Having the foods you know and love and handling life one day at a time
By Cherlynn Bell
I've been prepping for almost 40 years and have learned a lot along the way. I am hoping to share my knowledge with others so they can be prepared and skip the mistakes I went through. I've been through loss of jobs, tornadoes and much more. Having a years supply of food has saved my family more than once!
So many today are prepping for the end of the world as we now know it. Well that's nice but in the mean time so many are facing sudden unemployment, repo'ed homes and illnesses that use to be so very rare. We all can see clearly the economic down turn our nation is facing and we all know it will take a miracle for us to survive it. Knowing what I know and being prepared can help you and your family survive what ever you will need to face.
I looked for a long time for a way to present what I have to share and a couple of years ago ran into a fellow blogger Wendy DeWitt. She openly shared with me ways to present my material in a fast 1 to 1 ½ hour seminar so I could share everything I needed to share. You can find Wendy's blog at: everythingunderthesunblog.blogspot.com Go back to the start of her blog and read it all!
Creating your own Food Storage System
We all have different likes and dislikes so you need to tailor your system to your own family. BUT remember you are prepping for a crisis so forget things like your current diet craze or what is “healthy” and what is not. In a crisis you need food and often in a crisis you will need calories. Now if you have food allergies such as gluten intolerant by all means adjust your storage to fit this need.
Get a system
There are several system's available. One is the traditional system created by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They suggest basis dry food storage per person and then you multiply it for how ever many family member's. In a crisis you can fully live on it. I had a crisis where we were so over whelmed by what had happened to us I couldn't think to use the foods. I remember that we started off with 4 meals used over and over and one of them used pineapple tidbits and we ran out dropping us to 3 meals. I needed a plan!
The traditional plan:
- Menu Based System
300 lbs of grains per person. Grains are suited to your family. Wheat, flour, rice, corn, oats, pasta, cereals. Dairy products: 300 Qts per person. Dairy includes powdered milk, evaporated milk, cheese,butter, powdered cheese, sour cream, ect. Also if you have a milk goat or cow. Sugars, 60 lbs per person. this includes sugar, honey, jams, jello and other sweeteners. Salt 5 lbs per person. We store much more as a food preserver. Fats 20 lbs per person. Shortening and oils, you might also invest in an oil press and make your own owns from seeds. I have one on my want list! We store lots of coconut oil, very healthy and stores forever! legumes 50 lbs per person. Beans, dry and canned, lentils and split peas, canned nuts and peanut butter. Water for 2 weeks, 14 gallons per person. Garden seeds, bedding, clothing/material, medical, fuels and lights. Dry or canned foods that require no refrigeration or cooking such as canned tuna, pork & beans, graham crackers, dried fruits, canned juices, peanut butter, ect. manual equipment: a good manual can opener, dish pan and dish rack, ax, shovel, buckets, pencils and paper. Personal supplies such as soap, shampoo, tooth paste and brushes, kotex, combs and brushes, ect. Expanded storage would include 60 lbs of meat per person. This includes canned, dried, smoked, frozen ( I'm not a big fan of freezer storage in case the electric goes out. the last thing I want to have to think about is suddenly canning up 500 lbs of meat in a crisis! I can 98% of our meats as I go and just leave a few things such as some steaks for a special occasion, a turkey, ect in that we can polish off fast in a crisis. Canned fruits and vegetables 365 lbs per person. All of mine is fresh in root storage, canned or dried from our own garden or what I get from the Amish. Miscellaneous items such as yeast, baking soda and powder, vinegar, spices, pickles, soups, ect. equipment: Manual grain grinder, treadle sewing machine, battery or crank radio, garden supplies.
Now you can also create a menu based storage program and know exactly what you need. I suggest you get the above basic long term system and then 3 to 6 month's of a menu based system. You will find Wendy's plan on her blog if you start at the first and follow through. I created a grid with 7 blocks across and 13 rows down. That gives me 13 weeks or 91 meals which is ¼ of a year. We lived on our food storage for 4 full month's and got tired of the same meals over and over and over. 91 different meals repeated 4 times per year gives everyone a treat and no one gets tired of it. There are several other systems which I have listed in the book section. One person creates meals and puts them in a bag with the recipe attached. I have 1 month of those but I tend to give them out to families in need or use them when things have gone awry one day. There is another that fills canning jars with meals. We do a lot of those using things we have dried from our own garden. We especially love the soup blends. Another that's a favorite of mine is Jan Jackson's 100 day pantry. All the meals she listed includes the liquid to cook everything in! So everything listed is exactly what you need! The other two books I ran into recipes that needed an additional 10 cups of water not listed in the original ingredients. In a crisis that could be a big problem! One book you should have no matter the system you select is Jan's Fabulous Food Storage recipes by Jan LeBaron. She walks you through using all your food storage in ways we would never had thought possible! I was so clueless that I could make cheese from powdered milk until I got Jan's book! It is an absolute must have book!
If you use a menu based system you can multiply your menu by the number of weeks you want to store and get a complete list of what you need. You should also collect your recipes into one book to keep with your food storage. If you hit a crisis where you can't think you will have a plan to follow until you recover and can function fully again.
Vacuum Sealing Foods
For so many years I was told some foods (the good stuff!) that had high oil, moisture or sugar contents could not be stored. Then along came food saver and their accessory port with jar seal attachments. Go to youtube.com and look up Wendy DeWitt and watch the session on vacuum sealing. I think it's like #8 or one of them toward the end. I have hundreds of nut trees and it broke my heart that after 6 month's the nuts go rancid so we couldn't store them long term but now we shell them out and seal them into canning jars and have tons of nuts in our storage. Chocolate, raisins, brown rice, brown sugar, cookies, crackers and all those things that make so livable can now be in your storage! YOU CAN NOT VACCUM SEAL FOODS THAT NEED REFRIGERATION! ONLY FOODS THAT SIT IN YOUR PANTRY SHELF! Fine powders will gum up the works in your food saver. I found that putting fine powders into plastic bags and then into the jars with the bag sealed worked well. If you keep in a cook dark place your vacuum sealed jars should last 3 years and longer! Wendy has 10 year old chocolate in her storage! I check my seals 2 or 3 times a year and use what ever lost it's seal. My son got a food saver with the vacuum tube and small jar sealer for $20 on Ebay. I got mine for $20 but had to buy the vacuum tube and sealers separately so be careful and watch for the bargain!
This is the other thing that makes your food storage livable! Pressure canners. You MUST have a pressure canner to can meat. Not a pressure cooker but a pressure canner. Canners are much heavier and can handle the extreme pressure and length it must be on. Again watch the video's for Wendy DeWitt and she will explain this better.
Avoid canners that have a rubber gasket! Mine is an All American and it has no gaskets! Trying to find the gaskets later might be all but impossible! Be sure to have the gauge tested at your local County Extension Center if you buy a used canner. I bought mine over 20 years ago at a garage sale for $35. Best investment I ever made! Had to replace the gauge but that was cheap too! I'm always on the lookout for used canning supplies!
Canning meats: A pint bottle (16 oz.) will hold 1 lb of meat. A quart jar is 32 oz and holds 2 lbs of meat. I can all my meat into pint jars. 1 lb. Is enough for most meals and I use 2 jars if we need more meat.
I do not precook any of my meat. I raw pack 1 lb of meat into each jar and add ¼ tsp. Salt unless I'm doing ham or bacon. I do not add any type of liquid either! It will add it's own juice are its being pressure cooked. Seal you jars finger tight and put into your pressure canner that has about 2 inches of water added to it. Seal your canner and turn it on. If you have the type that you add a weight on do not add it until steam is coming out the vent hole. Once the canner has expressed all the air it will start building up pressure. The amount of pressure is decided by your altitude. Call you local Extension Office if you do not know how much pressure to use in your area. Pint jars are canned once the pressure level is met for 75 minutes. Quart jars take 90 minutes. If you can fish add 15 minutes to the time. You have to stay with your canner and keep it right on the pressure level for your area. Sometimes I can get it in the right spot and it just stays there and other times I spend the whole time adjusting the burner up and down to keep it on the right pressure. It's my quiet time so I can read a book etc while I watch the gauge. My family stays away because if they come in I make them sit and watch it so I can go do other things! Once the time has been met then turn it off and let it cool down on it's own. Do not open it until the pressure has gone all the way down. I then move them over to a clean dry towel using my jar lifter to handle the very hot jars. These usually seal pretty fast once they've been removed from the canner. Canned meat is so very yummy. It's fully cooked and so full of flavor!
Cooking without power
There are lots of cooking with out power solutions, you just have to decide which ones you want to adapt should you need them. Some are ones you can make yourself. The easiest and cheapest solution is to make Emergency Survival Heater that can heat, give light and allow you to cook. You will need: a roll of unscented toilet paper, with the cardboard tube removed. An empty metal can that is a little taller than the toilet paper. (The 29 to 30 oz veggie or fruit cans work well) Bottles of unscented 70 to 91% isopropyl alcohol and matches. Some folks claim the rubbing alcohol gives them head aches. We used these in dec '08 for 3 weeks non stop and none of us ever got sick. If you experiment with these and discover it does give you headaches then you should use denatured alcohol instead to avoid the problem. You push the toilet paper into the can and when you need to use it pour the alcohol into the toilet paper and then light. We used two cans of shortening and a cooling rack to cook over these. The next system you can make is a rocket stove. You can google these and find all kinds to make. Rocket stoves must be used outside but they use much less fuel. If you have internet you should also search rocket stoves with bio-mass. Great systems you can build to heat your house for next to nothing! A cheap system you can buy is Sterno single burner folding stove. You can use this one inside! I buy heat cells in a case of 12 at Sam's Club to stock up in case ever needed. The other easy solutions that many would have on hand is gas or charcoal grills. Again must be used outside but is a good option if you have bought lots of extra fuel to use with what you have. I bought a Camp Chef camping oven with 2 burners. It has saved my life many times! I had my kitchen range go out for month's at a time waiting for parts to come in. I make bread daily so learned the in's and outs of baking in the camp chef oven! The little fuel bottles that work with this lasted us for over a full month even with my daily bread baking. I buy 2 packs and store them to use in an emergency. The other item I choose to buy was a Global Sun oven. You can find all kinds of solar ovens to build yourself online but none will do what this can do. I use it to cook all the time. In the winter I use it with a candle in it to make sprouts and yogurt. The candle in the insulated box keeps them at the perfect temperature. Again Wendy DeWitt has a video in her series giving more details on it and it is well worth the cost as an investment. No fuel to store just uses sun light! I cook in it even in the winter time. If it fogs over the temp goes down a good 100 degree's. I found by leaving the top latch open it lets the steam out. I also use turkey roasting bags to enclose fluid items and that also helps. If you have the option to buy the cook ware with it I suggest you do so. It wasn't available when I bought mine and now I can't get it as a set. Another option is a hay box. The pioneers lined a wooden box with hay and at breakfast they would start a pot of stew or soup and tuck it into the hay box and cover with quilts. When they stopped at night, dinner was ready. They could start a fire and quickly make biscuits and put the stew or soup into the fire to heat it up more and have dinner without having to make it after a long day of traveling. You can make your own hay box using bean bag chairs in a large plastic tote or using the rigid styrofoam used to pack around computers, ect. To set your pot into. Again you can google Hay Box and find lots of ideas. Knowing how to cook over an open fire could be important skill to know. How many other options can you find to cook when the power goes out?
All the authorities suggest you store 3 gallons of water per person per day for up to a 2 week supply. If you get into a long term situation after 2 weeks what do you do? In our area of NW MO you can easily get 55 gallon food grade blue plastic barrels from several Amish. Jamesport is the most reliable area to find them. We got 10 of them for $10 each 2 years ago. Clean them out and then you can store water in those. Wendy DeWitt has plans for building stands for your barrels. We are hoping to build a stand to hold 4 of these in our water room. (we don't have a public water supply in our area so have to treat our own pond water) If you fill your barrels or bottles with a public water supply that uses chlorine you do not need to add anything except the water. I am not on a public supply so I add 1 tsp bleach for every 5 gallons of water to keep strange things from growing in our barrels. I also change them out every 6 months. I use it to water the garden or water the life stock. Do not store your bottles or barrels directly on a cement floor. Put something under them! For a long term solution I store 1-micron industrial Liquid filter bags. We use these to pour our pond water into over a clean bucket. These filters with remove all the debris and 99% of any bacteria in the water. (Most bacteria will cling to debris) then we treat the water with either chlorine, iodine crystals, 0r Calcium Hypochlorite (pool shock). Chlorine must be used with in 1 year according to the folks at Clorox. After that it's no longer bleach. So I don't store much bleach. Polar Pure (Iodine Crystals) last forever so we store lots of that. Pool shock last several years but MUST be stored in sealed glass. If moisture including humidity gets into it it will release a poisonous gas. You can also boil the water or solar purify it.
You can also invest in a water filter to improve taste. We bought a large Katadyn filter years ago that takes 3 filters. The Berkey's are very nice also but again takes filters. Filters are very expensive to replace. The Katadyn's run $55 when on sale x3. There is a new filter called AquaPail and You can pour water from a mud puddle in and get good clean water. The smallest unit does 400 gallons of water and is selling for $80, the next size up does 2,500 gallons and is running $125. There are larger units available also. These units do not remove stuff it kills it all instead.
Keeping things Cold in Warm weather:
Third world countries have become masters at keeping things cool in hot weather. They use two sizes of unglazed clay pots, one inside the other and sand surrounding the two pots. They fill with their produce, etc and add water to the sand and cover the top and it stays nice and cool for them.
You can also build an Evaporation Refrigerator out of wood or PVC pipe. These are small units shown in the provident living link listed below. While this booklet was geared to 3rd world countries it is an excellent book to print out and use for emergency prep items. You will find the cooling unit shown and described on page 43. Making several of these and keeping them in the shade where wind can blow over them will keep you supplied with cold drinks and nice greens and other produce items when you need them.
You need to rethink what you keep cold. Keeping things simple and using small amounts so they don't need to refrigeration.
If you are lucky enough to have springs, you can build a Springhouse.
Bury an old chest freezer in the ground and that will stay cooler and will act as a root cellar in the winter.
Kits to make:
Sanitation Kit: This kit is a 6 gallon bucket with a toilet seat snapped on it. Add to your bucket kit:Vinegar, Baking Soda, Vinyl gloves, Absorbent Gel, Bathroom cleaner, toilet paper. Wipes, paper towels, Hand sanitizer, and Double Doodie Waste bags.
Wash Kit: This kit is a 6 gallon bucket with lid. This is a man powered washing machine. Cut a 1” hole in the center of the lid. Use a new toilet plunger with holes cut out. The plunger acts as the agitator. Add Liquid laundry soap, Bleach, Liquid fabric softener, clothes pin and a clothes line.
Rehydration Kit: This kit should be vacuum sealed into a canning jar to keep it long term. This formula is from Primary Children's Hospital in SLC, UT: 2 ¼ teaspoon sugar, ¼ teaspoon each: baking soda, RealSalt and No Salt (potassium) mix this with 4 cups water.
Portable Bidet Kit: This kit is a great way to solve the problem of storing enough toilet paper. I used a 5 quart ice cream bucket and a large plain yogurt container for each kit. Items to add to the ice cream bucket:
One Peri Bottle: Filled with clean water to wash yourself with.
2 small sponges: If necessary use to scrub yourself. Sponges are added in because they are compact & dry quickly. If you don't have much room and have to have toilet paper a sponge fits neatly into your pocket! Make sure you wash the sponge with soap and water and rinse in vinegar water between each use.
16 double layered flannel sheets. Each sheet is about 4 ½ “ X 6 1/2”. Used to dry with.
Put the dirty stuff into the smaller container to wash later.
Emergency Ice Packs:
Put 1 cup rubbing Alcohol in a zipered freezer bag along with 3 cups water and a drop of blue food coloring. This freezes into a slushy mix to place on injuries. Label as 1st Aid Ice pack.
How to make Emergency Survival Heater
You will need a roll of unscented toilet paper with the cardboard tube removed. An empty container (baby formula containers, 29 to 30 oz fruit and veggie cans work well) Place the toilet paper into the container. Bottles of Unscented 70 to 91% isopropyl alcohol or denatured alcohol and matches. To use slowly pour the alcohol into the toilet paper and light.
Web Sites to check out:
Books Shown or talked about:
SAS Survival Handbook ISBN 9780060578794
Jan Jackson's 100 Day Pantry ISBN 088290969X
It's in the Bag ISBN 9781599553856
Dinner in in the Jar ISBN 9781450550925
Mix a Meal ISBN 9780970869708
Nuclear War Survival Skill by Cresson Kearny ISBN 0939002027
There is nothing new or unique in what I have given you. I started prepping in 1974 and over the years I've learned a lot and learned from my mistakes. I learned a lot of my prepping skills going to USAF Schools covering Survival and keeping a Mobile Clinic up and running. I've learned from many folks as I've traveled around the world and meet like minded people. I've spent long hours searching the internet and gleaning what was good from it. I especially wanted to learn how to make most items at home my self. I love my Sun Oven so much I bought a 2nd one but I have finally found a MYO Solar cooker that does look like it will work well. We bought a water filter but knowing how to make your own can make it more reliable to have it long term. Many want to have generators but they can be expensive and most need fuel to run. Knowing your options and trying them out before hand can save you and your family in the future. Explore the links and books I've given you and print out anything you find useful so you have it for future reference. Good luck and Good bless you as you prepare for your future!