This month my focus is on building my 90 day supply of food, with freezer meals!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

It's Saturday - Budgeting your Food Storage -

I have loved getting to try and research and experiment more with my food storage. I've been trying so many new recipes to post here, but now it's Saturday ... and I plan on taking a break for the weekend to enjoy some time with my family. We're hopefully going to Costco (it's a 45 minute drive away) ... oh Costco, how I miss thee! Seriously people, huge gap in my life without it.

But, I thought that Saturdays might be a good time to point out other blogs & other people's information. I've been amazed at how many people are just as passionate about food storage and really have put so much time and effort into putting the information they have gathered out there.

I'd like to preface this post with my own personal opinion. Your food storage should be tailored to your family. I don't believe there is a right or a wrong way to do food storage. We are given some general council and guidance, but the church's own literature says you need to find your own way that works for your family. My family's eating habits and yours will be different and there is nothing wrong with that.

When we would have classes at my home (which honestly were more like group discussions ... I learned so much from everyone who came & shared with us!), I always prefaced my information that that was what worked best for my family, but that it wasn't the only way to do something. I believe as long as we are working towards the goal of a year's supply we will be blessed and we will find our own way.
With that being said, I found a wonderful blog called Prepared LDS Family. I'm still reading so much of it, but it's wonderful and I hope you'll take the time to check it out.

The particular post I wanted to highlight is about starting and budgeting for your food storage. We've been working on our food storage for years, and have used it and depleted it and built it up again a couple of times. The goal this year is to use & re-use without completely depleting it at the same time.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Think She's Right

So I've been couponing a lot more. I spend most of my Sunday afternoon/evening sorting & clipping. I check the blogs multiple times a day to make sure I don't miss any great coupons. And to be honest, there is a thrill in getting a $4 or $5 check out of 8 brownie mixes and 4 boxes of cereal & then getting $7 back in RR. BUT! It's very time consuming and I hate how stressed out it can make me trying to make sure I've done everything right. Also, have you noticed how low the coupon totals are getting? I got a coupon for $0.50 off FOUR (!!!) pringles. Seriously? That's less than a thirteen cents each coupon!
So it's been really bothering me how much time it takes. I have a wonderful husband who will go with me from store to store, help me do multiple check outs to save time, and the kids will sit in the carts all day long sometimes, just to go from store to store shopping. I'm trying to build up a 90 day supply, and it's working. But, there's been a big cost to my family with time spent away from them (even when we're in the same room).
So, I've been praying. A lot. Trying to figure out what's the best way to maximize our small food budget, while still gathering food storage. I want to complete our food storage this year. And it seems like coupons could help do it, but I'm not sure I want to spend another year like I have the last month bargain shopping.
And today, I was checking out a favorite website and I found the answer. She's right about how to spend our money.
I'd been debating about going and doing two more check outs (that would have been about $15 combined) to get more pre-made brownie mixes, cookie mixes and cereal. That fourteen dollars would buy a huge box of cocoa, a large bag of chocolate chips and more eggs to have for breakfast. And it would only take a single shopping trip to Sam's (or the Costco 45 minutes away). And rather than spending $20 on pre-made bags of popcorn (they are on-sale at Costco thru Saturday), I am going to buy the HUGE un-popped, regular popcorn at Sam's & a HUGE thing of butter to pour on it. That popcorn will be a year's supply, rather than a few months.
She's right, we need to change our way of thinking. And I need to stop couponing for pre-made items and start stocking up on more basics. It won't really take that much more time to make homemade brownies, but it will be a lot cheaper.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

When the "Bug" Hit

So I always had heard about the importance of food storage and gathering it slowly. Learning to use it. It was something I heard about in different Relief Society meetings and in Sacrament meetings on occasion. I remember my Mom had some random cans of wheat in the garage growing up. I also had a friend who had always talked about it to me. But I had always joked that I would be heading to her house if the worst ever hit. Then in late 2007, the urge to start working on it hit me. And I listened to that prompting. I didn't know what I was doing, or where to start. I just started gathering up pasta at first. My husband and I began to really want food storage, but we literally didn't have two dimes to rub together, we were barely able to afford the weekly groceries. I had always been mindful of bargain shopping and was the one my friends would come to for advice about good deals, but even with all the money we saved there, it still didn't leave money for food storage.
So, we debated and debated what to do. We were able to take some money from the tax returns in 2008 & 2009 to buy some. And I am a big believer in donating to the local charities & thrift stores. We always have a box of things to take to Goodwill or DI sitting around. But, we really de-junked and then had two separate yard sales. With just that money we were able to raise $300 for food storage!
And for holidays and even birthdays we started to get food storage too for each other. It may seem corny to some, but it was something we really were excited for & we felt like it was more important than any other physical/material item we could get for each other.
For my husband's birthday we got 200 lbs. of flour, 100 lbs. of sugar, 50 lbs. of black beans, 6 lbs. of baking soda and 2 gallons of oil (I looked it up on a family blog post, ha ha ha).
The church advises you to slowly build your one week, then your two week, then your month supply & so on. But that idea doesn't work as well for me. It's hard to have my mind in so many different directions, so I focus on one thing at a time. This month we finally purchased the last of our oats. It's something where you have to go with what works best for you.
Where are we now with food storage? Well, we're about 50% with the long term stuff. Most of the bigger purchases are done, now we're onto the smaller priced things, like oil & vinegar, etc. I have been bargain shopping & couponing my life away trying to get a 90 day supply together. Money's even tighter now then it was when we started, so it's been hard and slow. But, I know with the effort & sincere desire, the Lord will bless us to finish it this year.
It's just hard when you want it ... to have wait and slowly do it rather than getting it all at once.

Monday, February 22, 2010


We have become obsessed about the idea of gardening here. And then canning it ... who have I become??? LOL. We've done lots of research and found a local garden supply store that offers lots of free classes & the people were really friendly too. Now, we're just trying to research more to figure out the best way to get around things ... like hail in the summer (where have I moved to???) and the fact that there are rabbits all around here.
And this is a rental property, I don't want to invest a lot of money into something that we don't own. But, I want it to be a great harvest too! This year with all the canning supplies we'll need we won't break even, but next year it will save us lots of money, and we're working on the long term goals here.
I found this article about protecting the garden from hail. And then I found this idea at A Thrifty Mom for creating a greenhouse for our plants.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Spices & Herbs

We've slowly started accumulating more thru sales & couponing for our 90 day supply. But the spices is something that I hadn't really thought about much, until we moved here & I ran out of parsley for a recipe one day & it was cold, and snowing and I REALLY didn't want to take the kids out into that. Then I realized how vital our spices will be. Basics may not always be too tasty, but if you add some flavor they can be!
So how to stock up without forking out TONS of dough? Well, I've started slowly accumulating the large spice containers. Every time we go to the local Sam's Club, I pick up a spice. It's usually only $3-$5 each time, but it's a start and slowly without even realizing it, we're getting a decent stock pile. I want to buy one of each spice we use, then do a second round and buy more. Today we went to pick up milk and I picked up the corn starch. It's only $2.81 currently, so I picked up two containers of it. It doesn't expire until Jan. 2013, so I figure I have plenty of time to use it up.
In just the last month and a half, we've accumulated cinnamon, chili powder, parsley flakes, oregano, taco seasoning, chicken bouillon cubes & today's addition of corn starch. I noticed a HUGE 64 oz. container of imitation vanilla was $4.81, so that will be our next purchase. It's a small step, but it's yielding big results without even really trying.
And something we've started doing that you might want to consider. There have been times when food is getting close to it's expiration date. I know many who use it after it's "expired" and we do sometimes. But if it's something I know we won't use in a timely manner (peanut butter & oil for example), we've been donating it (before it's expired) to local food banks. Every Christmas there are lots of food drives, and the boy scouts come around once a year and take stuff and so do the postal employees. It's a way to cycle thru things, use our food storage supply without waste and give to the food banks all at the same time.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Previous Blog & Marshmallow Recipe

In Las Vegas, we had a monthly food storage group that met at our home. I did my best to research and find all the details & information I could. But what impressed me the most was how each of us had different pieces of information, and by coming together I learned so much at each meeting. We would post the meetings information at the ward food storage blog. But by moving, it meant that I am now on my own different adventure, so a different blog, not tied in with the church group seemed more appropriate.
But the first recipe I want to share is actually on that blog. It's for homemade marshmallows, using candy canes (originally posted on the previous blog here). It's a very yummy & simple recipe who's key ingredient really is neglect. It also is a great way to use up your sugar, gelatin & some corn syrup! :)

Peppermint Candy Cane Marshmallows
(takes 10 - 12 hours with the setting time included)
*Original Basic Vanilla Marshmallow Recipe can be found here.*

4 gelatin envelopes
1 1/2 c. water
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 1/3 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. corn syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
1 box of candy canes (about ten should do a double batch)
flour & powdered sugar (to toss the finished candy canes in)
*Additional Need: 1 Candy Thermometer*

Spray a 9x13" pan with cooking spray and set aside to hold finished marshmallows. unwrap all the candy canes and put them in a freezer duty ziploc baggies (if you are using a rolling pin to crush them) or use your food processor or coffee grinder to puree them.
Now in a large container (that will not melt with boiling hot liquids), pour in 3/4 c. of water & the vanilla extract. Set the rest of the water aside for later. Slowly pour each individual gelatin container over the mixture. Set this bowl aside to the let the gelatin "bloom".
In a good sized saucepan add the sugar, corn syrup, salt and remaining water. Put the lid on and bring to a boil, do not stir! Once it's at a boil, remove the lid and put in your thermometer. This is the point where I do something else (like my overflowing sink of dirty dishes ... do they ever get under control?) and come back every few minutes to check on the temperature. You need the temperature of the sugar mixture to reach between 234 - 240 degrees. Too low of a temperature & the gelatin will never properly set & will be gooey (gag!). But, too high of a temperature and they will become rock candy instead of a soft, delicious marshmallow.
Once your mixture reaches between 234 - 240 degrees, slowly pour it into the gelatin water you set aside to "bloom" earlier. If you reached the right temperature, it will bubble up quite a bit. Mix it at a medium speed for 8 - 10 minutes.
After this time is done (and usually my dishes are done & the dish washer is running by this point, added bonus!), you are ready for your final step. Add the 2/3 c. of crushed candy canes to your fluffy mixture. Incorporate them well, and then pour the finished marshmallows into the sprayed pan.
The marshmallows will need to set for about 10 - 12 hours to fully set. Once they are ready, lightly spray a cookie sheet or whatever you are using to cut your marshmallows on. I like to use my pizza cutter, it makes nice, quick clean cuts. Then toss the marshmallows in a baggie of an equal mixture of flour & powdered sugar (1/43 c. of each will be more than enough), to help the marshmallows not be sticky.
Shake off any excess powder & enjoy with a hot cup of cocoa!
These marshmallows are fantastic. They look like something you would get from a designer, uber-expensive store. And your friends will all ooh and aah at you when they find out you make HOMEMADE marshmallows. Even if you are the worst cook in the world, these guarantee to make you look fantastic.
Food Storage Ingredients Used: Corn Syrup, Flour, Sugar, Gelatin

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Why Another Blog?

I know there are millions of blogs out there, I get lost every day in all the wonderful-ness (is that even really a word?) of them. But! I haven't found a food storage blog for Cheyenne or this are of Wyoming. So here I am, today it's snowing and I have no way to really go out, so I'm typing this up instead.
Who am I? Well, I'm a recent transplant to Cheyenne. We lived in Las Vegas previously and it was amazing to see how quickly it went from a thriving city to almost depression level un-employment. During that time, we had already started to gather up our food storage and were even having monthly classes at our home to teach & learn with others.
I coupon quite a bit (more now that we've moved to Cheyenne), but I feel that the ultimate way to save money lies in our food storage. Using it more, learning more recipes & utilizing it in our lives. It will save us money on our groceries and will teach us all the self-reliance we need to succeed.
I've made it a personal goal to use our food storage (any part of our food storage) daily in our new home. And plan on posting more recipes & share more tidbits & sales that I find in Cheyenne. Hopefully it will help us become more self-reliant and use our food storage better.