Saturday, January 11, 2020

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Preparedness goals

While I don't make New Year's Resolutions for the most part, it is a good time of year to focus on some goals and currently I'm concentrating on preparedness.  Especially after reading Annabel's blog post about preparedness and going through the fires in Australia.  (I will add a link to that post below.)

Like Annabel, I've had times when I have felt like God was telling me to prepare more than usual, that "something" was coming.  This "feeling" often coincides with me writing more about preparing here on Saturdays.  Most of my pantry preps were necessary in times of long term unemployment but there have been other reasons I was glad I had listened to that still small voice.

I've been feeling that same need to be prepared for unexpected events, just like Annabel.  While I live near forests, we rarely have forest fires.  However, there are many events that can stop the food trucks from getting through to us... be they large scale or temporary weather events.  We were without power numerous times last year and we had a few water emergencies.

The fires in Australia show us the well known saying that preparations for when SHTF (translating for the genteel it would be when the doo-doo hits the fan) should be done if one feels God is leading.  If you read The Bluebirds are Nesting, you will know that Annabel has been lead to do this for sometime.

Her family's preparations went beyond being more self sufficient, they prepared the land around them to help prevent fires coming close to their home and they put in a sprinkler system.  All of which were helpful in saving their house, animals, property, and people.

Do I think everyone needs to prepare to such an extent?  Well, I do if you feel God is telling you to do this.  He will also provide all that is necessary to prepare, not only in finances but in giving you wisdom. Otherwise, build on the basics of deepening your pantry and having enough emergency supplies.

In my personal budget of available finances and space, I have a few different areas that make up my pantry lifestyle.  They are:

Basic Pantry Preparations
Those items to stock for everything from putting meals on the table to baking needs.  This is the area everyone should be building a pantry as one can stock up when items on sale (when possible) and have them on hand as they are needed.

Longer Term Bulk Food Options
I did this when the kids lived at home and I used more basic foods.  Places like Menards sell food grade plastic buckets for food such as bulk beans, popcorn (which can be popped or ground for cornmeal), white/converted rice, wheat if you have a grinder, unbleached AP flour, salt, sugar, etc.

We belonged to a food co-op and also purchased at Sam's Club.  I don't stock up in bulk such as I once did these days.  Except for a few items, I learned that for just two of us, most items are best stocked up and kept in original packaging.  A lot of packages can be kept in large Rubbermaid style containers or even food grade buckets if kept in the garage (to prevent rodents... been there, done that).

Food items such as brown sugar and confectioners sugar store best in their original packages.  I have a large Tupperware style container (I mean LARGE) that holds white sugar purchased in bulk and honestly, I've probably had it a few years.  I'm just now getting near the bottom of the container.  White sugar lasts a long time if stored properly.

Other items are best stored in their packages for smaller families.  It makes it easy to pull out one package at a time.  For instance, I found that beans are easier to use when in original smaller packages for our purposes.  I can store many packages of various dry beans such as black beans, pinto beans, northern beans, garbanzo beans, mixed bean and other legume soup blends, etc. in one plastic container if space is in short supply.

Don't forget your animals will need food and water.  Dry kibble stored in a large bag in the garage was one of the first things the mice ate when we had that sudden infestation.  Kibble now goes into a food safe container.

Emergency Food
I used to be against buying food prepared for long term emergencies because 1) I had purchased it before, and 2) it was mostly terrible.  A lot has changed since then and there are many very good freeze dried options.

The one can size (best for families) may be easily stored on shelves and the pouches (which are great for one and two people households) can be stored in a drawer or inside a protective plastic bucket.

I do prefer Mountain House most of the time since it was originally sold for campers and hikers who wanted tasty food as well as being easy to pack for the out of doors.  The 20+ year storage ability then made it perfect for those wanting to set aside food for an emergency, such as in a closet in case of earthquakes.

You only need to store extra water and a way to heat it.  

Non-food Preparations
Everyone needs to have on hand multiple sources of light such as flashlights, battery operated lanterns, candles (with hurricane lamp covers for safety when possible), oil lamps, matches, etc.

We need a way to cook in a long term situation, whether that is having a gas stove that doesn't require electricity, a gas or charcoal grill, and other available options.  Of course, if you live in the country like we do, you can start a small bonfire in the backyard if there is no fire danger.  Fire pits can be a good thing!

Everyone needs a battery operated emergency radio if possible although even a simple, small battery operated radio will suffice for getting you informed in a power outage.  Of course, extra batteries should be stored.  We get the larger packages at Sam's Club and when we are getting low on a particular size, it goes on the next stock up grocery list.

You also should have a supply of paper plates, bowls (believe me, I know how these come in handy from experience), napkins, disposable forks and spoons, paper towels, TP, etc.  I stocked up on some heavy duty paper plates at the after Christmas clearance sales but I usually just buy the inexpensive paper plates.

It is wise to have a good First Aid kit that you put together yourself so know what is in it.  I will have more on this at another time.

A Source of Heat
Unfortunately, we do not have a fireplace or wood burning stove in this house.  It is one of the few features I wanted that I didn't get when house hunting.  It turned out to be a good thing since my husband developed an allergy to wood smoke.  He has to close the bedroom window if our nearest neighbors are using their wood burning stove!

So what I have done is to have plenty of warm clothes, blankets, and throws.  Flannel sheets are a must since we keep our house as cool as we can since we are on the budget plan for electricity.  That way it evens out when we run the AC all the time in summer, which we must do for health reasons.

We live a couple hours from Chicago so we do have cold winters.  However, if we lived any farther north, I would definitely search for alternative ways to heat a house.  I have friends in northern states who must have a generator (and sometimes even a backup!) and they have portable heaters.

I know I am only scratching the surface here.  I've written on the subject for fourteen years here (and longer previously online).  I will continue to write about the specifics as we go farther into this new year.  There is a lot more to write about.

What I have done so far us this year is to use most of an early season Christmas gift (a blessing!) to stock more meat and veggies in the deep freeze, some canned goods in the pantry, and a heavy throw that was on sale.

I plan to use Amazon credit this month (thank you for entering Amazon through the links and widget!) to purchase some more Mountain House... a couple pouches of the turkey dinner and one can of chicken stew.  Neither of which I've tried before but they have good reviews and I already have beef stew and things like chicken & dumplings set aside for an emergency.

I will be writing more about being prepared these next couple of months and giving further information about books, websites, etc.  My "gut" (you understand if you watch NCIS) is telling me anything we can set aside in the pantry now will be appreciated later.

Mentioned in this blog post
Mountain House turkey dinner casserole pouches... here.
Mountain House chicken stew cans... here. (So far the chicken stew has not been available in pouches, I already have a can of their beef stew put back so this is for variety.)

The Bluebirds are Nesting post about the fires and being prepared... here.
Her list of preparations that were essential is available as you scroll down.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder. Need to get some batteries.
I'm always glad I remembered non-food essentials like soap, toothpaste, detergent etc. when stocking up.

Sherry said...

Excellent and note worthy suggestions and food for thought... we have emergency food in tubs - it isn’t chef quality but is nutritious. (Patriot Food Supply) still charting out some other necessaries and possibilities. Bought a generator which will be helpful living in the woods. And flannel sheets are wonderful. I really appreciate your posts about the pantry and preparedness.