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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Grocery Shopping in Hard Times

I thought I would share a few things that I have learned over the years about grocery shopping.  I am sure that many of these you have heard before.  There is a reason for that though.  They work!  With food prices skyrocketing it has become even more important to make you dollar stretch.  And for those of us who are working on our food storage it means that the more we can save in one area, the more we can prep in another!

I like to keep a running list of the things I use.  Mine is on my fridge. A friend of mine keeps her's inside her pantry door with a pen attached to it so she can jot it down as she takes it out of the cupboard.   When you remove something from your pantry write it down so you will remember to replace it.  And always remember to rotate your groceries.  This makes sure you don't end up with wasted food. There is nothing worse than having to toss out something that you could have used if you had just rotated it in your pantry!

*** Check out the weekly ads in your area BEFORE you go shopping and use it to help with making your list.  Once you get your pantry stocked up you can use this "tip" to help you prep and save money while you are doing it.  The idea is to try and NEVER buy anything that isn't on sale or doesn't have the best bang for the buck so to speak.

*** Always shop with a list

*** If you have to veer off the list... make sure it is because you have found a REAL bargain.  Try and give yourself a little "leeway" just in case you find one of those Unadvertised Specials.  Don't make a habit of it but always try to be aware of these specials and jump on them if you find yourself a good bargain!

*** Use coupons. You CAN save alot of money using coupons.  There are tons of websites dedicated to couponing.  Check them out and do a little homework. Check out stores that offer double and triple coupons.  Don't buy things that you will not use or that you don't need.  Remember:  Eat what you Store and Store what you Eat.

*** Never shop when you are hungry.  There is no better way for me to load up on "crap" than when I go to the store with the munchies.  All the sudden everything looks good!

*** Try to shop alone.  Think about it.  When you take the kids or even the significant other how often do you find yourself buying things you had NO intention of getting when you walked in the store?

*** Check out the store brands.  Not always, but more often than not, the store brands are just as good and usually less expensive.  If you try the product and don't like it, most stores will refund you your money. They want your business and want you to come back.   I have actually taken back the label of an empty can of soup once that I thought was disgusting.   They gave me my $ back!  OK I know this one isn't a tip for the faint of heart but hey ....if you are cheap....er frugal...

*** Compare unit prices.  I have found this to be really really helpful.  Most all stores show the price per ounce. Lot's of times what you "thought" was a good deal really isn't at all. Compare the per ounce costs of each item.  You would be surprised at how many times "bigger is not always better".

*** Buying in bulk can save money.  Be careful with this one though.  I have found lately that some smaller sizes are actually less expensive than buying in bulk.  This is where watching your "unit" prices comes in handy.

*** When you are checking out ALWAYS watch the scanner.  I've caught mistakes over and over again because items didn't ring up correctly at the checkout.  Why spend all that time trying to save money just to have them not ring it up correctly?  Don't be shy about letting them know.

*** Watch for marked down items.  You can save huge money.  I try to go earlier in the day to catch marked down items. Always check what I like to call "the bargain buggy" This is where you can pick up some great deals on "dented" and discontinued items. When a package is torn or squashed they will mark the item down as well. 

*** I also find some excellent deals in the meat department like this.  Since I either use what I have bought the same day or freeze it that same day this works well for me.  I once found sliced cheese (24 oz package) marked down to $0.75 each. And yes it was "real" cheese. I bought all 15 packages and put them up in the freezer.

*** When you find something that you use regularly on sale - Stock up and buy as much as you can afford to. You know you will be using it later on and prices are rising fast these days.  Store what you eat and eat what you store.

*** If the store is out of your "sale" item always ask for a raincheck.  They usually ask how many you want at that price.  I ALWAYS tell them I want the maximum number allowed if it has a limit.  When you redeem the coupon you don't have to buy that amount but if you can afford it and want to you still have that option.  While you are waiting for them to restock that item you can also start looking for coupons for it.  That way when it does come in, you can save even more.

*** Sign up for the "Store Card"  This can save you money that you didn't even know about.  If you are reluctant to give up your information to them do what I do.  Make up some BS information.  They NEVER check the information anyway. And if they do, so what? What are they going to do?  Call the grocery cops on you? 

*** Remember that a sale is not always necessarily a sale. Many times a store will try to push something that has been overstocked and will just put it on an end-cap to get your attention.

*** Stay away from convenience foods.  You can make most of the same things at home for half the price. (I should  do a whole post on this one!)

*** Avoid last minute  impulse items.  They put all that stuff next to the check-out counter to try and get you to make unnecessary purchases.  Keep your hands to yourself in the check-out lane!

These are just a few suggestions.  I am sure there are MANY more.  But following just a few basic guidelines can help you save lots of money and help your food storage to grow and grow.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Pitiful Performance!

Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Pitiful Performance!
From:  Salty Dawg
Yep it’s more than just an exercise in the capitalization of P! It is a mantra of sorts that every Prepper utilizes whether they know it or not. The very idea of prepping for anything that comes down the path is really genetically encoded within us all.
However, some are lazy! Lazy is my word for stupid! Let me digress to illustrate the example, even the cave man brought a stick or a rock along to pound over the head of a potential food source or protect himself against a potential threat. I guess in a way you could consider them our first multi tool. Even in the earliest of days our ancestors prepared or simply died out. This learned response was passed down from generation to generation to help perpetuate the species of man and that includes women.
Today we have two categories of people, the “us’s” and the “them’s” this is not a class warfare term it is rather a separation of the people not from the have and have not’s rather from the people who do and who do not. The “Us’s” are the Preppers like you and I that are, in a word preparing but preparing for what you say? Preparing for whatever I exclaim proudly! We are preparing ourselves mentally with knowledge and know how and physically with supplies and goods.
There are many reasons people prepare and one is no less important than another. Your reason may be to simply have some provisions around in case of a storm and to level out the spikes in food and fuel pricing. Others may have loftier goals in mind and are preparing so they may remove themselves from the grid entirely. Most of us fall somewhere in between the two ends of this spectrum. The reasons that you prepare are not as important as the actual act of preparing.
There is an old saying that goes like this “expect the best prepare for the worst”, is this another Prepper’s mantra or just some good solid advice? The Prepper at their very core believes in storing up or putting back for the proverbial rainy day. Generations of people before us have set up cupboards, pantries and cellars with canned or dried goods some have made do with cisterns for water to offset any lack of performance from their a water wells. They scrimped and saved and prepared for whatever came their way next because inevitably something always comes along.
During the Great Depression the “Us’s” of that generation learned the value of sacrifice and saving and taught that lesson to their children thus perpetuating the survival of mankind. However, at that very same time the government started a program of handouts. The intention was valid enough but unknowingly or some say even knowingly created the first generation of “Thems” the non contributing takers of our society. Not a few weak minded drains on the general population but an entire generation of non-contributing takers of the general populous.
Every city in every state of our Great Nation has them in ever growing numbers. Once the resources are drained from that particular area they move on to drain the resources of another or stay in place and demand that the government take care of them because they are down trodden. So Instead of believing they had the right to pursue happiness as defined in the Bill of Rights. The “Thems” have a distorted belief that they had the right to their happiness guaranteed through the efforts of others.
The damage could have been contained if remanded after the immediate need was met but unfortunately they also taught their children to press the government to take care of them thus being a burden on society and made a generation of un-prepared masses willing to take hand outs rather than take measure to ensure their own survival rate against what may befall them later. Enough political jiber - jabber, and history lessons as seen through my eyes! So whatever the reasons you have chosen to be one of “US” then hoorah!!!! Welcome aboard we have cookies! Let’s go to a great place to start. which coincidentally is the name of the next article in this series.
The Salty Dawg
Evil thrives when good men do nothing

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bugging Out

Bugging Out

What, me run? When is it better to bail? What scenarios would make us actually think about vacating our Head Quarters?

You spent a ton of time, money and brain cells on equipping the ultimate shelter and now you are faced with someone having the audacity to ask you to think of the possibility of evacuating your fortress of solitude, Let alone demand that you leave or far worse being removed by force.

No matter the level of survivalist I speak with, the topic of bugging out always comes up. Bug out bags, bug out vehicles, bug out locations, bug out routes, bug out this and bug out that, bob, bov, bol, bor, blt’s, OMG!!!!!!!!!!!. Wait take a deep breath and think. Sadly, most people believe if they have spent any amount of time thinking about the subject of bugging out they believe they have prepared adequately.

Have you thought this through; this is a wicked little maze you are going to embark upon. When I ask this question I get the stink eye and the obligatory raised eyebrow However, I am always mindful that the devil is in the details and neither you nor I are immune.

The more prepared you are the less the impact it will be on you and whom you Sheppard when it hits the fan. Let’s face it when the enemy is landing on your beaches it’s not the time to start building bunkers and battleships. So if you find yourself asking this question “Should I hunker down or ride like the wind” you will be glad you have considered or perhaps reconsidered your options.

Should you hunker down or ride like the wind? That really is a question that can only be answered by you and it certainly depends upon you and your comfort zone. I personally have spent too much time setting up my headquarters for me to just arbitrarily vacate all willie nillie! In my particular situation I have very few reasons to bug out. So you can consider me one of the “survival in place” crowd however, this doesn’t mean there isn’t any reasons I would short time evacuate or permanently vacate my head quarters. Two good reasons for me would be chemical and biological these two are definitely some reasons that are absolute in bugging out and getting the hell out of dodge. As for my situation these are pretty much the only reasons I would have need to giddy up and out, both for the most part are manmade but we can talk about these two items in another article should you wish.

Now getting back on topic let’s say we have made the command decision that the situation is serious enough to warrant an “evac”. What now? Now you are faced with two choices to vacate the premises under your own plan or under somebody else’s plan. As for me and my household we like our chances with our thought out, reasoned and rehearsed plan.

Remember, although you may have a plan in place you must take into consideration that the city, state and federal authorities will also have a plan and the government plan will always supersede all other plans being implemented. So I periodically go into my city hall and ask about their evacuation or disaster plan. You can also ask this of your county and state government officials. I do recommend being respectful. In today’s world climate asking the government about proposed evacuation plans always raises eyebrows so I always start the conversation with something non aggressive such as “I visited the Red Cross website and it suggested that I should inquire with you as to your disaster scenario plans”. This seems to settle them down and treat you with respect.

This knowledge is beneficial and gives me insight as to the all knowing big brothers plan for my survival but more importantly I can plan to potentially avoid the congested areas that surely would be mired down by the confused masses! Now with that being said, we press on with Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Pitiful Performance!
That's the name of the next article in this series, and I won't try to sell you something in it either! Just some ramblings from a Saltydawg who doesn't claim to be an expert just experienced!

Salty Dawg
The Pirates Republic
Evil thrives when good men do nothing

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

One Year Supply of Food Storage Under $300

 A years worth of food storage for under $300! Yes, you read that right.  How does expanding your food storage with literally hundreds of meals for around $300 sound?  I think I may have found one of the best kept secrets around for pumping your food storage up REAL FAST and REAL CHEAP.

Scotch Broth is  is a combination of grains and legumes and it provides a balanced and nutritious meal on the cheap!  "This particular combination is said to provide a balance of ALL of the appropriate amino acids required for a person." 

This is really easy recipe to "change" in countless ways.By adding left over meats or vegetables or adding dried vegetables to the mix you could totally change it up. It wouldn't have to be "the same ol' thing either!
The following is an excerpt from the forums at Timebomb2k. This recipe has been floating around the internet for several years but I don't think it has gotten nearly enough attention.

This is what you will need
4 x 22lb (or 10kg) rice. (Any kind will do).
2 x 11lb (or 5kg) kidney beans
2 x 11lb (or 5kg) barley
2 x 11lb (or 5kg) lentils (yellow)
1 x 5.5lb (or 2.5kg) green split peas
1 x 5.5lb (or2.5 kg) chick peas (garbanzo beans)

( You will also need a total of 30 pounds of bouillon. This has been added into the total cost of $300. You will add it to each batch as you cook it.  I think I will store both chicken AND beef bouillon.)

Put the rice in a mixing container.Then add each of the other ingredients 5kg at a time, mixing as you go. (Use surgical gloves or you'll have no nails left, LOL!).
When you have all the other ingredients mixed in with the first two bags of rice, add the last two bags of rice and *REALLY* mix well or you'll get all rice on the bottom of your mixture.

Take 16oz of the dry mixture and put in about 6-7 quarts of water (with a nut of butter or a tsp. of olive oil to prevent soup boiling over) and add 3 tablespoons (or to taste) of powdered soup stock. We like to use chicken stock.
Then add any veggies, meat, & seasoning you like (if available). (We like to also put in lots of garlic) (DO NOT USE ONIONS - they'll spoil the mixture).
Bring to a boil and let simmer for two hours and you have enough soup for two days for 4 people.

On the second day you'll need to add some more water (it thickens in the fridge overnight) and another tablespoon of stock. Make sure to boil for at least 10 minutes the second day to kill off any potential bacteria, - especially if you are not storing in fridge, but just in a root cellar or like that in the event of no electricity in summer.

We make our own bread and have a thick slice fer dunkin' with a large bowl of this delicious soup and it serves as a main meal. You are FULL after just one (large size) bowl of this stuff.

Kids will usually only be able to eat half a bowl w/bread, or a small bowl, whichever you prefer. Adults will likely want a nice big bowl.

If there is any mixture left on the third day, just add the new mixture to it. You will need less of course, but you'll get to know how to gauge things as you go along catering to the requirements of your own little family."

ONIONS-Re: onions... They ferment too quickly, and cut down the amount of time you can safely store already cooked soup.

Assuming there are no refrigerators etc., it's best to err on the side of caution and not use them in the soup. If you want to waste fuel and make your soup daily, then onions aren't a problem.

We LOVE onions in our house, and cook them by wrapping them in tinfoil, and putting them in the ever-burning wood stove for an hour. We put in some potatoes too usually, and have a meal of tatties & onions. They taste wonderful prepared in this way, particularly if you add a little butter or olive oil and some herbs when you take them out of the fire. This and some greens is all you need to exist except for vitamin B12.

The recipe calls for the following ingredients by weight
88 pound(s) or 40 kilogram(s) rice
22 pound(s) or 10 kilogram(s) kidney beans
22 pound(s) or 10 kilogram(s) barley

22 pound(s) or 10 kilogram(s) lentils, yellow
5.50 pound(s) or 05 kilogram(s) green split peas
5.50 pound(s) or 05 kilogram(s) chick peas
165 pound(s) or 80 kilogram(s) Total weight

These parts are converted (by weight) as follows to arrive at one pound of broth.
08 ounce(s) rice
02 ounce(s) red kidney beans
02 ounce(s) pearl barley
02 ounce(s) lentils (yellow)
01 ounce(s) green split peas
01 ounce(s) chick peas (Garbanzos)
16 ounce(s) Total Food

Along with the basic recipe there are also other suggestions to make this truly an excellent source for your long term food storage.  One thought that I had was that this would be a good way to have some "charitable" foods on hand.  You could package it into smaller containers (1 or 2 pounds)  and have a few meals on hand for the less fortunate.   Another idea would be to make up a batch and dehydrate it.  You would have a fast and tasty "Instant Soup". 
If you were to do this over 12 pay-days, and if you are paid weekly, - you would have a10-year food supply in just 3 months.  What a super way to "pump up" your food storage!           
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

How to Dehydrate Hamburger (Hamburger Rocks)

How would you like to be able to store hamburger without having to freeze it?  How about being able to take advantage of a good sale without having to worry about how much freezer space it is going to take up?    What if you could  keep it for a couple of years or more just sitting on your shelf?  What if you could have it already cooked and ready to use in no time at all and with no thawing involved?  If this sounds like something you would be interested in,  then boy do I have some good news for you!  They are called Hamburger Rocks and they do! (Rock, that is!) And the best part?  Simple, easy to use and you can do it right in your own kitchen.
  There are countless recipes you can use with hamburger rocks.  Now with that being said, there are a few things that this stuff won't work for. You can't really "form" it so you won't be able to make things like meatballs or hamburger patties.  Other than that your imagination is your only limitation. Use it for things like taco meat,  spaghetti sauce, soups, chipped beef, meat pies, and  pizza toppings. Even Hamburger Helper just got even easier!!   Anything you usually use "crumbled" hamburger for, you can use hamburger rocks for.
Here's how you do it.

1. Brown your hamburger a skillet.  While you are cooking it be sure to break it up well. You don't want large chunks in your pan.
2. Once your hamburger is browned, drain all the grease from it.  An easy way to do that is to use a colander.
3. After you drain as much grease out as you can, rinse the meat with boiling hot water until the grease is gone and let it drain again. You want as little as possible in your meat.  Grease will make your meat go rancid pretty quickly.  You want to avoid this at all costs.
4. After you have the grease out and the meat is well drained, put it in a clean skillet. Season your meat with whatever you choose to use. I use salt, pepper onion powder and garlic powder.  Season it to your own taste. (You could make up different batches like "taco meat" or any other flavor)   Continue cooking until all the moisture is gone.  You want to get it as dry as you can without burning the meat.
5.If you are using a dehydrator, place your meat on the trays.  I would use screens or fruit roll up trays so the meat doesn't fall through.  If you are going to be using your oven, put the meat in a baking pan about 1/2 inch or so deep.  A cookie sheet or something similar works well.
6. Dry at 165 degrees for approximately 15 hours in your dehydrator.  For your oven (if you can't set it at 165 degrees) you may need to it at its lowest temperature. Put a spoon or something like it in the door to prop it open slightly.  This will allow the moisture to escape as well a lower the temperature slightly. 
Stir every few hours to make sure it is evenly drying. When it is done, the meat will be dark brown and hard (like little rocks) with no moisture in it.
7. Store in air tight jars. You can use your vacuum sealer or o2 absorbers to draw out the air.  

To re-hydrate, place the meat in a bowl and cover with boiling water.  As with most dehydrated foods the rule of thumb is 2 parts water to 1 part meat.
And there you have it.  A really simple way to store hamburger meat with minimal effort.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Oklahoma Preppers Roll Call - All Preppers Please Check In

The American Preppers Network is conducting a network-wide roll call.  Whether you are a member or not please check in and let us know what you are doing to prepare.

This is a good opportunity to network with other preppers near you.

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  • Reply to the Roll Call and let us know what you have been doing to prepare.
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