Wednesday, September 29, 2010

72-hour kits: Making priorities

My sister-in-law texted me earlier this week, asking if she really needed everything on our 72-hour kit list.

It's up to you, I texted back.  Obviously you don't want to skip over the essentials like food, water, and a small first aid kit.  But is everything on our list really necessary?  Where should you spend your money first, and what things can you skip over to save money?  I personally think everything is needed, but it all depends on your budget and preferences. Let's break it all down and see what we can go without:

1 sturdy backpack (or rolling suitcase) per person: well, this isn't really up for debate, you obviously need something to put everything in.

1 change of clothes per person: well, I can see going without this, but I certainly wouldn't want to.  I mean, it's certainly not a matter of life or death, but if I somehow got soaking wet and didn't have a change of clothes, I wouldn't be too happy (and it probably wouldn't be too healthy either, if it was cold outside!).  I'm going to say that yes, this is a necessity!

1 set of scriptures per family: not life or death, certainly.  But these would provide a sense of comfort.  You could even get a very small copy to save space/weight. Personal choice, here.

1 flashlight per person: it's non-negotiable that you need *a* flashlight.  One per person is ideal, but 1 or 2 per family (or more, depending on family size) would probably be okay.

Small first aid kit: definitely a requirement!

Personal documents: Since almost everything is digital nowadays, this is mostly for convenience, especially if you have already sent these documents to a close family member or friend (always recommended, just in case something happened to your docs at home!).  But, it would be a good idea to have some form of i.d. on you if you had to leave your home quickly.

Water and food: Necessity, obviously.

$100 cash per family: This is important because in times of emergency, local banks and atm's are often not available.  You will need cash to buy anything.  You should keep some cash at home for emergencies anyway, so keep $100 in your kits.  It's not going to cost you anything extra, so I say just do it.

Ax & shovel, bucket, utility knife: Hmm... well this can be a toughie because these are heavier items and if you were going somewhere on foot, these wouldn't be very fun to drag along.  However, I can see them coming in very handy... what if you had to chop some firewood?  Dig a hole for something?  I always err on the side of caution so I've added these to my kits.  It's always good to have a knife.  And the bucket can be used for transporting water from a stream/lake or moving other things around.

Battery-powered radio and light: I can see going without these.  Obviously it would be ideal to have them (and everything else on this list!) but they probably wouldn't be a matter of life and death.  We personally own a solar/battery powered radio/flashlight/cell phone charger all in one.  It's great.

Small sewing kit: Probably not a life-or-death need, but certainly nice to have.

Toothpaste/soap/toothbrushes/shampoo: As gross as it would be to not brush your teeth for 3 days, it wouldn't kill you.  As long as you have something to sanitize your hands with, you could probably go without these. (But really... who wants to??)  But again, these items are so small and light that it's almost insignificant the amount of space and weight they take up.  So, just add them. Seriously.  Think of how much better you will feel after brushing your teeth, even if your whole body is dirty.  So much better.

Blankets/sleeping bags: If you live in a hot climate and the temperatures never fall below the 50s, it's probably pretty safe to say that you could go without these items.  Personal preference, people.

Camp stove/heat: Well, if you don't mind eating canned food cold (or whatever else you have packed), you don't really need this item.  It's certainly ideal since a hot meal can do wonders for your attitude in an emergency, but if you can't afford this item right away, don't worry.  Start a change jar and buy it someday.

Work gloves: Ideal, but not absolutely necessary.

Matches/candles: The matches are definitely a necessity, but candles probably are not.

Mess kits/disposable plates/utensils/cups: Pretty necessary, wouldn't you agree?

Aluminum foil, can opener, disinfectant, mosquito repellent, entertainment items: Again, most of these things probably aren't life-or-death needs, so buy what you can afford and save up for the rest (if you think it's necessary).

Pet supplies: If you have a pet, this is certainly something to consider.

One thing about emergency preparedness is that it's so personal, and every family will vary when it comes to needs and wants.  Decide what is right for your family, and make your list from that.  Buy what you need first, and then when/if you have some extra cash, get some of the non-essentials.

Anyone agree or disagree with my assessments of certain things?  Do you have any "luxury" items in your kits?  Share a comment and let us know!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Food Storage Tuesday

Every Tuesday, we post specific items you should gather in order to supplement your 72-hour kit, your 3-month supply, and your longer-term storage. If you are new to our blog, don't worry! You won't be left behind. Just start up where we are and follow along. You will eventually have everything completed! Once the 72-hour kit is complete, we'll be putting together emergency car kits again (week by week). Once those are done, we'll gather the 72-hour kits again. So don't worry, just jump on in and join us where we are today!

This week for your 72-hour kits, prepare sleeping bags or blankets to be accessible at a moment's notice.  Our sleeping bags are in our front closet, but the 72-hour kits are in the kids' closet.  Even though they are not kept together, that's okay because I still know where everything is and would be able to grab them both if we were leaving in a hurry.  Also  this week, gather toothbrushes and other hygienic items (toothpaste, shampoo, soap, etc.)- travel sizes are ideal.  Now, space is always an issue and to be honest, I don't have body wash in my kids -- just shampoo (as far as soap goes).  I'd rather wash my whole body and hair with shampoo rather than wash my body and hair with body soap.  Space is limited so I choose shampoo.  Personal preference.

Hopefully you are still working on your three-month supply!  It's certainly an on-going project.  Sometimes it feels like mine will NEVER be done but it's a process and I'm getting closer to my goal.  The hardest part for me is keeping updated records of all the food I have and use on a day-to-day basis.

We are still gathering wheat this month for our longer-term storage!  To be honest, I don't store very much wheat because my family doesn't eat much of it, but I do have a fair amount (I really focus more on the oats and rice and beans, personally).

Monday, September 27, 2010

Motivational Monday

“The world is busy with its own cares,
sorrows and joys, and pays little heed to
you. There is but one great pass-word to

William George Jordan
(1864 - 1928)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Food Storage Friday: fruit leather

Thanks to the nifty NESCO dehydrator I now own, I thought I'd try out making fruit leather. Fruit leather is very similar to Fruit Roll-Ups in that they both are sweet, thin, and pliable. Other than that, the similarities stop there. There are no alarmingly purple colors, Buzz Lightyear cut-outs, or super-sweet taste, although that the latter is entirely up to you. The only downside in my view is that the fruit leather, while pliable and soft, can't stretch long distances the way that Fruit Roll-Ups do.

Homemade fruit leather tastes pretty great and is easy-peasy to make. The instruction manual informs me that you can use almost any fruit, combining them, etc. You can use fresh fruit, canned (drain first), or frozen, although frozen tends to be more liquidy. It also suggests combining very juicy fruits, like oranges, in combination with fruits with more fiber and substance (like applesauce) so that it won't be so runny.

If your dehydrator doesn't come with one of these nifty trays, I've read online that you can use parchment paper. I also read that wax paper does not work.

Grease your tray/parchment paper lightly with oil.

I used about 2 cups of unsweetened applesauce and added a scant tablespoon of agave to sweeten it, just in case it needed it. You don't have to use agave--I just had bought some on clearance and thought I'd be cool. The flavor is mild--you can use honey or sugar. My dehydrator booklet informs me that any added sweetener can make the fruit leather more brittle when stored, however.

Following the lead from Fix Me a Snack (which has some nice pics and other recipes for fruit leather), I pureed some raspberries and added about 1 teaspoon of agave to them to add some fun color and taste to the leather. In hindsight, I should have strained them or picked something else because the seeds were definitely noticeable at the end.

Spread the fruit mixture about 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick, trying to be as even as possible. Try to make yours prettier than mine. I used about 1 1/2 cups, I think.

Dehydrate the leather at 130 to 140 degrees (I used 135) for 4-8 hours. It took me about five. The fruit leather is done when it feels like leather and comes off the tray without falling apart.

Ta-dah! You can see how the seeds are pretty obtrusive.

Slice them into rolls with a rolling pin and wrap them up. Store them in an air-tight container.

These tasted really nice, although the raspberries were a bit tart. Next time I'd either add more sugar or just use a sweeter fruit.

All in all, these are surprisingly easy. I haven't tested them on my five-year-old yet, but I imagine they'll be a success.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Inspirational Thought

"At the root of self-reliance are the dignity
and importance of seeing ourselves as
children of God regardless of circumstance,
culture, or location."

Elder M. Russell Ballard
Becoming Self-Reliant, Spiritually and Physically, Ensign, March 2009

Friday, September 17, 2010

Food Storage Friday: Cherry Almond Oatmeal

We are in Pennsylvania visiting my parents, and my sister-in-law introduced me to this great oatmeal recipe.  We made it one night and it was a huge success!  This breakfast would be a great addition to your three-month plan!

Almond extract, cherry pie filling, old fashioned oats, salt, powdered sugar, and cooking spray

First, measure out your oats, powdered sugar, and salt and mix thoroughly in a bowl.

Next, spray your crockpot thoroughly with cooking spray, and pour in your dry ingredients.

Open up a can of cherry pie filling...

And pour onto the dry mixture in the crockpot.

Add water, and stir.

Cook overnight......

And in the morning, you'll have a delicious hot breakfast waiting for you.

Even the kids loved it!

Cherry Almond Oatmeal
(serves about 6)

3 c oats
3/4 c powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 can cherry pie filling
6 c water
1 tsp almond extract

Spray the inside of your crockpot thoroughly with cooking spray so the oatmeal won't stick.  Combine your dry ingredients in a bowl, then pour that into the crockpot.  Add cherries, water, and almond extract, and stir. Turn on crockpot to "low" setting and allow it to cook for 8 hours.  Enjoy!

This recipe would be really great with apple pie filling and cinnamon!  Any other yummy combinations you can think of??

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Summer Yields

The long summer is finally coming to an end. Our garden is mostly dead, the heat of August usually torches it here in the South, but we have a few herbs still alive, a few bell pepper plants with flowers on it and the cayenne pepper plant--an accidental purchase--still growing like mad.

I wasn't able to can much this summer, I've been down and out with morning sickness. But I was able to make one batch of strawberry freezer jam. Just enough to get us through the winter.

Last week I made pear sauce (instead of applesauce). A friendly neighbor gave us a bag of pears from their yard and I wanted to try something different this year. Last year I canned them, but they weren't a big hit with the fam. In fact I'm still using up pears in smoothies whenever I can sneak them in. We love applesauce and so I decided to try some pear sauce. It was really easy to make, but the grocery sack of pears only made 3 qt jars which I decided wasn't enough to process, so the jars went into the deep freeze.

With our excess of cayenne peppers, Mountain Man made some pepper flavored vinegar. All he did was chopped the tops off and put them in a jar, then filled the jar up with white vinegar. If we'd had cute jars it would've made a great Christmas present. Maybe I'll keep my eyes out for fancy vinegar type jars and use the rest of my peppers for some cayenne vinegar gifts.

I still want to make salsa this year if I can find a good and inexpensive source for tomatoes. We can't live without salsa and we all prefer homemade to store bought.

What fruit and vegetables did you put up this summer?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

We posted this article a few years ago and it's on our information page about wheat.  I'm re-posting it here today so you can all get an idea of different wheat terms.  Next week I'll be posting an article about wheat storage, and I'll also try to answer any questions you might have, so leave comments if you do have some questions!

I don't know about you, but wheat used to really confuse me. There are so many terms (wheat berries, bulgar, red, white, etc) and I just can't keep it all straight. Plus, I figured that until I buy a wheat grinder, it was pointless for me to have any wheat. That's not the case, though! Wheat is very useful in many different ways. Here's a little breakdown of what wheat can do for you:First of all, the most common types of wheat are red and white. They can both be used in breads, and are very similar when it comes to cooking them in water, etc.

Sprouted wheat: There is a soaking method where you can cause your wheat kernels to sprout. People use these raw in salads, sandwiches, or you can steam them and served as a vegetable.  Click on the link to read our post about how to sprout wheat.
Bulgar: Bulgar is wheat that has been soaked and then baked to speed up the cooking time. It's very versatile. Some people serve this like rice. You can freeze cooked bulgar.
Wheat berries: This term refers to wheat that has just been cooked in water (2-1 like rice). Like bulgar, it is very versatile.

Cracked wheat: Cracked wheat is a wheat berry that's been broken down into small pieces. To crack your own wheat, place whole (uncooked) wheat berries into a grinder or food processor for a few seconds.

If you ever grind or crack your own wheat, use only as much as you need. If you end up with extra, place it in a sealed container and store it in the freezer.
Gluten: You can make your own gluten from hard red wheat. Raw gluten can be made into flour.

And of course, you can grind your own wheat to make flour.  You should grind only as much as you need, because it doesn't have any of the preservatives to stay fresh.  If you do have extra wheat flour left over, keep it in the freezer.  Click on the link to read our post about how to grind wheat.I hope this little rundown of wheat terms has helped you a little bit. If you are still feeling overwhelmed about wheat, don't worry.  We'll be covering some more basics next week.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Food Storage Tuesday

Every Tuesday, we post specific items you should gather in order to supplement your 72-hour kit, your 3-month supply, and your longer-term storage. If you are new to our blog, don't worry! You won't be left behind. Just start up where we are and follow along. You will eventually have everything completed! Once the 72-hour kit is complete, we'll be putting together emergency car kits again (week by week). Once those are done, we'll gather the 72-hour kits again. So don't worry, just jump on in and join us where we are today!

We are still gathering food this week for our 72-hour kits.  Be sure to check out some of our previous articles about food for 72-hour kits here.  Also, the Ensign magazine published an article last year about adequate nutrition during an emergency.  We did a review of that article here.  Also, see  our 72-hour kit page for more ideas.

How's your three-month supply going?  Don't be discouraged if you don't have much extra money in your budget to buy food storage.  Just getting a few extra things a week can really make a difference, and blessings will come if you are trying!!  The Lord knows your heart; if you are doing your best with food storage, that is all you can do.

We are still gathering wheat this month for our longer-term storage.  Tomorrow I'll post an article about some wheat facts... I know, don't fall off your chair with excitement!!! :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Motivational Monday

“We stand at the crossroads, each minute, each hour,
each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we
allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves
to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to
perform. Each choice is made in the context of whatever
value system we’ve selected to govern our lives. In
selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way,
making the most important choice we will ever make."

Benjamin Franklin

Friday, September 10, 2010

Food Storage Friday: Tantalizing Tuna Salad

** Special thanks to Heather, our guest poster for this recipe!

Tantalizing Tuna Salad

This is a recipe that I made up in the early days of my marriage when we were broke and has
been my husband's favorite since the first bite. Even our picky little nieces gobble this tuna salad up without blinking! It's so simple, pretty darn healthy and best of all, it can be made in minutes.

1 can of Tuna in water (drained well)

3-5 Tbsps Mayonnaise (depending on how creamy you like it)

1 dill pickle diced finely

2 Tbsps finely chopped onion (or dehydrated onions)

¼ tsp celery salt

½ tsp Hot Sauce

Salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients well. Serve as is, on toasted bread or with crackers. This recipe serves 1 hungry man or 2 skinny people!

Heather Green is a freelance writer, mother, cook and the resident blogger for An Apple a Day... blog, a free informational website offering tips and advice on online nursing schools.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Food Storage Tuesday

Every Tuesday, we post specific items you should gather in order to supplement your 72-hour kit, your 3-month supply, and your longer-term storage. If you are new to our blog, don't worry! You won't be left behind. Just start up where we are and follow along. You will eventually have everything completed! Once the 72-hour kit is complete, we'll be putting together emergency car kits again (week by week). Once those are done, we'll gather the 72-hour kits again. So don't worry, just jump on in and join us where we are today!

This week for your 72-hour kits, add food.  This is actually a big project so we're going to spend two weeks focusing on this.  You will need to sit down and make up a plan for meals for each of the three days.  Ideally, you would go out and buy all this food in the next two weeks, but if you are on a tighter budget and want to wait for things to go on sale, that's fine too.  Just be sure you have your shopping list completed and maybe make a goal to have everything bought within 2-3 months.

Check out one of our previous articles about food for 72-hour kits here.  Also, the Ensign magazine published an article last year about adequate nutrition during an emergency.  We did a review of that article here, so be sure to check that out as well.  I also encourage you to read the comments to these posts we did, because some people gave some really great advice!  Please feel free to leave your own advice to those posts as well.  Even though they are older posts, they are linked on our 72-hour kit page, so new readers (and all of you!) can access them easily.  Thanks in advance!  We love getting advice and ideas from all our readers.

How is your three-month supply coming along?  I'll admit, mine is coming along a lot more slowly than I had hoped.  If you remember, last spring when we found out we'd be moving, I stopped buying food storage (and in fact we started eating through our three-month supply so we'd have less to move).  The idea was that I could quickly replace everything with the grocery money I saved during that time.  However, moving expenses (and other things) really added up and the money wasn't quite as much as I thought it would be.  But, we are on the right track again and starting to store meals like we were before.  It's still challenging, of course, but we're moving in the right direction!

This month we are gathering wheat for our longer-term storage.  There are lots of places to buy wheat - just Google it and you will see!  Also, if you are LDS, ask around at Church to see if anyone wants to go in on a bulk order.  Sometimes that will get you the best deal.  And don't forget to check out wheat at Emergency Essentials, one of our sponsors.  We've worked with them before and have been very happy.

Where do you like to buy your wheat?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hello, Earl

I made a huge mistake last night.  I went to Walmart to do my "big" shopping.  You know, when you haven't been to the grocery store in about 2 weeks and you have been eating food storage for the last few days (not that there's anything wrong with that, but I like to have a lot of fresh produce around especially in the summer).

So, what's wrong with going to Walmart on a Wednesday night, you ask?  Earl, that's what's wrong.  I forgot about him when I decided to go.

Hurricane Earl is headed for the coast - in fact I think the storm has already hit North Carolina and I know there were some mandatory evacuations for some of the NC islands.  I live on the Virginia coast, on a peninsula, and although the weather forecasters have not said we are in danger, people still seem to be a little bit panicked.  I have never seen that many people at Walmart, and their carts were filled to the brim with bottled water, juice, bread, frozen pizzas, flashlights, cereal, and toilet paper.  Many of the shelves were EMPTY, including most of the produce shelves.  I'm not really sure what these people are preparing for; if anything, we are supposed to get some rain tonight and tomorrow but nothing much. (But hey, maybe I'm completely mis-informed and I'll wish I had joined in the hysteria!)

The lesson I learned is this: if you are prepared, you shall not fear (i.e., you won't have to run to Walmart, deal with hundreds of people, and stand in line for 45 minutes while you curse yourself for not doing it sooner).  I'll admit, I did grab a case of water because I still am short on water since moving into our apartment.  And, I was mad at myself for not buying it a few weeks earlier at Kroger when I saw it on sale, because here I was paying full price out of necessity.  

It really hit home the fact that the Church's counsel about being prepared is for our own good and safety, it's not just something we are instructed to do randomly.  And I don't even think it requires faith to follow this counsel.  It's just common sense.  Do it now, get prepared. Buy bottled water when it goes on sale (if you need it), so you won't pay higher prices (think price gouging) when it's necessary for water.  Buy canned goods and other food items when they are on sale, and stock up now, and you won't be forced (by necessity) into paying full price when a disaster is looming.  Being prepared not only gives us peace of mind, but it's smart economically too.

Are you in Hurricane Earl's path?  What have you done to prepare?