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Monthly Archives: September 2010

  • Winter Wonderland

    The cold winter months are approaching, are you prepared to keep your family comfortable and warm during an emergency?


    During this crisp autumn time, we enjoy comfortable days and cool nights, but just around the corner is Old Man Winter bringing us weather that can be uncomfortable and potentially dangerous in an emergency situation. So we are going to discuss how you can keep your family safe and warm during cold weather. There are a number of ways to stay warm, along with different places you need to think about having preparedness items stored:


    On the Road


    Wintertime calls for outings in the great outdoors where the weather is harsh. Even if you don’t face a large scale emergency, a day hike or a trip skiing can quickly become dangerous without a few provisions on hand. Obviously, making sure you have extra clothing, blankets, gloves, and hats are essential. Remember, your hands, feet, and head lose heat very quickly, so keep those extremities as covered as possible. You also should keep a winter emergency kit in your car and make sure you have matches, fire starters, and backup heat sources such as hand warmers to stave off frost bitten fingers. One of the most important things is keeping dry, so a poncho is an excellent choice to keep in your backpack. Another item that you should have is an emergency blanket or bag. They are made of material that will reflect up to 90% of your radiated body heat!


    In the Home


    What if there is a power outage or your furnace goes out during those cold days ahead? If your home has a fireplace or wood stove, be sure to have plenty of wood and fire starting materials on hand. The first thing you can do is conserve the warmth by creating your own indoor shelter. Use thick, insulating items such as blankets, mattresses, and other materials to create a small space. Imagine you are a child making a fort in the living room! If you have no other source of heat, just your body heat will help keep you warm. Drinking warm liquids will also help keep everyone feeling comfortable. Again, having emergency blankets and wool blankets on hand will be helpful even indoors. Wool blankets are great because they are excellent insulation and don’t absorb moisture. If you would like a second source of heat for your home, you can purchase a portable heater. Be aware that you must purchase a heater that is certified safe for indoor use. They are usually powered by propane, and will be designed to shut off should the oxygen levels become too low. As always, you need to ensure proper ventilation when using these heaters. If you have electric heaters on hand and wish to use them, a generator is something you might want to invest in.


    With a little extra thought and attention, your winter can be a warm wonderland no matter what Old Man Winter has in store!


    -Angie Sullivan

  • Taking Stock of Food Storage

    by Angie Sullivan

    Tired of guessing how much food you’ve got stored and what your next priority should be? Lucky there’s a tool that can help you make the most of your time.


    Despite the fact that I spent my “working girl” years in the preparedness business instructing thousands of people on what to buy and how to store, and taste-testing all sorts of foods, I’ve realized that I still don’t know my own food storage. I might know I’ve got some wheat, beans, dried milk, and a bunch of stuff from the last case lot sale, but when I think about it, it takes me less than a second to be certain—I don’t really know what I’ve got in the deep, dark confines of my storage room.

    Does this situation sound familiar? You might know you have X amount of wheat buckets or that you bought a case of mandarin oranges the other day, but do you know how long that will last you in an emergency? Let’s ask an even deeper question: will you receive enough nutrients from what you’ve chosen to store? One way to know would be to go through each item and track the nutrients and calories against the number of people in your family. But who has time for that? Luckily, there are tools to help you. One that I have found especially useful is the Food Storage Analyzer.

    Analysis Paralysis

    My husband was the one who introduced the idea to me one morning over breakfast. At first I thought he was talking about a dime-a-dozen food storage calculator, which I have used before.

    “No,” he said, “this is an analyzer, it’s different.” (He said this emphasizing “analyzer,” seemingly pleased to correct me.)

    The skeptic in me had me rolling my eyes. You see, I live in the wonderful world of motherhood, where a clean room is rarely really clean, the laundry is never really done, and being a skeptic is second nature. He proceeded to sit himself down at my laptop, quickly typed beprepared.com/analyzer into my internet browser, stood up, and motioned me to sit down at the computer. Still hesitant, I slowly sat down.

    “Wait a minute, this is only freeze-dried stuff—we’ve got more than that stored downstairs. What about those boxes of Cheerios that our little caboose adores?”

    I thought I had him, but he promptly showed me a tab listing commonly stored grocery items, and a way to manually enter products not listed. Hmph.

    He grinned, gave me a hug, and slipped out the door, leaving me in my bathrobe with the website peering back at me.

    So I created account. The system asks for the sex and ages of who you’re storing for, which in my case is for a man and a woman in their 30s and three girls ages 4 to 11. It then calculates a recommended daily amount of calories for everyone, which for us is apparently 8,800 calories!

    Next, go to the “Food Storage Products” tab and start entering the information for your items. My first time, I decided to start with the Cheerios. I searched for them in the grocery goods tab, but they weren’t in the Analyzer. For us they are a must-have food storage item, so I clicked on “Add Your Own Item.” In short order, I copied the nutrition facts from the box, plugged in “3” (for three boxes tucked into my food storage), and submitted my work. First item down! Next I entered information for a case of chili beans, some mandarin oranges, chicken noodle soup, cream of chicken, cream of mushroom (must-haves for casseroles), two jars of jam, and two cases of green beans (the only vegetable my oldest will eat these days), and I hit “calculate.” Calculating will bring up your results and tell you what sort of balance your storage has.

    After I hit “calculate” my first time, I was pretty amazed at what I saw. Apparently our family could live for more than four days on the calories from those few items I had put in the analyzer. However, I quickly saw that I was lacking in a few areas; I could use more vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Obviously, canned soups and Cheerios weren’t going to cut it by themselves. But, it was a good start, and I would know quickly and easily how to prioritize what should be next on my list.

    In addition to having the freedom to enter any item you wish, the Food Storage Analyzer also has information for many of the grocery store canned goods, meals ready to eat, Provident Pantry #10 cans, and Mountain House products that many people store. Simply “click to add.”

    Since discovering the analyzer, I’ve been madly running down to my storage room and adding in whatever I see on my shelves, curious to see how many days I’ve stored for and how nutritionally sound my pantry is. The days have begun to double and triple. I’m positively giddy, doing a little jig in my slippers as I bound up the stairs!

    Beyond Calculating

    For someone who described herself as “bored with food storage” just the day before I started with the analyzer, I had a hay day racking up days and calories, and seeing what nutrients we could use more of. And, not only can you find your calorie count and what you might be lacking, but you will also find suggestions for foods that will satisfy the nutrients you are low on. It’s like a little food storage dietician giving you hints on what to store next.

    Come to find out, after all my entering and slipper-jigging, my husband had already spent time on the analyzer, and we have almost 10 months of food! Since that fateful day, I’ve cruised around the website to see what else it has to offer. I’ve printed my list and put it on a clipboard, making a note to replace it whenever I add something new. Strangely, I’ve found an amazing amount of solace in plugging cans into my analyzer. Just a short time ago, I didn’t even know how long our food storage would last our family of five, or if it was nutritionally sound. Now I have a whole new perspective on our pantry and a drive to reach my goals, not to mention a way to know when I’ve hit the target.

    The Food Storage Analyzer can be like a food storage GPS system. You can find out where you are on the road to preparedness and choose the perfect route to get there! Analyzing will afford you the information you need to prioritize and decide exactly what to do next.

  • Taste Test

    Don’t forget to store the cooking essentials you’ll need to help your food storage recipes pass the taste test!


    Many of us create our daily recipes without considering all the little products that make the recipe look and taste its best. We don’t think about these items until we unexpectedly run out of them. I bet each of us can remember a time when we realized mid-recipe that we were out of baking powder, butter, or sugar. What starts as a simple recipe can end in a cooking catastrophe!


    Imagine how many recipes you will be unable to make if you fail to store some baking powder and baking soda. Many of the quick breads your family enjoys would literally fall flat without these staples! Also, don’t forget the salt. I don’t have to convince anyone that without salt, most recipes are just plain…plain!


    Have you considered the different kinds of sugar you might want to store? Not only should you have the classic white sugar, but maybe a selection of powdered sugar, brown sugar, and even honey would help make your food storage pantry more versatile, and quite frankly, much tastier!


    When you stock your pantry, don’t forget the fat! You can store dehydrated butter, margarine, and even dehydrated shortening. Certainly you will be limited in your recipe repertoire without a good supply of these essentials.


    Cornstarch is another item you might have forgotten to put in your food storage pantry. You also might want to consider soup base, gravy mixes, and chicken and beef broth to help add flavor and give you a good base for many delicious recipes.


    As many of us have experienced, having these recipe staples is the difference between a tasty dish and one that just doesn’t pass the taste test!

    -Angie Sullivan

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