Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Food Storage Sale!

My favorite food storage website is having a black friday/cyber Monday sale on my favorite wheat grinders, can organizers, sun oven, and more. If you are looking to get one of these items, they RARELY go on sale so check them out.

They also are having a sale at Emergency Essentials during the same time period. It's a GREAT time to give your family the gift of preparedness.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Spreadable Powdered Butter - FINALLY!

I know I have fallen off the radar. Sorry. But great news! On the advice of some friends, I tried out a new brand of powdered butter, and got a new food storage book. Both are MUST HAVES!

The butter powder is from Shelf Reliance. They even sell it in a small mylar bag if you want to just try it out first. That is what I bought and I put it on my bagel for breakfast this morning. For me, that is the ultimate test. If I can eat it on toast, then it will definitely be fine for everything else. It was far and away the best that I have tried so far. Definitely edible on toast, however, I did not follow the package directions when make it. Rather, I mix it like this to make spreadable butter:

1 TBLS butter powder
1 scant tsp water
1 scant tsp veggie oil
pinch of salt or sugar (depending on which you prefer)

I actually tried one piece of toast made with the salt, and one made with the sugar. The difference was very slight but I personally did prefer the sugar.

The new book that I love is "The Everyday Gourmet Cooking with Long Term food Storage" by Shari Haag. It's not easy to find but there are places online you can get it. Believe me it's worth it. Lots of great recipes that use only food storage items.

I finally got my pressure canner gauge calibrated so that I can try canning meat. Yea! Guess I'll have to make a giant meat purchase at Costco next month :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Challenge for You

I tried a new kind of milk this week. It's GREAT! Definitely my favorite so far. And unlike Morning Moos, it's real milk, and not milk substitute. It's called Country Cream by Grandma's Country Foods. So far this is the winner to replace all the milk I have stored from the cannery. Shipping is kind of pricey but I hear that it is also available at Macey's grocery stores in Utah Valley. I'll have to have my sister check it out for me.

I've been trying a lot of new things lately. I have a new system. (I LOVE new systems). I created a folder to help me organize new recipes that I want to try. I have divided the recipes into categories:

1. Crockpot
2. Dutch Oven
3. Food Storage
4. Pantry Only
5. Regular recipes

Now when I create my menu list each week I choose at least one new recipe from each section to try. The food storage recipes are recipes that use only my long term stored items. The Pantry Only section contains recipes that are for my 3 month supply which contain mostly canned good from the grocery store that can be eaten without adding any fresh, frozen, or dairy items. These are valuable recipes because it's hard to come across good, edible meals that do not need added fresh meat, produce, or dairy. When I find good ones I will post them in my recipe section and tag them "Pantry Recipe" I use these recipes for my 3 month supply, not my year supply since they are mostly made up of canned grocery items which expire after only a year or two.

So far this new system is working great. Plus, it makes the drudgery of deciding what to eat each week much easier since I only have to come up with 1 or 2 dinners outside of my list of new things to try.

I also have 3 older kids (ages 11-15) and they each cook one night a week. It's good experience for them to get a new recipe on their night, especially if it's a food storage one, and gain their own experience.

Tonight we made our dutch oven meal which turned out pretty good. I'm trying to get the hang of dutch oven cooking. I found some dutch oven liners which make it much better because you don't have to clean a big mess out of the pot. Dutch oven cooking is not my favorite yet but I think as I do it I will like it better and it won't seem so scary. The ultimate goal of course, is to be able to cook my food storage meals in it.

So, what does all this have to do with you? Well I want to issue a small challenge to all my readers. Pick one night a week and try out food storage only recipes. It's not too big of a commitment but if you do it faithfully, by the end of the year you will have tried out 52 recipes! Begin a collection of your favorites for your own family's food storage recipe book. You will be amazed at how good it will make you feel, and how much less scary food storage will seem. Let me know how it goes!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What is the best way to store food?

I know you all think I dropped off the face of the earth. SORRY!! School started, plus soccer practice for 3 kids, plus my husband had surgery, and on and on. I haven't even had time to blog.

Well hubby goes back to work tomorrow and we survived the first couple of weeks of school so I'm hoping things will get back to normal ~ at least my crazy version of normal :)

Two weeks ago I taught my first class on Living off Food Storage. I thought it went pretty well and hopefully I left the impression of being a relatively sane person despite some of the crazy things I do. Some of my blog followers were there which actually made the whole thing SO much more fun! I have 2 more classes scheduled so far so hopefully there will be a lot of people inspired to do something with their food storage. :)

I had a couple of things I could blog about but I felt like I should talk about this one first. There are, in the world, basically 2 ideas about storing food for a year. One, the "old fashioned" way with #10 cans of whole foods like wheat, beans, rice, etc. The other is commonly called "storing what you eat" meaning storing regular grocery foods that you use everyday.

Both methods have their pros and cons and I don't think we can say either one is the "right" way because any way you store up food is going to bless your family, but I think we should consider carefully before we choose what is right for our own families. I am no expert but I have, obviously, chosen to store whole foods and I will tell you why.

1. If you ever had to actually live off your food storage alone, have you thought of what it would do to your health to eat only store bought food out of a can for an entire year? Of course with all those preservatives, you might live longer ;)

2. If you had to leave your home with your food storage, it would be much harder to move thousands of little cans, than fewer larger ones.

3. Store bought cans and foods have a much shorter shelf life and must be vigorously rotated.

4. If you are truly living off food storage alone, remember that you can not supplement canned goods with fresh produce, or cheese, or dairy. Everything you make has to come from a can. Most people going with the "store what you eat" method forget about that.

4. And finally, have you ever thought about why we might all have to live off our food storage in mass? I can think of a lot of scenarios (plague, famine, widespread destructions, total economic collapse, etc) and none of them make me think that on day 366 we will get to go back to the grocery store. It seems much more likely we will be growing our own food like wheat, beans, rice, etc. I would just rather already know how to use these foods because I had stored them, and my body is used to eating them.

That being said, there is one caveat. If you are going to store whole foods in bulk then please, please, please, learn how to use it. If you aren't going to learn how to cook with it, then it is better to store the store bought cans. They will at least preserve our family's lives for a year. After that, come over and I will teach you how to use the other foods :)

Now in fairness, I do actually use somewhat of a hybrid method of storage. I have a 3 month supply that is separate from my year supply. MOST of my 3 month supply is store bought canned items that I eat regularly with just a few bulk items mixed in. It is easier to rotate these cans when there is only 3 months worth, and in an emergency scenario, they provide quick meals and comfort foods. When we set out to live off food storage, my 3 month supply was the first to get used up because it was food I was familiar with and it was convenient. However, I couldn't imagine living off it for a year.

I have a list of books that I love that help with using your food storage. Some I have shared before but I will list them all here anyway:

For cooking whole foods from scratch:
1. "A Bite of Independence Through Self Sufficiency" by Marlynn Phipps, Jan Woolley, and Venecia & Jenny Phipps - Used copies only or purchase e-book
2. "Dinner is in the Jar" by Kathy Clark
3. "Country Beans" by Rita Bingham
4. "The Essential food Storage Cookbook" by Tami Girsberger and Carol Peterson
5. "Mix a Meal Cookbook" by Deanna Bean & Lorna Shute

For cooking with pantry items only:

1. 100-day Pantry: 100 Quick and Easy Gourmet Meals Jan Jackson
2. It's in the Bag a New Approach to Food Storage Michelle and Trent Snow

Anyway, that is my 2 cents, although it might not be worth even that much! LOL However you decide to store food, it will bless your life to have it. When people feel safe and secure they are better able to function in their everyday lives and they are happier.

Next week I am going to blog about easy ways you can begin using your food storage now and teaching yourself, and your family, how to use what you have stored.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

You might be a Hoarder if.............

Have you ever seen that show Hoarders? It's awful. People living in trash up to the window panes. I've watched it a few times out of sheer horror. Although, I'm not going to lie, I sat a couple of my kids down in front of it with me to give them a little motivation to clean their rooms :)

Anyway, my first trip back to the grocery store gave me a little insight into those people who hoard. I couldn't believe all the FOOD. Everywhere! I had forgotten how much food was available in how many varieties, and most of it in convenience packages. Wow.

I just went from one aisle to the other stocking up my cart. I was like a kid in a candy store. It's a good thing no one was with me, they would have been really embarrassed. I think I might even have hugged a couple of boxes of Eggos.......

By the time I had finished with the grocery store and Costco my van was packed, and I mean PACKED! When I got home I realized just how small my fridge is :) I could barely shut the door, and that is when it occurred to me I could easily become a food hoarder if I'm not careful. I now have this overwhelming desire to stock up on fresh foods, as if tomorrow I won't be able to get it. I think I bought enough cheese, fruits, eggs, yogurts, and vegetables to feed the US army for at least 2 weeks.

So I decided to look up the definition of hoarder and guess what? It's too late - I already AM a hoarder! LOL

1. A supply or accumulation that is hidden or carefully guarded for preservation, future use, etc.

2. To accumulate for preservation, future use, etc., in a hidden or carefully guarded place: to hoard food during a shortage.

So I've decided to just embrace that side of myself and try to hoard in moderation :)

One thing living off food storage has done for us is give us an appetite for whole, fresh foods. I think we have eaten pretty much nothing but fresh fruits, veggies, and dairy since we quit food storage. One of our first meals was a huge fruit salad and twice baked potatoes. My 4 year, who doesn't quite get that we aren't on food storage anymore, takes one bite and says, "Now this is a great 'whesipie' mom!" So cute - he couldn't even quite pronounce the word recipe.

Other good news, I've been finding the pieces to build a cheese press and found the PERFECT cutting board for the base at Wal-mart (I have a real love/hate relationship with that store). It's perfect because you can see it has a drain off one side which you need as you squeeze the whey out of the curds. I have to order a couple of parts this week and then put my husband to work on it.

Speaking of my husband, he decided this week that rather than pay $269 for a brake job on my van, he would just do it himself. No big deal since he usually changes our brakes. However, this van is new and it took him much longer than he anticipated. He didn't finish until 10pm and he was really tired when he was finally ready to take the van out for a test run.

Well, he forgot to pump the brakes first so the brakes didn't work at all, and he crashed my van right into the back of his brand new truck. Major body damage to both our vehicles. I was just laughing so hard!(although he didn't think it was very funny).

Now, I'm not saying this is his comeuppance for making us quit food storage but............ :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hubby pulls the plug :(

Just got back from the most amazing vacation EVER! We drove our 6 kids all the way across the country to visit Nauvoo, Illinois. Not a big draw unless you are LDS, but for those out there that share my faith, it's one of the most amazing places I have ever been.

All I can say after having been there is that we truly stand on the shoulders of giants. Even now, looking back, I can barely comprehend the things that I saw, and felt, and learned. If you have the chance, you must go. And if you don't have the chance, then make the chance. It's worth the sacrifice.

Now on to much sadder news. My husband pulled the plug on my little one year experiment. To be fair, I never did get him to agree to a full year. He would only commit to 6 months so I took that and then hoped I would be able to convince him later to keep going. Well, our 6 months ended the end of June and no amount of pleading, coercion, or bribery (you know what I'm talking about ladies) :) would convince him to go on any further.

It's not that it's been so awful, we are actually pretty used to it by now, it's just that he is tired of the inconvenience and eating the same type of food all the time.

I do, of course, have plans to continue in my own way with rotating my food storage, learning to make cheese, and I bought a dutch oven that I am going to cook in once a week until I can use it proficiently with food storage. But, as for the day to day of food storage living, that era will sadly come to a close for me. For now. :)

I will continue to update my blog with the new things that I learn on the side and bits of advice but I feel that I must leave my witness of the extreme importance of preparedness and self sufficiency. These are not just concepts for nutty Mormons, or crazy conspiracy theorists. They are sound principles for us all to live by.

How different would our country be today if all had lived by the rule of self sufficiency and preparedness? What if we all had food put away? All had money in our savings like we know we should? None had bought beyond their means and sold their future security away on credit?

Better yet - What if we all start now?

Preparedness is contagious. We can all do something to get more self sufficient.

People ask me all the time why I took on such an insane project as living off my food storage. I ask them, "Why are you storing food?" and they usually answer, "In case I need it."
"Do you know how to use it?"
"Uh. No."
"So how insane is it to be storing food you think you might have to use, but admit you don't know how to use?"

Did I take it to the extreme? Probably. Those of you that know me wouldn't be surprised by that though. :) But I have the security I was seeking. I know what to store for my family and how much. More importantly, I know how to use it.

I have created several documents over the last 6 months, of the things that I have learned, and things people should know when storing and using food storage. I'm teaching a class in a few weeks where I'm going to pull all those together so that they are useful to people and then I will post them here as well.

Thanks for all of your support so far. My biggest regret in not continuing on 100% eating food storage is that I have let down the people that have been following my blog. Hopefully we will continue to learn from each other and you will find what I have learned somewhat useful to you.

Be back soon!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Milk Taste Test

I decided to find out once and for all which powdered milk my family likes best. I didn't realize how important this was until we started living off food storage. I thought (naively) that if there was nothing else to drink, they would drink it. Wrong. Before we started food storage, my family was drinking 5 gallons of milk a week. On powdered milk it dropped down to less than one gallon per week, and most of that was used in cooking rather than for drinking. So I learned 2 important lessons:

1. People will not eat or drink something just because that's all there is.
2. Don't count on powdered milk for giving your family their needed calcium intake.

But I digress. I have stored only real powdered milk. I purposely stayed away from milk substitutes since they don't have the same nutritional value as real milk. I figured my family would need those nutrients if they were actually living off food storage. What I failed to realize was, it doesn't matter how nutritional the milk is if no one will drink it. :)

So I planned a blind taste test to see which milk my family liked best. I even used store bought milk as one of the testers just to see what would happen :) Obviously I couldn't try every brand out there but I tried to pick some of the more popular ones. They included:

1. Morning Moo's
2. Emergency Essentials
3. Church cannery milk
4. Thrive
5. Store bought milk

I also tried 3 brands of chocolate milk which is one way to get your family to actually drink milk:

1. Honeyville Grain
2. Thrive
3. Morning Moo's

The results were interesting. First of all we had 8 taste testers in my family but didn't count the votes of the 3 year old since he denounced all the cups of white milk as "Yucky!!" and declared all of the chocolate milks "Yummy!" :)

Everyone picked their #1 and #2 favorites. Here are the taste test results in order of number of votes received either as #1 or #2:

1. Morning Moo's - 5 votes
2. Emergency Essentials - 3 votes
3. Thrive - 3 votes
4. Store bought milk - 2 votes
5. Church Cannery - 1 vote

So guess which milk I have stored 400 POUNDS of?


The cannery. :(

The good news is, it doesn't matter when baking what you use, it's only when drinking it straight that it becomes a problem. So, my plan is to replace the cannery milk with Morning Moo's as we use it up. I will still keep plenty of cannery milk in my storage because it is real powdered milk, rather than a milk substitute, so I still want it for baking. But for drinking, you have to go with the milk your family will actually drink.

Isn't it interesting that the store bought milk only got 2 votes? Guess that's what happens when you are living off food storage. Your idea of what is normal tasting begins to shift.

For the chocolate milk we just voted on our favorite:

1. Honeyville Grain - 3 votes
2. Thrive - 3 votes
3. Morning moos - 1 vote

I got shot down on this one since my favorite was actually the Morning Moos. Oh well, guess we'll have to go with majority rules on this one. I don't drink much chocolate milk anyway.

So you can buy Morning Moo's online but I find that Costco often carries it as well. My Costco was having a blow out sale on it just before we started living on food storage so I bought a whole 5 gallon bucket.

I can't say if that is the milk your family will like best (although I found another blog that did a similar test to mine and came out with almost exactly the same results), but it can at least give you a starting point.

One lesson I have learned from all of this is to NEVER, EVER store food you have not tried. I know it's so tempting. Food storage can be expensive and you don't want to waste a whole can just trying it out, but you could be really sorry if you don't. Some of the food I was storing turned out to be completely inedible (like Honeyville Grain Butter) and I had to throw it all in the trash. Now THAT is expensive.

Also, don't believe the myth that if a person is hungry enough, they will eat it. It's absolutely not true. Just ask my 3 year old. :)

Finally just a heads up that I will be taking a long anticipated trip to Nauvoo and will not be able to blog the next few weeks. I'm thinking if I get really lucky though, I might just come across an old fashioned butter churner, or cheese press while I'm there!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Food Storage Utopia

I spent all of last week in Utah (AKA Food Storage Utopia). Man, people there just don't know how lucky they are. I visited all of my favorite places (except Honeyville Grain).

First I went to Emergency Essentials in Orem. I bought their plunger for hand washing clothes, some powdered milk, and some gamma lids. Then my sister tells me, "Oh they sell those lids at Walmart."

WHAT the heck?!! Walmart sells gamma lids in Utah?

It takes me a minute to digest that kind of information. (They didn't have David Archuleta's new book though. Weird.)

Then I went to the holy grail of preparedness stores - Smith and Edwards in Ogden. If you haven't been there, you are REALLY missing out. I bought my own meat grinder since I had borrowed a friend's to make my wheat meat, got another kind of powdered milk to try, and bought my first dutch oven. I'm SUPER excited about that. My next venture is to learn how to cook my food storage in a dutch oven. You just never know when you might have to function without electricity. A dutch oven would be essential IMHO.

Finally, I went hunting for Rennet so I can make cheese. That was a bit tougher. I had read online that you could just go into any grocery store in Utah and get it. That turned out to be a bit of an exaggeration. (Kind of like people who say that everyone in California lives on the beach, or everyone in America is rich and beautiful :) ) I went to quite a few grocery stores. Nada. Finally tried The Good Earth store and.... SCORE! Now I can make cheese. Just have to get my hubby to build me a cheese press this week. BTW, did you know that you can wax store bought cheese and keep it, unrefrigerated, for years? I'll have to try that too.

So much to do - so little time........ sigh

Today I am making 5 different brands of powdered milk and I'm going to do a blind taste test with my family. Whichever they like best is the brand we are going to store to drink. I'll let you know how it goes next week!

Finally I want to give a GIANT shout out to my favorite food storage website in the world - Food Storage Made Easy. I have been with them since they began as a small blog and I was blessed to find out that they featured my blog on their Facebook page last week.

Funny story actually.

My sister-in-law called me up and says, "So you are famous now?" I said, "What are you talking about?" She told me a link to my blog was on the Food storage made easy Facebook page. I couldn't believe it - and immediately regretted that my blog isn't prettier :)

Anyway, just want to say thanks and welcome all my new followers from there! You are awesome and I'm so happy we have this common interest.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wheat Meat (Don't be scared)

Ok I know the very name wheat meat can make a person cringe. That is what I thought too but hopefully you will be as surprised as I was by the reality. It was really good! I'm not saying all wheat meat is good, but this recipe definitely was. This is going to be a long post so please bear with me. :)

I've been wanting to try wheat meat for some time because the reality is, no matter how much meat you store, you will eventually run out. I was HIGHLY skeptical of wheat meat but I knew I had to at least try it. Plus, my new favorite food storage book (A Bite of Independence Through Self-Sufficiency)has a whole chapter raving about it and since I pretty much trust that book with my life now.....

There were different recipes depending on what you wanted to make: chicken, ground beef, hamburgers, hot dogs, etc. I decided to make meatballs for our spaghetti, and hamburger patties for dinner later in the week. That is all I've tried so far so those are the recipes I'll post on my recipe link.

Let me just say that IT..............WAS..................AWESOME! First I made the meatballs and served them with spaghetti. You seriously could NOT tell it wasn't real meat. It looked like meat, tasted like meat, had the consistency of meat. And the ultimate test - my kids gobbled them up!

Two days later we had our "hamburgers." I didn't tell anyone that they were not real. I even barbecued them on our grill! I accidentally made the patties bigger than the buns so I had to cut off the edges, leaving a lot of pieces of "meat" on the serving platter.

Not one of my kids realized that the burgers weren't real. They gobbled them down and then asked if they could have the leftover "meat" on the platter. I just smiled and said, "Sure." They gobbled that down too, leaving only scraps.

My husband did catch on. He thought they were real burgers until he bit into one and then he realized they were not real meat BUT he still liked them and ate the whole thing. This could be because he eats more real food than the rest of us since he works at the Fire Station several times a week and eats there.

We also had some friends come over later in the evening and when we told them what we had for dinner (people CONSTANTLY ask me what we've eaten that day - probably just morbid curiosity) they wanted to try some. I was reticent since all there was left was the little scraps that had long since grown cold. Still they tried it, and THEY LIKED IT TOO! They couldn't believe it was made out of wheat. In fact one of them said, "Hey, it tastes like chicken!" LOL

One side benefit I was not aware of, is that a byproduct of making wheat meat is bran. I made approximately 2 lbs of wheat meat and ended up with about 2 cups of bran left over. So, I made bran muffins which my kids LOVED. Out of 2 dozen I could barely keep one aside so that my husband could try it when he got back from work.

I'll post the recipe for making the wheat meat but here are a few basics. Wheat meat is made entirely from wheat. The bran and starch is washed out of the wheat and you are left with the gluten. Gluten loves to take on the taste of what is around it but it also absorbs liquid so you want to be careful not to add it to your dishes too early. It needs to be added last or it will take on too much moisture and lose it's meat-like texture.

For my recipe I used 10 cups of freshly ground wheat flour and it made approximately 2 lbs of "meat" and 2 cups of bran. Once you have your gluten prepared (don't worry - it's SO easy!) then you bake it. It looks like large rolls. I then ran the rolls through a meat grinder. You can use a food processor as well but the consistency won't be quite the same as meat. The key here is to trick your brain into thinking what you are eating is really meat so you want the consistency and taste to be as close as possible.

Anyway, I ground up the rolls into ground "meat" (man I'm getting tired of using quotations marks! :) ) and then I added seasoning to give it the flavor of what I was making, which was meatballs and hamburger patties. I then shaped them how I wanted and baked them one more time. It is VERY important not to over bake. Better to bake it a little too short, than a little too long. Also, this recipe calls for eggs to be used to bind the wheat into patties. I didn't try it with powdered eggs because I store fresh eggs for stuff like this. I don't know if it would work with powdered but I do know it will work if you use just the whites of the eggs and not the yolks.

I served the meatballs right away while they were still warm in the spaghetti. The hamburgers patties I kept in the fridge for a couple of days. I threw them on the grill just long enough to reheat them. Both were a hit with my family. Going to try to make chicken next. It's a different process but supposedly I can even use it to make chicken nuggets! What 3 year old wouldn't be happy about that?

Finally, on a nutritional note. Wheat meat contains NO cholesterol, and has 1/3 fewer calories than hamburger. In fact the only thing keeping wheat meat from being considered a complete protein is that is lacks the amino acid Lysine, which can be resolved by using eggs to prepare it. Plus I'm sure you've already guess how much cheaper it is than meat. Of course we aren't all going to give up meat but if you ever do have to, you can at least feel good about the nutrition, and economical value, of wheat meat.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Just For Fun ............ Yogurt and Butter

This week I had a little fun doing things I have wanted to for awhile. I made yogurt and butter. Let me just say that you can't make these without real dairy products. At least you can't make versions of them you would actually want to eat. So this wasn't strictly a food storage endeavor, but it was definitely informative and fun.

First the yogurt. I LOVE vanilla yogurt. It's one of my favorite snacks, and my new favorite food storage book had a recipe so I tried that first. I bought some plain yogurt at the store that had live cultures and no additives. That is your starter bacteria that you need. You can buy it in other forms but this was easiest for me.

Then I gathered the other ingredients which included whole milk AND powdered milk (the whole recipe is under my recipe link.) It was SUPER easy to make and I let it "cure" in my wonder oven. I actually forgot about it in there so I left it a little too long, making it more tart than it would have been otherwise, but it was SO good. My kids gobbled it up. Plus for the next 2 days I took the jar and spoons around with me everywhere and forced my friends and family to taste test it. Weird. I know. But I was so proud, and it REALLY was good. :) One batch made a big and little jar as you can see in the picture. For more pictures and details, check out the recipe link.

Next I made butter. Yep. I MADE butter. Funny how something all women did 100 years ago, makes us feel like such a super woman now - LOL! Let me just start off saying that you CAN NOT make butter without cream. And you can't store cream, so unless you have a cow, or a goat, you wouldn't be able to do this without going to the store. And you can't use just any cream. It can not be ultra-pasteurized cream which is what most stores sell. It has to be just regular pastuerized. I was finally able to track down some regular pasteurized manufacturing cream at Smart & Final. I hear that they sell it at Whole Foods as well but I didn't check.

I almost want to just leave it at that and let you all be awed with my homemaking prowess, because you won't be nearly as impressed when you see how easy it was. :) Anyway, I let the cream come to room temperature. Then I poured it into my Bosch with my whipping beaters and started whipping it.

After about 5 minutes it started to turn into whipped cream with soft peaks.

A minute later I had stiff peaks forming.

Then about 2 minutes after that, the solids suddenly congealed into butter and separated from the buttermilk. That's right. Buttermilk ACTUALLY comes from butter! Who knew?

Because I used sweet cream, this buttermilk is not sour like the kind you buy in the store, although you could use lemon juice to sour it. 100 years ago they would let the cream sour before making butter which would create a sour buttermilk by product. These days we seem to prefer sweet cream butter so the milk by product is also sweet. Don't throw it out. It is excellent for baking with and using in your recipes.

After separating the butter from the buttermilk you need to "wash" the butter. This is to get all the buttermilk out of the butter, otherwise it will go rancid very quickly. Simply put the butter into a bowl and fill with COLD water. Then knead the butter until the water turns cloudy. Empty the water, refill, and repeat. Do this until the water remains clear. I had to do it 4 or 5 times.

Then I put the butter back in my mixer and added salt. You don't have to add salt but it tastes very bland without it. If you accidentally over salt it (like I did), just rewash it. Anyway, I whipped the salt in and then I used an old one pound butter container I had and put my butter in there. I had more leftover so I added garlic and parsley to it and made a container of garlic butter for rolls or bread.

So I started out with a 1/2 gallon of cream and I ended up with about 1/4 gallon of buttermilk and about 2 pounds of butter. The cream cost me $6.50 so it was more expensive to make the butter than to buy it, but it was SO much fun! And I feel good that I know how, and I know how easy it is.

BTW, you do not have to keep butter in the fridge. You do need to keep it in an airtight container. As long as air does not get to it as it sits, it will stay good for a fair length of time on your counter.

Making yogurt and butter and living off food storage this many months has given me a greater understanding of how invaluable cows are. We scoff at other countries that worship cows, or how they were given as wedding presents centuries ago, but I can tell you, cows are worth more than their weight in gold. When you have a cow, you have beef, milk, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, and more. Trust me when I tell you, these items are irreplaceable when you are trying to produce food for your family. If I'm ever given the chance to take just one thing with me and live off the land, it would be a cow.

And yes, I can hear you all laughing at me as you read this :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

This and That....

I experimented with quite a few things the last couple of weeks, but only a couple turned out. I made popped wheat, which tastes kind of like popcorn, but my little kids wouldn't eat it. I'm going to try making it a different way this week and see if it's better.

I also tried making yogurt - two different recipes - both were disgusting. I have several more to try this week though.

I also made an applesauce wheat cake. That was yummy! The texture is a little different since it's whole wheat, but the flavor was good, and it was very moist. It calls for spooning some applesauce on top which is important because the cake is a little on the sweet side but when you add the applesauce on top it gives it the tang that it needs.

Plus I made Peanutbutter Chews. I can't find the pictures, I think I accidentally deleted them. These were a big hit with the kids though and were great for satisfying a sweet tooth. I'm not going to pretend that they are the least bit healthy, totally NOT, but, then again, what are you gonna do when you have that craving for something sweet and your living on food storage? :) Anyway, the recipe for both of these is on my recipe link.

Lastly, I found a new book that I'm SUPER excited about! Oddly enough, it came from a friend who has some pretty strong feelings against food storage. She heard what I was doing though and gave me a stack of books. In them was a little gem called, "A Bite of Independence Through Self-sufficiency" Her mom paid .75 cents for it at a thrift store and, as far as I can tell, it is out of print. I could only find expensive used copies of it online. Since I think it's out of print I'm going to post the recipes that I make from there on my blog. This week I am going to try out the yogurt recipes from there and maybe even some cheese if I have time. Can't wait! I'm pretty sure this little .75 cent wonder is going to be my #1 must have food storage accessory.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Magic Mix

I'm back to experimenting with new recipes so I expect to be back to regular blog entries. This week I made pudding pops. Nothing spectacularly innovative but my kids loved them and they were all food storage of course.

The one unique thing about them was I used Magic Mix. If you are not familiar with it, it's a base mix that you can use even in your regular life to make so many things like pudding, white sauce, cheese sauce, creamed soups, etc. The wonderful thing about it is, you can make it up and then just keep it in your fridge up to two months and it will save you time when you are cooking. So far I've used it to make the best chocolate pudding you'll ever eat, and pudding pops.

I'm going to post a bunch of Magic Mix recipes on my recipe blog plus the recipe for Magic Mix itself. Try it out now, you can easily use it even if you are not currently using your food storage. You will love it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Another Butter Option

Sorry I have not posted in several weeks. Truth is, I'm in a bit of a rut. Just cooking the same foods and doing the same things so there hasn't been much to blog about. Today I am REALLY excited though! I know that I obsess too much about spreadable butter but trying to live without it has made me realize how much we use it.

I finally got around to going to an Indian market this week and I bought Ghee, which is just clarified butter. They sell it in all kinds of sizes so I just bought a small one to try it out. It doesn't last a super long time (expires in about a year) but it does NOT need to be refrigerated, even after being opened. YIPPEE!!

The day after I bought it I tried it on toast. It tasted just like the butter that I used to can myself. Completely edible, even on toast. It does have an extremely low melting point so it tends to turn to liquid even just sitting on my counter in mild temperatures. You can keep it in the fridge which keeps it in a solid state, but it isn't necessary to refrigerate it.

Another option that I think I have already mentioned is the Red Feather canned butter from Australia. It's about the same price and, remarkably, is literally butter spread in a can. I've tried it and it taste great, just like butter spread you would buy from the store. The upside to this product is that is has a very long shelf life (15+ years) BUT, once it is opened, it must be refrigerated. Could be a big problem since the chances of us having to live off food storage and STILL having electricity seem small.

Anyway, I'm super excited about finding Ghee. There's no way I can store a whole year's worth because my family eats so much butter, and Ghee expires in just one year. That means we would have to use it exclusively in order to rotate it and it's far too expensive for that. My 8oz jar was $3.95. I will have to just store enough that we will be able to have butter when we really need it, but still I can't tell you how excited about this I am. If you could see me right now I'm doing the happy dance!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Food Storage Inventory

Many people have asked me for an inventory list of the food that I have in my food storage. I made a PDF document but wasn't sure how to post it here. I think I figured it out and you should be able to access it through this link: Food Storage Inventory or if that doesn't work try this Google Docs one: Food Storage Inventory.

It's just a simplified list of the food items that I store. My actual inventory sheet has a lot more information on it. This is the sheet I use to track my food storage. In addition to what you see on the link above, my original document also has a column that tells me where in the house each item is stored, when it expires, and the cheapest place to by it. At the bottom of the food list, I also have a list of non-food items that I store, or need to store, such as toiletries, cooking supplies, etc.

Just a side note. I store freeze dried meats but there are lots of ways to store meat. All of them have their advantages:

Freeze dried is light weight, lasts for years, and is easy to store. However, it is very expensive, and once you open the can, you need to use the whole thing that day or the next.

Canned meat is ready to eat, tastes good, and stores easily but it is heavy, expires more quickly, and is still relatively expensive.

Canning your own meat tastes best and is probably the cheapest and healthiest option but the glass jars are hard to store, canning meat is time consuming, and it expires after about a year.

If you want to have meat stored, just choose the way that works best for your family.

Anyway, I know that there are lots of terrific programs and websites out there that help you track your food storage. Whatever works for you - use it. The big thing to remember though, is to keep a hard copy. The last thing you want is to not have access to your inventory in the event of a power failure or computer failure; particularly a long term failure.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Good Food Storage book

I haven't posted a lot of recipes lately. That is because I have been systematically trying every recipe out of my new book Dinner is in the Jar. Because almost all of the recipes from the book have been good, it would surely break copyright laws for me to post them all on my site.

If you are looking for a bunch of good recipes you should definitely purchase this book. The author has a very good grip on the use of spices and, even though the rest of the ingredients are fairly plain, most of the recipes are pretty tasty. Plus they give you a list of items you need to store to make all of these recipes.

The author promotes this book of recipes as a great way to store your 3 month supply. However, I will probably use these recipes with my long term storage instead of my 3 month supply. Your 3 month supply is meant to be rotated in with your regular meals and, although these recipes are good compared to other things we have eaten lately, they are not going to be something you want rotate into your regular menus I don't think. They are, however, FABULOUS "convenience" food when added into your year's supply.

On another note. I decided to stop torturing my family with powdered milk and powdered butter. I don't think that there is anything more I can learn from continuing to force them to drink powdered milk and use reconstituted butter. I am still using them in my recipes but I bought some fresh stuff this week for them to eat. It was pretty funny actually. My husband opened the fridge, looks suspiciously at the gallon of milk in the door and says, "Is this....real milk?" I said yes. He grabs it immediately as if it will disappear, says, "Oh YES!!" and poured himself a giant glass.

I am still purchasing different brands of powdered milk and butter so that I can find the best tasting ones and store them. Ordering 2 more kinds this week.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Freezing Foods

We really should be keeping two types of food storage. First, foods that we use in our day to day cooking, and then long term food storage as well. I usually refer to the two different stores as my 3 months storage, and my year's supply.

My year's supply is made up completely of shelf stable foods that are in #10 cans or buckets and can last for years. My 3 month supply is made up of canned goods from the store, pre-packaged foods, and items that I have frozen.

After living off this stuff for 3 months now, I just want to put a plug in for freezing food. It's not ideal for long term storage, and of course they lose all value if we are not able to stay at home, with the electricity on, but it's great for being able to store foods you otherwise would not be able to.

First off I freeze my bread dough. I make enough for 6 loaves once a week, bake 2 right away and freeze the rest in individual loaves. The key to this I have found, is letting the dough you are going to freeze, rise in the fridge. So I put the dough for the loaves I'm going to freeze in a large bowl and cover with a towel, then I put it in the fridge to rise at least an hour. Then I punch it down, divide into separate loaves and roll them up in greased saran wrap, and put them in the freezer. Even at that, they will continue to rise in the freezer. If they happen to grow larger than your loaf pan, it's ok, it softens quickly and you can reshape for your pan. Just let frozen dough rise until double and bake as usual. Of course you can just bake all your loaves at once and then freeze but I don't have that many loaf pans, and I just LOVE the smell of fresh baked bread several times a week in my house.

Cheese is another GREAT item to freeze. I was already freezing sliced cheese by buying it in bulk from Costco and then putting it in my freezer. If you defrost it in the fridge, the texture stays virtually the same. You can freeze blocks of cheese as well; however, it will become crumbly if you try to grate cheese that has been frozen. To avoid that, I buy grated cheese in a bag and put that in the freezer. Again, defrost in the fridge. I know that pre-grated cheese costs a little more but believe me, if you have to live without cheese, no cost will seem too great :) You might be able to grate your own blocks of cheese and then freeze it. I haven't tried that but I would be a little worried that it might turn into a giant clump of cheese and not stay separated like the store bought cheese does.

One other great thing to freeze is eggs. You can live off powdered eggs (believe me, I know) but there is just no subsitute when you are craving a fried egg, so you might want to consider freezing some eggs. My friend told me how to do it. I borrowed her rubber muffin tins, sprayed them with pam, broke one egg into each, scrambled up the yolk, and then put them in the freezer.

After they were frozen, I just popped them out and used my foodsaver to vacuum out the air and store them in the freezer.

I also store some with the yolks unbroken so I can have fried eggs :) As you can see from the picture they defrost beautifully.

One thing though, while the yolk was somewhat runny it also remained a little firm. The taste was the same but it might not work out well if you were putting them raw into a baking recipe so it's a good idea to store some with the yolk broken up before freezing it.

As you are aware, many items can be frozen, especially if you have a food vacuum and the freezer space. Like anything, you can build up a supply a little at a time. We were doing that before with meat from Costco, and 3 months into eating our food storage, we even still have a little meat in our freezer. We save it for fast Sundays so we don't have it often but I can't begin to put into words the morale booster it is to have a treat like that, even once a month.

I'm putting up a recipe up for Frozen Fruit Cocktail. I used to make this every summer in my former life :)

I make a huge batch when peaches come into season, put them in the freezer, and have fruit salad all year round. Plus you always have an excellent side dish that is ready at a moments notice. It is SUPER yummy!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Typical Week

I've been trying to think what other people might wonder about living off food storage. It's hard for me to think if there is anything I should post about beyond recipes that are edible. I was thinking today though that you might be interested in the ins and outs of a typical week living off food storage so here it is.

I guess the biggest issue is how much time I spend in the kitchen. Hours everyday. In many ways I'm at a disadvantage over what the pioneers had because women then typically had no responsibilities outside the home. They spent all day cooking and cleaning. No soccer practice, part time (or full time) jobs, PTA meetings, play practice, shuttling kids between 3 different schools, etc. Plus their daughters were home much of the time working right beside them. HOWEVER, they also didn't have electric appliances, dishwashers, washing machines, etc. If you add all the pluses and minuses up, I probably come out a little ahead, even though I feel like I have to be super human to get all this stuff done. :)

So, like I said, I spend the bulk of my time cooking. 3 months into it, I'm in a pretty good rhythm. At the beginning of each week I make a meal plan on a spread sheet that shows what we are eating that week for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner each day. Then I also make up a separate list of what I have to do each day so that I don't forget something, like taking out beans to soak the night before. So here is a typical week of using food storage. I won't bore you with all the other things I have to get done in a week, this list only includes what I have to get done with food. Note that on the weekends I get the bulk of the cooking for breakfasts and snacks during the week done. I also put the approximate time each thing takes if it takes 30 minutes or longer. I just picked a random, typical week:

1. Make 50 waffles (or pancakes) and put in the freezer for breakfasts. [1 hour]
2. Make 6 loaves of bread. Bake 2 and put the rest of the dough in the freezer in loaves to bake later in the week. [3 hours]
3. Make one gallon of milk (my family used to dring 5 gallons of milk a week. With powdered milk we don't even use up 1 a week, so if you are thinking that is how your kids will get their calcium and vitamin D, you might need another plan)
4. Make a gallon of juice from the cannery (This my kids LOVE and go through several gallons a week).
5. Make cold cereal for the kids to eat during the week. [2 hours]
6. Make granola for the kids to snack on after school or eat for breakfast. [1 hour]
7. Make spreadable butter from powdered butter.
8. Make cookies (peanut butter, sugar, or no bake chocolate cookies)[1 hour]
9. Plus make dinners those days.[2 hours]

1. Put frozen waffles in the toaster for kid's breakfast. Serve with butter and syrup.
2. Pack kids lunches with PB and J, dried apples, and cookie.
3. Put beans in the crockpot to cook for dinner.
4. Make kids popcorn (or popped wheat) for snacks after school. [30 minutes]
5. Make cornbread for dinner. [30 minutes]
6. Make meatless chili using cooked beans. [1 hour]
7. Make apple crisp for Family Home Evening. [1 hour]

1. Make oatmeal for the kids for breakfast.
2. Pack lunches with Tuna, granola, and cookie.
3. Make more juice.
4. Make chips for dinner and lunch tomorrow. [2 hours]
5. Make pretzels for kids snacks (double the recipe and freeze half for another day) [2 hours]
6. Make Tortilla soup with the chips for dinner. [1 hour]

1. Cold cereal for breakfast.
2. Pack lunches with PB and Honey, chips from yesterday, and cookie.
3. Defrost and bake 2 loaves frozen bread dough. [All day to defrost and 30 minutes to bake]
4. Make chocolate milk.
5. Make granola bars for kids snacks. [1 hour]
6. Make garlic crescents for dinner. [1 hour]
7. Make meatless spaghetti. [30 minutes]

1. Toast and chocolate milk for breakfast.
2. Pack PB and J, dried apples, and granola bar for kid's lunch.
3. Make more juice.
4. Make brownies for lunches. [30 minutes]
4. Make wheat thins for kids snack. [1 hour]
5. Make tortillas for dinner. [1 hour]
6. Make bean burritos with rice for dinner. [1 hour]

1. Frozen pancakes and syrup for breakfast.
2. Pack Tuna, granola, brownie for lunches.
3. Defrost and bake last 2 loaves of frozen bread. [30 minutes]
4. Defrost pretzel dough and make pretzels for snacks. [30 minutes]
5. Macaroni and Cheese for dinner with reconstituted veggies on the side. [1 hour]

Then we start all over again. Despite all the time that it takes, it feels so good when I see my family eating things that I worked to make from nothing but food storage. The reality is, it's very empowering to feel completely self sufficient, relying on no man to feed my family. It's been difficult but SO worth it.

If the day comes that we ever have to live completely on food storage you can expect to spend most of your time feeding and caring for the needs of your family. Rather than thinking of this as a burden, I have come to realize that it is service in it's highest natural form. Seeing to the physical and spiritual nourishment of my family is my highest calling and most treasured job at this time in my life. Interestingly, I have food storage to thank for making that so crystal clear to me once again.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I had a moment of clarity this week. I was laying in bed going through my head what food storage items I need to replace at Costco this month, when all of the sudden it hit me. I could go a whole year, never set foot in a store, and feed my family comfortably.

And it was more than just thinking that I had the food, it was that I have it AND I know how to use it. I know already what my kids will eat, what I can make on a day to day basis, and that I can take care of my family's nutritional needs completely independent of the outside world for a whole year.

I felt............. safe.

It was a defining moment for me. It was the moment I have been looking for since I started this. In that instant, food storage went from being overwhelming, mysterious, and a little bit scary, to being my promise of security and independence.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thumbs Up Pretzels

We have another winner!! I try new recipes almost everyday and every once in awhile we hit the jackpot. This week we actually had several recipes that we tried and liked including an apple crisp dessert, Mormon baked beans (no really, that's the name), homemade cold cereal, and a homemade instant oatmeal mix. I'm posting all the recipes under my recipe link.

The biggest winner by far though was the soft pretzels we made today. They were VERY close to the ones that you get from the mall even though they were freakishly easy to make and had only a handful of ingredients. I made a double batch and they disappeared instantly, and my kids are begging me to make them again tomorrow. Gotta love that!

You can see from the picture why I'm calling them the "Thumbs Up Pretzels"

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Are we done yet?

When I started this whole adventure a wise friend predicted the following would happen:

1. At first it will be hard because it is so new
2. Then it will be hard because it is so old
3. Then you will wonder why you ever felt the way you did in #1 and #2.

So far she has turned out to be 100% correct. I'm now at #2 and I'm REALLY sick of eating food storage. We are still trying out new recipes everyday so that is at least interesting but it's so much work with so little pay off.

I really miss being too tired to make dinner and just grabbing a pizza. I miss all of our family's favorite recipes. I miss snack foods. I miss super yummy food. I miss feeling like a normal person. I think I even miss grocery shopping.

I keep reminding myself why I started this so I can endure to the end. I'm learning a LOT and I know that I haven't learned all of the things that I set out to learn yet. I know that I will keep going but I just needed to complain a little bit. I just have to make it past #2 and get to the part where it's just normal and I don't even think about it anymore. Any ideas on when that will be?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Word about Wonder Ovens

We have been counseled to store a year's worth of food and fuel where possible. The food I have but fuel is a whole other issue. I quickly realized that it was logistically impossible to store a year's worth of any kind of fuel for a family as large as mine. Especially considering the types of food we store, long grain rice, dry beans, etc. Items that have to boil for hours to be edible. I was looking at mountains of propane, or charcoal, or whatever. Just not feasible.

Then I discovered the Wonder Oven.

The concept is not new, people in poor countries have been using something similar for a long time but now they are being re-purposed for food storage. It's basically an insulating crock-pot consisting of an 18 gallon Rubbermaid, 2 special pillows, and a pot. Together with a one burner stove, it dramatically reduces how much fuel you need to cook your food. You can easily store enough fuel for a year.

How it works is you heat up the food item you want to cook to boiling on your one burner stove, or over a fire, and then boil a short time. Transfer the boiling pot to your wonder oven with the insulating pillows completely surrounding the pot inside the Rubbermaid. Leave unopened the specified amount of time and Ta-Da! Perfectly cooked food using only a few minutes worth of fuel!

I know it sounds like it won't work. That is what I thought the first time I heard of it. But it does work, and it works well. In fact once I got a wonder oven I got mad at how much energy I waste using my regular oven. :)

I mostly bake bread in my wonder oven, but you can do anything in them, even beans. In fact you can boil dry beans, put them in your wonder oven in the morning, and they are ready to eat by evening, no soaking, or cooking on the stove top for hours.

Wonder ovens can be bought or made. I made mine, and one for all my siblings as well. :) You can find the patterns for the pillows online, plus sewing instructions. The pillows are filled with polystyrene pellets, like the ones you find in bean bags. That is what insulates the pot and keeps in the heat for cooking. It is amazing how well it works. Put the boiling pot in in the morning and you will still need pot holders hours later just to get the pot out.

If you would rather just purchase a wonder oven, I have a friend that loved them so much she decided to start making them and sell them. She has a website you can check out. There you will find lots more information, helpful tips, and recipes.

I really feel like this was an answer to my prayer about storing fuel. Of course don't wait until you have to live off food storage to use it. I use mine frequently, especially during the summer. It allows me to bake bread, and cook food without heating up the house. That is almost a miracle in and of itself. It's also useful during a power outage. Take the time to check them out.

Here are some pictures of me using the wonder oven to bake bread.

Make your favorite bread recipe as usual and let rise until double.

Then punch down and divide into 3 equal parts (I use a small scale to make sure they are equal weight). Place into greased large V-8 cans and put in your pot with warm water. Water should come about half way up the can and your pot should be as small as possible while still allowing the lid to close snugly.

Let rise in the pot with the lid on until dough is about 1 inch from the top of the cans. Remove cans from pot and cover with tinfoil.

Secure tinfoil to can with tape or rubber band and place back in pot of water on the stove. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes.

Immediately remove from heat but DO NOT remove the lid. Quickly transfer entire pot to wonder oven. Place on bottom pillow and cover with the top pillow. Do not disturb for at least 2 hours. You can leave it as long as you want. Food will not burn or over bake. Feel free to run errands while your bread is baking!

After at least 2 hours remove bread from wonder oven. Slide out of can. You will notice right away that this bread does not have a crust. My kids LOVE it!

Cut into slices and you have nice round bread that is the perfect size for sandwiches!

Here is a YouTube video of how to use a Wonder Oven from the lady that introduced me to it: WonderOven Teaser.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Apple Fritters

Tried this recipe this week and it was fantastic! Very authentic in taste although quite a bit smaller than store bought ones. I got this recipe from another great blog (But Mama I'm Hungry) and just adapted it to my food storage. I am finding that I have a lot more luck with recipes when I find good recipes and then adapt them, rather than trying to find straight food storage recipes which tend to be bland and monotonous.

Here's a picture of my son REALLY enjoying the fruits of my labors. Try them out yourself!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Corn Bread to Die For

Ok, let me just start off by saying, "I HATE cornbread" Seriously. It's dry and bland unless drowned in butter and honey. I don't even store cornmeal because I couldn't think of what I would make with it besides cornbread and corn tortillas (don't like those either). But my friend mentioned to me the other day that you can grind popcorn to make cornmeal and it makes much tastier cornbread.

I do store popcorn for snacking on so I decided to give it a try this week. We were having Mountain House freeze dried chicken stew for dinner and cornbread sounded like the perfect side dish, so I went looking for a cornbread recipe that looked like it wouldn't be totally awful. I found one that looked promising so I ground up some popcorn in my wheat grinder (seriously, you can do that), made cornmeal, and followed the recipe.

OH............ MY.............. GOSH!!! It was SO good! Seriously, I could LIVE off of this stuff.
I don't know if it was the recipe, or the fresh ground cornmeal, but I will never make cornbread any other way. Which is funny because before I would have said, "I will never make cornbread" Not anymore. YUMMY!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blender Pancakes

I got home late and only had 30 minutes to make dinner. Normally that would have meant hitting Papa Murphey's on the way home. These days it's cause for panic. Food storage is not 30 minute meal material! I decided to try blender pancakes. I know it's a well known recipe but it was the first time that I have tried them. They were really good! My kids at them up and they were quick and easy. Plus, it's a use for wheat without having to grind it - a definite plus! I put the recipe on the recipe link

Sunday, February 7, 2010

How is your food storage organized?

Ok, so people ask me all the time how I organize my food storage so I'm posting a not-so-brief overview. Let me just start with a disclaimer about myself though. I am a highly organized person. Seriously. Almost to the point of it being a clinical sickness. I literally have lists of my lists. However, I think that the system I have is very user friendly and could be adapted and used by anyone.

First of all, I don't know if any of you have ever seen a year's worth of food for 8 people but it is a TREMENDOUS amount of food, and I do not live in a large house, nor do I have a basement, attic, large closets, or even a walk in pantry. I realized early on that I would have to make some sacrifices to get that much food into the house.

For example, my kids don't have beds. Their beds are a mattress on top of food storage boxes. They are literally sleeping on food storage. You can't see the boxes with the dust ruffle but it's there. That was hard for me. We all want the perfect Martha Stewart home but I quickly realized I couldn't have that and food storage. In fact one day my mother-in-law (who's not LDS) discovered the kids were sleeping on boxes and demanded to know why. Try explaining THAT without sounding like a crazed, religious, hoarder!! LOL

Don't get me wrong, if you come into my house, you won't be able to see the food, but it's EVERYWHERE, and it has defintely limited my decorating choices. When it came down to it though, it's not a hard choice whether to follow the prophet, or Martha Stewart :) And there are SO many creative ideas out there on how to hide your food storage, even in small areas. Here is a link to one of my favorites: Hidden Can Rotator Please don't let a perceived lack of space hinder you. When people tell me they don't have room, most of the time it's not a space issue, but rather a priority issue.

So now I have food masquerading as beds, in the coat closet, in the garage, even in the bathtub, which can make it difficult to keep track of and rotate, so the first thing I did was make up a spreadsheet. This spreadsheet tells me exactly what I have stored, where in the house it is located, and when it is set to expire, plus the cheapest place to buy it so I know where to go when I need to replace it. That is important. Know what you have, where it is, and when it will expire.

Living off food storage presented a unique problem because I am now needing to get into food I normally wouldn't. I don't rotate items that last 20 years or more so those are the foods I was keeping under the beds. Now that I need to get into those foods it's a real bummer to have to lift up the mattress, find the right box, and dig a can out. Then I have to do it all over again every time we empty a can. WAY too much work. So I asked my husband to build me some shelves out in the garage that were just long enough to hold 5 cans. That way, when I open a box I can take all 6 cans out, put one can in my pantry, and the other 5 on the shelves for easy future access.

Typically you do NOT want to store food in the garage since the heat will cause it to spoil much faster but since I am using these cans up so quickly, they are ok out there. There are some items you can store in the garage that can take the heat like sugar, honey, wheat (although it can make it unsproutable), jam, vinegar, and of course, all your non-food items.

I also have my 3 month's supply foods that we rotate regularly in the master bathtub. Normally I would not store food in a bathtub but the brilliant builders of our home built a tub that actually holds more water than my hot water heater, making it impossible to use the tub, and there is no way I could let all that space go to waste, so I bought one of those fancy can rotators. We bought ours from which was somewhat cheaper (this is what I spent my christmas bonus money on) but if you are particularly handy, you can make them like this guy did: Homemade Can Rotator Or you can purchase some relatively inexpensive can rotators that go on your pantry shelves like these.

Finally, my absolute FAVORITE tool for tracking and rotating food storage is an idea that came from someone else. Inside my pantry I have taped small envelopes, each one labeled with a different food storage item. Whenever I open a new can of food, I take one strip of paper and put it in the envelope for that food item. SO easy and simple, and convenient since it's right there where my food is!

Now I can see at a glance exactly what needs to be replaced when I go to the store, or the cannery. If you don't have a convenient place for the envelopes in your pantry, you can also mount them on a large poster board and put it anywhere in your house that is near your food storage.

And last of all, because living off food storage is so different from what we are used to, my family sometimes has a hard time coming up with ideas of what they can eat for breakfast, pack for lunch, or just snack on. So I created lists that I posted inside my pantry cupboard doors with ideas for them for these meals. Plus I arranged my pantry by meals so one shelf is all breakfast foods, one shelf is all lunch foods, one shelf is snack and dessert foods, etc. Normally this is not how my pantry is arranged but it was necessary for the duration of this food storage experiment so my kids don't starve to death. It's a different feeling to open your pantry and have nothing but #10 cans staring back at you. :)

Hopefully you can get something useful out of all of this gibberish. I guess if there is any advice I consistently give to people it is this: Just start small. If you think of all the things you need to do and have, you will quickly get overwhelmed. Don't do that to yourself. Just start where you are and do a little each week. I go to the cannery once a month (date night!!), and check out the canner once a month to can at home. And each week when I make my Walmart list, I add a couple of extra things to the list for storage. You will be amazed how quickly you will be able to gather what you need. We got our whole year's supply doing that.

I am a FIRM believer that the Lord wants us to succeed in the endeavor to follow the Prophet and become self reliant. If we put the smallest effort forward, He will double the returns. That's better than any 401k! :)