Thursday, July 31, 2008

How to Rotate Food - Rotating Shelves

This is another very basic way to rotate food. No doubt, many of you are familiar with the shelves that "roll" your cans forward so that you are always using the oldest food first. I'll admit, I really want to have one of those someday; however, they are extremely expensive, especially if you have to pay shipping for it. Even the smaller version ones (pictured above) can be pricey.

So, I have good news and bad news.

Good news: did you know that you can build shelves like these? You can! There are building instructions, so everyone can use this method if they so choose (without buying the expensive shelves). Granted, you have to buy all the supplies, but if you use scrap wood it shouldn't be too bad.

Bad news: We don't currently have the completed .pdf file for these instructions. We're working on it, though, and once I get my scanner to work, it will be posted (hopefully by this weekend. We'll let you know in our weekend roundup). It will be added to our files on the lefthand column of the website (under "Free Printables").
Do any of you have experience with these shelves? Are they worth it?

Other Rotation Methods

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Q & A

Thank you so much to the people who have sent us questions and comments so far! Abs and I really thrive on your feedback, so keep it coming!

We try not to let any questions go unanswered - most of the time we email you back with our answers, or we answer your questions in a post. However, we are sure that if one person is asking, many are also wondering the same thing. So, every couple of weeks we'll dedicate an entire post to answering some questions!

What about water storage?
Our next series (following the "How to Rotate Food" series) is dedicated to water storage. Stay tuned - it should be starting in the next 3-4 weeks!

How big is your car kit? We only drive sedans, and I worry that it will take up all my trunk space.
Abs bought her tupperware box for 99 cents at Ikea. It measures 15" long, 12" wide, and 7.5" tall. Not very big - but it does not hold her water or jumper cables. If you don't want to use a box, you could try a backpack or duffel bag.

That bread on your home page looks delicious! What is the recipe?
Believe it or not, that bread is made using only food storage (pantry) items! We'll be sharing how to make it in a "How To", coming up in a few weeks.

Will you be teaching us how to make 72-hour kits?
YES! Once the car kits are finished (in just 1 or 2 weeks), we'll be making our 72-hour kits, step by step!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Longer-term Storage

Besides having a three-month supply of everyday food, you should also have a one-year supply of basics: oats, rice, wheat, and beans, for example.  Stored properly, each of these foods has a 20-30 year shelf life!

These basics can be stored in #10 cans, mylar bags, and/or 5 gallon buckets.  For more information about storage, read our blog post about how to store longer-term food storage items.

Check out this food storage calculator to determine how much food your family needs.

More information about....

Besides these 4 basic foods, there are a few other things that I like to have a large supply of.  I'm not necessarily aiming for a year's worth (not until I have the basics done, anyway), but I certainly like to have more than three months' worth.  These "extras" include:

white sugar
powdered milk
bouillon cubes
white flour

Everything in the above list (except for the honey) can be stored in #10 cans, mylar bags, and/or buckets - the same way you store your basics. (Note: if you are canning up your own white sugar, do not include an oxygen packet.  If you do, your sugar will become rock hard!) 

Water Storage

Water is more important than food.

You should store two weeks of water for each person in your home.  Water can be stored in old juice bottles, clean water drums, water jugs (you can buy containers specifically for home water storage).  You should store at least one gallon of water per person per day, but preferably 1.5 - 2 gallons per person per day.

Check out some of our past posts (below) for more information.

Water Storage Methods
How to Store Water in Plastic Bottles
Water Purification
Emergency Water (water in your home)
Water Storage Guidelines (from ProvidentLiving.org)

It's Tuesday! (Week #9)

Car Kits: We're almost to the end of our car kits, just one more week and then we'll start our 72 hour kits, so gear up and get ready for that. What a weight off our shoulders it will be to get the 72 hour kits rolling, especially as we head into hurricane season, for those of us on the east coast.

So this week let's grab two items for our car kits: hand sanitizer and a pocket knife. Nothing needs to be said for hand sanitizer. Especially if you are forced to "use the bathroom" in less than sanitary conditions. Consider the pocketknife to be an optional item, but it is handy to have around. Scissors or a box cutter could serve the same purpose, but keep in mind that these items should be kept away from children (duh) so maybe keep your pocketknife in your glove box so you can keep an eye on it. In all this, please keep your family in mind, if you have really curious children, maybe you should omit the pocketknife at this time. Just think about you and your situation.

3-Month Supply: I really liked what Hannah said on Friday, that these meals in our 3-M supply are "pantry meals" or bare bone meals. This means that in case of an emergency (natural disaster or financial disaster) you would eat this as is. But when you are rotating these meals during "normal life" don't feel like you can't add cheese and fresh vegetables to your food storage meals. Eat normally, but eating food storage meals when things are "normal" will make a transition time during an emergency easier on everyone.

If you need an idea for your "extra meal" this week, check out the Food Storage Fridays for meal ideas.

Longer-term Storage: This is your last week to gather rice for the month. Did you meet your goal? Next week we will be focusing on another staple, so look around one last time for any rice deals, or put in your order with the cannery.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Preparedness is a Commandment

(On most Mondays, we share a spiritual thought on food storage and/or preparedness. This helps us remember why this is so important!)

"Though we never know when we will face a challenge that will require us to depend on the resources we have stored, we know that the Lord has said, “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30).

"President Gordon B. Hinckley reminded us in October 2005 general conference of our need to be prepared: 'We can so live that we can call upon the Lord for His protection and guidance. This is a first priority. We cannot expect His help if we are unwilling to keep His commandments. … I have faith … that the Lord will bless us, and watch over us, and assist us if we walk in obedience to His light, His gospel, and His commandments.'

"Let us do all in our power to 'walk in obedience' and be prepared."

“Are You Prepared?,” Ensign, Aug 2007, 30–33

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Safely Gathered In: Weekly Roundup 7/21-26 - More emergency plans, and drinking powdered milk

MSN has a good article about giving powdered milk another try. It's not just for baking!

The authors of Food Storage Made Easy, which is a great new site, chock full of information and great links, wrote an article on having a family emergency plan, that went along great with our FHE lesson from Monday.

Also, many of you have been emailing us with some great comments and questions. We've tried to answer some of you in emails and on your blogs, but we haven't been able to get back to everyone. Next week we'll post some Q&A's, because we're sure that if one person has asked, many are probably wondering the same thing.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Food Storage Friday - Easy Chicken & Rice

It's still July, which means we are still gathering rice. How is it coming along?

I adapted this recipe from one that I found on http://www.allrecipes.com/, a website that I love. You can type in ingredients that you have on hand and it will pull up recipes that match. It's a great tool for when you have food to use up.

Here are our ingredients:

It looks pretty similar to the ingredients we used a few weeks ago for the Rice Pilaf.

First, prepare the milk. When recipes call for milk, I generally use powdered milk so that I don't waste precious drinking milk. No one will ever know the difference, especially if you will be baking it.

Add 1/3 cup of powdered milk for every 1 cup of water (makes 1 cup of milk)

Next, add the uncooked rice.

Add the cream of chicken soup and seasoned salt. You could really use any "cream of" soup for this. You could do chicken, mushroom, one of each, etc. Mix it up!

Next, pour it all into a lightly greased 9 x 16 dish. Flake the canned chicken on top and stir it in. Cover and throw it in the oven.

After 30 minutes, take it out and stir it around. Cover back up and throw it back in for another 30 minutes.

After that, take it out and stir again. If the rice is done, great! If not, put it back in for another little while (it took me 20 more minutes).

Easy Chicken & Rice
2 cups milk (I used 2c water and 2/3 cup powdered milk)
2 cups white uncooked rice
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 tsp seasoned salt
1 can chicken
1 can mixed veggies (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine the milk, rice, cream of chicken soup, canned veggies (optional) and seasoned salt. Pour into a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan. Flake canned chicken on top. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Take out of the oven and stir. Bake another 30 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through. Enjoy!

Like many rice recipes, this one is very versatile. You can add lemon pepper for a little "zing", or red pepper flakes for some spice. Parsley is always good for some nice color, and don't forget about onion powder and garlic powder. Also, this recipe contains pantry foods only (like all of our Food Storage Friday recipes do). If you have refrigerated items on hand, put them to use! Sprinkle some grated cheese on top for extra yummy-ness!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

How to Rotate Food: Sticker Method

We pooled our family and friends for ideas to share for this series, so thanks to all of you who contributed. Food storage is not something that any of us can do alone, we all need support and LOTS of information to do it.

No one method will work for everyone, so keep looking for the method that works for you, and if you have any methods, ideas or tips, please share with us via email or comment so we can share with all our readers.

This was one of my favorite methods that came in.

Buy colored circle stickers for a couple of bucks at the grocery store/office supply store.

Assign a color to each year (make a chart for easy comparison) and label your food according to its expiration date. Then when you are looking in your closet/under your bed/on top of....whatever, all you have to do is look for the sticker to tell you the current year, or earliest expiration, you don't have to keep peering at the tiny date on the boxes/jars.

After I go through all my current storage, I am going to keep my stickers in a kitchen drawer, so as soon as my groceries come home they get a sticker before being put away.

When you label, think about where the food will be stored, and which part of the food item will be visible, and attach the sticker to that side. You want to be able to look in your "food storage area" and see at a glance when your food expires.

You would only have to do this for the 3-Month supply, because longer-term storage should last more than 10 years. When 2008 is over, the green sticker will then be for 2012.

As I was typing this up I had an idea. (I love it when that happens.) The circle stickers come in two color schemes, so you could buy both and then have two stickers for every year. One denoting the first six month, and the second the last six. That would be an even more accurate system. Well, I'm off to the store for more stickers!

Other Rotation Methods

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How To: Make Bread Crumbs

Now a reader commented on the efficiency of making your own croutons and I feel bread crumbs go into that category. It is probably not as time efficient to make your own as to buy some. BUT if you are like me in that you can't throw anything away because of the guilt of wasting food, years of your mother saying "There are starving children in China who would love to eat that!" Then making bread crumbs and croutons is for you.

Ingredients: Bread. Gee that was easy.

See this is where my mother's guilt plagues me. I have some leftover smooshed rolls (homemade so they're hard as rocks), two onion rolls that have been sitting on my counter for at least two weeks. And a stale bagel.

So, tear your bread into pieces into your food processor or blended. If you have a wee tiny processor like me, you'll have to do several batches.

Puree until it is crumb-like, and dump into a baking pan. Oh and preheat the oven to 300 or so. If you want seasoned bread crumbs then go ahead, season with whatever you like. I tend to leave mine plain so I can use them for whatever.

Bake and stir every once in a while. The goal here is not to brown these guys, but to dry them out. So I just stir it every once in a while until it looks dry. It may get a little brown and that's okay.

Let it cool and then put your crumbs into a freezer bag. I use a pitcher or something to hold my bag open while I'm pouring.

Now toss this sucker into the freezer to use the next time you make meatloaf, or burgers, or as my husband suggested when I made these, to bread a pork chop.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday List (Week #8)

Car Kits: This week for our car kits we have an important but costly item: jumper cables. Jumper cables are invaluable to both a motorist and a good Samaritan. You never know when you will accidentally leave the light on in the car (me, all the time) and will need to have your battery jumped. On the other hand, how wonderful is it to hear someone ask in a parking lot: "Does anyone have any jumper cables?" and you can answer: "I do!" I actually don't because I have no idea how to use the things, but my husband often has opportunity to use them while helping someone out. Although I'm sure we've used them more on our own car than on anyone elses. Sigh.

I did a quick google search to check on prices for jumper cables, and the list ranged from $8 to $60. I'm pretty sure the $8 set works great for the occasional jump--a sporting goods store would be a great place to pick one up. Make sure you have one of these in each of your cars!

3-Month Supply: Keep buying extra meals, or if you have your menu/shopping list in place keep stocking up on your items as they go on sale. Last week I was able to get all my applesauce for my breakfast menu because of a great 'buy one get one' sale. I also picked up some chocolate and strawberry syrup to add to powdered milk. I mean, have you ever had powdered milk? Bleh.

If you're running out of ideas, what about ramen? Ramen gets a bad rap, but really it's SO cheap 10-15 cents each and a couple of them could feed a family of four for lunch or dinner. Let's face if if you were hungry enough, you could eat anything. Worried about rotating it? Try making up some ramen with a little less water than it calls for, or drain the liquid after it's cooked, so it's pasta not soup, add half the seasoning packet (you don't need more) and add a couple handfuls of shredded cheddar cheese and stir around to melt. It's delicious. Really. We've dubbed it "Cheesy ramen." Because we're original like that.

Long-term Supply: Keep going gathering that rice. I think it would be safe to say that for items like rice that you store in both your 3-month supply and longer-term storage, the 3-M supply can count as part of your longer-term storage if you keep it continually stocked. So if you already have your 3-Month Supply, you really only need 9 months of rice. Or if you are just starting, your first three months of longer-term storage can be your 3-month supply. I'm all about multi-tasking. Or maybe I'm just talking blasphemy. Who knows. Please don't sue me if it turns out you need 15 months of rice.

Monday, July 21, 2008

An FHE Activity - Emergency Plans

For our Family Home Evening activity in June, we talked about making a record of your possessions in case something happened to your home. This month, we are going to follow along the same lines of emergency preparedness. Let's talk about making Emergency Plans for our family members.

Does your family know what to do in case of a fire? Where would you all go during a tornado warning? Earthquake? Hopefully most of you have gone over this in your families, but if you haven't, do it now!

Fire. Talk about escape plans. Ideally, there should be at least 2 possible ways to escape from each room in your house. Go from room to room and talk about how you could get out. Ask your kids what they would do if a fire was in the hallway, or if it was in the kitchen. If they don't know, show them. Teach them how to "stop, drop, and roll." Also, teach them that things can be replaced, but people can't. They shouldn't waste time grabbing toys and other things.

Also, I really hope you have a fire extinguisher in your house. PLEASE learn how to use it. That fire extinguisher does you NO GOOD if you don't know where it is, or if you don't know how to use it. If you don't have one, consider getting one as soon as possible. I'll admit, I don't have one, BUT, I do have something called "Tundra" (pictured above). It's a spray can that works for all kinds of small fires (electrical, grease, etc). Boy, I wish I'd had that on hand when I had a fire in my house last October. Lesson learned, though. I don't remember how much Tundra costs (it's under $20), but it's well worth the peace of mind, and it will also be well worth it if I ever have to use it! $20 may seem a little steep, but it really isn't when you compare it to insurance deductibles, replacing your things, etc. Plus, only my kitchen saw the fire damage, but there was soot throughout my ENTIRE HOUSE because the cabinets had been burning for so long. If I'd had Tundra (or a fire extinguisher), it probably wouldn't have been so bad.

One final thing about preparing for fires... decide on a place outside to meet. Make sure it's far enough away that the fire won't effect it, and try to make it on the same side of the street, especially if you live in a busy area. Go there during Family Home Evening so there is no confusion. Make sure kids know how to find that place from each exit.

Earthquake. Even if you don't live in an area where earthquakes are likely, it's still a valuable lesson to teach. Practice getting under the kitchen table, and teach them that the most important thing they can do is protect their head.

Tornado. Another valuable lesson. What room in your home would you all congregate in? It should be a room in the center of your home, and ideally it should have no windows.
There are so many things I could say about each emergency. A little searching on the web will give you a lot more information about what to do in each disaster. Make sure your kids know what to do in these situations - it could be a matter of life or death. You can make these lessons fun by talking about it at FHE. Practice getting out of the house quickly. Make it a game to see how many people can fit under the table.
What have you done so far to prepare for emergencies?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Food Storage Friday - Baked Chicken & Spaghetti

This recipe is really easy and tastes great, too! It doesn't get much better than that.

Here are the ingredients:
Pasta, canned tomatoes, onion, canned chicken, pepper, and some white sugar. Like I said last week, you can substitute dried onion for the real onion I have here.

First, boil some water and cook the pasta according to the package directions.

Saute the onion

Then add the canned tomatoes.....

And the sugar.

Let that simmer for a while

Then add the chicken

And add the pasta. I added it straight from the boiling water.

Mix it all up

And add it to a casserole dish. Bake for 20 minutes and it's done!

Like last week's dish, this meal is very versatile. You can add cheese to the top, garlic with the onions, parsley for some color, or a dash of red pepper flakes for some spice. As we ate it for dinner, I also thought that some frozen (or canned) peas would add a nice flavor and color.

Here's the full recipe:

10 oz cooked & drained pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 can tomatoes
2 Tbsp sugar
1 can chicken

Set oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta according to the package directions. While it's cooking, saute the onion. Once it's done, add the tomatoes and sugar. Let that simmer for a few minutes. Add the pasta and chicken, and stir gently. Pour into a greased baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese (optional). Bake at 375 degree for 20 minutes.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

How to Rotate Food - Sticky Note Method

Welcome to our series on how to rotate food! For the next 4-5 weeks, we'll dedicate Thursday's posts to showing you some different ways to keep your food up-to-date and ready to eat!

All the methods are easy - it's just a matter of choosing the one (or a few) that works best for you. This first method is very straightforward.

I keep most of my food storage in cupboards, and on some shelves in my guest room closet, and I have posted small pads of sticky notes on the inside of my cupboards (and on the sides of the shelves, not shown). Whenever I pull something out of my food storage to make a recipe (this happens all the time, for many different recipes), I write the item on the sticky pad. Then, whenever I go grocery shopping, I peel the top sheet off the pad and add those items to my list. If my budget won't allow me to buy everything that week, I just keep the items on my grocery list and buy the food when I can (especially when it's on sale!).
This method can work very well for anyone - whether you have your entire 3-month supply, or if you are building it now. I used to have a habit of getting lots of food in my food storage (1-2 month's worth or so), but then we would eat though it, which is GREAT, but I wouldn't be replenishing it as we went along. Using this method has allowed me to stay on top of the game, and I feel a lot more secure knowing what I have. Plus, since I have my three-month supply all planned out, I know I can make the meals I need to if the opportunity arises!

TIP: Don't forget to put your new food in the back of your storage, so you are always eating the food you've had the longest.

Other Food Rotation Methods

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Random Storage Places...

I found me self a wee bit of extra storage space this week (if you say it in a Irish accent, it doesn't sound weird). I came home from a Buy One, Get One Free sale with oodles of noodles (ha!) and peanut butter. My husband asked where I was going to put it and I looked up.

Our cabinets don't reach the ceiling so I put my excess up there. On top of this cabinet there are 8 jars of peanut butter laying on their sides, and you didn't even know!.

Here's the new home to our pasta, you can't see this side of the kitchen from the living room so I don't worry about it showing. Besides, if anyone asks it'll be a great missionary opportunity: "Why do you have so much spaghetti?" Oh the possibilities are endless!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Another type of preparedness...

Part of having food storage and being prepared for emergencies is also having a financial reserve. President Spencer W Kimball said,

"Are you prepared for and protected against death, illness, a long-continuing, crippling illness of the breadwinner? How long can you go if the income stops? What are your reserves? How long could you make your many payments on home, car, implements, appliances? … The first reaction is: We just cannot do it. We can hardly get by using every cent of income monthly. … If you can hardly get by when you are earning increasingly, well employed, well, productive, young, then how can you meet emergencies with employment curtailed, illness and other unlooked-for problems arising? You must not spend all you make. Money must be put aside for missions and for schooling for your children. They can assume responsibilities and take little jobs whereby they can also help to raise these funds and instead of spending those little accumulations, they will save them for these great purposes. It may mean that the parents of today will go without many things that they would like, but tomorrow will come the harvest."
(“Chapter 11: Provident Living: Applying Principles of Self-Reliance and Preparedness,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, (2006),114–23)

Save money where you can. A little bit of money here and there will really add up in the long run. Having your longterm goals in mind might help you save that money as well.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Weekly Roundup - 7/7 - 7/12

Kate over at Kate's Kitchen wrote a GREAT article about a Living Pantry and what that means.

Just a reminder at The Obsessive Shopper that having a food storage includes more than just food. Unless you want to stink for 3 months!

A few tips straight from my life:

*Looking for more storage ideas? Clear out your clutter! Go through your house and giveaway or toss the things you don't use! In a fit of domesticity display the other day, I cleaned out our glass cupboard. I put all the baby bottles into storage, since she is passed that stage, and tossed the sippy cups that leaked. After straightening and organizing the rest, I had a whole SHELF empty that I immediately filled with food! So go tackle some closets and cupboards and see if you can make room for food storage.

*Don't know how much sugar/flour/etc you would use for three months? The next time you open a new package of whatever, mark down on your calender the day you opened it and the size of the package. When it's empty go back and see how long it took your family to use it up. That should give you a better idea of how much of those basic items to store.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Food Storage Friday - Rice Pilaf

Since we are gathering rice for our long-term storage this month, we thought it would make sense to give you some rice recipes!

Here's our lineup of ingredients for rice pilaf (complete recipe is at the bottom of this post):

Salt, pepper, rice, boullion cubes, 1 can peas, 1 can green beans, 1 can chicken, 1 onion

First, heat some oil in a skillet

When it's warm, pour the rice in and start browning it.

Meanwhile, start heating 4 cups of water and 4 boullion cubes in another skillet (or you could just use chicken broth. I prefer boullion cubes because they are great for food storage).

Be sure to stir the rice often so it doesn't burn.

Meanwhile, your broth should be getting hot. Let it boil.

When the rice is browned, pour it into a casserole dish. As you can see here, mine wasn't TOO brown, but some of the pieces were burning so I decided that it was enough.

Pour the boiling broth into the casserole dish with the rice.

It will completely cover the rice.

Now, cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

While it's baking, cut up your onion. The recipe I found actually calls for dried onion, which is great to have in your food storage, but I didn't have any so I just used a regular onion.
After 30 minutes, your rice should look like this.

Next, just mix in your canned meat, veggies, and almonds (optional). As you can see in the picture, I threw in a can of corn at the last minute. Put it all back in the oven uncovered for 30 more minutes.

Rice Pilaf (serves 6-8)
2 c rice
4 c liquid (chicken or beef broth, whichever you prefer)
4 Tbsp oil
2-3 cans veggies (your choice)
1/4 c dried onions (or 1/2 onion)
1 can chunk turkey/chicken/beef (your preference - match to whatever broth you used)
3/4 c slivered almonds (optional)
salt/pepper to taste


Set oven to 375 degrees.

Heat oil in skillet. Add rice and brown for a few minutes, stirring often. Meanwhile, put your broth in a pot and set it to boil.

Place browned rice in casserole dish, and cover with the boiling broth. Cover and bake 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes are up, take the rice out of the oven. Rice should be cooked and the liquid will be absorbed. Add canned veggies, meat, and nuts (optional), and mix well. Return to the oven for 30 more minutes.

This dish is so versatile! You can add any veggies you have on hand, and you can even make it vegetarian by using vegetable broth and leaving out the meat. When we ate this for dinner, I served it with some canned fruit - a true food storage dinner, and it was delicious. There is also a LOT left over.

Printable-Rice Pilaf Recipe

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How To: Make Homemade Syrup

So homemade syrup is both EASY and delicious. And if you know how to make it, then it's one less thing to store, because you'll already have sugar stored, right? Well, you should.

Ingredients: Brown Sugar, White Sugar, Maple Flavoring, Vanilla flavoring and Water

Heat the water to boiling and then add sugar. In a pinch you could use all white sugar, but it wouldn't taste quite as good. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.

Remove from heat and stir in the maple flavoring....

...and the vanilla flavoring.

All done! Go eat some pancakes. This will store for a long time in your fridge because it's just sugar and water. If you have lots of syrup eaters in your family, double or triple the recipe, it's delicious.

Print Recipe

Homemade Syrup

2 cups water
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp maple flavoring
1 tsp vanilla flavoring

Boil water in a saucepan. Add sugars and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in flavorings. Serve. Store in the refrigerator.