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Posts Tagged ‘survival’

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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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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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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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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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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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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