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5 Emergency Food Mistakes Preppers Make

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One of the first things that people tackle when beginning to prepare for emergencies is food storage, and rightfully so. But there’s a lot more to it than stacking buckets of wheat in the garage or stockpiling bottled water.

If you’re going to take the time and money to prepare for the unexpected, get informed about the do’s and don’ts of proper food storage. Here are 5 mistakes that preppers often make when starting to build their emergency food supply, and how to fix them.

Storing food you don’t like, or don’t know how to prepare

Many people will buy a bucket of wheat, throw it in the closet, and call it a day. But they don’t know how to turn that wheat into bread, or if they’ll even like it if they do. Make sure you store food that you eat on a regular basis. Try making a loaf of bread from some wheat one day (you’ll feel like a superhero, promise), and use those dry beans and rice in your everyday meals. That way, when the day comes and you need to survive off your food storage, it doesn’t flip your world upside down. In an emergency, eating food that you’re already used to is beneficial to your mental health. Don’t add to the stress of such a situation by suddenly having to prepare and eat food that is completely new to you.

Rice and beans are a prepper staple and a great option for emergency food storage, but make sure you have variety or family might balk.

Rice and beans are a prepper staple and a great option for emergency food storage, but make sure you have variety or family might balk.

And if you choose to buy pre-packaged emergency kits, many companies sell samples of the meals that are included, so you can give them a taste before you stock up. Use the same rule of thumb here too, and rotate a packaged dinner into your meal planning every couple of weeks, so you’re used to preparing and eating your food storage. Using these pantry staples will also cut down on your grocery bill, too, which is a great added bonus.

Storing food improperly

Are you stockpiling cans in the attic or out in shed? Almost any food that you plan on storing for longer than 6 months should be kept at stable temperatures and humidity levels, which makes both of those places poor options. A cool, dark place like a basement can work great, but be careful if your basement is damp or prone to flooding. The best location for your food storage is on the main level of your home, where the temperature and moisture levels are controlled. Also, try not to keep all your eggs in one basket – have several different locations where you can store food, in case one area becomes compromised.

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Food would ideally be stored in a cool, dark place like a basement

Also make sure that your food storage is packaged in a way that deters pests and moisture. Buckets and #10 cans are great ways to store long-lasting food supplies. Food packaged in their original boxes or bags can work fine as long as they are rotated and used regularly – just keep an eye on those expiration dates and make sure your storage area isn’t accessible to mice or other pests.

Not having enough variety in your storage

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Both for the sake of flavor as well as nutrition, make sure that you store a wide variety of food in your supply. Many novices stock up on carbohydrates like wheat and rice but forget to include other essentials. Make sure you’re covering all the necessary food groups – there are a lot of great ways to store protein, dairy, fruits, and vegetables as part of your storage staples. You can easily purchase freeze-dried fruits, vegetables, and even meat in #10 cans or buckets, and dry milk is a great way to make sure your dairy needs are met. Pre-packaged meals also offer an easy way to incorporate variety into your food storage.

Forgetting “the little things”

Things like salt, spices, oil, and condiments make food storage more enjoyable to eat, and baking ingredients such as baking powder, yeast, and eggs are essential to cooking even the most basic recipes from your supplies. Some of these things can be purchased in long-lasting forms, but a great way to make sure you have them on hand is to simply buy a little extra each time you shop. Next time you need a bottle of vegetable oil, just buy an extra and put it with your food storage. Little by little, you can build up a stockpile of these “little things”, and with proper rotation for freshness, you’ll always have a little extra of everything on hand.

Remember to store things like desserts and candy bars, too. When an emergency situation hits, sweet treats are a great way to keep life feeling as normal as possible, especially if you have children. You can buy a #10 can of something like brownie mix, or simply use the method above to always keep a few boxes of treats rotating through your regular storage.

Not rotating food or letting it go bad

If you use everyday foods in your storage, make sure to rotate them properly and use them before the expiration date.

Buying an extra can of soup and sticking on the shelf for a decade is not a wise food storage solution. If you use everyday foods in your storage, make sure to rotate them properly and use them before the expiration date. Rotating food storage simply means using the oldest item first, and putting the more recently purchased item at the back of the line. For longer term “store it and forget it” options, you can purchase meal packs contained in buckets that store for 20 years or more. We recommend using a combination of both practices for a well-rounded supply that will be both easy and safe to use in an emergency situation.

Food storage can seem intimidating at first, but if you’ve got a handle on each of these areas, you’re well on your way to having a great emergency food supply that will last and serve you well, regardless of what life throws at you. Having a supply of familiar and delicious food on hand will give you an immense feeling of relief and safety. You can start small, and begin today!


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The UBER Guide to DIY Food Storage with Mylar Bags, O2 Absorbers and Buckets!

 

Uber Guide to Food Storage

We all NEED food!  In any real disruption, whether that be short or long term, people realize that they need or will need food.  If you doubt, or need a reminder, just think back to pictures of grocery store shelves during winter storms or hurricanes.  The problem with “ordinary” people (or maybe we should call them irresponsible), is that they wait till the disruption is right at their doorstep!

I knew when I started in preparedness that I didn’t want to be irresponsible.  I have a family and I wanted to make sure that their needs are met if I can help it.  So to me, as a father and husband, it is a no brainer to have long term food storage!

My good friend Gaye Levy of Backdoor Survival says it well in her book, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage

When most people start thinking about preparedness, they focus on food. Not shelter, gear, sanitation, power, self-defense or the myriad of other concerns that need to be addressed following an emergency or disaster situation. Quite simply, food is the number one concern people have second only to their concern for having an adequate supply of water.

 

What type of food should you buy, where should you buy it, and how should you store it? You are going to learn that acquiring food for the preparedness pantry does not have to be overwhelming. Furthermore, long-term emergency food storage is something you can do over the course of a week, a month, or even longer, if that is what it takes.

 

Perhaps even more important, when you have filled your storage pantry, you will be secure in the knowledge that if a disaster strikes, you will have plenty of food to feed your family, along with a few treats and surprises along the way.

 

My Long Term Food Storage Dilemma

 

After doing my due diligence and researching long term food storage, I soon realized that I wouldn’t be able to afford to purchase those big pallets of food for my whole family.  It would have been nice and easy to place an order online and then just park all that food in a room, but it wasn’t happening for my budget, and I bet it isn’t happening for your own budget either.

There is also the issue with what your family will eat.  Many of those long term food packs come with food that your family might not like and won’t eat.  Yeah, I know.  In an emergency, if they were starving, they would eat it.  But still…why push it.

I knew I wanted to store long term food for my family, the issue was how and how much.  It wasn’t long that I found that you could store food long term in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers inside of plastic 5 gallon buckets.

Side Note: Now, I will tell you here that I think the easiest form of food storage is buying canned foods at your local grocery store.  You can easily create a 30 day menu by using cans.  I wrote the article, Anyone Can Do It – Fool Proof Food Storage, which provides information to an old Y2K website with a ton of recipes…no guessing!  Below that article, you will find a ton of links to other types of food storage from many of my friends who also blog about preparedness.  BUT – canned foods aren’t meant to last for the “LONG TERM.”

The only thing that worried me about making my own long term food storage buckets was ME!  At that time, there wasn’t as much information about making your own food storage buckets like now!  What if I screwed something up and the food that my family depended on went bad and we were caught without any food during a long term crisis?  It’s kind of scary if you think about it, but you have to GET OVER IT!

Making your own long term food storage buckets is very easy.  I’m going to list out the steps in a 1,2,3 format.  But if you need more encouragement, I’m going to include so many links after my steps that you are going to OD on information and feel like a long term food storage expert!

 

Steps to Making Your Own Long Term Food Storage Buckets

 

1.  Acquire Your Supplies. 

You will need mylar bags, O2 absorbers, 5 gallon buckets w/ lids, a mallet, a pail or bucket opener, an iron, a 2×4 board and the food you want to store.

Mylar Bags – Here you have a few options.  You can go with big 5 gallon bag sizes or you can go with 1 gallon bag sizes and place 4-5 in each 5 gallon bucket.  You really want to purchase mylar bags that have a decent thickness.  I usually get 4mil thick bags from Amazon.

I have a big family, with big boys.  I chose to use the big 5 gallon size bags.  I figure that we are going to eat!  If you are putting together buckets for just two people, you might want to use the 1 gallon size bags and place various types of food in one bucket.

O2 Absorbers – O2 absorbers will absorb the oxygen that you can’t push out of the mylar bag.  Various sizes of bags require various cc’s of oxygen absorbers.

To take the guess work out of it though, you can purchase packs of mylar bags with O2 absorbers.  Like I said, I purchase them from Amazon already put together.

5 gallon buckets – You don’t really NEED buckets, but you should use them!  The buckets are  there to protect the mylar bags from being punctured by accident or by little fury critters.  They will also serve as an easy place to store your food when you open up your mylar bags.  I purchase the orange buckets from Home Depot.  I purchase the lids there too.  Home Depot has also started selling gamma lids, lids that easily screw off.  But you can also purchase them on Amazon.

Mallet – You will need this to hammer down the lids on the buckets after you finish sealing your bags.

Bucket/Pail Opener – This isn’t necessary, but will save your nails and fingers when you try to open your buckets.  They are cheap and you will be glad you have one.  You can purchase them on Amazon too.

Food – If you are doing this on the cheap, you probably want to stick with white rice, beans and pasta.  All of these foods will last for a very long time.  This will get you started, but you might want to add more.  Like for example, you might want to store sugar.  You can put that in a mylar bag, but don’t include an O2 absorber.  It will turn your sugar into a hard block.  For other examples of foods that you can store, see the links below.

Iron and 2×4 board – When you get ready to seal your mylar bags, you will place the top of the bag on the board and then iron over it.  I used an old iron we didn’t throw out and I had a 2×4 just laying around in the garage.

2.Fill Up the Bags

First thing – Do not open the package that the O2 absorbers come in until you are ready to start sealing your mylar bags!  Once you open the O2 package, the absorbers start working.  You want to wait until you are really ready.

Setup your buckets in a line or in a work area that will allow you to move easily.  Turn on your iron, connect with an extension cord if it makes it easier, and set it on high.

Place your mylar bags inside the buckets and pour your food inside. You might want to go ahead and label your lids with a Sharpie and place it under the buckets of food so you don’t forget what is inside each bucket…in case you are the forgetful type! 
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