Friday, November 23, 2012

Your Own 'Bug In' Infrastructure - Home food Storage

Food Storage - How to Begin
Barbara Henderson

Wouldn’t it be nice to have so much food stored that you could eat comfortably for weeks or even months without going to the store or spending money?  Farm families from generations past used to do that all the time.  They managed it by growing food, preserving food, and storing food.  It was a lot of hard work!  So, we aren’t going to really get into how hard they had to work.  We are just going to consider how they managed it.  This would be your ‘Bug In’ infrastructure where you get to stay in your home as opposed to a ‘Bug Out’ scenario where you actually have to leave your home.  Surviving at home is much easier and more likely than actually leaving home so this is the place to begin prepping.  In planning home food storage you are making a very real effort to provide for the needs of your family in everyday life and in case of an emergency situation where food is not readily available or your budget has taken a cut.  A word of caution here is that you do not want to go out and start spending money without a plan.  You will wind up with a lot of food that no one likes, no real meals planned, and hardly any better off than if you had spent the money on a night at the movies!

To begin  ask yourself, ‘How did farm families manage their ‘bug in’ food storage?’
They counted how many meals they had to eat from harvest to harvest.
They counted how many people had to eat at each meal.
They took into account how much food was needed per meal.
They looked at the food supply that was available.
They canned or dried enough food for the number of meals they needed.  They put up as much as they needed with as much extra as was possible.  (My grandmother explained all this to me.  She even counted how many jars of fruit she needed for desserts from harvest to harvest.)

Today a prepper has the option of setting a modest goal for food storage.  Let’s say you are starting with the goal of having an uninterrupted supply of food for four weeks.  Begin your food storage project by taking a week or more paying careful attention to the meals you do eat at home. If you happen to notice that you use a jar of spaghetti sauce two times a week then you would need to have eight jars of sauce stored in the pantry.  I use spaghetti sauce instead of tomato sauce or ketchup.  I even use it in chili and taco meat.  You may not use it all.  The point is to notice every single item necessary to make the meals you and your family eat on a consistent basis.  Then you need to count up enough of all ingredients to last a month. 

You also need to consider that you may be eating more meals at home.  Unfortunately there may be at least some time that you don’t have electricity.  To be on the safe side you need to have four weeks of canned food!  It needs to be canned food that you actually eat now.

Breakfast items are easy in that you can use cereal, instant oats, pop tarts, and other things that are not expensive and really easy to prepare. They can be nutritious or empty calories.  For this to work, it has to be things you eat now.  You can’t store a month’s worth of healthy foods if you aren’t eating those foods now.  You may begin now gradually making a shift to foods that are considered healthier.  Just don’t waste your money on Healthy Choice cereals if what you eat is Lucky Charms.  There is no question that the ONLY pantry that is going to help you is a working pantry.  That means you are constantly using the food you have and replacing what you use. 

You and your family may only use a can of salmon every couple of weeks or even once a month.  If it makes a major part of a meal that everyone likes or at least tolerates it would be a good idea to have extra because that can be the main part of meal that doesn’t require refrigeration.

Let’s say that you want food for 3 meals a day and two snacks for 28 days. 
Breakfast – one box of raisin bran makes ten bowls of cereal.  You need 2 bowls for breakfast – so a box lasts 5 days.  You need approximately 6 boxes of that cereal.  Or 3 boxes of raisin bran and 3 boxes of captain crunch for variety.  Milk is a potential problem unless you have a goat in your backyard that someone milks every day.  Powdered milk or canned milk is a good alternative.  You can actually get used to either one. 

Lunch is often something as simple as tuna or peanut butter on crackers.  Often people buy their lunch.  There may be times when that isn’t possible so you do need to consider how many lunch meals you would need if you were unable to buy groceries for a few weeks.

Supper is normally the meal with the most variety.  No one can actually give you a list of what needs to be in your pantry.  You have to personalize it.  Count the ingredients of your favorite meal, and try to have enough on hand to make at least eight meals just like you usually do.  Then count the ingredients of you and your family’s second, third, and fourth favorite meals.  Try to have enough ingredients on hand to make these meals eight times.  That is your four favorite meals eight times which equals 32 meals, so you are a little ahead of your 4 weeks goal.  This is also a good time to look closely at the cheapest meal your family is willing to eat.  You may want to store enough ingredients to make that meal eight times first!  It is simple enough when you break it down like this.  If you have refrigeration you can cook a double meal for supper and use the rest for lunch the next day.  My grandmother said she usually cooked a big meal at lunch and they had left overs for supper.  It was approximately the same amount of food as two meals, but she only cooked once.

Snacks are necessary to most people.  Your snacks can be as easy as popcorn with or without butter.  Snacks can be pre-packaged or homemade.  What are you eating for snacks now?  Things that are handy all the time are mixes that require water as the only ingredient you need to add.  If it is a snack that everyone loves a little too much you may have to store that somewhere besides the regular pantry.

Refrigerated items are more difficult of course.  You can keep a four week supply of eggs if you have refrigerator room by paying careful attention to the freshness date on the carton.  Butter, sour cream, and cream cheese are also things that refrigerate well over time.  However, they can be expensive if you don’t actually use them.

Bread can be frozen, but it doesn’t taste as good.  If you toast it tastes pretty good. Bread mixes have long shelf lives so they are an option.  Pancakes make a nice bread.  You don’t have to drown them in syrup.  Just eat plain or with butter like you would hot biscuits out of the oven.

Cheese stores well, so can you think up any meals that have cheese as a main ingredient?  Grill cheese sandwiches or cheese nachos or cheese quesadillas are options that make a reasonable meal any time of day.  What kind of cheese do you like and how much do you use when making a meal?  Try to keep enough on hand for at least eight meals. 

Don’t forget soup mixes like baked potato soup.  They have a long shelf life and can be the starting point for fancier dishes like ‘cheesy baked potato soup’, clam chowder, or chicken soup.  If you use crackers at all you need at least four week supply of crackers.  It is simple.  How many crackers do you use in a week times 4.  Crackers have a long shelf life so this is something that can be stocked for fairly long periods of time.  If you prefer to make your own soups you need to have enough ingredients on hand to make at least eight meals.

If you have a cool place you can store potatoes for a month easily.
Rice, beans, quinoa, and flours of many kinds store well for months. 

For me, meal planning is the beginning of food storage.  Setting a goal of having four weeks of meals is a doable goal. 

I suggest you group the ingredients for each meal together in your pantry.  I know some ingredients will overlap with other meals.  Of course refrigerator items and freezer items can’t be stored in the pantry, but you get the idea. 

Remember the goal isn’t to store food that you never use. 
The goal is to store food that you use all the time. 
Always put your newer goods to the back of your storage area.  You will automatically use the items at the front which will be your older items.  That way you won’t have to worry about freshness dates being expired.

Don’t worry about sticking to my suggestions list. Do what works for you.  You may want to gradually build up eight meals of all your favorite meals, or you may want to start with one meal and buy the necessary ingredients for that meal first.  A good way to go is to buy what is on sale or items that have good coupons that week.  Your personal shopping style and budget will direct you there. 

You probably won’t have the budget to go out and purchase twenty eight days of meals in one trip to the grocery store!  Write down your own master list of groceries and do what works for you.  It won’t take that long once you get started.

Once you have a solid four weeks of food stored, your goal is to at least maintain that amount of food.  You may decide you want to step up to eight weeks or even twelve weeks of stored food.  Honestly, a full year is not a ridiculous amount of food.  You never know what the future holds.  It could be something as simple as an unexpected expense like paying for a wedding, or a decision to take a nice vacation.  Just eat the food you have on hand and spend your money on something else!  In the meantime take food storage seriously!  


Ps – get a good manual can-opener – get two!

Get my book ‘Everyday Prepping for Beginners’ ebook at   articles helpful to Christians

Monday, November 19, 2012

It is Time to Develope Your Own Infrastructure and Security

Developing Your Personal Infrastructure and Security
Barbara Henderson

Most of the time the government provides security and infrastructure for the public.  However the government is not able to guarantee either security or stability in the power grid.  You can count on power for your home most of the time.  You can count on gasoline for your vehicle and home heating most of the time.  You can count on local law enforcement most of the time.  (Law enforcement officers may be willing all the time – but simply unable.  This isn’t criticizing their work ethic.)  But what about that tiny ‘rest of the time’ when you suddenly find yourself on your own? 

The most likely event would be a temporary shutdown of government services where you are able to stay in your home or go to the home of nearby family, a friend, or possibly even your church.  Assuming you will be at home what you will need is a way to heat part of your home, cook food, flush toilets, and stay safe.  Heating your home can be accomplished with a wood stove that you use during cold weather even when you have electricity.  You can cook on your wood stove so that would solve the cooking dilemma as well.  If you happen to have a gas cook stove it should work without electricity.  A camp stove using propane is a very affordable alternative.  Remember propane stoves are not safe for indoor use.  You would have to go outside to use it. If you cook on a gas grill consider upgrading to a grill with a gas burner on the side. You need to have water stored well in advance.  I suggest a minimum of 20 gallons.  If you have city water it may still work during a power outage.  If flooding is not involved in the power outage then the water supply will probably remain safe.

An alternative way of charging your cell phone and other devises important to you is necessary. It may be as simple as a car charger if you have access to your car and fuel to burn while you are charging everything.  A solar charger is another option.  A gas powered generator is a more expensive option.  Kerosene lighting is not excellent lighting, but it is affordable.  Kerosene can also be used for cooking and heating.

Usually your personal infrastructure will only have to sustain you a few days to a few weeks.  It shouldn’t break the family bank.  It should simply help you get through a tough time as efficiently and safely as possible.  Or course no matter how well prepared you are a bad attitude will ruin everything for everyone.  (Don’t forget to prep mentally – self-definition – self-discipline – self-reliance)  Cheerfulness and patience are actions far more than they are feelings.

If you are interested in a home situation that would allow you to have your own personal infrastructure all the time you will need a lot of money!  However there are solar and other options available.  Before you start thinking that big make an effort to set up a full week of supplies and equipment that would allow you and your family to be self-reliant.  That is your personal infrastructure.  Infrastructure plan B is an alternative residence if your home is unavailable or uninhabitable. 

Personal and family security is another matter.  Protection begins by avoiding trouble to the extent that avoiding trouble is possible.  Then security is self-defense!  Self-defense is an entire topic in itself, but you do need to have some ideas regarding personal security.  If you are spending a week without public infrastructure services your home door locks will still work.  A barking dog will still be a barking dog.  A well lite yard may be an impossibility unless you have solar powered outdoor lighting and enough sunshine to charge up the lights.  Do what you can to make it obvious that someone is home.  Determine in advance if you want to have a gun.  If you decide you want a gun, but are unfamiliar with fire arms, you need to talk to experts to determine the gun that is right for you.  Then you need to take a gun safety course and practice shooting until you are comfortable with how your gun works.  I suggest a handgun that is common so ammo will be more readily available and affordable.  By the way, I have an air-weight 38 pistol.  The problem is that the recoil is so violent that it is not fun to shoot.  I can’t hit anything anyway.  My next goal is a laser sight.  That way I only have to get the red or green dot on the target and pull the trigger.  Did I mention gun safety?  Oh yes – I already mentioned it but it is worth repeating. 

Other options are, knives (you need training for knife fighting), a policeman’s baton ( again – you need training to use one effectively), pepper spray where legal,  and even household items like a fire extinguisher can be used as a weapon.  (spray the intruder with the fire extinguisher.)  Unfortunately there isn’t anything that works as well as a gun if you know how to use it.  A personal favorite is a double barreled shotgun.  I wouldn’t have to think about how to load it or shoot it.  It can be reloaded quickly, and I don’t have to be a good shot.  On the negative side it kicks like I suppose a mule would kick.

If you state allows concealed carry then it would be a good idea to get your permit now.  I admit that while I have a permit I seldom carry a gun. I plan to scare an attacker or robber by showing him/her my permit.

When you begin to make plans for personal/family infrastructure and safety during a disaster you are beginning to take charge.  This does not leave you dependent on FEMA and the speed and efficiency of their operations.  You definitely want to do more than think about it, but thinking about it is the place to begin.  You don’t want to spend a lot of money or time on things that won’t actually be helpful. 

Stay within your budget.  Putting yourself in debt is not the way to set up a sound personal infrastructure.
Buying things no one will eat is not going to help.
Buying a million meals of pinto beans is not going to help if you don’t happen to love pinto beans.
Remember that people won’t suddenly be able to eat things they cannot eat before a disaster.
A diabetic will still be a diabetic.  People with food allergies will still have food allergies.  You don’t want to compound a disaster by having a trip to the emergency room – providing you can even get to an emergency room!
Buying a gun and being afraid or unwilling to use it isn’t going to help.
If it is doubtful don’t buy it or at least take some time to consider the purchase. 

Basically – know yourself. 

Barbara Henderson   We have kittens!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Sermon and Song

Remember that it doesn't matter how well you are prepared physically and materially if you aren't prepared spiritually and mentally.  Everyone needs a good sermon everyday - but especially on Sunday to help you through the coming week.  In addition to the sermon you need a hymn that enforces Bible truth and uplifts your spirit.

Take the time to read or listen to the sermon and song.

You Can Trust the Bible (John MacArthur)

On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand
also called
My Hope is Built  is just the music at nethymnal  is a youtube version - which isn't very good - but it gives you an idea of how the song goes if you aren't familiar with it. 
The song is supposed to be sung like a victory song - not at a slow sad tempo.  The Net-hymnal timing is correct.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Which Disaster Concerns YOU PERSONALLY the Most?

Which Potential Disaster Causes You the Most Concern?
Barbara Henderson

‘Prepping for disaster’ is a very broad topic.  It can be overwhelming.  Fortunately, like any other big job the best way to get it done is to break it down into smaller tasks and just get started.  Answer the following question and begin there.

In the realm of future problems and disasters what worries you the most?
If you aren’t worried about the future I would like to give you a few things to worry about.  After all, it just isn’t normal not to have something to worry about.  Ask yourself if you should be worried about any or all of the following:
Economic down-turns or even total collapse?
Pandemics with no known treatment?
Food shortages?
Lengthy power outage?
Tidal wave/tsunami?
Something else?

Pick a disaster and start to work on prepping for that particular problem.  Keep in mind that prepping for one disaster will likely be somewhat useful in other disasters. 

If I were picking a ‘first disaster’ I would start with food storage.  Food would be good in any situation that allowed you to stay in your home.  Having extra food would also be good for personal problems that tightened the budget or simple scheduling problems that made getting to the store difficult.  Remember that stored food is really only useful when it is food you and your family will actually eat.

In addition to stock-piling food you would also want to stock up on basic first aid items and gallons of water.

Don’t rush out and purchase a lot of things to begin with.  Start with storing more of what you use already.

Topics ‘Prepper Central’ will address in the future are:
Power sources

Have a good day – and remember  ‘GET READY NOW’.

(You can get my book ‘Everyday Prepping for Beginners’ on Amazon Kindle

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Prepping for the Present and Future

Prepping Can Be Divided into Everyday Prepping and Future Prepping

Barbara Henderson

 Are you a little on the concerned side regarding the future?  Maybe you are so concerned about today and tomorrow that you can’t really pay a lot of attention to much beyond that.  Why not take a few minutes to consider what you can do to make sure you are as well prepared as possible for today and the unknown future.

First, when facing anxiety or stressful situations you always need to remind yourself of who you are.  Remember your self-definition, self-discipline, and self-reliance. (If you haven’t already sat down and settled these things they are covered in the first three chapters of my book – Everyday Prepping for Beginners) Of course your self-reliance is really between you and God.  You want to do everything you can while relying on God to help you get it done and direct your path.  You don’t want to rely on the government. You are an individualist – not a collectivist! You definitely want to avoid the false help offered by the government.  After Hurricane Sandy there were reports of people going to FEMA shelters and not being allowed to leave.  That wouldn’t have been so bad except they didn’t even have a way to charge their cell phones while they were there.  Of course that is an extreme example.  The only reason for mentioning it is to remind us all that a little practice in self-reliance and planning today may be all it takes to keep you from sitting in a cold FEMA tent wishing you had been a little better prepared. 

Now, let’s divide ‘prepping’ into the categories of ‘present’ and ‘future’.

Prepping for the present is simply doing things a few days, hours, or even minutes in advance that will make things go smoother during the day.  That’s it.  If you are a person who lays out clothes the night before, or buys groceries in bulk, or cooks extra meals to go in the freezer, then you are already a prepper!  Maybe you are the one who plans in advance how to juggle the schedules of the family to make sure no one is waiting on a ride or missing an important appointment.  What you want to do is spend a little time considering the rough spots in your day or week.  Then brain-storm with yourself or others involved regarding ways to improve the stress factor in that particular situation or repeating task.  Part of the task is always going to be mental prepping.  At some point you may have to give yourself an attitude adjustment. If it is something you simply have to deal with try to find a little humor in there somewhere.

Prepping for the future is similar.  You consider possible events that might happen in your life or in your geographical or political area and try to prepare for them in a sensible and safe manner.  In both instances you are trying to make it possible to safely and cheerfully live your life.

Something people often fail to consider is that when you are living through a difficult situation, whether it is something in your normal life or a natural disaster, is that every day is part of your life.  Every time period, whether good or bad, will be part of your history.  You want to make it a history you can be proud of.

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