Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Looks like my pantry is going to be paying off...unfortunately

I say "unfortunately" because although my wife and I have enough food on hand to sustain us for several months, we're going to have to tap into our extended pantry due to my losing my job today. I'd really appreciate everyone's prayers as I'm starting the job search. In the meantime, it looks like we're going to have a lot of homemade soup with our rice and beans! Please keep us in your prayers, and I'll post an update on here hopefully soon.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Great post on spiritual survival

I think it's fitting with today being Easter that we stop for a minute to think about the "big picture" of our preparations for hard times--it's not what we have, it's Who we serve and what He does in our lives to make us more like Himself to draw others to Him.
What is the big picture? What is the point of it all - all the hours of prepping, all the hard work, researching and sacrifices? To get to Heaven, where “no eye has seen, no ear heard what the Lord has prepared for the who loves him.” See that?! the Lord prepares too! but He is preparing for our coming home. Heaven is our true home and we are but pilgrims on our journey home. He is planning a big home-coming party for us. He is preparing a place for us and He wants us to be with him forever. “And when I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3-4

Click here to read the entire post at

Have a wonderful Resurrection Day!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Beans, beans, the musical seeds, the more you plant, the more you'll feed!

I'll be the first to admit that I'm no Shakespeare when it comes to poetry, but I'm guessing that Shakespeare never wrote about beans, so hopefully we can call it even. :) I went to the store this morning to pick up another 40 pounds of beans for the storage pantry but decided it'd be good to set these aside for future planting and/or sprouting. It can be easy to forget that beans are also seeds, but since they are, they can be planted to yield more food down the road. How cool is it that you can buy a 20-pound bag of beans for about $20 and also have the potential for a huge garden harvest later from those beans? Sounds like a great recipe for survival, and just plain smart from a food-storage standpoint.

One thing you DON'T want to do, however, is if you're planning to use beans to plant later, you absolutely should not vacuum-seal them. Remember that since they are seeds, beans are also living organisms, and vacuum-sealing them will essentially kill them. They'll still be edible for a long time, of course, but they just won't grow and produce more beans after you've vacuum-sealed them. The 40 pounds of beans filled up two 12-jar cases of mason jars (again, don't vacuum-seal the jars), and now those jars are in a cool, dark place until I'm ready to plant them. Have any of you used any of your beans from your food storage for sprouting and/or planting? I'd be interested to hear your stories of storing and growing your own food using beans.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It's surprising how little food is on grocery store shelves

The original site for the post below is about to go offline, so I'm reposting the following article. I hope this will be eye-opening and will compel those of you who've been waiting to stock up to stock up now while you still can. If you don't stock up or add to your food storage now, but decide to wait until later, you might not get what you need when you need it.

I had a day off last week, two days before Thanksgiving, so I decided I’d do a partial “dry run” of the first of a series of marathon shopping trips I’ve been planning along a 150-mile stretch of a major highway. From one end of this route to the other, there are no fewer than nine 24-hour Walmart Supercenters (and two or three other stores open until midnight). I had enough time that day to travel to five of the stores. What I discovered surprised me, and I hope my experience serves as a wakeup call for anyone who has been lazy with their prepping. Waiting to stock up is the biggest mistake any of us could make.

I work nights so it’s usually easiest for me to travel from early evening to early morning — the hours I usually keep anyway. The first caveat I’ll offer for those of you who do your preps shopping at night is that at most big-box stores, items are still being restocked throughout the night and into the morning, so IF something you need isn’t on the shelf, it might be coming up. Or you might just be out of luck.

Since I was just doing a “dry run” and not a full-fledged shopping trip, at the first store I decided to get just one package of each item I had on my list to see how long it would take on average to navigate the aisles I needed to go to, then extrapolate that time over the number of stores I planned to visit — since food items are clustered together, I figured that the time spent picking up assorted non-food items around the store would be a better indication of how long it would take to navigate each store, then once I had picked up those items I would finish my shopping in the grocery section.

In the health and beauty section, I picked up a toothbrush, a bottle of Great Value brand amber mouthwash (a great oral disinfectant in addition to brushing), a package of dental floss and a package of Lava soap. In the sporting goods section, I picked up a box of ammo, a bottle of gun cleaner and gun oil and a magnesium fire starter kit. In the men’s clothing section, I picked up a pair of gloves and a package of socks.

Then I headed for the grocery section. And a lesson in both de facto food-price inflation and just-in-time inventory procedures.

To keep things simple on this test-run, I planned on grabbing just four grocery items–a case of Great Value canned salmon, a bag of Great Value pinto beans, a container of Great Value oatmeal and (my exception to my one-item rule) a case each of Great Value canned spinach and Great Value canned sliced carrots. I use each of these items on a regular basis, so of course I thought everything would be right where it always was. Boy, was I wrong. And I didn’t realize how wrong I was until I got to the fifth Walmart.

At the first store, I found everything I was looking for, and in fairly ample supply. Except for the canned carrots. There wasn’t a single can of Great Value canned carrots on the shelf. So I flagged down an employee, apologized for the trouble since everyone was trying to keep the shelves full in the leadup to Thanksgiving (this was about 10 p.m. on Tuesday, and Thanksgiving of course was Thursday) and asked the employee if they could check to see if there were any cases of Great Value carrots, and if not, could they tell me how many might be in stock elsewhere? The employee came back, said that according to their computerized inventory they were totally out of Great Value carrots at that store, but that there were 96 cans–a mere eight cases–at the nearest warehouse. I thanked the employee for all of his help, picked up another case of spinach in lieu of the canned carrots and headed for the checkout.

After loading my stuff in the car, I drove to the other 24-hour Walmart in town, with a nagging thought in my mind: What if the second store was out of carrots as well? How far was I willing to drive to find Great Value carrots? Wouldn’t it be a lot less trouble if I just settled for the name-brand carrots that were in ample supply on the shelves, instead of insisting on the Great Value brand? Well, yes, but if the less-expensive generic brand is out of stock and I have to settle for the more-expensive name brand, I’d have to pay more if I really wanted carrots.

And THAT is another angle of food price inflation: Great Value carrots didn’t get any more expensive. I just didn’t get there in time to get the cheaper brand. And so it would cost me more because someone else beat me to those carrots.

But hey, there are 96 cans at the warehouse, right?

ONLY 96 cans of carrots in the local warehouse of the largest retailer in the world. How many other shoppers are looking for Great Value carrots at this moment? But it didn’t really matter–because the carrots were at the warehouse and not on the store shelf. I was flat out of luck. So on to the next store I went.

I hit pauper’s pay dirt at the second Walmart–I got the LAST CAN of Great Value carrots on the shelf! Seeing a manager nearby, I flagged her down and asked her if she could tell me if there were any cases of carrots in the stockroom that weren’t yet on the shelf, and upon checking her computer she also told me that there were 96 cans of carrots at the nearest warehouse, but that I had apparently gotten the last can of Great Value carrots in the store.

Flash back to the mid-1980s when parents were literally fighting in the aisles of toy stores to get the last Cabbage Patch Kids right before Christmas. I felt that lucky. But suddenly I had a sense of vulnerability — what if this was the last can of food in the entire store? I’d be at ground-zero for a mob of hungry, angry people. But you know that moment is coming at some point — and someone will end up getting the very last can of something. And they’ll be in the crosshairs of everyone else who feels entitled to THAT last can and who will do anything to get it. Some of you may have seen this video ( of a mob trampling people to get into a Target store at 4 a.m. on Black Friday. How bad will things be when mobs trample people to get into grocery stores at 4 a.m. because they didn’t stock up when they should’ve because they blew all of their money on expensive toys?

At the third Walmart, again there were no Great Value carrots on the shelf. I flagged down the stocker at the end of the aisle and asked him if he could tell if there were any carrots waiting to be stocked. He walked over to a pallet that was about a 5-foot cube on each side, walked around it while looking at it up and down, then shook his head and apologized that he didn’t have any carrots.

Stop and think about this scene for a moment: I’m average height, about 5-foot-9, and I’m taller than this pallet of canned goods that’s being unloaded for this particular aisle for this day. That’s not a lot of food! Statistics show that grocery stores rotate through their entire inventory in about three days–Google the phrase “nine meals away from anarchy”–but if there’s a sudden surge in business, whether it’s an unexpected weather event (remember “Snowmageddon” last winter?), a natural disaster (look at the looting that occurred after Hurricane Katrina) or a sudden economic panic that sends everyone running to stores before prices spike upward (like gas prices after Katrina), you aren’t going to have stuff on the shelves very long at all, much less when you want those things at your fingertips at any time. Maybe this wasn’t the only pallet of canned goods being unloaded for this particular aisle. But then again, I wasn’t going to be the only shopper! And if the guy in front of me decided he was going to buy everything I wanted, it didn’t matter what was going to come in tomorrow, or next week, or maybe not at all. I was just plain out of luck.

So then it was on to the fourth Walmart — and again there was not a single can of Great Value carrots on the shelf nor in the stockroom, according to a store associate. So I picked up another case of canned spinach and, for variety, a case of fruit cocktail, paid for my items and set off for the fifth store. I forgot to ask the associate at the fourth store if there were any carrots in the warehouse (although this store was two counties away from the first store and may use a different warehouse).

I got to the fifth store, again finding no Great Value canned carrots on the shelf, so I flagged down a manager and asked if they could tell if there were any carrots back in the stockroom. He checked his computer and said that while they were out of the carrots at this store, another store in the next town (a store I had previously not known about) had 63 cans of carrots in stock — but they were not a 24-hour store, didn’t open until 7 a.m., and in fact had to close early the previous evening because a semi had hit a major power line and knocked out power at the store. The fact that there were 63 cans of carrots SOMEWHERE did me absolutely no good because there was no way to obtain them at that time.

The thing about “just-in-time” inventory is that it’s just-in-time for the store–not for the customer. You have absolutely no guarantee that you’ll be able to get what you want if you don’t get it now, and even if you want to wait for something, how long will it be before an item is back on the shelves? At a couple of the Walmarts, I asked the manager if they knew how long it might be before they got more carrots in stock — but they said they had no way to tell. Four stores had no Great Value canned carrots at all. I got the last can at another store. Another store had 63 cans, but they were out of reach until the next morning — and who knows how many other people might be waiting for the store to open and rush to get that very product because every other store was out of it? It doesn’t take a major leap of logic to realize that this will happen when items are in short supply — and how impolite, unruly or even violent will people get when they clamor to get the last item out of your hands because you have it and they want it?


So as I noted above, there are nine 24-hour Walmarts along a 150-mile stretch of highway leading to my town. It could take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours to go to the other end of the route and then go to each store one by one, picking up all of the items I’m trying to stock up on, and finally unloading at my house at the end of the trip. But since we’ve already seen that just because there’s a 24-hour Walmart that there’s no guarantee something will be on the shelf, what kind of fool would I be just to give up and go home? I’d be a hungry fool! But let’s do the math on best-case scenarios on what I COULD get, if everything (including Great Value canned carrots!) is on the shelf. Let’s say that at each of the nine Walmarts, I’m able to get at least a case of carrots or other canned vegetables, a case of canned fruit, a case of canned salmon, 10 lbs. of dry beans and five 42-ounce containers of oatmeal (an average shopping trip for me, not counting refrigerated or frozen items). If I’m able to pick up at least this much of these items at each of the nine 24-hour Walmarts on my route, I’ll arrive home with 108 cans of vegetables, 108 cans of fruit, 108 cans of salmon, 90 lbs. of dry beans and almost 119 lbs. of oatmeal. That’s a pretty good start, and not bad for a day’s work! How long will it take to get a single sandwich or bowl of soup — if anything — if I have to wait in lines at soup kitchens or FEMA centers if I’m foolish enough to keep waiting instead of stocking up now?

And I wonder how many preppers lose sight of the big picture: It’s not how much food or water or ammo or anything else you have that’s important. What matters is how long you and your family will be self-sufficient and not dependent upon the government or other cash- or resource-strapped entities when disaster strikes. Unless a disaster strikes my neighborhood in a manner that directly impacts my house or my family’s lives, I don’t plan to leave my house in search of resources in the event of a disaster. I will either make sure I have as close to everything I need before disaster strikes, or I and my family will find a substitute or do without. If you’re not working on becoming self-sufficient, you’re missing the whole reason you should be prepping. Not only do self-sufficient people ease the strain on scarce or nonexistent resources, but they are in a position to help others during those stuff-hits-the-fan events. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to stock up compared to the amount of time wasted in line waiting for help when you could be at home with your loved ones taking care of each other, or helping others. If you plan to wait on stocking up or otherwise becoming self-sufficient because everything looks fine right now, you could be the next disaster waiting to happen.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Breakfast for a year for about $80

Well, almost. The one thing I haven't picked up is milk. But between my recent purchase of nearly 60 pounds of Great Value brand oats at Walmart (which I then sealed up in mylar bags)...and yes, the date keeps changing on my can eat and stock up on food really cheap if you keep an eye out for bargains:

And just for variety, I took advantage of the sale on cereal at Kroger a couple days ago--got the last 16 boxes of my favorite granola cereal for $2 a box:

I guess the one caveat I'll add to the page header is that the year's worth of breakfast for about $80 is for one person...but at less than 50 cents a day for two people (my wife likes to eat, too), that's not a bad deal!

And for what it's worth, I know that a lot of people have privacy concerns over putting down personal information on the preferred-customer cards at grocery stores and elsewhere, but I've never even bothered to return the application form and have never had anyone say anything about my personal information not being in their computer system. So I get all the discounts and none of the creepiness of Big Brother knowing how much food I have stashed away. And if I ever had to actually turn in one of those info cards to continue to get store discounts, my name is Ted Nugent and I live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. :D

Happy eating, folks!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

There's plenty of room for food storage in unusual places

When I was a kid, my parents bought a trundle bed, with one mattress on top and a second mattress in a sort of drawer that pulled out from underneath the other mattress. I mention this to help those of you who think you don't have a lot of space for food storage see that you really DO have more space for food--and you SHOULD make space for food.

It sounds really weird to some people to suggest that, if you have limited shelf and/or closet space, then you should consider storing food items under your bed or other such places. For those of you not familiar with trundle beds, click on the link above for a photo of one of those beds. I'm not suggesting you buy a trundle bed; I'm suggesting you embrace the possibilities of such a storage concept. Many of us probably already have boxes and other items stored under our bed anyway, but as I've noted in other posts, most things taking up space in our living quarters are not as important as food, water and so on when it comes to our survival.

So along the same design concept as a trundle bed, let's imagine a wide and somewhat flat storage container that's big enough to hold canned goods and small enough to fit under your bed. I'm sitting here right now with a box that's about 11 inches wide by 17 inches long, and I've got 22 cans of various vegetables snugly fit into this box. Multiply that by the number of such boxes that I could fit under my bed (approximately 10) and you see the huge potential this sort of thing has for those of you with limited space. Now take a look at all the other misused space (space being taken up by stuff you never use or don't really need) and you've probably got room for several hundred cans of food in your home even though you "don't have much space."

I'd suggest organizing each box of canned goods according to the expiration dates stamped on the cans and rotate them first-in, first-out according to the dates (although studies show that the nutritional value of most canned goods goes well beyond the dates on the cans--the dates are just a regulatory requirement by the FDA (in the U.S.) and not a statement of whether food is safe to eat after said dates. Do your own research, but you will likely find similar information.

Keeping an inventory list of what you have stored up and stashed away can also be helpful--you can more easily keep track of what you have and what the expiration dates are. And just to keep prying eyes from seeing what you have hidden in your secret pantry, don't put that list on your computer. You never know when someone might be trying to tap into your personal information online. ;)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Get the word out about this site to your pastor and others

I don't want this blog to become just a niche forum for a very narrow segment of the online population, because quite frankly I think that the message about Christians and preparation for hard times should be spreading rapidly--and those of you who visit this blog are in a great position to help spread the word. I'm not looking for visitors to this blog just for the sake of having visitors; I'm wanting to see Christians across the country and across the world follow the example of Joseph in the book of Genesis, preparing for hard times and by doing so putting themselves in a position to minister to countless others. It's not an exact parallel, but I often think of how the Underground Railroad led captives to freedom and how by stocking up on food and other necessities in preparation for hard times, we will be in a position to feed others physically and spiritually, and our provisions will open the door for us to share with others what Christ has done and is doing in our lives. Feeding hungry, thirsty strangers gets their attention, and as we see in the Gospels so many instances in which Jesus fed people spiritually while also feeding them physically, why should we not be seeking to do the same thing?

But this should be a collective, community effort. Christians all over the country and all over the world should be stocking up so they can minister to others. This isn't just something that should be limited to those of us with Internet access. So I'd like to challenge you to tell your pastor and people in your church and your community about this blog. Tell them that they can go directly to, or you can even send them a link to this site by using the buttons at the bottom of each of these posts--the envelope button at the bottom will send an e-mail message to someone, and you can also post links to this site on Twitter and Blogger using the buttons below. For those of you whose pastors don't have Internet access, print out the articles on this blog and give it to them. I want to see hungry, thirsty strangers fed physically and spiritually and for them to see and hear from us that what they are seeing in action is the love of Jesus. Please tell your pastors about this site and ask them to likewise spread the message of this site to others. It's a great ministry opportunity for each and every one of us who follow Christ.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Food storage can come in handy if you can't go to the store

I haven't felt well this week, and that got me to thinking about the convenience of having plenty of food on hand at home in the event of a much more serious health crisis. It's one thing if you're home by yourself with the flu or some other malady, but what if there's a community-wide outbreak and much of the population in your area is under quarantine? What if your area is under a declared state of emergency and you can't travel anywhere, under the threat of arrest? I started writing my first post on this blog back in February while much of the country (including most of my state) was under a state of emergency because of severe winter weather. And under those conditions, if you didn't have food on hand and tried to go to the store but were stopped by authorities for violating the state of emergency, the only food you'd probably get would be three hots and a cot. Why risk it and inconvenience yourself later when you can stock up now?

I'm not feeling well, but I don't have to go shopping right now because I have plenty of food here at home. Food storage doesn't have to be just for an end of the world as we know it type of situation--sometimes it just makes life a little easier to have plenty of food right where you are. And I'm happier for having it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Putting our provisions in proper perspective

I was at work yesterday when a song came on the radio that brought to mind Psalm 37:25:
I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
No matter how much you may be able to stock up in this world to prepare for hard times, or how little you are able to do despite a desire to prepare, the Lord will never leave you nor forsake you. Diligently stock up and be a good caretaker of the resources He has given you, but above all remember His promise to provide your needs.

Have a blessed day!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Biblical mandate for charity, both in good times and bad

Some of you may have noticed one of the links in my blogroll from I have a huge amount of respect for that site's webmaster, Jim Rawles, for his insistence on Biblical morality and his refusal to compromise what he believes when it comes to preparedness, but even more important in my opinion are his comments on the Biblical mandate for charity. The link below is well worth checking out, and I hope it will lead to a bit of soul-searching for each of us as we continue in preparedness-related activities. Those of us who are Christ's followers should always view what we're doing through the Word that He has given us, even and especially when things get bad. I hope this link will challenge each of you:

Christian Charity--Now, and Post-TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It)

Friday, April 1, 2011

No April Fools joke, soup doesn't have to be boring!

As I posted a few days ago, it's possible to make literally hundreds of different soups from just a handful of basic ingredients, starting with rice and beans. I know that to some people the proverbial "rice and beans diet" for those of us on a really tight budget might seem almost like a joke, but maybe not so much of a joke with the economy seeming like a bad joke! But like I said earlier, if you "spice it up" with any number of various spices, soup can be quite tasty, and with rice and beans thrown in, it can also be quite filling.

My wife and I just got back last night from a 24-hour, 450-mile round trip moving the rest of our stuff to our new house, and after hours of lifting and moving and driving, we were really hungry but too tired to cook, so I suggested we try a new Cajun carry-out restaurant I'd heard about. We paid about $6.50 each for huge servings of red beans and sausage and red pepper-soaked chicken and vegetables over rice and just about had to wheel ourselves and our leftovers out to the car afterward. So while my stomach was thanking me for the first real food I'd eaten all day--ever have those days when you get so busy that you just forget to eat??--my brain was analyzing the makeup of the chicken concoction.

Conclusion: A little bit of spices can go a LONG WAY toward making a simple meal not just un-boring but pretty darn good!

(photo courtesy of

Some of you might do a double-take when you realize that the photo above is of quart-sized jars of spices because, really, who besides restaurants keeps that much of any particular spice on hand? The real "food for thought" is that you can get a huge amount of flavor for just a few cents per serving if you buy spices in bulk from places such as Sam's Club, Costco or various online distributors. (I've been very happy with the tomato powder I've bought from for the sake of disclosure, I do not have any sort of business relationship with them other than being a satisfied customer.) Some people might think it's crazy to buy spices by the pound, but would you rather have "too much" of a certain spice (if that's possible), or not enough? I'm looking at the container of cayenne powder I bought for less than $5 at Sam's Club, and the weight listed on the container is 18 ounces. For most people, a fraction of a teaspoon of cayenne will set their socks on fire! So do the math: For less than $5, you can get literally hundreds of servings of ZINNNNGGGG!! in your food for just pennies each. How's that for getting major mileage out of "just rice and beans"?

It would be a good investment to get a case or two of mason jars to store spices in, as the airtight lids will keep your spices much fresher than just the standard snap-on flaps that most spice containers have on them. Some culinary purists might argue that spices will go bad after a certain period of time, which might be true if you were constantly opening and closing a container over hot steam, as would be the case if you were working in a restaurant, but the only thing that would theoretically go "bad" would be the flavor of the spices possibly diminishing. But would you rather have spices that weren't quite at their prime for the sake of spicing up "just rice and beans" or no spices at all? I'll take months-old spices if it's all I have!

And the reason I'm passionate about emphasizing spices when it comes to low-budget eating is because of the danger of "food fatigue," which I'll touch upon in another post very soon. If you eat the same thing over and over again--sometimes you might not have much choice, if you want to eat at all--some people, especially children and the elderly, may be inclined not to eat at all rather than eat the same thing over and over. So with this in mind, and with the notion that just about anyone can make dozens or maybe even hundreds of different soups with just a few basic ingredients, I'll write about food fatigue in an upcoming post and suggest preventive culinary measures you can take to keep on eating like a king on a peasant's budget.