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  • 4 Time-Saving Tips in the Kitchen

    Busy mum cooking at homeOur lives can sometimes get in the way of our food (which is a real shame, considering how good food is). Moms especially can have a dickens of a time getting everything done in a day – wrangling kids and school and soccer games, cleaning up, just keeping a family active, safe and on time, many while holding a job – and yet, more times than not, they manage to have a good, hot dinner on the table every night. How do they do it!? I’m sure there’s magic involved, to be honest.

    In honor of such crazy-busy moms, I would like offer one of the best Mother’s Day gifts around – more time. And that starts by spending less of it in the kitchen. So moms of the world…Here’s my gift to you.

    Sara Elliott, one of the good people at How Stuff Works, came up with some time-saving tips in the kitchen, from which I borrow in order to help maximize your time in the kitchen, allowing you to spend more of it with with your adorable children. Or cat. Or to watch NASCAR… okay, let’s leave MY mom out of this.

     

    Step 1: Get Organized

    Making the stew base...If you’re not organized, now’s the time to do it. By not having a game plan, you can waste precious minutes trying to figure out where your mixer is, which cupboard you keep the sugar in, or “Wait…Do I even have sugar!?” (unfortunately, that last one happens to me all the time).

    Also look at your counter tops. Are they cluttered? If so, de-clutter! Sara Elliott describes how quickly you can lose that precious counter space:

    “Appliance creep starts innocently enough with the addition of a toaster and then slowly grows to include the food processor, mini mixer, can opener, toaster oven, and on and on. Before long you're trying to cook in a postage stamp-sized space only large enough for an eggcup.”

    Find homes for those wandering appliances. Counter space is prime real estate, and it’s all yours. Don’t let that homeless toaster and blender tell you otherwise! Take it from someone who has about three feet of counter space (if that) – that stuff is a hot commodity! Make it yours.

    And, now that your counters are de-cluttered, fill them back up with all your ingredients, mixing bowls, and measuring cups! Having everything out before you need it will help you stay organized, help you remember what you need, and realize if you’re missing something.

     

    Step 2: Stock Up

    Sack of sugarTo refer back to my sugar example in the previous step, if you know you use an ingredient a lot, make sure you always have some on hand. After the fourth or fifth time of going to the store half-way through making cookies or banana bread (my two most favorite things to make), I have since wised up and now always have lots and lots of sugar and chocolate chips. In fact, every time I go shopping, I get an extra bag of chocolate chips – just in case. Sara believes that “if you have a regular inventory and rotate it efficiently, you'll be able to save time and the stress of last minute shopping.” I wholeheartedly agree.

     

    Step 3: Pre-Prepared Meals

    Chicken Teriyaki Freeze-Dried Chicken Teriyaki

    Sometimes you just don’t have time to make food from scratch, and that’s OK. That’s why we have microwaves! Some days it’s all you can do to open the freezer, nuke a meal, and eat your no-longer frozen dinner. Some of them are even pretty decent.

    But have you tasted freeze-dried food? That stuff is good! Don’t just take my word for it. Sara agrees! She says that “updated preservation methods like freeze drying have made prepackaged meals something to look forward to.” See? Freeze-dried food is the fast-food of the future. The best part is, all

    Freeze-Dried Chicken Teriyaki Prepared Freeze-Dried Chicken Teriyaki Prepared

    you do is add hot water, wait about 10 minutes, and voila! Bon appétit! There are all kinds of freeze-dried meals out there, from Mountain House to our own Emergency Essentials line of food.

    Think about it. You want Beef Stroganoff without all the work? Done. What about Chicken Teriyaki? Also done. Oh, and let’s not forget about dessert. How about some Raspberry Crumble? Triple done! There are so many freeze-dried options that will save you tons of time, and also taste great. Another perk is that our freeze-dried food will store for up to 25 years, so you can save it until you really need it!

     

    Step 4: Cook in Bulk

    SPAGHETTI!!!“If you want to save money as well as time in the kitchen, try consolidating your efforts by cooking large batches of food and freezing what you don't use right away.”

    By doubling (or tripling) your recipe, you can take the same amount of time creating one delicious dish as it takes to make a huge batch of it. And, by freezing the leftovers (assuming you don’t have any teenaged boys and actually have leftovers), you will already have a good meal prepared for another day! Bonus!

     

    So there you have it, four wonderful tips to save you time in the kitchen. Now with all that extra time you have, why don’t you sit down and treat yourself to a thrilling episode of Sherlock. Or take a nap. You deserve it!

     

    Do you have other tips for saving time in the kitchen? Let us know so we can be even more time efficient!

    Posted In: Emergency Cooking, Food Storage, Insight, Planning Tagged With: kitchen tips, cooking, save time

  • Investing in Food Storage

    Money on the mindHappy Tax Day, everybody! Whether you’re frantically finishing up some complicated math before you file at the last minute, or relaxing while you wait for that refund check to roll in, April 15th is a day when money is on our mind. How much have we made? How much have we saved? What have we done with what we have, and how can we get more?

     

    I especially love checking on my interest and investments at this point in the year and watching those baby percentage points grow up. However, there’s one important investment that doesn’t show up on my 1040. That’s my food storage.

     

    Never thought about food storage as an investment? Let me offer two points that may change your mind. And who knows? It might even inspire you to invest that tax return.

     

    1. Investing in food storage Investing in food storage brings peace of mind

      Security. For many of us, the purpose of a financial investment is some sort of protection against an unpredictable or unexpectedly lean future. We invest in insurance in case something happens to our home or our car, or in our retirement knowing we won’t have a regular paycheck after a certain point. Food storage works along the same lines. Any number of unforeseen events could interrupt our ability to purchase food for a time, and comestibles previously purchased and stored for future use protects and preserves normalcy during those interruptions.

     

    And if you’re waiting for something big, like an earthquake or tornado, to knock out power lines and close grocery stores, think again. A few years ago, CNN reported that somewhere close to 50 million Americans experienced “low food security” in 2011 as a result of layoffs, unemployment, and underemployment.

     

    1. Appreciation of the DollarAppreciation. The hope with any investment is that your return will be greater than your initial buy. So, how does that work with food storage? It’s not like you buy three bags of rice and in five years you magically have four bags. And besides, food—unlike gold or real estate—eventually goes bad. Isn’t that depreciation?

     

    Nope! Here’s how Stanford economist Russ Roberts explained it to an NPR reporter:

     

    "Inflation is low these days, running at a 1.7 percent annual rate. Still, it outpaces the return on a savings account. Roberts says if inflation starts rising, to say, 5 percent, the argument for bulk buying becomes more powerful. 'Do you have an investment now that pays 5 percent? The answer is: not easily,' he says.

    "He explains that a mutual fund might achieve a 5 percent return — but that's only if the stock market is doing well. Savings accounts and money market funds don't pay anything close to that. 'So it's certainly true that cash, if you can spare it to convert your cash into real goods whose price is rising, [buying in bulk] is not a bad idea,' Roberts says."

     

    In other words, because of inevitable inflation, you will get more food for the same amount today than you will in the future. Buy those three bags of rice now for $15, because that same $15 will only buy one or two bags down the road. Make sense?

     

    Not only does food go up in value, but assuming you store it properly and rotate it regularly, it’s also a low- to no-risk prospect; the only way you’re going to lose that investment is if your teenagers raid it frequently.

     

    So, in the spirit of smart investments, check out our monthly sales and food storage specials. And tell us what you’re doing with your tax return this year!

    Posted In: Budgeting, Insight, Planning Tagged With: tax, emergency food storage, financial preparedness

  • What Winnie the Pooh Teaches Us About Flash Floods

    When I was young, I would constantly watch Winnie the Pooh. On one particular show, the 100 Acre Woods received a downpour of rain. What followed was probably the worst flash flood the good folks of the 100 Acre Wood had ever experienced. The lyrics that accompany the images of the flood still haunt me to this day:

    Winnie the Pooh

     

    “The rain rain rain came down down down

    in rushing riving riv’lets,

    ‘Till the river crept out of its bed

    and crept right into Piglet’s!”

     

     

    Poor Piglet. The flood came in so fast he was carried out of his home stranded on a floating chair!

    Can you imagine being caught in a flood like that? I always laughed as Piglet was washed down stream (because I’m heartless like that), but in reality, flash floods happen anytime, anywhere. For Pooh and Piglet, they were caught unawares, still asleep, as the water came rushing into their home.

    For me? Well, I was at home, too, just about to leave for the football game.

    Flash flood to a house This is pretty much what it felt like.

    Although I’m not a huge football fan (rugby all the way!), I was excited we were playing a good, competitive team. The whole city was abuzz with excitement, so I thought I’d join them in their revelry. My will to venture out was dampened, however, when I opened the front door to head out to the game on my bicycle. Oh bother. I stood there, slack-jawed, astounded at how hard the rain was falling. After a brief pause I shut the door. There was no way I was biking in that weather. No matter…the football game was delayed two hours because of the downpour.

    Unfortunately, I lived in a first-floor apartment and, like poor piglet’s, the riv’lets rose fast around us. They seeped in through the walls and lower windows, and formed a small lake outside the front door. It was a mess. Lucky for us, our apartment sat on top of a hill, so it could have been a lot worse.

    For everyone living downhill, it was a lot worse. The streets turned into rivers and lakes, and basements and cars were flooded. There were a bunch of college students who made the best of things, pulling each other behind high-lifted Jeeps on wakeboards through flooded parking lots (if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!).

    In the couple of years since my football-day flood, I have come to realize that such downpours and the torrents that follow are a more than once in a lifetime experience for millions. For example, did you know that in one 15-year instance, Texans weathered some 4,722 flash floods? That’s pretty close to one flash flood every day. Luckily Texas is kind of a big state, so most of these deluges were scattered far and wide. I emphasize most; several Texas communities are “flood-prone.” If they experience what I did more than once, I think I would pack-up and move before the next flood came.

    Flooded Kashmir - CTV News CTV News

    In many regions of the world, such destruction is almost commonplace. Just last week, three days of heavy rain caused massive flooding in the Kashmir Valley of Pakistan and India. This was just six months after a previous huge flood which killed over 600 people. Once again, thousands are homeless as homes were washed away. Landslides took out roads, and highways were blocked for miles. Fortunately, officials say the situation is under control. For now.

    How might it have been different for Pooh and Piglet if they had known they were at risk? Maybe Piglet wouldn’t have been caught sleeping. Maybe Pooh would have been able to save more of his precious honey pots. How would my roommates and I have defended ourselves from the rising waters had we an understanding of what was happening around us. How do folks from Odessa, Texas to Odisha, India ride-out storm after storm, year after year.

    Although flash floods can happen without much warning, knowing the areas and causes can help you prepare yourselves (and your home).

     

    Know the Signs

    Flash floods tend to occur in dry, low-lying areas. This includes areas near rivers, dry lake beds, and basins. But even if you live in a higher area, you can still be affected. Roads, parking lots, curbs and gutters, they all collect and channel water, sometimes into first-floor hilltop apartments (remember, I was living on a hill and still got flooded).

    flooded football pitch. canon 5D Saturated soil

    The condition of the surrounding soil can be an indicator if your areas will flood or not. If you live in a very dry area that doesn’t receive much rainfall, the ground becomes as hard and impenetrable as concrete. When it does rain hard, the ground has trouble soaking it up, leaving it to gather and flow to the areas of least resistance – which for some reason almost always means your house. On the other end of the spectrum, if your soil has been receiving a lot of moisture, it can be already saturated, leaving no room for any more water to soak in. Once the soil is saturated, watch out for flooding!

    So how can you prepare for a flash flood? Well, as the good men of G.I. Joe say, “Knowing is half the battle.” Be aware of the risks involved in the area you live in. Do you live in a dry climate? Are you near a river, or at the bottom of a hill? If you know your risks, you will be better able to prepare when the rains come down and the floods come up.

    But enough about me! How have you prepared for flash flooding? Do you have any tips or tricks to share with your fellow preppers? Let us know in the comments!

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Insight, Planning Tagged With: know the signs, Flash flood

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