Fri. April 9, 2021 – and now we’re one step closer to CWII, thanks Joe!

Warm and sunny, with a small chance of rain, or hot and sunny, I’m reasonably sure it will be one or the other. It was sunny and warm yesterday, but so humid that puddles in the driveway wouldn’t dry. I was soaked with sweat pretty quickly after going outside. Sunny and beautiful, but not pleasant.

Spent a couple of hours napping. I just felt really wrung out, and was falling asleep in my office chair. Since that hurts my neck, I just went back to bed. I’ve done that more in the last couple of months than in the last couple of years. That is not necessarily a good thing.

The rest of the day was eaten up with small tasks. I got a mounting arm for my last camera cobbled together. I put the mount for the mount in place on the chimney. And I got the camera configured, along with the NVR software. Even though the cam is sitting in my office, I am looking at image from it on my NVR. Since getting that camera in place and working moved to pretty near the top of my list, it felt like a good day.

The rest of the afternoon and evening was devoted to cooking our belated Easter dinner. I was able to use mint and rosemary from the garden to season the lamb. I also used some instant potato packets from 2014. They were a bit orange, as the butter flavor coloring changed with time, but after adding some cream, butter, and bacon crumbles, the mashed potatoes were perfectly fine as an accompaniment to the lamb. I had one box of envelopes that tasted “old” and then this box that is well within acceptable range for taste. Same age, but one got more heat than the other. Heat is the killer of stored food.

I have decided to increase my stored bulk rice and flour beyond where it is now. It’s relatively cheap, and things aren’t looking better world wide, in fact our pResident seems to be actively working to make them worse. (And of course I don’t believe it’s him at all, but whoever is pulling the strings. It’s convenient to blame him, after all he’s sitting in the big chair, and that way I don’t need to type all this every time.) I think when I did the math, if we were eating it every day, one bucket of rice would last one month, and 50 pounds fits in a bucket. I’ll double check later today and update. So, 10-12 buckets of rice at $25-$40/bucket for the year. I haven’t priced bulk rice in a year, and it varies by grade, producer, and availability. If someone here is using rice every day (roughly) please add your usage observations.

Flour is much harder to judge because I do almost nothing with bulk flour. I’m going to guess at 10-12 buckets per year for that too, because it’s cheap, so why not.

I’ll need to add a few gallons of vitamin E stabilized peanut cooking oil too. That will actually be the most expensive part.

Those three things, and some salt, comprise most of the traditional ‘poor people’ food the world over, time without end. Some type of powdered flour, some rice, some cooking oil, some water and salt, and you have basic calories that can be added to with whatever is available. RBT called them “iron rations” and it never seemed very appealing to me. I plan to have lots to add to them, but they are the base load. It’s time to build up the canned storage too.

We’re currently eating canned corn, beans, peas, and a few other things that I panic bought during ebola-14, and the vast majority is as good as when I bought it. There are exceptions. High acid foods don’t survive as long in cans. Pineapple, tomato products, some other fruit, they have swelled up and/or popped. Dry mixes with a high fat content also tend to taste “old” once past their best by date. In our climate, dried food in boxes picks up an “old” taste too soon too– Kraft mac n cheese I’m looking at you.

The way I’m looking at it, maybe we WON’T need enough stuff to stay home for 6 months to a year because of a pandemic…. and maybe we won’t need to supplement our shopping with stored food for a year or two, while the economy and security situation stabilize. But what if we do? Food security is cheap insurance.

So stack it high.

nick

Thur. Jan. 21, 2021 – 012121 – yep, easily amused

Cool and damp, may be even damper later in the day.

Yesterday was pretty nice for mid-winter high with 60s and low 70s.  Overcast all day, but shorts and t-shirt weather for me.  I got a couple of things around the house cleaned up.  Finally got the last of the Christmas decor down and most of it put away.

Because I was at home in the afternoon, I cooked a lamb roast.   It’s a great example of saving money with a freezer, vac sealer, and buying in bulk.  I like lamb.  If you haven’t had it since you were a child, it’s different than it was.  Most of the ‘lamb’ taste, the mutton/gamey flavor is gone because of the farmers growing a different breed.   We enjoy it rare to medium rare.   Anyway, I buy the bigger roast and cut it in half.  Vac seal and freeze the resulting 2-3 pound roasts, and you’ve got a roast that is perfectly sized for two adults with leftovers, or a family like mine.  It doesn’t take forever to roast at that size either.    You can get a much better grade of meat in lamb roast for the same money, than you typically can for a beef roast.  Better living for less….

I buy hamburger in a bulk pack and repack it as 1 1/3 pound slabs.  I press it into a shallow square plastic food saver package then vac seal that shape so it will stack better in the freezer.  I used to do 1 pound packs but the kids are growing.

I buy pork roasts in the 10 pound tube, and slice into center cut pork chops any thickness I like.  I also cut a couple of 2-3 pound roasts out of the whole.  All get vac sealed and frozen.   The 10 pound pack is cheaper than smaller roasts, or pre-cut chops.  I usually season the chops in the vac bag with garlic salt and chinese oyster sauce.  The family LOVES the sweet brown sauce on pork and I don’t have to make a mess at cooking time, or worry about marinading it ahead of time.  Another win!

Beef ribeye roasts get the same treatment as the pork roast, some steaks, some of the best beef roast ever.  I season the steaks before vac bagging with Adkins seasoning.  It’s a nice mix of garlic, citrus-y something, and black pepper.   It’s a lot like Penzey’s Chicago Steak seasoning, without all the hate for conservatives.

Bacon in the bulk pack is 24c/lb.  It’s double that in smaller packaging.  I re-pack it in 3/4 lb blocks which is just a bit more than we need for breakfast.    It rarely lasts until lunch.  Vac seal and freeze into one meal portions…

I should note that I’m not Rockefeller.   The vac seal and freeze routine means the meat lasts as long as it’s frozen, so I only buy the stuff on sale.  I buy a BUNCH when the price is right and store it for later.  There are significant savings to be had if you shop this way.   There are shopping trips where I might not even buy any meat if it’s not on sale, because I have some at home in the freezer.

Another thing I do is freeze the leftovers from holiday meals.   I do the same “shape them into a flat block” trick of pressing them into a plastic storage container before freezing.   It’s easy to gauge the number of portions when it’s time to eat, just look at the bag.

If you want to vac seal something wet or squishy, put it in the plastic container and freeze it first, then take it out of the container and vac seal the block of soup, or chili, or whatever.

You can vac seal and freeze partially prepare foods too.   I like to sear the meat before using the slow cooker to make stew or pot roast or carnitas.  I don’t like the smell in the house (and I didn’t have a working exhaust fan) so if I’m going to get out the cast iron and make the mess, I like to do at least 2 or 3 meals worth.   After searing,  I put the meat and juices into vac sealed bags and freeze them.  The next time I want stew or pot roast, or pork carnitas, I defrost the meat and put it right into the cooker, no muss, no fuss.

I’m sure there are plenty of other people out there that have written or ‘tubed about the vac sealer more eloquently and more completely than I have, but these ideas should get you started if you are holding out.  I consider the vac sealer to be essential, so I have my daily driver, then another spare of a similar type, then two more  spares of the ‘seal a meal’ manual type.  I just picked up another one from goodwill this week to have on the shelf.  You’ll find uses for it, if you have one.

So that’s some ideas for stacking, get to it.

 

nick

Tues. Sept. 22, 2020 – some people are getting flooded

Cooler, rainy.

Looked at the pictures from the Gulf Coast yesterday.  Lot’s of places I’ve been were under water from Beta’s storm surge.  Not much in the news though.  Twitter and FB for the on scene pix.  Trad media is dead.

We got a steady rain most of the day.  Kept me inside.

I did a bit of work on the possible lake house.  Some research in public records, and some time in Sketchup addressing my wife’s main concerns about the house.  Virtual remodel is a lot cheaper than actual…  The lot is great.  The house is a big weird mess.

Gave a buddy some supplies for his security cam install.  He’s got a neighbor problem.  Also gave him some stuff for his kids to play with – some “take aparts” (old mech and electronics), and some learning toys (soda can robot, potato clock, solar crawler, etc)

I’ve got stuff to do today, since I spent yesterday on other things.  Auction pickup, maybe stop by my buddy’s store, who knows?  Maybe something crazy like drive thru food.

Or not.  Cooler weather means more work in the attic and bathroom.  There’s always something to do.

And that’s all in addition to stacking it higher…

 

n

Sat. Aug. 15, 2020 – hurray for the weekend, just 2 more days to work…

Yup, hot.  Real hot.  Sunny and humid too.

Friday was a bit of a bust.  I got done the stuff outside the house that I needed to do.  Did some organization at my secondary space.  Picked up some stuff.

Today I need to do some catching up here at the house.  I’ve been slack.

I don’t think I mentioned it on Wednesday, but I broke down and vac sealed a bunch of meat for the freezer.  9 pounds of pig roast, into 3 smaller roasts and 4 chops, 6 pounds of hamburger into 1 1/3 pound blocks, 6 pounds of bacon into 1 pound bags, and we ate the steaks I’d bought in the last order.  It’s great having <s>some</s> lots of freezer space.  I also vac sealed a couple pounds of coffee that I got from my auction guy, $1 / pound.  I’d have bought more if he had more in roasts that I like.  You get what you see, when you see it if you want it.  The vac seal and freezer let you keep it a long time.

Speaking of which, I can’t really imagine prepping without a vac sealer.  It lets you keep stuff fresh for a LOT longer than any other packaging technique I know of for the freezer.  I’m still using the same one I bought on sale at Costco 5 or six years ago (or maybe 10 years ago).  I do have a backup that I picked up at a yard sale (same model), and a couple of backups to that that are simpler and more in the original Seal-a-meal style.  I like backups.  They were all super cheap at yard sales or thrift stores.  Even new in the store, the vac sealer will earn it’s cost back when you can buy cheap bulk food and break it down or when you can buy lots of food when it’s on sale and keep it in good condition for years.

Of course, with a freezer full of food, you’ll want a gennie, or solar setup.  Or battery backup and inverters, or hamsters on a wheel…. but that’s prepping too, it’s fractal.   And some people have opted for pallets of freeze dried food, or shelves full of canning to avoid worrying about the freezer.  If you do that, you need canning supplies, ways to clean them, heat source, storage, etc, and if you go for freeze drieds, you’ll need deep pockets 🙂

Whichever way you go, get busy.  You will feel better with food in the pantry.  So keep stacking!

 

nick

Sat. July 11, 2020 – continuing to sweat, and work, and work, and work

Hot and humid again.  Same same.

Yesterday stayed hot hot hot all day.  And sweat through to your skin in 5 minutes humid.

So, while I didn’t get much done in the garage, given that it was more than 109F in there, I did yard work.  Cut the grass, pulled a couple of weeds.   Cleaned up the rest of the mess the heavy trash guys left.  Cut and stacked the free firewood.  (Used the electric chainsaw.)  Pushed dirt around the bottom of the pool.

Then did my auction pickup.   Helped load the old bedroom furniture into a lady’s truck (3 trips to fit it all).  Cooked dinner.  Put the kids to bed.  Read more Tales of Alvin Maker: Prentice Alvin to the oldest.  Watched some youtube.

Dinner was some super scraggly and thin asparagus from the last supply drop, and almost 2 pounds of sirloin steak from the freezer.  My 9yo ate the biggest hunk, half a pound at least, and more than I ate.  She is a vicious little carnivore.  Last year’s girl scout cookies for dessert.

Today I’m really really really trying to get the freezer into the garage.  I’ve got to get a ton of shirt out first, and it’s hot.  But I need to get it settled and start stocking it again.  I’ve also looked at freezer temperature alarms, and they are either cheap and poorly reviewed, or pretty dang pricey.  I’ve got normal digital thermometers on the fridge and the chest freezer.  They don’t alarm though, but you can see at a glance the actual temps.  I’m going to look some more before deciding what to get.  I sure don’t want to lose another freezer full.

Speaking of a freezer full, with additional space I’ll be able to store more frozen fruits and veg.  I don’t normally keep much besides meat and butter, with some bread products in the freezers.  My wife has a bag of fruit chunks for smoothies in the kitchen freezer.  One of the observations someone mentioned about the covid lockdowns so far was wishing they had more frozen fruit.  I hadn’t thought much about it, and I have canned fruit and fruit pie filling, but I don’t have much frozen.  I think I’ll add a shelf of frozen fruit to the pile.

Always something more to stack, keep at it.

nick

Thur. July 2, 2020 – last day of swim team

Hot and humid.

Yesterday was hot and humid, with a bit of a strong wind from the south on the south side of town.  The breeze helped a lot, but it was still stinking humid anywhere the breeze wasn’t.

Ran around town all afternoon doing pickups.   Stuff for my wife, and a few tactical items, and one or two lots of my hobby items.

Supply drop from Costco and HEB is mostly put away.  I spent last night breaking down the bulk meat into dinner sized packages, then vac sealed and froze them.   They’re in the new freezer too, even though it’s just sitting in the driveway.

I baked bread in the machine again Tuesday, and again it had a ‘sharp’ flavor too it.  I suspect that even though it’s edible, and not actually bad tasting, the flour from 2014 isn’t great.  So I ordered and received 50 pounds to replace the bucket or two from 2014.  Flour is cheap, we can get it, and I knew there would be some spoilage and waste with the way I stored it.  As mentioned, it doesn’t smell or taste funny or bad, but there is something that isn’t quite delicious when you bake with it.   Given that this isn’t the actual zombie apocalypse, replacing it makes sense.  Six years with no particular care taken to store it is a long time.

I was able to get clorox bleach from costco, the 3 gallon pack.  That’s a change.  Still only Kirkland brand TP, although they had kleenex tissues.  Still no clorox cleaners or wipes, and no lysol spray.

HEB had Prime top sirloin for $7/ pound.  I bought 6 pounds.  It was definitely ‘short time’ but that doesn’t bother me as it got vac sealed and frozen.  It wasn’t listed as short though.   That is cheaper than almost any of the beef except hamburger, and there were hamburger choices that were that much or more.  It is still possible to be a smart shopper, even remotely with instacart.

Today will be one last trip to the pool for swim team.  I decided that the kids really needed to see their friends and say goodbye.  They missed that when school ended and it really bothered them.  I hope it isn’t a mistake.  Cases and hospitalizations are both rising quite steadily in Houston and the rest of Texas, no matter what my friend says.  Hopefully he’s right and there is enough of everything, and that the panic is overblown.  I’m not panicked, I’m just sticking to what I decided to do early on.  It’s not ebola, but I still don’t want to roll the dice on it.

One of the local country clubs does a nice little fireworks show for their members that is visible from some public spots.  We went there last year, and they say they’ll be doing a show this year too.  We’ll be outdoors and distanced… if the weather is good.  Trying to find the balance  between staying isolated and going out to play in it is difficult.   Even I’m glad to be out and about, getting a break from being in the house.

It’s not just wuflu either.  The madness of some black lives matter is still ongoing, although it looks to be thoroughly co-opted by antifa and the prog/socialist left.  I put some links up yesterday or the night before with violence directed as us ‘normals’.  Keep your awareness up if you are going out.

And keep stacking while we can.

nick

 

Wed. June 24, 2020 – more of the same, sorta

Hot and humid.  [74F and dripping, overcast. I purely suck at weather forecasting]  It is Houston and summer….

Yesterday was hot and humid, although less of both than previous days this week.  Stuff was actually drying out once I dumped the standing water.  Sometimes we’ll go days with water in every nook and cranny because it just can’t evaporate.  And I was able to work outside for a while, without my vest or my head exploding.  Nice little break.

I took some time and did pool care.  Skimmed off the leaves, swept the bottom, and made a big siphon hose to suck out the debris.  My little siphon hose took too long and used too much water.  And it clogged easily on the half eaten pecans.  The damnable tree rats are chewing the still very undersized and unripe pecans in half.  That makes two marble sized pieces to drop in the pool, since they can’t eat them.  Bigger hose, stronger flow, less choking, and I had that cleaned up in a jiffy.

Then on to pulling some inventory to go to the local auction.  I’ve got two big black bins full, and more to go.  SO MUCH MORE.  The auction isn’t appropriate for all the sort of stuff I have to sell, more for the household/estate stuff than the industrial stuff, but I’ve got plenty of that too.  In the process, I was going through stuff in the house, on the patio, and in the garage.  Miles to go before I sleep, but every journey starts with a single step, right?

Dinner was Taco Tuesday.  Canned chicken, canned beans, tortillas and fixin’s from the fridge.

Daughter one has a visit with the orthodontist this morning.  We were doing a retainer to move some teeth around so they didn’t get damaged before we could do the braces.  She lost the retainer.  It’s been months, so it’s time for a reassessment.

Daughter two is complaining of a mild headache and feeling “pukey”.   No actual vomiting, but no appetite either.  I’m wondering where she picked up a bug, and the only answer is ‘swim practice’.   That is double plus ungood as it points out how easy it would be to get something else.  I’m not feeling great either, with occasional coughing, and some mild headache.  I’m blaming mine on allergies and doing too much reading with my cheap ‘cheater’ glasses.  We might stay home from swim today.  We’ll see.

As part of my cleaning up and moving stuff, I moved some rice from bags in the black bins to buckets with O2 absorbers.  I filled two buckets and could have filled a third and fourth with rice and another bucket with flour.  30 pounds per 5 gallon bucket, 2 cups a day, and each bucket is good for approximately 30 days.  That’s a nice tidy number and easy to see at a glance what inventory looks like in ‘days’.  I find it much easier to think in terms of ‘meals’ or ‘days’ when looking at my stored preps.  I absolutely never think in terms of ‘calories per day per person.’  Bob and I had some discussions about our different approaches to thinking about food, and I’m convinced that mine has fewer built in barriers to action, lower friction for the prepper, while his has the advantage of having math and science behind it.  Like a lot of prepping, it’s easy to go off into the weeds and to find reasons not to start.  “Oh, I have to figure out how many calories are in a bucket of flour before I start storing it.” “are mylar bags really necessary?  What about oxygen absorbers?  I don’t have any.”   Stuff like that.  My method feels a little more haphazard, but really, do you think in terms of making a pot of rice or of cooking 1700 calories of foodstuffs?

However you think of it, get started if you haven’t already.  I’m eating rice stored very haphazardly in 2014 and it is delicious.  (stored in a black bin, limited airflow, no vermin, constant comfortable temps.)  I didn’t use O2 absorbers, or repack into mylar, or any of the other things.  I saw a case of ebola in Dallas and panic bought a bunch of food.  I packed it tightly in bins at my secondary location, and ignored it until this year.  Because I moved it home, I’m repacking it into buckets as they are more air tight, and easier to move when full.

I’ve rotated the 2014 stuff to the front and put the 2019 and 2020 in the back.  If I move some back to my secondary storage, I’ll move the 2019 and 2020 food.  My point is, you don’t have to do it perfectly, or in any particular way at all.  You don’t NEED all the rest of the stuff or to spend a lot of time.   Rice is cheap.  Flour, sugar, salt, and even peanut oil (my stored fat) are cheap.  If you have some spoilage, it’s a small price to pay vs. NOT having any food.  To the staples, add canned food- meat, veg, and beans to start, fruit, pie filling, and ‘weirder’ stuff as you can.  The cans will do just fine for years if you keep them cool and dry without any other work on your part.

You can and should build off that food stockpile, but at least you won’t starve to death in the first 3 months of a disaster, whatever that might be (prolonged unemployment being the most common, sick spouse or kid being the second.)

So, get started, or keep going, but keep stacking.

 

nick

Fri. June 21, 2019 – already Friday again, jeez

82F and 90%RH. Never got a drop of rain yesterday, hope today goes the same. Openweathermap (henceforth OWM) has our high at 97 or 98F. It’ll be much hotter than that here in my driveway.

The march to war continues– https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-06-21/trump-backs-down-military-strike-iran-last-minute

This looks like classic Trump to me, promise some outrageous thing, let everyone freak about it, then offer the compromise. We’ll see. I’d prefer not to have a nuclear Iran, and the weaker they are, the better for stability in the middle east.

Lots of kid activities this week so not as many preps as I’d like, and I’m getting ready to head back to Chicago to help my mom with selling her house. I’ll probably be there a week.

The little tiny caterpillars were back with a vengeance and ate all the leaves off one grape vine and most off the other vine. It did reveal on bunch of grapes, which I split with littlest child. They were tasty with thick skins. I sprayed them with the thuricide and I hope the vines recover for next year. Grapes are a huge PITA.

We have one little apple growing on the tree, and one orange is still clinging to its tree too.

Peppers are still producing but tomatoes aren’t showing any fruit. Cukes and zukes haven’t died yet. The stems usually spit open at the ground level and get eaten by ants. I’ve been hitting them with different things hoping to find something that will get them thru the summer. Seems to be working so far. The plants in the one raised bed are still slowly bleaching to white and dying. No time to investigate that further. It MUST be an issues with the soil.

I did add another bucket of rice and some more cans to the stack. I can tell the hand warmers I’m using as O2 absorbers are working because the buckets ‘dent’ in.

I’ve mentioned it before but I think prepping to make tortillas/pita/naan/ or some other flat bread makes more sense than risen breads. They take less time, effort, and fuel. The staples of poor rural people and indigenous people the world over are refined by long history to be efficient in all those areas. (that root you have to smash for hours being an exception necessitated by a lack of alternatives.)

Someone mentioned that my SWAG at a couple of months food for my family was missing some things… yup. It was. There were LOTS of things missing from the list, but it was intended to show that it doesn’t have to be hard, or rocket science to stack a good amount of food. Also it’s what MY family (and by extension, most families I know) will eat. (If I was hispanic or german, the list would be different (and have more pickled stuff on it if german))

There are actually canned beans in the list (red, black, refried,bbq, drunken (borracho), and several others are on my shelves.) For preps, I prefer canned beans to dried. The water is already in the can. The cans are safe from rats and other vermin. The liquid in the can can be used as ‘sauce’ over rice. Of course, they are more expensive than dried beans, but they can be eaten cold from the can, only need to be warmed up to make them tasty, have flavor already added, and are generally easier, quicker, and thrifty with fuel.

If your family already eats chick peas, or dried beans, by all means store them in your preps! I wouldn’t want the list to be seen as EX-clusive. You should always feel free to go beyond or tweak for personal preference. For example, someone else mentioned canned potatoes. I have canned potatoes from a couple different makers with different styles of potato in them. I really like one particular can of sliced new potatoes. I’ve served them as a side dish lots of times. We don’t eat many potatoes though, and most canned versions don’t taste that good to me. I did list pouches of instant potato though. The name brand is really good, especially the varieties with added cheese and other flavors. If we had a real ‘no shit, hit the store for one last run’ event, besides all the overlooked cans, I’d grab bags of potatoes and onions. They store well (up to a year in good conditions) are cheap and versatile. But we personally don’t eat them often, so I usually only keep a couple of pounds of heritage baby potatoes in the pantry, and 10 pounds of onion… we do eat a lot of onion.

And I have to get the wife and kids out the door so I need to continue this later….

what did you do to prep this week?

nick

Fri. May 11, 2018 – again?

72F and humid, but clear skies. Should be another hot sweaty day here in Houston.

Friday again. More school activities. More stuff to do around the house. More, more, more…

This week I ordered (and received some) parts to rebuild the Portacool cooler I pulled from the trash. It should help me work outside in the heat, so I’m calling that a prep. It’s the reciprocal of making sure you have heat in the winter for those of us in a warm climate.

I think I won this round with the caterpillars that would eat my grape vines. I’ll keep an eye on them. Not sure what to do if you don’t have the right pest control. Soapy water and picking them off by hand seem to be the recommendation. Growing food takes a lot of time and effort if you don’t have access to modern tools. There’s a reason farm employment is down to like 1% of the population here.

The rats continue to make their presence known. I’m VERY reluctant to re-establish my shelves of food while I know there are some around. So the food sits in big black bins in stacks in the driveway. Even though it’s not as much food as I’d like, it still takes up more space than you’d think, stacked in the driveway. It’s also more difficult to USE the food when it’s in random stacked bins.

What have I learned from the rats? For canned food, a simple sheet of cardboard on top of the flat of cans would have kept the rat ‘debris’ off the can tops.

For boxed food, I’m not buying any more unless the contents are in plastic bags. The packaging can get ‘wet’ or otherwise damaged, and the food stays usable. Cheap pasta seems to be the biggest issue, with the pasta just in the treated cardboard.

For cases of plastic containers, like fruit cups, rotation is key. The damnable rats ate into the case from the rear, ate out the contents, and I never saw an indication… but when I went to pick up the case, it was nothing but an empty box, filled with empty cups and ‘debris’.

Rats are smart, adaptable, and seem to communicate. You probably won’t be able to get them with the same trick twice. This means lots of different control strategies.

Be aggressive in your response. I was tepid, let them get established, and they ate some very expensive food (and a ton of cheap food too). I’m still fighting them. They will eat your cooking oil, flavor packets, sauce mixes, shelf stable, pouch meals, boxed food, and anything else they can get their teeth through. They will ruin you cans if it goes on too long, even if they can’t eat them. Man up and KILL the little thieves.

So, what have you done or learned this week?

n

Fri. Feb. 16, 2019 Friday, again. Wow.

I’m tellin’ ya, time is flyin’ by….

70F and 99%RH. Moisture condensing on concrete deck and floor, and anything metal or solid in the garage. Can anyone say “less than ideal storage conditions?”

I did make a great dessert last night from “middle” term storage. I’ve found that the fruit cups from costco will discolor and the fruit gets mushy after the expiration date. This is pretty typical, “color and texture might change but contents remain healthy and safe” is true for cans as well. I’ve mentioned here before that when I notice that a case is aging out, I make fruit cobbler.

So last night, a delicious mango cobbler was made, and half was consumed after dinner. The mango tastes pretty much like peaches after canning. I used prepackaged cobbler mix. It couldn’t be much easier- melt butter, pour in mix with milk, dump in 4 fruit cups. Bake. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Kids asked for seconds. Success!

Managing your stores probably deserves a whole post, but the short story is — use what you have too much of. In other words, if we’ve eaten fewer eggs than normal, I will make something to eat that requires more eggs, like French Toast (Freedom Toast!). That’s a good way to use up some bread too. Or fruit desserts to use aging fruit cups that don’t LOOK attractive, but are still delicious. Think about baking, or pre-cooking meat and freezing. Pies are a way to make fruit last a few more days. Juice fruits and freeze the juice…

Anyway, I’m toying with the idea of a “use less week.” The idea is that you probably use more than needed during these times of prosperity, and would use less if times were tough, so why not try it now??

Some easy examples: toothpaste. Most people probably learned to put a stripe of toothpaste the whole length of the toothbrush. I find that less than half of that is sufficient to fill my mouth with foamy cleaning action. I’ve completely internalized this change.

Shampoo. The bottle usually says how much to use, but do you just pour some in your hand? Bigger than a ‘quarter’? I’ll bet half will give the same sudsing action. If not, just “lather rinse repeat” like the bottle says. Nothing to lose.

Hand soap, hand sanitizer. The dispensers kick out way more than needed.

Eggs. I love eggs. I now only buy the Large size though. Simple change from the Extra Large I grew up with and just kept buying. They are cheaper too. And I’m finding that one is enough for breakfast when I habitually ate two.

Toilet paper. I’d bet that most of us just use this the way we learned as kids. I did. Having kids to teach, and someone else’s butt to wipe, made me rethink both technique and amount. Not something to skimp on, but if you knew the supply was limited, would you be more careful and use less? TP is a very bulky item to store as preps, and not something you want to run out of.

Laundry and dish soap. Do you just dump some in? When was the last time you read the bottle or looked at the different marks on the measuring cup?

Ketchup or dipping condiments. Just dump a big squirt on the plate? Why not put half as much and then squirt more if needed?

Hmm, this is turning into a coupon clipping, make your own soap kind of post, so I’ll end it here, but I challenge you to look at your habits, and see if you are being a ‘good steward’ of the resources you have.

nick