Emergency Food Supplies – Give Yourself Some Options

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After water, food is probably the most important survival item to make sure you have stored and ready for a potential disaster. You won’t die immediately without food, but a couple of days without enough calories and you will start to notice a significant drop in energy, cognitive and fine motor skills, and morale. Even though it is widely accepted in the prepping community that you will be able to survive for up to 3 weeks without food, the loss of those things listed above can be a real threat to your safety. There are a lot of resources out there on the interwebs on emergency food supplies written by survivalists, outdoor experts, ex-special forces, and so on. My aim isn’t to be an end-all be-all defining line in the sand on which type of food is better or which brand of freeze-dried food tastes better or anything like that. I will just lay out some of the different options available for you to try. It’s all about having different options. And trying this stuff out is key, especially if you have picky eaters in your home (spouse, kids). Food fatigue is a real issue, and storing a bunch of rice and beans and calling it good can lead to slow starvation that food fatigue brings.

The different emergency food supply options can be broken down into a couple of different categories: canned goods, MREs, freeze-dried goods, and dry goods. Let’s take an in depth look at these categories below, in order of shortest to longest shelf life.

Canned Goods

Canned goods are a great starting point for anyone interested in building up their emergency food supplies. The beauty of this category is that it consists of food you and your family are likely already eating on a regular basis, and it is easy to have instant variety. It is inexpensive to build up your pantry compared to the other categories on this list.

One great suggestion that I read is to have about a month supply of food in your pantry (or if your pantry is small, as long as possible) that is properly organized and easy to rotate. Once you have that, double everything but store the copy in a plastic storage bin in your basement or under a bed somewhere. You could even make a 2nd copy to give you 3 months of easy to prepare emergency food storage. How do you arrive at that first month supply? Glad you asked.

Start by keeping track of what you and your family eat from your pantry for an entire month. Get yourself a cheap notebook and keep it in your pantry. Every time you use something, write it down. At the end of the month, see how much of each item you used. Over the next couple store visits, replenish what you used during the month and start to build your 2nd and if you choose, the 3rd extra month supply.

Don’t forget to rotate those bins every month. Set a reminder on your phone or on outlook or other calendar. Canned goods are easy to prepare, but they have a limited shelf life. You won’t be able to fill up a couple bins and leave them for the next 25+ years.

Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup, Chicken Flavor, 3 oz, 36 Packs

Pros – Inexpensive, easy to prepare, instant variety, what you are already used to eating

Cons – short shelf life, constant rotation and expiration date checking (most work)

MREs

MREs, or meals ready to eat, are very popular among the prepping and survival crowd. Part of this comes from the fact that many in the prepping community are former/current military personnel, and are used to eating MREs. But even for those not used to MREs from military training, MREs just make a lot of sense when it comes to emergency food supplies. Let me elaborate.

MREs, as the name says, are ready made meals that can be eaten right out of the packaging, hot or cold. No cooking is required, which is usually required to some extent in the other categories (maybe not a can of baked beans or spaghetti-os), which makes this a great portable emergency food supply option. There is also quite a bit of variety with these meals, depending on the brand you purchase and whether you purchase full meals, just entrees or sides.

MREs range in price depending on the brand and where you buy them from. If you are current military, you will probably get the best deals from the commissary. Everyone else, shop around online. Below is an option from Amazon that comes highly rated.

The question that everyone is dying to know – are they any good? I actually like a lot of the MREs out there. Some of the sides not so much, but the entrees are quite palatable, although they are much better when warmed up than cold (with the handy MRE heaters). You don’t get the flavor that you would get with a freeze-dried meal (MREs utilize preservatives to extend the shelf life vs removing all the H2O). If you plan on storing MREs, I would strongly suggest buying a variety box of entrees and trying every one of them to see what you think. When it comes to ready-to-eat, portable emergency food supplies that have a mid-range shelf life (~5 years), you can’t go wrong with MREs.

Pros – portable, ready-to-eat, variety, better shelf life than canned goods, many calories

Cons – more expensive, only ~5 year shelf life, rotation necessary (not as much as with canned goods)

Freeze-dried Emergency Food Supplies

Within the last decade or so, freeze-dried emergency food supplies have really made big headway in the market. Before, NASA was basically the only group interested in freeze drying food for their astronauts in outer space. Now, it seems a new company is coming out every month with their own freeze-dried meal recipes for emergency storage. There are lots of options varying a lot in price from brand to brand. Mountain House used to dominate this market. Now there are several high-quality companies competing for market share, like Honeywell, Wise Company, Thrive, and Backpackers Pantry.

Freeze-dried meals have some nice advantages. First is shelf life, with most touting at least 25 years as the standard now-a-days. Because of how they are prepared, they are completely water free. This makes them very portable and lightweight compared to MREs and canned goods. However, you will need to re-hydrate the food before it will be edible.

The freeze-drying process preserves the flavors of the food very well, without the need to add a lot of extra preservatives, so the flavors will be excellent with most well-known brands. The meals do require some preparation, but not a lot (usually just boiling some water and mixing with the food and waiting for 10 minutes for the food to re-hydrate).
Like with the MREs, my suggestion is to buy a variety meal pack and try out the different meal options before stocking up (they can be pricey). This Mountain House entrée pack is a great place to start. I would prefer to eat a freeze-dried meal entree over an MRE any day of the week.

Pros – Long shelf life, lightweight, delicious

Cons – Expensive, requires preparation

Dry Goods

Dried Pinto Beans – 20 lbs.

In the realm of food storage, dry goods take the grand prize in shelf life (as long as they are stored properly). Scientists actually found grain buried with an Egyptian Pharaoh that was still good after more than a thousand years. If done properly, this category can long outlast us.

Common dry goods include rice, beans, wheat (red and white), oats, and popping corn. The combination of rice and black or pinto beans can sustain life almost by itself, and is the basic food of many undeveloped countries. Wheat can be use in a variety of different ways, from sprouting to grinding for flour.

Dry goods are very inexpensive for the total amount of nutrition they provide. I can regularly find 50 pound bags of White or Red wheat for around $14, 50 pound bags of white rice for around $20, and 20 pound bags of pinto or black beans for around $15 in early 2015.

The main drawbacks when it comes to dry goods include the weight, extra work to store the food, and the sometimes extensive work in preparing the food for consumption. It is way easier to rip open an MRE, open a can of soup, or even prepare a freeze-dried meal than to cook a meal that consists of dry goods, which could include grinding the grain, extensive boiling, or even sprouting the grains. Preparing the dry goods for long term storage is also extra work that isn’t required with the other categories.

A sensible approach when dealing with dry goods is to start small and to only store items that you will actually use. There is absolutely no use in storing 1000 pounds of red wheat in your basement if you don’t know how to turn the wheat into something edible. I recommend some rice and your bean of choice (black, pinto, kidney) to start out with. A couple hundred pounds of each will do a lot to extend your family’s survival without adding a lot of extra work for food prep (boil the rice, soak beans overnight and boil them with some seasonings, viola!).

Pros – Inexpensive, longest shelf life, nutritious

Cons – Heavy, extra work to prepare and store, needs extra seasonings and ingredients to help taste, not used to eating

Preparing your dry goods for long term storage requires some extra work, food grade containers (5 gallon buckets work great), mylar bags, and oxygen absorbers. Below is a great video to walk you through the steps.

Balanced Approach

So which category do I recommend for you to build your emergency food supplies? All of them. Let me explain why. If you were to just focus on canned goods, you would be alright in the short term, but after you run out or they go stale, depending on the duration of the emergency, you might not be able to re-supply. The longer shelf life food supplies can sustain you for a long time, but nobody wants to eat bland rice and beans every day for a year.

The key is to balance your storage with a variety from these 4 categories. I recommend starting with the canned goods, especially since you and your family are already eating these items on a regular basis. Top Ramen, Spaghetti-Os, canned chili and Mac and Cheese are comfort items and will not only provide sustenance but also a sense of normalcy during trying times. Expand into the MREs and Freeze-dried meals next, but be careful of the price, as it is easy to spend an entire paycheck at once. Lastly, diversify with some longer-term dry goods to round out your emergency food supplies.

It’s all about options. A well balanced plan will see you and your loved ones through an emergency scenario. If you haven’t built up your supplies, the most important thing to do is to start. Start today. Good luck!

Real Avid Gun Tool Review – Sturdy And Handy Tool

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Real Avid The Gun Tool Boxed (Silver/Black)When I set out to review the Real Avid Gun Tool, I wasn’t initially very excited about the product. From online images, it seemed like it was a small tool that didn’t have the sturdiness I need when gunsmithing. When I opened the package, I was a little stunned by the multi-tool that I held in my hands. Below, I’ll tell you what I liked, what I disliked, and my overall impression of the tool. But first, lets look at the specifications.

Gun Tool Specifications

The Real Avid Gun Tool boasts an entire shooter’s tool box in one frame that fits in the palm of your hand. Here is what’s included:

  • steel pin punch with round tip
  • scope adjustment blade with a curved contour
  • choke tube wrench for the following gauges: 10, 12, 16, 28, and .410
  • curved blade
  • 2 phillips screw driver bits
  • 2 flat blade screw driver bits (3/16″ and 1/8″)
  • Torx T10, T15, T20 wrenches
  • Hex 3/32″ and 5/32″ wrenches
  • magnetic 3/16″ driver
  • magnetic storage bay for 4 screwdriver bits
  • additional hex and torx bits
  • storage pouch
  • Weight – 8 ounces
  • Length closed – 5 inches
  • Width – 1.25 inches
  • Height 1.5 inches
  • Materials – 420 Stainless steel and aluminum, molded polymer, and black rubber grip
  • Price ~ $15 (buy here from Amazon)

These tools will easily replace several in your range or tool bag. Let’s look at what the Gun Tool does right.

The Good

Price – For right around $15, you get a very serviceable tool that is not only portable, but very capable of performing several gun maintenance tasks. I mean, come on? $15? I’ve seen scope adjustment tools that cost more than that.

Size – While the tool is bigger than I originally thought it would be from images online, it is still quite small, and is slightly longer and wider than a full-size Leatherman multi-tool. With the added pouch, the entire package easily fits in a pocket, on your belt, or in a range bag.

Craftsmanship – The tool is built very well, and for the several weeks I have been using it, it has held up nicely. It is sturdy enough to perform most gunsmithing tasks. Steel and aluminum parts mixed with rubber and molded polymer is a nice combination.

Ergonomics – The Gun Tool fits surprisingly well in my hand. Molded rubber grips add comfort and it is just as comfortable holding the tool either way.

Ingenuity – This is a creative little tool. Most multi-tools are built around a set of pliers. This tool has a magnetic bit driver at one end, and has the ability to accept 3/16″ hex bits of all kinds. The magnetic bit storage area is slick, and the array of torq and hex wrenches (along with the built in choke wrench) is a fantastic idea all around.

The Not So Good

Weight – I was originally worried that the tool would be small and flimsy. It is actually quite sturdy, but the steel adds a little to the weight. At 8 ounces, it isn’t a brick, but a little heavier than I would like. I realize that trading the steel with other materials reduces durability and strength, and I don’t think I would make that trade-off.

Magnet – While the magnet in the bit driver holds the bits ok, I notice a little give and slip under higher stress. Not a big deal.

The Bottom Line

I would definitely recommend Real Avid’s Gun Tool to any shooter or gunsmith out there. This tool not only combines several maintenance tools into one handy and highly portable multi-tool, but it is sturdy and durable enough to last a long time. And for only $15, you can add this tool to your range bag today. The price is right, and the Gun Tool is a perfect match for the novice or expert gunsmith out there.

Buy your Real Avid Gun Tool Here

What do you think of the Gun Tool? Feel free to add your feedback in the comment section below.

How To Get Rid Of Dark Circles Under Your Eyes

Looking іn thе mirror аnd seeing bags under уоur eyes іѕ nеvеr pleasant. It саn make уоu feel self conscious аnd embarrassed. Covering uр thе darkness wіth make uр саn work but аѕ thе day progresses thоѕе dark circles tend tо reveal thеmѕеlvеѕ rеgаrdlеѕѕ оf how muсh concealer уоu’ve used. If уоu want to get rid of dark circles under eyes surgery іѕn’t уоur оnlу option. Thеrе аrе things уоu саn do аt home tо help minimize thеѕе dark patches ѕо уоur face has а natural glow again. Read more on how to get rid of dark circles at Wizzley.

One easy way to get rid of dark circles under eyes іѕ tо uѕе а cooled tea bag. Simply make уоur morning tea аnd thеn allow thе bag tо sit аnd cool. Yоu just need tо apply thіѕ tо thе eye fоr а period оf 10 minutes а time. If уоu’rе nоt а tea drinker уоu саn uѕе thе same technique but substitute cucumber slices fоr thе tea bags. If thе cucumbers аrе chilled уоu’ll see better results.

Anоthеr natural approach tо get rid оf dark undereye circles under eyes thаt works fоr many people іѕ tо drink tomato juice оn а regular basis. Adding а bit оf lemon juice, salt аnd ѕоmе mint tо thе juice іѕ thе most effective approach. If уоu drink thіѕ іn thе morning іnѕtеаd оf уоur regular glass оf orange juice уоu’ll soon see thаt thе dark circles have lightened uр.

Almond oil саn prove beneficial tоо. Yоu’ll want tо uѕе thіѕ аt night аnd just apply а small amount directly оntо thе dark area bеfоrе уоu go tо sleep. Almond oil іѕ rеlаtіvеlу inexpensive аnd аn added benefit wіth using thіѕ to get rid of dark circles іѕ thаt уоu’ll аlѕо bе combating аnу small wrinkles уоu mау bе developing аrоund уоur eyes.

Dark circles under thе eyes аrе а problem thаt plagues millions оf people. Thеrе аrе effective treatments fоr thіѕ issue thаt dоn’t just cover uр thе problem, thеу асtuаllу treat іt аnd eliminate thе bags under уоur eyes completely. If уоu аrе tired оf feeling self conscious аnd іf уоu аrе worried thаt уоur dark circles impact уоur appearance, learn more аbоut whаt уоu саn do tо fix thе problem. Yоu dоn’t have tо bе embarrassed оf уоur dark circles anymore. If thеу аrе causing уоu tо feel apprehensive аrоund others аnd іf уоu feel thаt уоu аrеn’t аѕ attractive аѕ уоu соuld do bе, thеrе іѕ help. Yоu саn bе rid оf уоur dark circles naturally wіthіn days if you follow this article’s tips.

 

Solar Energy For Homes – Settup Up Your System

Alternative Energy Debate

Anyone who has kept up with current economic and political events has for sure heard both sides of the energy debate. It is a widely accepted fact that fossil fuels will one day run out. When they do, we will be left without the major source of energy to the world. Many in Washington and around the world are making a push towards ‘green energy.’ This refers to clean, environmentally friendly energy production and consumption. Renewable energy sources, such as solar energy, wind power, hydroelectric power, and biofuels fall into the ‘green energy’ category. Other components of the energy debate demand more drilling of fossil fuels. This would lower the cost of oil in the short term, but is not a permanent fix to the problem that will soon face everyone on the planet.

Alternative energy sources are being developed and advanced. Geothermal power plants are capturing energy from inside the earth. Nuclear power plants are capturing the energy released from radioactive decay. New developments are being made to increase the output and efficiency while decreasing the cost of that energy production. Wind and solar farms are springing up around the world. Soon, it might not be far-fetched to see solar panels on every home.

Advantages of Solar Energy

Solar Plant

Solar energy is an attractive alternative energy source because it can be such a compact energy producer. Wind turbines and hydroelectric plants need special land requirements (large tracts of windy land in the case of wind power and a river in the case of hydroelectric power). A solar energy system is small enough to be installed on the roof of a house, and the only requirements are that the light from the sun reach the panels during the day.

There are many advantages to installing a solar energy system on your home. First of all, the source of energy is the sun. Sun light is free and will be forever (unless the government decides to somehow tax it). This means that after the installation of the system, there will be an endless supply of free solar energy for homes.

Solar energy has an unlimited source. Unlike fossil fuels running out, the sun isn’t going to burn out any time soon, so that isn’t a concern. You will only be limited to the amount of light you can capture in a day by how many panels you install. If you are a do-it-yourself type of person, diy solar power for homes is a way for you to cut the cost of the installation, allowing you to capture more sun light for the money.

Solar power allows you to live off the grid. Power outages don’t happen as often as they used to, but still occur. Having a solar energy system installed on your home allows you to continue to power your household needs even during a power outage. The more panels and deep cycle batteries you have in your array, the more independent you are from the power grid. Eventually, you may even be able to receive a credit from the power company for producing more energy than you consume. Talk about negating the solar energy for homes cost!

Solar energy for homes also produces a clean, pollution free energy. Unlike all the forms we utilize fossil fuels, which all eventually come down to burning, solar panels convert light energy into electricity via photovoltaic cells. This conversion produces zero emissions or harmful by-products. If the zero footprint concept is important to you, then installing a solar power system is a good choice.

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

Solar energy for homes does have at least a few drawbacks. Solar panels are sometimes not looked upon favorable by HOAs and communities, because they might be considered an eyesore. These rules and regulations are quickly disappearing, but be sure to check local ordinances to make sure the installation of them isn’t going to get you in trouble.

Finding affordable solar energy for homes is not easy. It is very, and I mean very expensive to install a solar energy system. The return on investment might not be worth it to many at todays market prices, but if you are planning on staying in your home for 10-20 years, it might eventually pay for itself. Shop around to find cheap solar energy for homes prices, as there are more and more companies that offer installation and materials.

What You Will Need

Solar power is generated from photoelectric cells lined within a panel which convert light from the sun into electricity. That electricity is then fed into batteries for storage. The batteries can be connected into your home grid to power household appliances, as well as provide excess energy to the power company for a rebate. A few important items to consider when looking for affordable solar power for homes are:

  • Panels
  • Wiring
  • Batteries
  • Inverter

The panels will capture the sunlight, and how much you would like to harvest is up to you. The more square footage you have, the more solar energy you will generate. But it will cost you. I’ve seen websites that charge $250 flat rate shipping for panels, and then around 3 dollars a watt. An 80-watt panel would then cost you almost $500 – just the panel remember. This would supplement your electricity intake, but wouldn’t make a huge dent in your bill. A larger investment would be necessary to completely offset your consumption.

Amazon sells nice solar panels for around $250 for a 100- or 110-watt panel, which is a pretty good deal (click here).

Instapark® NEW All Black 100W Mono-crystalline Solar Panel, 100 Watt

Solar output wires are used to link the panels with the batteries. A charge controller is needed, so as not to overcharge your batteries (click here to buy).

30A LCD 12V 24V Solar Controller Regulator Charge Battery Power

The batteries will be constantly recharging, so a long life battery is a must. Deep cycle batteries are the best option here, as they are built to be charged and depleted over and over (click here to buy).

Vmaxtanks Vmaxslr125 AGM Deep Cycle 12v 125ah Battery for Use with Pv Solar Panels

The inverter is needed to convert sine wave DC to AC (click here to buy).

Power Bright PW1100-12 Power Inverter 1100 Watt 12 Volt DC To 110 Volt AC

Placement of the panels is also important for a do it yourself solar power for homes project. Maximum sunlight is necessary to harvesting as much sunlight as possible. Therefore, placing panels on rooftops above natural or un-natural sunblocks is important. Face your panels south to achieve maximum exposure.

Be sure to have a certified electrician connect the system to your circuit box. Improper connection is a fire hazard and might even void your home warranty or hazard insurance policies.

Solar Energy For Homes

Because this energy source is renewable, solar energy for homes is a great option for long term energy production. The energy crisis is real. With dwindling supply and middle eastern unrest, fossil fuels become every day a more expensive energy solution. With the technological advances in alternative energy, we will likely see the costs come down, making them more available to more and more people accross the planet. Solar energy will likely be a large player in whatever energy solution we come up with.

Have you set up a solar power system on your home? If so, how much did it cost? How extensive is your system? How much power does it produce? What kind of maintenance is involved? Please leave your comments below. Thanks!

Fishing Game

For me, fishing is more than just an activity or even a hobby.  I have enjoyed fishing for as long as I can remember, and merely ‘enjoying’ fishing is not the correct word for it.  In my college days, I was obsessed.  I took fly fishing classes, ditched my other classes to get out on the river, and even took girls on dates fly fishing.  There is something mystical about fishing that lures me in every time.

Ever since I was a boy, my fishing excursions with my family always turned into a fishing game or competition.  Who could catch the biggest fish?  Who could catch the most fish?  This challenge always brought out the most focus in all of us, as we always wanted to win the prize.  When I go fishing with friends or family now, the biggest fish or the most fish usually determines who buys lunch or dinner.

For me, getting into fishing wasn’t very difficult.  All it took was for my dad to take me to a pond as a little boy to feed the carp corn and bread crumbs.  For others, it might take a little bit more prodding.  Try using a Nintendo Wii fishing game, handheld fishing game, or other online fishing game to spark their interest.  If you are trying to get them interested in hunting as well, try a hunting and fishing game to spark their interest into both outdoor activities.  The Nintendo Wii is a useful tool because it incorporates real fishing movements by using a fishing game controller shaped like a fishing pole, which makes for a good fishing game for kids.

While virtual fishing games are fun and can help to spark interest into real fishing, nothing can substitute for the real thing.  Start with a bass fishing game or a fly fishing game online, and then move onto the real thing if interest is there.  If not, maybe just getting out into the great outdoors could do the trick.  The nice thing about fishing is that it can be done in some of the most scenic places on earth.

Whether you get into virtual fishing or the real thing, add a little competition with a fishing game.

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Fishing Games

Fishing is one of my favorite hobbies.  I can remember my dad taking me fishing for the first time, which immediately hooked me for life.  I have grown up in different parts of the country, which exposed me to different fishing methods and types.  Living in the mid-west exposed me to the many different ways to bring in a catfish.  Alongside catfish fishing was bass fishing.  Living in the Rocky Mountains gave me an appreciation for fly fishing, which allows me to pursue the different species of trout and salmon.

My brothers also like to fish.  We grew up fishing together, and many times our fishing trips turned into competitions.  It started with the biggest fish or most fish leading to bragging rights, and now the winner gets a free lunch or dinner.  One fishing game we play is that we take turns on a specific fishing hole.  We set a limit of casts or time on that hole, and the person who catches the most fish or the biggest fish in the alloted limit wins.  Or the game can be stretched out over an entire day on the river, lake or stream.

Fishing games are the most fun when played while actually fishing.  But sometimes it just isn’t feasible to get out on the river to fish.  Recently I have found it very difficult to coordinate with my brothers to go on a fishing trip.  What I have found is that there are other options that bring fishing games home.  PC fishing games and online fishing games allow you engage in a virtual fishing competition from the comfort of your own home.  The Nintendo Wii has different fishing games to choose from as well, and can bring fun to the entire family.  There are many options when looking for fishing games for kids, so starting with the Wii could be the right move.  Sometimes, trying to get someone into fishing or hunting is best started out by playing hunting and fishing games on the computer or another game console.

There are also a lot of handheld fishing games, with the game system taking the shape of a fishing pole.  These are not as popular or fun, but the Nintendo Wii again has a fishing pole controller, which adds a bit of realism to the game.

These fishing game options are not nearly as fun as the real thing, but with a little bit of imagination, they can bring a lot of fun home.  If you are able to get out on the river or lake, try incorporating bass fishing games or fly fishing games into your outing with friends and family, it might make the trip a little bit more interesting.

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