Monday, September 29, 2008

Food Storage Ladder - B&W Copy

Someone has requested a B&W copy of the Food Storage Ladder. Here it is....

My Canning Jar Poem

Ever wanted to give foods in a canning jar away, but reluctant to let go of so many precious and sometimes hard to find jars? How about using this little poem to aid in the return... perhaps even add a bit about returning it for a refill!? (This has been used with permission by the author)

~My Canning Jar~

To some it's just a little jar,
To me it's so much more.
I have to go in search of these,
~From store, to store, to store.

I fill them up and give them free,
With fruits and so much more.
I wish that I could get them free,
~But canning jars don't grow on trees.

I've worked real hard to fill them up,
And it has been such fun.
`Twould be a special gift to me,
If returned when you are done.

Thank you for recycling.

by Vickie Decker

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Food Storage Mistakes

Many times I've seen articles and chapters in books related to mistakes people make in their food storage efforts, like 7 Mistakes of Food Storage. Over the years I have encountered my own mistakes and those that I have commonly seen that are not part of these lists.

The first thing I can think of in my own experience is mis-interpreting the counsel to store what you eat and eat what you store. The problem with this is that I didn't eat wheat and that is a main staple of any food storage. I avoided buying wheat because I had no clue what I would do with it. Wheat is a food that I can store on my shelf and when properly sealed in a #10 can and accompanied by an oxy absorber will last for 30+ years and I didn't have any. Over the last few years I have worked diligently to remedy that gap and have been learning to use it. The reason this mistake is so important to recognize is because the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have recommended certain foods and they are available through the warehouse for long-term food storage because they are life-sustaining and can store for long periods of time. (see a full list here) If all I store are exactly the foods that I eat without considering these recommended foods, then I put my family and I at risk. It was up to me to learn how to incorporate these items into my storage and everyday eating. I have learned that the counsel to store what I eat and eat what I store means to store what is recommended, add to it for variety and for personal preferences, then to eat from what is being stored and rotate it as it is being used. It doesn't mean to buy 365 pizza's because that's what we eat!

A huge stumbling block for many years was my desire to comply with "fad" diets. I am reluctant to use that word to describe my own history, but the matter of the fact is that because I was trying to devise the plan to conform to unrealistic expecations, rather than conforming to a wiser, more time-proven plan I was making it difficult to properly build my food storage. I had to determine whether I was going to follow the prophet or a fad. This can apply to any food plan that makes it difficult to properly build and maintain a food storage. It does not apply, however, to those who have to adjust their food storage needs because of health or allergy reasons.

When I ask single folks about their food storage, I often hear, "Oh, I don't eat much." That's not the point of food storage. Eating less than a family of two, three, four or eight does not mean you do not need a food storage. It simply means that your food storage will be smaller! Still store food. Otherwise, you may find yourself not eating anything. Remember that food storage is also a means of obedience. If I didn't pay tithing because I didn't make much, I would still be deemed a non-tithe payer. Rather, if I make little, I pay little. The same holds true to our food storage. The less we eat, the less we store, and the blessings of obedience from heeding this counsel will only prove to be larger than our need for the food.

Not being open minded will put a quick stop to building a thorough food storage. I have stored foods in buckets, #10 cans, canning jars, and store-bought canned goods. What if, though, I didn't keep my mind open to new ways of preserving foods? I would be limited in my menu by my willingness to preserve foods through a variety of methods and techniques. We all have patterns and methods that we like to follow, but let's not allow them to interfere with our growth and new opportunities. Realize that once we gain an understanding and experience with one method that it is only natural to build upon it... both our knowledge and the process. Line upon line, precept upon precept. Instead of "this is the way we do it", let's have "what's next!", be our motto.

I used to be a very picky eater... really, I still am. I've come a long, long way, though. I used to not eat bell peppers or onions at all. I would only eat veggies if they were fresh, not cooked. I wouldn't even consider a soup with squash in it. Now, I LOVE all of this stuff. I still have some limitations and there are still foods that I don't like. These foods I just mentioned are main staples in many, many recipes. Now I can have soups, salsas, and sauces that before I would never have touched. Now I crave them. The reason for this is because I prayed for this. And, it worked! I didn't want to be a hindrance to my family and I wanted to enjoy foods that were good for me.

Inconsistency in preperation will prove to stall food storage plans. I used to take most of our income tax refund every year and use it on emergency preperation. That is terrific. Oftentimes I would never touch it the rest year and that's not so terrific. Just think of all that wasted time! I could have been taking $25-$50 a month and putting it toward emergency preperation. By now, 13 years later, I would be so much further ahead. Be consistent, work it into the budget, make a list of needs and simply dwindle it down month by month. Use the big, unexpected money like income tax refunds, bonuses and such to help out in big ways and to put a lot of checkmarks onto that list.

No trying or being afraid to fail stalls progress in food storage. I want to learn to make bread. Everytime I try I am unsatisfied with the results. I used to make it homemade just fine and then I stopped, but I used white flour and other ingredients not food storage friendly. I seem to be stalled. The fact is that without making mistakes and continuing to try until it has been mastered I will still be left ignorant of how to make bread during an emergency. I must be willing to make mistakes in order to make progress and be prepared and confident in my skills. Whether it is bread or anything else with regard to food storage, do not let the unknown scare you away. Decide to make a million mistakes now while the shelves have ample supplies rather than waiting for a real challenge to come your way to force you to learn on top of all of the other added stress. It is likely that you won't learn then, either... you'll just learn to do without. In some things that may be okay. For the real important things, like my bread, it is not okay. If I mess up three dozen loaves of bread to master my breadmaking skills I now know I can duplicate that success and feed my family a delicious loaf anytime. I may learn through the process that a certain ingredient was needed, which may not have been available during an emergency. Focus on the process and not the product. In time, the product will produce with consistent adjustment and practice.

Finally, the saddest mistake of food storage is not believing it's necessary. Occasionally, I will hear a negative response to the idea of food storage. Perhaps they consider it as hording food or that it is doomsday behavior. Either way, they take no heed to the idea of preparation, self-sufficiency, or the possibility for the unexpected. We are not counseled to horde food, but to build it, use it, and rotate it. Most of us aim for a monetary savings account and no one chides us for storing money in the bank. Peggy Layton, author of Food Storage 101 and Cookin with Home Storage, suggests that "food in the basement is better than money in the bank." Investing in five hundred cans of tuna fish in your basement is a better bet than putting $350 in the bank. Our food storage is a savings for hard times, whether they are an unexpected job loss, tight budgets due to medical bills or vehicle maintenance, the result of a poor economy or damaging weather effecting our local grocery stores. The idea is to be prepared for uncertainties.... to act rather than to be acted upon.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Our Menu Plan

I just finished putting together a "recipe book" for my family with all our favorite meals that we eat throughout the month and then a couple more than we eat occasionally. You can Find it here! I hope that this is helpful for those who are looking for recipes. Many of them can easily be converted to food storage quality recipes. Eventually, I plan to go through and do the converting and figuring. For now, the first step was to put this together.

When first glancing through the pages you will notice that they are only half the size of a regular sheet of paper. I have a small binder that holds this size (see above photo) and it saves paper. In order to print I choose four pages at a time and then choose 2 pages per sheet.

I have the recipes within the document placed for printing in alphabetical order. In order to do this I had to toggle the recipes around so that they could print on a regular sheet of paper, two per sheet, and then turn the paper over for the next two to be printed on the back and have each recipe end up where it belonged. I'm sure there is an easier way to do this. It would've been easier had I just had one recipe on each regular sized sheet of paper... but, that would've been a lot of wasted paper. For now, that's how I made it happen.

NOTE: I will be updating this document as time goes on, so if you would like to keep track of it I will always leave the updated version to the right in Helpful PDF's Under "Our Menu Plan"

If you have any suggestions, comments, or recommendations... feel free to leave a comment.

September "Filling Your Ark" Newsletter

This newsletter focuses on vegetable gardening indoors. It is a method that I have not yet used and am excited to learn and perfect. I think it is important to be able to grow my own veggies year round for many reasons. The cost is a lot cheaper than buying each individual item that I need from the store, I would be a lot more self-reliant for my own food needs, and hopefully it will be a lot tastier.

You will find the newsletter in the list to the right of this blog under "Filling Your Ark Newsletters"

Please share your experience with this method by leaving a comment.