Tuesday, November 22, 2011
A Look Back!
A look back at how I have prepared for C-Day! (Collapse Day) I started back in 1999 and then when Y2K fizzled I slowed down to a crawl and even stopped a lot of my prepping. Don't get me wrong I didn't get rid of anything that I had acquired I just started living off of it. My husband lost his job and we had to give our house up and eventually had to go bankrupt. We moved into a rental and lived off the food storage that I had worked so hard to can and dehydrate as well as the rice and beans and canned veggies. My son also had a similar story and he and his family also ate from our food storage. We ended up using most of the food and as we used it I didn't replace it.
Then a few years ago when our house value started dropping severely I started realizing that we needed to start prepping again and I started getting back on the net and studying what I needed to do again. I refreshed my skills of canning and started canning. I canned pear sauce and pear butter from free pears I got from friends. Then I started going to farm stands and picking up bushels of string beans and tomatoes. I made salsa, and tomato juice and canned tomatoes. Then I started thinking about meat and every time chicken breasts went on sale I canned between 10 and 20 pounds of it. That got to be scary thinking we may be living off of chicken and tuna only so I started buying large fresh pork roasts and canning them. Next came the beef roasts, mind you I got the cheapest cuts possible such as chuck or round roasts then they were cut up to fit into the jars and canned. The last meat I canned has been ground beef. I learned a nifty way to do it from the lady on Homestead Acres and I am still canning this ground beef as I can find it on sale. I tried canning ham and corned beef as well but the ham turns really dark when it is canned and it doesn't look very appetizing . So I have bought about 40 12 oz. and 1 lb. cans of ham from Walgreens when it has gone on sale for $2 a can. I also bought their canned crabmeat and clams when they were on sale as well. Corned beef I bought in cans from the commissary and Sam's Club but their price went up and now neither of them seem to carry it anymore around here.
My canned vegetables I bought when they were on sale for between 25 cents and 39 cents at the grocery stores as loss leaders. I would buy the limit and go back every day during the sale for the limit again. I also went many times to multiple stores and took my husband and granddaughter with me to buy their limit as well so I now have about 400 cans of a variety of vegetables. Most of them are corn, creamed corn, string beans, and peas. But about 175 cans of them are beets, limas, kidney beans, pork and beans, sauerkraut, spinach, black eyed peas and garbanzo beans of which I bought at about 50 to 65 cents. I also have quite a bit of refried beans and some canned potatoes as well as many cans of whole or diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and paste. I found many of my large cans of tomatoes for 88 cents and the 15 oz. cans for 45 cents at places like Big Lots and Ollies. You need to be careful of the dates when buying from places such as these because some of the exp. dates will be within 6 months and that is why they get them cheap and sell them cheap. But I do buy the short exp. date cans if I can use them in my kitchen pantry and use them up before the exp. date.
The next group of items I have stocked up on was rice which I purchased at Sam's Club. I got enough to feed 15 people for a year or two and also enough to make rice milk for those members of my family who are allergic to dairy. I purchase 24 boxes of various Betty Crocker potato products such as scalloped, and au gratin for 40 cents a box after sale and with coupons. I purchased a rice a roni type mix at savalot grocery for 49 cents a box and keep about 30 boxes on hand. I also bought two cases of macaroni and cheese like Kraft makes for 25 cents a box. I bought instant mashed potatoes when on sale at the commissary and got probably 100 lbs. of a variety of dried beans and lentils and peas from the commissary which I accomplished by buying 4 packages every time I went shopping over a year or so.
Now for condiments, that was fun, I tried buying them a couple at a time as I went to the grocery and then I got into extreme couponing and started watching for rock bottom prices in June and July and saved my coupons and ordered many from Coupon Masters on the net. I ended up getting almost all of my mustards, barbeque sauces, salad dressings, and ketchups for less than 15 cents each and some were free. Mayonnaise and Miracle Whip style salad dressing I got for about half price. I did the same thing with jellies, jams, and preserves. I couldn't get very good deals on steak sauces and Worcestershire sauce so I went to Dollar Deals which is a Dollar Tree store. The sauces were $1 each. Not bad considering many of these are $4 or more such as Heinz 57 or A1 Steaks. Of course they are a generic brand but they taste very similar to the name brands.
Over the last few years I made several orders to Emergency Essentials and Honeyville for dehydrated foods and wheat berries when they were on sale. I then kept reading that LDS Cannery was allowing non members to can foods and buy bulk grains and beans so I called and made an appointment and showed up. They were very nice and helpful. They taught me how to do it and even jumped in and helped. Didn't take but about 2 hours for me to can 50 lbs of mashed potato flakes, 50 lbs. of oatmeal, 50 lbs. of non instant milk powder, 25 lbs. of Tang, 25 lbs of hot cocoa mix, and 50 lbs of onion flakes and 50 lbs of carrots. I then bought bulk red and white hard winter wheat and bulk pinto beans. I also bought a few cans of Navy Beans and Black Beans. Of course all of their foods are dried and dehydrated and are not freeze dried but their prices were super reasonable compared to EE or Honeyville.
As far as Coffee and Tea. I have bought them both on sale 2 to 4 cans or boxes at a time when I find them on sale. Sam's has large containers of Non Dairy Creamer which I buy 1 or 2 each time I go there. The non Dairy Creamer will be used to make Dry milk creamier and a better consistency for drinking or cereal as well as for coffee. I have bought Koolaid on sale for 10 cents a pack and stocked up on Lemonade or Pink Lemonade mostly but also got punch and grape and a few other flavors for a change of pace. The Tang that has a 100% of Vit. C daily allowance will be kept for breakfast drink only to make the Tang last for as long as possible. If someone catches a cold they will be allowed 3 or 4 glasses a day.
As far as treats are concerned I have bought hard candies when they are on sale after Halloween and Christmas. I have lots of mints, red hots and a variety of other candies. I bought brownie mixes when they were on sale and used coupons. But I think my best buy was when I happened on Betty Crocker cake mixes at the commissary for 65 cents on sale and they had coupons and there were no limit on what you could buy. It ended up costing me 32 cent a box and I bought 27 boxes of German chocolate, fudge and yellow cake mixes. Now I have to find the recipes to turn these into cookies and snack cakes so that I don't have to make just cakes from them. We are not really fond of eating cake with frosting but do enjoy a variety of desserts. I also have bought a large variety of jello and pudding mixes. Puddings taste just fine with instant milk or non instant dried milk. I was surprised at how good it tasted.
I am now trying to buy jars of cheese whiz and nacho cheese. I figure they will last longer than fresh cheese in my food storage. I have some Cheddar Wheels that are waxed that should last for years in the refrigerator. I guess it will just get sharper with age.
I have many other foods such as condensed soups, home canned soups, chili, corned beef hash, sardines, and a good quantity of Salmon. I have about 400 cans of chunk light tuna because it is a favorite of our and versatile. Of course since they are 5 ozs. each they will go pretty quickly if our extended family is with us after the collapse. I also have a few packages of dry soups and couscous. I got a really good deal of canned spaghetti sauces in many different flavors. I bought about 50 cans at about 69 cents a piece. I also have lots of spaghetti, rotini, macaroni, penne, fettucini, etc. and also egg noodles.
I have 45 lbs of grits which we like for breakfast and we use it with seafood and it is even good with cheese added to it to serve as a starch with a meal like chili or with ham. I bought several cases of ravioli which I got for 59 cent a can. I figured they would be good for times when we can't do more than heat food slightly. In a pinch you can eat them cold and you don't need water to fix them.
My canned fruit is a variety from #10 cans of apple slices and banana slices to 1 pound cans of peaches, pears, pineapple, and fruit cocktail. I also have a good supply of raisins, cranberries, dates, and prunes in dried forms.
I have not mentioned some other things in my storage. 200 lbs of bread and all purpose flour, 400 lbs. of sugar, 300 lbs. of salt and lots of very large plastic bottles of spices. I have approximately 6 large bottles of cinnamon ( Hubby and I are diabetic) so we use a lot of cinnamon. I have Curry powder, cumin, Italian seasoning, oregano, basil, bay leaves, lemon pepper, chili powder, turmeric, paprika, Steak rubs, and chicken rubs, cayenne, garlic, and some others I can't think of right now. I also have 2 gallon bottles of black pepper. I have 6 lbs. of yeast and large bags of baking soda and a large jar of baking powder. I have 6 pints of vanilla and many smaller jars and bottles of less used spices, herbs and flavorings. Also I have about 5 lbs. of chicken bouillon cubes and 5 lbs of beef bouillon cubes.
I know this sounds like an awful lot of food but I have 13 people in my household and extended local family. I am the one in the family doing the food storage. If anyone does come to stay with us long term they will be required to bring with them all their food from their homes as well as all their clothes, bedding, weapons, ammo, portable lights and batteries as well as portable radios, walkies, etc.
There is no way we can support everyone so everyone has to contribute, cutting wood, helping with the garden and fruit trees, helping with the rabbits, trapping squirrels and wild rabbits, fishing, purifying water. Canning and dehydrating foods, washing clothes and hanging on the lines, trapping wild geese, I would try to domesticate the wild geese by clipping their wings and feeding them well. Their fresh eggs would be very welcome. At that point I don't care what the city will allow. Someone in the group will be in charge of sprouting seeds and beans probably one of the children or a couple of them. Someone else will be in charge of filtering water and boiling it or treating it. I will be in charge of menu planning and probably most of the cooking. I want to stretch the food as far as I can and still keep everyone fed well enough to keep them healthy. I am the only one who can make bread at the moment so I will be teaching that skill to one of the other women or a couple of them so that they can share that load. I believe it will be quite a bit of work to keep everyone in bread, rolls and buns. All dishes of course will be washed by hand and every member of the family will wipe their own dishes off and then wash them in a tub of hot soapy water and rinse them and put them in a drainer. Different people will have to take their turn at scrubbing pots, pan, and bowls. Foods will have to be cooled to room temperature and then packaged and put into cooling jars or put in a winter cooler on the porch. All this is if we don't have power anymore. We have 180 kilowatts of PV solar power which will be for recharging computer, and phones if they work and lights and fans. I will probably use either the Kitchen Mixer or bread machine to knead the bread for me to lighten that load but will bake the bread in the solar oven or box oven on the wood stove or grill. All cooking will be done by several different methods, solar oven, wood stove in winter, rocket stove, propane grill, open fire (campfire) cooking, or buddy burner and hobo stove cooking. Clothing will be washed in a large tub or in my wonder washer. I will reserve the wonder washer for underclothes and light weight clothes like blouses shorts and the like. They are not that sturdy to hold up to much washing of bed linens or jeans. Pillow cases would do well in the wonder washer though.
We live on 1 1/8th acre of land. The buildings take up about a quarter of it or so and we will try to dedicate as much as possible to gardening or raising rabbits or captured geese hopefully. I hope that the gardens will produce properly. With reports of droughts and strange weather around the country I do worry about it. I will ask that everyone in the family put at least 1 full hour a day into weeding and picking off bugs. The food grown in that garden will be worth its weight in gold. The food I have will not last forever especially if have all 13 and maybe more in our home. We have 2600 square feet in our house and a one car detached garage and 2 good size sheds and one small tool shed. I have thought of cleaning out the garage and putting screen door and windows in it for air flow and then putting some of the party out there to sleep at night if it seems safe enough with one or two people on guard to watch the garden at night. I would hate to be almost ready to harvest and then have it all stolen by the lazy neighbors who won't grow a garden.
As far as the neighbors go, I was thinking about asking them to grow gardens in their backyards if we till them for them and give them seeds. Then they will have food for themselves and their families. One of the reasons I have so much rice is so we can give the neighbors something to help them survive. If they grow a garden of their own and have some rice they have a chance at least. Maybe we can teach them to trap squirrels and rabbits. There is also a good size group of raccoons in my neighborhood as well. We live within walking distance of the river and some creeks so there should be crabs and fish available with the right persistence. I know many will leave their homes and will probably die the first winter. We live in a neighborhood with many older retired folk. I know we can't take care of everyone so we will be concerned with our immediate neighbors on all sides of us which will be about 10 houses. I imagine some of those will be abandoned by those going to stay with their families. We have a house across the street from us that is a Veterans Home. There is 4 to 5 people there and they mostly are in their late 60's and 70's. They are men who can't really be alone for health reasons or are recuperating from surgeries but don't need nursing just some ordinary home care. The lady who cooks and cleans is trained to give CPR, regular first aid and to give the men their medication. There is a younger man who is about 35 who stay there all night every night to watch over them in case of emergencies. I would suppose that some of these men might be able to stand a watch early in the mornings or later in the evenings to help with security if we give them walkie talkies to use to alert us. They have a full view of our front area and we could also watch their front area when they are resting. Turn about fair play? Hopefully the neighborhood will work together if it is needed.
As far a weapons go, we have our hunting guns and self defense weapons which I hope never to have to use. We have enough ammunition and cleaning equipment. I don't like to talk about the security side of our preparations. That is not my department and my husband does not feel we should let the world know what we can or can't do to defend ourselves. That is a taboo subject. Subject closed.
Well, I hope this gives you an idea of our preparations. Of course I left lots out like the camping gear we have and the candle storage as well as wind up radios and wind up lanterns and the flashlights and batteries and all the medical supplies as well as the many books to help us with our survival and medical needs as well as all the board games and cards for entertainment. The three little kids 6,8, and 11 will be doing chores to stay busy and home schooling and then will have time for games and puzzles as well as reading. hopefully the electronic equipment will be able to be used for watching movies once in a while. We have one laptop that is put in a faraday cage along with many movies that are put away for the pleasure of the kids especially. The changes will be hardest on them I believe. They will see a side of the world they have never been aware of and have to adapt quite suddenly. I hope to have a Sunday School for them and the adults that wish to attend each Sunday. I have one hymnal and many Bibles so I guess we could muddle through. Prayer is always a comfort and singing is uplifting even if it is the old time songs or the children's songs.
I will end this tome with this thought, with God's help and our earnest preparation of all that we can accomplish no matter to what extent it ends up being when the collapse arrives we will not go down without heartily trying to survive to the best of our ability. God bless everyone who reads this and may God protect us all during the dire times ahead.
Gram's Survival Kitchen