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!

How To Clean Your Under Bed Storage Drawers

As space crunch is a common problem in many homes, many people have found out the benefits and utility of under bed storage drawers. These drawers can store many things and give you a neat and tidy home. The things stored in these drawers are protected from dust and germs. However, there are always tiny spaces left through which insects can find their way to these things. So it is very important to clean your drawers. If you are a busy person juggling between your home and office, and don’t have the time to clean on a frequent basis, make sure to at least clean after every three months.

Some Methods to Clean Your Under Bed Storage Drawers

Let’s start with plastic drawers. There are many varieties of plastic drawers available like boxes with lids, clear zip lock plastic, plastic boxes with wheels, etc. These drawers are light-weight and very easily accessible, making it a number 1 choice for many people. They are very easy to clean. You just have to wipe these drawers and the dust will vanish. If you are cleaning them after a long time, you can add some detergent to water, rub this on you drawer and then wipe with a clean cloth. Your drawers will look as good as new.  These boxes are easily washable, sturdy and long-lasting.

Wooden drawers can be a bit time consuming to clean, but you can make it fun to clean them. Allot one day especially to clean your drawers. You can make three different boxes. Keep the things that you want in the “store” box. Keep the things that you want to throw in “thrash” box and keep the things which you don’t want but are too good to be thrown in “donate” box.

There are many things in the drawers which are just kept in the hope of that they will be used someday (especially clothes). If you have not used them in the last year even for once, the chances are you will never use them, so allot them in appropriate box. Once you have sorted out all your things in this way, you can dust your drawers with a vacuum cleaner. That won’t take much time (but sorting out things will!).

Once you have vacuumed your drawers, put some insect and bug repellant solution to prevent insects. Then take the box which has “store” written on it and keep the things in an organized way in the drawers. Do not toss them or you will not find things inside easily and the whole purpose of cleaning the drawers will be wasted. The box which has “thrash” written, you can just throw that into your garbage bin and the third box meant for donating, donate it to NGO’s and charitable trusts.

The clean and organized drawers will make you happy. It helps you to de-clutter your mind too. You surely need to experience it. If you want to try it, start your spring cleaning of under bed storage drawers and feel the difference.

Self Storage Units- A Great Investment

Self storage units have become an attractive investment due to simplified management and consistent cash flow. Today as every little town has storage units it takes serious research to determine if there is need for more storage space. If there is need for more space, there can be some real advantages of this kind of real estate investment. Cash flow can be consistent for years if proper research has been done.

Investing in Self Storage Units:

For investing in self storage units, one has to first see the demand and the vacancy in other storage units in that area. If there are vacancies in other storage units then one is likely to drop the idea. Also one should check the permits issued for storage and statistics online to ensure that there is demand for storage or there will surely be demand in the future.

If one plans for a 102 unit building, one is expected to earn about $4800 per month. Per month $1000 can be the expenses occurred and if one appoints a management company to manage it  it will cost about $500 per month. Thus one can earn a net income of about $ 3300 per month from storage units such as storage Edinburgh.

The approx cost of the project is about $270000 for which a bank loan has to be taken. As the occupancy increases so will your income from the project and you can pay off the debts and release the loan slowly and steadily.

Also one has to follow the legal requirements which are required to be followed. All the laws should be followed and documents should be submitted according to the requirements. Also the security measures should be precise as in the case of self storage Edinburgh.

Thus an investment in self storage units proves to be a great one if proper research and arrangements are done.

Using Tarps For Home Storage

One way to provide some extra storage at home without the big expense of storage products is to use a tarp to throw over whatever you need to protect.  Whether you have a coveted motorcycle that does not fit in the garage but that you don’t want to leave out in the rain, or you want to keep your firewood or lawn furniture dry when not in use, a tarp, and especially one of the many popular camo tarps now often found in stores, is a great way to provide easy to use storage and protection without a high price tag.

The nice thing about opting for a camo design for your protective tarp is that it blends in better with your exterior surroundings.  So, rather than seeing a big expanse of bright blue or green, like many traditional tarps are made of, the camouflage design will be less obvious when you gaze out in the backyard.

Of course, a tarp won’t provide as much coverage or protection as a wooden carport or a shed, or even some type of gazebo or canopy, but it can be an inexpensive and easy way to quickly cover something up that you want to protect.  In fact, you can keep a few extra tarps on hand, and use them whenever needed.  If you know there will be a big snow storm, you can throw them over your outdoor furniture.  Expecting a lot of rain and still want to be able to use your wood in the fireplace?  Use a tarp to keep the wood dry so you won’t have a waterlogged fire that won’t start.  Tarps can also keep your vehicles free from dirt, dust and even bird droppings.

You can get tarps in a wide selection of sizes, so whatever your needs may be, you should be able to find a size to best fit your needs.

Substitutes For Decorative Storage Boxes Lids

Decorative storage boxes are the perfect storage system if you want to keep your stuff organized but do not want piles of ugly boxes to cramp the style of your home. They can save you space and save you a lot of stress when you are looking for something specific, and can also make your room more stylish and bright. For decorative storage boxes lids are essential because they keep everything inside organized and safe. If you have a decorative storage box that has no lid, do not fear. There are some alternatives that you can substitute for it.

For boxes that have no heavy contents, you can get construction paper or any other kind of heavy paper and use it as a cover for your box. Get a piece of construction paper that is bigger than the opening of the storage box. Using a pair of scissors, cut slits into the corners of the paper. Fold the edges and tape the corners together so you can create the shape of a lid with the paper. Because paper is very versatile, you can decorate the paper any way you want. Just try not to apply too many decorative items on it so you do not make it too heavy. Try to stick to coloring materials for decorating.

You can also substitute decorative storage boxes lids with sheets of cardboard. If the storage box you are using now does  not have flaps or if its flaps are broken, you can just get yourself a separate piece of cardboard and fashion it into a lid in the same way. The advantage of using cardboard instead of heavy paper is that you can decorate it with more stuff and it is also sturdier.

Another substitute for the lid of a decorative storage box is a plastic lid. You can get these from old plastic storage boxes that are already damaged. The advantage of plastic is that it is waterproof and very sturdy. However, it may be difficult for you to decorate it since it will not adhere well to glue.

Why Get A Toy Hammock?

Did you ever stop to think about the toy hammock? It is not the first thing a lot of people visualize if they are asked to think about a handy household gadget. But ask an industrious mother, and she’ll let you know how helpful it is. Cheap, simple to work with, just right for storing stuffed animals, what else can a parent desire?

There are other options available, like toy trees and the chain gang toy organizer, but these are more expensive and harder for little hands to use.  If you have young children, toy hammocks are the best ways to go.

Toy nets don’t just have to be crocheted. Fabric ones work also. One of the advantages of solid fabrics is that they are available in a number of eye-catching patterns, like the Cotton Tale Designs Lizzie Toy Bag. The main benefit of a crocheted one is that it stretches further, allowing it to hold a little more. It also is a lot easier to see what’s within, which is good if the hammock is located higher than the child’s head.

Fortunately, it’s quite uncomplicated to set up a toy hammock. Decide where you want it and put in the initial cup hook in that spot in the corner. Utilizing a studfinder, go out from the initial hook and locate the next stud on each side. Put in the next two cup hooks on each side. The last thing to do is circle the hammock around the cup hooks!

These gadgets are also cheap. Most of them cost fewer than ten bucks, although a solid cloth bag may cost a bit more. The few that cost more are generally a name brand or more eye-catching. Even at their most costly, toy bags should not cost more than fifty dollars.  But if you are really crafty, you can make your own.  There are plenty of tutorials available online – all you need is some fabric and time!