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Archive for the ‘Preparedness’ Category

I am happy to announce The Apartment Prepper’s Blog is now in the following website:  http://apartmentprepper.com/

Please change your bookmarks to the new site, as that is where I will be posting new articles.  I will not close this WordPress blog just yet, but all new articles will soon be posted on the new site.  So please change your bookmarks to http://apartmentprepper.com/

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you will visit my new website!

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This month’s project is to store some bulk items such as rice, flour, pinto beans, sugar etc.

I was originally hoping to participate with the local Latter Day Saints (LDS) Cannery that I had found out about after doing a search for mylar bags and bulk food storage.  I called them and found out information and pricing.  The facility is about an hour away, but it sounded good so I planned to go as the prices were very reasonable.  You don’t have to part of their church to participate, but you do need to be “assigned” to partner with a church group to do bulk storage.  Unfortunately, the week I was all set to go, I called ahead and found out they were having major construction and was not accepting any appointments in the near future.  They also did not have an estimate for when the work would be completed so it was back to the drawing board for me.

My husband and I decided we will shop for the bulk items wherever we can find a good deal.  We do not belong to a warehouse club; the membership fee is too steep for me for number of times we shop and items that we need, but that is for another post.

This past weekend we visited a couple of ethnic groceries and found good deals on many of the items on the list.  We found out about these stores by chatting with people at work about where to find good deals on groceries.  The Mediterranean store had excellent prices on rice and pasta.   They also had great prices on spices, honey, vegetable and olive oil.  These items were not on the “bulk grain” shopping list but they were too good to pass up.  We also checked out a Hispanic market and they had good prices on flour, sugar, pinto beans and legumes.

Now all we need to do is repackage the foods into mylar bags and 5 gallon buckets.  I will post about that adventure as soon as I get all the packaging materials together.

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I happily won ModernSurvivalOnline.com’s Cansolidator Giveaway a couple of weeks ago.  The item is the Cansolidator “Pantry” which fits 40 cans and is available from Shelf Reliance (http://www.shelfreliance.com/food-rotation-systems).   I’m not a paid sponsor, just reviewing the item since I have never used a food rotation item before.  As you know, I am always on the hunt for an efficient way to store our supplies, since we are always so short on space in our apartment.

We finally decided on a spot to place it and were ready to assemble the Cansolidator.

Here is what it looked like while sitting on our countertop, right out of the box:

The instructions are pretty simple and I was starting to assemble it when my son got interested and decided he would do the assembly.   I was happy to oblige, as this gave me time to empty out the designated pantry shelf.  I actually found a few cans of chicken stock in the back that I had forgotten about.

Here is the way it looked getting assembled on the floor.

We started inserting canned goods into the Cansolidator and enjoyed seeing the cans slide down the path.  We then emptied it out and tried moving it to the shelf and found that… it didn’t fit! Oh no!  By now my husband was home and wanted to know what we were fussing about.   He measured the shelf and found it should all fit, it just needs to be assembled INSIDE the shelf instead of outside.  So they took it apart again and re-assembled.

Here is the first version:

This configuration was okay but we found a lot of cans were left out.  So they took it apart and again and reassembled into the final version below:


We still had a few cans left over so we stored them in the corner of the shelf.

Overall, the Cansolidator is a good item for organizing your pantry shelf.  I originally had the mistaken notion that it is a space saver.  It is not so much a space saver as it is a shelf organizer.  We checked the expiration dates and positioned the items with the closer expiration dates so it is in front of the shelf.   As far as the number of cans it can fit, it actually fit the same number of cans as when the cans were stacked on top of each other.   However, because you can see more of what you have, it will help avoid waste. It performs well as intended:  a food rotation system.  I found a few cans were close to expiration, so this makes me aware that they need to be used soon.

A few tips if you are planning to use the Cansolidator:

  • Measure your space before assembly, or you will find out the hard way, as we did.
  • Group your cans by brand, size and expiration dates ahead of time
  • The cans you have the most of will likely be housed in the Cansolidator to maximize the space
  • Assemble the Cansolidator in the space it will be housed in.

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If you are noticing the prices of your usual grocery items are creeping up, you are right.  Commodity prices for such items as wheat, corn, coffee, sugar, etc. continue to increase; we will soon see even higher prices at the grocery store than we are already seeing now.   At the same time, incomes are either getting slashed or staying flat, causing more pain in the pocketbook.  Just look at a few of these links:  Global Food Crisis Sweeps Commodity Markets http://www.shtfplan.com/commodities/global-food-crisis-sweeps-commodity-markets_10112010; Spill the Beans:  Coffee Prices on the Rise http://www.htrnews.com/article/20101006/MAN04/10060629/Spill-the-Beans-Coffee-prices-on-the-rise; This is Starting to Get Very Real http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/this-is-starting-to-get-very-real-agricultural-commodity-prices-have-exploded-and-now-the-price-of-food-is-beginning-to-rise-substantially-in-the-united-states-and-all-over-the-world

What shall we do to deal with this?  We wanted to increase our food storage for staples such as rice, beans and sugar while prices are still fairly reasonable and not out of control.  We checked out the food storage stores online and there are some deals, but the budget is limited.  I did some calculations and figured it would be cheaper to buy in bulk and pack it ourselves.  So this week we are going to try our hand at “do it yourself” long-term food storage.  We will buy rice, beans and sugar in bulk and purchase five gallon buckets, mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, for storage.

Once I’ve actually done it, I will post about the process in a later article.

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As we continue building our emergency supplies, a question that comes up frequently in conversations is, “What if nothing happens?”  Would this have all been a waste?

Part of this question is rooted in the whole Y2K experience, where a number of people were expecting a big disaster to happen, only to wake up on January 1, 2000 with everything humming along normally, nothing to see here… move along…  Then the media publicized stories about the folks who had sold everything to move to a retreat only to abandon their supplies a year or two later.  It seemed like one big waste.

I would disagree that this could all be a waste if nothing happens.  Actually, it would be preferable to me if nothing happens and I still have all my supplies.  I personally hope that things stay “normal” and that the s**t never hits the fan!  But I would still continue to prep!

That is because:

  • Prepping actually helps save money.  Because we are buying necessities in advance, we are able to take advantage of sales and can wait it out when the items are not reasonably priced
  • Prepping has helped me save time.  Again, having commonly used items in the house eliminates having to run to the store because something ran out.  When you go by “Two is one and one is none” you always know you have the item on hand and can go back to the store at your leisure.
  • We have become more organized since we started our journey into preparedness.  We’ve eliminated clutter in our home and have become more efficient in our storage efforts.
  • Prepping and frugality go hand in hand.  Though it seems to be a contradiction at first, since you know you have to buy stuff and gear in order to prepare, we have become more frugal in the long run.  Because we examine the value of every purchase, we have gotten better at separating “needs” from “wants.”
  • We are learning valuable skills that help us in the long run.  I picked up some sewing skills and hemmed my son’s “back to school” outfits myself, which saved both time and money.  Learning how to process green coffee beans and brew a fine cup of coffee without electricity was a great experience.
  • We are teaching our children those same skills and learning to “Be prepared always” is a valuable lesson for them.

Emergency supplies will not get wasted as long as you are vigilant about rotating your stocked items.

I consider emergency supplies the same as having insurance.  We have insurance for everything else.  Health, car, dwelling and life insurance are all premiums we pay without worrying about “what if nothing happens.”  The way I see it, better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

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Last week we heard the Great Recession which began in 2007 actually ended in June 2009.  Just a few days before that declaration, we also read that 1 in 7 Americans lives in poverty.  I am not an economist and don’t claim to be an expert in these matters, but this sure does not feel like a recovery to me.

I have a feeling it can still get worse.  These are already happening (in no particular order) and are likely to continue:

  • Commercial real estate foreclosures
  • Increased unemployment
  • Continued residential foreclosures
  • Increased homelessness
  • Increasing food prices
  • Increase in crime
  • Bank closures
  • Store closures
  • States slashing funding for public programs

Which got my husband and I having a conversation about:  “How bad can it get for us personally if the economy gets even worse?

I had not actually thought about the nitty-gritty details.

First a definition of what is “worse?”  Worse to us would be if we both lost our jobs at the same time, and could not find new jobs right away.  We rent, so there is no house to lose.  We do still need to pay rent on time, or we would get evicted.  So, let’s say we’re both out of a job, that would mean cutting all expenses except food and utilities.  That means no more cell phones or basic cable; our budget would be bare bones.  If we get unemployment checks, we may be able to continue living in our current apartment, but what happens when unemployment runs out too?  We don’t have a lot of family in the area.  If there were no jobs out there, and unemployment benefits are no longer available, we would have to sell everything we own, and move to a one room apartment.  We’d be cramped, but have a roof over our head.  But once the money runs out, then what is left?  That is how families become homeless.

I don’t think I had ever considered the possibility that we could become homeless if things got bad.  But homelessness is happening to many families who have already had the bottom fall out from under them, so I have to think it can happen to anyone.

All the more reason to continue prepping for an uncertain future:  continue to save, store food, water and other necessities, take care of security and acquire a few skills like canning, fishing, etc.  I am grateful we are able to prepare now, to hopefully protect us from this possible worse case scenario in the future.

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Since this is a long weekend we decided to do a few extra activities to improve our emergency preparations.

The news is not looking any better, with the mainstream msnbc.com proclaiming “Experts see trouble ahead for developed world” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38994476/ns/business-eye_on_the_economy/ and Yahoo outlines “5 Doomsday Scenarios for the U.S. Economy” http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/110581/5-doomsday-scenarios-for-the-us-economy.  Any one or a combination of these scenarios can instigate the dreaded double dip recession.  Then there was the 7.0 earthquake in New Zealand at 4:35 a.m. on Saturday in which many residents ran out of their homes in their pajamas to escape the surrounding chaos.  See  a first hand account:  “We were all screaming – we got the animals and ran” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38996925/ns/world_news-asia-pacific?ns=world_news-asia-pacific.  This article just reinforces the need for a bug out bag, because an emergency can happen at any time.

This weekend we are doing the following:

  • De-cluttered one closet and donated unused sheets and comforters that were occupying a lot of space to make room for emergency supplies.   Just a fact of life for an apartment dweller:  while living in a small space, we have to continually de-clutter and move things around
  • Gathered all the non food emergency supplies such as flashlights, battery and crank radios, First Aid supplies and manuals etc. and stored them in the now empty closet
  • Clip coupons and head to Target to stock up on over the counter pain relievers, allergy medicines, cold and flu remedies, toilet paper and other personal care items.  Flu season will be here soon!
  • Checked expiration dates on water stored, noted the dates with a sharpie and rotated those jugs that are soon to expire.
  • Cleaned out the balcony garden.  Everything has withered in the extreme heat.  Today we cleared out all the dead foliage.  I may plant herbs for the fall.
  • Decided on the next project:  to learn how to can, and borrowed books from the library on canning.  Next, I will have start gathering up the materials such as canning jars and utensils as the budget allows.

Have a safe and fun Labor Day!

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