Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Letters to My Sister: Time to Prepare!

**My little sister got married this Summer. And - good Mormon, older sister that I am - I have started to bug her about emergency preparedness and food storage for her new little family. "Are you preparing, little sis?!" "I don't even know where to start with all that stuff. Just send me the links and info about what I'm supposed to buy and I'll get it," she says. Soooo?! I've decided to help her 'out loud' on this blog. This new blog series I'm starting, "Letters to my Sister" is a compilation of the wisdom (albeit limited!) I have acquired with a preparedness mindset for the last several years. With all the craziness that is happening in the world these days - and with the natural storms of life that come with life in general - I hope these posts are helpful to someone out there looking for ways to be better temporally prepared. And most of all - to my sister and her new family. Oh, and before I get started, please: Always remember, that while temporal preparedness is important, spiritual preparedness, is most so.**

Image Credit. Parable of the Ten Virgins: A reminder of the need to prepare Spiritually for the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ.
Dear Little Sis,

So, you want to know about food storage, do ya?! How much food should you buy for each person? What should you buy, from where? What other emergency supplies should you have on hand? What skills should you learn? I am here to help you out and to fill you in! 

Short-term Food Storage Tips

First off, the fact that you are already buying extra cans of food from the grocery store whenever you shop is great. Keep that up! You may also want to purchase 5 gallon plastic food safe buckets from your local Home Depot or Lowes. You'll want to buy Gamma lids for your buckets - they make taking the lid on and off very easy, and they really protect your food from bugs. You can buy them from Baytec or Emergency Essentials - you'll want to check the prices and shipping cost to know which place is the best deal for you whenever you do get them. (*Tip: If you choose to store these large food buckets in your garage, make sure you keep them on a wooden board so that no chemicals from the cement leak up into your buckets and food. This is also true of water containers you might store in your garage.) From Costco, buy all-purpose flour, bread flour, hard wheat, rice, white sugar, brown sugar - and anything else you go through quick - (oats maybe?) in 25 lb. bags and store each of those in their own bucket. 25lb. bags fill one 5 gallon bucket pretty much perfectly. This builds up your short-term supply.  

Another great thing for increasing your short-term supply is a chest freezer. We got ours at Costco for a steal - but you might also find an open box special at another store, or on craigslist. Keep your eyes peeled. Our chest freezer has been one of the best purchases we have made. You can buy high quality meat in bulk from Zaycon for a great wholesale price. (Make sure you go through the Zaycon link I left for you there - I get a referral credit if you do.)

Long-term Food Storage Tips

Now - for long term food storage that lasts for 30 years! If you want your food storage to last a long time, you have to store it inside. Closets and underneath beds are great places to store food. Don't get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the goal of a year's supply of food for your family, just start chipping away. The best place to start is at your local church cannery for the basics - here is a list of locations and contact info for the canneries - you have one in your area, I already checked. Give them a call and they can fill you in on who you need to contact to get an order in, and on what day you can come to fill your order. Things are changing with how the church is managing their canneries, so I'm not sure what the situation will be when you go . . . but have your hair pulled up so you can wear a hair net, and wear close-toed shoes, and plan to be there for a couple hours helping to can the food the day you go - unless they specify otherwise. Here is the cannery order form.

Start tackling your food storage goals by storing up wheat, other grains, rice and beans. This site from the church has helpful info on food storage and other self-reliance topics. This table is particularly helpful (I snipped it from this webpage):

I don't buy flour for our food storage - only hard wheat (mostly white, and a little red). #1 reason - it doesn't last as long (only 10 years instead of 30+). #2 reason - the flour kind of takes on this metallic taste from being in those #10 cans. You're going to need a good wheat grinder if you plan on eating more than just soaked wheat berries. :) Which you totally can do with wheat - boil in water until it is soft enough to eat, that is. Beans, too. But I bet you'd like to be able to have a wider variety of bread products, I'm guessing. We love our wheat grinder: Messerschmidt Family Grain Mill. Search around for one online. It is a very nice hand wheat grinder - easy enough to put kidlets to work grinding the wheat. But, you can also buy an attachment for a Kitchenaid or Bosch and it can grind with electric power. We got ours for $150 - that included the hand-crank and the Bosch attachment. It is the best hand grinder you can buy without more than doubling the price. I love mine and use it every week to grind wheat to make whole wheat bread. I know it will serve us well in an emergency situation, too.

Here is a great little food storage recipe book you should purchase. It has great information and recipes - especially for food storage built mostly with cannery items.

THRIVE is a great company to buy your non-basic food storage items. I think it is best to buy in package/case deals when they go on sale. Contact a representative from the company in your area and they can help you be in the loop about all the special sales that go on. They do all sorts of freeze dried fruits and veggies. Freeze drying helps food be able to store for long periods of time while preserving all of the nutritional content of the food. You'll want to purchase your food at a home party (or throw your own) because the prices are much cheaper with the discounts you'll get that way. Other things I like from THRIVE: FD meats (NOT TVP - or if you do TVP, make sure you have at least half real meat, half TVP (veggie protein pretend meat) in your stash so you don't encounter serious digestion discomfort), baking basics like baking soda --though, get your baking powder from Emergency Essentials, it doesn't have aluminum in it--, brown sugar, cornmeal, tomato powder - this one is a great deal!!, powdered egg (though you'll want to buy the pantry size instead of the #10 can size - unless you decide to purchase a Food Saver), chicken bouillon base (MSG free!), yogurt bites (great snack for kids, and cheaper than Gerber. **Also, random side note, my friend is making a batch of yogurt with my THRIVE yogurt bites to see if you can make fresh yogurt from the freeze dried bites - I'll keep you posted on that.) Thrive also makes a great-tasting instant milk, which is expensive, but nice to have on hand if you don't want traditional powdered milk (which you should buy from the cannery) - not super necessary but nice. Maybe I'll flesh out my recommendations for THRIVE stuff into a blog post of its own some day. . . But for now, suffice it to say, this stuff is great. I highly recommend it to flesh out your food stash. But remember - don't buy anything from THRIVE that you can get from the church cannery - you will pay about 3 times the price if you do.

You might consider buying some Heirloom seeds and starting a garden of your own. Get a book on Seed Saving. This place - Native Seeds - in Tucson sells a year supply of Heirloom seeds native to the desert for $70 and a Seed saving booklet is included in the seed bucket. Sweet!

Also, this lady has a great system for creating a food storage supply with recipes that you already eat and enjoy. Her name is Wendy DeWitt. Check out her site here for more information on that. Basically you decide on a meal, plug the ingredients into an excel spreadsheet, and multiply them for as many times as you would want to make that meal for a year. Then you know exactly how much of each ingredient you will need. Kind of nice!

72-Hour Kit Tips and Prepper Books

Another great preparedness website/store is Emergency Essentials.  I have found that their supplies for 72 hour kits tend to be cheaper than THRIVE. Their prices are close, but usually a bit more expensive unless you watch for a special sale. Which happen often. Things I recommend from them are: Vital Wheat Gluten, for making homemade whole wheat bread, and Baking Powder - Aluminum free, at least we'll be safe from Alzheimer's with the Zombie apocalypse! ;) I also recommend their 3,600 calorie bars for your 72-hour kit or for your car. They last about 5 years and can withstand temps up to 150*. It certainly wouldn't hurt to have a few of those around! I'll tell you more about what to pack in your 72-hour kit in another more detailed post. If you are too anxious to wait, watch this video, this guy has awesome advice about making a tiered bug-out bag.

Here are a few books you should purchase for preparedness:

- Basic physical health with limited resources, Manual sold on store.lds.org

Water Storage Tips

For water storage, the cheapest way to get containers, is to look up food-grade, sanitized water storage containers on craigslist.org in your area. Like this ad in Tucson, or this one in Reno. Companies use food grade containers for producing beauty and food products. There are people all over the country who buy and sanitize the only-used-once containers and resell them for less than half the cost of new ones. I already told you about these sweet water purification bottles. I will have much more info on water storage and purification soon. 

Fuel Storage Tips

I have four quick bits of fuel storage advice for you.
#1: Start saving your empty tuna cans, and buy a big old hunk of paraffin wax from hobbylobby.com. Then read this blog post of mine and make some homemade fuel sources for under $1 a piece.
#2: Search Craigslist.org for free wood. Get some. Have your hubby chop it up. Clear out some space for a fire pit, and get a Dutch oven if you can. You're ready to cook if the power goes out!
#3: Buy LED flashlights, they are most battery and light bulb efficient. Get some that have a hand crank on them.
#4: Always keep your cars at a half tank of gas or more. Make it a diligent habit.

OK, now! You still awake?! I'm done writing. I'm sure you're done reading. Anywho, I hope that helps you as you begin your prepping journey. Time to get busy. :) 

More letters to you, dear sister, are coming in the future. 




  1. Jami! Could you write a post on the importance of preparing for General Conf. We hear so often to watch it but how and why should we prepare. I love your creative ideas and how you approach topics spiritually.

    1. http://howdyhepworths.blogspot.com/2013/09/preparing-for-general-conference-5.html :)



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