Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Best Food Storage to Buy in December 2011

Finally, the last food storage list of the year. I created these lists so you and I would not get overwhelmed with gathering our food storage. As we gather items one bite at a time during seasonal sales, we won't blow our budget. These useful lists took many hours to create and lots of research, but they help me stay focused.

This month focus on gathering oils, honey and my personal favorite, chocolate. Watch for sales.

It's important that you store your oil properly. It should not be stored in a garage where temperatures fluctuate. Unopened vegetable oil has a 1-year shelf life, though it can be stored longer if temperatures are cooler. Once opened the shelf-life is 4 - 6 months, so it's a good idea to write the date you open it on the outside of the bottle. Olive oil has about a 6 month shelf life, but can be stored for a year in a refrigerator. Each should be stored in a dark location or closed cupboard. To avoid using rancid oil, always smell and taste it before using. 

Honey can be stored almost indefinitely. However, over time it does crystallize and become lumpy. But it can be softened in warm water (not boiling water). It is best kept at temperatures between 70 to 80 degrees away from sunlight. Cooler temperatures speed up the crystallization process.

Chocolate is definitely a comfort food for me. Chocolate chips should be used within 18 - 24 months in a cool dry place, 65 to 68 degrees. I store mine in the freezer, and have never had problems using them. However, they do absorb odors and should not be stored near pungent odors.

If you are looking for something to add to your Christmas wish list, a wheat grinder or other preparedness items may be a good choice.

The December List (click for printable copy)

STEP 1: 3-Month FOOD STORAGE SUPPLY - Oils, Honey and Chocolate
(Suggested amounts are for 1 adult)

CL = case lot sale, WM = Super Walmart, LDS = available at LDS Home Storage centers

SC = Sam's Club, CC = Costco, MC = Macey's
LT 30 YR= Long Term shelf life if stored properly. Consider storing a year's supply of these items.

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 (About $25 per adult if you shop on sale)

Vegetable Oil 24 oz. (12/19 WM GV 48 oz. $2.36) choose size based on how quickly you use it.
Olive Oil 12 oz. (12/19 WM GV 23 oz. $5.92 or SC 68 oz. $11.98 or CC 2/68 oz. $22.99)
Shortening 1.5 lbs. (12/19 Crisco 3 lb WM $5.36 or Crisco 3 sticks/1.25 lb. WM $3.24)
Cooking Spray 4 oz. (12/19 Pam SC 2/8oz. $4.49 or CC 2/12 oz. $6.89)
Chocolate Chips 12 oz. bag (12/19 Nestle 72 oz. SC $9.88 or CC $9.79)
Baking Cocoa 4 oz. (12/19 Hershey's 23 oz. SC $6.73 or CC $5.99)
Vitamins 90 ct btl. (use coupons)
Vanilla 4 oz. (12/19 SC or CC 16 oz. $6.75 real or MC 32 oz. .99 imitation)
Candy 1 bag (hide it)
Honey 2 1/2 lbs. LT (12/19 SC 5 lb. $11.40 or CC 6 lb. $13.99)

NON-FOOD ITEMS (per family)
Razors (use coupons)

Lip balm 
Feminine Items

72-HOUR KIT (per person)
Lip balm
Feminine Items

Hand or Electric wheat grinder

Portable heater
Batteries (SC or CC best prices)

Jumper Cables

Lip Balm
Feminine Items

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.

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.

1. Food Storage Inventory (wait until after Christmas :)

2. Food Storage gift shopping (for family)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pictures of Food Storage Rooms on Pinterest

If you're looking for pictures of food storage rooms and shelving ideas, I've been gathering many pictures on my Pinterest boards. You may be interested these boards:

Food Storage Rooms and Shelves
Emergency Prep Ideas
Food Storage Organizing
Vegetable Gardening
Home Organization

Seeing pictures of what others have done can truly be inspiring. I will constantly be updating my picture boards.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

How Non-Members May Order Items from the Online Store

Many of my readers are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Recently I created a post about My Top Picks Favorite for Food Storage and Emergency Gifts and listed a few items that you may only order through the Online Store. However, you do not have to be a member of the LDS Church to order there. Here is how you may order:
  • Go to the Online Store
  • Click on Sign In
  • Click on Register
  • Click on "If you are not a member of the LDS Church please click here to skip this page."
  • Fill in the Profile information.
  • Then click Create My LDS Account
  • Once that is completed, you may order items from the site.
  • Or you may browse the site without creating a Sign In.
If you only want to look at preparedness items, under the Home and Family title, click Self-Reliance. You can order a few food storage items online, but most must be self-canned at an LDS Home Storage Center.

There are other items on the site, which you may enjoy as well. Click on Music, Media and Art and then Holiday for music by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. There are also inexpensive art prints of Jesus Christ that you may enjoy as well.

Though our religions may be different, our desire for preparedness is the same. I hope this information is helpful.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Corner Fireplace Mantle Decorated for Christmas

Ever since we moved into this home, a huge television sat on our corner fireplace mantle. 
This year it found a new home in the basement, and I've struggled with how to decorate it. 
Corner fireplaces are complicated. 
However, I saw an idea with stacked Christmas boxes, so here is what I did.

Now you know me. I don't like to buy much. But I did buy some items to begin with. First, I added rustic trees from Hobby Lobby, $33.50, Santa from Hobby Lobby, $20.00, and Christmas boxes from Marshall's, $11.00. Another woman and I nearly had a tug-of-war fight over these trees. Thank goodness I grabbed them first. :) Still going to add lights to them.

Next, I added pre-lit garland, Joy letters, snow globe, and a ceramic house.
Later, I raised up the house with a book.

Then came white candles, and rustic twigs and berries among the garland so soften the garland.

Here's rustic Santa up close. Reminds me of "Grandfather" in the movie Heidi with Shirley Temple.

Stacked Christmas boxes and rustic tree. Love this nostalgic paper.

Another Santa moved in on the left. He has cute hand-stitching on his clothes.

It's finished. Love how it glows as the sun goes down!
If you wonder where the stockings are, with nearly eleven of us, they don't fit here anymore.
Hope you have fun decorating your fireplace. Now I'm off to do some Christmas shopping.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Lord’s Way Is Not To Sit At The Side Of The Stream
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Welfare Plan of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is an inspired, life-changing program. The following video is about a young family with financial struggles, and how the welfare program works. During the recent general conference, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave a talk entitled “Providing in the Lord’s Way.” Here are some key points:
- “Sometimes we see welfare as simply another gospel topic—one of the many branches on the gospel tree. But I believe that in the Lord’s plan, our commitment to welfare principles should be at the very root of our faith and devotion to Him.”
- “The welfare principles of the Church are not simply good ideas; they are revealed truths from God—they are His way of helping the needy.”
- “The two great commandments—to love God and our neighbor—are a joining of the temporal and the spiritual. It is important to note that these two commandments are called “great” because every other commandment hangs upon them. In other words, our personal, family, and Church priorities must begin here. All other goals and actions should spring from the fountain of these two great commandments—from our love for God and for our neighbor. Like two sides of a coin, the temporal and spiritual are inseparable." 

- “Too often we notice the needs around us, hoping that someone from far away will magically appear to meet those needs. Perhaps we wait for experts with specialized knowledge to solve specific problems. When we do this, we deprive our neighbor of the service we could render, and we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to serve. While there is nothing wrong with experts, let’s face it: there will never be enough of them to solve all the problems. Instead, the Lord has placed His priesthood and its organization at our doorsteps in every nation where the Church is established. And, right by its side, He has placed the Relief Society. As we priesthood holders know, no welfare effort is successful if it fails to make use of the remarkable gifts and talents of our sisters.”
- “The Lord’s way is not to sit at the side of the stream and wait for the water to pass before we cross. It is to come together, roll up our sleeves, go to work, and build a bridge or a boat to cross the waters of our challenges.”
Sometimes it is easier to think of the needs of those living in far off lands, than to look at the needs of the families that live on our street. May we each find ways to reach out to those around us during this holiday season, and throughout the year.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

List of Thanksgiving Foods on Sale Now at Utah Grocery Stores

Thanks to Candi at for putting together this great price list of Thanksgiving food sales at various local Utah grocery stores. There are some perfect shelf-stable foods to stock-up on for your food storage and your Thanksgiving meal this week. Also other fresh foods are listed. Check for limits and sales dates.

Click here for Utah Thanksgiving grocery sales

Click here for  Utah Turkey deals

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Emergency Kits for School Kids

When we lived in southern California, each year I was asked to put together an emergency kit for my elementary school kids. The kits were kept in a trash can in the classroom and returned to us at the end of the school year. Since moving to Utah, I have not been asked to do that. After receiving the following letter from one of my readers, I decided to take action.

"I am wondering if you have ever sent emergency supplies to keep at school for children who may be away from home during an emergency?  I feel like I have prepared pretty well at home for an emergency, but it is very possible that my children won't even be home to use their 72-hour kits.  What can I do to help them at school until I can get to them?  I have asked at my children's school about emergency preparedness plans, but they didn't seem to know if they had any plans- which kind of scares me.  Any suggestions?" Melissa, Utah

Well, Melissa, because of your letter I decided to put together a kit for my 1st-grader to keep in her backpack the entire school year. We've also had some interesting conversations about "what could happen." Can you imagine a child not being prepared at least a little? What's the backup plan if Mommy or Daddy can't pick me up right away?

There are enough comfort foods for a day; maybe two. But most schools will try to disburse children as quickly as possible. Glad I have several friends on her emergency card. She is most concerned about her food getting burned up in case of a fire. :) The kit fits easily into the bottom of her backpack. Here is what I put in kit -

Comfort letter with pictures of our family
Mini first aid kit
Copy of family disaster plan and emergency phone numbers
2 Capri Suns
2 Granola bars
2 PopTarts (a rare treat in this house)
2 Fruit Roll-ups
12-hour light stick (Halloween clearance)
Space blanket
Rain poncho

We put everything in a small canvas bag (see above pic) that I found at the local Deseret Industries Thrift Store for a whopping .75¢. After I washed it, she helped draw her name on it with glitter glue. That was important to her. Here are some other container ideas:

Pencil pouch
Pencil box (

Useful links:
FEMA Ready Kids
Hickory Elementary School, Torrance, CA
Emergency Comfort Kit for School Age Child YouTube video
Emergency Preparedness for Work and School

"A person's a person no matter how small." Dr. Suess

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hash Brown Egg Bake

My high school daughters went to the Bountiful temple early one morning this week, so I decided to make them a hash brown breakfast casserole. Don't misunderstand and think I bake like this all the time. But when teenage girls wake up early on a school day to go to the temple, they deserve some special treatment. I adapted this recipe from one found at a Taste of Home. They seemed to enjoy it with their friend, Janice, and even my 6 year-old ate some too. The onions were a little overpowering for me, so next time I will use less. It's simple to put together, and I threw it together the night before. May be a good option to make ahead Christmas Eve, for Christmas morning.

Even though this recipe uses fresh foods, you can use powdered milk and dry onions. I haven't tried it with powdered eggs, but it would probably work.

Printable recipe
Hash Brown Egg Bake
Adapted from Taste of Home
Servings: 8, Prep Time: 5 min. Bake Time: 45 min.

1 package (32 oz.) frozen, cubed hash brown potatoes, thawed (I used about 28 oz.)
1 lb. of cooked sausages, cut in cubes, or bacon, crumbled
1 cup shredded cheese (divided in half)
1/4 c. finely chopped onions or 1 T dehydrated onions
1/2 t. salt
1 t. Mrs. Dash
8 eggs
2 cups milk (could use powdered milk)
Dash of Paprika

  • In a large bowl, combine the hash browns, sausages, 1/2 cup. cheese, salt and Mrs. Dash.
  • Spoon into a greased 13x9 baking dish.
  • In another bowl, whisk eggs and milk until smooth; pour over hash brown mixture. Sprinkle with paprika.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45 - 50 minutes until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
  • Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mormon Messages: A Book of Mormon Story

A young bishop in England describes how the Book of Mormon came to life for him and changed his perspective forever.

I loved this Mormon Message! Hope you will too.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Finally Learned How to Make a Blog Button!

It takes a great deal of patience to create a blog that is user-friendly, nicely designed and fun to read. I have slowly been working on improving this blog, and posting in my spare time. I usually figure things out through trial and error, but one thing that has completely frustrated me is learning how to make a Google blog button.

I know, I know. You've already got that one figured out. Congratulations. But sometimes the world of HTML code is, well . . . difficult. You have to dot every "i" and cross every "t," or something will go wrong.

I'm fairly thorough when searching for how-to web articles, so after trying the instructions on three different sites (yes 3!) and failing, the fourth one did the trick. I guess I learned plenty from all three sites, but if you are trying to make your own blog button, I recommend going to and trying the step-by-step instructions there. And using Photobucket. Or hire someone.

If you know of another very detailed instruction site that helped you create your blog button, please comment. And for those of my wonderful readers who have asked for it, my blog button is now on the sidebar.  :) I'm very proud of it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Food Storage Shelves with Water Storage Racks

Though I have not built these, some of you may be interested in the instructions to build these food storage shelves for #10 cans and water barrels. Would be great in a basement. Just go to this link for more information.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chicken and Stuffing Casserole

There are so many variations for chicken and stuffing casserole, that I decided to create one myself using canned chicken. I like to buy the Member's Mark Chicken Breast from Sam's Club and keep it as part of our food storage. It's about $2.00 per can. Costco Kirkland brand is about $1.70 each.

In most recipes that call for a pound of chicken, I just use a 12.5 oz. can instead. But I think this recipe needed two cans. I don't use it every day, and keep a 3-month supply of it. Canned chicken is a nice backup when you need cooked chicken right away. And it would be great during a disaster because you could eat it without cooking it.

My 17 year-old daughter said she enjoyed this recipe and likes it when I cook regular meals. Meaning, that she didn't have to do a "make-your-own night." :) We have those sometimes when I'm tired. My youngest ate it up too, which is the best compliment because she is a picky eater. And she liked the carrots, but broccoli would have worked as well. I probably would have added onions and celery, but didn't have any on hand.

You can find stuffing and chicken broth on sale everywhere at this time of the year, and it's a great time to stock up. Here in the Layton, Utah Sam's Club, they usually have canned Turkey as well.

Printable recipe
Chicken and Stuffing Casserole
Servings: 6, Bakes in 35 min.
Valerie Albrechtsen

1 (6 oz.) pkg. Stuffing mix
3/4 c. fresh baby carrots
2 (12.5 oz.) can chicken breast or turkey, not drained (or turkey leftovers)
1 (10-3/4-ounce) cans cream of chicken or mushroom soup
1 (14 oz.) can chicken broth
1/4 c. water
2 T. butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Pour small thin layer of broth onto bottom of 9x13-inch baking dish, but not all of it.
3. Sprinkle 1 c. of the stuffing onto the bottom of the baking dish.

4. Thinly slice carrots, and cook until just tender. Spread evenly over stuffing.
5. In a medium bowl, break up chicken with fork. Spread evenly over the stuffing/carrot mixture.
6. Reuse bowl to blend soup, broth and water. Pour over chicken.
7. Carefully sprinkle remaining stuffing over mixture.
8. Drizzle melted butter over stuffing.
9. Bake uncovered for 30 - 35 minutes.