Storing food as rocks would be a very effective way to preserve food…forever and ever. Since you can’t eat it, it’s not very practical. What are your thoughts about “Prepping?” Prepping is the act of preparing for a disaster. It can be any type of disaster, from the apocalypse to a glitch in the supply for peanut butter. There are many thoughts on being prepared. Lots of them have at least passed through my mind at some point. I finally settled on the fact that my family has huge dietary constraints that put us at more risk than others. For example if the electric went out for a week for any reason, would you have enough food to not only wait for the electric, but to wait for grain free, egg free, nut/seed/bean free, dairy free and sugar free type of help. It would take a while for the speciality stuff to be restocked. FEMA is notorious for processed, GMO laden food supplies with all the good gluten-y stuff in it. “Better than nothing,” maybe good enough for some digestive systems but mine won’t survive. So the question that has been rolling around in my mind this week is, “how do I prepare on a budget.” Our healthy eating has already strained our budget. Now I am trying to shove at least 2 more months of food for 7 people into it. What to do?
Cool tools for the job: water filter, dehydrator, canning jar vacuum sealer, canning jars, pressure canner, rocket stove are all neat tools to have, but you can get by with only a few. Or you can barrow some from someone that is already “prepared.” The internet is full of instructions that can save you money! Did you know you can make a dehydrator out of a cardboard box and a light bulb? People are so created. Glean from their experience and save money too.
1. The most important rule to remember is that if you won’t eat something now…you won’t like it later either. It is true that hunger inspires taste bud adventure. However, the more likely event is that your expiration date will arrive before your inspiration to eat that food does. It is good to rotate the foods you have in storage every so often. So only store what you can and will eat (without too much perspiration).
2. Dehydrator: If you have one of these really cool devices, it will save you majorly. Find one at goodwill or barrow one for a month. When you are on a budget you need to know the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen. Go to Costco with this list and check out the freezer section. You can get 2 large bags of frozen broccoli really cheap. 2 bags frozen broccoli fits into 1 half gallon canning jar. Frozen food is already cut and washed for you. Just throw it on the dehydrator sheets and turn it on. I like to store my dehydrated veggies in canning jars with a suction sealed lid. I have to say…I’m sure the FDA does not approve of this method. So do your own research and figure out what type of storage method makes you comfortable. AzureStandard.com has great prices on dehydrated carrots ($12.35/lb) and celery ($11.90/lb).
3. Dry Oven Canning: I just found out about this amazing process from a friend. Note: This does not work for liquids, and it tends to burn veggies and high oil nuts. It works on things like Beans, crackers, almonds, rice…
4. Jar Vacuum Sealer: I am always looking for the best way to do things with the least amount of bulk. I found out you can use the Food Saver hand held device with the canning jar lid adapter. Check out my video. I sealed the bars into a jar at the end of the video. Those things that can’t be “Dry Oven Canned” can at least be protected from bugs, critters and staleness. This thing helps with juicing and traveling too. I seal my juices so they don’t oxidize. And so I don’t have to make juice several times a day. I also seal dinner jars for road trips. You still have to keep things that need refrigerated cooled. This just helps with spills and freshness.
5. Pressure Canning: This is a great thing to barrow, because few people use it all the time. This year I will be using mine a lot but usually I only use it at the end of the harvest season. Meat is going to be your biggest expense, especially good meat. Pressure canning is the only way to safely keep low acid foods like meat or squash. It is not that hard to can meat. I was thinking of canning meatloaf (11.00/qt.) and bacon bits/pieces (3.99/pt…..There is a lot of energy in bacon.). I will also be looking for meat that is on sale. You can even can Liver Moose. More on my resent liver fetish later.
6. Already canned stuff is great to store too, but expensive: Sardines ($33.45/ 12 -3.75 oz cans), oysters (Trader Joes), canned pastured chicken (at Azure Standards $25/12 -5oz. cans), Costco has wild Alaskan Salmon for about $12/6 cans. I figure if I just buy one set of cans each pay check I would have enough for 2 months in 3 years. Ok, that is a little slow. Perhaps I can double my effort? Remember if there is a disaster, everyone will be using twice the calories. It is really too bad I can’t eat rice and beans.
7. Rocket Stove for cooking and canning: I have been intrigued by these amazing stoves. I just saw one boil water with damp newspaper and 10 pinecones! Yeah, amazing! I know what you are thinking…I don’t have the money to buy “storage” food and another apparatus. Great news, you most likely have all you need right now to make one.
Check out this video …
This will save major money on your pressure canning fuel bill. It takes a lot of fuel to keep the pressure that high for 45 min. My electric stove struggles with just getting that huge pot to boil. I am going to make a larger one for canning.
8. Coconut Energy Bar Recipe: (These are super yummy and great for b-fast. )
- 3 cups shredded coconut for coconut cream
- 1/4-1/2 c coconut oil
- 1/4 c raw honey
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1 c coconut, small flakes
- 1/2 c dehydrated or freeze dried fruit
Blend 3 c coconut flakes and coconut oil until creamy. Add honey and cinnamon. Scoop into bowl. Quickly mix 1 c coconut until it is small flakes. Add small flaked coconut and dry fruit into bowl of coconut cream and mix. Line a loaf pan with wax paper or plastic wrap and pour the Coconut Bar mix into the pan. Score 8 bars and place pan into the refrigerator. When hard pop out of pan and place into a canning jar. I sealed the canning jar with the Food Saver and wide mouth adapter. I’m sure the FDA does not approve of this method. I will check the bars in a few months and let you know. They would ideally store best in a root cellar, since high heat will melt them.
9. Pemmican (An American Indian Meal Replacement Bar) I will have a recipe soon. This is on my to-do wish list. I am still trying to source the tallow. So far I dried about 15 pounds of tenderized round steak (about 3 pounds of fat/other stuff cut off- I cooked that up for dinner with some vegetables). It rendered about 1 gallon of dry beef powder. I’m going to dehydrate 2 lb of wild blueberries and blend them into a powder. The recipe suggests to add equal parts of beef powder and tallow. It doesn’t say anything about the berry powder or spices. I will have to experiment.
10. Coconut milk: Cans of coconut milk is very expensive, but it would be useful in a disaster! Those healthy fats will go a long way.
11. Water: You don’t want to forget water! We have city water and have already found it important to filter the water (lots of chlorine and fluoride). But if there was a disaster, clean water would be even more of a challenge. Get a filter that can clean non-potable water without energy. I have a Big Berkey with four filters, and we are constantly filling it up. 1 gallon of water/ person/ day is a lot of water. Good Luck storing two months worth!
12. The water storage is a good segue into the last but most important prep…Spiritual Readiness. You can’t possibly plan for every contingency. Even if you had tons of money and time to do it. You could have a years worth of food storage and have to leave your house…on foot, perhaps in a hurry. There isn’t anyway you will be carrying a years worth of food along with you. God does tell us to get ready for what He wants to do in our lives, but it is Him we should trust in, not our ability to prep. So listening to Him, not out of fear that you need to have everything just so for any event that might happen, but respect for the one who knows all and wants good for you. I don’t know how God will use my unique desire to learn to live without electricity. I am obviously writing this post with electricity. I am not opposed to it. The non-electric thing is just a fun hobby I have always had. Just like I may find it hard to store 420 gallons of water for my 7 person, 2 month ration of water, I will find it hard to prepare for many other things too. The one thing I don’t want to fail to prepare for is my Spiritual Readiness. My trust belongs to the Lord. I now get to be prudent with the resources He has entrusted in my care.
Don’t go crazy with fear. Just do what you can to prepare for the “just-in-case.”