Book Review: A Practical Guide for Food Storage

What? It’s been a while?

Yes, yes it has been.

While I love writing about what I do as a homemaker and a mom and sharing it with the world, sometimes I have to step back and remember that being a homemaker and more importantly a wife and mom, is my most important job, and sometimes it’s hard to do both. It’s been one of those times for me. I forgot how busy it gets when kids get older and start to have lives of their own…and now with three teens, I’m running many different directions at once trying to get them to their events, and cooking and cleaning, church responsibilities, littles and all of that good stuff.

But, I’m back. And I had the opportunity to read a great little book that I wanted to share with you today. Charisse Merrill is a wife, mom, blogger, author, and preparer (I can totally make up words, right?) who has written a guide on food storage that anybody can read.

IMG_6618

There is so much peace of mind involved in being prepared for the possibilities of life. Some of these could be major big things like natural disasters, terrorist attacks, pandemics, etc. It is more likely, however, that life will happen….illness, job loss, divorce, car repairs, and other things that can effect our financial situations. These things are easier to navigate if one is prepared and the best way to do that is by beginning to accumulate food storage.

It’s really not enough, at least in my {humble} opinion, to become a “couponer” and buy hoards of items at the store for very little cents…..taking all these things and making them work into MEALS that your family will actually eat….that requires a system.

A Practical Guide for Food Storage by Charisse Merrill is a quick read with lots of good basic information, as well as recipes, lists, and a system for obtaining and tracking your food storage. For the beginner, this is a great place to start. Charisse began her system with 4 months worth of food, but you could even break that down further and focus on ONE MONTH of food, by following the steps outlined in her system, scaled for a month’s worth of meals. Then work up to 3, 6, and even 12 months of supplies.

There IS some initial work involved in any comprehensive food storage system, but Charisse spells it out and makes it easy to get started.

Some of her greatest advice:

  • Try recipes BEFORE the crisis hits -Not only does every family have their own likes and dislikes, but being familiar with the recipes and foods BEFORE you are under significant amounts of stress because of life circumstances is CRITICAL to well-being. I know this from experience. The first time we lived on food storage, I had a lot of great basic items (wheat, milk powder, rice, oats, etc). But actually making FOOD that people would EAT with these items….that was a whole other thing. It took some time and a significant toll on me to learn how to do so under pressure. Charisse has several recipes that you can try for your family if you need help getting started.
  • WATER WATER WATER! – This is one of the easiest and most neglected areas of preparedness. STORE WATER! Remember you need water for drinking, water for cooking, water for cleaning and washing. Include amounts needed for cooking as well as needed for drinking in your food storage plan. More on storing water HERE.
  • Spices! Good seasonings can take food from awful to amazing….remember to store spices, herbs, and seasonings. More HERE, as well as ideas on drying your own herbs, and making your own onion or garlic powder,.
  • A master list of where items are stored….this is one of the big excuses I hear when I talk to people about food storage….”I don’t have anywhere to put it.” There are SO MANY places to stash your food storage and making a list of where everything is makes it easy and stress free to use.
  • Have a little redundancy….for example have an electric wheat grinder to rotate your wheat and make homemade bread like this HERE, as well as a hand grinder in case there’s no electricity.

A couple of points that I wanted to make from my perspective and experience:

  • I only buy Tomato Powder now instead of cans of tomato sauce, tomato paste, and tomato juice. I can use the exact amount that I need and I don’t end up throwing away bulging cans of tomato sauce (which has happened, unfortunately).
  • As a Thrive Consultant, I would tell you BEFORE YOU BUY THRIVE AT COSTCO (I love Costco, by the way), to FIND A THRIVE CONSULTANT! Your Thrive Consultant will NOT ONLY MATCH the Costco price on any Thrive item, BUT ALSO set you up so you can earn 10% back in free product and sometimes even additional 1/2 off product…MUCH BETTER DEAL! GO THROUGH a CONSULTANT! If you’re reading this, and you’re interested in more info…well, click on the little envelope in the right side bar.
  • You can absolutely adapt your food storage to what your family eats. Our family lives in a state of rotation. We live on our food storage and are constantly rotating and replacing. That way, I know what my family will eat, they are used to eating it, and I have it on hand. We’re a little different than some families in that we don’t do a lot of prepackaged food. We make almost everything from scratch. This means that my list is a little longer since I would need to include ingredients to make spaghetti sauce, cream of mushroom (or whatever) soup (click here for recipe), refried beans (recipe here, home-canned bean directions here), tortillas, etc, but that’s ok. It’s all achievable.

All in all, this is a GREAT book for beginners who are looking for guidance in starting one of the best investment and insurance policies a family can have.

You can find Charisse’s book, “A Practical Guide for Food Storage” at Amazon HERE, and read more about her preparations at The Merrill Project, where she is also running a food storage challenge so check it out.

No matter where you are in your preparedness journey, make a plan to do a little more today. Times are tough and the more prepared we are, the more peace we can feel in our every day lives. So if you’re new, check out Charisse’s book. If you’re a veteran of preparedness, leave a comment with one or two of your BEST ideas gained through experience for preparing.

Have a wonderful day, and see you soon with some recipes and plans for making peace and preparedness a part of every day life.

*Although I received a free copy of this book to review, all opinions are my own.

Tricks for Banishing the WITCHING HOUR

TEH-witchinghourMy eyes glance at the clock. My breathing starts to speed up and my heart starts to race. It gets harder to breathe…..My muscles tighten and then I hear the garage door open. Hyperventilation. Panic.

Don’t get me wrong….I LOVE my kids. LOVE them. I honestly believe…..

“Children are an heritage of the Lord and . . . happy is the man [and woman] that hath [their] quiver full of them” (see Psalm 127: 3-5 ).

And boy do I have a quiver full,….thankfully. And I absolutely agree with Ezra T. Benson, who said,

“Yes, blessed is the husband and wife who have a family of children. The deepest joys and blessings in life are associated with family, parenthood, and sacrifice. To have those sweet spirits come into the home is worth practically any sacrifice.”

Although many would try to convince me to be somewhere else, to get a job and avoid this trying block of time, as a mother and homemaker, I know the importance of this: “First, take time to always be at the crossroads when your children are either coming or going–when they leave and return from school–when they leave and return from dates–when they bring friends home.” (Ezra T. Benson, To the Mothers In Zion, Feb. 1987)

I KNOW this is where I’m supposed to be. But I still inevitably suffer from being at the crossroads, also known as

TEH-witchingTitle

Every day about 3:15 p.m., I suffer from extreme anxiety and overwhelm and stress. It lasts until about 8 p.m. EVERY WEEK NIGHT.

The kids come in and they don’t say hi, they say “what can I eat?” And bless their hearts, they all want to talk to me at the same time and tell me about their days, and lists of things they need me to spend $$$$ on, and things they WANT me to spend $$$$ on. And homework, and reading, and dinner, and choir concerts and church youth group meetings, and visiting and home teaching, and on, and on, and on……

Is it a rough time of day for you, too? Rough might be downplaying it, yeah? And while Xanax is lovely when needed, taking it every single night…..not a good thing.

Here’s a few ideas that have been helpful for me, and hopefully will be helpful for you, to get through the Witching Hour….who knows, maybe you’ll avoid it all-together.

TEH-menuPlanMenu Planning: I shop once a month, which is hard sometimes, but that’s what works for us. So it is essential…ESSENTIAL that I have a meal plan. So I sit down once a month and plan out what we will eat. In addition, I have 15 meals (times 6) that I have stuff on hand for all the time (more about that in another post coming soon).

PM Planning: I find it really helps if I look at what is going on the next day, before I go to bed. It helps me carve out my time to prep, so that I can avoid that witching hour.

TEH-AMPrepAM Prep: I like to do as much meal prep as I can in the morning, when things are quiet, and my little XY is doing his online preschool work. Whether it’s getting all the ingredients chopped and measured, and assembled, or putting a meal in the crock pot to be done when dinner rolls around, I find the more I can do in the morning when things are slow, the easier it is on me later in the day.

 

TEH_veggies

Bulk Cooking/Bulk Prepping: When I go to the store and come home with a ten pound bag of carrots, but best thing for me to do is chop, slice, (etc) that whole bag, then and there. Not only does that make my day-to-day easier, but I (and the minions) end up eathing alot more veggies if they are prepped and ready to go. In all honesty, this doesn’t always happen, BUT when it does….things go much better.

Prep ahead Veggies, Prepping and freezing in portion sizes, Home Canned Beans, Frozen Cookie Dough Balls, Home Canned Chicken Stock

Homestore: Having a home store means I have the ingredients for at least 15 meals on hand at any given time. I am working on having three months worth of foods we regularly eat on hand so I can provide in times of economic hardship, or some other disaster, or simply just have what I need for a quick meal so I don’t have to run to the store. Some of the meals on my list are: Spaghetti, Hawaiian Haystacks, Homemade Pizza, Burritos, Fried Rice, Southwestern Chicken & Rice Soup, Macaroni & Cheese, and more.

 

IMG_4237Mixes: Having my own “convenience foods” ready to go makes meal time so much easier. Not only can I control the food we eat, but I can do most things cheaper than their grocery store counterparts.

Pancake Mix , Instant Oatmeal Mix, Muffin Mix, (if you’re doing “Breakfast for Dinner”), Pizza Sauce and Seasoning Mix, Cream of Anything Soup Mix, Tortillas, Bouillon

TEH_BCN1Freezer Meals: By bulk cooking and freezing the extra in portion sizes, I can have meals ready to go in the freezer that just require a few minutes in the microwave, or can go from freezer to oven in a snap.

Bean & Cheese Burritos, Homemade Chicken Nuggets, make and freeze Homemade Pizza Dough,

TEH-tomatobasilsoup1Meals with 5 Ingredients or Less:  Something quick and easy, with few ingredients like Tomato Basil Soup which is awesome with grilled cheese sandwiches, helps make dinner quick and easy, and lets us get on with the rest of the evening crazy.

TEH-MIJvarietyMeals In Jars: Taking an hour or so on a slow day to put ingredients together in a jar, makes dinner come together in 20 minutes.

Prepping Meals in JarsSouthwestern Chicken & Rice Soup, Summer Porridge,

TEH_scHamPot_8Crockpot/Pressure Cooker: Slow Cooker Ham & Potatoes, Rosemary Chicken, Turkey Breast, Roasts, Dry beans…..all things that can be cooked in a fraction of the time in a pressure cooker, or cooked on low heat all day in a slow cooker, for spectacular mealtime results.

By using these tricks, I can focus on what’s really important FOR ME as a mother and a homemaker. Being at the crossroads. Because I am a mother who knows how important it is for me to overcome my anxiety and be there for my children. Finding ways to eliminate and avoid stress during the Witching Hour is one way that I try to make peace and preparedness a part of my every day life.

What things do YOU do to avoid the crazy stress of the Witching Hour?

 

Pinterest: My Most Popular Pins

teh_top10PI love Pinterest, don’t you? I know some people get intimidated by the sheer volume of info on Pinterest and the whole idea that one must “keep up with the Mrs. Joneses” of the world. Fortunately, I don’t fall into either category, so Pinterest and I have a close relationship. So close, in fact, that Pinterest sent me an email recently telling me viewers favorite Pins from my website. It was kinda fun to see them all, so I thought I’d share them with you, in case you missed them the first time around. I’d love for you to take a look and if you feel so moved, hover over the images in the original posts and click to pin. Here they are, my top 10, listed in popularity from 10 to 1….

TEH-pizzafeat10. Homemade Pizza: amazing homemade crust, easy and flavorful sauce, and topping ideas give you everything you need to know to kick the delivery habit and make your own flavorful, delicious and healthy pizza at home in about an hour…

 

file00018774182909. Water Storage: One of the quickest, cheapest, easiest and MOST IMPORTANT things you NEED to do NOW for your prepping…

 

TEH_tortillas12 8. Homemade Tortilla Mix: Have you ever had homemade tortillas??? Fast, easy, and SO YUMMY! You’ll never want to buy them again….

 

TEH_chcopbcrba7. Choco-Coco PB Crunch Bars: Sweet enough to be a treat, but full of good for you stuff like oats, coconut oil, natural peanut butter, these are a fast and easy bar to satisfy your hungry beasts….

 

TEH_quinoafeat6. Thrive Quinoa Energy Salad: Super healthy and packed full of good for you quinoa and veggies, this is a guaranteed energy booster…

 

 

TEH-100Bread 5. Best Ever 100% Whole Wheat Bread: Everybody LOVES homemade bread, right? Just the smell of it is pure heaven! But I’m sure, if you’ve ever baked bread that you’ve found it loses it’s appeal after a day….well, NO MORE! The recipe will give you soft fluffy bread that keeps its lovely texture for several days….you’re gonna love it!…

 

TEH-DisinfectingWipes-ingredients4. Homemade Disinfectant Cleaning Wipes (reusable): Whether you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint or desire a departure from harsh and toxic chemical lists an arm long, this is a great “recipe” for reusable cleaning wipes to use around your home…

 

TEH_burritos93. Make Ahead Bean & Cheese Burritos: Sometimes in the effort to move away from prepackaged, processed foods, we suffer in the convenience department. With just a pinch of planning and forethought, you can have the convenience of frozen burritos at your fingertips. Your family,  your schedule, your sanity will thank you…

 

TEH_bouillon 2. Veggie, Chicken or Beef Bouillon Mix: We all love the convenience of bouillon, but many, I’m sure, bemoan the plethera of chemical compounds in commercial bouillon cubes/powder. First and foremost on the list of shame at our house is MSG. My son is allergic, so I came up with this quick and easy and MEGA-flavorful mix that includes HEALTHY on it’s list of accomplishments…

 

TEH_creamofsoup3 1. Cream of Soup Mix: Forgive the BLAH pic from one of my earliest posts. This soup mix is anything BUT blah….full of flavor and just as quick and easy as opening a can, but OH SO MUCH better for you. You can customize this Cream of Soup mix in any of a 1,000 ways and never have to run to the store again for a can of condensed soup…

 

Thanks for taking a stroll through memory lane with me….it was fun to see what the most popular pins on my website have been since January 2013 when I started my little blog. I’d love to know YOUR favorite post on my blog, or which post you’ve pinned to Pinterest. I’d also love to know your favorite posts from out there in digiworld that help YOU make Peace and Preparedness a part of Every Day Life so I can go take a gander, so leave me a comment! I always read them!

 

DIY Food: Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Don’t you love convenience? I really love convenience….

There is a certain canned soup company that was part of my cooking repertoire almost daily until a couple of years ago. Their condensed soups made cooking quick and easy. But once you start reading labels, there’s no going back, and I now make my cream of soup mix and use it anytime I need Cream of Mushroom, or Cream of Chicken soup.TEH_creamofsoup3

I didn’t have a convenient substitute for the  condensed tomato soup, until recently, so we stopped eating all the recipes we used to have that used it.  I never loved the condensed tomato soup….it was too sweet and wimpy in flavor, so I am THRILLED that Thrive’s Tomato Sauce Mix is bursting with flavor, doesn’t have the “sweet” taste and is in my Home Store…yep, keep it in my pantry.sauces-tomato_1Sometimes, you don’t want (or have the time) to spend hours slaving over the hot stove. You’ve got a million different directions you’re running and need dinner on the table ASAP. This is a great “kid approved” dinner you can have on the table in 20 minutes or less (I say less, because if you don’t have 8 people in your house, it’ll probably take you a lot less time that it does in our house).


TEH-tomatobasilsoup1

teh-tomatobasilrecH

 

 

Serves 4-6
Printable Recipe Card

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup Thrive Tomato Sauce Mix (NOT Tomato Powder)
  • 1 1/2-2 cups whole milk, Half & Half, or cream (I prefer a mix of whole milk and Half & Half)
  • 1 tablespoon Thrive Freeze Dried Basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring water to a boil in sauce pan. In the meantime, combine Tomato Sauce Mix, basil, and garlic powder in a bowl.
  2. When water reaches a boil, whisk sauce mixture into the boiling water.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer and whisk 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add cream, Half & Half, or whole milk, and salt and pepper to taste, and heat through. Add more milk as needed to reach desired consistency.

*To make a more hearty soup, add a tablespoon or two of any or all of the following: Thrive Sausage Crumbles, Thrive Chopped Spinach, Thrive Freeze Dried Chopped Onions, or Thrive Zucchini.

**If you’re making this 100% from your Home Store, you can substitute 1/2 cup Thrive Instant Milk Powder, 2 cups water, and 1 tablespoon Thrive Butter Powder for the whole milk/cream/Half & Half

Serve with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches or a handful of saltine crackers for a delicious and easy meal.


What is YOUR favorite quick and easy “kid approved” meal? Have you had to make any changes to it, in order to make it healthier?

Thanks for stopping by, and as always, I look forward to your comments!