Sunday, October 25, 2015

I'm Addicted

I just can't get enough of these Fido jars by Bormioli. They are high quality Italian glass jars with rubber sealing rings that hermetically seal stuff inside them. That means the seal is air-tight and the glass jar is essentially air-tight, so the useful life of the food inside is extended. The jars come in sizes from about 1 cup (1/4 liter) to 3 liters, which is about 3/4 of a gallon. The rubber rings can be washed and reused.  When they lose their elasticity, they can be replaced with new rubber rings. I wash mine in the dishwasher and they come out just fine.

 I don't recommend substituting another brand of jar for these. Ones with a plastic top are not impermeable to air. I tried them and they cracked with use or cleaning in the dishwasher. The steel ones can absorb moisture from the product and often come with silicone rings which don't make the same type of seal.  Others have thinner glass or no ability to create the air-tight seal.

 Why would any one want these for preparedness, and how are the jars frugal? Let me offer answers. The jars can be frugal in two ways. First, if you find them at Ross or Marshall's, they are often under $5 each which is a great price for what they can do for you.  Second, they can extend the useful life of any dry food product that can spoil, go rancid or get stale after opening the package.

Here's how I use them: once I open a package of something, like a 5-lb bag of flour or a #10 can of something, I place the unused remainder of the product in one of these jars, seal the lid with a little wrist action and store.  The lack of oxygen will limit the speed of food oxidizing or absorbing moisture from humidity. It keeps my flour from going stale when I put the sealed jar in the frige or freezer. Overall, these extend the life of foods by delaying the processes that cause the flavor to change.

The jars are also handy for storing tea bags, the second half of that bag of rice or beans from Bob's Red mill or brown sugar. If you need to use a large can of something from food storage, you can store the unused portion in a Fido jar and it will last longer. These are also clear, which has saved me many times from opening a new bag of something because I could SEE that I already had half-a-bag in a glass jar.

I don't use these for wet items, just because I have no experience with it. If you have, I'd love to see a comment about how to use them that way. Also, if you have used them for real canning, please share!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Low cost 72 hour meal plan...for 50 people

Our small community actually consists of two small unincorporated towns about 10 miles apart. We have a fire department, small library, post office and a cafe. The smaller town was evacuated a couple or so years ago because of a forest fire. Our town and surrounding ranchers provided meals and accommodations for many of the residents.

In addition to fires, floods are possible. We've also lost electricity for days due to snow storms. So, several of us have decided to chip in, according to FEMA recommendations, for a 72 hour meal kit that would cover about half the town, assuming that only some would be affected by any single 'disaster.'

We looked at several sources of mouse-proof packaged food and prices, and decided to go with #10 canned dehydrated or otherwise dry food.. We also threw in some treats to break the monotony, as each day's meals will be identical. The spread sheet is challenging to post, so I'll describe the meals. Not including a few of the monotony-busters, you'll need a total of 6 cases of food for 3 meals and a 'soup pot' for 50 for 3 days. The menu assumes limited water and that a propane or wood stove will be available. The menu also accounts for no electricity or refrigeration being available.

Oatmeal with brown sugar (optional) (2 cans QUICK oatmeal, partial can sugar per day)
Coffee (possibly instant)
Vitamin beverage (orange from LDS or apple from Emergency Essentials)

Refried beans and rice (2 cans each beans and rice per meal)
Strawberry slices (from freeze-dried) and Tea

Italian beef-a-roni (made from 1/3 can beef TVP, 2 cans macaroni and 1/4 can seasoned tomato powder per meal)
Flavored beverage

Minestrone (from 2 cans Emergency Essentials vegetables for stew(2/3 can per day) and a little seasoned tomato powder, unserved rice, unserved beef-a-roni)

This will be available all day following first day lunch. Pot simmers on back of stove - remember, no refrigeration.  Its purpose is to warm cold bodies or fill growling tummies, as some people may not get enough during meals if portion control yields small portions. Others may arrive hungry between meals.

Some care will be needed to decide how to make the evening entree without discarding water. Start with less than recipes require to cook the pasta, then use some of the pasta water to reconstitute the tomato sauce from powder. 

So, there it is. Simple, nutritious EXCEPT fats. Adding some coconut oil for the oatmeal should help with that. A #10 can of dry milk is also recommended to improve flavor of coffee and oatmeal. Salt and sugar should also be in the larder.

The author gives permission to re-post this article provided credit or a link to FrugalPrep is included.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Cache-ing In

There are lots of articles about placing caches of stuff for emergencies out there in preparedness-land.  Most have to do with what to put in them and how to secret these goody-boxes on public or uninhabited private land.  

The most likely emergency around here is a flash flood.  50 years ago, a flash flood killed several people and washed buildings away. It was more than a small gully-washer, with some people waking in time to tread water in their bedrooms. 

Most of the floods since have been smaller, but the potential remains. With forecasts of a wet winter, part of my emergency preparation is to mini-cache on high shelves INSIDE the house. It may sound strange, but to have dry food, clean water and some comfort and hygiene gear while recovering from several feet of water in your house and yard could come in handy. Burying them outside would mean slogging through goo and hoping landmarks did not change during the flood.

My high caches are in those olive drab Army first aid kit boxes. These are sturdy, lightweight and have a good water proof seal.  For what they provide, they are also fairly cheap, around $15. The plastic is heavy enough to be fairly mouse-proof and large enough to hold some stuff like food, water, a change of socks and undies, ID, toothbrush, cash and even a cell phone.

I also keep heavier stuff in 5 gallon buckets with gamma seal lids. A fleece blanket, a few MREs, a full change of clothes and shoes, soap or shampoo. A couple of these buckets are on the closet floor. Even if these float away, I'll have some relief from the high mini-caches.

This shows the inside and relative size of the first aid box. Each holds about 700 cubic inches of stuff.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Ways to frugalprep every day

This morning, I thought about a friend of mine who struggles with depression. One manifestation of her bouts of depression is that she procrastinates doing household chores, especially her laundry.  Later as I was folding mine, I thought about the luxury of clean clothes and reflected on my friend. What a sad way to meet with an extended emergency situation -- no clean clothing at the start! 

What a great way to prepare for an emergency -- stocking your drawers and closet with your clothes, clean. 

Then it dawned on me that there are a lot of household chores that when done frequently put you and your family on better pre-emergency footing. Clean clothes, linens, dishes, floors, and toilets will be a huge benefit in a water or electricity outage. 

Doing a load of laundry this week doesn't cost more than doing it next week, but gives you that extra 'stash' of ready resources. Try extending that idea to your regular chores. Are there some that completing smaller but more frequent  iterations could benefit you in the long run? 

I'd really never thought about household chores this way, but now just add these to 'what I did to prepare this week.'  Wow, maybe you're more prepared than you thought, too!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Update for Women only!

A while ago I tested several women's urination devices. I recently tested one I like even better. Weird name, SHEWEE extreme, and a bit more expensive, but a vast improvement. The device is a bit longer with its extension and a bit more rigid for a less-leaky experience.  I also had occasion to use it 'in the wild' which was a real eye-opener. You must practice around others, perhaps starting with women friends. Otherwise you could find yourself plagued with SHY BLADDER. Yup, you have the need and capability, but your mind won't let it flow.

 Second item is on a similar subject for ladies, but this time indoors during disasters. In an extended emergency, you could find yourself low on TP. A great way to slow roll the TP issue is to make a set of flannels for urination only.  With a Hobby Lobby or JoAnne's coupon, buy a yard of plain colored flannel ( natural is best because there is no dye). Cut the flannel into 6 X 9 inch pieces. Use pinking shears if you have then. Hem the edges if you have lots of time and energy. A yard will give you 30  of these. Wash and dry them in a lingerie bag to keep everything else from being covered with strings. I store the clean ones  in a small blue paint bucket from Home Depot. This one fits inside a slightly larger white bucket with lid, also from HD paint department. When using, take the blue bucket out and keep it near the toilet. I use these only for #1 because I don't want the extra fecal material in my laundry. Place the used flannel in the bucket with the lid. Wash them when you start to get low on flannels or if they begin to smell. Some people like to add disinfecting liquid in the dirty bucket. Mine have never really developed an unpleasant smell, so I don't.  This process will cut your TP use by about 2/3, reserving that precious commodity and saving a little cash in the process. These pay for themselves in the equivalent use of a 12 to 24 roll package, depending on what paper you use. Even if you don't want to use these now, when clean you can store them inside the larger bucket, ready just in case!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Turn Leftover Coffee into a Treat!

A friend taught me something wonderful to do with the last bit of coffee in the pot. We often have half a cup or so left in the pot and I just hate pouring it out. Some days I'd reheat it later in the day, but it wasn't very satisfying.  So, my friend pours the cool leftovers into small containers to make ice coffee cubes.  We've modified this a little by using a Ball spice cube form, which makes 9 cubes a little larger than a cubic inch each.  The great part about this little tray is that it has a cover that fits to reduce spills.

Now we freeze leftover coffee in the Ball mold, even though I may only get two or three cubes a day. The next day, I release the cubes from the mold into a freezer container and start again.  Later in the day we can plop a few frozen cubes in a glass for iced coffee.

  I add a little milk, sugar and water into the melting coffee ice. Unlike most iced beverages, this gets a little stronger as the ice melts. It can be a really nice treat, especially if you take some on a long drive or take a big glass of it to the office.  Save those Starbucks bucks by freezing your leftovers and spicing them up later. I may even add a little chocolate syrup tomorrow for an iced mocha latte!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Not just paracord

First, I just wanted to explain why I post so irregularly. This is a basic preparedness site. I prefer not to get into politics or world events. There are many other better sites for that. I promise to post if I find new, cool stuff that hasn't been reviewed to death on 40 other sites.

 That being said, I've got a new goodie to report from my friend, Hawk6. He's the maker of those cool hiking sticks I wrote about a while ago.

Now, among other great items he offers, is a survival bracelet that holds an amazing array of useful items, all for about an ounce of weight for my 8" bracelet.

 It looks like a slightly chubby paracord bracelet, but includes 20 feet of 550 cord, 40 feet of 10 lb test fishing line, a signal mirror, a whistle in the buckle (6 o'clock position on the photo), 2 fish hooks, 2 lead sinkers, 1 magnesium fire starter stick with striker and 12 inches of jute for tinder or other uses (cut end visible to the right of the buckle for ease of finding an end to cut for tinder). For those of you who are not near fishing, Hawk6 explained to me that among other uses, the fishing line and hooks can be hung in trees to snag birds in an emergency. Around here, that means squab for dinner! The bracelets run about $20 plus postage. If you are interested, give a shout to for more info.

You'll need to know your wrist circumference to order. He does have several colors to choose from.