Friday, January 29, 2010

Prepare: Bulk Foods For Storage

Everyone should store food. Bulk foods should be stored due to rising food prices and possible food shortages. Put together a bulk food storage plan today.

Food has been on my mind a lot lately because of a number of reasons. First, I have been on my new Prepper Diet for the past few weeks and it has changed the way I shop and eat. Second, because of the economy, I have become more aware of the need to have insurance in place when money is really tight. Insurance like some spare gasoline for the car, cash tucked away in the shoebox for rainy days and extra food when the grocery store is too expensive to visit.

With paydays disappearing, having food stored is a neccessity.

Here are my bulk foods I have been storing and glad to have on hand.

Rice - always. We make 2-3 cups a day and eat it at lunch and dinner.

Beans - I go through two big bags of dried beans a week.

Flour - I make a batch of quick Bible bread each night. My kids take it to school with sandwiches, the baby eats it for lunch, and I eat it with rice and beans.

Honey - we use this on oatmeal, in tea, everywhere.

Oil - Cooking oil such as vegetable and olive. We use both liberally when cooking.

Oatmeal - the whole family had this on Friday for breakfast.

Yeast - To make bread of course. I buy the one pound bag and store in the freezer.

Dried fruit, nuts, etc - we make the kids trail mix to take to school for snack time. We buy these in big bags and store in the fridge.

Pasta - we buy regular spaghetti and other types. We make pasta several times a week for dinner.

Canned vegetables, fruits, stock - we buy this by the case only. There is no reason to buy one or two cans when you can by 12 or 24 and stock them in the pantry, cupboard or in a closet.

We also buy meat of course, and milk, fresh produce and so forth. But this what we get at the warehouse store and keep in five gallon buckets or the pantry.

That is my food insurance.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Prepare: Bible Bread Recipe

I have been on my own "Prepper Diet" roughly since the new year and it has worked out well for me. To recap, I eat oatmeal with honey only in the morning, rice and beans during the day and not much after 7PM. I drink lots of water and tea.

So far, I have lost several pounds and have managed to get rid of some of this gut. I am sure this has lowered my cholesterol as well. I have been running and lifting weights again - less food and more activity and you will lose weight.

Now, I like bread. Not that pale old Wonder What It Is Bread, but real bread. I love bread. I have been baking for the past year on weekends because it is will be necessarily after the SHTF to be able to do it yourself and not depend upon the Happy Mart for a sack of sandwich bread.

However, with the Prepper Diet, I have been laying off the traditional bread and excess carbs. But I finally had enough. I wanted bread but wanted to find something different.

So, I researched a good old fashioned, Old Testament kind of bread. Something Jesus would have eaten on a normal day with some fish, lentils or olives. I came up with this recipe from here.

1 package yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in oil, sugar and salt. Stir in about 2 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in remaining flour until easy to handle. Knead 10 minutes. Cover and let rise in a greased bowl until double (about 1 hour).

Punch down. Divide into 6 equal parts, and shape into balls. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

Roll into 6- to 7-inch circles 1/8-inch thick. Place 2 circles in opposite corners of each of 3 ungreased cookie sheets. Cover. Let rise for 30 minutes. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees F until puffed and brown.

Credit - Recipe Goldmine

I switched out the sugar for honey. I also skipped the last 30 minute rising after flattening and put them straight in the oven then.

Results? I made this Bible Bread last night around 9PM. Six pieces. There is none left. The family coveted my Bible Bread and ate it all. So I call it a success.

Post-SHTF, yeast may be a problem, so I have to figure out how to stretch what I have and if I can grow more.

Cooking is accomplishable. Only ten minutes and I can use a brick oven with fire or even a solar oven for something this basic.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Prepare: The next big disaster

We are all watching the disaster unfold in Haiti and the response of the world, namely from the United States.

Take a step back and look at the larger picture. The Haitian earthquake demonstrates the limitations of any response to a large scale disaster. Here we have what seems like most of the world desparately trying to get supplies and aid to a tiny, ravaged region and look at the results.

Most of the affected have still not received food, water or medical aid. Thousands are trapped and dying under collapsed buildings. Bodies are stacked in the streets. Looters have rabid and law and order have collapsed.

Imagine now if New York was hit by a massive tidal wave or San Francisco by a 9.0 earthquake. Imagine if the main airports were heavily damaged and also the connecting tunnels, bridges and ports. Despite the resources of the rest of the nation, it would be days before any significant aid could be brought in.

Now imagine if the disaster was in several cities and widespread. Say a nuclear attack or multiple natural disasters. Aid would be prioritized based upon proximity, expediency or worse, political connection. Planeloads of supplies and doctors might be diverted from North Carolina and sent to Colorado because the president is from there. It can and does happen.

Now, imagine if the rest of the world was dealing with their own simultandous disasters.  And what if they said they could only offer limited aid to the US. Or worse, were more than willing to help, but only certain lucrative regions? Like if China said they would only help (themselves to) Hawaii or Europe would only assist Washington DC?

So what's your plan? There is not much one can do if they live in San Francisco and the Big One happens. Other than move. But in the case of most disasters, what you can do happens NOW before the big disaster strikes.

That means while there is still food in the neighborhood store, still water in the tap, still aspirin at the drug store and gasoline at the filling station.

If it were me, I would lay in supplies and backups so I would not have to depend upon help which may or may not be on the way. But that's me. If Haiti has to wait a week for a simple bottle of water, how long would you have to wait in your suburb or neighborhood? Remember Katrina? Some of those people waited for days to be pulled from a submerged home in the middle of alligator and snake infested water.

Regardless, I hope this tragedy in Haiti is a wakeup call to all those who think FEMA will be on the scene in a few hours to hand out food, chase off looters and move debris. You may be on your own for days, weeks or maybe even years. The best bet is to start with a plan and supply yourself accordingly for a disaster in your local area.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Prepare: The Prepper Diet

The new year means it is time to get rid of those holiday pounds. At least that is what many think this time of year. Dieting, working out, join a gym, and so on.

I have been working out for some time; a mixture of running daily with weights. I refuse to put money into a gym if I cannot guarantee I will go daily, so I lift in my garage.

This year, I tried something different and am killing two birds with one stone. I put myself on the Prepper Diet. I only eat the foods I am storing and plan on eating if the SHTF.

For breakfast, its oatmeal. I only put honey on it as refrigerated milk will not be available (I have dried milk, but I am saving that for the kids). I also put some dried fruit on from time to time as well.

For lunch and dinner its rice, beans and ramen noodles. I make two cups of rice a day in the rice cooker and eat that throughout the day. I used canned beans for the first few days, but then switched to dry. I cook a big pot and eat them for two days straight.

The ramen are considered a treat and are not eaten daily.

The other day, I had four crackers with one of my meals again, as a treat and to break up the monotony. I only add salt and garlic powder to the beans and rice.

To drink, its tea or water only.

The diet results: I have last about six or seven pounds since starting. Yes, its starting to get boring and I have found myself staring at the can of Pringles in the pantry or the cookies left over from the holidays, but I am resisting so far.

One thing I do is tell myself that those other foods are for the kids and if this truly was SHTF time, I would eat less anyway and save as much as possible for the family.

This has been fun to try and if I lose some of this gut, then its a good thing. Finally, there is no reason to store rice, beans, noodles and the rest unless you really eat the stuff and are ready to live off it.

That's it.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Prepare: Building the One Year Food Supply

With the news being so cheery lately, all of us are concerned about putting some control back into our lives. That means making sure we have the basics covered in these trying times including food and the ability to feed our family.

Job loss or total SHTF, food is at the top of the priority list. Every day, each member of the family eats several times a day. We refill the pantry with weekly and sometimes daily trips to the grocers. But what happens if the Safeway is closed or looted and emptied forever?

Having a food storage plan in place can build a real insurance policy against hunger. However, the task is daunting to even the best of us.

Companies like Nitro Pak sell complete canned meal systems for one month to one year. Many of the foods contained in these packages can be obtained by anyone and stored similarly; its not rocket science. Here are a list of foods you can buy today at the grocers or warehouse store to build your food storage plan with.

Beans - go for red kidney and pinto. I happen to like black beans as well. Get the dry type and store in five gallon plastic buckets. Beans will last for years, provide protein and are filling.

Rice - American, jasmine, or long grain. Get the twenty five or fifty pound bags, put in plastic five gallon buckets and store in a cool, dry place. You can put oxygen absorbers in the buckets as well to ensure long term freshness. Rice is filling, lasts forever and is the best filler or platform to build a meal upon.
Remember, brown rice has more oils and may go rancid sooner.

Soup bases - Chicken and beef. Most warehouse clubs sell the really big containers of these products. Use a soup base for soup or to flavor the rice you stored above. Soup bases must be stored in an airtight container and put in a cool, dry location free from moisture and humidity.

Milk powder - Milk powder is more than for drinking. It can be added to any soup or cereal to provide a thickener and a boost of calcium. Dry milk has no fat so it lasts longer and will not go rancid like canned or perishable milk. But dry milk has to be kept in a cool, dry place in well sealed container. Get the five gallon buckets and add oxygen absorbers for best results.

Honey - While sugar lasts a long time, honey is a healthy alternative with plenty of uses. Honey has been known to last for hundreds of years as it has been found in tombs and forgotten stashes. Get the five gallon containers rather than the little glass jars or "honey bears". Some stores sell honey in the big buckets, but make sure that the honey is real and not corn syrup with honey flavoring.

Dried fruit - Dried fruit like bananas, apricots and raisins last a long time in proper containers. They can be eaten as they are or served with hot cereal, in a dessert or rehydrated with water for a side dish. Store in a cool, dry place in a five gallon bucket. Many types of dried fruit can be found at the warehouse store, but watch the prices. Often, dried fruit is very expensive and is not cost effective for storage. A better idea is to get a dehydrator and dry seasonal fruit yourself.

Wheat - This is a tough purchase for many city folk. For starters, large quantities of wheat such as hard winter red is not available at the standard grocers or the warehouse club. Some organic stores carry it, but at higher prices for smaller quantities. The best bet is to find a grain supply source nearby rather than paying for shipping from one of the big outlets like Honeyville. Another problem with grain is "What to do with it?". Most of us have never had to grind grain to make cereal or flour. But that is where those things come from and having the knowledge to cook and use whole grains is crucial. Grain lasts literally for years in storage (remember the grain story from the Bible with Joseph and the Pharaoh?). Put whole wheat in five gallon buckets and store in a cool, dry place.

Pasta - Noodles are cheap and easy to get. Buy the largest bags you can find at the grocers or warehouse and store in five gallon plastic buckets. Pasta can be a platform for any meal and can be served with almost anything.

Cooking oil - Vegetable or olive. Oils do go rancid and will not last forever even in the best storage. But make sure you have five or more gallons on hand at all times. Cooking oils can replace butter when grilling or cooking over a flame. Also, our bodies need a certain amount of good fats which come only from oils.

Oatmeal - There is no complete food storage plan without oatmeal. Oats are easy to get in large containers from the grocers and you should have several pounds on hand at all times. Store in five gallon plastic buckets and your oats should stay fresh for months if not years. Serve oats with dried milk, dried fruit and honey for a hot, filling and nutritious meal.

There are some long term storage foods which are difficult to purchase from retail stores. Textured vegetable protein, cheese powder, powdered eggs, dried vegetables, and dried meats. These things will have to be purchased online from a company like Nitro Pak. The best part is these products come in long term storage containers which are easy to store and have on hand.

Anyone can start on a one year food storage plan, but you need to get busy now. Go to the grocery store or warehouse club with the list above and buy some of each item, store in proper containers, and start building a real food insurance plan.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Prepare: The New Years Prepper

Happy New Year.

Like many, you probably have a list of resolutions underway like "Quit Smoking", "Pay off Credit Card" and so on.

But there is a good chance you also were bothered by the state of the world and thought, "I need to do something and this is the time to get started". Good for you.

The first thing people do when they are want to get prepared is go on the internet and search for "prepare for disaster, survivalism" or something similar. The problem is the glut of information. Its overwhelming. Should one prepare for nuclear war or famine or civil disorder? Preps for one month, six months, a year or a lifetime? Should one bug out or stay in? Its a lot to consider.

The best thing to do is step back and prepare for what you can. Also, start with the broadest solution rather than the smallest possibility. Here are some suggestions to get started.

Food - I don't care what the scenario, if you don't have food, nothing else matters. Food is easy. But securing a one year supply of food seems impossible. There are three ways to get started.

1. Go the grocery store and buy double what you normally eat and use. Four cans of tuna instead of two. Two packages of spaghetti noodles instead of one and so on. One trip and you have an extra week's supply of staples. Do this for a month and you have two. Just remember to rotate the oldest to the newest and don't eat all your preps without replacing them.

You can improve on this by also buying shelf stable (does not require refrigeration) alternatives to perishable foods. Canned meat and vegetables for fresh for instance.

2. Go the warehouse store or a food wholesaler and buy several months of food at one time. Cases of canned vegetables, fruit, meat, powdered milk, etc. It will cost more than a few cans a week, but one can quickly get a three month supply of basics put away right now. Don't forget to get staples like flour, sugar and cooking oil.

3. Leave the hard part to someone else. Go to the Nitro Pak link on the right or the Mountain House link at the bottom of the article and purchase a one, six month or one year supply of long term storage food. All you have to do is put it away. Yes, the cost is more, but the peace of mind of having a one year supply of food with a twenty year or better shelf life is incredible.

Water - No water means no life. One gallone minimum per person per day for drinking and cooling. Cleaning means adding another gallon per person per day.

1. Get some two liter soda bottles, clean them and fill with water and one dropper of bleach. Put them in the closet or pantry. Do two or three a week and in about a year you will have enough for a family of four for a few weeks. Takes a while.

2. Better is to get several large 5, 10 or 55 gallon drums from one Nitro Pak, fill and put in the garage or basement. Yes, they are heavy, but having enough water is a good thing.

3. Plumb a well on the property if possible. Or get several large rain barrels, bleach, a heat source and collect water for filtering. Or put in a cistern to collect rain water. Same idea and a better long term solution.

Protection - In a SHTF situation, all the above food and water will make you a rich person. If you can't protect it, someone will take it from you and probably will hurt you and your family in the process.

1. Get a shotgun, 12 or 20 guage. A pump is better, but a single shot breakdown is better than no gun at all. Get at least 250 rounds for your new shotgun.

2. Get a rifle. .22 is a good starter, but move to something with some more hitting power as soon as possible. .223, the same caliber used in the military's M16 and M4 rifles is nice, but the stopping power is dubious in some cases. Go for something in a 30 caliber, .308 for instance, if doable. A 30.06 is also good as the caliber is common. Get at least 500 rounds of ammuntion for any rifle.

3. Get a handgun. For trip away from home where stealth and a low profile are required, a handgun is the way to go. A minimum of .38 is required. However, due to their popularity and thus, availability of ammunition, a 9mm or .40 caliber is preferrable. For stopping power, the .45 cannot be beat. Again, at least 500 rounds of ammo for any handgun.

Get some real currency - Dollars may lose their value in the post-SHTF world. What is a good substitute? Junk silver coins and gold are nice. But get some trading tangibles. Extra fuel, hygeiene products, food, growing supplies, anything tradable which someone else might want and is willing to give you something valuable in return.

That includes skills. Think about it.

OK. Food, water, protection, currency. Get started in those four simple areas right now. Those suggestions will prepare most for 90% of the problems out there. But there is more to cover later.. Until then.

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