Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Food Storage on a Budget

One of the reasons we have a hard time getting our food storage built up is MONEY. Right? And all of us are on a budget, so it is always nice to be able to find ways to buy food for less.

Another problem is organization, whether you're dealing with how to organize the food and supplies you have or when you are deciding in what order to purchase items.

I recently came across a blog post that has a list of items you can buy every week for about $5 to help you to have good amount of food by the end of a year. For example, there are 10 weeks that you are supposed to buy 10 lbs. of flour so by the end of the year you will have 100 lbs. of flour. Wow!

Click HERE to see the post and printable list.

Another method you could used is to buy double the non-perishable items on your normal shopping list every week. For example, if you have tuna on the menu for the week and you need 3 cans, you will purchase 6 cans and add the extra 3 to your food storage. Not hard.

When you have food storage that you need to rotate, it is a good idea to purchase what you have used that week so that your storage doesn't get low. So if you used 3 cans of tuna from your storage, you purchase 3 cans to add back into your storage. That's easy.

Now, let me tell you a secret...I don't do these things.

I think they are great ideas and work for lots of people, but not me. Because I am a CHEAP SKATE! I am not going to by a can of olives, for example for $1.18 or whatever they are regularly when I know that I can find them for $.99 at least 3 times a year. (Super nerdy, I know!)

So what do I do? I buy lots of the particular items when it is on sale. Where I live we have Case Lot Sales at least twice a year where the store sells canned items and a few other things by the case at a lower price than buying the items individually. I budget money specifically for these sales and we use the food throughout the year. This helps me to keep my shopping times to a minimum because I am mainly shopping for perishables like milk and eggs. It also helps to keep my regular monthly grocery budget low.

Besides Case Lots, I buy in bulk. Instead of buying the 10 lbs. of flour 10 times in one year, I buy 40-50 lbs. twice a year. I have a big family, so this works for me.

Also, I watch for deals. During the holidays LOTS of food items are marked down. This year I saw 2 lbs. bags of brown sugar for $.99, canned cranberries for $.75, one pound bags of frozen veggies for $.79 and more! The holidays is a great time to get great deals, although it is usually not the best time for our wallets.

Really, any items you need is on sale at some point and I like to get several of something when it is on sale. For some reason I usually buy 6 of an items, so I'll have my regular groceries and 6 cans or boxes of olives or tuna or ketchup to put into my storage. The key to this is knowing what is a good price and that takes time and maybe a small notebook in your purse with price lists. :)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Classroom Emergency Kits

Earlier this week, I received an email from the principal of my children's elementary school about emergency preparedness kits that the school district is trying to assemble. Their goal is to have a kit in each classroom in case of natural disasters or school lock downs.

I hate the idea of my kids being away from me during one of these instances, but I love that they will now have some things that will help them to be safe.

The items that they asked for help in collecting:

• 15 foot length of nylon cord
• A tarp approximately 6 foot by 8 foot
• Toilet paper or baby wipes
• A flashlight with batteries
• A case of bottled water
• Some food items (hard candy, granola bars, or other single serving non-perishable food item)
• A bottle of hand sanitizer
• Small role of duct tape
• Some feminine hygiene products (for the female students in the older grades).

As a family, we made our way to the store to purchase some items. Right now I only have two children in school, but that means two classrooms so I wanted to do what I could to help.

For under $25 we purchased everything for ONE classroom kit (minus feminine products). The most expensive thing we bought was the nylon rope which was about $7, but it was 50 feet so they will be able to cut that down and use it for 3 kits.

This might not be a simple task for the people organizing the collection of these items, but it wasn't hard for me to spend a little time and a little money to help the teachers and kids in our area be more prepared.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Power outage tips for cell phones

Photo courtesy of Anasalialmalla on Wikipedia Commons.

Today almost everyone has a cell phone and honestly, most of us DEPEND on our cell phones. Just recently I left my phone at home while taking my little kids to story time at the library. I was a little frustrated.

First of all, I use my phone to know what time it is. I felt a little lost without my clock and my alarms. (I love my phone alarms.)

Also, my husband and I try to text or call each other a couple times a day and I knew that if he called my cell and I didn't answer and he called home and I didn't answer, he would get worried. If you think about how life was 20 years ago (when the "brick" phone pictured above was common) or even just 10 years ago this would sound silly, but today we rely so much on our phones that we panic when we can't get ahold of each other.

Most importantly, my two older boys call my cell phone from school if they need anything. I would hate for my kids to not be able to get in touch with me. Sure, my husband's cell phone is written down in their file somewhere, but I want them to always know that mom is just a phone call away. Sound silly? Maybe. But I would hate for a sick or sad boy to have a hard time getting in touch with his mommy.

Luckily, I was at the library with my friend so I send my husband a message so he would know I was without my cell phone and that made me feel a bit better.

SO, what's the point??? Well, it got me thinking a little bit about how much we need/want our phones and how emergencies, or even a simple power outage can cause problems.

Here are some ideas to help:

1. Try to keep your phone charged. This seems obviously, but in all reality we let our phones get so close to dying sometimes, right? Maybe starting the habit of plugging them in every night would help to keep the battery charged.

2. Buy an extra battery. There are places online (like Amazon) where you can find batteries for less than $10. Even if you have to spend a little more, it could be an important addition to your 72-hour kit.

3. Keep your laptop charged. Many charges now come with USB cords. With these you can plug your cell phone into a charged laptop and use that battery to charge your cell battery.

4. Use your car charger. During a power outage, your car can be a great resource. You can use your car charger to keep your phone charged.

5. Solar powered chargers. This is one thing I need to learn more about. There are solar powered charges for regular batteries and for electronics.

6. Text instead of call.

7. For Smart phones, turn on notifications, turn down your brightness, turn off Wi-Fi and/or put your phone on "Airplane mode."

On another note, there may be situations where you cannot use your cell phone. In these cases, it would be useful to have a list of important phone numbers. You can even make a Contact Card. You can have a list of phone numbers in your Emergency binder or even on the fridge.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

72-hour kit: Radio

In case of a natural disaster or other emergency in your area, the only way to get information may be through a radio.

There are many different types of radios, from battery-powered to hand-crack radios. Whichever you prefer, make sure you know how to use it and have extra batteries if necessary.

This is step 7 on the PLAN 9 pamphlet put together by the Southwest Utah Public Health Department.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

3-month supply: Water

Water is ESSENTIAL no matter what your level of preparedness.

It is recommended to have one gallon of water, per person, per day, for drinking and sanitation purposes.

Don't stress. Start small.

It is recommended to store a 2 weeks supply of water. That's 14 gallons per person.

For drinking water, you want to store your water in food-grade plastic containers. There are a lot of options out there from containers that hold a few gallons of water to 30 gallons.
Water bottles are a great way to store drinking water too.
For washing water you don't have to be as picky. I refill plastic soda bottles and old laundry soap jugs. These need to be rotated more often that the food-grade plastic but making a habit of refilling these bottles will make it easy to increase your water supply without a lot of extra thought and expense.

With my water storage, I separate what is stored for home use and what I would need if we had to leave home.
It's a great idea to keep a pack of water bottles in the car at all times. Not only will you have some water in case of an emergency, but they are convenient to have for trips or even just to cool off after playing at the park.
When thinking of water storage, you will also want to remember including water in your 72-hour kit. I also have a small, rolling suitcase filled with water bottles which is stored with my 72-hour kit bags. It's heavy but I could fit it in the car or roll it behind me, depending on which mode of transportation I would be using in an emergency.
A light addition for your 72-hour kits could be a water purifier bottle. It may not be realistic to have 3 gallons of water in each person's kit if you have to leave your car and go somewhere on foot. These may seem a little pricey, but most can filter just about everything out of the water and will sometimes safely filter 20-30 gallons of water before the filter needs to be thrown out.

Another item that you might want to store when thinking of water storage is BLEACH. Adding a tiny bit of bleach to some questionable water will help kill off bacteria that might be growing. Boiling water is another way to clean questionable water, but in some emergencies you may not have a way to boil your water.
Important: Keep water containers away from heat sources and direct sunlight. Do not store plastic on cement.

Here's a great link to FEMA for more information: Water

Good post from PreparedLDSFamily: How to Store Emergency Drinking Water

This is step 1 on the PLAN 9 pamphlet put together by the Southwest Utah Public Health Department.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Confessions of a cheap skate

Actually, I just looked up the definition of "cheap skate" and it says someone who is stingy and miserly. I may or may not fit that description, depending on the day.

Maybe I'm more of a penny pincher?

Maybe somewhere in-between?

Anyway, I confess. I want good deals, I don't want to waste things and I get a little crabby when this doesn't happen. Holy cow, I am a cheap skate.

Here's some examples:

1. I started using foam soap after my third child was potty trained. Tired of wasting SO MUCH soap.

3. Although I love to support local grocery stores and usually purchase produce and meat there, I almost refuse to by items such as medicine, bags of candy or toiletries anywhere but Wal-Mart or Amazon.

4. Speaking of Amazon, I send a lot of energy getting the best deals on toilet paper and diapers.

5. I have a yearly budget spreadsheet, a monthly budget spreadsheet and Quicken (computer program that I use instead of a checkbook register). I enter each expense or income into each of these. (Note: This DOES NOT mean I keep my budget. It means that I know where every penny goes.) This insane way of keeping track of everything really does help me to know how much I need to put in savings or if we are going to be able to add a new bill or not long term.) Click HERE for a post on finances.

6. I wash my plastic baggies at least once so I can reuse them, with the exception of baggies that contained raw meat.

7. I print almost everything out on fast speed and gray scale.

8. I save almost EVERY piece of clothing from my older kids, even jeans with holes. This has helped me keep my clothing budget low as we have continued to have children.

9. I often shop at thrift stores, mostly for jeans for my kids. I love finding a name brand pair of jeans for $3 or $4!!

10. I purchase generic brands as a general rule. There are a few exceptions that I buy name brands like, corn syrup, hot dogs, bacon... and I'm sure there are a few more but I can't think of any.

OK, I'll finish this off. I could probably go on forever. Here's one more and I have paid a severe price because of this one.

11. Expired foods don't scare me. Lots of foods, especially canned items, can be consumed long after their printed expiration date. There is even a cool website with more realistic shelf life estimates (click HERE). BUT, recently this got the best of me.

Short version: We use a lot of sour cream, but for some reason we had a container that was expired. I had used it only a few days before after smelling it and looking for any sign that it had turned without a problem. Then one day I added it to a taco (luckily no one else in the house wanted any that night) and I had food poisoning within a few hours and was sicker than I have ever been. Not cool.

But will that scare me into throwing away food that is past it's date? No way!

I will, however, be more careful, especially with dairy products.

There you are. My confession and a glimpse into my strange way of thinking.

Please share anything you do that might be similar so I won't feel so alone. :)

Sunday, August 4, 2013


For those of you who have paid attention to this blog, you know that I have been a slacker.

Correction: I had a baby. Now I have 5 kids under 8 years of age. I am not a slacker, I am busy.

I thought I was prepared for a baby. I thought I had my meals organized and my house ready. I thought I had enough blog posts written ahead of time to get through the initial transition into a family of 7.

I was wrong. I wasn't prepared for this.

It's getting better, but I don't feel like I have a lot of time for "extra" stuff.

BUT, two of my kids will be in school soon and we will have our routine back. Although I am sad to not have all my kids with me all day, the school year gives me a chance to get some things done during the day that I can't do in the summer.

So give me a few weeks and I will be least for the maybe three people who even read this blog. Haha. At least it will help me get back on track with my own preparedness stuff.