January 30, 2011

Best Food Storage to Buy in February 2011

The February focus is breakfast foods. To save money on food storage items in February, watch for sales leading up to Chinese New Year, the Super Bowl, Daytona 500, Valentine's Day, and President's Day. Or other holidays in your country. This is National Canned Food month, National Hot breakfast month, and American Heart month.

The February List
STEP 1: 3-Month FOOD STORAGE SUPPLY - Breakfast Foods
(Suggested amounts are for 1 adult)
CL = case lot sale, WM = Walmart, LDS = available at LDS Home Storage centers
LT 30 YR= Long-Term shelf life if stored properly. Consider storing a year's supply.

1. Decide on a monthly food storage budget
2. Choose a few items from the list that you want to focus on
3. Multiply list amounts by # of family members. Adjust amounts and items for younger children
4. Each week look at your grocery store ads for items on sale that match your goals
5. Carry your list with you, or put it on your cell phone notepad

FOOD ITEMS
Cereal/Instant oatmeal, etc. 6 boxes or 6 lbs.
Muffin mix 1 box
Pancake mix 2 lbs.
Pancake syrup 32 oz.
Powdered eggs 1/2 #10 can (LT 15 YR)

NON-FOOD ITEMS
Toothbrush
Toothpaste
Floss

72-HOUR KIT (pp)
Emergency contact list
Feminine items
Razor

EMERGENCY SUPPLIES
AM/FM portable radio
Latex medical gloves
Assorted band aids
Rolls of gauze
Food storage book (used at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble)

AUTO EMERGENCY KIT
Detailed map of area
Toilet paper roll
Plastic trash bags

STEP 2: DRINKING WATER Store a 2-Week Supply of drinking water, which is about 14 gallons per person. If you've already started this, continue to add to your supply. For drinking, that is about 4x24 ct. cases of 16.9 oz. bottles per person. You may need more for hygiene and cooking which you can store in other containers. Always keep stocked up on water. You can't live without it.

STEP 3: FINANCIAL RESERVE
Each week add some money to an emergency fund. Decide on a do-able amount and set up weekly transfers from checking to savings. Or put aside your loose change in a jar. Whichever way you choose to save, use it only for emergencies.

PREPAREDNESS GOALS
1. Learn to bake bread or a new bread recipe.
2. Get a physical.
3. Copy important papers

January 29, 2011

How to Organize Your Spices



After

Another January project I worked on in my kitchen was organizing my spices. After so many searches in the cupboard to find the right one, I found a much better solution. Keeping the spices in similar sized containers and arranging them so they be easily seen. Here is how I organized my spices:

Uniform Container Size - Decide what size container to put all of your spices into for everyday use. That doesn't mean you can't buy larger containers. Just store them elsewhere. I bought 4 1/4" high by 1 3/4" wide plastic spice containers from WinCo for .84 each. They have a shaker hole lid, but you have to take the lid off to put a measuring teaspoon inside. Or look for glass containers on Amazon.com or at IKEA.

Which Spices, Which Containers - Decide which spices you want to put in your containers and total them. You could reuse a few spice containers that are about the same size. BBQ seasonings, onions, and gravy can stay in their original large containers if you go through them a lot, and whole cloves can stay in their teeny tiny container because they are rarely used.



Transfer Spices - Make a handy-dandy spice funnel out of paper rolled into a cone shape and taped into place. Make sure the opening is not too small and at least 3/4 of an inch. Prepare for sneezing and spills. I still smell like cumin. Put the funnel into the new container and carefully pour from another container. You can do this over the sink. Be careful not to pour too quickly. When done, wipe off or tap off excess spice. Clean the funnel by tapping or shaking into the sink. I used the same funnel for all spices and it held up.

If you have leftover spices in larger containers, put them in a box, write the spice names on the box, and put the box away in the basement or under a bed. You don't need them in your kitchen taking up space other foods need.

They are great for a year or two food storage supply. If you need to refill spice jars and don't want to buy a large container at Sam's Club or Costco, try to purchase at a bulk food store like WinCo. 



Label Containers - With a permanent marker or label maker (one of my favorite gadgets) put the names of all spices on the back side of the lid cap. That way it won't be rubbed too much with your fingers. Press labels on firmly. You may need a little Scotch tape too. 


Homemade Stair-step Spice Organizer - Make a spice step for your spices after you transfer them into containers. I built my own step from a 2 x 4 piece of wood we had on hand, but I'm sure you could use another size board as well. Here's how:
  1. Divide your spices by three so you know how many to fit on each board. Cut 3 boards into a length that will hold your spices, but allow for a few extra. I had 27 spices, so I had my son cut the wood 18 inches long or enough for 10 spice containers. Actually you will only put spices on two boards and use the area in front of one board for more spices.
  2. Lay one board down flat in the back of the shelf, and put another one in front of that also laying flat. Put the third one on top of the back board. You could use sticky back velcro to hold them into place, but you really don't need too. 
  3. Arrange your spices alphabetically. That's it! You can see everything and love it, just like I do. Look at the first picture and see how much space is in my cupboard!
Note: Spices in clear containers do best in a dark cupboard away from light and a heat source.

January 28, 2011

5 Steps to Organizing a Kitchen



After the organization bug bit me in January, I rearranged my kitchen. This two-day project was huge, but well worth it. I love the results! The new placement of items makes sense to me. Check out my organization tips:

Step 1: Research - Do an internet search for articles on “organized kitchen,” “organizing your pantry,” or “clutter free kitchen.” Read how others got the job done.

Step 2: Gather Materials - Find several boxes for donations, cleaning rags and cleaner, shelf liner, a few small plastic baskets & bins (check the dollar store), turntables, and scissors. I splurged and bought a drawer knife block from Target. Love it!

Step 3: Decide on Kitchen Work Areas - Decide how to arrange things in the kitchen to make it more convenient. Some areas to consider might be food, baking, and lunch prep. Also where to store pots & pans, baking sheets, spices, paper goods, snacks, serving platters, bowls and bake ware, silverware, cooking utensils, glasses/cups, plates/bowls, beverages, storage containers, canned goods, boxed goods, etc. I moved my foil/plastic items to a different drawer and love where it is now because it’s more accessible to my food prep area. I put the most used cooking utensils in a ceramic pitcher I already had (a D.I. thrift store find for $1.50).


Wow! Why haven’t I done that before?



Step 4: Sort, then Group - In each cupboard or drawer, pull everything out onto the counter so you can see things. Sort through the items and begin grouping them. Within these groups, divide into smaller groups.


Throw away damaged or expired items. Put donations in a box. Get rid of multiples or items you have not used in a year. How many sports bottles do you really need? Put grouped items into baskets, totes, cutlery trays or boxes. Put items most used in the front of shelves and drawers, and less used items in the back, or up high. Put items that go in another part of the house in a box to be put away later.

Step 5: Clean & Repair - Clean the dust and gunk from shelves and drawers. Wash those hot pads. Nice. Cover or line shelves and drawers with rubberized shelf liner. I made the mistake of using some sticky contact paper (yuck!) on a few shelves, then switched to rubberized liners. Fix broken hinges and drawers. Oil those squeaky hinges. Because my son is living at home before he leaves on his mission to Sweden, he installed the missing drawer knobs on the cupboards and drawers. Wow! What a difference a knobs make.

Organizing Canned Foods - Group canned foods by type: fruits, vegetables, beans, soups, etc. It's so much easier to put things away after you shop. Keep condensed soups for baking, chicken stock, and evaporated milk in a cupboard near your preparation area. Line cans up in rows going front to back in your pantry. Three is about right for most shelves. My pantry can handle six in a row. However, after arranging them, the next day the weight (about 80 lbs.) of cans on two shelves broke the plastic adjustable shelf pegs and the shelves landed on top of the one underneath them. (see picture below) Lesson learned. Strong nickel adjustable shelf pegs from Home Depot made them sturdier. Make everything viewable to prevent items from going unused which is a waste of money. Store the rest in a basement, under beds, or in a closet in another part of the house where it is about 75 degrees or less. Not in the garage!



Organizing Spices - Some people group spices by type, but I decided to alphabetize them. Store them on an OXO turntable, a spice shelf, a 3-tiered horizontal shelf (I use 2x4's) or in a drawer. Whatever you do, make it easy to see things, so you don't have to dig in the cupboard. Label containers on the side of the lid. WinCo sells 4 oz. plastic spice containers for $.84. Perfect for transferring spices from larger containers into the smaller ones. Eventually I’ll move my smallest spices to these containers as well and increase my supply for a year’s supply. Nice and neat. (See next post)

Organizing the Baking Area - In your baking area, keep flour, sugar, and brown sugar easy to reach. If they are kept on a shelf, use Buddeez storage containers. About $5.99 at Walmart. or look at the company website here. They're large enough to put a measuring cup in, but small enough to lift easily. Have a basket for cupcake items, sprinkles, food coloring, and birthday candles and another one for blender beaters and bread dough hooks. Group oils and vinegar, salt, pepper, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch, and cooking spray on a OXO turntable. And stack jello and pudding mixes; and cake, brownie and muffin mixes on their horizontal sides with newest on the bottom, oldest on the top. It uses less shelf space. You get the idea.

Hope your kitchen becomes a wonderful place to live in! Now it's time to tackle more organizational projects.

January 19, 2011

Picture of Food Storage in 5-Quart Jugs

I came across a blog tonight called Living Prepared. It's more of a survivalist blog, however the author uses bulk food everyday and there are some great pictures of dry foods stored in 5-quart jugs and 5-gallon buckets. I think several of you with smaller families may want to check out another idea on how to store food storage.

January 17, 2011

Simple Family Dinner Menus



Creating simple standard dinner menus with family favorites will simplify your life. Sunday is my hardest day to make a meal as I rush from here to there with church assignments (Young Women's president), so I'm less than motivated to cook. However, I spent most of my morning putting together some family menus all of which use food storage in some way. I didn't list the sides, but those are easy to figure out. I am excited to post my menus on the refrigerator!

I chose a different category for each night of the week and then put the family favorites in the categories:
  • Easy (Simple menus. Some can be started in the morning, others are just quick.)
  • Pasta
  • Crock-pot (Mutual night, so it's got to be easy)
  • This and That
  • Chicken
  • All American
  • Daddy's Choice (He cooks. Yeah!)
My Dinner Menus pdf.
rough draft

January 5, 2011

Smith's Case Lot Sale January 5, 2011

Many of you know about the Smith's Grocery store case lot sale going on. I've added the sales prices to 20-page long Mega Case Lot Price Comparison spreadsheet. I only changed Sam's Club, Smith's, and LDS Home Storage Center prices so pay attention to the month's you are comparing.

You can compare to other stores from past Fall sales shown as "F." Prices are going up so do the best you can. You can still do well with staples for your food storage.

Hope it helps you compare!

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