Showing posts with label food storage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food storage. Show all posts

Monday, September 17, 2018

10 Non-Perishable Food Preps You Should Be Buying Every Month


New preppers wonder what they should be buying for their preps every month. More experienced preppers wonder what holes they should be plugging in their food storage to be better prepared. We all know we should be constantly adding and rotating our food storage every month in order to have a good supply.

Since I have written the 10 Preparedness Items You Should Be Buying Every Month and Top Ten Items You Need For Your Food Storage, I have found my preparedness mindset changing a little bit. I think they are things you should be buying every month that are perishable items and non-perishable items. This list will concentrate on the non-perishable items because those are the ones most important to your food storage.

To explain what I have included on this list, I will give you the criteria. I am making this list as basic as possible. Meaning that you can go to the grocery store and buy these items right off the shelf which means the items are shelf-stable. They will not expire or go bad easily. Most of these items will last beyond their sell-by or expired date if you wish. This list is simple and for beginning preppers. However, the more experienced preppers should take a look at this list too and see if they have holes they should fill in their food storage.

If you want to, you can purchase these items in whatever manner suits you. If you wish to can them yourself, buy them in bulk, freeze-dried, dried, or whatever, you can certainly do that. If there is an item on this list you or your family does not eat, then replace it with something they do eat.

Because the #1 rule in food storage is: Do Not Buy Food You or Your Family Will Not Eat!

I don't care if you think "If we are hungry enough, we will eat it." That may be true, but why would you do that to yourself when you can simply purchase food that you will eat ahead of time!

The quantity of each item to purchase each month is your choice also. Depending on my budget, I will only purchase 1-2 items each or I will purchase a case or flat of that item. I also have a continuous grocery list where I write down when I use up one item so I can replace it right away on the next grocery trip. For example, I use up a bottle of olive oil. I write it down on my list and purchase it on the next trip to the grocery store. If I find myself getting low on an item, I will do the same thing.

10 Non-Perishable Food Preps You Should Be Buying Every Month

1. Salt and Pepper. Food without seasoning, bleh. You need at least salt and pepper to liven up your food. You can also stock up on other seasonings too. You might have ones you think you can't live without like garlic salt at my house.

2. Honey and/or Sugar. If you can live without these things, great. However, most of us cannot live without something to sweeten our drinks with. I also use sugar and honey in canning jams. Honey is also great for sore throats.

3. Beans. Dried or canned whichever you prefer. I like to use both, but in a hurry or being lazy, I will grab a can of beans first. So I stock up on canned beans. Beans are a meal unto themselves but are better with soups, chilis, casseroles, and one pot meals. They also help to fill people up and give energy.

4. Peanut Butter. This is packed with protein and fat which will help give you energy in a crisis. Beyond that, most kids and adults like it and will eat it plain or with bread/crackers. If you are allergic to nuts, look for a substitute like a sunflower butter or coconut butter.

5. Canned meats. As much as we would like to think we can raise our own meat or hunt your own meat when a crisis or situation happens, this may not be a possibility. Again, canned meat such as tuna, salmon, chicken, turkey, and ham will provide a good source of protein which helps give you energy in a crisis.

6. Canned tomatoes, fruits, and vegetables. While the nutritional value of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables is better than canned, eating canned fruits and vegetables is better than eating junk. You can use these in casseroles and salads too.

7. Canned soups, broths, and meals. Sometimes when you have an emergency or crisis, the easiest thing you can do is open a can and heat up the contents. Even if you are in a hurry at night and need a meal, you can save money by opening a can of soup, heating it up, and have a quick meal.

8. Crackers and cereal. Many of you will not think this is necessary, but I have teenagers. Kids like cereal and they love crackers. My kids think saltine crackers and soup go together like peanut butter and jelly. Cereal can range from cold cereal to hot cereal. I like to eat oatmeal and will make it from scratch, but when I am in a hurry or just plain tired, the little packets are awesome.

9. Pasta and rice. Let's face it. There is very little nutritional value in pasta and rice. They are just carbs even if you buy the veggie pasta. However, they help to fill up the hungry stomachs and keep the teenagers from completely taking over the kitchen. They help to keep the meals budget-friendly. They are great to have on hand to make casseroles, soups, and one pot meals. They help to feed a large crowd during a crisis.

10. Coffee and Tea. Water is great for hydration, but it is boring. Most people drink coffee or tea in some way, shape, or form. I like to have a stockpile of coffee, various kinds of teas, and even some instant packets of coffee and tea. If coffee or tea is not your thing, look at getting some drink packets and/or mixes to liven up the water.

Honorable Mention: 

1. Oil. Whether you use olive, vegetable, coconut or other oils, they are good to have on hand and keep a good stock of.
2. Protein and cereal bars. 
3. Pasta sauces.
4. Ethnic sauces and seasonings (salsa, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce,etc.)
5. Chocolate.

Like I mentioned before, you can switch out items and customize this list for your household. Some things listed may not be something you would ever eat while some people could not store enough of that item because they eat it so much. This is a general guideline I use when I go to the store. This is so I can put a meal on the table whenever I need to without completely stressing out over the meal no matter what is going on. The meal may not be very exciting, but the consumers of the meal will not walk away hungry.

Some of you will notice that I did not include such items as ramen noodles, various meals in a box, and macaroni and cheese. You can purchase these, but most of them have very little nutritional value, exceptionally high sodium levels, and feed very few adult people at one time. I don't usually include them in my food storage list for those reasons. However, if you want them in yours, you can certainly do that.

What do you like to store in your food storage?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Best Way To Freeze Zucchini (And What To Do With It Afterwards!)


Zucchini is one of those rare garden plants. Almost anyone can grow it! Zucchini is also (normally) very prolific meaning that it will produce very well for weeks if not months. We love here at Living Life in Rural Iowa so I like to put it up for use in the winter.

You can use zucchini in place of cucumber in relishes and pickles to preserve and use up the bounty. We like to eat it straight from the garden on the grill. However, we eat a good deal of it in baked goods with the idea that the end result might be healthier!

In order to use it over the winter, I have learned how to freeze it. I went through many trials and errors trying to find the best way to do this. One of the things I had learned right away is that you can easily freezer burn zucchini. The second thing I learned is that the texture of the zucchini changes considerably when frozen and thawed.

With that in mind, I had to find a way to do this so that I could use it again in the winter. The best way to freeze and preserve zucchini is to shred and then freeze it.

The Best Way To Freeze Zucchini

1. Pick zucchini from the garden that is medium size. The medium size zucchini is easier to handle, to shred, and don't have a lot of seeds in them. If you do happen to find a large or extra large zucchini that you inadvertently missed, cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, and cut them into manageable pieces. They are still edible and completely usable.


2. Wash the zucchini thoroughly and cut off the ends. Most of the zucchini I find in my garden is on the ground. They always need to be washed. You can choose to cut them into more manageable pieces for shredding. I think they are easier to handle when broken down into 2-3 pieces.

3. At this point, you can decide to peel them or not. I choose not to peel them because my family doesn't care if they see green specks in their food and they all like zucchini. However, if you have young ones (or old ones) who are picky eaters, you can choose to peel them. You will be able to hide the zucchini in sauces and baked easier if they are peeled.


4. Grab a big bowl and start shredding. By using a big bowl, you will not end up with shredded zucchini everywhere. If you don't use a big bowl, I suggest using a lipped baking sheet for holding all the goodness in. As for shredding the zucchini, I prefer to use a mandoline with a shredding attachment that sits on top of the bowl. You can also use a handheld shredder, a box shredded (grater), or a food processor with the shredding blade.


5. Portion out into bags and freeze. You can use zip-top freezer bags for this. I portion the shredded zucchini into two cup portions and put into the bag. If you are using freezer bags, push as much air out as possible, and seal the bag. Flatten the contents inside the bag and label them. You can then put them in the freezer. You could use a baking sheet under the bags to ensure they stay flat until they are frozen. You can then store them how you like in the freezer.

However, I love using my Food Saver. It is a rock star in my house! I put the two cup portions on zucchini in quart-size Food Saver bags. I flatten the bags the best I can, lay them on a baking sheet, and let them freeze. Then I vacuum seal the bags. With zucchini, if you try to seal them while the zucchini is fresh, the Food Saver will try to suck up the zucchini juices and will never seal. If you freeze them first, the Food Saver can suck all the air out and seal the bags just fine. Remember to label and date them!


Now that you have all this frozen zucchini, what can you do with it?

You can add it to sauces, one pot meals, and baked good. I also know people that add it to smoothies. However, you will find out quickly that thawed zucchini is far different than fresh zucchini. You will need to drain the excess liquid off first (or use the liquid in a soup or add to a vegetable broth). The best way to do this is to line a fine mesh strainer with a double layer of paper towels or cheesecloth. You will put the thawed zucchini in the strainer and let the excess liquid pour out. The paper towels or cheesecloth will hold the zucchini in. You can then squeeze more excess liquid out if you wish. If you are using the thawed zucchini in baked goods, you will want to squeeze more liquid out or it will affect your final baked goods.

What do you like to do with zucchini?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
Preserving The Bounty: How To Freeze Sweet Corn
Fajita Vegetable Packets: A Great Way To Use Up The Garden Bounty! 



Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Could We Handle Food Rationing Now?


In WWI (somewhat) and WWII definitely, food rationing was one of the few ways that governments in the United States and Britain could keep the soldiers fed as well as its citizens. Everyone was expected to do their share and stay within the guidelines of food rationing. In addition to the food rationing, citizens were heavily encouraged to "do their part" in their duty to their country by growing food and making every bit count.

Citizens were encouraged to make do. They were encouraged to start their own Victory garden and supplement their own rations. They were encouraged to forage and eat food they weren't accustomed to thinking as food. Food waste was a sin and they were encouraged to stretch their rations as far as possible.

In Britain, food rationing started in 1939 and lasted well past the war. They were under food rationing until 1954 while Britain recovered from the war. Food rationing started in 1942 and ended in the United States in August 1945 except for sugar which lasted until 1947. The Soviet Union was under food rationing from 1941 - 1947. Fruits and vegetables were not rationed but could be restricted for lack of supply unless you grew your own. For the most part, governments found out that their citizens were healthier under the food rationing system than before and after WWII.

Could we handle food rationing now if and when it should happen again? That is hard to say. Many people would have a very difficult time with the food rationing system. Processed food is much more prevalent now than it was during the 1940s. People are not as creative with food as they could be. Cooking from scratch is becoming a lost art. People are also not nearly as patriotic as they were during the first two world wars.

People are used to having food when they want it and how they want it. People, in general, are much more impatient now. Imagine being told you can only have so much food and you have to make a choice about what food you can have. Plus, people were encouraged to eat less meat during the war and choose cheaper cuts of meat to eat. Meat is a hefty part of a lot of diets now. People would have to make some severe changes to their diet that probably would not go over well.

Obesity is also a problem in the United States and Britain now.  People are used to eating a lot of food, making not so good food choices, consuming a lot of sugar, and not moving enough to deal with the excess food. Food rationing would be a tough adjustment for those people who suffer from obesity. If you struggle with your weight, now would a good time to start making changes before they are forced upon you.

Processed food is much more accessible now than 70 plus years ago. We also have a lot of manmade ingredients that were not even available back then. Processed food and these ingredients have brought about the advent of cheaper and easier to eat food. This definitely cheapens the cost of food, but depending on why we are being rationed we may not have access to the ingredients. You might also see more processed food being rationed because of the ability to make it might be restricted.

Creative cooking and cooking from scratch is almost a lost art. While many people during those two wars were well-acquainted with cooking from scratch, now many people rely on processed foods or premade meals from the grocery store. Eating out is also at an all-time high as parents find it easier to go through the drive-through or stop at a sandwich shop to feed the family. Food rationing would be a shock to those that would have to learn how to meal plan, read recipes, and cook creatively for possibly the first time in their lives.

We have many, many more people in our population now than we did then. We have more mouths to feed and more people in the inner cities who do not have access to cooking, growing, or forging food. While poverty existed in the 1930s and 1940s, we have still had a widespread and bigger problem with poverty today. Many people struggle to eat every day and rely on soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and the kindness of people just to get fed. What would happen to those people and those places when food rationing happens? Would the government provide for those places and for the people who need them? Would churches and charities still be able to support them? There is no clear-cut answer to this problem.

SNAP benefits would certainly be reduced to reflect rationing as money would not be as available for this program. We would need to divert money to our country's defense and military. While individual states control what SNAP benefits could be spent on, the benefit amount would certainly be reduced. With the advent of food rationing, I could also see the government controlling how they could be spent. Only certain foods would be covered and nothing that would seem like a "luxury" grocery item.

People are also not nearly as patriotic now as they were during those wars. The contempt for our government now is at an all-time high. Take away or reduce someone's SNAP benefits and you could have a riot on your hands. Tell people they need to do their "duty" for whatever situation brings on food rationing and reduce their consumption of food, not have certain products available, or be restricted on what they can buy - I cannot even imagine what would happen. We have lost our loyalty and ability to stand as Americans against the world and do what is necessary to come out on top. The reaction could be violent and intense.

But mostly, we have lost our ability to be self-reliant. I love seeing homesteading, prepping, and self-sufficiency on the rise because more people are interested in stockpiling food, growing and foraging for food, raising livestock, canning and preserving their own food. Those are the things that will help you survive food rationing. Doing what you can to supplement food rationing and stretching food as far as it can go will only serve you well. Managing food waste will be critical. Being self-reliant will be the only way to survive food rationing.

So, could we handle food rationing now? I think we can, but it will be a huge adjustment and will probably have some riots happen as some groups of people do not handle well being told what to do even if the cause is great. However, we all have adjustments we need to make, skills we need to learn and maintain, and preparations to make. We need to be ready just in case because the event that brings on food rationing here will not only affect us as a country but globally as well.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related links:
Nine Ways to Beat The Food Rationing System When It Happens Again
Ten Lessons Learned About Food From The Depression and Wartime



Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Nine Ways to Beat The Food Rationing System When It Happens Again


Right now, food seems to be plentiful in America. There is plenty of it in the stores and you hear stories of how much food is wasted from restaurants and grocery stores. However, there are some factors that could lead us to a rationing system in a hurry if something happened. Those things do not even have to be catastrophic for us to be rationed.

In most natural disasters such as hurricanes and flooding, Red Cross and FEMA dive right in to help. However, they will only serve meals and/or give out limited amounts of food and water. Yes, many other people donate food and money when things like this happen, but what if they couldn't?

In WWI, the Americans were not put on a rationing system but were asked to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less meat and wheat products. In WWII, Americans were put on a rationing system that became stricter as the war went on. Even then, this country imported a lot of food and supply chains were disrupted. In addition to that, the troops needed food overseas that would ship and travel well. We were asked to give up or limit certain foods to feed our troops which we did because we were patriotic and felt it was our duty to do so. Certain foods were not available because they were not in season or able to grow in the United States.

In today's America, this seems like a foreign concept. Food is literally everywhere! However, we have situations that can happen to start having our food rationed. Most grocery stores have only three days of food on their shelves in their storage rooms. If a blizzard or some other weather storm happens, those shelves will be wiped out in hours. Our local grocery store can be very short on supplies on Sunday because a lot of people get groceries on Sundays.

Now, imagine if there is a disruption in the transportation system. No trucks bringing food to the stores means a limited supply or no food to buy.

Imagine if we went to war again. A good deal of our food or ingredients for our food is imported. Less food coming into our country means less food to buy. That will not go over well with some people.

Imagine if you could not actually get to the grocery store. Some people are accustomed to shopping every day instead of once a week or two weeks. When food is rationed, often gas and tires are rationed too when will stop someone from going to the store every day.

Food will start to be rationed. Just like when food was rationed before, there will be a learning curve. People will have to adjust and some people will not adjust well. People will have to learn how to cook again and grow their own food. Some of those skills are completely lost in our inner cities.

What can you do to the beat the rationing system?

1. Food Storage. Now, more than ever, you need to have a food stockpile. No one knows how long food would be rationed for. No one planned for WWII to last for four years. There are still people recovering from the hurricanes last season. Puerto Rico is still getting on their feet and depending on FEMA and donations to feed their people (as of this post). Having a food stockpile is critical and having a year's worth of food is not out of line.

2. Grow Your Own Food. You will have to become your own supplier. If you start gardening now, you will have the skills to grow your own food. You don't even need a garden per say, but it is better to have a plot of land to grow food. However, use containers. Grow lettuce and spinach in pots inside the house. Grow tomatoes on the balcony or the patio. There are many creative ways to grow your food.

3. Raise Your Eggs and Meat. If you can, have some laying hens for eggs. Grow a few meat chickens for your own pot and freezer. If you can, raise more than chickens. Ducks, geese, turkeys, pigs, goats, sheep, and cows can all be raised for butchering. You would be addressing one area of food that was also severely rationed by the end of WWII and probably would be again.

4. Foraging For Food. You should learn to identify weeds and other edibles that can be cooked or eaten in a salad. This was done during both WWI and WWII with excellent results. A great book on foraging and identifying edibles is The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer.  Learning how to tap trees for syrup and collecting nuts should be skills to learn now too.

5. Start Keeping Bees. Sugar was severely rationed in WWII. People are even more addicted to it now than they were then. Keeping bees and producing your own honey would easily help replace sugar or at least keep sugar for more important things. During the war, people would save their sugar for the holidays or very special occasions. They would do without sugar most of the time. We all could benefit from having less sugar in our diets too.

6. Learn To Preserve Your Own Food. Learning to can and dehydrate will become very important skills during a food rationing time. Again, this is a skill you need to learn and practice now. Start simple with jams and jellies and work your way up to making meals in a jar. Getting a good supply of canning jars and canning lids will be crucial too. Metal for those lids could be in short supply. There are non-metal lids to can with also, but they also take time to learn how to use.

7. Learn To Use Everything and Waste Nothing. We can be a very wasteful society nowadays and we really need to learn to use it all up. We need to learn to eat everything, re-purpose leftovers, compost scraps, and feed scraps to the animals.

8. Get Creative. You will have to learn to cook from scratch. You will have to learn how to use food in ways you never imagined. You will have to learn to eat more locally and seasonally. You may have to have odd food combinations at the supper table. Learn to be creative with food and keep an open mind about how to cook and use food.

9. Try New Foods Now. Never had turnips or rutabagas? They grow just about everywhere so now would be a good time to learn how to eat them. They are just examples but learn how to prepare and eat new things especially vegetables. People ate better on the rationing system when they had vegetables available to them. Learn to eat more vegetables and figure out a way for your picky eaters to eat them too.

Rationing is never an easy thing, but you can learn to use it to your advantage. If you take steps now to learn these skills and start storing food, you will have an easier time living on a food rationing system.

Some other articles of interest would be:
Food Rationing, Food Storage, and Wartime: We Have Much To Learn
Ten Lessons Learned About Food From The Depression and Wartime

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, December 29, 2017

10 Prepping Goals You Should Be Setting For The New Year


The new year is coming quickly. While I think goal setting can be done any time of year and should be, this seems to be the time of year for most people to set goals. If you are a prepper, winter is a good time to get your goals figured out, written down, and a game plan set to accomplish them.

What goals should you be setting as a prepper?

1. Increase water storage and/or create a way to procure water without electricity. We often do not have enough drinking and non-drinking water in our stockpiles. While the experts say to have at least one gallon per person per day of water, most people use more than that for cooking and bathing. We also don't always remember to store water for pets and livestock. If you can, look for a way to install rain barrels or a cistern to procure and use water without electricity.

2. Increase or double your food storage. Many preppers only have a month or less of food storage. You should concentrate on doubling your food storage. If you have a month, build up a two month supply and so on. Make a meal plan with your food storage and you might realize you don't have enough food storage for a month either.

3. Sharpen your shooting skills and learn new ways to defend yourself. Take a self-defense class. Learn taekwondo or another martial art. Learn how to defend yourself in close combat. Learn how to use another weapon. Learn how to better use your own weapons. I believe in using weapons and self-defense to defend myself. I think both methods are important to your safety and should be learned.

4. Lose weight and work on physical fitness. Being in shape and being in good health is crucial to being the best prepper you can be. Being one hundred pounds overweight means you are susceptible to a host of diseases and will easily run out of energy when you need to be in the best shape possible. Even if you walk a mile every day and do fifty jumping jacks twice a day, you are doing more for your health than most people will ever do.

5. Learn new skills. Make a list of three skills you really want to learn in this next year and make a plan to learn them. Watch YouTube videos and buy some books in those areas. Gather the materials and start practicing those skills. Learning skills is never a waste of time.

6. Increase or double your emergency cash fund. If you are into gold or silver, increase that. Most of us do not have a really good emergency cash stash at home. We might have some coins and a few dollars which will not get us far when an SHTF happens.

7. Start gathering or buying non-electric items. When you have no power, you will want things that do not use electricity. Having good manual tools will just make life a lot easier in the end when an SHTF happens and most of us do not have enough manual tools on hand.

8. Read a prepping book every month. Most of prepping is the knowledge inside your head and how you apply it. Read a prepping book, apply something you have learned from it, and stick that knowledge in your head.

9. Get your affairs in order. Get your family information together and put it in a binder and on a flash drive. Get your will written. Make bug-in and bug-out plans. When SHTF happens, you have your information together and you are ready to start putting your life back together again. If you have this already, review and update the information.

10. Make an effort to make more prepping friends and expand your community. Yes, you can prep alone or have a lot of online prepping buddies, but you are better off making some prepping friends locally. You would have people locally who would be there for you and understand how you think. Better yet though, find a few people to turn on to prepping. We can't have enough preppers in the world!

Prepping is a lot easier and more focused when you have goals to commit to. You will be able to implement a plan to prep smarter and create a life free from worrying about "what if?".

What are your prepping goals for this coming year?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What This Prepper Buys: The $36 Dollar Tree Spree

Dollar Tree is possibly one of my favorite places to purchase prepping supplies for stockpiling. Everything's a dollar or less and we usually find good generic replacements for high dollar goods. While cheap goods is not always a good thing for prepping, sometimes it is a good way to build up your stockpile. If you are conscious about what you are buying and try it out before SHTF happens, you will know if it is a good deal or not.



Everything shown in the picture was $1 each. I spent more than $36 on this trip, but some of the items were for everyday use. I didn't buy anything spectacular. I have a decent basic stockpile and I am adding to it. I am also starting to plug holes in my stockpile and shore up some weak areas.

Let me explain what I purchased this time. I will start with the food items. I bought egg noodles because they figure in my food storage meals like Tuna Noodle Casserole. Lasagna is a popular birthday meal here and I always try to keep those noodles on hand. I bought eight containers of spices and herbs because I never want to run out of seasonings. Coconut oil cooking spray is a necessity in my mind. Seasoned bread crumbs also figure into some of my food storage meals as well as my garden fresh meals. Canned chicken is also considered a necessity in my food storage.

I always pick up those four packs of emergency candles when I can. Candles are not a great source of light, but they will light up a room enough to see and provide comfort.

I am also adding to my first aid stock too from Dollar Tree. I like the smaller packages because they are easier to pack for vehicles and bags. This time I got a couple of bandage wraps for sprains and other injuries. I also got 2x2 gauze pads after using some when I had nose surgery. By the way, they are a perfect size for drip pads under your nose! I also got a pack of 8 mini-size facial tissues for bags and bug-out bags. They are the perfect size in my opinion and light to carry.

I have started buying more of the hand soap refills rather than hand soap dispensers. I got two this time. I have plenty of hand soap dispensers already and I think refilling them is a better answer than keep buying them.

I also bought a fair amount of cleaning supplies this time. I needed more dusting spray and glass cleaner. I try to keep plenty of bathroom cleaner to keep the bathrooms sanitized. I wanted to buy more spray cleaners, but I didn't like their selection today. I have also started to keep more air freshening items on hand too so the house doesn't stink when things are starting too.

I also bought more Krazy glue because I also needed more of it. And really, can you have too much Krazy glue? It can fix and hold together a lot of stuff!

You can build up your stockpile cheaply. You don't have to spend $36 like I did, but $5-10 a week would be doing more than doing nothing. Look at what you need and start stockpiling!

By the way, you can check out my "What This Prepper Buys" here and here

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Five Prepping Things To Accomplish In October


October is here and so is fall. This is a great time to work outside, take care of any projects you wanted to get done during the summer, and wrap up any loose ends before winter arrives. October is usually pretty mild in Iowa with an occasional snow storm thrown in the last part of the month. I try to get as much done as I can in October because November is fairly unpredictable here.

Five Prepping Things To Accomplish In October

1. Get the outside of the house, garage, and other outbuildings winterized. Home maintenance is an important part of prepping. Trim bushes away from the buildings. Compost and mulch any garden areas that need it. Seal up any cracks or holes. Get plastic over the windows that leak. Take care of any loose boards. Make sure the doors and windows seal up tight. You know what you need to do. October is a good time to get these things taken care of.

2. Stock up on pasta, rice, and potatoes. I know these are carbs, but they also provide calories and energy when you need it. I like to keep all forms of pasta on hand. I generally only keep brown rice on hand, but white rice does store longer if stored properly. I keep instant mashed potatoes and canned potatoes on hand as well as fresh potatoes. I also keep freeze dried potatoes on hand as well. Just store pasta, rice, and potatoes that yourself and your family will eat. I would like to remind you to keep extra water or broth on hand for cooking pasta and rice.

3. In light of recent events, I urge to add at least three more gallons of water per person in your household this month. If you have pets, add at least three more gallons of water for dogs, one more gallon of water for cats, and one more gallon of water for any other creatures besides livestock. One thing I have read from the recent natural disasters is that people did not have enough water and other liquids stored. Please add to your water storage this month!

4. Time to clean out your vehicles and switch over your emergency kits to winter supplies. Time to take out the sunscreen, insect repellent, and anything that can freeze. Time to add gloves, hats, scarves, and extra coats and blankets. There are several good lists about what to keep in your car during the winter, but this list is probably my favorite by The Homesteading Hippy.

5. Take stock of your own home winter emergency supplies and fill in the holes. We don't always realize how much stuff gets used throughout the year and what may need to be replaced. How is your unscented long lasting candle situation? I would check them to make sure you have enough and they didn't melt last summer. How are your C and D cell batteries? Most radios and heavy duty flashlights take them. How is your ready to eat food situation? Can you make it a week on just that food alone? How is your water storage? Do you have enough to drink, flush the toilets, and do any emergency washing?  There is a lot more things to think about, but these things would be at the top of my list in an emergency!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
Five Prepping Things To Accomplish in July
Five Prepping Things To Accomplish in August
Five Prepping Things To Accomplish in September


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Preserving The Bounty: How To Freeze Sweet Corn


One of my favorite ways to deal with my garden bounty is to can it. I love canning! However, when I am putting up sweet corn, I like to freeze it. Freezing sweet corn is so easy. Let me walk you through it!

How To Freeze Sweet Corn:




1.Pick and husk your sweet corn. Make sure you have as much of the silks cleaned up as possible.

I tend towards picking and freezing mine in smaller batches because of my time constraints. If you want to do a lot all at once, go for it!

2. Fill your stockpot about 2/3s full with water and set it to boil.


3. In the meantime, fill your sink or a big bowl with really cold water and add a significant amount of ice to it.


4. Once the water is boiling, you will be blanching your sweet corn. I do this with the cob still on the cob because I find it easier to deal with that way. Boil the sweet corn for three minutes and immediately put the sweet corn in the ice water to cool quickly. I leave the corn in the ice water for 1-2 minutes. You will have to do the corn in batches. Doing the corn all at once will result in unevenly cooked corn.


5. Remove the corn from the ice water and let drain on a pan or towel.

6. After you have all the sweet corn blanched, you can start cutting it off the cob. I use my biggest baking sheet pan with sides to do this. Starting at the top of the cob, I slice down the cob using a slightly serrated knife.

The aftermath plus some seedy summer squash. The chicken were grateful!

7. After I get through all the sweet corn or have the pan full, I start filling freezer bags. Sometimes I just use zippered freezer bags and sometimes I use my Food Saver. Just depends on what I have for bags. I like to put 2-3 cups in each quart size bag because that is perfect for my family. If you have a large family, you might want to put more in a quart size bag or use a gallon size bag!


8. You should label each bag with "Sweet Corn 2017" or whatever year it is when you read this! Trust me on the labeling. I used to be a lazy labeler, but that hasn't worked out so well for me!

9. Put the bagged and sealed sweet corn in the freezer. This will be delicious in the winter!

I know some people put sugar or salt in their water when they cook sweet corn. That is a personal preference and I don't personally do it. If you want to, do it. It will not negatively affect the flavor of the sweet corn.

That's it. Easy peasy! Have fun and let me know if you have tricks or tips to freezing sweet corn!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Have An Overwhelming Urge To Prep? Here Are 25 Things To Do Now!


Some people are now finding an overwhelming urge to prep and/or prep harder. Whether it is world events or personal crisis driving that urge to prep, they just feel this need to prep or to get their preps in order.

This is not a bad thing! While some preppers will caution you against panic prepping, getting yourself and your family prepared for the next crisis is a good thing. In fact, you should take advantage of this urge to prep!

Some preppers, myself included, are feeling a need to get their preps in order and make certain we have enough water and food to last a while. I certainly don't have a good feeling right now about world events and that has made me look at what I need to do too.

So what can you do to take advantage of this urge to prep?

1. Get your water situation in order. Make sure you have enough drinkable water for at least two weeks, but a month would be better. They say a gallon of drinkable water per person per day. I stock up on the gallon size jugs and 24 pack cases of bottled water.

2. In addition to your water situation, keep some bottles of juice, tea, soda, and other drinks on hand. You can also stock up on powdered drinks to add to water. Water gets boring after awhile and having something to break up the water monotony will certainly keep the loved ones from getting crabby (hopefully)! Just be aware if you stock up on powdered drinks, that you might need more water to have with those.

3. Stock up on easy to eat food. If you lose power for any period of extended time, you will want food you can open, eat unheated, and be filling. That means having a healthy supply of canned vegetables, fruits, ready to eat soups, meats, and prepackaged meals (canned spaghetti, ravioli, etc.). You will want crackers, granola bars, cold cereal, muffins, survival bars, protein bars, and anything else you can eat without heating it up. I know most of you will have access to a grill, camp stove, volcano stove, and other methods to cook food, but you may not be able to go outside either. Again, I would have enough for at least two weeks, but a month would be better.

4. Buy a manual can opener. Scratch that, buy at least three manual can openers. Just in case one breaks or is misplaced. In addition to that, buy a bottle opener too. They also come in handy to open canning lids.

5. Buy trash bags. You will want the small kitchen size, the 13 gallon size, and the large black (33 gallon) ones. You may need the small ones for bathroom using purposes and to take the trash out every day to keep the home sanitary. The other sizes are just handy to have for all purposes.

6. Buy paper plates, cups, bowls, napkins, and towels. Buy plastic cutlery. You may not have a way to wash dishes. You will want something you can eat off of and throw away/burn easily.

7. Buy toilet paper. You really can't have too much of this stuff. You will always use it.

8. Buy a few more five gallon buckets. You can store water in them, use one as a toilet, wash laundry with a plunger in it, use to clean, and much, much more. Having a good supply (10-20?) of five gallon buckets will help tremendously.

9. Stock up your pets' and livestock food and water. You don't really want them to go hungry or struggle to feed them from your supply! We keep our dog food and chicken feed in steel trash cans with a tight fitting lid to keep the critters out of it and keep it fresher. We keep the cat food in five gallon buckets with a tight fitting lid for the same purposes.

10. Buy some more ammo and practice shooting more. Having a little more ammunition on hand will only help your cause. In times of crisis, you never know who might show up at your house. Ammo is also a good bartering item if you need to use it that way. Practicing your shooting will only help you feel better about your skills and gain confidence in using your gun of choice.


11. Have a way to cook outside the home? Whether you use your grill, camp stove, volcano or rocket stove, a campfire, and more, you need to find ways to cook food in case of no power or limited power. If you are using any of those methods, you need to keep your propane tanks filled and firewood stocked. You would not be out of line if you got more propane tanks (1, 5, 10, 20, or 30 pound) and/or had a very healthy stock of firewood and charcoal. Don't forget to get some matches and lighters too!

12. How are you going to see in the dark? Stock up on candles, flashlights, lanterns, lantern oil, matches, lighters, wicks, a few candleholders, and batteries.

13. Get your bug out bags and 72 hour kit ready to go. You may not be able to stay where you are and you will need to leave quickly. Having these ready to go will be a time saver and possibly a life saver!


14. Buy some external battery chargers, battery packs, and solar chargers for your cell phones. I know the other devices can be important, but having a working and charged cell phone can be a life saver and a game changer. Keep these things charged at all times for emergencies. Some of you might say that in certain situations a cell phone will be worthless, but I don't really want to take that chance. I would rather have one charged and ready to go than to be stranded without a way to communicate or get warnings.

15. Have things to entertain yourself and your kids. You should have a healthy supply of books, games, puzzles, craft projects, word searches, workbooks, and other toys to keep everyone from killing each other. If it is just adults, most of that stuff is still good to have on hand. If you like to knit, crochet, and do needlework, have some projects on hand to work on. You don't have to spend a lot of money on this stuff. The thrift stores are usually well-stocked on these things.

16. Consider your personal needs. Keep plenty of baby wipes, body wipes, toilet wipes, hand sanitizer, sanitary items for women, deodorant, baby powder, foot powder/spray, and whatnot on hand for times when the power is out. Other people's body odor can really be a bad thing. Being unsanitary can cause illnesses. Staying clean as possible will help you feel better.

17. Check the first aid kit and get it stocked up! Bandages, antibiotic ointment, gauze, tape, adhesive bandages, and more are all things you do not want to run out of. You can make your own first aid kit or buy one, but make sure it is ready to go at any notice. I would keep a really good one in the house and shop. I would also keep them in the cars just in case you need backup in the house.


18. Check your over the counter medications. If you are fond of taking ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen now, you don't really want to run out during a crisis. I would make sure to have multiple bottles of those pain relievers. I would also have on hand cold medicines, cough syrups, acid reducer medicines, multivitamins, Vitamins C & D, and any supplements or other medicines you take on a regular basis. Research and start practicing natural remedies too.

19. Keep up on laundry, dishes, and anything that takes water. If you lose power for an extended period of time, the last thing you want to worry about is how to do dishes and laundry without running water. Make sure the dishes are done every day and the laundry is done at least 2-3 times a week.


20. Get your plans in place. What will you do if you are at home and need to leave? What if the kids are at school? What if you are at work?  How will you get home and how many ways can you find to get home? What will you do if you are at home? What if you are stranded in another town or at another relatives' house? Play all the scenarios you can think of in your head and make a plan on paper for them. Memorize those plans and make sure your family knows them too. Then practice, practice, practice those plans.

21. Do you have addictions? How will you cope? Whether it is to nicotine, drugs, alcohol, sugar, caffeine, social media, and more, you will need to figure out if you can quit cold turkey, deal with the withdrawal, or have a plan in place to slowly wean yourself off these things. Ideally, now would be a good time to quit or at least cut back, but that is your personal decision. Just be aware that you may not have access to those things and will need to live without them.


22. Do you have a way to heat your home without power? If you don't, now would be a good time to figure out how you are going to deal with the cold. There are many ways to keep yourself warm, but finding a heater that works indoors without electricity would be ideal. If you can do a propane fireplace, that would be good. If you can do a woodstove, get one installed. Just make sure you have a way to stay warm. Also, have a battery powered carbon monoxide detector and extra batteries. No one wants to die that way.

23. Go for a walk. Get some exercise. Work out and get your body in shape. Whatever you need to do to handle the physical demands that a disaster or crisis may require of you. There are plenty of armchair preppers, but being in shape will give you the advantage. You will feel better, have a clearer head, resist illness, and be able to handle the stress better.


24. Practice living without electricity and running water. Spend a day doing that will be a big eye-opener to you and your family. One day will not compare with being without power for a week or longer, but you will have an understanding of what you need to do to be prepared.


25. Do you have a baby? Someone with special needs? An elderly person living with you? What special considerations do you need to make for them? Do you have extra diapers, wipes, and formula? Do you need to deal with oxygen tanks? Write down everything they need in a day and a week and figure out how you will deal with those things. Having a plan and being prepared now may mean the difference between life and death later.

Some of these things will be easy to do and easy to implement. Some of these things are harder and will take time to practice and implement. Some of these things will cost money and some are free. Some of these things involve self-improvement which is part of prepping too. Most of these ideas involve living without electricity and running water which will be a big problem for most people.

If you are getting started in prepping, these things are key for getting started. If you have been prepping for awhile, you should take the time to review these things and find your holes. You may think you are totally prepared, but there is no room for arrogance in prepping.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, August 4, 2017

Five Prepping Things To Accomplish In August


There is so much you can do in August! Summer is still here, the weather is mostly nice and hot, and the days are still long. People's gardens are producing like crazy and the farmers' markets are overloaded with the garden goodness. Kids are getting ready to go back to school if they haven't gone back already.

We still have plenty to do though with prepping. Prepping shouldn't ever stop. I am half way through Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse by James Wesley Rawles. Talk about an eye opener! This is a fictional novel, but that shouldn't stop you from reading it. The scenarios presented in this book so far are very realistic and has made me think about a few things in a new light.

Five Prepping Things To Accomplish In August: 

1. Time to stock up on office supplies. Back to school sales are going on right now. I like to get stocked up on reams of printer paper, notebooks, pens, pencils, printer ink, and flash drives/memory cards/SD cards. This is also a great time to replace printers and/or laptops because they are marked down almost as well as on Black Friday sales. You can also find good quality backpacks for bugout bags, get home bags, and everyday carry bags.

I justify stocking up on office supplies as prepping because I will still need these things if I still have access to power and WI-FI. Most of my work can be done on a computer and I need these things to keep up with business. If the grid is down, I will be back to doing a lot on paper.

2. If you haven't learned how to can food yet, you need to learn this month. If you are starting from scratch, I have a very good blog post about what you need to start canning. Whether you planted a garden, got produce from a friend, or went to the farmers' market, now is a good time to learn. You can start with something easy like canning green beans or using Mrs. Wages packets to make salsa and pizza sauce. You do not have to start our canning anything complicated. I try to only can food that my family will eat. Even I have had some hits and misses. However, in my opinion, canning is one of the top ten skills you need to learn for homesteading and prepping.


3. Whether you are canning your own fruits and vegetables or need to buy them, this would be a good month to get stocked up on cans of fruits and vegetables. If you think you have a good supply, now would be a good time to inventory your fruits and vegetables stockpile. Take note of what needs to be eaten up and what needs replacing or replenishing. I would pay special attention to anything tomato based. I have come across a bulging can or two in the last year and eating those are a definite no-no due to botulism.

Even if you think you have a good supply of canned fruits and vegetables, I would still add more. I would try to buy these by the 12 packs if you can. Being in flats makes the canned goods easier to stack and store. Aldis is a good place to buy canned fruits and vegetables by the flat or case if you cannot can your own.

4. Now is also a good time to get your important documents and pictures onto a flash drive. This flash drive may save you a good deal of headache and time when you lose those important documents or insurance cards. I would scan them into the computer and save them to the flash drive. If you have this done, you may want to update the information if you need to.You may want to do this twice and keep one on you and one in the safe. I would also take pictures of your vehicles, license plates, recreational vehicles and plates, VIN numbers from those things, and upload them to the flash drive. You never know what you may need to report to the insurance company and have replaced. I would also do this for anything valuable in your home. You can also take a video of each room and upload it to the flash drive also.


Do not forget about your kids' valuable information. If they have state provided IDs or driver's licenses, get those uploaded. Our school sends us a Student ID card with their school picture on it and I would also scan that on to the flash drive. Any birth certificates, social security cards, life insurance policies, passports, and even important medical documents should be on this flash drive.

5. Time to check your everyday carry. Do you have an everyday carry? This is what you carry in your pockets and purse. These are the things that you will need if there is an emergency or you may need to defend yourself in some way. These are the things you cannot and should not live without. I keep a lot of things in my everyday carry, but I noticed the other day that my everyday carry bag needs updating and possibly some rethinking about what I want to carry. You should do this every so often just to keep what you have on hand fresh in your mind. While you are at it, if you carry an everyday carry bag, clean it up and organize it too.

Some additional things to do in August:
1. Check your planting zone. If you can, plant some more things in your garden. We have a second planting of peas right now and I hope to add beets and carrots to the garden soon. If you use hoop houses or cold frames, you can plant more and really extend the life of your garden. 
2. Now is a good time to order strawberries, blueberries, and garlic to plant in the fall. When they come in, plant them right away and water often and well. You will have a great crop of strawberries and garlic next summer.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
Five Prepping Things To Accomplish in May
Five Prepping Things To Accomplish in June
Five Prepping Things To Accomplish in July


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Clean Out Your Freezers With Me In August!


I declare August as National Clean Out Your Freezer(s) Month.

Why? The reasons are endless...

  • School is starting soon for us and may have already started for you.
  • Summer bounty is flowing in from the garden.
  • There may still be meals in the freezer from last year's freezer cooking binge.
  • There may be meat from 2014 in the bottom of the freezer.
  • There may be frozen vegetables and fruits from 2012.
  • You may have a storage shortage in the freezer.
  • You may have to get really creative in order to put even more in the freezer!
  • You may have leftovers from two Christmases ago still frozen in your favorite containers...

Most of those, if not all, are a true story in this house! I bet they are true for your house too, but I will not point any fingers. I have a full-size chest freezer as well as the freezer in my refrigerator. I am going to concentrate mainly on the chest freezer, but the other freezer will be looked at too.

No matter if you are a prepper or a homesteader, this needs to be done. You need to keep rotating your stock or you might lose it to freezer burn or worse. You have to make room for any garden produce you might freeze. If you are into frugal living or sustainability, food waste is your enemy. Losing food to sheer negligence or lack of organization is a detriment to everything you are trying to attain. 



How should we go about cleaning out the freezers? However works best for you.

I would recommend doing an inventory of all the contents of your freezer and using up the oldest food first. If some of that food is badly or obviously freezer burnt, pitch it or feed it to the chickens if the food is safe for them. You don't need to eat bad freezer-burnt food for the sake of saving money - trust me, I have done that and it wasn't pleasant!

If you want to put the freezer inventory on a spreadsheet, I would recommend this one from Lesa at Better Hens and Gardens. If you want to do just printable freezer inventory sheets, I really like the printable from Fun, Cheap or Free. She also gives great tips!

Now I am one of "those people" who think food that frozen and still looks good is edible. I don't take much stock in dates on frozen food. However, for this freezer cleanout, you should probably eat the oldest food first due to making room for new and better tasting food.

Now, if being this organized makes you twitch, you can do a simpler method(s) that I have also used myself. You can work from right to left/left to right in the freezer. You can just grab a basket, find the oldest food, put that food in the basket, and vow to eat that up first. You can just open the freezer, grab the first thing you see, and make something with it. You can do whatever floats your boat in this challenge.



At the end of month, when you have eaten down your freezers, you should probably spend some time on Labor Day weekend or before cleaning and defrosting your freezers. Goodness knows they will need it! You will be able to see how gross they have probably become!

For this to be fun for everyone and to follow me while I do this, you can follow me on Instagram where I will post regular pictures of what the freezer looks like and what we are eating. You can also follow me on Facebook where I will also post pictures and encouragement for you all.

Please join me in this Freezer Cleanout Challenge! I would love to see what you are all doing as well! You can tag me by using the hashtag #lifeinruraliowafreezerchallenge. If you all use the hashtag, you should be able to see what each other is doing too! We can encourage each other!

Let me know in the comments if you are joining and what you want to accomplish in this challenge!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Five Prepping Things To Accomplish In July


July is the time of the year that flies by so quickly. There is never enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished. The weather is hot and very humid (at least in Iowa it is!). The garden is growing like crazy. The grass and the weeds are either having a competition to see who can grow the fastest or the grass is burnt up and the weeds still need to be mowed.

For July's prepping accomplishments, I tried to keep the list easy to do since this is a busy time of the year! Some people might find some of these things a challenge and that is good.

Five Prepping Things To Accomplish in July:

1. Make a meal list using only food storage foods. I am including everything in the food storage. However, I am going to make two lists. One list will involve the refrigerator and freezer foods because, in some instances, you will still have access to those foods. If you lose power, those foods need to be eaten first. My second list will only include foods that are shelf stable. Those meals will come from canned food, commercially canned food, food buckets, freeze dried food, and whatever else doesn't involve a refrigerator/freezer. In this list, I will also make a note if the recipe needs additional liquids like water, broth, and juice so I can be sure to have plenty on hand.

2. This month I am focusing on stocking up on breakfast foods for my food storage. I want to make sure I have a good supply of oats (steel cut, rolled, and quick), cereal, granola ingredients, granola bars. oatmeal packets, powdered eggs, pancake/waffle mix, and whatever else we like to eat for breakfast. Your breakfast stock up will depend on what your family likes to eat for breakfast. I am including quick grab and go breakfast foods as well as homemade breakfasts because you do not know what you will need and if you have the means to make a from scratch breakfast.

3. Find three ways to disconnect from the grid this month. Electric bills in July can be horrible because of so many people using air conditioning. This drives up the on-peak demand usage which gives you a higher bill. Nevermind, the additional stress on the grid which can cause blackouts and brown outs. Find a few ways to disconnect from the grid. You can used propane powered items like a smoker or the grill to cook your meals. I have done enchiladas and casseroles on the grill just to keep the heat out of the house. Make your own solar oven to bake bread in. Use your solar chargers to charge your electronics. Dry your clothes outside. Do what you can to use less electricity and practice being off grid however you can.

4. Buy some extra gas cans and stockpile fuel. Buying your gas cans now will save you later when a crisis happens and everyone wants them. I would buy at least 2-3 each for gasoline and diesel. If you don't have anything that runs on diesel, you can skip that. I would fill them with unleaded gasoline if you can find it. We can still get 91 gas as opposed to 87 which contains more ethanol. Gas with ethanol goes stale quicker than unleaded gas does. You can add something like StaBil in the gas to make it last longer.

I would also stock up on propane, butane, and kerosene if you have items that use those fuels. You can buy propane cylinders in 20# and 30# that will work with majority of space heaters and grills. If you are not sure, ask your local propane serviceperson. They will be able to help you. We keep 3-4 20# propane cylinders for our grill and heaters. For kerosene and butane, buy an extra few gallons depending on what you use and your storage capabilities.

5. Time to take a good look at your vehicle. Is it ready for emergencies? Is it well-maintained? Does it need something fixed? How are the tires and brakes? Now is a good time while the weather is nice to give your car a thorough cleaning and restocking. Organize your emergency supplies so you can find what you need without tearing the car apart. Fix the broken lights and make sure all the rest of the car is in good condition.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
Five Prepping Things To Accomplish in April
Five Prepping Things To Accomplish in May
Five Prepping Things To Accomplish in June



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