Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Portland Arctic Blast: Surviving Winter Storms

My parents and sister's family live in Portland, Oregon. The past two weeks they have lived through the Portland Arctic Blast. Snow, freezing rain and low temperatures have made travel difficult. It hasn't snowed this much in the month of December since 1968. My father shares some experiences from the storm:

"This last weekend brought in a light rain and a temperature in the 40's which melted away the snow that had been on the ground for about 10 days. It was amazing to see the snow disappear. The cities and counties around Portland have only limited equipment for snow plowing and removal.

Notice how this street was never plowed,
because there were no plows!

"We have lived in other parts of the country where storms like this one are common, and they would have cleared up the snow in one or two days. With limited equipment this area was able to only keep the main roads clear. Neighborhoods like ours were left snow packed for almost two weeks. Consequently, we did not leave the house for about ten days. This was not a problem for us because we are retired. People with jobs had to use chains, studded tires, and/or four-wheel drive vehicles. Fortunately we did not lose electric power. 

The power went off briefly four times during the two weeks. Each time for about 5-10 seconds. When this happens you hold your breath until it comes on again. Many people were not as fortunate as we, especially in outlying areas where trees brought down power lines. Many areas are still without power. The snow did break some limbs on the pine trees in our yard. One branch was 8-inches in diameter. But the falling branches caused no harm. Schools were closed most of the days. Church was not held for two Sundays. Home Teachers and Visiting Teachers were very faithful in communicating with the members of the Church. 

We had no problem with food supplies. We have a good supply of can goods and meat in the freezer. We did use our powdered milk. Because we did not lose electric power or natural gas we had no problem with the cold. In turn we have a good supply of warm clothing. We have an electric generator that can be properly connected to the house system if needed. Also, we have some gasoline in the garage, about 5 gallons. Indoor activities consisted mostly of the computer, television and reading. I imagine a house full of children would be a challenge. Love, Dad"

It's nice to know that my parents were prepared!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bulk Buying: Harmons Case Lot Sale Announced

Harmons, a Utah grocery store, announces their huge Semi-Annual Case Lot Sale from January 5 - January 25th 2009. There is a pdf list on the bottom right hand corner of their website. You can print it out in advance to see what cases they will have on sale in the store. Prices are now listed!

To be honest, I've never shopped at a case lot sale at Harmons, but just wanted to give you a heads up.

(updated 1/1/09)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Recommit to the Principles of Self-Reliance

I am excited for the new year to begin. I came across this talk on LDS.org entitled "Principles of Self-Reliance" by Silvia H. Allred, who spoke at the May 2008 BYU Women's Conference. Sister Allred is the first counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency. This talk is a must read! It will remind you of what is important and that "The Lord has commanded that we use the blessings we have been given to become self reliant as individuals and families."

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Seasonal Sales Calendar 2009

An effective way to shop for food storage and other household items is to know when items typically go on sale. Some of this is common sense, however, I've been gathering information from Consumer Reports, several websites, and store ads, and I am putting together a Seasonal Sales Calendar to help you with your food and general shopping. Be patient and shop for items when they go on sale as this will help you stock up your food storage as well as save money on other purchases.

Seasonal Sales Calendar 2009

January - New Years, Chinese New Year, Super Bowl Sales
Grocery Sales:
Roasts, apples, grapefruit, oranges, and pears, breakfast cereal, canned chili, soups, dry bouillon, prepared meals, teriyaki and soy sauce, oriental noodles, lotion, toiletries
Seasonal Sales: Winter clothing & accessories, winter boots & shoes, handbags, white sales, dishes, Christmas clearance, furniture, appliances, computers, storage containers, shelf organizers, planners & calendars, filing cabinets, shelving, CDs and DVDs, cookware, humidifiers, stock up on wedding gifts

February - Valentine's & President's Day Sales
Grocery Sales: Post Valentine’s Day candy, apples, grapefruit, oranges, pears, breakfast cereal, food bars, canned chili, nuts, toilet paper, facial tissue, butter, foil, plastic wrap, trash bags, hair color, razors, diapers, soap/body wash, wheat grinder
Seasonal Sales: Furniture, mattresses, semi-annual bedding & bath sales, curtain, rugs, Valentine gifts, snow blowers, last year's chain saws & lawnmowers, digital cameras, DVD players, radios, CD players, luggage, athletic shoes & clothes, some swim suits, baby item sales, fitness equipment, small appliances, large appliances & freezers, fireplace items, portable heaters, used cars

March - National Frozen Food Month, Macey's Case Lot Sales
Grocery Sales: Frozen vegetables, meats, breakfast items, and TV dinners. Case lot sales - canned soups, fruit, vegetables, beans, meats, stew, honey, jelly, mac & cheese, Spam, hand grain mill,
Seasonal Sales: Garden supplies & seeds, spring clothing & shoes, last of the winter clothing clearance, toy clearance, jeans, luggage, infant clothing & bedding, winter sports clearance, ski equipment, storm windows, computers, TV's, Ipods/MP3 players, air beds, laundry appliances, snow blowers, chain saws, Easter clothing, toys, and candy

April - National Garden Month, Easter
Grocery Sales:
Eggs, ham, marshmallows, broccoli, cauliflower, Easter candy clearance
Seasonal Sales: Men’s suits/ties, Easter and spring dresses & shoes, paint, digital cameras, luggage, lawnmowers and lawn equipment, chainsaws, vegetable & bedding plants and soil, handbags, jewelry, spring tops and shorts/capris, sandals, trampolines, framed swimming pools, swing sets, pillows, sheets

May - Cinco De Mayo, Mother's Day, Memorial Day
Grocery Sales:
Taco sauce, enchilada sauce, salsa, Hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, buns, asparagus, pineapple, BBQ sauce, ketchup, mustard, frozen veggies, baked beans, paper goods, olives
Seasonal Sales: Mother's Day gifts, spring cleaning supplies, athletic shoes & clothes, tires, home maintenance items, white sales such as linens, blankets, towels, women’s undergarments, sportswear & ties, sunscreens, bug spray, cordless phones

June - National Safety Month, Father's Day
Grocery Sales:
Bottled water, dairy products, tomatoes, croutons, salad dressing, Gatorade powder, lemonade powder
Seasonal Sales: Summer clothing, dresses, summer sports gear, men's clothing, refrigerators, TV's, computers, electronics, fabrics, building materials & lumber (for food storage shelves!), pianos, canning supplies, insect repellent, sunscreen

July - Canning Month, 4th of July
Grocery Sales: Bottled water, ketchup, BBQ sauce, steak sauce, mustard, croutons, salad dressing, mayonnaise, pickles, relish, hot dogs, ground beef, Jell-O, beef steaks, chicken, paper supplies, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, corn, cherries, squash, watermelons, cantaloupes, tomatoes, plums, peaches, and nectarines, Gatorade powder, lemonade powder
Seasonal Sales: 4th of July sales & clearance, summer clothing clearance, swim suits, sandals, beach towels, camping equipment, hiking boots, summer sports equipment, shade covers, coolers, dutch oven, charcoal, used cars, air conditioners, fuel oil, rugs & carpet, radios, craft supplies, BBQ's, patio furniture clearance, lawn mower clearance, back-to-school sales begin

August - Back to School Sales
Grocery Sales: Squash, green peppers, salad fixings, berries, apples, melons, peaches, apricots, and fresh fish, juice
Seasonal Sales: Camping equipment clearance, barbecue clearance, patio furniture clearance, new car clearance, furniture, outdoor sport equipment clearance, lawn mower clearance, air conditioner clearance, fans, yard tools, back to school sales, swim suit clearance, computers and printers for students

September - Emergency Preparedness & Case Lot Sales
Grocery Sales:
Utah Case lot sales (canned soups, fruit, vegetables, beans, meats, stew, honey, jelly, mac. & cheese, Spam, Ravioli's, Spaghettios, hand grain mill, etc.), apples, broccoli, cauliflower, school snacks, Capri suns, fruit snacks, cereal, peanut butter/jelly, bottled spaghetti sauce
On Sale: jeans, fans, yard tools, 2009 trail bikes bikes, rugs, lamps, dishes & glassware, fall clothing
Clearance Sales: School backpacks (look for a sturdy one for 72-hour kits), BBQ's, patio furniture, back-to-school supplies, college furnishings, summer sports equipment, comforter sets, summer clothing such as shorts & capris, pajamas, summer athletic clothes, sandals, canvas shoes
Camping Clearance: tents, lanterns, flashlights, camp cook sets, hiking backpacks, hiking boots, camping chairs, 2-way radios, sleeping bags, camping stoves, Dutch ovens, shade covers, coolers, duffle bags

October - National Fire Prevention Month, Halloween
Grocery Sales: Vegetable and other oils, canned pumpkins, cranberries, grapes, oranges, sweet potatoes, and yams, instant potatoes, stuffing, canned cranberries, marshmallows, ice cream, pie shells, whipped cream, crackers, candy making supplies, nuts, choc. chips, frozen pizza, corn syrup, soup mixes
Seasonal Sales: Winter coats, school clothing clearance, hosiery, fishing supplies, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, fire escape ladders, glow sticks

November - Veterans Day, & Thanksgiving Sales
Grocery Sales: canned cranberries, canned pumpkin, stuffing, olives, whipping cream, cool whip, frozen vegetables, fresh cranberries (freeze for later), cream cheese, chicken broth, turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, yams, and post-Halloween bags of candy, condensed milk, cake mix, frosting, brownie mix, cooking spray, pie filling
Seasonal Sales: Coats, boots, gloves, quilts, blankets, baby blankets, heating appliances, water heaters, appliances, men’s/boy’s suits, Thanksgiving week sales

December - Christmas & after Christmas Sales
Grocery Sales:
Candy making supplies, flour, sugar, nuts, choc. chips, oranges, apples, and grapefruit, broth, soups, party foods, baking cocoa, hot cocoa, pasta, vanilla & other extracts, cream of tartar, cooking spray, cold medicine, thermometers, toothbrushes, batteries, vitamins
Seasonal Sales: Winter coats, gloves etc., toys, shoes, gift items, bikes, new cars, quilts & blankets, electronics, small appliances, gift wrap, after Christmas sales, candles, baby furniture, cell phones

(updated 8/31/09)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Money Saving Ideas: Memories of the Library

Some of my happiest memories as a child are the trips with my mother and siblings to the public library. I have to thank my mother for consistently taking us there as kids. I loved it! It opened up my mind to adventures in books. We went more often in the summer, and I would come home with piles of books.

Now, as a preschool teacher, I have the wonderful opportunity of looking for children’s books for my preschool students. It is a money saver for a preschool teacher to have a library system in her area. Our Davis County Library system is exceptional. I reserve books from my computer at home that go along with my preschool themes. They send me an email when the books are transferred to the library closest to me. I pick them up, and it is FREE!

I also want to thank Benjamin Franklin for his suggestion centuries ago to start the first lending library. He and others would pool their money together and buy books for others to borrow. In 1731, the first lending library in America was opened. May you take the opportunity to regularly visit the library.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Decorating for Christmas from Deseret Industries - the results

I recently did a post on November 9th that showed some items I purchased at the Deseret Industries to decorate my kitchen cabinets and counters for Christmas. My friend Kristen H. came over to help me decorate, and I was so pleased with how it turned out. She is so talented. Here are the results.

I did purchase 9 ft. lengths of inexpensive garland from WalMart for $5.00 each. However, I had the little Christmas balls, the ribbon, a few houses, and the lights.

This gingerbread cookie jar, that now sits on my counter, was another D.I. find for $4.00 and was in perfect condition. I'm sure you can see my gingerbread theme. If you are determined to save money, you will!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Update on MyFoodStorageDeals.com

Well, I have been using MyFoodStorageDeals.com - a website devoted to helping you save at the grocery store each week to build up your food storage. I have been pleased. Their lists have helped me be more selective in my shopping, and build my food storage.

I'm not the best with coupons, but I try so I looked at Smith's sales at GrocerySmarts.com , and found coupons for this week's best deals. If you save the Sunday newspaper coupon inserts (don't cut them up), this website will tell you when to use the coupons. Even though I don't use all the coupons each week, I save them in a folder, and write the date on the top of the group of pages. Then, next week, I will look again at GrocerySmarts.com to see if I can use the coupon in conjuction with a sale. Hope that makes sense.

Today, I purchased the items in the picture above from Smith's grocery store. Don't usually buy so much soda, but the holidays are upon us. Also, got to have that chocolate!

Retail: $195.26
Manufacturer Coupon Savings: $13.05
Fresh Values Savings: $71.22
My cost: $110.99 before tax

Yes, that's 2 large turkeys in the picture that retail for $50! Got them for half. I'm sure some of you can do better.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Change #3 Reorganize Your Cupboards & Closets

(This is a dated post. I laugh at it because so much has changed!)
Last Saturday, I spent 5 hours reorganizing closets and cupboards to figure out how I wanted my food storage to fit, and how I could have easy access. My teenage son was a great help. We are a work in progress, but I wanted to share some pictures with you on how I am storing my food storage. We were very blessed when we bought this home because the first owners (we are the 4th) built some great storage closets and rooms. When we lived in California, we had a 4-car garage where we stored cars, not food; that was in the house. Let's take a mini tour of my Utah home:

Basement Fruit Room

This is where I store all of my canned goods, oils, and some of my boxed items. 

This room was built under the porch. Temperatures get in the low 50's in winter, and 70's in summer. The shelves are on three sides, and there is plenty of space. This is slowly filling up. Because it is so cold, we put weather stripping on the bottom of the door to keep the cold air in.

Notice the $1 WalMart thermometer.

The Former Craft Closet. Now the #10 Can Closet.

Just outside the fruit room, is another closet. This is were I am moving my #10 cans. Still need another shelf on the other wall, but here is one side. In California, it is easier to find places to store #10 cans, so I have many. Now that I am in Utah, more supplies will be stored in food grade HDPE 5 gallon buckets ($5 WalMart) with Gamma Seal lids ($6 WalMart).

The Big Storage Closet

This space is like a third car garage, and we love it. For now, this is where I store the wheat, and rice which are still in boxes. Also, my water barrels are in here since we could fill them up through a hose from a nearby window. This room could be converted into a food storage room. Maybe in the future.
The Camping Closet

This is where we store camping supplies, air mattresses, stoves, dutch ovens, etc. Needs some work.
Kitchen Spice Drawer

My friend Susan M. said she loved her spice drawer, so now I have one. It's great because you can see everything so well. Didn't spend any money on fancy gadgets.

Spice and Packaged Foods Cupboard

Here is where I keep the larger spices, just over my food preparation area. There is actually room behind the spices for a second row.

Baking Supplies

You'll find that the more you use food storage, the more you will be baking from scratch. These items are on lazy susan's which make everything available for easy access. The lower shelf has cooking oil, olive oil, shortening, baking powder, baking soda, Pam, and vinegar. You get the idea.

Another Baking Supplies Cupboard

I like these Rubbermaid airtight containers, because my #10 canned items fit right in. Here I have baking cocoa, powdered sugar, corn meal, shortening powder, rice, minute rice, potato pearls, Idaho potato flakes, brown sugar, powdered eggs, powedered milk, Bisquick.

Hope that got your mind thinking of what you can do with your own space.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

California Fires: Preparing For Disaster

I received an email from my sister late last night about the fires near their home in Yorba Linda, CA. They are safe, but it was too close to home since the home my sister lives in is the one I grew up in. My niece had to evacuate from her apartment in Brea, as they could see the flames from their apartment windows. They are safe as well. But, I have to say I had a pit in my stomach, because this was family.

My sister states: "Interestingly, our Stake (congregation) has been practicing emergency preparedness drills and now they are using many of the skills and routines they have been practicing. Will and members of the Stake High Council have been checking on the Church members. Will got his ham radio license recently and now he's depending on it for communication because much of the power and cell phones aren't working."
We are proud of you, Will! And you too, Todd, for helping others. And sorry for such a loss for families in California.

More information can be found here at my sisters blog, QuiltsWithLove

Click this link to the Orange County Register for a map of fire locations.

If you want to learn more about disaster preparedness, go to the American Red Cross - Preparing For Disaster

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Long-Term Food Storage Must Be Stored Under Proper Conditions

As I was researching food storage today, I came across the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, & Food Science at Brigham Young University. They do research on Food Storage.

Check out the picture of a loaf of bread above made from 20 year old wheat stored in a garage versus a cool basement. Very appetizing! This picture really emphasizes the importance of storing foods under proper conditions so that shelf life is optimized.
In my former California home, we built shelving on a wall in a spare bedroom so that our food storage was not in the garage where summer temperatures were 115 degrees. It wasn't exactly pretty, but now, I can see what happens when we don't store under proper conditions. My kitchen cabinets were full of canned foods too. To my California friends: store in the house so that the heat of the garage doesn't ruin your food storage!

ProvidentLiving.org states -
"Storage life can be significantly impacted by the following conditions:

Temperature: Store products at a temperature of 75°F/24°C or lower whenever possible. If storage temperatures are higher, rotate products as needed to maintain quality.
Moisture: Keep storage areas dry. It is best to keep containers off of the floor to allow for air circulation.
Light: Protect cooking oil and products stored in PETE bottles from light.
Insects and rodents: Protect products stored in foil pouches and PETE bottles from rodent and insect damage."
So, if you have to store items at a higher temperature, make sure you are using or rotating them. They will NOT endure 30 years at higher temperatures.
A few ideas:
1. Move items from your kitchen cupboards that you don't use often into the garage to make space for your food storage. Vases, platters, etc.
2. Store food storage under beds in bedrooms because you usually keep these areas cooler.
3. Or create some furniture. Remember the bed Jared Phelps (Kirby Heyborne) slept on in the movie the R.M? Not far from the truth.
The little bedside table in this picture covered with the burgundy tablecloth is really about 60 #10 cans stacked in boxes. Doesn't look like it, but that's 348 lbs. of wheat! Who needs real furniture?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Christmas Decorations from Deseret Industries Thrift Store

Wooden Gingerbread Man $2.00

"One of the better ways to simplify our lives is to follow the counsel we have so often received to live within our income, stay out of debt, and save for a rainy day. We should practice and increase our habits of thrift, industry, economy, and frugality. Members of a well-managed family do not pay interest; they earn it." Elder L. Tom Perry, Oct. 4, 2008

Many of us are watching our finances this Christmas. I thought I would share an idea for finding inexpensive Christmas decorations. Yesterday I went shopping at the new Layton, Utah, Deseret Industries. They had an unually large selection (2 aisles) of Christmas items. Most local thrift stores hang onto their Christmas items, and sell them at this time of year. Thank you to all of you who donated items you were tired of, so I could buy them. :-)

-Inspect carefully for chips, cracks, and broken parts.
-Smell the item for cigarette smoke,
-Clean items by washing with soapy water, or disinfectant wipes. Be careful to look at the fabric care labels, if any,
-Thrift store shopping takes time. Plan on an hour. If you can leave your young kids at home, do. It will make your trip much more enjoyable.

Wooden Gingerbread woman and man, $4.00 total
Holiday books $3.50 total

Rug (saw a similar one at Kohls for $35), mine cost $3.00

Gingerbread salt & pepper shakers (still had Dillard's tag for $24), mine cost $2.00

Gingerbread, Snowman Pie plate $2.00

Ceramic Bakery House $2.00

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mary Jean's Chicken with Rice

This is one of my all-time favorite main dish recipes from my mother-in-law, Mary Jean. It needs 2 hours to cook, but it is worth it. Uses lots of food storage items.

Mary Jean's Chicken with Rice
Servings: 6 – 8

2 c. rice
1 can low fat cream of mushroom soup
1 can chicken gumbo soup
2 c. water
1 pkg. Lipton onion soup
2 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts with bone (I used 3 large boneless chicken breasts, which is about 1 1/2 lbs.)

1. Mix: 2 c. rice, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 c. chicken gumbo soup, 2 c. water in 9 x 13 baking dish.
2. Sprinkle 1/2 pkg. Lipton Onion Soup.
3. Put chicken pieces in upside down, push into rice.
4. Sprinkle rest of Lipton soup on top.
5. Cover tightly with foil, shiny side down. Bake at 325 degrees for 2 full hours.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Making Plain Old Bread

Last Saturday, my wonderful sister-in-law, Wendi, invited several of us family members over to learn to make bread. We ground the wheat with a hand grinder (several of the guys helped), and kneaded the dough by hand too. It was great for my girls because I wanted them to experience all of this from a great teacher. Maybe some of you can do this with your nieces, daughters, sisters, and sister-in-laws as well!

Plain Old BreadMakes 6 loaves

1 cube margarine or butter melted (in microwave)
6 c. warm water
½ c. sugar
4 T instant yeast (SAF)
2 T. salt

1. Melt the butter and then just add the other ingredients including the instant yeast in a large bowl. I just stir all these ingredients together until they are somewhat dissolved.
2. Add 10 c. flour (I used 4-5 C of the fresh ground white wheat and the balance regular flour) stir to moisten flour.
3. Dump 4 more cups flour onto the counter; dump the dough on top of it, and knead. You know you have kneaded it long enough when all of the flour is mixed in.
4. Return to large plastic bowl. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise until double.
5. Punch down to get all of the air out.
6. Roll into loaves and put in 6 greased regular loaf pans.
7. Cover with dishcloth again and let rise until double. (Hint-I usually have better luck if it’s not rising on granite. I put a dishtowel under it for added warmth).
8. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Take out and dump onto a dishtowel until cool.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Money Saving Ideas: Cut Your Family's Hair

Today my little princess decided to cut her own hair. She went from this . . .

. . . to this.

We just got back from Great Clips where they fixed my daughters artwork, and doesn't it look cute! This reminded me of a way we have saved thousands of dollars over the years. Since there are 4 boys (including my husband) and 4 girls in my family, I used to cut everyone’s hair. I purchased a Wahl hair clipper set when we were first married, and practiced on my husband. His curly hair was very forgiving of all of my mistakes. If you figure an inexpensive haircut costs $15, multiply that by 8 and we saved $120 per month. Multiply by 12 to save $1440 per year! Later, I bought a mini trimmer which helps with cutting around the ears. I prefer those with a cord. I know a lot of you already do this, but if you don’t, I recommend investing in a $30 Wahl clipper set, and practice on your own family. Happy clipping!

Go to the Wahl website for How to videos

Monday, November 3, 2008

Converting to Food Storage - Changes 1 & 2

I’ve been working diligently on converting to food storage. I've stored #10 cans of items for years, however, I'm trying to follow the current counsel and work on my Three-Month Supply. I remember the rotation shelves in the coat closet growing up, but I never understood that it takes a conversion process to really progress with food storage. A conversion similar to a convert joining the church. I say that because when a new convert joins the church they don’t get baptized, and stop there. They start coming to church regularly, study the scriptures, and live a more Christlike life. It's the same with food storage; I shouldn’t just get a food storage supply, and stop there. I need to make life-long changes.


With the new focus on gathering a Three-Month Food supply of non-perishable foods your family eats, it's a no brainer. I'm so used to buying fresh and frozen, that it would take me forever to accumulate a Three-Month Supply unless I focus on purchasing non-perishable items. I decided to change my grocery purchasing this month and I’m focusing on buying 75% of non-perishable items, and 25% perishable. This will make me use what I store.


In my past life, I made huge purchases at Sam's Club. But everyone keeps telling me their are better bargains elsewhere. It's so much easier to shop at Sam's Club, but do they really have the best prices? So this month, I decided to make only 1 monthly purchase at my friendly Sam's Club, and do the rest of the shopping by watching the sales at grocery stores.

Yesterday, I placed an online order with Sam’s Club, and picked it up through their Click'n'Pull service early this morning. I love ordering this way because I think carefully about the items I need for the month, place the order from my home computer, then go to the store where a grocery cart of my items is waiting. They do have to go to the freezer/refrigerator for my perishables, which takes about 10 additional minutes. Then they help me load it in the car. I absolutely LOVE it! (I think I should get a free membership for promoting them, don't you?) Having said that, I will share my Sam's Club/Albertson's Cost Comparison spreadsheet. Prices are from August, and I'm sorry to see they are creeping up. If you print it out and carry it to your local grocery store, you can compare prices and possibly Beat the Sam's Club price. (Okay. No free membership now!)

I set a spending limit at Sam’s this month, which will force me to look for bargains at other stores in my area, and not just buy from them. Sometimes you need smaller sizes of items to store that aren't offered at club warehouses. For instance, I buy my oil in the 48 oz size, not the gallon size offered at Sam's, so I can rotate easier. I also didn't buy any bread this time. Yikes! So, I'm making bread this month and trying out various recipes. I don't think my family will mind.

I also signed up for My Food Storage Deals which is helpful because their spreadsheets help me see what the sales are at grocery stores outside of the club warehouses. Looking at ads in the newspaper takes a lot of my time, and I'm horrible with using coupons, so I wanted someone else to do the work of looking over the ads for me. It costs $4.95 per month and I get spreadsheets showing items on sale in my area that would be great for food and home storage. The list is divided into groups: items highlighted in red are Great deals, items highlighted in blue are Good deals, and items highlighted in green are Okay deals. The spreadsheet for each store also shows you how to incorporate it into your years supply. I will keep you posted as to how helpful this service is for me. Sorry. This is a Utah only service.

I'll share other changes as I continue to learn and grow.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Homemade Pear Sauce: Canning . . Almost

Well, I got ambitious today. We have an Anjou pear tree and have an abundant crop this year. So I thought I'd try to make some pear sauce. There is a great website called PickYourOwn.org that has some wonderful canning recipes. As it turned out, I thought I would have too many pears for my jars, so I only peeled half of the box, and after I cooked the pears, ended up with 1 quart! So I didn't can any, but put it in the refrigerator to eat later. I did drain the water off the pears after I cooked them, and have pear juice too. Yum! It took me about an hour, since I did not use the canner.

1. Wash the pears in cold water.

2. Peal and slice the pears, removing all skin and brown spots.

3. Add 1 inch of water to pan, put on lid, and bring to boil.

4. Reduce heat until soft, and mash with potato masher.

5. Drain into colander.

6. Return to pan, continue mashing and add cinnamon to taste. Yum!

(Put in blender for smoother texture, but I like it chunky.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Propane Gas and the Barbecue

A few days ago, my husband went to turn on the BBQ, and the last person who cooked (could it be me!) left the gas valve open. So, there was no propane left in the tank. During the summer I kept thinking about buying a second one as a backup, but never did. I don't know much about propane tanks, except that you turn the valve and it stinks.

My husband purchased the BBQ a few years back, and it has this cool side burner. We've never used it, but I can see that the benefits of a side burner are that we can boil water for purification, or to cook on it in an emergency like a major earthquake (can't use gas or electricity until damage is evaluated).

I am somewhat uncomfortable lighting our barbecue. I usually ask my son to do it. Yes, I'm a baby about it. However, I come from pioneer stock. My pioneer ancestors crossed the plains pushing and pulling handcarts, and I'm sure my female ancestors gathered wood, and lit their own fires.

So, I want you somewhat dependent-on-my-husband females to think about the next thing I am going to write. My husband is employed in the medical field, and in the event of an emergency, will probably have to stay at work and not come home to help me light the BBQ. Since he commutes 20 minutes away, getting home could also take forever. And if your husband works away from home, you might need to be less dependent on him.

So, yesterday I unhooked the propane tank by myself, and hauled it to the grocery store to get a replacement 20# Rhino. Okay, I know I cheated and exchanged it at the grocery store. And purchased a 2nd tank. I say cheated because it's lots cheaper to take it to a propane station like Uhaul. One of my impatient moments. Next time, I'll do it the right way. Learn from my mistakes. So, now we have 2 full 20# propane tanks. And tonight I lit up the BBQ in the 50 degree weather, and we had somewhat rare steak for dinner! Got to work on cooking on the BBQ. Just like those pioneer women.

How do I connect my tank? go to Blue Rhino

Money Saving Ideas: 10 Ways to Save Money for Food Storage

1. CUT BACK ON EATING OUT. Save $5 -$10 per person each meal.
It's always shocking to me to see the number of families eating out in restaurants these days. Commit to not going out more than once a month with the family. Reserve eating out for date night, birthdays, and other special occasions. Have some prepared foods on hand for those nights when you don't feel like cooking. Buy frozen pizza, prepared soups, frozen burritos, or barbecue meats.
2. MAKE SACK LUNCHES. Save $2 - 5 per lunch.
Keep a supply of foods for sack lunches, and make them the night before school/work. Make a loaf of peanut butter sandwiches and freeze them for easy access. Buy drinks in bulk to carry to school and work.
3. BUY IN BULK. Save $90 per week on $200 of groceries.
Many of us have warehouse memberships, but make sure that you are really getting a deal when you shop there. Don't impulse buy. Plan ahead, and stick to your list. If you buy in bulk, when you get home, package foods for the freezer in serving sizes to prevent freezer burn waste. Because I have a business account at Sam's Club, I can order online, and they will load items in my car for me.
4. COOK BREAKFAST. If you make your own pancakes/waffles, muffins or oatmeal for breakfast from already stored long-term storage, you will spend hardly anything. You will also make the cold cereal in your food storage last longer.
5. SELL SOMETHING. Is there an item (or items) in your home that could find a new home? Sell it and put the money aside for food storage. List on Ebay, Craigslist, or your local newspaper. 6. CANCEL YOUR NEWSPAPER and MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION. $15 - $25 per month.
Learn to read the news online. Read magazines at the library while your kids are checking out books.
7. CANCEL YOUR PREMIUM MOVIE CHANNELS ON YOUR CABLE SERVICE. $25 per month. Look for the least expensive cable package you can, and cut out the high definition stuff. Or perhaps cut out cable all-together.
8. VACATION CLOSE TO HOME. $500 or more per trip.
There is a lot to explore in your own state. Instead of a vacation to a distant land, stay close to home. Your kids will still love it. Or swap houses with a relative who wants to come to your state, and you to theirs. 9. DOWNSIZE YOUR CAR. Various amounts of cash.
True, large cars may be harder to sell right now, but there is a family who needs yours. Price it right, and not with the idea that you are going to get top dollar for it, and it will probably sell. If you have an extra car, sell it. How many cars do you really need?
10. CANCEL YOUR GYM MEMBERSHIP. Create an area at home where you can work out. Make it an environment you enjoy being in. Paint a room, put the old spare television in a corner, and jog on a treadmill, or use other exercise equipment. Shop your Craigslist or your newspaper for someone else's unused equipment. There's alot of it available.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Freezer Storage Tips

As we continue our goal to gather a 3-Month Supply of non-perishable foods, we also want to keep our freezers stocked. Today's post is about tips on storing foods in the freezer:
  1. Freezer foods are good for 1 to 2 days in the event of a power outage. This depends on how full your freezer is. What To Do if the Freezer Stops?

  2. Plan ahead. Know the closest location you can purchase dry ice in case your freezer stops. "A 50-pound cake of dry ice is enough to protect solidly frozen food in a full 20-cubic foot freezer for three to four days. A 25-pound cake should hold the temperature of a half- full, 10-cubic foot freezer below freezing for two to three days." University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service

  3. The freezer should be set for 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below. If a power outage is anticipated, lower the freezer a few more degrees.

  4. Keep a freezer thermometer inside to be sure your freezer is functioning properly. If the freezer can't keep ice cream brick-solid, the temperature is above the recommended level.

  5. It's important to store items in freezer containers, freezer bags or freezer wrap. Do not use plain old sandwich bags.

  6. Label food packages with an expiration date. Here is a Refrigerator and Freezer Food Storage Chart. Copy and hang on the side of your freezer, or in a kitchen cupboard.

  7. Freeze food in portion sizes for your family. During a power outage, you can quickly grab portioned food. This also helps items defrost more quickly for regular use. The picture above shows how I divide a large package of ground beef. I have a box of plastic food service gloves which is very helpful when touching meat. I cut the meat into approximately 1 lb. chunks, and put them in a freezer bag. Then I place the bag on my scale (mine is a postal scale), and then add a bit more or less. I close the pack as tight as I can leaving a tiny amount of air space for expansion. Then I flatten the ground beef into a flat square, and freeze flat. After it is frozen, I stand them up in a box so the freezer shelf space is used more efficiently. I still need to put the expiration date on, but you get the idea.

  8. Leave a little room (1/2 inch) for expansion in your containers; however too much air leads to freezer burn.

  9. Freeze produce in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Then transfer portioned amounts into freezer bags.

  10. Make your trip to the grocery store your LAST errand. Purchase freezer foods last at the grocery store, and put them away first when you get home.

  11. Keep your freezer fully stocked to help it run more efficiently. If you can't fill it up, put water in plastic jugs, and freeze them to fill empty spaces.

  12. Cool hot food to room temperature before freezing.

  13. Thaw foods in the refrigerator, or a sink full of cool water. Not on the kitchen counter.

  14. Don't pack your freezer so tight that air can't circulate.

  15. Organize foods into food groups.

  16. Place newer purchases in the back, oldest in the front.

  17. Use cardboard boxes to divide food into areas. Measure the length, width and height of shelves. Go to the grocery store early in the morning for best selection of free used boxes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lessons from Hurricane Ike

(Here is a letter that was forwarded to me. I edited it a bit and took out the family name)

Dear Friends:

Just to let you know that the * are doing well. We have a 6'x6' hole in our roof, no electricity or running water, Trees down everywhere. However, because we listened to the counsel of our Prophet, we are prepared. In fact it seems to me that it's only the members of the church who seem to be calm, prepared, and helping one another with trees in roofs, flooding, etc.

There is a POD or Point of Distribution in Tomball where we live. There you get water and ice IF you have enough fuel to wait in the 3 hour lines. We don't have to do that because we have 3 full water barrels, 75 juice bottles filled with water, and our pool which is dirty but we use it to flush.

It is very difficult to get gas. Police guard the stations when fuel is delivered and you might wait half a day to get up to the pump just to have them say, 'Too bad, we are out'.

I am grateful that we have a generator. We run it 4 hours a day to keep our fridge and light. I am grateful that we have had fuel for it. You can't even buy gas containers as they are rationed. We can only by bread once a week and limited to 2 loaves at a time. Water is rationed by the case at the grocery store. 3 cases per family.

The ATM machines do not have power. For the past 6 months I have stashed small bills away because I have had such a feeling of foreboding. We have cash because of that. LISTEN TO THE SPIRIT. Get cash in small bills because the stores can't make change and credit and debit cards often don't work. I had to pay 5 dollars more for an item because they couldn't make change for me.


Believe it or not...I have not had a bath in 4 days, Today was the first day I got to wash my hair with pool water. I haven't fixed my hair in a week!!! It just doesn't matter anymore. We can not do laundry because we don't have water. So, we wear our clothes until they are literally disgusting. When we do finally get water we will have to boil it since it is contaminated. I am grateful for my parents. When we got low on generator fuel they drove 45 minutes to help us. They filled up their cans and brought us 10 gallons of fuel which kept us going until this morning at 6:00 am when we finally found some gas.

A prepared Family and a loving extended family is the key to survival and making it through right now. I know that my parents would drive to the end of the earth to help me and it's nice knowing they are there. I know that I would do the same for my children.

I want all of you to know that I have such a testimony of following the counsel of our living prophet. There really is safety and peace in your heart if you are prepared. Please get your generators, 5 gas cans full of gas, canned goods, baby items, baby wipes to bathe, and all the water you can store...even if you have to trip on it in your home. Have your lanterns, crank flashlights, tarps, rope, etc...ready to go because you never know when it will be your turn to endure the test. It's overwhelming, but it's going to be ok eventually.

I have a home, I have food, I have water, because I listened to the counsel of the prophet. Please make sure you do the same.

It's time to have your life in order. Tomorrow may be too late. I love you all so much. I wish you were here. Take care!

Tomball, Texas

Equipment: The Chain Saw

I was looking over the Sam’s Club auction the other day, and saw chain saws up for auction. End of the summer clearance. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have one since we live in an area with lots of trees that need trimming every year?” It would be nice to not borrow or rent (about $60 every time). I know you’re probably thinking, “What in the world does she know about chain saws?” Pretty much nothing. Except that it could be useful. Having said that, I began to bid on a Poulan Pro 42cc Gas Chainsaw 18.

I told my husband I was bidding on a chain saw. There was a long pause as he began processing. I told him that I had set a limit. Another pause. I told him, wouldn’t it be nice to not have to borrow and break someone else’s? And so the serious bidding began.

I’ve purchased things on Ebay before so I understand the bidding process. I figured Sam’s Auction would be similar. The main thing is you 1.) do some research (Amazon.com or Consumer Reports), 2.) figure out what the item is worth to you, and 3.) set a limit for yourself. AND STICK TO THE LIMIT. I also did some research on bidding, and found that you should never bid on the first and last items, if there are several items open for bid. This way you can see what items are selling for.

I scoured the internet for information on my chain saw. Mixed reviews. I found that this Poulan chain saw retailed for $170 - $280, so I figured that if I could get it for about half that, I would be doing okay. Well, I kept losing my bids. Most chain saws at the auction were selling for $120 and $140. I told the kids that all these men were bidding on chain saws and didn’t want me to win one! So, for a few days I watched often, set my high bid, and lost again. Then, I decided that if it was meant to be, I would win. So, I bid one more time. And lo and behold, I won! Somehow I won it for $111.00.

In all seriousness, a chain saw is very useful in many emergency situations: storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, etc. Hopefully, our chain saw will prove useful over the years.

“Wielding chain saws and moving tons of debris, more than 200 volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — many dressed in the Church’s familiar “Mormon Helping Hands” T-shirts — helped clean up areas in Alabama and Georgia affected by last week’s tornadoes that left a trail of death and devastation.” 5 March 2007, Church Newsroom

“The buzz of chainsaws will again fill the air this weekend as thousands of volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints descend on the Gulf Coast to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.” 15 September, 2005,
Church Newsroom

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Waste Not, Want Not: Staggering Purchases

Today I threw away some food storage items (Canola oil) that was past its shelf life. Way past! In order to avoid such waste in the future, staggering purchases should help spread out the shelf life of some products or I need to use my food storage more. We should not feel rushed to get everything all at once. The LDS church leaders have said: "We ask that you be wise as you store food and water and build your savings. Do not go to extremes; it is not prudent, for example, to go into debt to establish your food storage all at once. With careful planning, you can, over time, establish a home storage supply and a financial reserve."—The First Presidency, All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage, Feb. 2007, 1

I’ve decided to only buy 1 or 2 of each item listed below every 3 months. You may have some different items that you find you aren’t using as quickly as you would like to. (It usually means we aren’t baking enough!)

It's a good idea to use a Sharpie pen to mark items with the date of purchase on the front where you will see it. After you open an item, mark it with the date you opened it: OP 10/08

Here’s the shelf life (in a dark, cool, dry place) of the items I plan to stagger purchasing:

Vegetable oil (1 year shelf life; 4 - 6 months opened)

Peanut Butter (2 year shelf life; 3 months opened)

Mayonnaise (1 year shelf life; 3 months opened in fridge)

Evaporated Milk (1 year shelf life; a few days opened in fridge)

Potato Pearls (8 year shelf life; the LDS Church has replaced this item with Potato Flakes, shelf life 30 years. However, I called our local Dry Pack and you can buy Potato Pearls in bulk already packaged, 12, 28 oz. pkgs. in a 21 lb. box for $40.)

Baking Powder (5 year shelf life; 3 - 6 months opened)
"To test the vitality of your baking powder, add a teaspoon of it to a third of a cup of hot water. If it foams and bubbles, it has enough oomph left." OCHEF.com

Monday, October 13, 2008

Homemade Prego Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

Homemade Prego Spaghetti Sauce
Makes 16 cups

1 lb. cooked ground beef (double if you like more meat)
2 T. dehydrated onion
1 1/2 t. garlic powder
1 t. dried basil
1 t. dried parsley
1 t. ground black pepper
1 t. dried oregano
2 t. salt
1/8 c granulated sugar
2-6 oz. can tomato paste
4-14.5 oz. or 2-29 oz can stewed or crushed tomatoes
4-15 oz. or 2-29 oz. can tomato sauce

1. Brown ground beef and onion in large pot. Drain fat.
2. Put stewed tomatoes in blender and slightly puree. You may need to puree 2 small cans or 1 large at a time.
3. You will need to divide meat, tomato products, and seasoning between two large pots unless you have a commercial sized pot.
4. Slowly bring to a boil at a medium high heat. Let boil for 10 minutes, covered
5. Reduce to lowest heat. Cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Portion sauce by planning on 3/4 c. to 1 c. per person depending on your family. Then put it in freezer ziploc bags. Press all the air out so you have nice flat bags. Let the bags cool. Then stack them in your freezer in a cardboard box if you have one. Another option is to put the sauce in cool whip containers.

Write the item name & date with a permanent marker.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

14 Day Emergency Food Storage Menu

Here is the first draft of my 14-Day Emergency Food Storage Menu. I only did 14 days since in an emergency we could repeat the weeks 6 times to equal 3 months. You can click on the picture above to see the spreadsheet, or read below. I am practicing the recipes from "Emergency Food in a Nutshell" by Leslie D. Probert and Lisa L. Harkness. Outstanding book! I'm also looking online to find some more. It's nice to know what I need to store, and since all families are unique, my menu's are too.
14-Day Food Storage Menu
Day 1 –
Breakfast: Oatmeal, homemade bread, apple juice
Lunch: Ravioli’s or Spaghettio’s, crackers, apple juice
Dinner: Quick Chili w/corn, wheat rolls, pears
Dessert: Apple Crisp

Day 2 –
Breakfast: Muffins, peaches, orange juice
Lunch: Canned Soup or stew, crackers, orange juice
Dinner: Pineapple Chicken w/Rice, cornmeal muffins, carrots & peas
Dessert: Oatmeal Cookies

Day 3 –
Breakfast: Pancakes, pears, milk
Lunch: Tuna or Turkey Sandwich, fruit cocktail, water
Dinner: Beef Spaghetti, Bisquick biscuits, jello w/peaches, milk
Dessert: Applesauce Cookies

Day 4 –
Breakfast: Cold cereal, homemade bread, milk
Lunch: PB & Jelly sandwich, applesauce, tang
Dinner: Potatoes w/Spam, green beans, pears, milk
Dessert: Pudding

Day 5 –
Breakfast: Oatmeal, apricots, cranberry juice
Lunch: Mac & cheese, dried fruit snack, cran/rasp. juice
Dinner: BBQ Beef Casserole, yams, fruit cocktail, milk
Dessert: Pumpkin Cookies

Day 6 –
Breakfast: Cold Cereal, homemade bread, milk
Lunch: PB & Jelly sandwich, chips w/salsa, water
Dinner: Chicken Broccoli Twist, homemade bread, jello w/pears, apple juice
Dessert: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Day 7 –
Breakfast: Waffles, mandarin oranges, milk
Lunch: Cup o’noodle soup, granola bar, tang
Dinner: Tuna helper, wheat rolls, applesauce, milk
Dessert: Brownies

Day 8
Breakfast: Oatmeal, homemade bread, apple juice
Lunch: Ravioli’s or Spaghettio’s, crackers, apple juice
Dinner: Chicken Corn Chowder, wheat rolls, green beans, milk
Dessert: Cake w/frosting

Day 9
Breakfast: Muffins, peaches orange juice
Lunch: Canned Soup or stew, crackers, orange juice
Dinner: Chicken noodle salad, homemade bread, carrot & peas, milk
Dessert: Snickerdoodles

Day 10
Breakfast: Pancakes, pears, milk
Lunch: Tuna or Turkey Sandwich, fruit cocktail, water
Dinner: Pasta w/spaghetti sauce, Bisquik biscuits, jello w/pears, grape juice
Dessert: Applesauce cookies

Day 11
Breakfast: Cold cereal, homemade bread, milk
Lunch: PB & Jelly sandwich, applesauce, tang
Dinner: Chicken Pot Pie, cornmeal muffins, peaches, milk
Dessert: Oatmeal cookies

Day 12
Breakfast: Oatmeal, apricots, rasp./cranberry juice
Lunch: Mac & cheese, dried fruit snack, cran/rasp. juice
Dinner: ABC Soup, homemade bread, pears, milk
Dessert: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Day 13
Breakfast: Cold cereal, homemade bread, milk
Lunch: PB & Jelly sandwich, chips w/salsa, rasp./cranberry juice
Dinner: Southwestern Soup, Spanish Rice, fruit cocktail, apple juice
Dessert: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Day 14
Breakfast: Waffles, mandarin oranges, milk
Lunch: Cup o’noodle soup, granola bar, tang
Dinner: Beef Stew w/green beans, wheat rolls, apricots, milk
Dessert: Brownies

Chicken Corn Chowder

Chicken Corn Chowder
4-6 servings

1 can chicken broth
1 T. dehydrated chopped onion
¼ t. pepper
1 t. salt
dash of dried parsley
2 potatoes, chopped, or 1 c. dehydrated potato dices
1 c. chicken, cooked and cubed; or 1 can chicken breast
1 can evaporated milk
¼ c. flour
1 can corn, drained

1. In large pan, mix broth, onion, pepper, salt, parsley, and potatoes.
2. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender.
3. In small bowl, mix milk and flour; add slowly to pot, stirring constantly.
4. Cook until thick, and then add corn. Simmer for 10 minutes.
I tried this recipe today but used fresh potatoes and cooked chicken. It was very creamy. I doubled it for my family of 6.

Early Winter Storm

Well, our first winter storm hit on Saturday, October 11, the day of the BYU/New Mexico game. Last night our Farmington temperature low was 31 degrees. The snow was particularly hard on some trees that still had leaves on them, as it caused them to droop, and some branches to break. Here are a few pictures I took early Sunday morning.

It's time to get out the winter clothes. We hunted for our coats, and mittens. We keep them in storage totes in the basement.