February 21, 2015

New Member of The Family: A Brand-Spanking New Bosch Mixer


After 30 years of marriage, I finally took the plunge and bought a Bosch Universal Mixer from our local Ace Hardware store in Kaysville. The owner is a Bosch dealer. It's a dream come true for me. I'm not sure my husband understands why I'm so excited, but with a year's supply of wheat in my basement, you get the picture.

Some of you think I bake bread everyday because I write a preparedness blog. Yes, you do, admit it. But I never grew up in a home where we baked bread every day or every week. I've made bread before, but I was never immersed in the world of bread making and flour up to my elbows.

My KitchenAid looks pretty sad peeking around the corner in this picture. 
Don't worry little guy. I have a new home waiting for you.
A Bosch has been on my bucket list for years, but as a frugal mom who raised seven children, there was always another financial need, like shoes. Life is financially better for us, but I still shop at the local Deseret Industries Thrift store aka the D.I., several times a month.

But let me tell you the real story for buying a Bosch now. A few weeks ago I was headed to the grocery store and heard a news story on the radio about the strike between the dock worker's union and port management that was crippling the West Coast ports, and billions of dollars were being lost because containers were sitting just off shore not being unloaded or loaded. Oranges were not being picked from trees because they were rotting at the warf, and so on and so on. I use to own an orange grove. There were "dozens of ships sitting at anchor or circling off shore." Just so you know, U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez announced shipping would resume on February 22.

I walked in the grocery store a little disturbed and looked at oranges in the produce section for $1.79 per pound when I expected them to be $.50 per pound, and a lot of what ifs went through my mind as I thought of the food items in the store that are imported, and it made me physically sick. I paced up and down the aisles knowing that if things ever got really bad, items on those store shelves would be gone in a few days. So, I made a commitment to my Heavenly Father to work harder on self-reliance and do a better job at teaching myself some bread-making skills. I made a commitment to finish "the food storage book" by writing one hour every morning at 5 a.m.

I researched where to buy my Bosch, and called Costco. They had 23 left in stock for $389, a little less than online, so I made a plan to shop there. Then, a few days later I walked into Ace Hardware for some shelf pegs, and BAM! There was a Bosch mixer on the shelf for $369. It started to glow! Well, not really. I bought it then and there. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Most of my friends already own a Bosch, so they probably think I'm too late to get in the game. But I never think it's too late to learn new skills if we are teachable. Last night I talked to two of my friends who are going to teach me how they make their yummy Bosch bread. I'm hoping to share those experiences soon.

Tonight I used my Bosch for the first time and made a large batch of bread...er ...snickerdoodles. Mmm Mmm Good! My husband's favorite. And yes, they came out Bosch perfect! 

February 2, 2015

February Emergency Preparedness Goals - Breakfast Foods and Emergency Communications


My preparedness focus for February is breakfast foods and emergency communications. Using a monthly focus helps me stay organized and prevent me from getting overwhelmed with the whole preparedness thing. 

The great thing about breakfast foods is they are affordable, and in an emergency you can eat them any time of the day. If you ever lose your job, your children will thank you for having some of their favorite cereal in the pantry.

My goal is to start with a 3-month supply of shelf-stable everyday breakfast foods my family will eat. Even though I suggest specific items on my list to gather this month, adapt my list. Your family might eat cold breakfast cereal, whereas another family might store agave nectar and gluten-free buckwheat. Both families would be correct. So, adapt my food storage goals for you.

This month I gather breakfast cereal, oats, pancake mix and syrup and maybe powdered eggs. I may throw in some food bars my husband likes. I also gather toiletries and emergency supplies. See my complete list below.
(You are free to print this list and share with others. But please mention my site.)

On Step 1: 3-month supply on my list, you will see #10 can amounts, but you don't have to store your 3-month supply in #10 cans. They are perfectly fine in your pantry and cupboards in the containers you bought them in from the store. I show weights as well to help you figure out amounts for your family. Don't get hung up on these numbers though. It took a lot of research for me to figure these numbers out for my family. You may store more or less of what I have listed since your family eats differently than mine.

Be on the lookout for some great breakfast cereal deals at the store this month. I like to stock up on a few family favorites. I love granola! My kids don't. So, I have a variety of things in my cupboards. Look for some store sales around President's Day weekend here in the U.S.

Oats are amazing to store too. They can be stored short-term in those Quaker Oats containers or long-term in #10 cans or buckets. There are several types of oats, but most people buy regular, quick or instant oats. They are definitely economical. To understand the differences, check out this great article at Baking Bites: Regular vs. Quick Cooking Oatmeal.

Everyone needs a way to communicate during an emergency. Do you have a plan? Have you practiced it? Who is your out of state contact? Can you text them? Will they expect you too? Think it through.

Best wishes on your goals this month. You CAN do it one can or box or bag at a time.

Valerie

BE DOERS
"And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: 
I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, 
for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, 
save he shall prepare a way for them 
that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." 

January 29, 2015

6 Steps to Food Storage Menu Planning



This week I created a FREE menu plan printable to get me more organized. When I don't plan, we tend to eat out more or I'm in the grocery store several times a week when I'd rather be doing something else. Creating menus helps us "eat what we store."  

Highlighting the food storage ingredients below will help you see which items come from our supplies. Here is how to include food storage in your menu planning. You will see that my menus are pretty basic. A chef I am not.

6 Steps to Food Storage Menu Planning
  1. Schedule a regular time each week to create a menu plan. I spent about an hour on Sunday creating mine, but it will take less time as the months go on since I am saving my menus to refer to.
  2. Look over the family activities on the calendar, and decide what meals will work with the limited food prep time each day. I usually have 30 min. to prepare in the evening and more time earlier in the day. If my day looks super hectic, I do a crock-pot meal. 
  3. Open the refrigerator to see what fresh foods need to be eaten first and include them in the menus. Glance in your cupboards as well to find some shelf-stable foods. I usually try to include some long-term grains, but typically I use a few small canned or packaged foods from my 3-month supply.
  4. Skim your favorite grocery store ad online to see if there are some good deals. They are typically on the front page, but not always. Fresh and frozen are great, but sometimes canned beans or soup from your food storage is just fine.
  5. As you create each menu, jot down items you need to buy on the grocery list on the printable, or use one of your own.
  6. Then take your menu plan to the store. Keep your eye open for some unexpected bargains to put in your food storage while you're shopping. Hang the menu plan up for the week to refer to. Love it!
I found a FREE menu printable from My Grafico and tweaked it for my own use. I added some areas for breakfast and lunch menus which we typically repeat. I found the young mother with cookbook clipart at The Graphic Fairy. Love that place.

Here is my menu plan printable.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to incorporate food storage into your life. I'm sure you CAN do it too!

Best wishes,

Valerie

Food Storage Key
Short-term 3-Month food storage
Long-term food storage
Freezer storage
Cold room storage

WEEKLY MENU

Sunday
Empanadas
Green salad
Chips
Guacamole & salsa

Monday
Chicken Stew
- Canned roast beef or chicken
- Cream of chicken soup
- Potatoes 
- Carrots
- Spices
Saltine crackers
Strawberries

Tuesday
Sloppy Joes
- Ground beef
- Tomato paste
- Sloppy Joe spice packet
- Hamburger buns
Tortilla chips
Salsa
Orange slices

Wednesday
Grilled cheese sandwiches
- Bread
- Shredded cheese
- Butter 
Tomato soup
- Tomato soup
- Milk
- Water
- Spices
Saltine crackers

Thursday
Tamales 
Mexican rice
- Rice
- Chicken broth
- Dried onion
- Tomato
- Spices
Strawberries, bananas & blueberries

Friday
Raviolis
- Raviolis 
- Spaghetti sauce
Broccoli
Carrots
Green salad

Saturday
Eat out

January 20, 2015

Create a 3-Month Food Storage Supply Plan

Figuring out how much you want to put in your food storage can be overwhelming. Most suggestions on the internet focus on long-term foods. However, if you are following the current home storage program taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you will want to start with a 3-month supply of every day foods.

Don't Panic. Food prices have always gone up. Disasters happen every day. Don't panic and run to the store buying cases and cases of food you don't know how to manage. Don't run faster than you are able to afford. Pick a budget like $20 to $30 dollars a month per person, and have some self-control. Over the years I've been patiently gathering which has taken a ton of faith. But it is worth it.

"I don't eat canned food." Some people truly can't eat canned foods. I can't help you too much. But I bet you have some recipes your family would use if your husband ever lost his job or an earthquake hit your town. I prefer my homemade spaghetti sauce over Ragu any day. So I stock up on canned tomatoes for that recipe. Someday we may not be able to afford fresh spinach from Costco. And most families only have a 1 week supply of fresh foods in their home. So be realistic and create a plan with items that can be stored.

I always suggest starting with a 3-month supply of food your family eats right now. Most people panic when they hear a year's supply of food. Even a 3-month supply won't be easy for some of you to gather, but it's a place to start. It's STEP 1 of the LDS Home Storage Plan.

Some people like to create menus first, and figure out the gazillion ingredients for those menus. I've done that, but it's not very easy. Others suggest you create simple meals like spaghetti sauce + spaghetti = a meal. Personally, I think you you know how you cook and can plan a few menus.

There are two types of shelf stable foods:
  • Short-term foods - these foods on average have a 3 month to 10 year shelf life. For example, boxed breakfast cereal has about a 1 year shelf life. But a can of corn has a 2 -5 year shelf life.
  • Long-term foods - these foods have a 20 - 30 year shelf life because they sometimes have been carefully sealed with an oxygen absorber packet. But not always. These foods are usually dry and without oils.
Most of the foods in your 3-month supply will be short-term foods. So where do you begin?

Here is a suggestion of how to create your own rough draft 3-month food storage plan.

A. Examine A 3-Month Food Storage Supply Sample
  1. Print out a Sample 3-month Supply of Food Storage Supply.pdf for 1 adult. Remember, I have no idea how much your family eats. But the list of items will get you thinking.
  2. Go through the list, and put a check by items you eat now or might consider using. Cross off those items your family does not like or can't eat because of allergies or medical conditions. But be open minded to other foods.
  3. Some long-term foods are listed like wheat or dry milk. If you don't want to gather a small supply of them right now, you can save them on the list and gather them after you complete Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3 of your home storage plan. Long-term foods are Step 4 in the plan.
B. Decide How Much You Want To Store
  1. Look over the suggested amounts and multiply them by the number of family members. You can divide numbers in half for children, but you don't have to.
  2. Don't get too detailed. I promise later on you will add or delete items and change amounts. Storing yams did not work for our family. Canned carrots is not working either. So just put together a rough draft.
C. Food Storage Hunt
  1. Go on a hunt through your home and find shelf-stable foods you already have on your shelves: foods that have been sealed so they can be safely stored on a shelf for awhile. These foods are canned, boxed or packaged. Take your kids with you and make it fun. 
  2. As you search, write down on another piece of paper other items you have on your shelves that are not on the list. Use my categories to keep it organized.
  3. List the number of items you have and the detail. For instance: corn, 15 oz. can, 2 ea.
  4. Type up your list and there you have it. Your own rough draft 3-month food storage supply plan.
I promise that as you spend time working on this, you will feel a whole lot better. It's all part of the journey, but it's well worth it. I would love to hear about your experiences creating your own 3-month food storage plan. 

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