Saturday, January 14, 2012

Food Storage: Eating what you store - Oatmeal

So - how are you doing getting around to eating all that food in your food storage?? You have started right? Anything in your food storage that you haven't really added to your main menu? Some things are easy to incorporate and others we needed a little help getting into the habit of using regularly. Since storing boxes of cereal is bulky and expensive I knew we needed to start eating hot cereal more regularly. I like oatmeal but other things seem easier when I'm tired and not quite awake.

One of my goals in life is to make the mundane thinks in life run on auto pilot so I cooked up this way of having my cereal and eating it too. One of the grains I store lots of is oats - my favorite kind is the steel cut variety and it has a great storage life (12-15 years if stored properly). There are several other options for oats all of them good and healthy but the instant ones are the least nutritious. Steel cut oats take a little longer to cook so I had to find a way to make it simple and automatic. Enter the humble crock pot. I have a smaller sized crock pot that works really well for this - it holds about 6 cups in total. The larger crockpots work better if you double the recipe or add extra water. When teamed with a timer I am all set.

This is a simple recipe that can be changed a million ways to suit your tastes. The idea is that you put it together as soon as you clean out the crockpot from the day before. The grains soak throughout the day and the timer turns it on so it's ready to eat the next morning.

Makes 2-4 servings

1 cup steel cut oats (you can use part quinoa, millet or anything else you like)
Opt. chai seeds, almonds, flax seed, etc.
1 tbsp. of lemon juice
1 tbsp. wheat or kamut flour
4 cups lukewarm water

Rinse the oats under cold running water for a few seconds. Place everything in the clean crock pot. The soaking time in the room temperature water along with the acid (lemon juice) and the flour helps to make the oats and seeds more digestible by starting the sprouting process which means you'll get more nutrition out of your food. The flour may seem like a strange addition but it contains an enzyme that neutralizes the coating on the grains that prevents them from spoiling and that kickstarts the sprouting into gear.
Use a timer to turn the crockpot on at 2am and off at 8am.(or change the times to suit your breakfast habits) Cook on LOW. It's ready to eat after approx. 6 hours but it won't hurt it to sit longer. If you forget to turn it on or the timer gets messed up and doesn't turn after a power outage you can cook it on HIGH for about an hour and a half or until its as done as you like it.

Top each bowl with any of the following:
Flax seed oil, Udo's oil, butter
walnuts, raw cashews, coconut
Dehydrated or fresh apples, blueberries, strawberries etc.
Cinnamon, ginger
Raw honey, agave syrup, stevia to taste
Add anything else that you are supposed to eat every day and forget to eat like wheat germ, bran etc.

A healthy breakfast that gets you started on the road to STORING WHAT YOU EAT AND EATING WHAT YOU STORE.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Be Ready To Bug Out

Many of us have the mindset to shelter in place for most any emergency or disaster. But there will be times when this is not possible or not practical. Wildfires, floods, severe weather are all some of the situations that could force us from our homes. While many disasters happen without warning, there are many that will give us plenty of notice to get out while the getting is good. Take for instance Hurricane Katrina. As a category 3 storm when it hit, untold damage and loss of life was the result. Did this have to happen, well yes. Unfortunately there were a great number of people without the resources to bug out ahead of the storm, regardless of how much warning they had. This is an unfortunate reality of life. Not everyone prepares and not everyone has the mindset needed to be prepared. But, if you are reading this, then you have the mindset and desire to be responsible for yourself and your family.

First off, we must be ready to bug out by having 2 of the most important ingredients in the recipe...transportation and destination.

Don't rely on any form of public transportation. Likely, there will be limited local options only, if any at all. This means you need a driver's permit and a vehicle. No, you don't need a fully stocked RV complete with bulletproof lining. A simple used, yet reliable station wagon would do the trick. Old vehicles can be found that can be put into shape rather cheaply. In any case, have a vehicle inspected by a mechanic you can trust before purchasing. As for the purchase itself, make it cash. The last ting you need as a prepper is another monthly payment to eat into your food stock budget. Older vehicles usually only require liability insurance, therefor reducing costs. Keep the vehicle fully tanked with gas at all times and use it regularly to ensure it's proper working condition.

As for destination, there are many options available to you. You may have a relative or friend out of town, out of Province, better yet, plan for both. Another option is to drive far enough away to be out of the path of destruction and stay in motels. This will require a substantial amount of cash to be kept on hand as credit & debit cards may not be accepted due to banking computer failures or lack of electricity to run the verification machines used by the vendors.

Another option, and in my opinion a better one, is to have your own bug out location. A quick check on will reveal locations all across the country that can be had for under $25,000. Run down shacks are obviously plentiful, but with some attention and a little elbow grease, they can be made to provide adequate enough to offer shelter, heat and security for you and you loved ones.

Have a plan to get to where you are going. Paper maps as well as a GPS are advisable and preplan several routes, using backroads and secondary highways as major arteries can easily be blocked from congestion.

Have supplies at the ready. A few storage totes stocked with supplies makes this quick and easy. Make 1 or 2 totes with basic supplies such as 3 days worth of food, some water, water purification, cook stove etc. Then add more totes with extra supplies such as more food, camping equipment etc. Number these tote in their order to pack into the car. Take what you absolutely need first, then add what you can. Keep in mind that a can of extra gas or 2 for th car is not a bad idea.

The decision to bug out or not really shouldn't be that difficult. If your chances of survival or personal safety are greater if you leave than if you stay, then get out. It's that simple. Keep a watchful eye on weather forecasts, specially during dangerous seasons and make rational decisions. When an unexpected disaster occurs, realize that society may degrade rapidly and help may be several days away. Local resources such as law enforcement, hospitals, etc. will not likely abandon you altogether but they will, at best be overwhelmed and less effective than you could hope. Don't be a hero and stand your ground against impossible odds, and don't simply decide that you don't have the resources to bug out. Prepping involves being ready to get out of harm's way so take action. Skills and abilities are more important than simple stockpiles of rice, beans, ant toilet paper.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Price Book - a great tool for saving money

    We have a large number of teenagers and young adults that stay with us for periods of time. Teenagers eat a lot. Like hollow legs and empty pits they are always looking for something to fill them up. So having a large pantry means that I know I can handle kids and company without having to wonder if I can afford to feed them or whether all I have to give them is my last can of lima beans - which they are more than welcome to - lima-beans-aren't-my-favourite! That's the polite way of expressing your dislike of any food in this house - you're not allowed to say I hate it!

    A common statistic tells us that the average person has three days of food in the house. I can't quite imagine it. I don't like shopping so much that I would want to go every three days and I KNOW me - without a list and a plan I would spend waaaaay too much money...and yet the reason I hear the most often why people don't have food storage is that they can't afford it. Money can be an issue when you're trying to stock up but like any issue in life it all comes down to priorities and choices. We decided this was a priority. Like health insurance or life insurance - food insurance makes sense to me.

    I've written before about my belief in a large pantry and why I have one - teenagers and company being only one of the reasons (how about temporary job loss, the ability to bring a family in need a meal on the spot, or the security of knowing that as prices rise you have grocery insurance) but now I want to share the method I use to build my food storage pantry that's really simple and saves me money.

    I figured out that we are creatures of habit and I suspect most of us are the same. We eat the same meals over and over with a few exceptions. This is GREAT news for food storage because it makes it less complicated to figure out what you need to stock up on.

    I'll use Spaghetti and meatballs in this example. First I break down the whole meal into ingredients.

    So for one meal I would need:
    2 cans of pasta sauce
    1 package of pasta
    1 tsp. of Italian spices
    1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
    1 box meatballs (frozen or home canned for this example)

    So to make this meal 6 times I would need a case of 12 pasta sauce, 6 packages of pasta, a few Tbsp of Italian seasoning and maybe a whole container of parmesan if someone gets a little shake-happy with the container.

    Average regular prices for
    pasta sauce - $1.99 for the canned stuff
    pasta - over $2.00 a package
    Italian spices - negligable
    1 container of parmesan $8.00
    6 boxes or other of frozen meatballs - anywhere from $6-10 depending on brand which is why it's a great idea to make your own but that's another post.

    If you chose 6 more meals like the one above you would soon have more than a months' worth of dinners in your pantry!

    So we know the regular prices but what we need to know is what the best sales prices are. This is where the PRICE BOOK comes in. It is simply a way of tracking the lowest price on a specific item and also keeping track of when it went on sale and which store had it on sale.

    All stores have seasonal sales - canned pumpkin is more often on sale in the fall when pumpkins are plentiful and Thanksgiving and Christmas create a demand. Stores also have rotating sales - for example cheese goes on sale every 6 weeks around here. The regular price could be anywhere from $7-9 dollars for a 500gr. brick of Black Diamond cheddar however it regularly goes on sale for $4.44 and sometimes there's a really great deal at $3.97. I buy enough for my family to last till the next sale and I always eat "on sale" cheese. The price book tells me what is a good price, what is a great price and approx. how long I will have to wait till the next sale.
    So let's say we eat a brick of cheese a week and the sale cycle is 6 weeks long. I would need 6 bricks of cheese. At the regular price of $7.00 a brick I would pay a total of $42.00. At the sale price of $4.44 I would pay $26.64. When it's on a sale for $3.97 - only $23.82. That would save me at least $20.00 on cheese alone. Of course not eating so much cheese would help too!!

    The same idea works for canned or boxed or frozen food we used in the spaghetti and meatballs example above. I know I can save at least 40% on the spaghetti and meatballs meal by using my price book, buying when items are on sale and not paying full price.

    Getting started requires a little extra thought and rearranging of your grocery spending. I suggest you add another $20.00 to your food budget if you can and then use the savings to build up a larger amount that will be on hand to make purchases by the case. It will take some time but eventually you will be eating most food items that have been bought on sale! The Price Book will also help you to not be easily deceived by advertised specials. Just because the item is on the end-cap with a big red sticker doesn't mean it's a great deal.

    Here's what to do:
    • Start by saving all of grocery store receipts. Keep them all in one place and after several weeks you'll be able to see what you buy regularly.
    • Purchase a small three-ring notebook or binder. Something that fits in your purse or your pocket is the right size or perhaps a section of a daytimer if you carry one.
    • Use you most repeated meals to make your initial list for your price book. No sense knowing the price of canned pumpkin if you never eat it or the cost of a box of salt that you buy once every two years..
    • Start a page for each major category. Keep it simple at the beginning - you can add more pages later. Canned Food, Boxed Food, Fresh Fruits, Vegetables, Meat, Dairy Products, and Snacks.
    • Create columns for listing your comparison information. You not only want to compare price but also keep track of which store offers that price. It should look like this.
    Store Name

    Unit Price
    of Sale
    No Frills
    Black Diamond
    October 6-12
    Black Diamond
    Nov. 18-24
      • Most grocery stores have the unit price displayed on the scanner code below the item on the shelf - save your brain and make use of them!
      • Bring your Price Book with you when you go shopping.
      • When you see something on sale that you eat regularly buy extra. A few cans or a few cases depending on your budget and how much you want to store.
      • Continue to save your grocery receipts and use them to update your Price Book.I've noticed the cost of food rising more because of what I've written in my price book than anything else!
      • All stores have loss leaders and special sales so there really isn't one store that can be the cheapest all the time.Don't let their marketing convince you that you need to stay loyal to that particular store - I am loyal to the particular price.
      Combine the Price Book idea with some Menu planning and you have a winning combination..

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What Does the NDAA Mean for Canada?

This editorial is strictly the opinion of the author, and as such, is not endorsed by the Canadian Preppers Network in anyway.  ~  D. Luther

As his New Year's gift to the United States, President Barack Obama ratified the National Defense Authorization Act on December 31.  This effectively makes the United States a war zone, allows indefinite detainment of her citizens, and eradicates due process, all with one sweep of the pen.

As the neighbours to the north, how will this effect us?

At this point, it's all speculation, but here are some possibilities:

~  Due to the recent perimeter agreement between the US and Canada, the militaries have agreed to "help each other" during times of civil upheaval.  If active martial law goes into effect in the US, our troops could be deployed to assist in carrying out the orders.

~  Also regarding the perimeter agreement, the line is blurred for the military powers.  It is not beyond the realm of possibility that some parts of Canada could find themselves under martial law as well.

~  Crossing the border has just become a whole lot riskier.  Remember when people didn't want to travel to places in Central America because they might get thrown in prison never to be seen again?  This is actually a legal behavior now in the United States.

~  We might become home to those seeking asylum from a government that takes political prisoners simply because they have a dissenting opinion.

~  A horde of refugees may cross our borders, looking to escape the new iron fist of the US government.  If food and money fall into short supply, the likelihood of this increases exponentially.

~  And the thing that terrifies me the most....................there but for the grace of God go we.  How long before the Canadian government openly begins to vilify the people of Canada in order to change the rules of law that have governed us?  When will it become easier for Canada to fall into step with the US than to march to the beat of our own drum.

Politically speaking, 2012 is going to be a heck of a ride.