Thursday, January 29, 2015

6 Steps to Food Storage Menu Planning

This week I created a FREE menu plan printable to get me more organized. When I don't plan, we tend to eat out more or I'm in the grocery store several times a week when I'd rather be doing something else. Creating menus helps us "eat what we store."  

Highlighting the food storage ingredients below will help you see which items come from our supplies. Here is how to include food storage in your menu planning. You will see that my menus are pretty basic. A chef I am not.

6 Steps to Food Storage Menu Planning
  1. Schedule a regular time each week to create a menu plan. I spent about an hour on Sunday creating mine, but it will take less time as the months go on since I am saving my menus to refer to.
  2. Look over the family activities on the calendar, and decide what meals will work with the limited food prep time each day. I usually have 30 min. to prepare in the evening and more time earlier in the day. If my day looks super hectic, I do a crock-pot meal. 
  3. Open the refrigerator to see what fresh foods need to be eaten first and include them in the menus. Glance in your cupboards as well to find some shelf-stable foods. I usually try to include some long-term grains, but typically I use a few small canned or packaged foods from my 3-month supply.
  4. Skim your favorite grocery store ad online to see if there are some good deals. They are typically on the front page, but not always. Fresh and frozen are great, but sometimes canned beans or soup from your food storage is just fine.
  5. As you create each menu, jot down items you need to buy on the grocery list on the printable, or use one of your own.
  6. Then take your menu plan to the store. Keep your eye open for some unexpected bargains to put in your food storage while you're shopping. Hang the menu plan up for the week to refer to. Love it!
Green salad
Guacamole & salsa

Chicken Stew
- Canned roast beef or chicken
- Cream of chicken soup
- Potatoes 
- Carrots
- Spices
Saltine crackers

Sloppy Joes
- Ground beef
- Tomato paste
- Sloppy Joe spice packet
- Hamburger buns
Tortilla chips
Orange slices

Grilled cheese sandwiches
- Bread
- Shredded cheese
- Butter 
Tomato soup
- Tomato soup
- Milk
- Water
- Spices
Saltine crackers

Mexican rice
- Rice
- Chicken broth
- Dried onion
- Tomato
- Spices
Strawberries, bananas and blueberries

- Raviolis 
- Spaghetti sauce
Green salad

Eat out

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to incorporate food storage into your life. I'm sure you CAN do it too!

Best wishes,


Food Storage Key
Short-term 3-Month food storage
Long-term food storage
Freezer storage

Cold room storage

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Create a 3-Month Food Storage Supply Plan

Figuring out how much you want to put in your food storage can be overwhelming. Most suggestions on the internet focus on long-term foods. However, if you are following the current home storage program taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you will want to start with a 3-month supply of every day foods.

Don't Panic. Food prices have always gone up. Disasters happen every day. Don't panic and run to the store buying cases and cases of food you don't know how to manage. Don't run faster than you are able to afford. Pick a budget like $20 to $30 dollars a month per person, and have some self-control. Over the years I've been patiently gathering which has taken a ton of faith. But it is worth it.

"I don't eat canned food." Some people truly can't eat canned foods. I can't help you too much. But I bet you have some recipes your family would use if your husband ever lost his job or an earthquake hit your town. I prefer my homemade spaghetti sauce over Ragu any day. So I stock up on canned tomatoes for that recipe. Someday we may not be able to afford fresh spinach from Costco. And most families only have a 1 week supply of fresh foods in their home. So be realistic and create a plan with items that can be stored.

I always suggest starting with a 3-month supply of food your family eats right now. Most people panic when they hear a year's supply of food. Even a 3-month supply won't be easy for some of you to gather, but it's a place to start. It's STEP 1 of the LDS Home Storage Plan.

Some people like to create menus first, and figure out the gazillion ingredients for those menus. I've done that, but it's not very easy. Others suggest you create simple meals like spaghetti sauce + spaghetti = a meal. Personally, I think you you know how you cook and can plan a few menus.

There are two types of shelf stable foods:
  • Short-term foods - these foods on average have a 3 month to 10 year shelf life. For example, boxed breakfast cereal has about a 1 year shelf life. But a can of corn has a 2 -5 year shelf life.
  • Long-term foods - these foods have a 20 - 30 year shelf life because they sometimes have been carefully sealed with an oxygen absorber packet. But not always. These foods are usually dry and without oils.
Most of the foods in your 3-month supply will be short-term foods. So where do you begin?

Here is a suggestion of how to create your own rough draft 3-month food storage plan.

A. Examine A 3-Month Food Storage Supply Sample
  1. Print out a Sample 3-month Supply of Food Storage Supply.pdf for 1 adult. Remember, I have no idea how much your family eats. But the list of items will get you thinking.
  2. Go through the list, and put a check by items you eat now or might consider using. Cross off those items your family does not like or can't eat because of allergies or medical conditions. But be open minded to other foods.
  3. Some long-term foods are listed like wheat or dry milk. If you don't want to gather a small supply of them right now, you can save them on the list and gather them after you complete Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3 of your home storage plan. Long-term foods are Step 4 in the plan.
B. Decide How Much You Want To Store
  1. Look over the suggested amounts and multiply them by the number of family members. You can divide numbers in half for children, but you don't have to.
  2. Don't get too detailed. I promise later on you will add or delete items and change amounts. Storing yams did not work for our family. Canned carrots is not working either. So just put together a rough draft.
C. Food Storage Hunt
  1. Go on a hunt through your home and find shelf-stable foods you already have on your shelves: foods that have been sealed so they can be safely stored on a shelf for awhile. These foods are canned, boxed or packaged. Take your kids with you and make it fun. 
  2. As you search, write down on another piece of paper other items you have on your shelves that are not on the list. Use my categories to keep it organized.
  3. List the number of items you have and the detail. For instance: corn, 15 oz. can, 2 ea.
  4. Type up your list and there you have it. Your own rough draft 3-month food storage supply plan.
I promise that as you spend time working on this, you will feel a whole lot better. It's all part of the journey, but it's well worth it. I would love to hear about your experiences creating your own 3-month food storage plan. 


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Monday, January 12, 2015

Food Storage Deals at Macey's Case Lot Sale January 2015

Bowmans Market, Kaysville, Utah
It's time for me to share the best deals at the Macey's case lot sale which goes from Monday, January 12 - 25, 2015. Case lot sales can have some great bargains for food storage. I usually shop at Bowman's grocery store in Kaysville, because it is closer to me. But Macey's is a great store too.

The Bowman's sale starts Wednesday, January 14. And prices are similar to Maceys. I shopped at Bowman's early Monday morning, and since cases were already on the floor they gave me the sales price!

The case lot price list was at the customer service desk, so I compared prices with Maceys below. One thing I love about these stores is they let you get the sales price on individual items. Perfect for apartment dwellers!

Here's what I purchased:
2 cases of water $1.99 ea.
1 case of apple juice $8.00
1 case of taco mix $8.00
1 Krusteaz pancake mix $6.99 (same price at Costco)
2 pk. Mrs. Buttersworth pancake syrup $6.99 (same price at Costco)

Total spent: $33.96

I found 1 lb. Stephen's pumpkin spice cocoa mix for $2.99 a can.

I never buy too much at case lot sales, because I shop every month anyway to spread the expense and rotate our food.

AWESOME DEALS at Maceys and Bowmans!
WF Oats, Quick or Old Fashioned, 42 oz., $1.50 or $12.00 for 18
WF Cake mixes, $.69 (Super cheap! Lowest I've seen.)
WF Soup, Tomato or Chicken noodle, $.38 or $9.12 for 24
Campbell's Cream of mushroom or chicken soup, $.69 (Maceys ad)
WF Beans, various, 15 oz., $.50 or $12.00 for 12
WF Mandarin Oranges, $.50 or $12.00 for 12
WF Albacore tuna, 5 oz., $.99 or $23.76 for 24
WF Chiles, 4 oz., $.50 or $12.00 for 24
WF Pineapple, 20 oz., $.99 or $23.76 for 24
Hunt's Pasta sauce, 24 oz. $.79 or $9.48 for 12
WF Refried Beans, $.59 or $14.16 for 24
WF Seasoning mixes, $.33 or $8.00 for 24
WF Ketchup 20 or 24 oz., $.99
*WF Apple Juice or Cider, 64 oz., $1.25
*WF Tomato or Vegetable Juice, 46 oz., $1.66 or $20.00 for 12
*WF Purified Water 24 ct. case 16.9 oz. bottles, $1.99

GOOD DEALS at Maceys and Bowmans!
WF Olives, $.99 or $23.76 for 24
WF Chili Con Carne w/beans, $.88 or $21.12 for 24
WF Corn or green beans, $.50 or $12.00 for 24
Chef Boyardee pasta, $.79 (Maceys only)
WF Tuna in water, 5 oz., $.68 or $32.64 for 48
WF Tomatoes, various, 14.5 oz., $.59 or $14.16 for 24
WF Tomato sauce, 8 oz., $.33 or $15.84 for 48
WF Macaroni & Cheese, $.50 or $11.88 for 24
WF Vegetable oils, various, 48 oz., $2.50 (Same price as Walmart)
WF Brown or Powdered sugar, 32 oz., .99 or $11.88 for 12
WF Mayonnaisse or Salad dressing, 30 oz., $2.00 (Macey's only)
Krusteaz Pancake mix, 10 lb., $6.99 (same as Costco)
Mrs. Butterworth's syrup, 2 pk 64 oz., $6.99

I didn't list everything on sale, so go here for the complete ad.

*These items are part of my January Water and Beverages focus.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Evaporated Milk: Food Storage Pros and Cons

I just had to explore the pros and cons of evaporated milk in my food storage. I don't use it often like some of you, but I like knowing it's on my shelf.

In the past, I stored more cans, but found I wasn't using them before expiration And evaporated milk has a short shelf life of about 12 months depending on which type you buy.

Sometimes it's better to buy a few, experiment, and then come up with a goal amount later. Since my family has shrunk, I'll only be storing 12 cans.

Reconstituted it would be equivalent to $4.00 per gallon. Pricey. But if it's for cooking instead of drinking, it's a great add in. Unless of course we were really desperate. Then I would be happy to share it with my grandchildren or neighborhood toddlers.

However, don't put something in your food storage that you don't think you will ever use. (If you want to see what I am focusing on gathering this month, see the my January Emergency Preparedness List.)

  • Useful in soups, desserts, and many other recipes.
  • Evaporation concentrates the nutrients and food energy.
  • Convenient. Just open and pour.
  • Takes up half the space of fresh milk.
  • A safe substitute for fresh milk.
  • 1/2 cup = 1 cup from the milk group.
  • Comes in full fat, low fat and non-fat versions.
  • Typically used to thicken recipes.
  • Takes more shelf space than dry milk.
  • Short-term shelf life.
  • Has a caramelized taste, so does not taste just like milk.
  • PET Milk says use regular evaporated milk within 12 months of manufacturing date; skim within 9 months. 
  • Store at room temperature.
  • Once opened, pour into another covered container, refrigerate, and use in 2 to 3 days.
Evaporated Milk Facts
  • Also known as dehydrated milk.
  • Has 60% of the water removed from fresh milk.
  • It is NOT sweetened condensed milk.
  • Used by U.S. troops in the Spanish-American war, WWI and WWII.
  • In the midst of the Great Depression evaporated milk became an important staple to American families.
  • It is homogenized, canned and sterilized
  • A slight carmalized flavor results from the high heat process.
  • Slightly darker than fresh milk.
  • Manufacturers include: Carnation (NestlĂ©), PET evaporated milk (Smuckers), Magnolia (Smuckers), NestlĂ©, F&N, Rainbow, Nordcontor (Germany).
Great Recipes Using Evaporated Milk
Helpful articles:
Powdered Milk and Evaporated Milk, The Prudent Homemaker

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

6 Ways Mom Can Balance Blogging With Family

Most of us experienced blog writers know that managing our writing time with our family can be tricky. But balance is essential to prevent stress and guilt.

My writing is definitely a creative outlet for me, but my family needs me too. For some, writing a blog is a hobby, and for others it is a job. For me, I am somewhere in-between.

Earlier this year I set some rules for myself that I think might help others. I don't have it all figured out, but I'm definitely working on it.

Imagine managing a blog while you are the wife of a great man, mom of 7 children, mother-in-law to 3, grandma to 5 and a 1/2, and Primary 2nd Counselor. Add to that a host of other roles I carry and you know I definitely need to be organized.

So, here are some techniques that I started this year to balance blogging with my family:

1. Don't Write On Sunday
That is a tough one for many, because it seems like we have more free time on that day. But my experience is that when you don't do it, you have time for God, service and family. So, I don't write on Sunday. And I've been blessed ever since.

2. Schedule When Posts Are Published
I love to do this! With Blogger, I can write two or three articles in one day, and post them a few days apart. That way my readers don't get bombarded with my posts. I sometimes publish two time-sensitive articles at once, but not regularly. Scheduling my posts takes away the guilt of not writing daily.

3. Write While My Family is Asleep or Preoccupied.
Ever notice your kids need you more as soon as you sit down to the computer? This is one of the most difficult challenges with my writing, because inspiration happens at the oddest times. But the nice thing is I can "hold that thought" and come back to it later. In fact, when I "hold that thought" it blossoms and the article is much better. The best time for me to write is when my daughter is at school and my husband is at work. That way when they get 100% of my attention when they come home, well . . . most sort of. :-)

4. Write In 2 Hour Blocks a Few Days Per Week
I've found I need about 2 hours to put together a post. This year I'm only writing two times per week. I'm a fast typist which helps tremendously. In fact I type so furiously and noisily, that you don't want to be in the same room with me. I actually set a timer on my iPhone, or I would write and edit forever which is never a good thing.

5. Answer Emails Once A Week
Eeeek! Can I do that? Of course I look at my emails every day, but I can't get to them immediately. Please be patient if you write to me. I love getting them, but if the sky isn't falling, I don't respond immediately.

6. Use a Monthly Blog Planner 
The one shown above is an old one I created by adapting Becky's brilliant idea. I use a monthly page on the left and several weekly pages on the right and keep them in a binder. It's a place to get ideas out of my head and onto paper . . . yes, real paper! I use computer programs for so many things, but not this one. More on this in another post.

Uh-oh! I'm hearing some stirring in the house. Time to sign off.

Friday, January 2, 2015

January 2015 Food Storage Case Lot Sales in Utah

Next week I'll be taking an inventory of my food storage so I can plan a shopping trip at the Utah case lot sales this month. Since my purchase focus for January is water and beverages, I'll stock up on those items and only purchase other things I absolutely need. This helps me stay on my purchasing year-round rotation with my Emergency Prep lists.

I usually pick up some evaporated milk and bottled apple juice at the grocery store case lot sales. Sometimes I'll find cocoa drink mix at Walmart with after Christmas sales. Or I just get it at the our local Sam's Club or Costco. It's also available at the LDS Home Storage Center. We went through a lot of our cocoa mix supply at the last youth service project.

I'll look over my dry milk and fortified fruit drink mix supply too. I don't go through the dry milk very fast, so I probably have a good supply on hand.

Smith's grocery store started their sale on December 31st, but I haven't had time to take a good look at my supplies, so I only picked up some Tillamook shredded cheese for my freezer.

I prefer shopping at stores that offer case lot prices without needing to buy the case. That way I get the amount I really want and some variety.

For now, here are a few important dates I'm putting on my calendar.

Utah Case Lot Sales January 2015
Smith's December 31st - January 13
Maceys January 12 - 26
Bowmans January 14 - 27

Go to this page here for some tips on shopping at case lot sales.