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Posts Tagged ‘food’


 

Ever since I began and launched my blog, I have been trying – emphasis on the word, TRYING – to put together articles about what are the best and most complete supply caches you should maintain in your home and vehicles. I did an article on Bug Out Bags (BOBs), but there is just so much more.

I’m constantly learning and posting things I learn to share with you. To truly become self-reliant and prepared for economic collapse, natural disasters, or other emergencies, the amount of preparedness is so varied and vast that I cannot possibly address and post all elements at once. But I just came across an excellent article which will serve me well and I feel will do the same for you, too. I wish I could credit the original author, but it is unknown.

As you may or may not know, I am a consultant for Shelf Reliance/Thrive Food.  We are a preparedness company and I can help you make your plan to get your family protected. Just let me know how I can help. Of course, you can visit my store at by clicking [here] or click any of the links I provide throughout the article.

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It has gotten harder to find quiet time to write here on my sweet little blog.  Between the garden, this blog, growing and learning my Thrive business while creating websites and social networking for it has all been keeping me busy enough for three of me.  But don’t mistake a lag in postings for having neglected, or even slowing down on my preparations.  Oh, contraire!  I stay true to prepping each and every day!  For me, prepping is as natural as breathing.  The problems that I fear so much have not gotten any better.

English: Scott Walker, 45th Governor of Wisconsin

Our Symbol Of American’s Taking Back Control

The economy is still a disaster.  We still have unacceptably high unemployment even with fuzzy counting by this administration.  The housing market is no better.  America’s debt continues to rise and I watched our POTUS mention more stimulus! This country’s leading law official, U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder is playing political games before Congress while a brave border agent lies in his grave and a family continues to grieve.  We have a government attack against the very basic principles of the catholic church’s position on human life, jeopardizing freedom of religion.  And the cherry on the top?  Planned Parenthood now has a facility in a school!  We can talk about these things until we are blue in the face, but I realize the “Hope & Change” which will work best for my family is in my pantry.  But I can not contain my joy for Governor Scott Walker and Wisconsin’s victory over the heavy-handed tactics of the big unions! I’ll admit, it does give me hope for November.  But let’s get back on message here. (more…)

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One of the island's many vegetable fields with...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clearly, I am preparing myself and my family for any kind of hardships that lay ahead. I know that we are not immune from an unexpected loss, tragedy or emergency. No one is. But I sit here after reading a short blog from a fellow blogger, prepping2prep. She wrote of her outdoor adventure with her two very small children and it warmed my heart because she showed – in her photo’s – of the adventure and how God provides such bountiful, healthy and free nourishment for us. It’s how he designed us and the earth. Food grows all around us. The earth is lush and full of life, plants and animals.

But we have become so focused on tangible things that make us happy and comfortable for the here and now. We are surrounded by a world with deadlines and the pace is so fast and getting faster. The conveniences we take for granted were not even a pipe dream even one generation ago! Heck, I remember my first company portable computer in 1988. Two floppy disc drives, one with the program and the other for recording your work. WoW! Does anyone remember those clunky things?

And from that dinosaur nearly 25 years ago to micro chips today that can be injected under your skin, it boggles my mind. My adult life has been filled with chasing the “dream” of being successful in a career, raising a family, going to church and living in a nice house in a good neighborhood with well-mannered children and doing it all well. It was exhausting! Probably why I live with migraines to this very day.

I left the workforce nearly a decade ago. It was an adjustment. I realized that so much of who I felt I was somehow became linked with “what” I did, ie my career. Looking back at it from where my priorities are today, it really is sad. So much time lost.

But, I had a successful career but never really was happy with it. I raised my family, the time flew by faster than I realized. We belonged to a lovely church, but it dissolved and we found ourselves loving God and living a moral life, but falling away from attending regularly. We built a lovely home that we still live in, but the economy has hit the financial investment in it. My children? They are all grown and having their own families. It is cliché, but the time flew by so fast. I missed out on so much joy in just being a mommy.

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I found this at MySistersPantry’s blog. It looks so good, I had to share with you.

MOVIE GORP

I recommend mixing the granola, almonds, and dried fruit in a large bowl first.  Then add the cereal and popcorn and gently mix with your hands.   You’ll notice that this makes an ENORMOUS amount of GORP, so best prepared for a group, or divided in half.  Delish.

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I found this at MySistersPantry’s blog. It looks so good, I had to share with you.

MOVIE GORP

I recommend mixing the granola, almonds, and dried fruit in a large bowl first.  Then add the cereal and popcorn and gently mix with your hands.   You’ll notice that this makes an ENORMOUS amount of GORP, so best prepared for a group, or divided in half.  Delish.

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TVP Burgers

TVP Burgers (Photo credit: moria)

I see my need for food through the spectrum of having to serve it in a flavorful way so that my family, especially our picky little 4-year old man, will enjoy eating it.  But as one who prepares for emergencies, I envision having to do it without the luxury of electricity to prepare it and the refrigeration to safely store it. After all, without electricity you can not save perishables in your freezer.

Just this past winter, we were with and without electricity on so many occasions I can’t even remember. Most were brief outages, but one in particular went for a week. And we counted ourselves among the more fortunate. Do you remember all the trouble on the east coast with all the harsh winter storms that left some without electricity for over a month? My family did just fine during the week that our electricity was out. We ate well because we cook with natural gas which works even during power outages.  We also had our generator and fuel to keep our television, lights and refrigerator working.  We actually enjoyed the experience. It was like camping in an expensive RV!

But within a few days, we needed to start replenishing the gasoline we were using in the generator.  I want to eventually convert to a solar generator, but that is an expense we have to budget for.  So with the courage of a true American settlers’ spirit, Mr. PrepperPenny braved the elements and  went down the road in our SUV to the 7-11 to buy gas.  He found long lines completely backed up and he wasn’t sure any gas would be left to buy by the time he got his turn at the pump.  He said it reminded him of the long lines of people trying to buy gas during the Carter Administration‘s energy crisis in the 70’s.  Fortunately, when it was his turn, there was gas and he did purchase some. But we both realized if the power outage went long enough, we were at risk of losing the food from our fridge and freezer.  Because I have prepared for such emergencies for a couple of years, I don’t keep a lot of meat in the freezer. Meat is expensive and I don’t ever want to absorb that cost by losing hundreds of dollars worth of food.  And if you are wondering, yes. We have alternative sources for cooking and heat. But I will talk about those and show you my very cool gadgets in another post.  But I say with pride and confidence, if we ever did lose all perishable foods in our home, we will be fine.  I plan for such scenarios and have a beautiful, well-stocked home store.  As we sit here today, the food in my storage will feed us for many, many months and provide all my family’s needs without having to rely on the supermarket or even our governments “rescue.”  My goal is to have a years supply by the time I harvest the last of the food my garden produces this fall.  My eventual goal is to move to Texas and buy enough property to homestead.  I dream of owning cows and chickens and growing really large gardens.

Henhouse near Ganthorpe

Henhouse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Because I am always thinking of ways that I can offer healthy, great tasting food in diar situations, I try to keep food in my pantry that I know my family and I truly enjoy eating.  My family loves all kinds of meat prepared many ways.  If society were to completely collapse and we were not able to buy food, be it a temporary or long-term delay, what then? I wondered about beef and chicken and pork. How easily or well would my family adjust to a very precious and limited access to meat. I know our limitations. We can grow fruits and vegetables, and powdered eggs, milk, butter and other staples are a no-brainer for us “preppers,” but it’s really frowned upon to have a cow, pig or even a little chicken coop in the backyard in our suburban home. I’m pretty sure the homeowners covenants would ban me from having any of these and my dear neighbors, who I love many and adore few, are probably happy about that.And because I’m always thinking about being self-sustaining, it prompted me to feverishly begin canning things like chicken breasts, pork roasts and meatloaf. I ravaged the supermarkets when meat was on sale until I made great headway in adding it in my home store.  Canning it was easy and I felt relief as I began seeing my shelves filling up with our beloved meat. But then, I began using them in my food rotation and realized the limitations of what I could actually do in preparing recipes with them. The chicken is very good and tasty in a quesadilla, omelets and casseroles. The pork with BBQ sauce makes a yummy sandwich. And my meatloaf? What can I say? It’s always the best in the world, either canned or freshly made. 😉  But honestly, I was limited on how I could use it. So I accepted that and moved on. Well, not really. You may know me well enough by now to know that if there were other options, I was going to find them. And luckily, I did.  I came across information about Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP).

Essentially, it is a soy product which is very high in protein and very low in fat.  Yes people, it grabbed my attention because I am, after all, a woman.  And as most women are, I am vain enough to always want to lose a little weight without actually having to diet!  But I will be the first to admit, TVP is still not meat and lacks its’ appeal.  But in shtf scenarios, it probably will look mighty appealing, even to the most outspoken nay-sayers in your family.  And one of the big advantages for me is the lower cost than that of freeze-dried meats.  A #10 can of freeze-dried ground beef costs around $44.00 while its’ TVP cousin costs only $12.00.  That in of itself prompted me to want to try it.  If I had to resort to using freeze-dried meats, I would use it in things like chili, sloppy joes, and in some of the hundreds of other recipes I have. There are nearly as many uses for TVP as there are for ground beef, chicken and pork.  But if I can replace real meat products with TVP that tastes the same and is sufficiently flavored with herbs and spices to make it pleasing on our pallet, I will do so for the economic benefit of it and use the money I saved on other food or emergency supplies – maybe a solar generator.

Man Eating Bugs

Man Eating Bugs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At least for those of us who prepare for emergencies, we can appreciate a product that is high in protein, low in fat, and high in fiber, and stores well in our pantry’s, even if it would not be our first choise.  We understand how important it will be to keep our bodies as healthy as possible during hard times.  If we lose all the luxuries we are used to enjoying and we have to actually work for food – protein, calories and water are three of the life-sustaining elements that could be the difference between life and death.  Besides, TVP can’t be all that bad – it would be better that resorting to eating insects as a main source of protein! And with most freeze-dried or dehydrated food, they pack very well in BOBs.I have ordered a can of TVP from Thrive and I will let you know how it works to replace ground beef in at least one of my recipes, maybe in chili or a casserole.  If you have experience with TVP products, please share it with us in the comments section.  And share any recipes you may already be using TVP in.  It is my simple and humble opinion, if you are seriously preparing for any emergency, TVP just seems to me to add another level of assurance and peace of mind knowing you can give your family healthy and live-sustaining foods that taste good.Here is an article I came upon by Shelf Reliance from 2009.  I thought you might glean some valuable insight.

VP (Textured Vegetable Protein) is an excellent protein source that is easy to store and use. TVP is made from soy flour where the soy oil has been extracted. It is cooked under pressure and then extruded and dried. Not only is TVP high in protein, but it’s also high in fiber and low in fat. This makes TVP ideal for food storage and for every day use. Because TVP is not made from meat, it does not have the contamination risk that many meats have with bacteria such as E. Coli and Salmonella. Because it is soy based, it is perfect for those on a vegetarian diet.

TVP is very shelf stable and can sit in a sealed container for at least a year. When sealed in an airtight container (where the oxygen has been removed) the shelf life is much longer. TVP is best stored in a cool, dry place.

To reconstitute TVP, pour ¾ cup boiling water over 1 cup TVP and let stand for 5-10 minutes. It can also be added dry to dishes with adequate liquid such as soups or spaghetti sauce. The texture of TVP can be adjusted by the amount of liquid added, so you can experiment to find out just how you like it. 1 oz of TVP is equal to about 3 oz of meat. After rehydration, TVP should be treated like meat and must be refrigerated and eaten within a few days.

TVP is also very convenient for camping as it weighs very little and can be quickly rehydrated or added to dishes. It also makes a great quick dinner as you can make sloppy joes or tacos in under 15 minutes for much less than the cost of ground beef and with more nutrition. TVP is a very economical choice that provides the protein of meat without the fat or the mess that cooking and browning can create.

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Who doesn’t want to be rich? But as President Bill Clinton coined it, “It” depends on what “IT” really is. What is your idea of rich? Having an endless supply of money? That’s not at all what I consider wealth. The dollar is worth less and less all the time. I feel sorry for those filthy rich suckers we see in the news every day. Because, especially rich celebrities seem to me to be very unhappy and their lives are disasters. We watch their pitiful lives play out on camera for the world to see. Full disclosure, I do NOT watch “reality” tv. I can’t stand it!

My sense of wealth is with the people I love and those who love me.  That may sound cliché, but it’s so true.  I may not be sitting on piles of currency, but I am rich with love. There is another way I measure my wealth in another, more tangible way. The tangible riches I have will never, ever lose their value and I am betting their value will grow exponentially in the years to come. Can you guess what I am referring to? Food! Lot’s of food.  Long-lasting, shelf-stable foods that will keep for years.  If I preserve my garden correctly, it will give my family healthy produce for several years.  And the freeze-dried foods I buy last up to 25 and 30 years! Food that is chalked full of its’ original vitamins and minerals and tastes great.  Because why stock your pantry with loads of food that tastes gross and your family won’t want to eat?

Don’t get me wrong. I prepare for long-term needs. That’s why I buy beans, wheat berries, rice and package them into sealed mylar bags with oxygen absorbers inside sealed in 5 gallon food grade buckets. If something goes terribly bad in society or even within my family, these foods will offer the necessary calories, protein for me and my family.  And they serve as extenders to make other foods go further. You can’t be even a novice or passive prepper without these basics.

Store Healthy Food That Your Family Will Eat

Since I began to use my shelf-stable food supplies and introducing them into my daily cooking, I noticed that the amount of time and cost of going to the grocery store have both plummeted. I’m talking about significant drops in both. I have barely stepped into my regular neighborhood grocery store for months. There was one recent exception. When I learned to make my coffee creamer, I went in to stock up on sweetened milk and sweet potato to dehydrate for chips for my little man. But other than that, I haven’t been going. And when I did, I deliberately did not take a large cart and went down only the two isles where my food was. I was wearing my “invisible” blinders and got out of the store with only what I went in for. But preparing myself was like an athlete phsycing themselves up for a major sporting event! I told myself I would not buy any more than I planned for. By being acutely aware of my goal is to cut my family’s food cost, and knowing that grocery stores and food companies lure you into buying things that you don’t want, I chalked my trip up to being a success.

How often do you go to the store in a month? Of course, you have your weekly or bi-weekly major shopping trips. But then you run out of milk, bread or other perishable item and you stop by to grab those 1 or 2 items. But ask yourself, do you really only buy what you went in for, or were you unconsciously lured into throwing more items into your cart? And with the price of gas already high and only expected to become even more expensive, that becomes an expense that you can’t ignore when tracking your food costs.

As I researched statistical facts to support my hypothesis, I found numbers that even stunned me. I learned that a full 25% of your food costs are from impulse buys. And not even necessarily for food items, even though you buy them during a grocery trip. A new scented bubble bath, a new shade of lipstick, some cheap gadget to cover your childs juice box or one of those silly onion “keeper” containers. Coupons can actually be a stumbling block to people like me, too. Researchers found that people who use coupons casually, not those diligent extreme couponers, will see a coupon for something they never actually rotate into their normal menus and only because they have a coupon for it, they will buy the product. Who would have known it was possible to be an impulsive couponer? But be wise. Don’t keep coupons for items you don’t normally buy. Keep only coupons and buy sale items for products and food that you normally use in your home.Here are some things to think about:

  • The most expensive food is that which you throw out;
  • Impulse or spontaneous purchases account for 25% of your grocery bill;
  • Coupons are only cost-effective if you use them for items you already buy and not buy to accommodate what coupons you have;
  • If you run out of food, you tend to buy take-out or drive-thru meals costing 2 to 10 times more than meals you cook at home;
  • Over 85% of every item in a typical grocery store is processed foods containing artificial colors, flavors and stabilizers.
The Average Family Throws Away $500 to $2000 in Food

Photo illustration by Stephen Webster
An average U.S. family of four spends $500 to $2,000 each year on food that ends up in the garbage. 

If you can gain control in these areas, your food costs will drastically decrease and you will be able to divert your grocery allocations into building your long-term food storage which are amazingly easy to blend into you everyday recipes. I will be posting many recipes I make using mostly food-storage.

And to prove my point about how properly prepared foods save you money, this article from the Wall Street Journal shows that American’s lose from $500 to $2000 each year due to food spoilage. Did you know that freeze-dried foods retain almost all its’ nutritional values and stores safely for 25 years without ANY additives?  And it cuts down on your prep time because you no longer have to chop vegetables and fruits. The food you place on your dinner table is healthy, tasty and so delicious! On average, families sit down at the dinner table for home-cooked meals 2 or 3 times per week. Using freeze-dried and even dehydrated foods makes it faster and easier to for you to have your family at your table every day of the week.I didn’t want to add expenses for my household when I began my food-storage. But until I learned the virtues of using dehydrated and freeze-dried foods like milk, cheese, eggs and even sausage, beef and other meat in my daily cooking, I did just that. It was costing me hundreds more. But thankfully, that trend has completely reserved and I am building my food storage with some of the best (and mostly better) food and the cost is pennies on the dollar! Check out how I make chocolate syrup for my little mans chocolate milk for just pennies!  As my shelves are getting full, my food costs are decreasing.

I use to spend about $700 per month just at the grocery store – and even more if you take into account the fast food drive-thru’s and pizza deliveries. It is actually inline with a USDA report for January 2012 for my family allocating a “moderate” amount of income toward food.

I realized just how crazy I was one day at the grocery store. I had worked a hectic week with all the pressures that go along with a full-time job. As was typical at that time, I stopped by the store on my way home on Friday evening so I had enough “easy” food for the weekend.  As I was filling my basket with hundreds of dollars in food, toiletries and those cute novelty items, I was on the phone with Pizza Hut ordering dinner IN THE GROCERY ISLE!  Talk about distracted.  I told you, crazy! At least back then I was.

Thankfully, my grocery costs are now down at least 50%! What’s even more amazing to me is that I don’t throw out spoiled food and my shelves are bursting with food that won’t go bad or spoil. And I’m talking about delicious, every day food that my family loves. Including milk, eggs and cheese. If you think shelf-stable, long-term storage foods are not delicious (maybe like grandma’s pantry), I’m here to tell you that we are eating healthier, tastier food than we ever have before!

And even more importantly, as my garden grows (take a peek to see how it’s doing) and I harvest its’ bounty, food costs will go down even more. Not just as the produce comes in, but for months and years because I planted and will harvest enough food to dehydrate, smoke, freeze, can and pickle!  When I began thinking like American’s did in the 19th and 20th centuries about planning for their annual food needs.  It makes it easier for me to reach my own goals for food storage.

I spent a little more for heirloom seeds so I can enjoy the same fruits and veggies year after year without investing in the same seeds every season.  I looked at what resources I had to grow the most food on a typical suburban lot. The internet and You Tube is brimming with endless examples of container gardening. Just do a little planning and even you apartment dwellers can grow lots of fresh produce.  Your local food extension office is a valuable resource to help you get started.

If you haven’t begun to build your own food storage pantry, you really need to start now!  The economic benefits of buying and using shelf-stable food can be huge.  If you allocate a portion of your existing food budget to shelf-stable foods, you will be rewarded with a pantry full of foods your family will want to eat.  Imagine the hardship if someone in your family suffers a job loss becomes seriously illness.  Or if a tornado or earthquake destroys your town.  What if you don’t get a raise for the next several years, yet food prices and energy costs continue to rise, you will be thankful for a well-stocked pantry.  With a well-supplied pantry,  you are still able to feed your family well – and you won’t need to wait for FEMA or Red Cross to eat. I hope my experiences motivates you into giving serious consideration to a few things:

  1. Start a fruit and vegetable garden that includes medicinal and culinary herbs;
  2. Learn to preserve your gardens’ bounty by canning, dehydrating, drying;
  3. Avoid impulse purchases at all types of stores;
  4. Make a shopping list and do not deviate from it, regardless how strong the temptation;
  5. Allocate 25% of your current food budget toward shelf-stable foods that your family loves and will eat;
  6. Don’t forget that the most expensive food is food that has spoiled. Buy only the food you can eat before it goes bad;
  7. Incorporate storage foods into your everyday meals and recipes.

Click To See January's Food Cost Report

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