We all know our basic cost of living is increasing. Despite the increase and the knowledge, at some point, we are going to be stuck at home with no way to get to the grocery store. We just assume tomorrow will take care of itself, right?
What about when things get rough, whether it is after a natural disaster or some other unforeseen circumstance? Can you feed your family without running to the convenience store or the pizza parlor? If a giant light bulb has just went on and you want to know what you can do to prevent that tragic situation from happening, read on. I am going to help get you started on the road to a more prepared lifestyle. There is no time like the present to get started.
Let me clarify something first before you chalk this up to a person who is fretting over something that may never happen. There are plenty of reasons you would want to have a nice food storage on hand.
*Unexpected guests show up and you need to make large quantities of food
*Bulk buying is one way to save money
*Preparing for a downturn in the family’s budget
Storing food is one thing, but storing the right food for your family is a totally different issue. I cannot hand you a list and tell you to go buy all of this and store it and your family will eat great. It does not work that way.
Only store what you eat regularly and what you eat now. Do not waste your time buying a case of sardines because they are on sale if your family refuses to eat them today. A shortage in your food supply is not going to be an instant notification for your taste buds to suddenly decide sardines are not so bad. In fact, the situation is already going to be stressful enough; you do not want to add to it by trying to gag down a food you hate.
There is another very good reason you do not want to suddenly start introducing new foods to your family members, young and old. There is an actual medical condition known as appetite fatigue that can cause some nasty side effects. Side effects you do not want to be dealing with in a situation where things are already bad. I am talking about nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Not a pretty picture.
Your first step is to make a plan. Your plan is going to require some time and patience to put together. This is not like putting together a simple grocery list. You need to decide how much food you want to store. By this I mean are you intending to keep a 1, 3, or 6-month supply of food? The 3 month plan seems to be the place most people start. It is pretty basic and you can build it up as you go along.
Next, you need to think about what your family eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. You will need to include snacks as well. This may seem like a monstrous task, especially if you are having a hard time remembering what you had for breakfast this morning.
Now that you are really getting excited about creating a food storage, let me give you a huge word of caution. Do not go overboard with your buying. Do not buy food because it is cheap and you assume your family will eat it if they have to. They probably won’t. And you will probably skip over that particular item in your storage in favor of another and guess what? It gets old and goes bad. All that food wasted! Do not buy food just to buy it.
Let’s talk staples. Not staples to hold your paper together, staples as in food staples. (Usually includes: Rice, Flour, Wheat, Powdered Milk, Beans, Sugars, Oatmeal's.) Now it is time to figure out what food staples you will need to include in your supply. Your staples are not going to be the same as mine. Our families are not identical.
If you are still struggling to get your head around the fact you are going to need to learn some basic cooking skills, it is really time to get motivated. If you do not have power, you are not going to be able to nuke one of those instant meals. You must learn how to use your food staples to create a meal--from scratch. I know you may not like it, but not eating is a lot worse than learning how to cook.
I want to help you get everything your family needs in case of an emergency or any reason that would limit the family’s food supply. It is time to really get down to brass tacks, or in this case, the flour and salt. Every menu item you have listed has an ingredient list. It is time to make a list of each ingredient, and I mean every little thing including the dash of salt and the sprinkle of water.
This may seem like an impossible task, but there are plenty of ingredient planners you can use to help make it a little more manageable. While you are making your list, you also need to consider things like oil for frying or bread crumbs for breaded foods. It is hard to remember all those tiny details when the dash of salt or pepper is just always in the kitchen. You may not have that luxury in an emergency. It is imperative you pay attention to detail today or all that food you are storing is essentially useless.
The beauty of taking the time to make an ingredient lists is so that you have enough of your staple ingredients. You don't want to have an overabundance of just flour but run out of yeast. Nor do you want to have all sugar but not enough salt. Storing staple ingredients is important, but knowing exactly where those ingredients will go is even more important.
You may be looking at your list of ingredients and be feeling a bit overwhelmed. That fabulous list you have will do you no good if you do not know how much of each ingredient you need. It truly is pretty simple math. We are working with the idea you are planning a 3-month food storage. So, 3 months is 12-15 weeks. We are going to assume you are using said ingredient once a week. So the amount of the ingredient needed for the recipe multiplied by 12 and voila! You have the amount you need for your 3-month storage.
Let’s do a little practice run together.
Your family will use one cup of peanut butter for sandwiches in a given week. They also like peanut butter cookies as a snack, which is another cup during the week. We have established your family needs 2 cups of peanut butter each week.
Use your formula. 2 X 12=24 cups of peanut butter for a 3-month supply
One cup is equal to 8 ounces. 8 ounces x 24(the number of cups of peanut butter) =192 ounces
A standard jar of peanut butter contains 28 ounces. 192 divided by 28= 6.8. Therefore, you will need 7 jars of peanut butter to keep your family happy for 3 months.
See! That was not so bad. Now that you know how much you actually need, you can skip the giant tub of peanut butter that seemed like such a good deal. You need to apply this formula to each ingredient on your list.
Now that we have went through all of that, I will tell you the easy, yet somewhat expensive way around all of this math and work. You can order freeze-dried or dehydrated meals that are completely whole. All you do is add water. Not only is this option significantly more expensive, it is really not ideal for your pantry rotation.
While most of these meals are actually pretty palatable, they are probably not going to be the first thing you or your family goes for when they are looking for dinner. If they sit on your shelf without being used, they will expire, and you will have wasted a lot of money.
Since there is so much to consider with long term food storage, this topic is part 1 of a series of articles on food storage. I hope that you will enjoy them and they will be very helpful to your food storage efforts.
The greatest motto for any organization was trademarked by the Boy Scout, which is, 'Be Prepared.' I spent a combined total of 32 years in the Marine Corp & the Boy Scouts (BSA). My experience has taught me a thing or two about being prepared. Regardless of all the over-nighters I've been on, my education did not come over night. Correct principles of preparedness are discovered through long and uncomfortable situation and mistakes, and sometimes it's down right painful. The painful lessons usually came from my beloved Marine Corps. The sum of the experience can be restated as a quote from a former platoon sergeant,
"You may love the Marine Corps, but some time she won't love you back!"
In preparing for the worst and hoping for the best, you will discover that preparedness does not come in a "one size fits all" label. The perfect solution is defined with experience & balance to achieve your specific mission (goals, purpose).
The Bug Out Bag | 4-Key Points
Over the years, I have considered the best balance of critical points to cover. I've come up with 4 key points to the bug out bag. I put them in the order of importance to what I have found through my own experience and time in the field.
Bug Out Bag | Hydration
The three critical principles of hydration are collection, purification & storage. As your day and activities unfold, hydration will be one of the most important items to continually consider. An Infamous Marine-ism from an old Gunny of mine states,
"If you don't need to pee, you're wrong. Drink!"
Hydration is second only to personal safety while in the field or just being out and about. An adage of the Israeli Special Forces Instructors is to hydrate every three kilometers. A body in motion needs water, continually! Those headaches or migraines the morning after camping, hunting, or patrolling is from dehydration; especially if there is any consumption of other types of beverages that are enjoyed after the fermentation process.
Bug out Bag | Prepared to Survive
This is a broad sweeping point that could cover everything from an emergency Mylar blanket to a Bic lighter. Here is a list of the survival items I carry:
- 3 different methods for starting a fire, I also carry 2 types of catalyst for sustaining the fire
- Small Gerber hatchet
- Leather-man Tool
- Pair of leather palm, light weight, work gloves
- 'Head Light' hands free flash light
- 1/2 dozen instant hand warmers
- 550 cord, mil-spec
- duct tape, small roll
- military lensatic compass
- Sun screen
- Bug spray
- Jet Boil stove
- Freeze dried food packages
- Combat Application Tourniquet, called a CAT
Note: I may only keep some of the freeze dried food in the bag that I think I'll need, or just an emergency ration instead of meals for days. You can live with out food if you have to, but you CAN NOT live with out water for very long. Some of the meals I may remove for weight consideration, I substitute other items that I will cover in the last section I labeled Personal/Extra Stuff. I have learned that a water proofed bag, with water proofed gear inside, makes for a less miserable experience while in the field. So I have learned which store bought zip-lock plastic bags work best for water proofing your gear. About 90% of all my gear in my bag is water proofed to some extent. My lighters, extra socks, sun screen, and even my bug spray is a plastic baggy.
First aid equipment should always be water-proofed, and using ziplock baggies is inexpensive, light-weight & easy. If I go any where, first aid items are always with me:
- EMT Sheers (1)
- Ace Bandage (1-2)
- 2 in. Coban wrap, 2+yards in length
- Gauze Wrap (5)
- individually packaged, then all in their own larger water proof bag
The items below are in their own large water proof bag, some items are grouped together in smaller baggies for ease of use and for organizational purposes. This is the ziplock bag I carry everywhere, it never leaves my Bag.
- Moleskin and Blister bandages
- Extra pair of boot laces
- Small bottle of Tylenol
- Medium mixed bottle of Ibuprofen, Naproxin, and Excedrin
- A couple tabs of Sudaphed
- Gold Bond body powder (travel size)
- Blistex lip balm
- Butterfly bandaged
- Super Glue (liquid bandage)
- Assorted Band-Aids (20)
- Alcohol wipes
- Eye drops
- 1/2" water proof adhesive tape
- Folding toothbrush (travel size)
- Tooth paste (travel size)
- 1" Coban wrap, 2+ yards
Bug Out Bag | Personal/Extra Comforts[caption id="attachment_14195" align="alignright" width="225"] G. Stevens: Iraq, 2007[/caption]
These are items that I would consider optional, for reasons of weight or the dictation of the terrain. Situation and terain will usually dictate what you have, how much of it you have. Know that even though I have labeled this fourth and final point as extra gear, I usually roll with everything I have listed. It's rare that I'd omit anything from this list:
- Wet Wipes; I like the Huggies, 16 count, slim hard case, which also happens to be sold sealed in plastic (water proofed)
- Extra socks, water proofed in a plastic bag
- Note pad and/or 3X5 cards, plus writing utensils (gel pens don't freeze as easy, black sharpie markers are great for the field too)
- Bandanna and a wash-cloth, sealed in their own baggy together
- Long sleeve, Thermal type, under shirt for an extra DRY base layer if needed at night
- 2, short range, walkie-talkies; with weather reception capability
- Extra batteries, for head lamp and walkie-talkies, both take AAA batt (not a coincidence)
- 20' of 1" webbing
- 5' dog leash
- Appox. 8 carabiners (3 diff sizes and types)
- Pelican Case 1010 (this is my camera case, I use our old model digital camera when in the field, Iraq-tested & approved)
- 3-5 cans of Vienna Sausages (they are small and light weight, perfect poggie-bait)
- Boonie hat
- Empty and folded plastic Wal~Mart grocery bags, for trash or whatever (light-weight; no bulk)
- Black stretchy gloves (Wally World, 2 pair for $1.50. And they are in their own little plastic baggie for water proofing purposes)
Bug Out Bag | Avoiding Gear Bombs & Ensuring A Safe Return
I have been out and about in inclement weather. It was a crap shoot if I knew the weather was going to turn bad on me, but I always planned for the worst and hoped for the best. I always had a few essentials that turned the miserable, to tolerable. Sometimes I'd end up giving my gear to a junior Marine who had not yet learned how fickle Mother Nature could be.
Questions I plan around are below. Safety & returning home are always the end goal.
- What items will my family need?
- What items will I need?
- What is the Terrain?
- What types of immediate problems that may occur?
I believe in water proofing as much as possible. I've got a great system for individual water proofing items in baggies. I have also found that combining a lot of my small first aid items into a larger baggie, for organisational purposes. I don't want a gear bomb going off at the wrong time and have to find & collect my gear. Keep it simple, keep it organized. My last Marine-ism sums up this thought, and one of the great lessons I learned in the Corp - It comes from a Master Gunnery Sergeant,
"There is no reason to practice being uncomfortable and miserable, those opportunities present themselves often in the Corps, and at regular intervals."
I am grateful for the difficulties I have faced, they have taught me and I hope to pay it forward.
Semper Fi - Be Prepared. Out here.[caption id="attachment_14191" align="alignright" width="300"] Click Here To Submit A Question[/caption]
Helping Others Help Themselves:
Need assistance or have a question for Gary about Bug Out Bags? Click Here
Having a supply of fuel is very important for emergency situations and disaster preparedness alike. You never know when you might need emergency fuel for transport, heat, or cooking. With the importance of fuel comes the importance of fuel storage. Storing a surplus of fuel requires careful handling, planning, and an understanding of different kinds of fuel.
Different fuels have different shelf lives and necessitate different storage procedures. As a general rule, always color code and/or label containers with different fuels. Also, store fuel only in sturdy, durable containers with good seals. Here is a breakdown of some large scale fuel storage tips for different kinds of fuel.
Gasoline can be optimally stored for about two years. After this time petroleum tends to go ‘stale’ and may not be ideal for motors. There are, however, stabilizing agents you can buy and add to the gasoline to keep it better for longer. Always store gas in a durable, sealed, preferably red, container out of direct sunlight in a ventilated space.
Diesel fuel has a short shelf life--anywhere from 6-12 months. Because diesel fuel oxidizes after it leaves the refinery and sediments form that can clog motors, stabilizers should be added to the fuel to slow this process. Diesel should not be stored for more than two months, so use up the supply in a vehicle or generator then rotate your supply.
Propane should always be stored outdoors in a well-ventilated area. Place the propane tank upright on concrete away from any other flammable objects or liquids. Storing away from wet areas or places where large amounts of water won’t fall on the tank is also a good idea to prevent rust on the tank cylinder.
Kerosene doesn't evaporate as quickly as gasoline and can remain stable while being stored without any extra treatments. Because of this, kerosene is an easy and popular fuel to store. Make sure kerosene containers are well labeled and possibly stored in a different colored container than gasoline or other fuels. Kerosene has a shelf life of about 3 months and there is a risk of mold forming in the containers for longer storage, so rotate your kerosene.
While less popular in large scale fuel storage than propane or kerosene, butane has a variety of uses in heating and cooking. If you need to throw on a pack and take to the woods, butane can be your companion for cooking and starting fires. Store butane in a cool, dry place out of direct sun. The canisters have a high resistance to heat, but always keep them out of extreme temperatures for good measure.
Dry Fuel (Charcoal, Coal, & Wood)
The dry fuels are the easiest to store since they are not extremely volatile compounds like most liquid fuels. Most of the time having canisters, waterproof containers, and a dedicated area for the fuel is the best storage plan. Keep firewood away from the house and covered to prevent it getting wet if left out in the open. Both coal and charcoal should be kept dry and in some kind of container or bin. Make sure to keep these fuels separate from any flammable liquids.
by Ben Vaughn
[guest-author]Ben Vaughn is a contributing writer for Regency DKI Fire Restoration and writes on fuel storage tips, disaster cleanup, and disaster preparedness.[/guest-author]
For those who have spent most, if not all of their lives trapped in a decidedly more efficient, but no less primitive urban landscape, the idea of chopping down a large tree and turning the fallen timber into perfectly cut pieces of firewood was probably not something you had to confront. But perhaps you always had a void within yourself and the time has finally come to fill that hollow with a chainsaw and an axe.
There is a precise technique to properly chopping down a tree. This is hard work and can be dangerous if not done right. Depending on the size of the tree--width and height, this process can take mere minutes to many hours. You’ll first need a good pair of comfortable shoes, protective eye-wear, work gloves, and a good chainsaw. If the notion of felling a tree with an axe entered your mind, you should rid yourself of that idea rather quick after a couple swings against a well armored tree trunk. Buy or borrow a chainsaw!
Depending on the context in which you’re felling the tree, you will either have an experienced companion assisting you, or you will undoubtedly be prepared to dispatch the tree on your own accord with all the necessary equipment and a very specific reason. If neither of these are true, what are you even doing in the woods? Just get back in your car and drive home; you’re probably doing something illegal anyway.
Once you’re ready to initiate the first step in your Natty Bumppo wilderness fantasy, it’s important you follow a few critical points in assessing and making cuts in the tree. First, determine the direction of fall and make the first cut a third of a way into the tree, parallel to the ground on the side you want the tree to fall.
Next, make a 60 degree angle downward cut until you meet the first cut. This should take out a large triangle of wood from the tree. At this point you’ve made the face cut that will guide the tree as it falls. You can now move to the opposite side of the tree and set the blade parallel to the ground a couple of inches above the bottom of the face cut. Cut horizontally into the trunk until there is just a strip of uncut trunk. This should keep the tree from kickback as it falls. Finally, cut the strip until the tree begins to topple. Turn off the saw and retreat. Don’t look back until you are a safe distance away and hear the thud.
Perhaps the quintessential act of rustic manliness, chopping wood is an artful labor. This isn’t to say that the work is gender specific, but let’s face it, chopping wood just appears brutish. The trick one aspires to achieve chopping wood is working with the wood rather than against it. In general, properly cutting wood is as precision oriented as felling the tree beforehand. Fortunately, chopping wood is a simple and easy to hone technique, you will chop cleaner and faster with practice.
First, gather the need the tools. Good work gloves, a sturdy axe, and some splitting wedges to initially crack open the wood. Also, a short chopping block for resistance is needed to chop the wood into smaller pieces. This is also necessary to protect the blade of your axe from damage when it breaks through the wood.
Set the piece of wood on the block and stand back with feet apart and arms extended. Then line up the axe over the wood, raise it, and strike. This will take practice to get right and may require adjustment to determine the best parts of the wood to strike. Look for well-formed cracks to hit and let the weight of the axe do most of the work. This will usually cause the wood to easily come apart, but sometimes you may need to strike along the sides to avoid getting the axe struck in a thick log.
For the toughest pieces of wood, you can use the wedges to facilitate the splitting. Tap one of the wedges into the log and strike it in until the wood begins to split. You can also whittle away the log around the sides until the log is small enough to split down the center more easily. With practice, you can become a highly efficient wood-cutter. The best part is that you can take this skill anywhere. You’ll soon be the go-to firewood source. Just remember your flannel shirt and steel-toed boots!
By Ben Vaughn
[guest-author]Ben Vaughn writes for Skyline DKI storm damage cleanup and covers topics like disaster cleanup, restoration, and the merits of felling trees and chopping wood.[/guest-author]
Corn tortillas are a simple food to make using your food storage supplies. They’re cheap, they’re easy, and they are plentiful. They're also a main stay for those with a wheat or gluten intolerance!
Here are the basic proportions:
1 cup of masa harina (corn flour, but treated with lime and then ground)
¾ - 1 cup of water
The proportions are very nearly equal – you want to put in *just* enough water to make the dough moist, but not enough to make it tacky. The dough will begin to look smooth, rather than grainy. This is the point to stop adding water.
The next step is to divide the dough. For every cup of flour, you should end up with 8 balls of dough. It looks like this in succession:
When done, each dough ball should be approximately the size of a teaspoon.
The next step is to line your press with either plastic wrap or wax paper. If you choose not to, the dough will stick and be miserable to get off.
Take one dough ball and press. Spin the plastic wrap 180 degrees and press again. This will give you a flat tortilla with this press. Otherwise, they’re lopsided!
Carefully, peel your new tortilla off of the plastic and set on a plate or directly into the hot pan. Repeat for the rest of the dough.
Next, pull out your cast iron frying pan. Heat it up good and hot. Carefully, as to not rip your tortilla, pick up the one on the top and put it onto the hot pan. It will smoke a little as it cooks. Wait until the edges start to lift up, so it looks a little crown-like, and flip it.
When you flip it to the second side, you’re looking for the tortilla to stand up in the opposite direction, on its edges before you pull it off.
This takes some practice and you’ll probably burn a few before you get the timing right for your stove and your pan. This is ok – count it up to practice and set them aside for enchiladas!
When it’s done cooking, pull it off the pan and drop it on a waiting plate.
Mmm…the house smells SO good after you home-cook tortillas! Eat, drink and be merry, knowing you’ve got the best tortillas ever at your fingertips!
It is that time of year again!! Fleas and ticks are starting to be reborn just to terrorize us and our beloved animals. They can be very dangerous giving your animal heart worms or lyme disease and just like with our own bodies we may not want to put harsh chemicals on our animals or our yards. (Some of those chemicals have been known to kill dogs/cats.)
There is good news!! You do not have to go broke treating your animals, yourself or your yard to repel these nasty boogers. You can make your own using natural ingredients at half the cost. Below are a few ways to keep the ticks off you, your pets and your yard.
- Ticks HATE garlic so as my Grandmother and Ben Franklin use to say.... "An ounce of prevention is greater than a pound of cure." Plant garlic in your yard, around your yard or anywhere you do not want the ticks to live. Not only will these deter them from your yard, you will also have fresh garlic when you need it. You can also eat raw garlic or take garlic tabs so it is in your blood. They can smell it and will not attach themselves, if garlic is in your system (garlic tabs are safe for your dogs as well).
- You can either use neem oil or soak neem leaves in hot water and then apply this on the skin.
- For Pets: Prepare a general flea and tick spray by mixing 2.5 ml (1/2 ounce) of organic neem oil with 1-2 ml (1/4-1/2 ounce) of mild soap or detergent and 2 cups water. For a stronger solution if there is a problem or the dog will be going into deep bug country, mix 5 ml neem oil, 2 ml mild soap or detergent and 2 cups water. Use warm, not hot, water to dissolve the oil. Mix water and soap first and then slowly add neem oil for flea and tick control. Add to sprayer and use immediately. Discard after use. Neem oil is unstable and breaks down after 8 hours. Mix new each time.
- Place a few drops of neem oil on palms and simply rub hands through your pet's fur for effective flea and tick control. Neem oil is best used this way for dogs, only, not for cats. For sensitive dogs, dilute the neem oil 1:10 in a light carrier oil like almond or jojoba and rub palms first. Then run hands thoroughly through the dog's coat for natural, effective flea and tick control.
- Warnings: Caution is advised when using neem oil on animals that are breeders or about to be bred. Use neem oil at half strength for flea and tick control. Do not treat cats with concentrated neem oil that is left on the skin. Using neem leaf tea is far safer for felines.
- Tea Tree oil is a great repellent. Once mixed, you spray it on the skin or fur and rub in. I also make sure and pray it on our shoes and pant legs if we are going camping or into the woods so we don't carry home any piggy back riders.
- To make: Mix two ounces of tea tree oil in water and pour it in a spray bottle. Spray this regularly on
- You can also spray your yard area with this mixture.
Other effective natural remedies
- Natural herbs: Lavender oil, lavender plants, lemon Grass, peppermint or citronella are all very effective in keeping fleas off your yard. We make sure to have some every year and we have not had to use chemicals on our yard/ house or body for fleas, ticks or mosquitoes in 3 years now.
- A few more ways to repel fleas and ticks; eucalyptus, myrrh, rosewood, or lemon.
- Lemon: Take 6 lemons and cut in half. Boil these in a quart of water and steep for a few hours. Strain the solution and pour it into a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the pet’s fur but avoid the eyes.
These are just a few of the simple ways you can prevent an infestation of fleas or ticks in your living area and make the family pet a happy-go-lucky Fido instead of a miserable, itchy one.
Please feel free to leave ideas and other remedies in the comment section below!!
- Rain Water Collection Tips: Making the Most of our Natural Resource
- Win a FREE 0.02 Micron Water Filter from Waterstep! (Valued at $140)
- Corrosion Proof Ceramic Neck Knife
- Early Warning System Guaranteed To Get Your Attention
- Bartering Supplies That You Haven't Thought Of; And Some You Have!
- Win a FREE All American Sun Oven
- Practical Preparedness
- What To Know About Radon Contamination
- The Cornerstone & The Keystone
- Bulk Food Storage 101: Using Plastic Buckets and Mylar
- 3 Important Questions To Ask Regarding Heirloom Seeds
- Building a Mobile Earthquake Prep Kit
- Driving Safely During a Tornado
- The Process of Peas
- Sourcing Seeds, Saving Seeds And Walking The High Wire
- Review: The Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife
- DIY Window Cleaner (Without Ammonia)
- DIY Mosquito Traps
- The Record Heat Waves
- Product Review: The Deadwood (Biomass-fueled) Stove
- Book Review: Brushfire Plague, A Novel of a Pandemic
- Keeping a Healthy Flock - Foot Care
- Review: The Alaska Homesteader's Handbook: Independent Living on the Last Frontier
- Book Review: The Backyard Homestead
- Book Review: Preppers Home Defense