recommend trying it out before you actually need it.  Unlike my example of waiting until we were freezing to open the box :) 

Find this heater online, in big box stores, and emergency preparedness retailers.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Baking Items in Your Food Storage & Our Favorite Hot Chocolate Recipe!

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In November I love to stock up on baking supplies because they go on sale for Thanksgiving. This will continue throughout December so watch the grocery stores for great deals on all of the baking ingredients and spices that you use.  Once you have your food storage basics of wheat, water, beans and rice, there is not much you can do with those items without adding spices and leavening ingredients. Spices tend to sell for a great price point this time of year.  Now is a perfect time to take stock of the spices you have in your cupboard and shop for the ones you are running low on. 
As you purchase your baking items you'll need to rotate them into your pantry at home. Keep a sharpie close by and when you bring your groceries in your house mark the date and place them behind the older item in your cupboard. (remember FIFO- first in first out) That way when you do need to see the expiration date, it will be easy to see and you won't have to search for the teeny, tiny date printed on the food. 
Another way to save money on baking supplies is to be able to tell when their life span has expired. There are several ways to test leavening agents to see if they still work.
Yeast: Add a spoonful in warm water along with a pinch of sugar. It should bubble in 10 minutes. Store yeast in the freezer for indefinite storage. I haven't had yeast go bad since doing this. I use instant yeast and I just add it straight from the freezer to my recipes and it works great.
Baking Powder: Add a pinch in warm water and stir. It should bubble immediately.
Baking Soda: Add a pinch to vinegar or lemon juice and it should bubble immediately. Store baking soda for cooking as well as cleaning.
Other items to store:
  • Another baking item that I keep on hand is Cocoa powder. It has an indefinite shelf life!! 
  • During the week I want you to pay attention to the Spices that you use for cooking. Maybe even jot them down. Could you go a whole year without purchasing more? As bigger sales come upon us in the next couple of weeks look for the spices that you use and buy at least one extra. I know a lot of basic items seem palatable when sprinkled with the right spice.
  • Did you know that you can substitute Unflavored Gelatin (Knox brand) for eggs when you are baking? (1 oz of unflavored gelatin=12 t of gelatin=12 "eggs") To use it in baking use 1t of gelatin + 3 T cold water+2 T hot water=1 "egg".  I store powdered eggs in #10 cans. I love them because they are pasteurized and you can lick the batter without risking salmonella poisoning. You just add the powder egg to your dry ingredients and then the water to your liquids. I save my real eggs for boiled and scrambled dishes.
Along with colder weather and the holidays, my children LOVE hot chocolate. This is our favorite hot chocolate recipe. I whip up a big batch and store it in an airtight container. The kids know how to make it by themselves and it save a lot of money on the pre-packaged hot chocolate mixes. Plus it uses all food storage pantry items.
Hot or Cold Chocolate Mix
(from Cookin' With Food Storage by Peggy Layton)
3 1/4 C. powdered milk
1 1/2 C sugar
1 C cocoa powder
1 1/2 t salt
Mix all in a big bowl and store in an airtight container. To use stir 1/2 C mix with 1 C. boiling water. Stir to dissolve and chill if you want cold milk.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Prepare Today Homemade- Easiest Muffins EVER!

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Self-Reliant Saturday Recipe

 We are a family that loves a good muffin.  We eat them for dinner about 3 times per week.  Muffins are pretty simple to make, but sometimes getting all the ingredients out on a busy night is just too much for me.  I do try to bake a double batch to freeze but I don't always remember to do that.  I think I have found my secret weapon to make muffins quick and SO easy!!  I thought cake mix cookies were easy to make, this recipe is even easier!

You may have heard of the 2 ingredient pumpkin cookies, which include a box of spice cake mix and a small can of pumpkin.  You mix and bake, so easy!  Well, I thought why couldn't that dough also be made into pumpkin muffins??  And guess what?  It worked and the whole family loved them!

  In the fall the grocery stores will generally have spice cake mix for a great price.  Last year I stocked up on them because we really like pumpkin cookies made out of it.  Having all the ingredients on hand added to the simplicity of this recipe. In the picture I used only half of that can of pumpkin because it is the bigger can.  The recipe only calls for a 15oz can of pumpkin. 

 Mix the cake mix, pumpkin, and a few chocolate chips and you have muffin batter!!!  And with no oil or eggs, these muffins are a low-fat option for dinner.  They do have sugar from the cake mix, but not nearly as much as when I make muffins from scratch.

Pumpkin Cake Mix Muffins {or Cookies}
1 box spice cake mix
1 15oz can pumpkin
1 C chocolate chips

Mix the cake mix and pumpkin together with a hand mixer, add the chocolate chips and divide into 12 muffin cups.  (I had extra batter and I made about 8 mini muffins too)  **Bake at 375° for 18-20 minutes.   They could also be baked in a sun oven or volcano stove in a situation without electricity.
**I live at an altitude that I need to follow the high altitude directions and my cake mix said to bake the cake mix at 375°.  If you are below 5000ft you might need to adjust the temperature to 350°.

To make cookies:  Mix as directed above and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to a cooling rack.

And if you need a dessert idea, we made these tonight and they were so good and again....only 2 ingredients!!!  Click here for Pumpkin Brownies!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Food Storage Frame of Mind

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I have had many people tell me over the last few years that they don't have food storage because it is just too overwhelming to deal with.  I have thought a lot about that feeling and have wondered why I don't feel that way about food storage.  I came to the conclusion that I make food storage a way of life and not a one time obstacle that I have to overcome.  Just like we shouldn't diet, but make eating healthy a way of life, food storage should be a lifestyle. I believe in having food storage for emergencies, BUT I truly believe it is a principle of provident living.  " personal and family preparedness should be a way of provident living, an orderly approach to using the resources, gifts, and talents the Lord shares with us. So the first step is to teach our people to be self-reliant and independent through proper preparation for daily life." -Victor L. Brown, Ensign 1976

So, how do you make food storage a way of life??  There are MANY ways to store food and rotate food storage.  This is what I do and it's what works for my family.  It may not be right for your family but there might be a few things you could try out.

  • Have a meal plan that includes easy to prepare recipes.
  • Know what ingredients you use on a daily basis and keep those in stock at all times.
  • Watch the grocery sales and know what "a stock up price" is for every item you use in your recipes. Don't stress out about this....it took me a few months to know what a good deal was, but after some practice of comparing prices I know off hand what the low prices are.
  • Have freeze-dried or dehydrated equals to the fresh produce you like to eat.  They come in handy a lot more then you think they will.  They are worth the price and cook up almost like the fresh counterpart.
  • Make pantry meals that only use shelf-stable foods in your pantry 1-2 times per week.
  • Rotating food becomes easy when you are eating what you store.   
  • Learn to bake crackers, fruit leather, snacks, breads, etc. to save money and also to use food storage basics.
  • Store long term items in a proper bucket or mylar bag to prolong their life. Nothing is more frustrating then knowing you have food, opening it to use, and find it has become rancid.      
  • Be patient with yourself!!  I have a system down and know which foods I make every week.  I make granola bars, bread, and snacks on a regular basis.  It becomes natural and stress-free after a few times of making a recipe.  Give yourself time to learn something new.  
  •  Plan and grow a garden year after year.  I have only had small gardens and I really don't know what I am doing, but it gives my family fresh food. I feel that we spend time together as a family, and it really helps with our food budget in the summer.
  • I don't have foods that will only be used in a "SHTF" scenario.  I use all the food in my storage all the time. Some of my dehydrated foods don't get used as often, but they do get used, and when I store them properly they last a long time.
  • Learn to can and preserve.  There are so many times I run out of chicken in the freezer and open a bottle of canned chicken to save dinner.   
  • Add beans, tvp, and veggies to sauces, meat dishes, and casseroles.  It extends the amount of food your serving, and it uses your food storage.  There is also the added nutrition when you are sneaking veggies into dinnerCooked wheat can be added to many meat dishes and no one will know it's there.   

There are so many ways you can implement food storage into your daily life.  Keeping food storage in the back of my mind all the time I see things that maybe wouldn't have caught my eye otherwise.  While shopping, keep your eyes peeled for clearance and discount items that will work for your family.  I have come across many items that I would have passed up if I hadn't been in a prepper frame of mind ;) 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Self-Reliant Saturday-- Rotate That Food Storage!!

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I have been absent from the blog for a couple of weeks.  My mother was in a car accident two weeks ago and suffered a head trauma and was in a coma for a week before passing away.  I have been spending time with family for her funeral and then also taking the time to clean out her home.  It was a shock and I am still dealing with the reality of it all, but we had such a special time together as a family.  

My mom was always the one to be obedient and this showed in how she always had her food storage.  While cleaning out her kitchen we found many #10 cans of food from the LDS Cannery.  In fact, those dried apples from the cannery sustained us through many hours of cleaning.  But along with edible food storage that we found, there were many items that were long expired.  

Today's Self-Reliant Saturday tip is to ROTATE your food storage!  I am all for long-term food storage, but this is pushing it.  It is 40 years old. 
Anyone for some really old celery??
 But I love that she wrote the date on the can because there was no other date printed on it.  That is tip #2---write the date of purchase on your cans.  It makes rotating much easier :)
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