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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Prepping on a budget, part 3 – food storage and security

Now that you have decided to start putting aside some food, you might be thinking “Where am I going to keep all of this food and other stuff?” Hopefully you have lots of extra space, an extra bedroom, or a big kitchen with a pantry and lots of cabinets…  or if you are like many of us, space is at a premium and you will have to be creative about how and where you store your preps.

Clearly the ideal situation is being able to store your preps inside your home, in a climate controlled space that doesn’t interfere with your everyday living AND is secure from prying eyes and insects/rodents or anything else that might try to spoil your goodies. Honestly heat is probably your worst enemy, so it is not recommended to store foods or anything that is perishable in an attic space, save that space for things that can’t spoil or go bad. A basement is a great place, assuming it’s dry, and if not, you can store your goodies in waterproof containers, such as plastic totes, 5 gallon buckets with secure lids and such, even a plastic garbage can with a secure lid would work.

Before storing your foods, especially things that are prone to weevils, I would suggest freezing foods for a period of a few days to a week to kill out any eggs, yes weevil eggs come in prepackaged foods, like flour, cornmeal, rice, anything with pasta… freezing the food will help ensure you are not storing bug contaminated foods, you don’t want to find out your foods are full of bugs when you need them most. Once you have frozen the foods, then seal them to prevent anything from getting into it.You can sprinkle food grade diatomaceous earth around your food preps to kill any insects that may get past your measures. You can even put it in your flour, corn meal and such, it will not hurt you, just don’t go overboard and use too much, and be careful not to breath it, it will irritate your lungs and eyes. http://cleancoops.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=14&Itemid=14



Now as to where to stash your food (and water, don’t forget you need water too). Even in the smallest efficiency apartment there are extra spaces that are wasted space and can be used to stash your food. Under the bed comes to mind first, there are even specially designed totes that fit under beds and can store a lot of food. You can also use plastic totes to make furniture, place 2 totes a few feet apart and put a board on top for a table, place a pretty cloth on top that drapes down and no one need know that you are storing food and/or water in it. There are decorative boxes that can be used as coffee tables and end tables, fill them with your stash. Buy an extra chest of drawers and fill the drawers with food.

Closets, again you can use totes to put in your closet, what about that space up top that you can’t reach anyhow, you can fill that space with extra food and water. On top of your fridge, behind your microwave,  behind the linens in the bathroom, behind your couch, utility spaces such as the space where your water heater lives (be careful not to put things too close to the heat), the space where your air conditioner lives and such… 
Store dry goods (beans, rice and such) in clean, dry soda and water bottles.

I wouldn’t recommend relying on frozen foods to get you though hard times, if the power goes out, then you will be stuck with a lot of food that will go bad before you can consume it.


Food hidden inside the wall between studs
Food hidden inside the wall covered with sheet rock
Stash goodies in a false or drop ceiling

If you own your space (not an apartment or rented space), then you can get even more creative, how about stashing some food in the wall space between studs? Make a drop ceiling and stash some goodies in that space. How about the crawl space under the house? If you do that, it will need to be protected from moisture, insects, rodents and such. If you are handy, you can create all sorts of false walls behind cabinets, shelves and such. This goes a long way toward security:

Security
This is simple, the fewer people who know what you have, the safer you will be. Don’t store your stuff where it is visible. Don’t brag to your neighbors, friends, co-workers and such about what you have. Right now they might just roll their eyes and make fun of you, but if times get bad, these same people might show up at your home and want what you worked so hard to store. Do you have enough to share? Probably not, you are going to be doing good to feed yourself and your family in a SHTF situation. At best, would you want to have to say no to these people? At worst, are you willing to defend what you have worked so hard to store? So the easiest way to prevent that scenario from happening in the first place is to keep your mouth shut. When everyone is standing around the water cooler at work (does anyone actually do that anymore??? LOL) and is making fun of these prepper shows, you just make fun of them too, smile with the knowledge that you are creating a secure situation for you and your family. Don’t give it away that you might just be one of “those” preppers too.

You should also instruct your family members about this too, it’s fun for kids to brag about what their parents have at home, I’ve even heard of public schools querying students if their parents have firearms and such at home, your children should be taught at a young age that it is no body’s business what is stored at home, from food, water and firearms. Hopefully your spouse is on board for all of this and is also willing to keep quiet about what goes on at home. I also don’t recommend taking pictures of your preps and posting them on the internet. It’s fun to compare what you have with other people, but things like that just make you a target for those who haven’t prepared.

Another reason it’s a good idea to keep quiet about things like food storage, I have read about laws on the books (in the USA) about the government being able to come in to your home and take extra food storage in the event of an emergency situation. Don’t think they would do that? Just ask the folks who went through Katrina, the government agencies came through and confiscated people’s guns, of course it was all done for the “good, safety and security” of the whole, it left a lot of people unarmed and unprepared for the looters who showed up later. Am I being alarmist? Perhaps. Do I believe the government will take care of us in a major catastrophe? No. In the event of a major emergency, you will most likely be on your own for a while and you will need to be able to feed and protect yourself and your family. Hopefully this situation will never happen, but it’s better to be prepared for something that never happens than to be unprepared during an emergency and wish you had done something before.

This isn’t just  being prepared for major emergencies, this could be something as simple as losing your job, having your hours cut, an unexpected bill, an injury that keeps you from working… if you have some extra food put aside, then you have more options, then you might not have to decide if you want to buy food or pay your rent or mortgage.

How do you prep on a budget? Do you have any questions about this subject? Please ask in the comments, and if there is anything else you would like to see here, please tell me your suggestions.
Here are the links to the entire Prepping on a budget series
Prepping on a budget – part 1 – food
Prepping on a budget – part 2 – book review
Prepping on a budget – part 3 – food storage & security
Prepping on a budget – part 4 – water
Prepping on a budget – part 5 – first aid kit

All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Prepping on a budget, part 2 – book review




While scouring the internet looking for ways to be more self sufficient, I ran across a great (new to me) author, her name is Susan Gregersen. As I dug deeper about Susan, one of the things that really interested me was her very down to earth nature, she writes using everyday language, nothing pretentious here. If you have lots of money to prep with, then this book isn’t for you, but if you are on a tight to impossible budget, like most of us are, then this will be a great book for you.
 
Susan has written several books and sells them, at a super bargain price I might add, on Amazon. I contacted Susan and asked if I could do a review on one of her books, and possibly her daughter’s books too, like mother like daughter, they are both published authors. She replied and said she would be happy to let me review her books. She sent me a copy of Poverty Prepping, available right now on Amazon for 99 cents (free right now if you have a Kindle and have Amazon Prime, if you don’t one, you can still download this book to read on your computer). She also sent me a copy of a newly published book, Food Self-Sufficiency: Reality Check, both of them are real gems IMHO, and at 99 cents, well you just can’t beat that. But if you only get one of these books, I recommend Poverty Prepping.


Susan’s book, “Poverty Prepping: How to Stock up For Tomorrow When You Can’t Afford To Eat Today“, shows that even on the smallest paychecks, it is possible to prep, to help set up a buffer against even harder times, even if it’s only one or two extra items per paycheck, even if you have to sacrifice some other thing to do this, it’s worth sacrificing for a short period of time for the better good for you and your family. I wrote about this in part 1 of this series.

Susan gives some really good examples of how to prep even on the tightest of budgets, what to pick out, how to store it, what extra things to buy for bartering purposes, how to get things free (gardening, foraging, hunting, trading…), as well as non-food items… One thing Susan does not cover, and I would highly suggest adding later is about not going into debt to do any of these things, don’t use credit cards, don’t take out a loan, and for gosh sakes, stay away from those title loan places that seem to be on every street corner now, you will lose money as a result of the high interest charged by all of these methods.

I would say this book is well worth your time, and it’s such a major bargain, even if you only get one thing from this book, it’s well worth it. As of right now, this book has 46 reviews on Amazon and has 4.1 out of 5 stars.

Here are the links to the entire Prepping on a budget series
Prepping on a budget – part 1 – food
Prepping on a budget – part 2 – book review

Prepping on a budget – part 3 – food storage & security
Prepping on a budget – part 4 – water
Prepping on a budget – part 5 – first aid kit

All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Prepping on a Budget - part 1

With prices on everything going up and our earnings going down, many of us are living on the edge, some of us are only one paycheck away from being homeless. Right now, food and supplies for everyday living is readily available, you can walk into any store and find the shelves stocked with food. But you must realize those shelves can be empty in just a matter of hours in any kind of major emergency, and when that happens, it will not matter how much money you have, if there is no food in the stores, there is no food. These types of emergencies can be on a global scale, solar flares, asteroid or comets impacting the earth, to regional problems such as hurricanes, floods, wildfires, to very local problems, such as a car hitting a power pole knocking out the power for your entire neighborhood… even down to a very personal crisis, like losing your job, being injured and not being able to work, having an unexpected bill. What can you do to help ensure that you will survive?

As I mentioned, grocery stores have stocks of food, right now, but that could change in a heartbeat. It used to be that grocery stores had larger warehouse areas in the back of the store, they received fewer but larger shipments. Now, most stores have at best, a 3 day supply of food in the store, including the stock room in back. They receive multiple shipments a week, but ultimately receive less stocks of food from each one. If anything were to happen to the transportation of these foods, trucks, or trains, or airplanes or ships, then your grocery store will run out of food within about 3 days, that’s IF there isn’t a panic run on food, then you have hours at best. If something happened and you could not leave your home, starting right now, today, how long would it be before you started running out of food? How long before you would be in real trouble? A few days? A week? A couple of weeks? A month?

Today I’ll talk about how to prep in the area of food, even if you are on the tightest of budgets. If you say to me that you cannot afford to put back extra food for emergencies, I will tell you that is precisely WHY you need to do it. If you have extra food, even as little as an extra 2 weeks to a month’s worth of food, then in a financial emergency, such as an unexpected bill, or job loss, you will not have to choose between buying groceries and paying your rent or mortgage.

First you need to decide how much extra you can spend, if you do not have a budget written down, it’s time to do it and see just where your money goes, you might be surprised as to how much waste happens a few dollars here and a few dollars there. I know there are ways you can stretch your earnings, do you really NEED that $3-4 dollar cup of yuppie coffee? Do you really NEED to eat out at lunch (or breakfast, or dinner)? How about taking your lunch for a month and spend that extra money on food supplies to put up. Do you really NEED to buy prepared junk foods and convenience foods? How about buying more basic foods and actually cooking a meal from scratch?

Ladies, how about doing your own nails for a month, or you could go to a beauty school to have services done. Do you really NEED every premium channel on satellite or cable TV? Do you really NEED to drive as much as you do? Fuel is very costly, running around for no good reason eats into your budget. How about putting your gym membership on hold and working out at home, or find a cheaper gym for a while. How about shopping in resale shops? Do you really NEED to pay full retail price for clothes and such?

Now that you have determined how much you can spend, now to decide what to buy. Ideally you would buy foods that don’t require refrigeration and will last a long time. Obviously rice and beans come to my mind, also canned foods, dehydrated or freeze dried foods. The reason to stay away from frozen foods is in an emergency where you might not have electricity, you don’t want to lose hundreds of dollars worth of food that you worked so hard to put up. If you are really good in the kitchen, you can even can your own foods in Mason jars and such. I have a friend who buys chicken and beef in bulk quantities when it’s on sale and cans it, she spends a day preparing and canning the meat, she even cans her own stock/broth.

I love those little hermetically sealed aseptic foil packs of foods, like tuna, chicken, beef, you can even get milk in those foil boxes that don’t require refrigeration, just watch the dates on those, even though they are aseptic, they do eventually start tasting “off”.

You can also stretch your money by clipping coupons, you can even print coupons from the internet, but be aware, the ink you are using might be digging into your savings, so decide if you printed coupons are worth the savings. Get together with coworkers, people from your church and neighborhood, create a coupon co-op, that way anything you don’t want, someone else might be able to use, and you can get coupons that someone else might not want. Use store sales, if there is something you like that would work well in your preps, and it’s on sale, then instead of buying one or two, buy a few extras to put aside. If your store limits the number of a sale item you can purchase, then bring along a friend or family member to help, and don’t forget, they probably will not try to stop you from buying something, taking it to your car, coming back in and buying it again.

You can shop at discount stores, look for dollar stores, Big Lots and such, you can find LOADS of prep worthy foods (along with other goodies to put up for emergencies), what you would have spent on an expensive cup of latte, you can buy a whole box of tuna packets, for what you would have spent on a month at the gym, you can fill a shopping cart with canned meats and such, as long as you shop smart. Don’t forget about store brand foods, you know the ones that used to be referred to as generic? WalMart has their Great Value line, I usually buy those first because they are such a bargain and they are just as good as the name brand, Sam’s club has Member’s Mark, look at the stores where you shop, buy one of a store brand item to try it and determine if you will like it before buying up quantities. Even the dollar stores are starting to carry their own house brands, usually at half the price of the name brands.

Be sure to rotate your foods too, you don’t want to find out that your foods have gone south when you are in a position to have to eat it. Grocery stores use a system called “FIFO”, first in, first out.
One more place to find food to put up, is at food banks. I have gone to food banks and I often find many people walking past the foods that would be best for putting up, things like bags of beans, bags of rice, one food bank I used to go to would allow you to take as many bags of beans and rice as you could fit into one grocery bag, I was amazed at the numbers of people who would walk right past that to go to the more convenience type foods. Please don’t let pride stop you from providing for yourself and your family.

Later I’ll discuss how and where to store your precious foods, what other items to stock up on, and security related to your preps and family.

I originally wrote this article for www.off-grid.net, as of right now, I have 4 total articles in this series, I'll be posting the rest of them here in the coming days.

All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!