Tag Archives: Budget

  • Baby Steps: Spice up your holiday

    With Halloween over and Thanksgiving soon to arrive, before we know it Christmas will be here and those who start prepping for it now will have an easier, less stressful holiday season.

    The Christmas season is a time of parties, a stream of festivities, a never-ending row of colorful lights, and a lot of fun.  Start preparing now so that you can enjoy the winter wonderland that surrounds Christmastime without being overloaded and overstressed. One huge stressor during the holidays is trying to get gifts at the last minute—this is never a fun way to spend the few weeks before Christmas. Don’t wait until the last minute to figure out what gift you’re giving all of your friends, neighbors, and family members this year.

    Usually for Christmas we all seem to get the cookie platters, baked goods, or holiday decorations. Although these standard go-to gifts are fun (and for some of us, allow us to indulge in our weakness of candy!), why not step away from the crowd and give an inexpensive, unique gift to those you love most?

    My sister actually gave me a fantastic, delicious recipe that will both sweeten and spice up your friends’ holiday—Pepper Jelly.

    Small colorful sweet peppers isolated on white background

    Mmmm! Pepper jelly matches sweet with spicy in a delicious blend of flavors using bell peppers, jalapenos, and a few other ingredients. This recipe is easy to make in large batches, and only uses a few ingredients per batch, making it perfect for a holiday gift.

    Pepper Jelly
    Yield: 8 ½-pint jars

    *You could even do both colors (in separate jars) to create a Christmas season feel

    1. Combine peppers, vinegar, sugar, and cayenne in a large pot
    2. Cook on medium until it boils
    3. Add the Certo, boil 5 minutes (let it boil for the full 5 minutes, or it won’t set.)
    4. Remove from heat
    5. Add food color
    6. Pour into jars

    Pepper jelly is a unique recipe that a lot of people haven’t tasted before, but is savory nonetheless. If sweet and spicy aren’t quite your taste, other traditional jams and jellies make great holiday gifts as well. For a variety of delicious recipes see our Jams and Jellies that please post.

     

    Storing your Jam/Jelly

    Short-term storage is a great way to seal your jelly, protecting it from bacteria until you are ready to dive into it. There are three ways to package your jelly for short-term storage: Traditional Canning, Freezing, and Storing to eat.

    Traditional Canning

    Traditional canning involves cooking your ingredients before sealing them in their individual jars by processing your batch in a boiling water bath. This process takes longer to do because of the cooking time, but ensures that all of your ingredients are clean and ready to eat.  As soon as the jelly is poured into their individual jars, cap them and place in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.  Remove jars and set aside to cool. Soon after removing from the boiling water, you should hear a ‘pop!’ indicating that the jar has sealed itself. If you are unsure as to whether or not it sealed, just poke the lid. If it concaves and then bounces back at your touch, then it did not seal properly. In that case, store it in your fridge and eat within the next few weeks.  You can store traditionally canned jelly for up to a year.

    Freezing

    Freezing is another way to package your jelly for storage. This process takes much less time than the traditional canning method.  After the jelly has been poured into its individual freezer-safe containers, let it cool before capping it, and then place it in the freezer until you are ready to use it. Freezer jams can last up to a year in the freezer or a few weeks in the fridge.

    Store to Eat

    The last way to store your jelly is to store it to eat. Once you have poured the jelly into its individual jar and have let it cool, cap it and place it in the fridge. The recommended storage life is about a month, but I have had my Pepper Jelly in the fridge for two and it still tastes delicious. This type of storage is perfect if you plan to eat your scrumptious jelly right up.

     ***

    Jams and jellies are fantastic gifts to give anytime of the year because they’ll last. When you give jam as a gift, your friends can either break into the bottle immediately or save it for a time when their own sugary supply of holiday goodies gets low.  Jams and jellies are able to store for up to a year depending on how you seal it.

    Jams and jellies give you an inexpensive option when you want a unique, desirable gift for your loved ones. Freeze dried and dehydrated fruits and vegetables are perfect for adding into your jams/jellies without having to break your bank, just use a little here and a little there and still have plenty for later.

    -Kim

    Sources:

    http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_07/storing_jams.html

    http://www.betterrecipes.com/blogs/daily-dish/2011/07/27/how-to-make-homemade-jelly/

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: holiday, freeze dried food, Budget, preparedness, baby steps, skills, recipes, food storage

  • Pennies for Prepping - Urban Girl's April Update

    Pennies for Prepping Banner

     

    Hi, friends!

    Did April fly by for you? It did for me, so I’m juuuuust sneaking in under the deadline for posting my Pennies for Prepping update in time for you to take advantage of the April sales! In April I followed the plan I had in March—take out a $20 bill in advance, and if I need it, I’ll use it. But I didn't need it, and I was able to save another $6.37 on top of that. Combined with the $1.28 I had left from last month, my budget for April was $27.65.

    There were a lot of great items on sale this month, but I’ll tell you what: if you can get in on a group order, do it! That’s what I did this month, so I got the Eight Pack Utility Flame Gel Packets (because I probably couldn't start a fire from scratch to save my life—no pun intended [okay... some pun intended]).

    Utility Flame fire-starting gel

    I also got the Hydropack 10-pack. If you don’t know how these work, they might seem a little weird to you—but they are awesome. You just drop the pouch into water (NOT salt water, anti-freeze, or water rife with spilled chemicals), go about your business, and 8-12 hours later come back and get hydrated! The water gets pulled through the pouch's membrane by forward osmosis, and the filter holes are so small, no viruses, protozoa, or bacteria will even think about making it through. (Do they think at all? Probably not. But you knew what I meant anyway, right?)

    10-pack Hydropack

    So, that’s what I got this month. If I hadn't joined in on a group order this month, I would have bought these items instead:

    The Nokero N200 Solar Powered Light. Solar power is awesome, and this lil’ light o’ miiiiine, I’m gonna let it shiiiiiiine. As soon as I buy one. You should today, before the sale is over. Right now it’s $11.99 on sale (MSRP is $19.99). I’m thinking I’ll get a couple in the next few months, and hang them off my patio railing during the day, then use them for reading lamps at night so I can save on the electric bill. Every little bit helps, right? Plus, then I’ll have them on hand for power outages. I’m all about killing two birds with one stone when it comes to preparedness.

    Nokera N200 Solar-Powered Light

    At least one, but probably two, packs of Emergency Essentials Nylon Emergency Rope. $1.99? Awesome. Having rope on hand in an emergency at home or on the road is so beneficial—how many times have you wished to yourself that you had a length of rope handy to stabilize something or tie something to the roof of your car to get it home? (Or tie your trunk lid down once you’ve finally managed to maneuver said item into your trunk?)

    Emergency Essentials Nylon Emergency Rope

    I would also want to buy a Bear Grylls Fire Starter. On sale this month for just $10.99. I would have to spend a little time practicing my fire-starting skills to make that purchase worth it (remember that I have no fire-starting skills whatsoever), but it’s a great investment—and I should learn how to start a fire anyway.

     Bear Grylls Fire Starter

    Alright, my preparedness peeps. That’s it from me. What did you get this month? If you’re saving pennies like me, were you able to save much in April?

    Let’s meet this time tomorrow to talk May sale items, shall we? See you then!

     

    --Sarah (a.k.a. Urban Girl)

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Pennies for Prepping, Budget, Prepping on a Budget, Urban Girl

  • Pennies for Prepping: March 2013 Results

    |8 COMMENT(S)

    Pennies for Prepping Banner

    Hi, friends! Urban Girl here with my Pennies for Prepping update. How did you do this month?

    I decided to take a little different approach to saving my preparedness cash in March. Since I use a mostly-cash system to pay for things, I decided to set aside a $20 bill at the beginning of the month, and then if I absolutely needed to use it for something, I would pull it out of my Pennies for Prepping jar. (And by need I do actually mean need—like gas in my car to get to work, or shampoo. [Though I do realize that some people think those needs are debatable.])

    As it turns out, I didn't need to break into the bank, and I put away a few additional dollars throughout the month for a total of $26.52. Adding that to my balance of $4.56 left from February, I had a total of $31.08 available for preps.

    I was looking over the things I’ve purchased since January, along with the things I’ve collected since I started thinking about preparedness. I realized that I was missing items in a few crucial areas:

    -warmth (I had hand warmers, but they were expired, so who knows how good they would have been)

    -light (I have flashlights in my kits, but nothing for around the house, and nothing that would leave my hands free for getting things done)

    -food (I have a 3600-calorie ration bar in each kit, and wanted to add more options)

    There are, of course, other areas I need to add to, but these are the ones I chose to focus on for now.

     

    So, here’s what I got in March:

    An LED Glow Stick Combo. I split the glow sticks between my at-home and car emergency kits so I have another option for light if my flashlight isn't enough—especially if I’ve got someone else with me who will need their own source of light.

    LED Glowstick Combo

     

    Four HotSpot Hand Warmers. They were a killer deal in March at 1.99 each. So I stocked up. For now I think reusable hand warmers will be enough to get me through spring, summer, and fall. But before winter gets here, I’ll get some single-use 18-hour hand and body warmers for my car kit in case I have some problems on the road in bad weather.

    Hot Spot Reusable Hand Warmer

    Four packs of Fresh & Go floss. These individual packets of floss are genius, in my opinion. Stick some in your kits, stash a few in your purse, or pack a couple in your wallet so you can always have dazzling chompers…spinach salad and freshly-cracked pepper notwithstanding.

     Fresh and Go Pocket Floss

    One of the new High Uinta Gear™ Night Sight™ Headlamps. I wouldn't necessarily say I’m a klutz, but if I were ever asked to hold a flashlight and try to change a tire simultaneously, I think only failure and injury would result. So, I’m investing in headlamps for my kits—one at a time for now. This time the headlamp is going in my car kit, and next time it will go in my at-home kit.

    High Uinta Night Sight headlamp

    A couple of MREs. Have you tried the new Garlic Herb Chicken MRE? (technically it's called Chicken Breast Fillet Seasoned with Garlic and Herb Sauce, but who has time to say all that?) If you haven't tried it, order it now. You’ll thank me later, I promise. This meat has delicious flavor and will go well with almost anything. Eat it alone for some quick protein, or eat the chicken and sauce over some rice for a great entrée. Serve it with veggies, wrap it up in a tortilla with some refried beans, etc., etc., and so forth. (Yum.)

    Chicken Breast Fillet with Garlic and Herb Sauce

     I also grabbed a Ratatouille MRE—because Ratatouille is awesome.

    So that’s it for my March purchases. I am left with $1.28 toward April purchases. And I think I’ll check back with you guys to tell you my planned purchases before the month is over—I tend to buy sale items, so in case you want to take advantage of the sales, too, I’ll post while they’re still valid.

    What about you? Saving up for anything specific? If you don’t live near a store, consider saving up for a longer period of time and just placing one or two orders a year with your Pennies for Prepping to save on shipping costs.

    Until next time, happy prepping!

    --Urban Girl

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: light, MRE, emergency preparedness, Pennies for Prepping, Budget, Prepping on a Budget, warmth, Urban Girl

  • Pennies for Prepping: February 2013 Results

    |11 COMMENT(S)

    Friends, can you believe it’s March already? February absolutely flew by. And good riddance, right? I’m ready for spring to start.

    In February my plan was to save $5 toward preparedness supplies since I only saved about $2 in January. Well, guess what? Since I was thinking about it more, I actually saved almost $20! Here’s how I did it:

    1)      I took out cash for my monthly expenses (outside of larger expenses, like rent, that I pay for by check).

    2)      I requested the cash in $20 bills.

    3)      When all that was left of a $20 was loose change and $1 bills, it all went into my prep fund jar and I broke the next $20.

    4)      The end result was that I never even missed that extra change or the $1 bills.

    So, my ending balance from January was $1.01. In February I saved $19.55, bringing my total to $20.56. Here’s what I bought:

    I’m going to try saving just as much in March—we’ll see how it goes. Eventually I want to buy a small stove, a tent, a bivvy, and some MREs. But I’m also going to consider items that are on sale each month (like some of the great sale items this month), so I have to be patient and pace myself.

    What about you? Were you able to save some pennies and get something for your preps in February? What’s your goal for March?

     P.S. Guess what? I got a Katadyn Vario™ water filter as a gift in February! I couldn't believe it—what a blessing! I would have had to save my pennies for the rest of the year to buy that!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Stove, MRE, Bivvy, Tents, Utensils, Pennies for Prepping, Sanitation, Budget, Prepping on a Budget, Urban Girl

  • Pennies for Prepping: January 2013 Results

    |5 COMMENT(S)

    Hi, friends!
    How did January go for you? Did you save any pennies towards prepping gear or food storage?
    I started off with the existing spare change I had in my jar and spent this month adding my leftover cash to it. There wasn't much to spare this month, but here’s the breakdown:

     

    Starting Balance (what was already in the change jar): $5.48
    What I added in Janurary: $2.22
    New Total: $7.70

     

    So, with $7.70 available to spend on preps, I decided to get some things that I’ve been meaning to buy for a while:
    First, I got an SOS 3600-calorie food ration bar to put in my car emergency kit. I’ve got a whole car kit put together, but until now I’ve just had some granola bars in there—which is better than nothing, but not great.
    The SOS bar will stay safe and edible even in extreme temperatures, so I can leave it in my car during the freezing Utah winters and hot Utah summers and it will still be in good condition if I ever need it. It provides one person with 1200 calories per day for three days.
     
    I also got two single-dose packets of Burn Free Gel. I love this stuff. I got a terrible sunburn a few years ago (when I thought sunscreen was lame—little did I know!). I tried everything I could think of to help the burn and to deal with the pain, but nothing was really helping. The burn was so bad that I missed two days of work—my legs were so burned and swollen that I couldn't bend them to drive or sit at my desk.
     
    A friend who worked at Emergency Essentials told me to get Burn Free gel and promised me I wouldn't regret it. Boy, was he right. The gel helped almost instantly with the pain, and helped dissipate the burning feeling quickly. I wish I would have known about Burn Free on day one instead of day three or four.
    If you've never tried Burn Free, drop everything and get some now. Whether you get a burn from cooking, curling your hair (ladies, you know what I mean), working on the car, or not using enough sunscreen, Burn Free will help soothe and heal your burn. It’s better than anything I’ve ever used, hands down.
     
     
     
    So, that's what I bought with what I've saved so far. That left me with $1.01 in my jar, and my goal for February is to add at least $5 to my prepping jar. We’ll see how it goes.
    How much did you save in January? Are you going to spend it right away, or save up for a few months to buy something a little bigger?
    --Sarah (a.k.a., Urban Girl)

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Pennies for Prepping, Budget, preparedness, Car Kit, Car Preparedness, Urban Girl

  • Storage on a Shoestring

    |9 COMMENT(S)

    iStock_000007893322XSmall

    With the daily cost of living tugging at your pocketbook, you may wonder how in the world you can afford to add one more item to your budget. You may want to store food, but don’t see how your income can be stretched any further. The following tips may help you see how a food storage program can be put together without sacrificing money earmarked for existing bills:

    • Set aside a plot of land to grow specific "food storage" plants. Consider growing tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro and putting up some delicious salsa, as well as plain tomatoes, for a rainy day. Or grow other fruits or vegetables that your family enjoys and are easy to prepare for storage. If you live in a condo or apartment, you can grow plants in pots in a windowsill.

    Lot of seedlings in pots ecological farm

    • When the next urge to splurge on fast food or a pizza hits you, resist it! Take the $10 or $15 you would have spent and invest it in food storage.
    • Sprouting seeds cost pennies to purchase, yet yield big dividends in nutrition. Learn how to grow this economical source of greens. Sprouts are tasty additions to salads, sandwiches, soups, and stir-fry and can be grown in a matter of days. (Note: Never sprout seeds intended for planting in gardens.) For more information, review the Insight Article on Growing Your Own Food.

    iStock_000003414126XSmall_sprouts

    • How many times do you buy food at the store, and put it in the refrigerator--only to throw it out a week or two later because you forgot to use it? Plan a menu and stick to it. Cut the waste, and every time you go to the grocery store for your major shopping, set aside an extra $5 that you normally would have spent on perishable vegetables you usually end up discarding. Within a month, you will have enough savings to purchase a "favorite something" on your food storage list.
    • Come up with your own creative ways to save or make money, then use it to add to your food storage. Involve the whole family, perhaps a family paper route or other job will provide just what you need.

    Checklist on Clipboard

    • Store what you and your family will eat. Don't just arbitrarily put together a food storage list. Purchase the basics (honey, salt, wheat, powdered milk, grains, legumes, and garden seeds), and build upon that (don’t forget the non-food items as well). Sit down with family members and organize a personalized plan. Systematically develop your storage according to you and your family's food preferences.

    iStock_000003257906Medium

    • Remember that a short-term, as well as a long-term food storage program is the most sensible. If you cannot afford a year supply, work on a 72 hour supply, then a week supply, and so on.

    Storing extra food and other necessities is just as important as having money saved in the bank. Once you have some extra food, remember to keep it dry and cool. Also, learn to rotate it as much as possible so that it doesn't go to waste.

    When a crisis arrives, good people work together--so do your part to prepare and share. It is amazing how we can help each other.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Budget, food storage