Tag Archive: Food


I grew up in a family where we kept months of basic food stuffs on hand and only went ‘shopping’ 2 or 3 times a year and yes, this included toilet paper, dog food and laundry detergent. My father was a Reservist and we didn’t have access to the commissary all the time, so we just ‘stocked’ up when he was ‘on’. At the time, I didn’t think anything about it, but my mother tells me that this was drilled into their heads by the military during the ‘60’s ‘just in case’… so it was natural for me to carry this behavior into my adult life, even when I was living on the edge as a young mother and wife in my early 20’s. You just kept food in the house beyond your immediate needs. You only went to the grocery store to get bread, milk and eggs twice a month. I was just what I did and I was very happy to have that mindset in me as I started my own businesses…I always had at least a month’s worth of food on hand and tried my best to have more, but never let it fall below that level…you never knew or know when or if ‘pay-day’ would come and you have to eat right? So I was quite comfortable with my food storage even though I wasn’t a prepper, it was just the prudent thing to do given the circumstances of my life. But over the past few years, and especially this year, it has really come to my attention that our way of life here in this country is in a very precarious position and looking at my ‘storage’ which seemed so smart to me just even a year ago, I now realize just how unprepared I am/was when it cames to food storage and even I must do something to ‘fix’ that to be prepared for more than what I am now.

For those needing help in getting started, I have made some suggestions below to get you started:

Getting Started:

First, check your mindset: If you are not running to the grocery store every other day then you are probably already ‘storing’ food! Perhaps only for a week at a time, or even for just a few days, but you can take that and turn it into a solid food storage mindset and easily start extending that time out of what you already do to ‘store’ food. Instead of 6 cans of green beans that week, get 8. Instead of just 1 package of rice, get two and so on and so forth. Start looking into bulk storage items such as ‘staple’ dry goods or cases of canned goods that you use regularly this if you can afford it. Sam’s Club and Costco are great places to buy in bulk (just be aware that sometimes they aren’t the cheapest).

However, if you don’t already keep more food in the house than is needed on any given day then you need to ask yourself why you don’t keep a bit of food beyond the cheese-its on hand.

Ask yourself this:

What would happen if a storm hit and you couldn’t get out? Being a part of the stampede at the market before a storm hits isn’t too smart is it? Long lines, not enough food available and can be dangerous in the wrong conditions.

What would happen if you lost your job? Having a bit of food on hand for this emergency can save you money and give you a peace of mind that is priceless.

What would happen if your sole source of transportation (car) broke down or you couldn’t get gas?

Next I want you to think about these things:

Remember Katrina? There were people who DID all the right things, had extra food, water, basic first aid and STILL had problems surviving after a week.

Look at what is and what did happen inJapanin the aftermath of the earthquake and resulting tsunami…the shelves CLEARED in less than 6 hours and this country was considered ‘prepared’.

Then look at the list below:

Natural Disasters
Terrorism
Labor Strike

Economic Depression/Collapse
Drought
Crop Failure
Personal Tragedy
Civil Unrest

Unemployment

Inflation/Hyperinflation

What would you do if any of this happened to YOU? Do you really want to be apart of the horde that descends upon the Walmart or local grocery store? Or have to ‘get in line’ just to eat? I don’t mean to be a fear monger, but these things DO happen and they happen almost everyday somewhere in the world. You buy auto insurance, medical insurance and all sorts of ‘insurance’…just think of storing extra food as ‘insurance’…after all, without food you can’t live! So next time you are out, just pick up an extra meal or two. Get in the HABIT. Its pretty easy once you get going.

Now that you are getting the mindset…

Get a plan!

With pen in hand and paper in front of you (or your keyboard)…figure out what it is that your family LIKES TO EAT on a regular basis. Fresh fruit and veggies? Heavy meat eaters? Rice and pastas? I am not referring to fast food or convenience foods (though they do have a place in your food storage plan), but what I am referring to is this: what does your family eat if you MAKE the food yourself?

Staple items such as cereal, milk, rice, beans (or not), pasta, vegetables and meat will make the ‘core’ of your food storage preparations and you need to know what they are…my family doesn’t do beans that much so I won’t be ‘stocking’ up too much on these, but we do eat meat, so I spend my money ensuring meat and the occasional beans.

If you don’t cook yourself and rely upon convenience foods, take out and such that is okay! There is a solution for you too! Just figure out what types of foods you like to order  or pick up to eat at home (or microwave at home).

Make the LIST of your most common foods, from this list will come all your food storage items. List the drinks, the bread (if your family does sandwiches or eats rolls), the types of veggies and fruits, diary products, etc. You want a list that would show your dietary habits.

After the ‘LIST’ is made you then need to sit down and make another list…this time I want you to write down all the condiments that you use daily and even occasionally…ketchup? Salt? Vinegar? Spices? Mixes? The little things in your food life that often times we overlook as ‘using’ and being a part of our diet.

With both lists in hand you can then move onto the next stage of planning…just how much do you use and of what in any given week? (you can then plan from there on how much to buy and of what). This might seem challenging at first to figure out, but a simple way to figure this out is take the time to think about what your meals over the past week have been…this will give you a good idea of ‘how much’ you use in any given week, if need be, write a family food diary for a week, noting the ‘what and how much’. This even works for those of you who eat out a lot or use a lot of prepared food items.

For instance, if you eat cereal for breakfast each morning…how long does a box last for you or your family…1 week? A few days? A month? And don’t forget the milk! If you eat sandwiches and soup for lunch each day (lets say on the weekends) then how much do you use for you or your family? 1 can? 3 cans? For dinner, lets say you eat a steak, rice and salad with a veggie on the side or baked potato. How many steaks? How much rice? How many potatoes? You get the idea now…even if you eat out a lot or bring home meals that are ready made from the grocery store or buy those TV dinners you still know what is in them and you know what you like to eat. Just write it down. What is in your normal meal?

If you are into meal planning then figuring out what you will need should be easy. If not, make the lists to figure out what you need to get started. We can worry about drilling down to the details later.

Put your list into action!

With both lists in hand now you are ready to get going on your preparedness food storage…you know the basic ‘what’ and about how much without too much effort exerted. An extra box of mashpotatos, a few extra cans of green beans, an extra bag of rice, canned meat if you are meat eater. If you are a shopper who makes ‘lists’ when you go shopping, pick up an ‘extra’ of each of the basics you buy each time you go out. If you coupon or shop sales, more the better! Saving money is a great way to go and get prepared at the sametime.

For those who don’t know how to cook from scratch or don’t cook at all, go with can goods and MRE’s or other prepackaged meals that all you have to do is add water, like the ready made meals that many campers use. You can google MRE’s or camping food to find out where to get these. Walmart sometimes carry them in their sporting goods section. Ebay and Amazon are good places to look also as well as Dick’s Sporting Goods. But only buy what you KNOW you will eat. Or maybe its time for a change in your habits…learn now how to cook and prepare food yourself, only you can make that judgment call. But don’t let the fact that you can’t or don’t cook stop you from storing food.

Don’t try to do it over night, each time you go to the store add to your storage. Make a goal of having 3 extra days worth at first, then a weeks worth, then a months worth. Just keep at it. I understand that for many it may be hard to find the extra money to be able to store food…use coupons, shop sales, buy in bulk, cut back on fast food, eat a ‘cheap’ meal. Examine your expenses to find the extra money. It is there if you look. Do what you can when and where you can. If you find meat at a reduced price then buy all that you can afford and either dehydrate it or freeze it for food storage use. But make the commitment to have your food storage ‘just in case’. It will give you peace of mind by taking one less worry out of your life if something were to ever happen.

There are lots of ways to prepare your preparedness pantry…some people buy in bulk and store large quantities of ‘raw’ food stuff such as wheat, powdered milk, rice and beans and gather freeze dried foods in #10 cans. Others pick and choose between store bought items (can goods) and ‘raw’ food stuffs, #10 cans and canning and dehydration (this is what I personally do). Others go with can goods only. Others still go the MRE route entirely and there are a whole host of in betweens. No one ‘way’ or ‘type’ of food is perfect for everyone. That is why I ask you to make a list of what you normally eat and then buy that for your food storage.

 

REMEMBER the GOLDEN RULE OF FOOD STORAGE!!

 

Get what you will use!  people have this funny habit of NOT eating when they aren’t used to eating it. In fact, children will starve themselves rather than eat something unfamiliar. If you don’t eat beans, don’t get beans, if you don’t eat pineapple then I don’t care how good of a deal it is, it will go to waste and don’t fall prey to the ‘this is what is recommended’ food storage guidelines that are found everywhere. Store what you use and eat ONLY…it can’t be repeated enough…if you won’t it eat or use it, then you are wasting your time and money. As a by-product of getting what you will eat and use, you will also gain a sense of comfort and stability when things aren’t so good. Familiarity gives a sense of well-being that is priceless, and this includes food too!

At this point I should address something. If you like to eat bread or like ‘fresh’ veggies or fruit and want to incorporate pressure cooking or baking into your food preparedness plan, I will offer this caution. Learn to do it now and stock up while you are learning how to make your own basics. I can tell you that making breads and canning is more difficult than it seems and I applaud those who can do it with the grace and ease that escapes me at the moment. So for right now, I am buying a bit of the ‘from scratch’ basics and putting more money and effort into getting what I know I can cook with with ease until I am sure that I know what I am doing with the ‘basics’. This goes back to the ‘get what you will use’. If you can’t or don’t know how to use it then it will not be used.

General Guidelines for Food Storage

Once you are getting into the swing of the food storage mindset and acting upon it you will need to use the following guidelines:

If you decide to buy in bulk such items as wheat, dry milk, rice or other such items (dry goods) then be sure you have containers and packaging ready when you get home to put them into storage. There are a few ways to store dry good long-term such as bucket, mylar bags, air tight plastic containers, mason jars etc. You will need these items if you store in bulk. Do your research to select what will work best for you, your needs and what you will be storing.

Learn proper storage techniques: general rule of thumb, no extreme temperatures, no moisture. Food lasts longer the cooler and dryer it is.Think about where you can store your food storage. Your cabinets and pantry will get full. Think about the garage, under beds, in closets…I know some people who even put can goods behind books on the book case! Get creative.

LABEL your storage with what it is and date you put it into storage. This is especially important for bulk storage.

Rotate your food storage! The MOST IMPORTANT thing I can tell you about food storage is that it is necessary to ROTATE your food. Use the container (or can or package) that’s been stored the longest and replace it with newer stored containers behind the older ones. Food storage that spoils or lies untouched is garbage. This is especially important if you are freezing any items such as meat or buying frozen veggies. Don’t waste your time, effort and money by forgetting to ROTATE YOUR FOOD! Develop a method to rotate your food that works for you. Use what you store…this helps to rotate the food so you don’t waste your time and money.

So that is the ‘get you started’ basics in food storage. It is really just about recognizing the need, figuring out what you do eat and then getting a little more than you normally do. If you can afford to do so, do it quickly and if you are like me, do it one trip at a time, one item at a time as you can afford to do so. Just get started.

I am not ‘rich’ by any means… I have no savings what-so-ever, credit card debt (thank goodness not that much, way under 5k and paying them off rapidly and not using them at all and yes, they are still in my wallet), not a lot in tangible assets that are worth anything of value, student loans, two businesses that are supported through the law of supply and demand, 3 cars (yes I do have 3 but 2 are paid for and both are at least 10 years old) a home that I owe a mortgage on for the next 28 years and this morning, I was smacked into financial reality, yet again…the mortgage is due and when I pay it, I will have only $100 left until my customers pay me and I need to go to the grocery store, never mind the rest of the bills that are coming due. Today I feel like I am gambling and on the loosing end of the stick.

 This is situation NORMAL for me but yet, each time I come face to face with this ‘normal’, I get a bit nervous, okay, more than a bit nervous if you want the truth. I really don’t want to go into my stash of food because it would be like admitting something is definately wrong with this picture. I really don’t want to have start selling things off to make the bills either, but you know, I just may have to if things don’t get turned around just a bit. Used to be that I could at least count on positive cash flow from one of my businesses to at least meet the basics, (never mind anything ‘extra’) but right now, hmm, not so reliable, rather sporadic and it bothers me greatly…fear creeps into me…So what the heck do I do?

I will tell what I do(what I AM doing right this moment as I write) when I come face to face with the uncertainity in my life…I get a grip, yep, get a grip. I am blessed to own my own home which is not upside-down nor am I behind in payments, the power is on, I own vehicles outright that do run and nothing is in cut-off status (yet). I am not ‘sick’ per se, though I live thyroid disease and my children are for the moment, healthy. My dogs run in the front yard and aren’t starving or sick…I do have food in the house thanks to being ‘prepared’ just in case something happens and worst case crash, drop dead senario, I do have tangible assets worth money that I could sell. So my pitty potty time is brief. I count my blessings and remember that I enjoy an abundance that millions of others in this country no longer enjoy. I remember that I can create money from the work of my own hands, and I am smart and savvy (okay, not all the time but forgive me for being human) and can work and will work and DO work long hours leaving the dirty dishes in the sink until I have to go make dinner. And after dinner and finishing up a bit more business related work I get to go inside and take a shower and go to sleep in a warm bed. Thank goodness I am not homeless, without a way to earn money and I am not tottering on the edge of some giganitc financial cliff (yet) from which there is no return. There is still room to wiggle. I actually still have a pretty ‘normal’ middle class life.

I get a grip remembering that for me, the NORMAL is that things change on the dime and sitting here worrying only occupies my mind and time allowing for no positive forward thinking or getting things done and makes me sick, literally. For me, sitting here worrying is a distraction and a waste of energy that is better spent doing what I can when and where I can to cut bills down, taking care of customers quickly and putting more effort into my work (that just happens to pay the bills). Worry can quickly turn into depression, anxiety and dispair if I don’t get a grip and wrap my head around gratitude and acceptance…so I work on that today…can’t change what is in this moment but I surely can be grateful what I do have instead of spending time lamenting to myself about what I can’t do today and over what I have no control over. And in a SHTF senario, worry, anxiety, depression and dispair can get you dead real quick…it can immobilize you when you need to get digging deeper or become more creative in how to deal with a situation and it WILL cause grief into the future because when you worry you start creating from FEAR and THAT is a big mistake. While I don’t suggest putting on rose colored glasses or sticking your head in the sand, I do try to remember that the REASON WHY I have choosen to get prepared is to avoid this very thing called worry and fear…and I am to some degree, prepared.

I get a grip on the idea (which then turns into a feeling) that I AM OKAY TODAY, no matter what my bank account says. Adjust Laura, adjust and get a grip, it will all be okay. It may not be what I want it to be, but it will all be okay, just get a grip, you ain’t something ‘special’ and you aren’t alone in this…so get a grip and carry on, its all good.

Just for some perspective I offer this:

Car Sleepers, the New Homeless

Water is essential to human life…heck, all ‘life’. It is needed for even the most mundane things that we do in life..cooking, cleaning, brush our teeth, flushing the toliet. We use water all the time and it is extremely important to have on hand for emergency or SHTF use…Where I live in the woods of Virginia it seems like everytime a storm comes through the power goes out…no joke…no power, no water (I have a well and electric pump and haven’t gotten around to solving this situation since its expensive to do so)…and this means no bathing, no drinking, no flushing of toliets…not to mention no coffee in the morning, but that’s for another time, either way its not fun and this happens even with no emergency. But it has brought to my attention just how much my family depends upon water and how much we use it…

While I know there is a ton of information out there on water and how much to store it is so important that I feel it necessary to repeat it here for your ready pleasure or perhaps, this ‘getting ready’ for what ever may come is all new to you, either way…it bears repeating:

A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Hot environments can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers and ill people will need even more. You will also need water for food preparation and hygiene. Store a total of at least one gallon per person, per day. You should store at least a one month supply of water for each member of your family.

If supplies run low, never ration drinking water. Drink the amount you need today, and try to find more for tomorrow. You can minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool. However, do reduce the using of water for other things in order to conserve.

Amount of Emergency Water to Store

Whereas a quart of water or other fluid daily will sustain life, according to the Department of Defense and the Office of Civil Defense, it is recommended that a gallon of water per day per person be stored for food preparation and drinking. A gallon provides added comfort and accommodates increased fluid needs at higher altitudes or warm climates. An additional one-half to 1 gallon per day is recommended for bathing and hygiene, and to wash dishes.

So this brings us to almost 2 gallons of water per day per person in order to be ‘comfortable’. Bathing is ‘wash pan’ bathing, not a shower or bath.

How much water should I store?

 The rule of thumb is to store at least one gallon per person per day for at least 3 days (for earthquake preparedness). That’s 2 quarts for drinking and 2 quarts for food preparation and sanitation. A family of four should store a minimum of 12 gallons of water.

Personally, I recommend at least a 30 day supply to fit all of your needs…drinking, cooking, cleaning, hygienic purposes. So, that is about 60 gallons per person to get you to 30 days.

Use the following guidelines when storing water:

1. Store drinking water in carefully cleaned, non-corrosive, tightly covered containers.

2. Store containers in a cool dark place. DO NOT store in direct sunlight. Polyethylene plastics (prepackaged milk and water bottles) are somewhat permeable to hydrocarbon vapors. Keep away from stored gasoline, kerosene, pesticides, or similar substances.

3. Stored tap water should be rotated every 6 months. Prepackaged bottled water should be rotated once a year. Check the pull date on the container. Be sure it didn’t sit on the store’s shelf for a year before you purchased it. Self Serve Bottled Water should be rotated once a year, as long as the water treatment process includes ozonation.

4. Rotate your stored water with the water you use on a regular basis. This practice helps insure you don’t have water stored longer than one year.

Containers That Can be Used for Water Storage

Food-grade plastic or glass containers are suitable for storing water. One-, three- and five-gallon water containers can be purchased from most outdoor or hardware stores. Any plastic or glass container that previously held food or beverages such as 2-liter soda bottles or water, juice, punch or milk jugs, also may be used. Stainless steel can be used to store water which has not been or will not be treated with chlorine; chlorine is corrosive to most metals.

55 gal drums, designed specifically for water storage can be difficult to transport, if the need arises, but are of a tremendous value in an emergency .When looking for additional food grade containers, the bottom will be stamped with HDPE (High Density PolyEthylene) and coded with the recycle symbol and a “2″ inside. HDPE containers are FDA-approved for food. Containers without these designations aren’t OK because of possible chemical interactions between the water and the plastic.

Clean used containers and lids with hot soapy water. Once the containers have been thoroughly cleaned, rinse them with water and sanitize the containers and lids by rinsing them with a solution of 1 tablespoon chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Leave the containers wet for two minutes, then rinse them again with water. Remember to remove the paper or plastic lid liners before washing the lids. It is very difficult to effectively remove all residue from many containers, so carefully clean hard-to-reach places like the handles of milk jugs. To sanitize stainless steel containers, place the container in boiling water for 10 minutes. Never use containers that previously held chemicals.

Do I Need to Treat Water?

Once you properly clean containers, fill them with potable, or safe, drinking water. All public water supplies are already treated and should be free of harmful bacteria. However, as an additional precaution, it is recommended that you add 5-7 drops, about 1/8 teaspoon, of chlorine bleach per gallon of water stored. This precaution protects you against any lingering organisms in storage containers that may have been inadvertently missed during the cleaning process. For a quart of water use only 2 drops.

 NOTE: Bleach has an expiration DATE! Be sure to rotate it OR keep pool shock on hand for disinfecting your water.

Where to Store Water

Clearly label all water containers “drinking water” with the current date. Store the water in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Do not store it near gasoline, kerosene, pesticides or similar substances.

When potable water is properly stored, it should have an indefinite shelf life; however, it’s a good idea to use and replace the stored water every 6 – 12 months. Rotating water this way provides you with an opportunity to experiment and check the amount of stored water against what you require. It also serves as an additional precaution against bacteria or viruses growing in containers which may not have been thoroughly or properly cleaned and sanitized.

If you have freezer space, storing some water in the freezer is a good idea. If you lose electricity, the frozen water will help keep foods in your freezer frozen until the power is restored. Make sure you leave 2 to 3 inches of space in containers because water expands as it freezes.

Emergency Sources of Water

In an emergency, if you have not previously stored water and commercial or public sources of water are not available, drain water from your plumbing system. Unless you are advised that the public water supply has been contaminated and is not safe, open the drain valve at the bottom of the water heater and salvage the water stored in the heater. A typical water heater holds 30-60 gallons of water. Discard the first few gallons if they contain rust or sediment. Let the water heater cool before draining it from the heater so it does not scald you. Turn off the electricity or gas to the water heater to prevent the heater from operating without water. Once water has been drained into clean, sanitized containers, add 5-7 drops of chlorine bleach* per gallon of water, and stir or shake the solution to mix it. Let it set 30 minutes before use.

Emergency Outdoor Water Sources

If you need to find water outside your home, you can use these sources. Be sure to treat the water first. Additional sources include:

Rainwater Streams, rivers and other moving bodies of water Ponds and lakes Natural springs Avoid water with floating material, an odor or dark color. Use saltwater only if you distill it first. You should not drink flood water.

Hidden Water Sources in Your Home

If a disaster catches you without a stored supply of clean water, you can use the water in your hot-water tank, pipes and ice cubes. As a last resort, you can use water in the reservoir tank of your toilet (not the bowl).

Do you know the location of your incoming water valve? You’ll need to shut it off to stop contaminated water from entering your home if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines.

To use the water in your pipes, let air into the plumbing by turning on the faucet in your house at the highest level. A small amount of water will trickle out. Then obtain water from the lowest faucet in the house.

To use the water in your hot-water tank, be sure the electricity or gas is off, and open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve and turning on a hot-water faucet. Do not turn on the gas or electricity when the tank is empty.

Using Swimming Pool Water

You should always view your pool as “backup” water; keep the water treated; you never know when it will be needed! The maintenance of the free chlorine residual will prevent establishment of any microorganisms. The maintenance level should be kept about 3-5ppm free chlorine. If other stored water stocks are not available, remove the necessary pool water and boil it or just treat with chlorine to the normal 5ppm. It is best to err on the side of caution.

Covering the pool at all times when not in use is a very good idea. Try to keep the cover clean and wash the area you put it on when removing it from the pool.

I personally do have a pool but don’t count it in my ‘drinkable’ water, category, but do include in my water storage program simply because it can be used for other things such as washing clothes, flushing toilets (septic only), and other uses of water that don’t involve consuming it after cleaning it (but for flushing who cares what is in it!)

If you MUST use pool water for drinking then purify it first, which may mean filtering, boiling and then adding a disinfectant depending on the condition of the pool water.

When and How to Treat Water for Storage

In an emergency, if you do not have water that you know is safe, it’s possible to purify water for drinking. Start with the cleanest water you can find and treat with one of the following methods:

Boiling and chlorinating: Water can be purified by boiling. Boiling times may vary from state to state, depending on altitude. InColorado, the water is safe to use once after it has been boiled for three to five minutes and has cooled. If you plan to store boiled water, pour it into clean, sanitized containers and let it cool to room temperature. Then add 5-7 drops, or 1/8 teaspoon, of chlorine bleach* per gallon of water (1/2 teaspoon per 5 gallons). Stir or shake the solution to mix it. Cap the containers and store them in a cool, dry place.

Filtering and chlorinating: You can filter water if you have a commercial or backpack filter that filters to 1 micron. These are available in sporting good stores and are recommended for use when back-packing. They are not recommended to clean large volumes of water. Filtering eliminates parasites such as giardia and cryptosporidium, but it may not eliminate all bacteria and viruses. Therefore, it’s recommended that 5-7 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of chlorine bleach* be added per gallon of filtered water (1/2 teaspoon for 5 gallons). Stir or shake the solution to mix it. Wait 30 minutes before using the water, or cap the containers and store them in a cool, dry place.

How to Disinfect Water Using Calcium Hypochlorite (or pool shock)

Using granular calcium hypochlorite to disinfect water is a two step process.

To make a stock of chlorine solution (do not drink this!) dissolve 1 heaping teaspoon (about one-quarter of an ounce) of high-test (78%) granular calcium hypochlorite for each two gallons (eight liters) of water.

To disinfect water add one part of the chlorine solution to 100 parts water to be treated.

Let the mixture sit for at least one-half hour before drinking.

Be sure to obtain the dry granular calcium hypochlorite since once it is made into a liquid solution it will begin to degrade and eventually become useless as a disinfecting agent. This also means you should make your treated drinking water in small batches, for example enough for a few weeks at a time at most.

Calcium hypochlorite will store for a long period of time and remain effective as a chemical drinking water treatment.

*Use liquid household bleach that contains 5.25 percent hypochlorite. Do not use bleaches with fresheners or scents as they may not be safe to consume. The above treatment methods use a two-step approach so less bleach is needed, yet giardia and cryptosporidium are destroyed through boiling or eliminated by filtering. Chlorine may not be effective against these parasites. Since adding too much chlorine to water can be harmful, it’s important to be as accurate as possible when measuring.

Distillation Distillation involves boiling water and then collecting the vapor that condenses back to water. The condensed vapor will not include salt and other impurities. To distill, fill a pot halfway with water. Tie a cup to the handle on the pot’s lid so that the cup will hang right-side-up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup is not dangling into the water) and boil the water for 20 minutes. The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.

Most water filtration devices are designed for use on microbiologically safe water. Don’t assume they are safe to use on contaminated water. Check with the manufacturer to be sure. If you are truly concerned about the ability to have safe water for extended periods of time be sure to get a water purifier and filtration system that will treat for microbes and other undesirable items.

Water is important!! and while it may seem ‘bulky’ to store, especially for a month per person, you can find inventative ways to do so…under the beds, in closets, garages, etc. I am lucky in that I have a pool to draw upon if things get really bad and we are looking at a long-term grid down situation so that I don’t have to store a lot of potable drinking water, but for those of you who don’t have this luxury, start storing it. Start small and managable, say enough water per person for 3 days, and then go to 7 days and keep going from there, you can do it and you will sleep better at night, I promise!

For more information on Water Storage and Purification visit:

http://www.captaindaves.com/guide/water.htm#Purification

The above was taken in whole or partially from http://www.nationalterroralert.com/safewater/

Dehydrating Chicken Adventure

Feeling chatty today 🙂 been thinking about food storage alot lately, most especially after my latest trip to the grocery store. Found chicken breast on sale for half-price for the holiday weekend earlier this week so I bought every bit I could with the money I could spend. This was a good thing, but I wound up with over 20 pounds of the stuff and with no more room in either freezer but I had a brilliant idea (yeah, you know the kind, the kind that gets you in so deep that you can only go forward). Dehydrate it! Now, mind you, the dehydrator I have isn’t a fancy one (no temperature control or timer) and I haven’t used it in years…let alone ever used it to dehydrate chicken, but what the heck, I have been reading all over the place about dehydrating meat (and doing it myself is surely cheaper than buying it canned or freeze dried!) and thought perhaps I could do it myself..oh boy…dehydrating 20 lbs of chicken turned into a 4 day odessey of cooking, pressing, cooling, chopping and then watching the bits and pieces of chicken shrink up into tiny pieces over the course of a few hours. My family was looking at me like I was growing heads or had spots all over my face asking such questions like: What are you doing with all that chicken? (I could just hear the groans inside their heads as they saw visions of eatting chicken for the rest of their life) What’s in the pot? Um mom, why are you pressing that chicken in between towels? Then the final questions: are you done yet? what are you going to do with THAT? (referring  to the shriveled up, corn kernal looking things that now sit in 3 quart sized mason jars). Anyway, I digress from my purpose of telling you about dehydrating chicken…it actually turned out to be super easy to do (next on my list is eggs, maybe this weekend, after doing strawberries).

I first embolden myself and reaquainted myself with the process of dehydrating by dehydrating quite a bit of zucchini that my next door neighbor gave me and then tried rehydrating a few pieces just see that it would do so (never mind theory okay? I have to sometimes see it to believe it, just me). And first thing is this…I noticed this SMELL coming from the dehydrator…you know, that smell you smell when you turn on the hair dryer or space heater that you haven’t used in a LONG LONG TIME? yeah, that smell…and then I realized that I would have to play switch the trays around to keep it all drying at about the same rate, and then noticed that the food was sticking to the tray, and I forgot to make sure I had clean mason jars before it got done…you get the idea…but it worked out…growing pains I suppose you could say…next, I did some research trying to find WRITTEN instructions on how to dehydrate chicken online to no avail…sigh…YouTube had some videos on it, but they were long and boring…just TELL ME and let me get on with it okay? but I hung in there, thinking that maybe, just maybe there was some sort of ‘secret’ to dehydrating chicken that I just needed to know…nope…just the basics…keep it clean, cook it well, dry it well and then store it well…and try not to eat it at the sametime you are working with it (have to test the product don’t you?).

Below are the written steps to dehydrating chicken breasts that I was searching for (and if my internet search querry is correct…so are a million others)…I use chicken breasts, not bone-in chicken and that is what the directions are for…I suppose you could use bone-in chicken if you feel like taking the meat off the bones after cooking, but I haven’t done it that way myself…adapt if you must.

and one note: if you don’t want to get sick make sure you wash your hands well everytime before and after handling the chicken…don’t handle the chicken and then touch a spoon or pot or jar or anything like that…safe food handling practices are a must!

You will need:

Chicken, pot, water, seasoning, mason jar(s), oxygen absorbers, dehydrator, knife, towels, baggie, refrigerator.

1. Remove all the fat (if there is any) and skin from the chicken. Fats do not dehydrate nor store long-term very well.

2.Cook your chicken and cook it well…your choice on how you do this, but the idea is that you cook it well until its DONE…err on the side of caution and over cook it if you must. Personally I prefer to just boil it, that way I can add seasoning of my choice while its cooking and it gets in there really well…bonus to this way of cooking it is that you get a really nice broth that can be frozen for future use as a soup base or for replacing water in a receipe if you want more flavor.

3. Let the chicken and broth cool off completely.

4. Get towels (I use bath towels that have been re-purposed for kitchen use) and lay them out on the counter or table top double thickness at least.

5. Put the cooked chicken on the towels. Place another towel over the chicken and then press the HECK out of the chicken. Object being when doing this is to get excess juice out. Shorter drying time.

6. Personally I prefer at this point to stick the chicken into a zip lock baggie and refrigerate over night…makes it easier to cut it up into small pieces…warm chicken is hard to cut up easily.

7. The following day get your dehydrator out. Now, first time I dehydrated I didn’t have the mesh screens to go over the tray. Second time around I did. It will work either way, it is just a bit messier if you don’t have the screens for the trays. Make sure the dehydrator is clean and ready to use.

8. Cut the chicken up into small pieces. I tried a bit of experimenting at this point with different trays, big pieces, small pieces, tiny pieces…the tiny pieces got so small they fell through the cracks, small pieces and big pieces did okay, but use your judgement as to how big of pieces you chop it up into. This will depend upon your drier size since the racks (at least on mine) sit one on top of the other I found the best size for me were pieces about 1 inch long or so no thicker than 1/4 inch. Just chop it!

9. Spread the chopped up chicken around the tray evenly in one layer. Do this for each rack. I found I was able to get about 9 pounds or so onto 5 trays (that is my drier, its one of those round ones with plastic trays that stack up). But I had extra chicken that I just put back into the refrigerator to do later on.

10) Stack it up and turn it on! Now, with my dehydrator I have no temperture control so for me its just turning it on and watching it. If you have a dehydrator with temp control, it is my understanding that you want the temp set at at least 120 degrees for meat, but somehow I don’t think mine got that hot.

11) Walk away and let it go. For me, I had to switch trays around (bottom tray going to the top) every couple of hours to keep things dehydrating somewhat evenly. It took about 10 hours to completely dehydrate the chicken. You want it CRUNCHY and ‘brown’ looking with no softness to it whatsoever. That is moisture and that is NOT good when storing long-term.

*At this point, make sure you have your mason jar (or another glass jar) clean and ready. Also, make sure you have one 200-300 cc oxygen absorber ready for when you need it.*

13) When it is ‘done’ turn off the dehydrator and let the chicken cool off again. Heat will cause condensation which you don’t want in the jar.

14) Once completely cool, you can now fill up the mason jar…fill the jar until you have about 1 inch from the top. Now place one 200-300 cc O2 absorber on top and tightly screw the lid/top on.  Set the jar aside and check to make sure that it has made a seal about an hour later…you check this by pushing on the top…as long as it doesn’t move you are good to go, if it does move, your O2 absorber was probably bad and you need a new one. Repeat.

All done! Now you have your dehydrated chicken that will store for several years and can be used in soups, stir frys and such.

Wasn’t that simple?

With life (at least to me) feeling like quicksand at the moment where anything can happen (think Murphy’s Law) at any given moment I have to come to believe that there are indeed a few things that I can do to prepare against shtf and having it on me. And trust me, like you, I FEEL it everyday. Just going to the grocery store or filling up the gas tank keeps me aware that the SHTF is coming on now, it just hasn’t snowballed to critical yet (thank goodness!) at least for me.

I don’t believe that it can be posted enough that being prepared for whatever may come is best practice so here is my own short list in order of importance of getting down to business to being prepared:

1) Store Food- yes, this is at the top of my list, everyday I do something to either get prepared to store food, actually store food or something dealing with storing food (gardening, containers, dehydrating, purchasing, planning) now, the ‘feds’ used to say enough for 3 days for each person in the family. They have recently revised this up to 7 days, but recently, the head of NASA told his people to be ready to take care of themselves for at least 3 months…hmmm…think I will continue to work on at least 1 year. And don’t forget Fiddo and Kitty. Under this also falls water.

2) Work at Increasing my Earning Capacity- now, I realize that some of you won’t be so fortunate as to be able to do this with grace and ease. Since I work for myself and work from home (which by the way is the BEST way to prepare for after SHFT funding of your home and family) I control what I do and when I do it. For me, increasing my earning capacity means giving great customer service (within boundaries) and consistantly adding new things to inventory, reworking what I do and how I do it (increase efficiency) and working on new ideas for my own businesses. For those of you who are tied to a paycheck, increasing your earning capacity can be done in many different ways, just be careful in doing so if it also means increasing your level of debt. Flexibilty and not having all your financial eggs in one basket is key…

3) Gather Essential Items – well, a ton of information has been written about this and covers such things as tolietries, items of interest and need (think anything and everything that you use even occassionally). For me sometimes, it’s a daily adventure in just recognizing what it is that I use daily…like those white scrubby things that take the place of cleaners that have a million and one uses for cleaning around the house. Put that on my list of ‘need’ to get.  Sometimes gathering essential items doesn’t just mean buying something that day, but as I said above, just figuring out what I use and would need to survive if it hits.

4) Learn Something New Everyday- each day I spend anywhere from 10mins to going down the proverbial rabbit hole in learning something new. It is a commitment I made (made much easier to the internet thank you!) to myself…knowledge is power people and practical knowledge is even better.

5) Pay Off Debt- oh yes, that dreaded D-word, I am not, as most people aren’t, immune to debt…I have a small amount of credit card debt (2 almost paid off and as soon as they are they will be cancelled), student loans (again, a fairly small amount), one car payment and my mortgage. Some days working towards paying off debt is simply not wasting food, other days its paying more than the minimum due…but I am conscious everyday what I owe to creditors and work each day to getting rid of it somehow.

6) Help Others- now, this may seem strange to be put on the list of getting ready for worst case SHTF, but for me, its important…it keeps me grateful for what I have (or don’t have), keeps me grounded in reality and most days allows me to feel good about life in general. Nothing like knowing that you helped someone (even its opening and holding the door or just listening) have a better day themselves to give your own life a better glow to it. When we help others we are helping ourselves, getting outside of our head space (which can be a scary place) and into the world. An attitude of gratitude, sharing and caring can be developed which is paramount in surviving whatever may come…the lone wolf dies by himself. And you know, it just feels good to help out when and where you can. Let it begin at home folks and then take it out to the world.

So, that is my “Down to Business” List for everyday living. It helps to keep me focused and not living in fear (which is paralyzing btw). It gives me structure and guidelines (which is comforting when it gets crazy in my home) and keeps me action oriented. For you, the ‘list’ might be a bit different or the details different, but maybe my list will give you something to think about and get you going on your way to being prepared.