Preparedness

We’re already on week six! How is it going for you? Are you playing along? Have you managed to buy a little something extra every time you go to the store?

This week we’ll be working on adding fruit to our pantries and freezers. I’d like you to get mostly canned. This shouldn’t be a problem: most everyone can stomach canned pineapple or mandarin oranges. I always have frozen fruit on hand too; it’s great for smoothies or muffins. Keep in mind, though, that we don’t have nearly as much room for frozen foods as we do for canned foods. You can store canned food just about anywhere: under beds, at the tops of closets, in the back of hard to reach shelves.  So it makes more sense to have more canned goods on hand. Plus you don’t need to worry about losing power; you’re not at the mercy of your freezer if most of your fruit is in cans or jars.

Get 5-10 cans per person. For my family of eight that’s somewhere between 50-80 cans. Holy crap, that’s a lot of cans! Since I go to Costco every week I’ll just load up several 8-packs of fruits and call it good.  Shall we consider olives to be fruit? I think technically they are. If your family is like mine, they can never get enough black olives so throw some of those in your shopping buggy too.

Remember, just get it done. Don’t put it off and don’t over-think it. Just buy extras whenever you go to the store!

 

P.S. I’ve put a box up on the sidebar to remind you of past items in case you missed a week. ——>

In case you haven’t noticed, Tuesday is working out better for me for posting new items. So wrap your mind about checking in on Tuesdays.  Remember, this is supposed to be easy and do-able. Just buy as much of these items as you can afford/have room for each week. No comparison shopping or waiting for a trip to Costco. Just get it done!

This week we’ll be buying rice. 3-5 lbs per person is a beginning amount. I recommend putting smaller bags in a larger ziplock bag to keep out the weevils. They love rice! If you ended up getting a giant 25 lb bag, then that’s obviously not a possibility. Just pray for no weevils!

Did you know that the shorter grain of rice you get, the stickier it is? Long grain is nice and fluffy and is great plain or in pilaf. It’s the traditional kind of rice that Americans prefer. Medium grain is the kind of sticky rice you find at Chinese restaurants (it’s my favorite!). Short grain rice is the stickiest and is perfect for things like sushi.

Feel free to get brown rice too, if that’s something your family likes. We buy Texmati as well as medium grain. I’m going to throw some quinoa in my cart this week too.

Our item this week is vegetables (canned and frozen). This is where a lot of your vitamins and minerals will be coming from so stock up as much as you can.
A lot of young children may not care for veggies by themselves, but remember that canned tomatoes make great salsa and pasta sauce, canned carrots or peas, although mushy and gross on their own, taste fine in a casserole or pot pie and nearly everyone likes corn with a big dollop of butter.  Think outside the box too; we eat a ton of green chiles in various dishes, so I’ll be sure to buy a bunch of those.

A few people have asked me if it’s OK to buy all frozen veggies because canned don’t taste as good. I generally prefer frozen but it’s incredibly important to have a shelf-stable supply of vegetables. You know how easy it is for the power to go out? Just imagine what’s going to happen to all those frozen veggies if the power stays out for more than a couple of days. Goodbye freezer!

Buy at least five cans of vegetables per person (I’ll leave quantities of frozen items up to you. It really depends on how much room you’ve got in your freezer).  For my family of eight people, that’s at least 40 cans. It’s going to seem like a whole bunch when you load up your cart, but it really isn’t that many.

 

 

Hey everyone! How did it go with the peanut butter? (If you don’t know what I’m talking about you can read my original post here.) Here we go with this week’s assignment!

Fat is your friend.

At least in cooking it is. It’s pretty hard to cook without using oil, butter or shortening. Those are one of the Big Four must-have items in anyone’s food storage. No matter whether you are trying to stockpile for a year or are just hoping to get a couple of week’s worth of food, you need fat.

This week we’re going to concentrate on oil and shortening. Get whatever oil you prefer. Make sure you don’t get just olive, though, because that tastes awful in baked goods. I like to split my oil up between olive (my preference for cooking), coconut and peanut.

Also get some shortening. I rarely use shortening because, well, it doesn’t taste that great (although it does add volume and a nice texture to some baked goods when it’s combined with butter. Like in snickerdoodles. My recipe here is excellent.) But it’s very smart to have on hand as a substitute for butter. It stays good for over a year, whereas butter must refrigerated and it lasts for only a couple of months.

The problem with all items that are high in fat is that fat becomes rancid with 18 months. Sometimes earlier. So nuts, chocolate, oil, peanut butter and anything else that’s fatty will need to be rotated regularly. Fortunately these are the best-tasting items so using them up is not a big problem. We just need to be aware.

I recommend half a botttle of oil per person, and half a can of shortening per person. So if you’ve got four people in your family, you’ll get two bottles of oil and two cans of shortening. If you have enough room in your freezer I’d recommend getting some extra butter, too. It freezes beautifully.

Remember to Get it done! It’s not about looking for deals or comparison shopping; It’s about buying a few extra items every time you go to the grocery store.

Stockpile

It’s time to get started with the grand kick-off of the 2014 Get Prepared-a-thon! In case you’re new to my blog, here’s what’s going on: as a Mormon I have been raised with the idea that I Must Be Prepared. For what, I’m not sure. But since most bad things involve food shortages, that’s what we anticipate.  Flu Pandemic? Trucking strike? Polar Vortex? Armageddon? It doesn’t really matter what it is; food will be the first thing to disappear.  You might be cool watching your kids starve to death because you spent all your money on cute Halloween decorations or a fabulous purse, but I like to make sure we’ve got some extra food in the cupboard. This isn’t just for Mormons or moms or any group in particular. This is for everyone who eats food. Does that include you? Ok, then. Time to get prepared!  Remember it wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark. If you’re waiting for some reason to get prepared, when that reason happens it will be too late.

 

In the olden days Mormons were supposed to have a year supply of wheat and dried beans and stuff like that. But that’s overwhelming and who even has room for a year’s supply of food? Now we are encouraged to have a three month supply of everyday food. Stuff you eat on a regular basis. But a three-month supply is overwhelming once you sit down and start making lists. So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to make this easy on you. This isn’t about doing this “the right way”; it’s about doing something, anything. We get so caught up in having the right plan that we get burned out before we even start.

 I don’t want to overwhelm you with talk of wheat grinders or dry-pack canning. I want you to get your three month supply of food and water. We’re going to do it through baby steps. Just one item per week. You can decide how much you want to get. It probably depends on your budget, your family size and your physical storage capabilities (those in a tiny apartment won’t be able to store as much as those who have a sprawling basement. If you have one of those I’m terribly jealous.)  Again, I don’t want to hear excuses. You can find a spot somewhere to stick some extra cans of food.

I don’t want this to turn into some sort of mania to buy your items at the lowest price. Price comparisons are not what we’re about. I want this to be easy and I want this to be do-able. That means buying a little extra whenever you go to the grocery store. I know you go to the grocery store every week. If you’re like me you go every other day because you’re too forgetful and disorganized to get everything in one trip.

This is the most important thing: Don’t save up items to buy during your monthly Costco trip or put things off for another time. Just buy what you need now. Get it done. That’s the name of the game. Yes, the lady at the grocery store is going to give you a weird look when you unload a mountain of canned soup at the checkout. Just tell her you’re stockpiling for the apocalypse and see if she laughs.

Every week I’ll give a little explanation about the item we’re going to stock up on and the quantities I recommend. (Again, it’s your decision. Every little bit helps, though. Something is better than nothing.) Then I’ll list the items over to the right on the sidebar, just in case you’re behind and need to catch up.

I’d love to hear your success stories! Even if you just want to post a comment saying that you’ve gotten your items for the week. It’s so great to encourage each other.

This week’s item is

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is such a great food. Just about everybody likes it (apologies if you’re allergic. Feel free to substitute almond butter or sunflower butter) and it’s very filling. It doesn’t require heating or refrigeration which makes it particularly great in an emergency situation. My family eats a ton of peanut butter and we go through about 1 large jar every two weeks. That would mean we need 6 or 7 jars for three months. That’s just about one jar per person. So use that as your guideline. Get one jar per person in your family.

One of my favorite things to obsess about is the end of the world/flu pandemic/EMP*. I love, love, love preparedness! But I have been letting my food storage and preparedness dwindle lately. I’m so ashamed! I have people ask me all the time to start up my “item of the week” blog posts again. And for my own good–and yours too, I hope–I’m going to start up my whole item of the week thing again, starting on Monday! So get in the mindset of preparedness, folks! We’re going to stock up our pantries one item at a time. It’s the easiest, no-brainer way to get our houses in order.

See you on Monday!

 

*An EMP, in case you don’t know, is an ElectroMagnetic Pulse. It occurs when a nuclear bomb is detonated high in the atmosphere (or really big solar flare). It knocks out everything elecronic/computery within a several-hundred mile radius, effectively sending people back to an early 1800s lifestyle. Here’s a really detailed article about what it is. There’s a bunch of scientific stuff so you might want to scroll down to the section “What would happen after the attack”. Chilling, to be sure.

Last Friday I was on my weekly Costco trip getting our usual six gallons of milk and a jillion eggs. As I sat and tried to decide whether to buy some canned chicken I had the oddest feeling come over me; it was a feeling that food would be getting very expensive and I would regret not buying that chicken. This is not my usual imaginings that I experienced. It was from someplace else. Inspiration? I’m not sure. Only that it made me panic a little.

Obviously it’s not a stretch to see how food prices could go up. Gas is a fortune right now, half of the midwest is flooded, and the South is trying to pick up the pieces from a tornado infestation. Locally we are experiencing the driest and hottest spring that Texas has ever seen. Strange, considering just three months ago we had record-setting cold temperatures. What else does Mother Nature have up her sleeve for this summer?

I don’t want to get all Preparedness-Freak on you but I was talking to a pregnant Prepper friend of mine a while ago. She suggested all the turmoil in the world is like Braxton-Hicks contractions to a pregnant lady. Just like Braxton-Hicks are not the real thing, not actual labor, just the body’s way of getting ready for real labor, we keep having incidents that should make us pause and think, “Am I ready? Could I take care of my family if something terrible happened?” Usually these wildfires/toradoes/earthquakes end up not turning into anything serious nearby us, but do we take any action? At some point the time to prepare will be over.

In the last General Conference Jeffrey R. Holland said,
“One way or another God will have His voice heard. “I sent you out to testify and warn the people,” the Lord has said to His prophets. [And] after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, … of thunderings, … lightnings, and … tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.” . . . Every sermon given is always, by definition, both a testimony of love and a warning, even as nature herself will testify with love and a warning in the last days.”




Since we’re on the subject, today we have a new preparedness item. It’s beans. Yes, beans, the magical fruit. Get some canned, get some dried. Just get some. Beans are cheap so this isn’t going to break the bank for you.

I recommend at least one bag of dried beans per person and 3-5 cans of beans per person in your family. They can be green beans, refried, black, lentils, whatever. This might be a great opportunity to try out some new recipes. If you have a fantastic bean-centric recipe, let me know about it and I’ll link to your blog or publish it here.

That’s a fun little phrase we “preppers” like to use to get our lazy friends and relatives motivated about preparedness. In other words, when you really need food, water and supplies it will be too late.

I’ve been giving you, my lovely and brilliant readers, an item per week to stock up on. It doesn’t matter if you’re Mormon, or have a cold storage room, or have very much money or space. The idea is to get something. The earthquake in Japan has reminded all of us how quickly our lives can go from normal to chaos. Most of us don’t live on the Ring of Fire, but there doesn’t have to be a big, fat catastrophe to rock or world (or cause us to rely on what we have stored). Most people in the country experienced major snowstorms this winter. Power outages are common. Or what about a trucking strike? Most grocery stores only have two days worth of food in storage. Shops would empty out fast. Or how about a really bad flu epidemic? It might be that we simply don’t want to go out in public for fear of infection.

What I’m trying to say is that everybody needs some spare water bottles and some extra cans of food. It doesn’t have to be some big thing where you buy one ton of wheat and powdered milk. Everybody goes to the store at least once a week. When you’re there just buy a little extra. Or a lot extra. You decide what’s best for you.

This week our item is canned fruit. What kid doesn’t like fruit cocktail or pineapple? (um, Arabella. But nevermind.) So get what you can next time you’re at the store.

This is an outstanding video that I played as a “commercial” at our last Enrichment activity where we played The Price is Right. Pretty Please watch it, OK?

It’s Monday, the day when I tell you this week’s item. Which will be THE most important thing in your entire food storage. And it’s not even food, it’s WATER! Fortunately you don’t need to have a three month supply of this on hand; although it would be nice. We’re going to take baby steps and get a few days worth at a time.

I don’t know about you but we had some scary weather last week. It really brought to light all of the holes in my preparedness preparations. Water is the thing you really, really don’t want to be without. (And heat. But we’re not going to worry about that this week.) We’re going to store up water by baby steps. So this week you water assignment is:

10 water bottles per person.

Just the regular size of water bottles. Round up if you need to–if you have 3 people in your family you’ll need 30 bottles of water. But there might be a flat of water bottles at the store that has 36 bottles–get it! Understand? Water is not expensive. And it’s the item you really do need to find space for. Clean out some stuff under you bed and stash some water bottles there instead.

You can do it!

First of all, the preparedness item this week is Spaghetti Sauce. It’s a pasta topping! It’s a pizza Sauce! It’s multi-talented! If you are aiming on spaghetti/pizza/etc. once a week, that’s going to be 12 jars. Think you can handle that? If that’s too much for your pantry (or your budget) to handle, then get what you can.

If you happen to be the kid of person who makes their own tomato sauce from scratch, then you are probably sneering at my jarred sauce suggestion. Fine. Just buy as many canned ingredients as you need to make your own. This is not the time to get on your high horse about fresh tomatoes and basil, OK? This is about feeding your family from food in your pantry. So get yourself to the grocery store and stock up. If you want to throw in a few jars of Alfredo sauce or something similar, be my guest. I’m just trying to give you some ideas, here.

Secondly, to completely change the subject, having six little kids was very hard when they were all 10 and under. Even 12 and under was difficult. All those sippy cups! And teeth I had to brush! And shoes I had to put on! And car seats I had to buckle!

But this! Older kids. Egads. This is making me long for the ease of bedwetting. I remember my friends with older kids telling me it was still hard being a mom even though their kids were old enough to wipe their own bums. I simply did not believe them. I thought older kids would just be like having a cross between fun roommates and servants.

This is my newsflash: They are still children. Even when they are taller than you and wear bigger shoes. They still don’t have a firm grip on responsibility. They don’t make the best choices many times. They still don’t even seem to grasp the importance of two very basic concepts: hanging up their clothes and throwing things away.

Over this weekend I had the choice opportunity to try to find two pairs of tights for the girls that were lost somewhere in the house. After searching high and low (and eventually finding them) I realized that my girl’s have been cleaning their room by stuffing things in every drawer and cupboard they can find. And the last two weeks worth of clean laundry? In a giant heap behind their closet door. Even India, my super responisble child, had her old tatty t-shirts shoved into drawers with brand new church dresses.

The boy’s had the great room switcheroo. Scary is the word that comes to mind.

I realized that they are unable to throw anything away. Every chintzy toy ever “won” at Chuck E. Cheese? It’s in their room somewhere. Their Legos have all had babies and the population has grown to epic numbers. And most of them are living on the floor in their bedroom. And that rule about no eating outside of the kitchen? All I have to do is look at all the Gogurt packages, chip bags and string cheese wrappers to know that they have been ignoring me for quite some time.

Please don’t get me started on the assignments, projects and permission slips that were forgotten until 10:00 last night.

Enough.

I have been gritting my teeth all weekend, chanting “Monday” under my breath. Today is the day that my reign of terror begins. Enough of consequences and trying to teach responsibility. It is not working. This is the beginning of Jennie’s Gulag. There will be no laughter or cheer eminating from my house anymore. If the children are smiling, I’m not doing my job.

OK, so maybe it won’t be that bad. But my gosh! I don’t know what else to do.

Let me turn into the woman I’ve always hated: the one who tells parents of young children, “just you wait”. Because I promise you will look back on those days of no sleep and watching PBS Kids nonstop and wish you could go back. You don’t believe me. But it will happen.