Where do I put my food storage?

Where do I put my food storage?

Actually, this question has two parts:

  1. where do I find the space to put my food storage? and
  2. how can I store my food so I’m able to incorporate it into my weekly menus?

Good questions.

There are a few things I always do when I bring food into the house:

  • I always mark every package and can with the month and year I purchased it. I use a permanent marker and mark one end and the side of the package or can. (I do this because if I’m sticking the item in a bottom cupboard, I can see the dates on the top of the package. If I’m sticking it in a top cupboard, I can see the dates on the side of the package. Easy, peasy.)
  • I always use the older packages or cans first. That means when I get more of something, say chicken soup, I’ll pull all the chicken soup to the front of the cupboard, and put the cans I just bought at the back. That way my storage is continually rotated so nothing expires.

Now that everything is marked with the date it was brought home, and you know that the oldest items get moved to the front and the newest are placed at the back of the cupboard, the next question, where to put it?

I bottle tomatoes, fruit, and jam, and buy cans and boxes of food. I put the bottles on the bottom shelves. Why? Because if there’s an earthquake, the bottles don’t have far to fall so they are less likely to break. That means cans and boxes go on the higher shelves.When the kitchen cupboards are full, I start putting the bottles or cans in boxes and get creative. I have a book case full of bottles of noodles, salt, cornmeal, and boxed cereal. I have a metal shelf where I put jar boxes full of fruit and vegetables. The jam is stored in the bottom of mom’s china hutch.

When I had cases full of macaroni, rice, milk, wheat, and beans in No. 10 cans, my kids didn’t have bed frames, they had beds set on boxes of food. It was a bit tricky to rotate the cans of food as we needed them, but we seemed to manage. We put one layer of boxes in the bottom of each closet with a plastic tablecloth over the tops to keep the boxes clean. If you have a basement, put the boxes on a pallet or pieces of 2X4s in order to keep them off the floor to keep moisture from seeping up and degrading the cans or boxes.

It’s best if you don’t store food in a laundry room or bathroom. The humidity encourages cans to rust. Also, the heat produced by the dryer or shower can degrade the nutritional content of your food.Speaking of heat, it’s best not to store food in a garage or on a porch where the temperature varies from hot to cold to hot.

As you bring food into your home, start incorporating it into your weekly or monthly meal plan. Store what you use and use what you store. If no one in your house eats peanut butter, don’t store peanut butter. It will spoil, you’ll throw it away, and it’s a total waste of resources; money, space, and energy to move it around.

And finally, as you use something, put it on your grocery list so you can replace it. And because you’ve created a plan to increase your food storage, you will be adding extras every time you go shopping.

I know people (okay, one person) who makes an inventory with how many of everything she has. As she uses something, she marks it off the list so she ALWAYS knows how much of what that she has. I think this is a grand idea. It would make me stark raving crazy if I tried it, but it’s a grand idea, and one you might want to consider.

Therefore:

At least once a year, usually some time during summer vacation when my grandchildren are here, we clean out all the cupboards and formal and informal storage areas, and I re-inventory everything.

Ta-da! Now that you know what’s in your pantry, cupboards, and freezer, and you have a plan to expand your food storage, you can get creative in finding the perfect place to store everything so it’s easily found and used in your regular diet.

Good job!

In a couple days, I’ll give you some ideas on how to find the resources (money) to increase your food storage.

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Implement your plan

This is a milestone. You’ve counted the food in your cupboards. You’ve decided you want create a food storage plan for a week or a month, maybe even three months. You’ve created your list.

Here are some suggestions on how to get the things on your list without breaking the bank:

  • Copy canning. This means if you normally buy one can of tomato soup, and you have tomato soup on your storage list, then buy two cans. One for the pantry, and one for storage. You won’t copy can everything on your list, but you’ll be able to check off your priority items as they pop to the top of the list.
  • Shop the sales. I plan menus based on the sales. If there is a screaming sale on cheese, canned goods, or anything really, I’ll buy as much of it as I can. Usually there’s a limit listed of 2 to 4 items at a time. I’ll put meat in my seal-a-meal and stick it in the freezer to be placed on next month’s menu. Now, most of my storage and menus are based on whatever is on sale.
  • Buy in bulk. Yikes. This is a good idea only if you can eat 10 pounds of lemons (or whatever) before they go bad, or if you have a friend who is willing to split the bounty and cost.
  • If there’s a farmer’s market, a co-op, or a group that purchases food in season at a good price, join them. Ask around. Someone you know is involved or knows someone who is.

Implementation is an on-going process. You’re going to keep eat. You’ll need to grow food in your garden or buy it on a continuous basis. Keep your food storage program going and growing. Decide how much storage you have room and money for. I suggest at least a three month supply. We were out of work for six months, and I was able to feed my family out of our food storage until we got back to work. It was a such a blessing.

If you have questions, ask. If you have suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

In a couple days, I’ll let you in on some storage tricks, so you never have to throw anything away because it’s gone beyond it’s expiration date.

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Make a plan

Now that you know what you have, you can figure out where you want to be by making a plan to purchase the food you’ll  need for your new food storage program. If you don’t have a week’s supply of food in your house, that’s a good goal to start with. An important thing to remember is that you want to store what your family eats, and eat what you store.

Having said that, it’s a good idea to have some basics in the cupboard.

  • Canned milk stores well and is easy to cook with.
  • If all you have is prepared box cereal, you might want to consider getting a container of oatmeal, cream of wheat, or other hot cooked cereal.
  • Canned tuna or chicken is good to store. You can use it on sandwiches or cooked and served with noodles.
  • Hard candy, jerky, and granola bars are good to have on hand to fill empty spaces in hungry tummies.
  • Keep in mind that in times of stress, children and the elderly typically will refuse food rather than eat food they’re not used to. If you decide to store high calorie protein bars, be sure everyone will eat them before a problem arises and you need to live on your storage for a week.

I plan my menus on a monthly basis, staying flexible enough to adjust one or two meals if there’s a great sale on something. I plan main dishes, side dishes like rice or pasta, and vegetables into my evening menus. Breakfast is usually a smoothie of some sort. Often, leftovers fill the lunch slot. My menus are pretty basic. No one has ever accused me of being a gourmet cook, but if anyone leaves the table hungry, it’s their own fault.

Also, if I have a visitors and someone is philosophically opposed to eating what I’ve prepared, I have plenty of peanut butter and jam on hand for sandwiches. They’re allowed to get up and make themselves a sandwich. Then they come sit down and eat with the rest of us.

If you aren’t a menu maker, make a plan that works for you and your family. Write your plan down in your phone, in a notebook, in a special binder, somewhere you can access it frequently so it stays at the top of your brain.

Now that you’ve done your inventory and made a plan, it’s time to move on to step 3, implementation. More on this in a couple of days.

How are you doing with the process so far? Do you have some planning tricks you’d care to share? I’d love to hear from you.

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Loaves and Fishes

When I started a food storage program, I was overwhelmed. I wasn’t sure what to store, how much I needed, and where I was going to put it. Another big question was how to fit buying extra food into my budget.

When Jesus fed 5,000 people, the first thing he asked was, “How many loaves have ye? go and see.” (Mark 6:38)

Counting loaves and fishes seemed an excellent place to start. I took an inventory of what I had in my cupboards and pantry, as well as the freezer.

While I was at it, I moved all the cans to the top cupboards, and the glass bottles to the bottom cupboards. The reason I did this was because I saw a picture of a family’s kitchen immediately after an earthquake. Earthquakes aren’t common here, but I just hate the thought of possibly losing my beautiful bottles of peaches and pears that I canned last summer because the jars fell out of the top cupboards.

So if you’re just starting a food storage program, it’s always a good idea to know what you’ve got. Otherwise, how will you know what else you need?

This is step one. It doesn’t cost any money. You can involve the whole family in the project. It’s a great jumping-off point for getting the whole family thinking about food storage in a safe, non-threatening way.

Steps 2 and 3 are coming soon.

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Why should I store food?

Having an active food storage program isn’t a new recommendation. Many federal, state, and local emergency agencies recommend that every household have at the least a 72-hour supply of food and water on hand for each family member.

My grandparbottles 300x225 Why should I store food?ents planted a garden and put up food during summer and autumn in order to feed their families during the winter and spring until the next harvest. It was an economic necessity, at the time. Now, it’s a family tradition. There have been times in the past when it was an economic necessity for my family.

 

Why store food?

  • Food in your cupboard is a hedge against future inflation.
  • Unemployment happens. If/when it does, you can save your money for housing and power and still feed your family well.
  • Disasters happen in every part of the country. When they do, transportation stops and grocery shelves get emptied. Doesn’t matter how much money you have if there’s nothing to buy.
  • Transportation slow-downs, labor strikes, and other human difficulties can prevent food from moving from ports to warehouses to stores.
  • Droughts, freezing weather and other weather events, or animal and plant disease can all impact the food supply, short-term and long-term.
  • Power disruptions due to weather, aging infrastructure, terrorism, or an EMP (man-made or solar electromagnetic pulse which could take down the power grid) and will interfere with…well, just about everything
  • War, pandemic illness, civil unrest, and the list goes on….

How likely are any of these events to happen? Some of them are happening right now in the world.

Do you have food storage? How does it work for your family? I’d love to hear your ideas.

 

Getting started on a food storage program is as easy as 1-2-3.  The next article: Step 1 — Counting Loaves and Fishes, Inventory What You Have

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Emergency Contact Information Card

EM Contact Information 200x300 Emergency Contact Information Card

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina disrupted an entire region of our nation. Not only were communities destroyed, but families were literally ripped apart. In the aftermath of Katrina and Hurricane Rita that followed, over 5,000 children were separated from their parents across the region. In mid-March 2006, the last missing child, a 4-year old girl, was reunited with her family. Why did it take six months to return the last missing child to her family? Because caregivers, children, and working parents were evacuated all over the south. Not necessarily in the same direction. Sometimes not to the same state. Some small children became separated from parents during transit or in temporary shelters. And a complicating factor was that the smaller children couldn’t give any information about their parent’s name, or even their own names.

There are many ways you can prevent losing a child in the chaos of disaster. If the child is old enough to speak, teach them their name, your name and, if possible, a phone number, including area code.

Put an Emergency Contact Information card in your purse or wallet, every school child’s backpack or bag, and every diaper bag. Every member of the family should have an Emergency Contact Information card.

At the bottom of this post there is a page you can print out with four cards on it. You can fold the Emergency Contact Information card in half and laminate it, take it to an office supply store and have them laminate it, get self-stick laminated pockets to seal it in, use clear contact paper, or put it in an envelope. Use pencil or ball point pen, so the writing doesn’t run if it gets wet.

You can indicate medical conditions, medication taken regularly, allergies, or other important information specific to you or your child. You might want to include a doctor’s name and phone number if the individual has a chronic health challenge.

Why an out-of-area contact? Because during a disaster, local phone service is sometimes damaged or overwhelmed by the great number of people trying to access the system at once. Here’s what you can do to solve the problem of diminished or no local service:

-Ask a friend or family member who lives out of the area or out of your state to be your contact person. Many times, even if local service is interrupted, long distance service still works.
-Fill out an Emergency Contact Information card and make sure every family member carries one, even the baby.
-If calls aren’t going through to your out-of-area contact, there’s a good chance a short text will. Try that if the lines are tied up.
-If you can’t get through by phone, try sending a brief e-mail to your contact indicating that you’re safe and your location.
-At some emergency centers, there are ham radio operators who volunteer to try and get messages through to other locations to be sent on to your contact.

Being the geek that I am, I recently found a product on Amazon that I’m planning on trying out. It’s called Dynotag® Web/GPS Enabled QR Code Smart Tags . You can get them in stickers, cards, zipper pulls, metal dog tags, pet tags, and luggage tags. For Christmas, I’m planning on creating a card for each child and grandchild in my family and putting one of these stickers on each card with instructions on how to activate it. Their emergency information is stored in the cloud and readable with a smart phone or with access to the web. (Just for clarity’s sake, I want you to know I’m an “Amazon Associate” and will get a small percentage of the sale of these products if you click through from this site).

Having said all this, the reality is that you need nothing more than a simple index card with the important information on it, so if you are separated from other family members you have a way to reconnect.

Share this with your family and friends at school events, family reunions, church gatherings, play dates, sports events, neighborhood meetings, or where ever parents gather. Surviving a disaster is a life-changing event. Being separated from a child increases the trauma for everyone.

I know the panic of losing a child in a store. The idea of being separated from a little one during an active disaster sends terror through my heart. There are never any guarantees in a disaster situation, but by filling out an emergency information contact card, you’re doing everything in your power to keep your family safe and together.

EM Contact Form 4 200x300 Emergency Contact Information CardYou can print the above document and have 4 Emergency Contact Information Cards

 

  • 51hzn7JcpsL Emergency Contact Information Card

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005ZBAGA8/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B005ZBAGA8&linkCode=as2&tag=livinprovi0b-20&linkId=OQA6BOOBHA3K4HDM

 

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Backyard Chickens!

Hey, look what I built!

image 300x225 Backyard Chickens!

My nifty new chicken coop

In the spirit of living providently, I recently had the bright idea to add chickens to our menagerie. Yeah, in November, because I do what I want.

Backyard chickens are a great investment. First, farm fresh eggs are nutritionally superior to store bought eggs. Second, it’s inexpensive. Third, chickens are fun and funny, and I’m all about fun and funny, kids.

Anyway, I’m picking up six red star pullets tomorrow, so this week I needed to set up the chicken coop that I ordered online. No big deal, right? Right.

Except I’m not a carpenter, or even that handy really, and the parts weren’t labeled and half the screws were missing, and when I tell you that if it’s possible to put something together upside down and backwards, I will, I do mean I will every single time. Also, having a four year old helping out is the exact opposite of efficiency, and we hit a cold snap this week and it is freezing outside (thanks Canada!).

But now it’s finished, yay! I’m excited to pick up the ladies tomorrow, and I’m feeling accomplished, and that’s a pretty awesome way to start the weekend. I was planning on taking pictures of the process, which I remembered directly after I was done, so instead, you get the finished product.

Watch for an update when the girls get here!

 

 

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How Bad Do You Want It?

dressa 270x300 How Bad Do You Want It?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I knew a woman who said she wanted to return to church but didn’t have a dress. I told her God probably wouldn’t mind if she went in pants. She insisted she’d feel out of place. At the same time, she expressed resentment at the thought of having to buy a dress to feel socially acceptable in church. Some time later, she was an extra on a TV show and needed a dress for an important scene. So she went out and brought a dress. In a class I took on time management, the instructor posed a question: if you needed to go to Pendleton, a town about 70 miles away, to pick up your mother-in-law at noon, and there was an over-turned semi-truck that wouldn’t be clear for 8 hours, what would you do? The consensus was that Mom-in-law would just have to wait until the road was cleared. Then he asked: what if I told you instead of your mother-in-law, a pouch is being delivered at noon. If no one is there to pick it up, the man delivering it will get back on the plane and leave. Oh, and the pouch contains a million dollars. Since I can’t go because I’m teaching this class, I’ll give you half if you’ll pick it up for me. What would you do? Answers included: get to the nearest airport and charter a plane, walk around the wreck and pay someone on the other side to take me to Pendleton. Half a dozen people came up with a number of creative ideas on how to get to Pendleton. You see, it was never about the dress. The mother-in-law wasn’t incentive enough to figure out how to get to Pendleton. But a half a million dollars was. Next time you approach a task or goal, answer the questions: How strong is my motivation? Church strong or TV strong? Mother-in-law strong? Half a million dollars strong? It’s never about the “what.” It’s always about the “why.”

The “what” is getting prepared. How strong is your “why?”

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The Law of Entropy

image 300x194 The Law of Entropy

 

 

 

 

 

There is an interesting law in the universe that says if something is left alone long enough, it will decay and deteriorate into disorder and disarray, eventually devolving into turmoil and chaos. Just as a half eaten apple rots in the sun, so does a house left empty suffer broken windows, the roof falling in, stairs falling apart, and chimneys crumbling.

Individuals are like this. Housekeeping is like this. Marriages are like this. Families are like this. Nations are like this. Do you see a pattern here? If we don’t care for what is important in our lives and prove our caring with positive action, it will crumble and fall apart.

My Dear Ones, be vigilant. Keep your awareness sharp so you and all you hold precious do not become victims of this Law of Entropy.

Be ever watchful. I pray for your strength and success.

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