Saturday, February 22, 2014

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - the TEOTWAWKI list and my own feelings about the future

I've had so many people ask about this list that I thought I'd spend a little more time on it.  This is the list of items to remember to purchase at the last minute, when there is imminent danger.   The kind when you know you may not be able to get to the grocery store for some time and there may be the likelihood of power outages.

Now, when I last wrote about this it was when we were under a Winter Storm Watch.  I'd say a very minor event on such a scale but since I didn't have the list with me, I forgot some items at the store I wish I hadn't.

I call it my The End of the World as We Know It list because I first read about such an "event" from a book by Howard Ruff, who shared the story of driving down a highway in his car when he heard about the Cuban Missile Crisis for the first time.

He stopped to use the first pay phone he could locate (this was the 1960s, before cell phones) to call his wife and tell her to take all the cash they had to the grocery store and stock up on food and essential products.  You must remember that for all he knew, they were on the verge of a nuclear war.

Thus... why I call it my TEOTWAWKI list.

My list is close to my usual grocery list but it differs in priority items.  I'll share more of that in a moment but I think (and I know in my own life) that there is something even more important for those of us who live in this day and age than such a list.  And that is being alert to what is going on around us.

That doesn't mean watching Fox News or CNN all day.  But it does require having two or three news sources you trust, mine are all websites some may think rather odd.  But these are websites of people who look beyond the surface to see what lays behind a story... what may be really going on in the world.

For instance,  Stan and Holly Deyo's website called Millennium Ark.   (Holly is on a temporary break and not updating daily but I am sure she will return... rested.)  They are wonderful people who have preached the message of preparedness for a very long time.  Now, some may look at their Home Page and see some unusual topics that let's say... Presbyterians are not used to.  ;)

Not that I have anything against Presbyterians.  I was one.  I still am on the inside. It's like being a Marine, one is always a Presbyterian even if they move on from that denomination.

But I digress... websites like Millennium Ark have people who are experienced in looking past the front page headlines.  They have been around long enough to have experience in where to look and what to look for to find the Truth.

Am I a conspiracy theorist?  Only in the sense that I believe there is someone making every attempt to manipulate what is going on in the world for evil... as he has been doing since Eden.  And there are enough willing men and women whose desire for power and wealth makes them easy to manipulate.

Let's face it my friends, even the thickest heads amongst us know we are living in a different world than ever before.  We need to wake up and smell the skunk weed.  For the roses are mainly to be found where you plant them and not from outside sources.

For instance, there was a time long ago and far away that I would have read about the "500 year drought" in California with a shrug and go on my daily business.  Having lived more than a few years since that time, this is one of the stories I'm talking about.  What does it mean to me and my family?  (A whole lot.)  What can I do?  (Expand our small garden.)

A blog reader sent me a very interesting article... here.  When I shared it with some friends, I reminded them to look past the website name if it bothers their theology (it has Prophecy in the title).  But like Stan and Holly's website, this is one that is willing to publish the truth.

For you see, even more important than a list in your purse is the knowledge you have.

There is wisdom in seeking knowledge about what is behind the headlines for I have found even if it makes you a little jittery when reading it, the Truth (not offered or received in fear) helps one become more determined to face the future prepared.

But I have also found when God opens my eyes to what may lay ahead, then I can do something such as deepening the pantry or purchasing a heavy duty flashlight.  I can gain skills like learning to grow flat leaf parsley and arugula and lettuce.  Someone in my family (and it may have to be me... or you) needs to learn some basic household skills and how to make stone soup (so to speak).

Knowing we may have to depend on each other more than ever before, it's not a bad idea to bake a pie and take it over to that neighbor you've been wanting to know better.  It also provides an opportunity for further ministry... as your family adopts a widow or an elderly couple to help even now with chores beyond their physical capacity.

As I have said a billion times before... this is not about buying freeze dried food and storing it on garage shelves.  It is a lifestyle.  A pantry lifestyle.  One that in our home has a definite Christian value to it as we trust God for everything and ask His help for those areas in which we lack.

For instance, my husband is very much the handy man and can fix a lot of things around the house.  He has decided to learn more about gardening to take over what I find difficult to do these days (anything requiring a lot of strength).  But we are on a limited income so we have to trust God in any area of stocking up.

Those of you who have entered your Amazon shopping through a link or the Widget has helped provide in the past... recently a heavy duty flashlight and with this month's credit... a battery operated radio for the kitchen.  I can't wait to order that!  But I digress as usual.

So, about the list.  Remember this old adage about stocking up...  when there is plenty on the store shelves and we make large purchases it is stocking up, when there is a crisis and we are emptying already bare shelves it is hoarding.  The first is wise.  The second is greedy and takes away from others.

Not to mention... when you have been slowly and surely adding to your pantry (whether just a little at a time or if you are capable of stocking up even to help those closest to you)... then when you do need to run to the store and use your list in a crisis, all of your money is going to what is necessary for the crisis.

Imagine what it would be like to hear the kind of warning Howard Ruff heard on the radio when he called his wife and a decision had to be made between stocking up on batteries and candles vs. food and water.  The more of a pantry lifestyle you have lived... the less likely this would happen.

Remember when I wrote about that shopping trip, the one where I forgot my list?  Well, the shelves were still full even though the store was crowded.  For we were only under a Winter Storm Watch.   Just one day later when we were switched to a Winter Storm Warning... the shelves emptied.

If you combine being alert to what is going on around you with carrying a TEOTWAWKI list (or having one taped inside a kitchen cabinet where you can grab it without thinking), then you will be much better off than most people.  And if you keep cash hidden in your home for such an event... you are even more prepared.

Sigh... the only extra cash I usually have is the quarter jar Hubby has for when he has to check the air pressure on the tires.  So I feel your pain if the above sentence makes you wince. But always remember that God will take care of you when you ask.

So what about the actual list?  

Well, like I said it has more to do with re-prioritizing your grocery list than anything else.  Instead of my actual list, I'm sharing my thought process as I wrote out a TEOTWASKI list.  I'm hoping it inspires your list.

For instance... at the top of this list I have items necessary for light and communication such as batteries.  If I am purchasing one package here and there (C for the flashlight and AA for our other battery operated items), then I can cross these off the list.

I also have lantern oil on the list and if I purchased one now and then to add to the pantry, it also will not have to be a priority.  Not to mention there are some times of the year (like mid-summer) where one cannot find it where I live.

Matches are cheap so I'd buy some of them.  One rarely has enough TP and in my home, we go through dish soap like crazy.  Think of what you may need should there be no water... paper plates, cups, plastic utensils (this is not the time to worry about the environment), heavy trash bags, etc.

I also have items on my list that I usually don't purchase.  Those which would be helpful in a power outage such as baby wipes, making it possible to keep hands clean without using precious water.

Speaking of water... I'd purchase large containers of water if necessary.  But hopefully one has enough containers at home that all they have to do is fill them and save money for the store.  Or have water stored already.

Many have asked if I fill the bath tub with water during a possible power outage?  I have the original tub in my bathroom from when the house was built... it does not hold water well.  About enough time for a good bath and that is it.  But I highly recommend it for those of you with better bath tubs!

My priorities may differ according to the time of year.  For instance, should we lose power in the winter then my garage acts like an extra refrigerator... and this year if you put things close to the garage door they would freeze.  So in mid-summer I'd lean more toward canned and dried milk than fresh and buy less butter if there is the possibility of losing power.

My food priorities would include whole milk (as well as evaporated milk cans and dried milk), lots of cartons of eggs, butter, yeast, baking powder, etc.  You probably would have milk and eggs on your grocery list but in a true crisis situation, I don't want to take a risk that my yeast and baking powder are past their use by dates (and these two items really can't be extended far beyond their dates... except when you keep yeast in the frig or freezer).

I'd purchase bread even if I can make my own as my energy may be going to other activities.  Then I'd look for items that can be eaten should there be no power.  I usually always have peanut butter and jelly stocked but what about summer sausage, canned meats, crackers, shelf stable precooked bacon, items like canned pork and beans, canned fruit, nuts, seeds, etc.

I have a little extra oil on my shelf but should this be a real crisis like Ruff's family faced... I'd add large cartons of oil to my grocery cart.  This is when I'd also add some Crisco and not think of what it does to arteries.  ;)

From there I would consider other canned and boxed items.  And if you only have an electric can open... buy a couple good quality hand held can openers.  (I have found this is one area you definitely get what you pay for.)

After that, shop for root veggies like potatoes, carrots, onions, etc.  They will keep longer than some foods.  This is the time to add those cute jars of chopped garlic and similar items to add flavor!

Then throw in some comfort foods like perhaps your favorite packaged cookies.  If the people in your store are like mine... they go after milk and bread and eggs first, then to cookies and potato chips, then to TP, then some go to the wine and beer aisle while others hit the pop (soda) aisle.

For most will view this is an opportunity to party.  But you know better because you have been aware of what is going on behind the headlines.

Don't forget your animals!  Believe me, Victoria may wish she were outside chasing squirrels but this is the cat that turns her nose up when we buy a different brand of kibble.  And for our sakes, we need her to have kitty litter.

We don't have small kids around but when Christopher was a baby, I stored extra formula and diapers.  I purchased organic baby food by the case (at a great price from my co-op).  See, I was even prepared that far back.  ;)

So once again I hope by sharing how I do something in my preparedness lifestyle and on a very limited budget, it will help you as you prepare.  And please... do prepare.  Even if you can only purchase one item a week.

Something is always better than nothing when it comes to the pantry.  Someone should have told Mother Hubbard.

More Links
  • How to Survive TEOTWAWKI in 14 Easy Steps - here.  I just came across the article this morning while looking for something else.  It is very good!
  • Lessons Learned in an Ice Storm... here.  This article is from 2007 but I think it is excellent advice.  It always helps to have gone through some kind of a crisis to show you what you don't know ahead of time.
  • The Most Important Survival Tool... here.  He agrees with me.  Or do I agree with him?  ;)

Photo:  Housewife Taking Canned Goods;


Anonymous said...

Thankyou for your interesting and helpful article Brenda. One other area of preparedness is medication. Plenty of Ibuprofen or Paracetamol, in both tablet and syrup forms, and also those on prescription medications need to have a few weeks supply by them of their life-sustaining drugs (eg insulin and beta blockers in my house). Jane

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Excellent post friend!

We are all guilty of getting a bit complacent and I know I need to get some items back on my shelves.

Strike anywhere matches, some lamp oil, candles, along with some mini propane bottles for our camping lanterns. Comfort foods too, I like that idea.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Brenda. I appreciate the pantry information and especially all the links in the TEOTWAWKI blogpost. I have been slacking off a bit in preparedness, but feel inspired to get back in action! Rhonda in Western NY

Nana said...

Hi Brenda;
I love your posts about being prepared. I have been doing very well with my pantry. But I totally forgot about flashlights and batteries, thank you for the reminder. It will go on my list of important things to get. Have a great week end Love and Hugs, Nana

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this recent post. It reminded me to add a few items to my shopping list. I also liked the links you posted, very interesting. Thanks!


Vee said...

I don't dare to click on any more links until I get this comment written. The last time, I went off and got lost for two hours. What an informative post.

Kristy said...

I love your articles, and blog! I have a question for you about the food pantry - how often do you go through and use items that may soon expire? Do you have a system for how to stock up, and go thru the pantry, not letting things expire... I hope I've explained that well enough!

Kristy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

Thanks for your practical and balances approach. Fun, too ... cookies!


Anonymous said...

My freezer is in my husband work shop. there's no heat, just a medium size metal building. My question is do you think the food in the freezer would stay frozen, if it was really cold and the electric went out for a few days?

Anonymous said...

Lots of great info and links, too! I even got my husband to read your post and one of the links. I enjoyed the story of the ice storm. It was a good lesson. We lost power for 2 - 1/2 days after a big snowstorm and temps in the teens a few years back. That was an eye opener! We kept warm with our wood stove, but everything else was a bit of a challenge. Thanks so much for sharing and encouraging us all to take stock and deepen our pantries.
Laura C. from WA