My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!


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Do I Have Enough Water? I’m Not So Sure…

Tomorrow’s the last day to enter my giveaway.  Claim your free, daily entry here.

 

Do not think you can come to my house when there’s an earthquake in soCal, because I won’t have enough water for you.  What about all these barrels, and why do I have them if I won’t share?

 

14 - 55 gallon water barrels.  This is at least a 4 month supply of basic water for my family.  Too bad these aren't mine.

Fourteen 55-gallon water barrels. This is at least a 4 month supply of basic water for my family. Too bad these aren’t mine.

 

I arranged a group purchase for used 55-gallon water barrels for my friends and fellow church members.  On Saturday, the water barrel guy delivered them.  How much do these babies cost?  Well, if they were new, they’d be in the $70-100 range.  These, on the other hand, are used barrels and they were $25 a piece.  That’s a huge savings!  I have to rinse and sanitize them, but that’s pretty easy, and I think it’s totally worth it to save $45+.

 

Where exactly do these “used” barrels come from?  Companies use this type of barrel to hold food items.  These particular barrels held either fruit or fruit juice concentrate. They were used exactly ONCE.  After these barrels have been used once, companies may not reuse them.  Some entrepreneurs buy these barrels and resell them to consumers.  I love that!  I save money while I’m saving the planet.  GO ME!  See?  Now I have 5 barrels.

 

 

I really wanted to have a bit more water on hand, so I bought another 55-gallon barrel.

I really wanted to have a bit more water on hand, so I bought another 55-gallon barrel.  The one on the left is my new (used) one.  I need to rinse and sanitize it before I fill it with water.

 

I’ve told you before that I live in a desert.  If there is any disruption to our water supply (earthquake anyone?), I can’t run to my local river or stream and get water.  The one “river” in my city is dry.  I’ve only seen water in it a few times, and it didn’t last very long.  It’s super dry now that California is suffering from a horrible drought.

 

You don’t need to worry about water, right?  Wrong.  Remember that chemical spill in West Virginia How long were the 300,000 people affected unable to use the water from their faucets?  Several weeks!  What about a power outage?  Much of the country’s water is transported using pumps.  Electric pumps.

 

I’m not trying to freak anyone out, but it is important to be aware of how fragile our water supply system is.  And it’s VERY important for you to learn what you can do to be prepared and to act.

 

What can you do?  Do you have to buy water barrels?  Nope!  Buy some bottled water from the store and always have at least a 3-day water supply on hand.  How much is a 3-day supply?  For my family, 2 packs of Costco water bottles covers it.

 

You can buy a couple cases of bottled water to have on hand.  Stick it under your bed.

You can buy a couple cases of bottled water to have on hand. Stick it under your bed.

 

Don’t want to buy bottled water?  Do you ever buy 2-liter soda bottles?  Rinse and sanitize those, then fill them with water.  Old soda bottles are perfect for storing water.

 

Wash, sanitize, then refill old soda bottles, for quick, easy water storage.

Wash, sanitize, then refill old soda bottles, for quick, easy water storage.

 

I challenge each of my readers to take a few minutes this week to evaluate your water storage.  Do you have any?  Do you have anywhere to store water?  (Most people can fit a few refilled soda bottles of water under their beds.)  What are you going to do this week to build at least a 3-day supply of water?

 

Think I’m paranoid?  Maybe.  But FEMA and the American Red Cross agree with me about having water on hand.  In fact, they recommend having a 2 week water supply on hand.  Check out their brochure about food and water in an emergency here.  If you’re not there yet, don’t stress.  Start with a 3-day water supply.

 

Think barrels are a great idea, but don’t know where to get them?  You can order them new online from my giveaway sponsor, Emergency Essentials, by visiting their website here.  In fact, they have an awesome “starter” kit for about $93 which includes an emergency syphon (needed to get the water out of your barrels), a bung wrench (makes opening and closing your barrels SO much easier), and a water treatment (to keep your water safe to drink).  It’s really quite a good deal for a new barrel.  In fact, it’s one of the lowest prices I’ve seen for this type of set.  Here’s a picture.

 

Emergency Essentials Water Barrel Combo Set for just under $93.

Emergency Essentials Water Barrel Combo Set for just under $93.  See it here.

 

Are new barrels out of your price range?  Check Craig’s List in your area.  Many entrepreneurs are selling these barrels in different parts of the USA.  Maybe there’s someone near you selling these barrels.

 

Let’s walk the walk and not just talk the talk.  Get some water!  It will give you peace of mind, and help you be more self-reliant in an emergency, which will free up resources for those who were unable to prepare.

 

Please let me and my readers know, how is your water supply? 

What are you going do this week to improve upon your current situation?

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Can You Live Without Power For 10 Days And Still Be Happy?

I watched Nat Geo’s American Blackout last night.  Yes, I know I’m a bit behind the times as American Blackout premiered last year.  Hey, I don’t watch a lot of TV.  This was on my “to watch” list, and I finally got around to it last night.  BOY!  This is NOT the show to see if you do not want to be completely freaked out!  I found myself wondering what I would do.  I have some supplies on hand as part of my earthquake prep, I live in California after all, but I am no where near as “prepared” as the prepper featured in the show.  He had over 2 years worth of food, months of water and fuel, and he still had problems.  Preppers prepare for unlikely situations, but one thing many forget is that preppers are also prepared for less extreme situations.

 

Some of you may be thinking that you won’t live through a crazy, apocalyptic, world-wide disaster situation, so you don’t need to prepare for one.  If we experience a disaster of that magnitude, many people will die.  Maybe even most people.  But the truth is, most of us are unlikely to face a “zombie apocalypse” or other extreme “end of the world as we know it” scenario.

 

Not a zombie apocalypse, but a disaster we're more likely to face.  An earthquake.

Not a zombie apocalypse, but a disaster we’re more likely to face. An earthquake.  Photo courtesy of lds.org.

 

You will likely face at least ONE of these scenarios in your lifetime: unemployment, power outage, water shortage (due to contamination or other cause), flooding, large snowstorm making travel difficult, violent thunderstorm, tornado, earthquake, or a hurricane.  My parents had a power outage for several days in the Washington DC area due to storms bringing down trees which in turn brought down power lines.  Can you live without power for 3 days?  How about a week?  Back to the show, as I evaluated my own preparedness level, I recognized certain struggles people had.

 

 

Here are a few particularly problematic ones.

 

No extra water – People didn’t have water to drink, let alone water to bathe, clean dishes, their clothes, etc.  When they first lost power, they didn’t think to fill extra containers with water.  Some of the water people managed to get was not clean, and they didn’t have any way to disinfect the water.

 

Got water?

Got water?

 

Little or no shelf stable food – Most people didn’t have much to eat in their homes, and most of what they had was stored in the refrigerator and freezer.  Once the power was gone, they had to eat their food or lose it.  After their cold food was gone, they didn’t have much else.

 

Lovely Strawberry and Vanilla Strawberry Preserves!

Lovely Strawberry and Vanilla Strawberry Preserves

 

 

No easy way to prepare food – Many people didn’t have a way to prepare food without a working stove, oven or microwave.  Some people didn’t have a non-electric can opener.

 

People expected the government and aid organizations to provide immediate relief and rescue – There were some college kids stuck in an elevator, and they waited for days to escape, because they thought someone would rescue them.  One of the yuppy characters lamented that no one was coming to help her.  When a large scale disaster hits, it takes time for governments and organizations to respond.  It took a week or longer for water and food to be distributed on a broad scale in this fictional account, but it is considered a pretty accurate depiction by experts.

 

Even though governments and non-profits do their best, relief efforts take time.

Even though governments and non-profits do their best, relief efforts take time.  Photo courtesy of lds.org.

 

When people are hungry or thirsty, some become violent – Some individuals hurt and killed others for food and water.

 

Hostility toward and lack of compassion for others – As survival mode kicked in, most people’s views contracted.  They thought only of themselves and their families.  This is natural to want to provide for those closest to you, but many went beyond that myopic view and became hostile toward others.  Those with supplies didn’t want to help others, and they were unkind and didn’t try to build relationships that would have been helpful in the long term.

 

 

So… Yeah…  A lot to think about.  While I don’t know exactly what I will do if faced with a disaster of that magnitude, I can’t help but wonder what I can do to better prepare.  My thoughts strayed from the traditional mentality to considering ways to make life BETTER DURING the emergency.  Thrive, not just to survive it.  I came up with four suggestions.   (If you want to read some more “traditional” ways, check out my posts on earthquake preparedness here and here.)

My boys!  One big motivating factor in keeping life livable especially during hard times.

My boys! One big motivating factor in keeping life livable especially during hard times.

 

Build a support system NOW with family, neighbors, and friends – Don’t wait for a disaster to strike to start building relationships.  A strong support system is key to survival when emergencies hit.  I am not best friends with every single one of my neighbors, but I know most of my close neighbors (I live in a pretty large neighborhood).  I’ve even talked with a couple of them about what we would do if an earthquake (or other big emergency) hit.  I plan to join together with those neighbors and others who are willing to pool resources and work and weather the storm together.  If it’s an earthquake, I’ll look out for them, and I know those neighbors will look out for me and my family.

 

Learn skills that will improve your quality of life during an emergency  – Do you know how to prepare simple, delicious meals using basic ingredients?  Do you know how to sterilize water with bleach or iodine?  Do you know how to cook with non-traditional cooking sources such as your camp stove or baking peach cobbler in a dutch oven?  I know it’s not going to be all fun and games is there’s a major disaster, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could eat a hot meal with a freshly baked roll or to have dessert?  That may be a frivolous thought to some, but life is meant to be enjoyed, not just lived.

 

If you don’t know how to do that now, you won’t be able to do it when quick meals, bread, and desserts are no longer available at your store.  Think about one food you would really miss in an emergency and learn the skills necessary to prepare it on your own.  Practice making it until you’ve mastered it.  Make sure you have a printed copy of your recipe.  You don’t have to cook it every day or at all once you’ve mastered the skill.  BUT having the skills will give you the peace of mind that you know how to care for yourself (and your family) until help arrives.

 

Freshly Baked Bread sure would make a disaster better!

Freshly Baked Bread sure would make a disaster better!  Learn how to make this no knead bread here.

 

Have non-electric entertainment on hand – If there’s an emergency there will be work to be done (cooking, cleaning, etc.), but it is very important for our mental health to have a release and some down time.  Games can foster good relationships and help bring some normalcy back in crazy situations.  Look at your stash of games (if you have one).  Does it need updating?  Do you have at least one or two games you could play over and over and over again?  Start with a deck of cards.  If you want more, consider a group game.  One of our favorite games is “The Game Of Things.”  It’s different every time you play, and we love it!

 

One of our favorite family/group games.

One of our favorite family/group games.  Photo courtesy of Amazon.com.

 

Have a communication/meet-up plan – How are you and your family going to get in touch with each other if there’s no electricity, no phone service, no Internet?  If you’re not together 24/7, come up with a plan.  Have a primary and secondary place to meet in the event of an emergency.  Have a contact person out of your area who is willing to serve as a point person.  You may not be able to communicate directly with your family members, but, barring a nationwide emergency, you will probably be able to reach your out of town contact who can relay information to others.

 

This is just a short list, but it’s a good start.  Do you have any ideas to add? 

What do you think will make life more enjoyable during an emergency (other than the traditional food, water, heating, cooling, etc.)? 

Please share!

 

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Two-Parter: Canned Chicken Follow-Up & A New Food Storage Purchasing Plan

As promised, I’m back with another “build your food storage” plan, and I’m following up on my pressure canned chicken post.   Remember how I detailed my first “foray” into pressure canning?  I canned some fresh chicken breasts (which I purchased from Zaycon Foods*).   And, it doesn’t do much good to have extra food on hand if you don’t eat it, right?  So take a gander.  See how I’ve been using my chicken.

 

My very own pressure canned chicken with a little salt atop Costco's Eat Smart Superfood Kale Salad.  Yummy!

My very own pressure canned chicken with a little salt atop Costco’s Eat Smart Superfood Kale Salad. Yummy!  And for around 250 calories, it’s pretty good for me, too!

 

Now, onto the Food Storage Purchasing Plan.  This plan is designed to help you build a 1-year supply of basic food for two adults, including a 2 week water supply.  It’s a bit more aggressive than the first one I showed you here.  It’s also a bit more expensive.   I estimated the prices I would pay for these items, and it works out to $23/week, if you average the price over a year.  But that does not include the cost of containers for the water, so keep that in mind.

 

Remember that this is intended to be a basic supply of food.  It does not include meat or some other items you may use in your day to day cooking.  This type of food storage is long lasting and versatile.  It is intended to sustain life, but not to necessarily to eat for pleasure.  This is not the only way to build a year supply of food, but it is a practical one.  Once you have your year supply of basics, branch out and add in items you would miss, like meat, chocolate, veggies, fruits, etc.

 

One thing I particularly like about this purchasing plan is that it includes so many whole grains and basic kitchen staples.  As I cook from scratch pretty often, it allows me to maintain the type of diet we currently have, minus the meat.  I can continue to make bread, cookies, tortillas, etc., which my family really enjoys.  Another thing I appreciate are the columns for “have” and “need.”  It gets me thinking about what I already have and what I need.

 

 

If this is not the way your family eats, then I do not recommend you use this purchasing plan, at least not exclusively.  Abruptly changing your diet is disconcerting and can be hard on your body’s system.  If you’re not used to eating tons of fiber, you can have some issues adjusting to a high fiber diet.  Perhaps you may want to purchase some of these items, but also have extra food on hand (which is part of your current, regular diet) so you can slowly transition to these items when the need arises.  Or consider using the other “build your food storage” list I shared here.

 

If you want to start incorporating these foods into your diet, here are some recipes for that food storage!

 

Recipes for your food storage.

Recipes for your food storage.  Again from PGWard.org.

So, what do you think?  Do you like this food storage plan more, or do you prefer the one with more canned and ready to eat items?

How are you doing with your food storage? 

Do you have at least the 2 week minimum recommended by FEMA and the Red Cross?

 

* This post contains affiliate links.  For more details, please visit my “About” page. *