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.

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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.

Preserving: Drying Herbs

TEH-featherbsA few years ago I realized I needed to do something with my huge Oregano bush, so I started drying it and saving it. The coolest thing was realizing a year later that I hadn’t purchased any oregano from the store and had been using my OWN! This got me thinking this year….I want to preserve all the herbs I use regularly so I have them, know where they came from, and don’t have to purchase any, so in addition to the Oregano, Chives, Thyme, Lavender and Lemon Balm I have and use, I planted Marjoram, Tarragon, Mint, Cilantro, Basil, Parsley and Rosemary. I’ve already started harvesting and drying these for the coming year.

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Then I though a little more….beyond culinary herbs. I could grow many of the medicinal herbs that I wanted to store and use. Last year I planted several medicinal herbs and not a single one germinated….I think the spot I planted them in is unlucky….I’ve never had anything grow successfully there. So this year I ripped out the forsythia bushes in the front yard and planted Ginger Mint, Hierba Buena (Spearmint), Echinacea, St. John’s Wort, Bee Balm, Feverfew, Stevia, and Catnep. The ones I planted in containers didn’t do well, but the others are doing great. I’ve also been harvesting Raspberry leaves and drying them for their medicinal properties. I hope to get some Yarrow, Ashwaghanda, and Comfrey going as well….maybe next year.

TEH-herb2It’s so easy to do! You can use a food dehydrator or an oven, or even the sun. Wash them, lay them out, and dry them until they’re crisp.

TEH-herb1Then you can either store them whole, or crush them. I like to store mine semi-whole, and then crush them into whatever I’m making, when I make it. They seem to have more potency, more aroma, more flavor that way.

I use all kinds of jars to store them….recycled glass spice jars (Watkins and Kroger are some), plastic spice jars-especially from spices/herbs I’ve bought in bulk, and even mason jars make great storage containers.

One more way I can be a little self-sufficient, provide good things for my family and save a little money.

Have YOU ever grown and dried your own herbs? Which are your favorites? If you haven’t, give it a try! You can even look for good deals on herbs at your local grocery or farmers market.

Drying herbs is one more way to make peace and PREPAREDNESS a part of every day life. Have a great day!