Store This, Not That!

Store This, Not That!

Building a great reference library is an important part of preparedness. I’m always on the look out for great resources to add to my collection. Recently, Debbie Kent contacted me and asked me to review her new book, Store This, Not That! I greatly admire Debbie’s work and her dedicated efforts to help others prepare.

Store this not that Kent Cover

Her book did not disappoint me. True to her nature the book is packed with practical advice for building and using a realistic family food store. Case in point: she discusses seven rules for buying food storage buckets or bundles which I really appreciate. These are those buckets that advertise a 30-45 day supply of emergency food. I’ll summarize them here:

Rule No. 1Serving sizes are not created equal. Meal servings sizes range from 1/4 cup to 3 cups depending on the product.

Rule No. 2One serving does not equal a meal. A real meal is comprised of several servings from a variety of food groups. Don’t be deceived.

Rule No. 3Quality of food ingredients. Read the labels to ensure the food is high quality and not a creation of chemicals and preservatives.

Rule No 4Variety of food. Look for packages with a variety of food options.

Rule No. 5Storage life. Be careful of claims that state”store up to 25 years.” Freeze-dried 25 years, dehydrated 8-10 years but mixes only 1-2 years. Know what you are buying.

Rule No 6Total Calories. This is my biggest pet peeve. Make sure that the calories per day are a minimum of 2,000. Do the math. You will be surprised how many food storage plans only provide 350-500 calories per day.

Rule No. 7Packing and Preserving. Make sure that the food is packaged for longer term storage.

It is important to understand that I’m not saying that these buckets aren’t a good option. You just need to understand what you are really getting so that you can prepare appropriately. Don’t count on the food staying good in the bucket for 25 years if some of the meals expire in a couple of years.

Debbie’s book does a great job of reviewing important details like that. What is the difference in powdered milk? Which variety is best to store? How about pet food? I love the full color lay-out of the book. The recipes look irresistible.

Know anyone that needs a little help figuring out how to build or use food storage?  Store This, Not That! makes it easy to understand what to do and how to do it. No more excuses.

Prepare 2015 – December Goal – Give Gifts That Make a Difference

Prepare 2015 – December Goal – Give Gifts That Make a Difference

Our family finds great peace in our family food stores. We are not completely dependent upon stocked grocery store shelves to provide for our daily needs. If we had a personal financial crisis or if the store shelves were empty, our family has the supplies we need to sustain ourselves for a time until things return to normal. That peace is worth the sacrifice.

Girl Eating - Copyright Your Family Ark LLC

December’s goal is to spend at least $20 on longer term food storage items to build your food stores. Then spend 15 minutes considering what gifts you are giving to others this Christmas. Would it be possible to give a #10 can of rice or beans, or perhaps a water filter, or how about a case of a favorite canned good instead of a less-useful item? Maybe neighbor gifts might be a bottle of hand soap or a similar inexpensive item with a cute little tag on it. It might take a little bit of courage to take a non-traditional approach. I think it makes our little world a better place. Every gift of food storage makes all of us a little more prepared.

I have fond memories of one childhood Christmas. My family had very little money and meals were simple with no frills. A few days before Christmas, my father took the children to a warehouse store that sold only cases of goods. We were each allowed to select one case of our favorite food for Christmas. Words can’t express the excitement we felt as we selected things like Spaghettios and sugar coated cold cereals.

The Provident Prepper – A Common-Sense Guide to Preparing for Emergencies is a great way to help someone get started on the preparedness path. It would make a great Christmas gift along with some food storage, a water filter, or even a case of toilet paper.

There is great peace and security in having a well-stocked family storehouse. What could you do to use your Christmas budget a little bit more wisely?

Prepare 2015 – $20 and 15 Minutes – March Goal

Prepare 2015 – $20 and 15 Minutes – March Goal

Spring is in the air and it is the perfect time to get busy planting. Bare root fruit trees, vines and berry bushes are inexpensive this time of year. Best of all, they tend to thrive.

Prepare 2015–March Homework

Spend $20–Purchase a bare root fruit tree or grape vines or berry bushes. You can find great prices through online nurseries or at local hardware stores or nurseries. The bare root stock is sold out quickly so don’t procrastinate! Try something new and exciting.

15 minutes--Plant your new fruit-bearing plant, water it well and enjoy the bounty for years to come.

Blackberry Boy Copyright Your Family Ark LLCThis small investment of time and money will pay off big in the years to come. Perennials like fruit trees and berries do not need to be re-planted every year. They can be a beautiful addition to your landscape and provide food year after year.

So get to it! No excuses. There are fruit trees and berry bushes that will even grow in containers on your patio. Plant today and enjoy the harvest year after year.

Prepare 2015–$20 and 15 Minutes a Month

Prepare 2015–$20 and 15 Minutes a Month

Preparedness can be a little bit overwhelming. This year we are going to help you break it down into manageable pieces. We challenge you to spend $20 dollars to purchase necessary supplies and 15 minutes working on necessary tasks each month. Do it and you will be amazed at the progress you will have made by the end of 2015.

Quite frankly, if you can spend more than $20 and 15 minutes a month you will greatly accelerate the process. To help you achieve this goal we will post on the first of every month our recommendation. You may have different preparedness priorities and we encourage you to do what is best for your individual circumstances.

Spend $20 on longer term food storage. These are items packaged for longer term storage that you can stash away in a basement or under a bed for up to 30 years. In a perfect world, these items would be regularly rotated. Here are some ideas:

Red beans, black beans, pinto beans, white rice, wheat, pasta, dried potatoes, dried onions or other long term storage items properly packaged. If you can spend $20 per person you will accumulate your storage much quicker. Remember the goal is 300 pounds of grain and 60 pounds of legumes per person per year. Dried fruits and vegetables are a wonderful addition to these basics.

You can purchase these items online or at a local emergency preparedness store. I’ve noticed that several grocery stores, including WalMart, have started carrying some longer term storage items in #10 cans.

Spend 15 minutes evaluating your water storage. Do you have at least 2 gallons per person for 2 weeks? If not, create a reasonable plan to build your water storage. You can purchase new 55 gallon water storage barrels, water bricks, or other new containers if your budget allows. However, used food-grade barrels, soda or juice bottles can be thoroughly cleaned and can easily provide safe water storage at little or no cost.

PETE Bottle Water Storage Copyright Your Family Ark LLCIn my humble opinion, it would be better to build your water storage with free containers and spend the money you would have spent on containers on acquiring your longer term food storage if you don’t have it yet. That being said, new approved water storage containers are the perfect way to go. Sometimes good enough just has to be perfect.

January’s 2015 Challenge – spend $20 on longer term food storage and 15 minutes evaluating the status of your water storage. You can do this!

Clod’s Survival Garden

Clod’s Survival Garden

Prepping is personal pursuit and no two families prepare in exactly the same way. Each family has their own unique preferences and style, adding diversity to life. This uniqueness is evident in the methods used to produce food.

Recently we had an opportunity to spend an afternoon with some dear prepper friends and tour their survival garden. We observed a few hundred Butternut squash freshly picked and being prepared for storage, sweet juicy grapes hanging from vines and golden apples ready to be transformed into delicious cider or sauces. The October harvest teases the senses with its impressive display of colors, distinctive scents, cool mornings, sounds of scattering fallen leaves, and the taste of freshly harvested fruits and vegetables!

Clod B. Hopper (name changed to protect the guilty) and his wife had given a lot of thought to what they would need to produce in order to be healthy and survive an extended crisis. They have years of experience gardening using traditional methods with neat rows of corn and other veggies. One day as they viewed their beautiful handiwork they pondered which of all this food would they actually need to survive if they were on their own. After significant thought, they composed this list of requirements for vegetable candidates.

• Easy to grow
• Store well
• Most calories and nutrition for least amount of effort
• Propagation – must be able to easily save seeds for future crops
• Proven – must grow well in my garden
• Low water consumption
• No chemicals required for success
• Disease and pest free
• Delicious

After significant study and experimentation, the Hoppers have developed their perfect survival garden. These are the vegetables that made their survival list.

Butternut Squash - Copyright Your Family Ark LLC 2014Butternut Squash – This winter squash just happens to be a nutritional powerhouse. This year 24 plants produced over 300 squash. The squash bugs leave it alone. It is rich in vitamin A, C, B-6, potassium, magnesium and iron. The Hoppers store these delicious starchy vegetables on shelves in an unused basement bathroom. The window is left slightly ajar all winter long to keep it cool and provide ventilation. The butternut squash successfully stores for over a year. Clod has had some last for two years. It takes up less storage space than other squash, such as pumpkins, because the center is solid.
Potatoes Stored in Plastic Bin - Copyright Your Family Ark LLCGolden Yukon Potatoes – Potatoes are a good source of calories, vitamin C, B-6 and magnesium. A single potato contains about 4 grams of protein. Potatoes can be baked, mashed, boiled, fried and enjoyed in a thousand different recipes. Stored in a root cellar, potatoes can easily last over the long winter. Clod stores his potatoes between layers of sawdust in a plastic bin in the garage. (Photo is a similar method using straw instead of sawdust)
Orange Carrots – Carrots are an easy crop to grow. They store remarkably well in the ground throughout the cold winter. Cover carrots with a good foot or so of leaves or grass in the fall and harvest throughout the winter. Carrots also store well in a root cellar. Shelf life can be increased by dehydrating or bottling. Carrots are especially high in vitamin A.
Cherry Tomatoes - Copyright Jennifer Smith 2014Tomatoes – Sweet 100 and Sun Sugar cherry tomatoes for fresh eating and canning tomatoes for bottling. They contain important nutrients such as antioxidants, lycopene, vitamin A, C, B-6, magnesium and a little bit of iron and calcium. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Smith)
Detroit Red Beets – Beets can be stored similar to carrots. They are high in folate and manganese, but are a good source of potassium, copper, fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron, and vitamin B6. A nice bonus to beets is that both the greens and the root are delicious.
Swiss Chard – One 4’x 4’ patch of Swiss chard will keep your entire family in greens throughout the growing season. It is one of the most nutritious vegetables. Swiss chard can be harvested a few leaves at a time and will produce abundantly when kept picked.
Blue Curled Kale and Red Winter Organic Kale – Kale is a hearty producer, simple to grow, and adds vital nutrients to a survival diet. It is a good source of vitamin A, C, B-6, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and even protein. It dries easily and can be stored for use during the long winter months. Kale chips are a favorite snack.
Spinach - Copyright Your Family Ark LLC 2014Spinach – This leafy green is also one of the most nutritious vegetables. If left alone in its own little patch it will re-seed itself, providing fresh greens in early spring and again in the fall.
Bush Beans – Funny thing about beans, the more you pick the more you get. Great for building the soil as well as providing nutrition.
Sugar Snap Peas – These are a wonderful source of vitamin A, C, K, iron and folic acid. They also fix nitrogen into the soil improving the overall yield of the garden.
Yellow Crook Neck and Zucchini – Summer squash is a prolific producer. A few plants will provide more squash than you will ever want to eat.
Onions – This popular vegetable adds flavor to otherwise tasteless foods as well as nutrition. Onions contain polyphenol, an important phytonutrient. The flavonoids and sulfur-containing properties give a healthy boost to the diet. Onions can store for a few months fresh or be dehydrated and used for many years.
Garlic Bulbs - Copyright Your Family Ark LLCGarlic – Garlic is a wonderful seasoning that has both nutritional and medicinal properties. It can easily be stored for 6 months fresh and for several years once dehydrated.

In addition to these annual vegetables, Clod’s family has a few fruit trees, grapes, goji berries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries. Culinary and medicinal herbs grow interspersed in the landscape.

Clod’s great concern is that disaster strikes he will not have time to grow a wide variety of vegetables. These few basic vegetables cover the dietary requirements, involve little work to produce and are proven winners in their garden. Seeds can easily be saved to propagate future gardens. These simple vegetables are intended to supplement a longer term storage program that is full of grains and beans. Longer term storage items tend to be lacking in vitamin A and C. This survival garden is designed to be especially rich in the nutrients basic longer term storage might be lacking.

So what is your plan? You don’t have to be a master gardener to produce food that will sustain your loved ones through a crisis. There is no better time to start than today.


Ebola at Your Door? Review Our Pandemic Preps Checklist

Ebola at Your Door? Review Our Pandemic Preps Checklist

Ebola at Your Door?The threat of an Ebola outbreak in the United States appears to be a real possibility. It is time to check your preparations and ensure that everything is in order. How do you prepare for a pandemic anyway?

Ebola has a very high mortality rate. Your best chance of surviving is to avoid the virus all together. This might mean isolating your family from any and all interaction with others to prevent exposure. Any interaction places you at risk of contracting the deadly disease. Just how do you pull that off in our society? Here are some ideas.

  • Discuss options with your employer. Is there a way to telecommute? What precautions will be taken in the workplace? If you work in healthcare, emergency services or another critical field, you may need to protect your family by finding another place to live until the threat resolves.
  • Do you have children in school? A school is a great place to share communicable diseases. We spoke with our junior high school principal and he is in the process of trying to work out a way for school to continue using Skype or FaceTime since all of the students have been provided with iPads. What are the options for homeschooling in your area? Do you need to gather necessary supplies?
  • Avoid all public places. That means no travel, no stores, no church, no movie theaters, no parks, no hospitals or doctor’s office, nowhere where other people are or have recently been.
  • Be prepared to stay home for at least one year. The Spanish Flu of 1918 lasted for just under two years. Public gatherings were outlawed and schools were closed.

None of this is easy. It takes hard work to get prepared and be determined to stay out of public places. We think it is worth your consideration to prepare just in case.

If Ebola hits the United States, there is a good possibility a lot of good people will die. Many will hunker down trying to avoid exposure. Who will man vital infrastructures such as power, sewer, water, emergency services, hospitals, etc.? Prepare to live without public utilities and emergency help. We discuss how to do all of this in our book The Provident Prepper – A Common-Sense Guide to Preparing for Emergencies.

Do you have enough food and other supplies to survive without visiting the store for a year or so? Depending on the extent of the pandemic, food and supplies may not even be available. How will you cook the food if the power is out? How will you stay warm?

As discussed, the best way to protect yourself is to avoid exposure. What if someone you love is exposed? What if the number of sick overruns the medical system and quality care is unavailable? Could you care for your loved one at home? Should you try? These are very individual decisions.

Patients do not usually survive Ebola even with medical care, but some do. Caregivers are at high risk of contracting the disease. Considering the odds, I would still prepare to care for my loved ones at home should it become necessary.

Kenneth B. Moravec sent me this list of suggested pandemic supplies that will provide minimal protection. I share his list with permission.

  • 1 gallon of liquid bleach per person of the household (yes that is gallons) – to sanitize everything
  • Pesticide sprayer and a small hand spray gun for the liquid bleach solution – to sanitize everything
  • 4 boxes of latex or nitrile gloves (different sizes for every member of the household)
  • 2 boxes of 20 of N95 masks for every member of the household
  • Antibacterial soap – for meticulous hand washing
  • Styrofoam “Take Out” containers – to give to people that come to your door looking for food
  • 100′ roll of clear 4 mil plastic – for setting up an isolation room
  • 10 rolls duct tape – for setting up an isolation room
  • More HEPA filters – for whole room air filtration system
  • Port-a-potty – for isolation room
  • Urinal and bed pan – for sick patients
  • Several boxes of Borax – for provisional toilets
  • 25 lbs. of lime per person – for provisional toilets
  • 50 “yard waste” black garbage bags per person – for provisional toilets and garbage
  • 100 “kitchen” bags per person – for provisional toilets and garbage
  • 25 lbs. of kitty litter per person – for sick people’s body fluids clean up
  • 100 rolls of toilet paper per person – for personal sanitation
  • 20 rolls of paper towels per person – for personal sanitation
  • Several boxes of straws – for sick people so you don’t contaminate drinking cups too much
  • Metal or plastic eating utensils and tableware for sick patients that can be cleaned easily
  • Plastic or metal chairs and tables for an isolation room with no wood or cloth on them
  • Extra bed linen
  • Metal or plastic wash basins for clean room outside of isolation room
  • Clothesline – for washing clothes by hand
  • Laundry soap – for washing clothes by hand
  • Good dish soap like “Dawn” or other aggressive anti-grease formula
  • Burn barrel, kerosene and matches – for burning contaminated items that should not be buried or washed
  • Water filtration and purification devices
  • Water collection, storage and carrying containers
  • Water, water, and more water

I am sure there are more items but this is a good list to start with.

Kenneth’s list is a great place to start. These basics are important, but may vary for each individual circumstance. I would add these items to his list.

  • Start this instant to build your immune system by eating healthy foods and exercising.
  • Get preventative medical and dental care now … it may be too risky to visit medical establishments soon.
  • Healthy stash of vitamin C as explained in Dr. Kyle Christensen’s article on Ebola.
  • Dry calcium hypochlorite which can be used to make fresh batches of chlorine for disinfection. Go to Disinfecting Water Using Calcium Hypochlorite to learn more.
  • Quality medical reference books and diagnostic equipment as discussed in Prepping for Medical Care. Don’t underestimate the power of alternative medicine such as healing herbs and energy work.
  • Build a supply of any critical prescription medications you are taking. You may need to work with your physician and pay cash for a few extra months of medications.
  • Basic over-the-counter medications and pain relievers.
  • Learn how to care for a critically ill patient using correct body fluid precautions and how to set up an isolation room. Get the right supplies and learn to use them appropriately.

Preparing to self-isolate is a really difficult challenge. Ignoring it will not make it easier. Procrastinating may put you in a “too little, too late” scenario. Do not go to extremes. Think about what options you have. Be creative. What are your resources and how you can use them to best protect your family? Do the best you can, just make sure it is your very best.

Above all else, do not allow fear to motivate you. Enjoy today while providing for your future.