Category Archive: How-to

  1. Personalizing Your Food Storage

    Comments Off on Personalizing Your Food Storage

    “OK,” you say to yourself, “I’m ready to get serious about storing some food. I wonder what I need?”

    We’ve all been at this stage at one point or another. Once we’ve come to the realization that we need to have more than a couple of days’ worth of food in the pantry the question automatically turns to figuring out just exactly what we need to have.

    The first place we typically turn to is one of the many online food storage calculators. That’s certainly what I did. I also found that many of the calculators utilize the quantities suggested by the LDS church, an organization that strongly emphasizes food storage. Every calculator I’ve ever seen asks the same questions: How many adults? How many children? How long of a time do you want to store for? All important questions.

    For me I decided that since my children were going to continue growing that I would just count them as an adult and not worry about the extra food I might have. Having extra is just fine with me. How long I wanted my storage to last is a critical question that you’ll need to carefully consider. The answer will depend on many things such as how much room you have to store food, your available budget, and whether you move homes regularly. I decided I wanted a year’s worth.

    As I did my research I came across the stockupfood.com web site. It intrigued me because it provided an electronic method for helping me to stay organized. I liked that because I’m a big believer in using technology to be efficient. No matter how many benefits a tool might provide, if it’s unwieldy to use then it’s not much help to me. The ability to revise and update what was suggested are what first caused me to investigate further.

    Initial account screen

    When I provided my answers to the initial setup questions I was given a suggested list of quantities of what I should have. As I reviewed it I had some serious reactions, the first of which was, “I need 450 pounds of wheat???!!!” followed soon after by, “Cornmeal? What the heck is cornmeal?” Perhaps you had a similar reaction. As I continued to mull things over I started asking myself other questions like, “I wonder what someone with gluten issues is going to do with all that wheat?” and I clearly remember asking, “Two gallons of vinegar? That’s going to take a lot of fish and chips to use that up!” And speaking of chips…the list seemed to be missing potatoes! And beef! And cauliflower, one of my favorite vegetables. In fact, the list had items that I don’t think I had ever eaten before such as lentils and lima beans and the aforementioned cornmeal.

    As I continued to learn I realized that the initial list was simply basic items. In a worst case scenario I could use these items to live as long as I had some increased knowledge about to utilize many of the items. Additionally I’d better know whether I even liked to eat these things. Not to mention that I’d need a way to grind the wheat!

    It’s a common misconception that in a disaster or other serious event, we’ll all just simply like anything that’s put before us. We might eat it if we have to but there is a better way. And that is to adapt the suggested list with items that we like. In other words, we should be storing what we’ll actually eat as this will provide emotional comfort in times of stress in addition to just meeting our nutritional needs. People with allergies would, of course, have to adapt if there were items they couldn’t consume.

    Providing the list of basic items, along with a way to record additions and usage, is something that stockupfood.com provides as a free service. Adapting the list is available via an upgraded account for just $3 per month and once you reach and maintain a year’s supply there’s no further cost so there’s an incentive to reaching a goal of one year’s worth of storage.

    Let’s look at some of the customization and personalization you can do. To do so we’ll look at my own dashboard:

    Customized Food Type

    You can see that the Grains list looks different from the initial suggestion. The screen itself also looks different from the basic account. At the top right is a Create new food category icon and underneath each group is a Create new food type icon. It’s the latter icon that I’ve made use of in the Grains category. I happen to love tacos and while the basic list does provide the ingredients needed to make taco shells, I decided that I wanted to have this item stored specifically and listed as its own item. Doing so is exceptionally easy. Just click on the Create new food type icon.

    Create food type

    A new window opens asking you to provide the name of the food along with what unit of measurement you want to use. In the final field you enter how much of the chosen unit of measure your household would typically use in a month. For me, my family has tacos at least once per month and we use a box of shells each time. I chose box as the unit of measure and entered 1 for how many I use each month.

    The site uses the information you initially provided for your length of time storage goal and adds the appropriate amount to the category. Since my food storage goal is 12 months my dashboard shows 12 boxes as being what I need for a year. Since I watch my weekly flyers and take advantage of sales as they come along, the site allows me to add more items than what my need is. This is why my inventory shows 14 boxes. A calculation of all items is done and each category displays what your percentage complete is.

    In addition to adding items to the category you can also add new categories at any time. That’s where the Create new food category icon is used. Clicking that allows you to create any food category that you desire.

    Create new category

    On my dashboard you can see that I’ve added three new categories: Condiments, Vegetables and Fruits.  These are items that I want to have in my storage and which I wish to track individually. My favorite condiment of all time is Worcestershire sauce so that item was immediately added to the category list first, following the steps described above.

    Customized categories

    Having the ability to add food items and food categories allows me to highly personalize my storage needs. I can eliminate items that I know I simply won’t eat, reduce or increase quantities according to my family’s preferences and feel confident knowing that I’m storing what I like to eat.

    How have you personalized your list? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

    TM

  2. The Logistics of Food Storage

    Comments Off on The Logistics of Food Storage

    So, you’re ready to start increasing your food storage preparedness or perhaps you’ve been on the wagon for some time.

    Regardless of where you’re at along the spectrum, having food storage involves some logistical issues that need to be faced.  Just where the heck are you going to put 500 pounds of wheat?  750 gallons of water?  200 #10 cans?  There’s much that you need to consider but imaginative uses of space can help.

    To begin with, no matter what, do what you can to have some food storage. I’m fortunate as I have a basement with a pantry, cupboards under the stairs and a spare bedroom. However, even if you only live in a 400 square foot apartment, you should store something. You might not be able to store a year’s worth of food but you can store a few items. Some is ALWAYS better than none.

    A common location that most people will have is the space under their bed(s). This is a great location for canned goods and bags of bulk grain (lying flat). I have seen people set their box spring and mattress on top of 5 gallon buckets! Let’s explore that idea further. A typical 5 gallon bucket is just over 12” in diameter so take a look at how many you can store under a bed:

    Bed Type Dimensions Buckets (hidden) Buckets (visible)
    Twin 39” x 75” 18 (3 x 6 pattern) 28 (4 x 7 pattern)
    Double 54” x 75” 24 (4 x 6 pattern) 35 (5 x 7 pattern)
    Queen 60” x 80” 30 (5 x 6 pattern) 35 (5 x 7 pattern)
    King 76” x 80” 36 (6 x 6 pattern) 49 (7 x 7 pattern)

    If you’re willing to let the buckets stick out a few inches the last column shows how many additional ones you can store. If you have a bed spread or sheet to hang down to the floor then you still won’t see them.

    In your living room or family room do you have a couch or loveseat placed at an angle in the corner? There will be a triangular space directly behind the furniture that can really add up. If you have the furniture evenly spaced in a right angle corner, the chart below shows the length of each wall from the corner to where it meets the furniture. I’ve also shown how many #10 cans (6” in diameter by 7” tall) you could fit in that space based on the furniture height being 40 inches:

    Furniture type Wall distance #10 Cans
    40” chair 28” 50 (10 x 5 high)
    66” loveseat 46” 140 (28 x 5 high)
    79” couch 56” 180 (36 x 5 high)

    I encourage you to take a #10 can (the same as a 3 pound coffee can) for a walk around your living space. Take a look at all of the nooks and crannies and test where you can fit the can, eg. the back of the shelf of a linen or clothes closet, the space between the top of your cupboards and the ceiling, the back of the cupboard underneath the kitchen or bathroom sink.

    If you have a double bed and a 40” chair in a corner you have room for up to 28 5 gallon buckets and 50 #10 cans. That’s a lot of food storage! And you haven’t done anything except utilize potentially unused space.

    Any additional space that you have becomes a bonus. Do you have a blank wall in a room or hallway? Shelves and brackets are very affordable. Run shelves all the way along the wall from floor to ceiling but make sure they’re sturdy by anchoring the brackets into the wall studs.

    Once you have your food storage location sorted out, in whatever space you’ve scrounged, make sure you have a method for keeping track of what you add and what you use. In my basement I have a clipboard on the wall with a list of all of the items in my storage. Whenever a member of my family goes downstairs to get something they simply tick the list showing what items was taken. The items that were ticked get added to our shopping list for the next week. Next, I take the list, log into my stockupfood.com account and update my quantities. Below are some screen shots from my personal dashboard.

    Let’s say that in a week my family uses six cans of mushrooms out of the flat of 12 that I have in storage. I hover my mouse over the item and the revision icons appear. I can add or subtract from the total or delete the item entirely.Vegetable Category - before

    In this case I click the subtract icon and when the Use window appears I enter 6 into the field and click Use.

    Use item window

    My new total is then shown.

    Vegetable Category - after

    When I get home from my weekly shopping trip I take my laptop with me downstairs and add the items as I unpack and restock my shelves.

    This process helps me stay organized so I always know exactly what I have stored. If my house burned down and I had to make an insurance claim I also have a list of every item that may need to be replaced. Also, by restocking my usage weekly I am constantly rotating through my storage and have fresh items on my shelf.

    What are some of the logistical issues you have now or have solved? Please share your insights in the comment section.

    TM

  3. The Best Way to Stock Up And Rotate Supplies

    Comments Off on The Best Way to Stock Up And Rotate Supplies

    What would your world look like without any toilet paper? Ok then, read on.

    Look, I like to smell good. If your husband doesn’t, maybe he should read this. Deodorant for me can make the difference between a good day, and a day wished to be forgotten. With it I feel like I can point to the sky without shame, without it, I feel like I should spray someone if I waved my arm to quickly.

    Before having the preparedness mentality, I, like 99.99% of the population, would wait until I could hardly scrape anymore deodorant off the stick to buy another one at the store. The worst is when you say, “Well, I will go get some deodorant later today…” then, you wake up the next day in dread, realizing there isn’t anymore left. Dried soap doesn’t substitute deodorant (believe me, I’ve tried).

    Does this sound familiar? It could be deodorant, toothpaste, toilet paper (I sure hope not!), hair gel, or any item we use on a daily basis that runs out. In our instantaneous culture, we just expect to be able to hop in the car and drive to go get some. What if the store is closed or is out of supply? Not only that, what if you just don’t have time? Stocking up on supplies isn’t just for the worst of the worst, it is also for convenience.

    I always say it is best to have a year supply of food storage AND supplies that you consume. So how do we do it? I will show you.

    In the deodorant example, I use a stick of deodorant about once every two months. On the stockupfood.com calculator (on the “Recommended” version) you can create a new supply item for Hygene and add your deodorant there! Watch a how to do it in the video below:

    Now go buy your 6 (or however many you use in a year) sticks of deodorant and add them to your supplies. Here is the real trick… this is where you need to change your mentality of only buying something once it is out. Now that you need 6 sticks, once you get down to 5, you “need” to go buy an additional stick to get back to 6. Change your mentality from when something runs out to when something falls below your year supply threshold.

    If you follow these steps you will not only smell good, but you can rest at ease that you have properly prepared against any natural, economic, or other disaster out of your control. You and your family are safe.

    If you haven’t signed up for stockupfood.com, go ahead and sign up today! 🙂

  4. Tips For Raising Chickens In Your Backyard

    Comments Off on Tips For Raising Chickens In Your Backyard

    Raising chickens is a blast. Check out some tips to get started!

    Raising Chickens

    First things first, a question most people who want to get in to raising chickens is: Do you need a rooster to get eggs? The answer is, no. Chickens lay an egg almost daily. Chicks come from roosters fertilizing the egg. I’m so happy to clear that up for you! 🙂

    Raising chickens in your backyard is amazing! They eat your food scraps, serve as your natural pest control company (So thoughtful! We hardly ever have spiders in the house now that we have chickens), their poop heats up your compost, they are walking food storage (eggs, and meat if you ever need it), and it’s like christmas everyday of the year when you collect eggs!

    Let’s break it down, what do you need when raising chickens?

    1. Chicks! – check your local farm store or search online. There are a few different sites that sell chicks and ship them to you. We bought ours for about $3.50-$4.50 at IFA. The price differs with the breed you choose. There are so many breeds to choose from! Do you want variety? Chickens with funky do’s, furry feat, colored eggs, heavy egg layers? There are so many to choose from!

    2. Bring them home – you’ll need a box to put them in, a heat lamp, chick feed, water dish, and newspapers to line the bottom of your box. They start to stink so feel free to keep them in the garage or a shed out doors. As long as they have their heat lamp they’ll be fine, but make sure they are in a sheltered area away from predators and a roof over head. When they are tiny keep the heat lamp close to the chicks. If they are tightly huddled under the lamp all the time you should probably lower it. If they are usually staying away from the heat lamps direct ray then you should probably raise the lamp up a little.

    3. Feed – chick feed until the chickens are about 8-12 weeks old. After that you can mix in chick feed with laying pellets. Then just laying pellets and free ranging. Raising chickens is so easy because they put themselves to bed every night (which is awesome!) If you want your chickens to be able to peck around in the yard I would recommend letting them out a couple hours before sundown. That way, they have time to do some pest control in your yard, but not enough time to make a mess of your patio/deck. How much you feed your chickens is really up to you. Play it by ear. You’ll know if they need more or could do with a little less.

    4. Transfer from the box to the coop – at about 8-12 weeks. Once the chicks have all their feathers they can be out in the cold without a lamp down to 50 degrees F. If it’s getting colder than that in the coop then just stick your heat lamp out there and turn it on on cold nights. Take the lamp out when the weather warms up!

    Raising chickens can be a little smelly if you’re down wind. Be sure to buy a bag of cedar chips to put on the floor of your coop. It makes the coop smell nice and absorbs the moisture from their “messes.”

    5. Eggs – your chickens will start laying eggs at about 6 months old. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later, just depends. Soon, they will start laying and it’ll be like Easter! every day! When our family comes to visit us my Dad (63) and my brother (35) are always out checking the nesting box for eggs! 🙂

    Best of luck with raising chickens! Once you have them you might never want to live without them again!

    Why do you want to start raising chickens? Do you have any other questions about raising chickens in your back yard? If you have chickens, what do you love about them?

  5. New Feature: Edit names and amounts!

    Comments Off on New Feature: Edit names and amounts!

    The most requested feature is live! Edit category and food names and change the have and need amounts on the fly!

    Easily update categories, food/supply names and amounts! Just click, edit, and save!

    This has been the most requested feature over the past year! Since this is customization, it only works for those with the Recommended version.

    Enjoy!

  6. Food Storage Calculator – How Stockupfood works

    Comments Off on Food Storage Calculator – How Stockupfood works

    Watch this video to learn how to use stockupfood’s advanced food storage calculator to get your family prepared.

    Knowing what food storage you need to survive for an extended period of time can be a daunting task. I know when I first started learning about food storage I had no idea where to start! The goal with the advanced food storage calculator is to make it simple. You can quickly see how much food storage you need based on your family size and goal and keep track of what you have as you start building up your food storage. You can change your family size or goal at any time.

    Since launching the website, people have asked for an in depth review of the food storage calculator, and here it is! This video goes through the process of signing up, adding your family size and goal, adding and removing foods, creating your own categories and foods for customization, and how to use the supplies section.

    There are a lot of food storage calculators out there. Here is what some users are saying:
    “I was frustrated for so many years trying one food calculator after another. Most were these horrible spread sheet kind of things. This was a Godsend for me.”

    “I have tried a lot of different systems. I happened to stumble upon this website. I love it. It’s so simple.”

    “Your website is a gift. I have been researching food and storage and your site is the best thing I have found!!! It clarifies the system in a fantastic straight forward way. I love the interactive aspect too. I am thrilled. Thank you thank you thank you.”

    “I’ve added the recommended version and I’ll tell you, it is SO nice to have. I’ve added everything my family uses so it’s easy to keep track of what we need and what we already have.”

    We are constantly working to make this website the absolute best for our users as possible. Please let us know what experiences you are having as you start utilizing the food storage calculator. We want to make it as powerful as possible, while keeping it simple.

    If you haven’t already signed up for the food storage calculator, you can sign up here and get started on getting your family prepared.

    How has stockupfood’s advanced food storage calculator helped you? Please post your comments below, we would love to hear your thoughts!

  7. How to Grow Sprouts – Your Winter Garden!

    2 Comments

    Sprouting is a great way to have healthy, home-grown, nutrient packed food storage all year round!

    Just six of the health benefits of eating sprouts are:

    1. Rich in essential nutrients – Some of the vitamins found in sprouts are Vitamins A, C, B1, B6, and K. Sprouts are rich in minerals like Iron, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Potassium, and Calcium. They also have dietary fiber, Folate, and Omega-3 fatty acids. (Sounds kind of like I’m reading the back of a hefty vitamin supplement pill bottle doesn’t it?) AND fun fact: Most beans increase in Vitamin A by eight times after being sprouted!

    2. Excellent source of enzymes – Enzymes keep our body healthy. In the cooking process you can loose many essential enzymes in foods. Eating raw fruits and vegetables – like sprouts – are a great way to get more power packed enzymes.

    3. High in protein – Sprouts are a great way to get your protiens without having to deal with the fat, cholesterol, and calories that usually come with animal protiens.

    4. Easy to digest – Because of their high amounts of enzymes, sprouts are very easily digested.

    5. Good for weight loss – High in fiber and low in calories!

    6. Can go on or in almost any other food, or are good to just pop in your mouth and eat!

    To show you how fun and simple sprouting can be I started from the very beginning and logged my progress along the way! Check it out!

    You can get this Sprout Master Sprouter from Amazon for $16.99.

    This what it looked like when I opened it. Complete with instructions. As you can see the tray has holes in the bottom and detachable lids on both the top and bottom. The bottom tray allows the sprouts to drain and receive oxygen. There is a divider in the middle so you can sprout both types of seeds/beans at the same time, or take out the divider to sprout more of one kind.

    I chose to try both bottles of sprouting mixes.

    Soak 2 tsp of the Alfa-Plus-Mix and 1/4 cup of the Pro-Vita-Mix in water for 10-12 hours.

    (Day 1) Pour seeds evenly into trays.

    (Day 2) Rinse seeds thoroughly 2 times a day with warm water. Drain excess water. I kept mine on the kitchen counter. (They grow best between 75-80 degrees)

    (Day 3)

    (Day 4) Can you believe how quickly those grew?! I was amazed!

    The Pro-Vita-Mix was ready to eat by day 3, and the Alfa-Plus-Mix was ready by day 4! Once they are sprouted keep them in the refrigerator to slow down the growing process.

    The Pro Vita Mix tasted like fresh snap peas! And the Alfa-Plus-Mix tasted like alfalfa sprouts!

    My winter garden in the kitchen was a hit! I can’t wait to do it again. What a great way to have healthy, home-grown, nutrient packed food storage all year round!


  8. 3 Steps For Emergency Planning

    Comments Off on 3 Steps For Emergency Planning

    Flood waters

    A plan can make a stressful situation a much calmer one if everyone already knows what to do.

    In the event of an emergency people are generally on edge and not thinking clearly. Some tend to go into hyper-drive, others are frozen stiff, people go in to shock, any number of things can happen to us emotionally, mentally and physically in an emergency situation.

    Step 1 – Immediate family Plan – Gather your family together and discuss a family emergency plan.

    1. Do you have a safe meeting place in case of a home emergency? ex: Under a tree in the front yard. In a certain corner of the lawn. At a certain neighbors house that everyone feels comfortable with. Keep it simple, make it safe.
    2. What to do in case of a fire? Have a fire drill. Practice opening windows and climbing out. Have emergency ladders for people in upstairs bedrooms. Talk about breaking windows in an emergency.
    3. Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk about different emergencies that could arise and discuss a plan then Practice. Practice. Practice.

    Step 2 – Extended Family Plan – Create a family calling tree so everyone can know their family is safe.

    1. Find out what each others resources are in case of an emergency. Tent, boat, bikes, dutch ovens, food, other supplies.
    2. Discuss before an emergency occurs to see who you might be able to stay with and what accommodations they have to help you and your family if need be.
    3. Do a drill. Practice the calling tree to see how long it takes for everyone to get a hold of each other.

    Step 3 – Community Plan – Find out the emergency plans your city has in place.

    1. Most cities these days have a city website. Visit your city website and look under emergency, or preparedness and see what they have in place.
    2. Find out the emergency plans for your children’s schools/day care. Do they go in lock down? How long does it last? What are the procedures for picking up your children during emergencies?
    3. Find out emergency plans your church may have in place.

    Things to discuss:

    • What’s the plan if Dad’s at work and Mom’s at home with the kids in an emergency?
    • What do the kids do if an emergency happens when they’re at school and Mom and Dad are both working?
    • What do kids do if they’re home alone and an intruder enters the house?
    • What’s our family plan if there’s a flood, fire, tornado, earthquake, robber, serious injury?
    • Where’s the cash?
    • Where are important family documents?

    All it takes is 30 minutes to get everyone on the same page. It will be some of the best time you can spend when your family is all safely gathered in in the midst of a chaotic situation.

    What have you done with your family to plan for an emergency? Post in the comments below to start a conversation!

    Opening photo by Walter Siegmund

  9. Woah, 500lbs of wheat? Now what…?

    3 Comments

    So you used the food storage calculator and realize that your family might need 500lbs or wheat. Now what?

    Let’s face it people! In a world full of microwavable chicken nuggets, and frozen Rhodes Rolls – how many of us really know what to do with a barrel of wheat?! Let alone 500lbs of it!?

    Many of us know people who have wheat in their food storage that have never opened it… and it might even include ourselves. When it expires in the next 30 years they’ll just replace it with fresh wheat and call it good. If an emergency arises, not knowing how to utilize your resources is a huge problem. It’s time to learn how to use the stuff.

    To get started, check out our video How to Use a Wheat Grinder to learn what to do with all that wheat you have in your long term food storage.

    We are going to create articles and videos on how to use your food storage but we would love to hear your ideas in the comments below and in the comments on the other articles. How do you use your wheat? What is the best way to rotate your food that works for your family?

    For now, make sure you are starting to build up your food storage supply by using the food storage calculator and tracker. There is a free version but if you choose to do the recommended version you will have full customization. It is only $3/mo and becomes free once you reach and maintain a year supply!

    So what are you waiting for? Sign up and get on your way to being the most prepared in your neighborhood!

  10. How to Make Oatmeal From Scratch

    3 Comments

    It is much better to store oat groats than it is to store rolled oats for long term food storage. Rolled oats only last for about 2-3 years whereas groats store for up to 25 years and maintain most of their nutritional value for that time!

    Please enjoy this delicious recipe for homemade oatmeal from your food storage!

    Ingredients:

    Oat Groats
    Cinnamon
    Brown Sugar
    Dehydrated milk (*Remember dehydrated milk tastes much better if it has been refrigerated!)
    Dehydrated apple pieces

    Remember that you’ll need a grain roller to roll out the oat groats and a can opener!

    Directions:

    1. Pour 1/3 Cup Oat groats into hopper on top of the grain roller.
    2. Turn the handle until all the grains are in the bottom dish.
    3. Boil about 2 cups of water.
    4. Remove bottom dish from the grain roller and pour the freshly rolled oats into the boiling water.
    5. Stir. Stir in 1/4 Cup of dehydrated apple pieces. Stir. When the oatmeal looks soft and most of the water has boiled out remove pot from burner.
    6. Pour homemade oatmeal into a bowl.
    7. Sprinkle cinnamon on top.
    8. Sprinkle about 1 Tbls. on top.
    9. Pour about 1/3 Cup milk over top.
    10. Enjoy!