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Archive for the ‘Storage’ Category

After shopping around for bulk survival food https://apartmentprepper.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/survival-food-shopping/ and storage materials, https://apartmentprepper.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/items-needed-for-storing-survival-food/ I am finally ready to start storing.

First, I gathered up all my supplies on the dining table:

  • Food items such as rice, pasta, pinto beans, etc.
  • 5 gallon food grade buckets
  • 1 gallon size mylar bags
  • oxygen absorbers (300 cc)
  • measuring cup
  • iron
  • masking tape and sharpie marker for labeling
  • cardboard to place over the table (under the iron)
  • airtight jar to keep extra oxygen absorbers
  • bay leaves to ward against weevils

The photo shows the mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, masking tape and jar.

  • A few things to note:  Before you start, set the iron to the hottest setting.  Make sure you set the iron on a covered surface to avoid burning.  I used recycled cardboard from a large pizza box, but you should determine what works best for you.
  • While these steps are doable with one person, it is easier to do them with two people, so you have someone holding the bag while the other person is ironing across.  My husband helped me out on this so it went a bit faster.
  • You will need to set aside a solid block of time to do this:  Oxygen absorbers start activating as soon as you open the package.  If you have to stop and leave them for later, you must store them in an airtight container or they will become useless.
  • DO NOT use oxygen absorbers for storing sugar.  This will cause the sugar to harden into a block.

We did the following to steps:

  1. Place one oxygen absorber in the bottom of the mylar bag.
  2. Pour 12 cups of rice (or whatever you are storing) into the bag.  I used a 2 cup measuring cup to as this was quicker than doing it one by one.
  3. Add another oxygen absorber and one bay leaf on top of the rice.  There should be about an inch clearance from the top edge of the bag to where the rice fills up to.
  4. Line up the sides and across the top of the mylar bag flat.
  5. Carefully iron across the top, leaving a 1 inch space open on the left corner.  Don’t worry, the iron will not stick to the mylar, it actually stays smooth.  Do not try to make a fold across the top and iron it:  we tried this and it does not seal as well.
  6. “Burp” the bag to let any remaining air out.
  7. Now you can iron the remaining space and seal it up.  Careful, as the iron can get too hot.  About an hour after we started, we noticed the bags were not sealing as well, then we realized the iron had gotten too hot and the automatic shut off activated.  Make sure your iron does not overheat.
  8. Label the bag with a sharpie pen.
  9. Place the mylar bag in the food grade 5 gallon bucket.
  10. Keep packaging the same food item into mylar bags following the above steps until the bucket is full.
  11. Seal up the bucket.
  12. Label the bucket.  I used a masking tape and wrote the contents of the bucket with a sharpie market.
  13. Store any remaining oxygen absorbers in an airtight jar.
  14. Store the bucket in a cool, dry area.  I cannot store food in the garage as we live in a hot and humid area.  Heat and humidity will shorten the life of stored food.  For now, the buckets are hidden under the dining table with a long table cloth.

The next day, you will notice the bags look shrunken.  This is the oxygen absorber doing its job.

That’s it, the process was actually easier than I thought.

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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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One of the recent comments on one of my postings, from Madmax808 (thanks!), mentioned stocking up on Spam-the canned meat kind, which got me thinking about it so I picked up a couple of cans that were on sale.

For anyone who has never tried Spam, it is a canned meat by Hormel, made of pork shoulder and ham.  It looks like a pink brick when you first take it out of the can.  A lot of people hate it, but there are a great number of fans out there.   My parents actually introduced me to Spam.  Since they were kids during World War II, they grew up eating Spam as a special treat.  Meat was scarce back then so having a little meat, even from a can, was a good thing.  My Mom made me Spam and cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise on white bread up until high school when I got too “grown up” to bring Mom’s lunches to school.

When our family visited Hawaii a few years ago, we found fast food places like McDonald’s actually served Spam, egg and rice for breakfast.  Not sure if they still do, but we tried it and it was pretty good.

Here is the quick recipe:  Slice Spam into thin slices.  Fry in a bit of oil until browned and sprinkle sugar on top.  Serve with scrambled eggs and white rice.  Or, make a breakfast sandwich with Spam, a fried egg and American cheese between two pieces of sliced bread.

There are lots more ways to cook Spam, but these are my favorites.

This is not a paid endorsement and I have no connection to Hormel.  I am always on the lookout for inexpensive foods with have a good shelf life that the family likes.  I think Spam is a worthy addition to the larder, as it is actually pretty tasty if you cook it the right way.


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I have read that freeze-dried meals are a great addition to the food storage plan.  Mountain House is highly recommended by several websites, so we decided to give one of their meals a try.  We picked up a package of Beef Stroganoff with Noodles.

Here is a photo of the contents:

All you have to do is add four cups of boiling water into the package, stir and let stand for 8 to 1o minutes.

Here is a picture of the contents with water.

And now for the final product…

The mixture seems watery at first, but it actually thickens as it cools.  The noodles softened up and you can taste bits of onion and mushrooms in the dish.  The meat is ground beef.  It reminded me of a Hamburger Helper type meal; not spectacular, but not bad either.   I bet it would taste pretty good if you are hungry, or if you have been hiking out in the wilderness.  The package contains generous portions so we had leftovers.  I had it for lunch the next day and it tasted fine.

Because it is so easy to prepare, we may buy a few selections to keep around for long-term food storage.  I would  also have crackers or bread on hand when we eat it again.  It is on the pricey side, at about $11.00 for a 4-serving pack at REI.  I would wait until they go on sale and will check the emergency food suppliers online.   Overall, we give it a score of 3 out of 5.

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A Nifty Space Saver

This Cansolidator is a nice space saving gadget from Shelf Reliancehttp://www.shelfreliance.com/modern.  It would be especially helpful for apartment dwellers who do not have a lot of space.

Even better, you could be the lucky one to win it:  for details, check out ModernSurvivalOnline.com as they are hosting the  ModernSurvivalOnline’s Cansolidator Giveaway.

Drawing will be held on September 15th, 2010.

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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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The green coffee shipment from MREDepot mentioned in my last post https://apartmentprepper.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/nothing-beats-the-smell-of-coffee-in-the-morning/arrived and I now have to find space for 12 #10 cans.  The camp roaster for the beans arrived as well.  The boxes have been sitting in our dining area for a couple of days.  Now I have to find room to store them while waiting to buy the coffee grinder and French press when the budget allows.

As our emergency supplies increase, the storage space required keeps increasing as well.

I posted about space challenges in my June 1st post, “Finding Room for Supplies” https://apartmentprepper.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/finding-room-for-supplies/ I thought we were set with free space for a while, but I spoke too soon.  The small pantry is already full to capacity, including the space-saving shelves that we had installed below the pantry.   What’s an apartment prepper to do?  Get creative!  Every available space is now getting scrutinized.

Here is how we are adding space:

  • Build two horizontal shelves in the laundry room above the washer/dryer.   Checked the apartment lease and adding shelving is allowed, as long as we remove it and leave the wall in the same condition when we move out.
  • Also added a narrow vertical shelf in the corner of the laundry area.
  • Store items inside empty spaces in larger items.  For example, empty suitcases can be used to survival supplies.  Large pots can also be used for storage.
  • Items that can be flattened, such as tent, sleeping bags etc.  can be stored under beds.
  • Added shelves in the garage.

One last thing, keep track of all your hiding places by making a master list of where everything is stored.  This way, if you have to rush out of the house in an emergency, you can gather everything up as quickly as possible.

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