7 Day Challenge 2016 RECAP

We hope you all had a great experience participating in this year’s 7 Day Challenge, whether you actively did each day’s tasks or just read and followed along with the group. Here is a summary of the links to each part of the challenge following the Preparedness Cycle we introduced this year.

These two days were spent preparing for an upcoming “emergency”. Last minute preparations included filling water containers, updating 72 hour kits, and other similar tasks.

DAY 3: PRACTICE – Natural Disaster
Earthquake strikes! An intense earthquake struck your area and knocked out the power lines, gas lines, and city water pipes.

DAY 4: PRACTICE – Family Emergency
Times are tough! Due to some unexpected and rather large medical bills your family has run into financial troubles and you have worked through the majority of your savings.

DAY 5: PRACTICE – Long Term Emergency
Economic meltdown! The country is in turmoil, the trucking industry has shut down, utilities are disrupted (electricity is down but plumbing is still working for now), gasoline is no longer available, your neighbors need help.

Use the provided checklists to brainstorm and create a priority list for what you want to do to go forward with your preparations.

Huge list of resources you can use as you start to do, learn, and buy the items on your priority lists created on Day 6.

Our Findings

Cooking with no power

JULIE: Using the sun oven for the spaghetti squash was awesome. It was a mostly cloudy day but it still cooked. It took a couple hours but I put it in early enough that it didn’t matter. The squash was actually really good because there was no water used so it wasn’t mushy.

Cooking with Thrive meats and veggies was really convenient (like it normally is) but knowing that I had to clean all those dishes by hand made it that much more convenient. It was great to not worry about the dishes I would have used with raw meat being cleaned well enough. It was nice to be able to just throw everything in for the chili and not create more dishes and waste.

Cooking rice in the Saratoga Jacks thermal cooker worked so well. I actually had an activity at church I had to bring the rice to and was really nervous trying it out the first time like this but it turned out perfectly. It really was nice to be able to conserve fuel by only bringing the rice to a quick boil and then letting it sit in the pot for awhile. And it made for really easy transport.

I just absolutely loved my butane stove. I was able to cook right on the counter in my kitchen and was barely disrupted. I do know that you can only store so much butane and would probably be more conservative with it in a long term crisis but it was sure helpful and useful. I had made a pancake mix with powdered eggs and it was pretty easy and yummy breakfasts on the stove. Felt totally normal.


JODI: I usually plan to use my Sun Oven for the bulk of my powerless cooking but the weather was way overcast during the no power days this time. I pulled out my HERC tea light candle oven and was able to make muffins in it just fine. It’s the only tool I’ve found that will allow me to make baked-goods inside without electricity.

I also kept my meals fairly simple which I think is similar to what I would do in a shorter-term emergency. If things extended for a longer period of time I’d have to get more creative and also probably use a lot more dishes to make more complete meals.



JODI: Since my kids were gone a lot during the days, I spent some time going through my meal plans and working on my inventory lists. Every time I do this I find I tweak my system even more. I’ve changed a lot of my eating habits recently moving towards a more vegetarian diet and that has shifted some of the meals I want to include in my three month list. Instead of storing a lot of meat/dairy freeze-dried items for recipes I’m looking for more recipes that just don’t call for those items. I’m updating my recipe binders to include these new recipes and then incorporating them into my three month excel planner.



JULIE: I calculated how much water we used in one of the days and for a family of 5 it was about 10 gallons. I was REALLY careful with the use and we did shower in buckets and wash dishes. The shower is a good thing to practice because you learn a good order to do things. Use cleaner water first on you then as it gets dirty you can save it for toilet flushing etc.

The laundry was a fun experiment. My son loved plunging through the clothes. The water actually got dirty from the clothes so I know dirt did come out. My concern with laundry without water and power is more in how would the clothes DRY if it were cold and winter time. Also I know we would do laundry a lot less frequently should there be a long term scenario.

JODI: I loved having waterbricks on hand with a spigot so that I could easily use it for cooking, drinking, cleaning, etc. I have large barrels in the garage but whenever I have to actually practice using stored water I much prefer to use the smaller containers. I keep them in my hall closet for easy access and also keep a few more in the basement.


JULIE: Oh man -we literally have a problem practicing this one. Our bags that we were supposed to put the waste in that are biodegradable all broke. Just touching them made them break. We posted a video about it. So we’re back to the drawing board with this one.

JODI: In a previous year we used the bucket with biodegradable bags and when we want to empty it out it exploded all over. This year we decided to just follow the “no flush” rule. Unless it’s a #2 you just leave it in the toilet. Then we used stored water to flush when someone had to poop. In a real emergency situation we may not do this, but there is definitely some “gray water” that we could use for this purpose so it may not be a complete waste.

72 hour kits

JULIE: I changed a few things up with my kits this year that I think I will like. I put each kids clothes in a bag and labeled what was in it and the size. I also put on the outside of the bags what kids clothes were in each backpack with the size. I have found that I always underestimate how long it’s been since I’ve changed those out. I also get a whole new rolling big to add extra foods to that I can rotate every 6 months. I have good long term calorie bars in my kits but I like to have extras like granola bars etc. I put some beef jerky, peanuts, and granola bars in there that I’ll replace completely with new ones and we will eat. So it’s not all these little pieces of foods, just 3 Costco size boxes of each one.


Family Fun

JULIE: In years past my kids have been younger and at school for the challenge. This year they were off school for the whole thing and it really was so much fun to do this challenge as a family. My 9 year old got totally into it. In fact he had a cub scout field trip Friday afternoon and told me not to try doing the laundry by hand until he got home because he wanted to learn how too. I asked him why he liked the challenge so much and he said “because it’s so advanced”… I replied it’s actually primitive … but I’ll take it.

JODI: I had the opposite situation of Julie this year. All of my kids are now in school and busy with activities on weeknights so we didn’t get a lot of time to do fun things with it as a family. They are old enough to understand what’s going on and keep me on my toes if I accidentally turned on the tap or a light, but we didn’t get to have the full experience of living through the entire day in a challenge scenario. We want to try it again when there is a break from school and we have more time to devote to it. We did have some fun nighttime activities without the lights on 🙂




Monday, September 26

Welcome to the LAST day of the 7 Day Challenge! We hope you have enjoyed the new format this year and really learned a lot by following the steps of the Preparedness Cycle. We have prepared, practiced, and prioritized … and now we are ready to PROCEED. We’ve come up with resources you can use as you start to do, learn, and buy the items on your priority lists you worked on yesterday. Feel free to share your experiences in the Facebook event or follow us on Instagram to view our personal journeys.



Fill out or update emergency preparedness plan
Make or rotate 72 hour kits
Fill or refill water containers
Make or update emergency binder
Update/Inventory your three month supply plan

Update/Inventory your long term food supply plan
Create a sanitation kit
Build a powerless stove, grill, oven, or pizza box solar oven


How to Make Bread: Bread Recipe, Bread-Making FAQ, No Electricity Bread
How To Deal With Long Term Water Loss (Water Saving Tips)
Water Filtration versus Water Purification
How to Shut Off Your Main Water Supply
How to Shut Off Gas Supply
Powerless Cooking Class
“So you want to buy a year supply?” post


National Preparedness Month Sales
All-American Sun Oven
Bosch Universal Mixer
Prepare My Life Planner
Berkey Water Filters
HERC Tea Light Candle Oven
InstaFire Fire Starter
Small Stoves/Fuel
Laundry Hand Washer
Fortress Clothing
Thrive Life Special Packages



Sunday September 25

Well aren’t you glad THAT’S over with? It really is amazing how much you can learn when you “practice” preparedness. Now is a good time to reflect with your family, answer some questions, and prioritize what your plan of attack will be to go forward and improve on your preparedness plans.

To help you with prioritizing we have some checklists for you. Print 2 copies of these lists off.

  • COPY 1: BRAINSTORM– The first time through list ANYTHING you can think of from the last few days that your family needed to learn, to do, and to buy. Don’t worry about the order.
  • COPY 2: PRIORITY LIST– After you have listed all the things you needed to learn, to do, and to buy, re-write them on the second copy in order of importance. This will give you a prioritized actionable game plan moving forward.

Put these lists in a place you will see and be reminded of your goals. Consider asking for some of these items for Christmas or birthdays. Plan family nights around learning new skills. Use family time to do projects you have been putting off.



Friday September 23

Welcome to the 7 Day Challenge. For 3 days, we are “PRACTICING” our Emergency Preparedness and Food Storage Plans. Each day will bring a NEW mock emergency or situation that will test at least one of the reasons “WHY” we strive to be prepared! REMEMBER: No going to a store, gas station, or spending any money for the next 3 days! Please feel free to adapt the scenarios to fit your own family and situation.


Times are tough! Due to some unexpected and rather large medical bills your family has run into financial troubles and you have worked through the majority of your savings. You have to live on a tight budget eating through your three month supply foods to save money on groceries. Your water has been shut off because you couldn’t pay the water bill so you must also manage your daily life without water.

Goal: PRACTICE eating your three month supply foods and live without running water

Today’s Tasks:

  • Use the recipes and ingredients from your three month supply plan for your meals today
  • Revisit your three month supply plan. Inventory what you have on hand
  • Determine how long you will be able to survive without buying more food
  • Cook your meals and clean up without using running water
  • Do a load of laundry today without using running water
  • You can’t waste water on flushing toilets so figure out an alternative solution for potty issues today.
  • Make some of your own natural cleaning supplies using regular ingredients you have in your home to save money.

fbSHARING TIME: Visit the Facebook Event Page and share a picture of you doing laundry today or some other “waterless” activity today. Let’s discuss how prepared you feel if you were to have to face this type of emergency.

>>>We’re also sharing on instagram! @foodstoragemadeeasy #fsme7daychallenge

Today’s Limitations:

  • For this day, and ALL days of the challenge: no spending money, no going to stores, and no restaurants.
  • Do not use indoor plumbing for sanitation purposes.

Advanced Tasks:

  • Go and shut off the main water supply to your house to avoid temptation to use water (view tutorial).
  • Locate the nearest source of fresh water to your home, stock up on some extra water since your plumbing is shut off.
Check back first thing in the morning!



Thursday, September 22

Welcome to the 7 Day Challenge. For the next 3 days, we are “PRACTICING” our Emergency Preparedness and Food Storage Plans. Each day will bring a NEW mock emergency or situation that will test at least one of the reasons “WHY” we strive to be prepared! REMEMBER: No going to a store, gas station, or spending any money for the next 3 days! Please feel free to adapt the scenarios to fit your own family and situation.


Earthquake strikes! An intense earthquake struck your area and knocked out the power lines, gas lines, and city water pipes. Your fridge food was lost due to the earthquake shattering the glass shelves in your appliances. Your home is safe to stay in but you must survive and stay fed until your utilities are back up and running.

Goal: PRACTICE living without electricity and running water

Today’s Tasks:

  • Keep your family warm (or cool) as furnace blowers and A/C will not work without electricity
  • Practice powerless cooking by cooking all your meals and snacks using no electricity or gas and no running water.
  • You can’t use any perishable foods in your cooking today.
  • You must find a way for you (and your family if applicable) to bathe or shower today.
  • You can’t flush the toilets because there is no running water to refill the tank. If you have stored water you can use it to manually flush
  • Clean all of your dishes using only stored water (practice water conservation tricks)
  • Calculate how much water you used today, how long can you live on what you have stored?
  • Before dark, locate flashlights, candles, or other light sources. Assess your battery supply.
  • Plan a fun family activity tonight with no electronic devices (board games, ghost stories, shadow puppets, be creative!)
  • Share what you are learning with the facebook group – that’s the one electronic you can use (loophole)

fbSHARING TIME: Visit the Facebook Event Page and share a picture of you cooking something without electricity. Let’s discuss how prepared you feel if you were to have to face this type of emergency.

>>>We’re also sharing on instagram! @foodstoragemadeeasy #fsme7daychallenge

Today’s Limitations:

  • For this day, and ALL days of the challenge: no spending money, no going to stores, and no restaurants.
  • DO NOT USE POWER AT ALL TODAY (even if you have a generator, it helps to practice!)
  • DO NOT USE RUNNING WATER AT ALL TODAY (not even for flushing toilets)

Advanced Tasks:

  • Make one ore more powerless cooking tools to use today. Here are a few options: #10 can stove, #10 can grill, cardboard box oven
  • No laptops, iPads, phones, etc. (even if you have a way to charge them, don’t!) — You can only use them for the purposes of sharing on Facebook for education purposes.
  • Calculate how many meals you can cook based on the fuel that you currently have. Use our fuels handout for a guideline on calculating.
Check back first thing in the morning!



Tuesday, September 20 to Wednesday, September 21


So if you really want to see if you’re prepared ignore this post and start the challenge in 2 days on the “practice” portion of the preparedness cycle. What is the preparedness cycle? Read this.

lastminute However, if you’re not sure if you’re ready, we have some things for you to do over the next 2 days. We felt like giving you a list and time to get ready would only be beneficial in the long run. These are things you may have been putting off so we’re giving you 2 days to “prepare”.

Feel free to buy some of these things or locate them if you have them already. We have even made this list into a printable checklist so you can print if off and get right to it. We will see you in 2 days with our first “practice” scenario.

Here is what is in the printable checklist:

72 hour kits
-Replace clothes family members have outgrown
-Check and replace diapers
-Check food expiration dates and replace
-Check to see if you are missing supplies
-Do you have cash in small bills

-Locate flashlights
-Check batteries in all flashlights
-Charge any solar powered battery packs
-Charge all your electronic devices and keep them charged just in case you lose power
-Get solar outdoor lights, you can use olive oil in jars with wicks as well
-Pick up a solar phone charger then you will still have power for your cell phone
-If you have to use a gas-powered generator, make sure to have a little extra fuel on hand; just be very careful where you put it, and be mindful of your local laws on how much you can have on hand at one time

-Fill all your water containers
-Consider filling your waterbob (link) or plug your bath tub and fill it out
-Consider filling big rubbermaid totes with water but MAKE sure they are covered if you have young children around
-Have a rain barrel to collect water you can use to flush toilets

Family Communication/Planning

-Keep a list of emergency numbers handy, along with family members’ phone numbers. —-Write them down if you only have them stored in your phone
-Have an emergency escape plan from your home and make sure all family members know it and know where to meet.
-Make sure you have and/or locate your radio to stay connected
-Prepare an evacuation list of things you would need to grab in case you need to evacuate.
-Have an emergency binder with all important paperwork ready to go
-Take pictures of every room and closet in your house – it makes a huge difference if you have to deal with insurance companies

-If you have a gas grill, make sure you have a full tank of propane
-Check and replace other types of fuels
-If you need internet for instructions on how to use any of your powerless cooking tools go online and print the instructions now
-Make sure you have and/or locate a non-electric can opener

(If you haven’t started on the food part of your food storage, 2 days is hardly enough to prepare. You’ll just have to wing it or see how you do with this one)
-Have lots of non-perishables on hand
-Turn fridge and freezer to a colder setting
-If you have extra space in your freezer, take containers or zip-loc bags full of water and fill in the extra space
-Make a few meals and snacks that will last without power
-Have enough food and litter for your pets

-Improvise an emergency toilet with a bucket lined with a bin bag and some sawdust or cat litter to cover the contents after each use
-Have your prescriptions filled
-Do your laundry now, so you have clothes that are dry and clean. Locate items necessary to do laundry by hand.
-Find your glasses so you don’t have to deal with contacts in an emergency
-Anyone with an oxygen tank – make certain you have 1) a travel tank 2) a generator or means to operate your home device

-Have books and other non electric entertainment like board games ready for everyone
-Fill your gas tank
-Don’t forget to pay attention to fire prevention measures. Have your extinguisher handy

Remember to get everyone in your house involved. Then in 2 days we will be back with scenario 1 on Thursday, scenario 2 on Friday, and scenario 3 on Saturday! MAKE SURE to visit the event page on Facebook to discuss your progress and share tips. Click on “discussion” on that page.

We will also be posting a lot on instagram (@foodstoragemadeeasy) over the next few days so join along #fsme7daychallenge



This year we are excited to be revamping and reformatting our annual 7 Day Challenge. In the past we have done 7 days with 7 different mock emergencies or scenarios. While we had a blast and learned a lot, we felt like it was time for a change. This year will be even more interactive and really emphasize learning and improving. Having friends join you will make it even more fun and a better experience so please feel free to share this post with them and/or invite them to the Facebook Event for the 2016 Challenge.

The new challenge will follow the “Preparedness Cycle”. which is a new concept we came up with as we were planning this year’s challenge. When we began this journey we were naive to thinking we would ever be “fully prepared”. Preparedness is truly a cycle. You prepare, practice, prioritize, proceed then repeat. Just as you get a skill tackled you realize there is more to learn. No matter where you are in the process there is always room to get just a little more prepared!


ONTO THE CHALLENGE… This year we will be telling you exactly when and what the challenge will be. No surprises here! We want to work together through the preparedness cycle and make the most of this year’s challenge.

The 7 days will begin with the “Prepare” portion. Two days before the “practice” portion of the challenge we will GET READY! Since you will know what’s coming we will spend a couple days getting prepared and completing last minute tasks. This will be a great time to tie up loose ends on things you’ve been procrastinating.

Then we will “Practice”. We will go 3 days with mock emergencies. Expect these days to have situations where you will go without power and water. There will be a different scenario each day and the scenarios will come with come tasks and recommendations much like prior year’s challenges.

Then we will take a day to “Prioritize” based on our findings from our practice. We will encourage you and your family to make a game plan of where to go next.

The last day will be the day to “Proceed”. You’ll purchase items you realized you needed. You’ll sign up for classes or start researching things you need to know more about.

We know everyone is at different levels of preparedness and there will be scaling. We’d like to remind you to try your best and don’t stress.

Learn from each other – Join the Facebook discussion

7f We will be posting here on the blog each day to let you know what is going on but the real discussion will be happening on our Facebook Event Page. You will be able to access that link even if you don’t have facebook. Make sure to invite friends to join you.


fillingwater Tuesday, September 20 to Wednesday, September 21
During these 2 days we will spend time making sure all our ducks are in a row. We will list tasks you will want to do to “PREPARE”. Examples of some tasks include filling water containers, ensuring flashlights have batteries, shoes are by their beds etc, supplies are organized and updated.


practice Thursday, September 22 to Saturday, September 24
During the 3 day “PRACTICE” portion of the challenge we will be doing 3 different scenarios much like prior years. EXPECT there will be challenges to go without power and water! We will practice cooking, cleaning, showering, and more. Each day there will be a different scenario with things to practice and learn.

Thursday September 22 – Day 1: Natural Disaster
Friday September 23 – Day 2: Personal Family Emergency
Saturday September 24 – Day 3: Economic Long-Term Crisis

The goal will be to do the best you can, learn from the experience, and improve!


prior Sunday, September 25

On the “PRIORITIZE” day we will take some time with our families to really analyze how we did. What worked? What didn’t? Where are the holes in our preps? What are our next steps? We will have worksheets and ideas to help you make a game plan to move forward.


proceed Monday, September 26
Although the “PROCEED” day will only be one day during the challenge it will continue on for you in your personal preparedness cycle and journey. We will encourage you to go purchase the items you are in need of most. We will talk about ways to learn more skills so you can proceed and get going on becoming more prepared. As you proceed through the cycle, you will continue to find opportunities to prepare, practice, and prioritize over and over. And next year will be one of those opportunities!

ALL NEW 7 Day Challenge 2016


As most of our faithful readers know, every September for the past 7 years we have hosted a 7 Day Challenge where we go through a different emergency situation each day for 7 days and share and discuss what we learn as we practice.  Well this year we are doing something completely different!  Here are some teasers but stayed tuned as more information and full details will be coming soon.

  • It’s going to be harder
  • It’s going to be easier
  • It’s an all-new format
  • You will know EXACTLY when it’s going to start
  • We are going to really maximize learning and DOING
  • We will be introducing the 4 P’s of Preparedness
  • You are going to want to participate!!!!!!

We will be ramping up for the main event which will be held on Facebook for discussion purposes as we’ve found that people do best at learning by being able to discuss the experience with each other.  You don’t have to have facebook to view the event and we will share the main information via email and on the blog as well.  
Click here to join the 7 Day Challenge 2016 Facebook Event now!

Powerless Cooking Adventures

Summertime is the PERFECT opportunity to practice your powerless cooking skills. In fact, we even shared a post with 10 Ways to Practice Powerless Cooking This Summer several years ago. We always like to come up with fun events to incentivize force ourselves to actually practice what we preach. So this summer we are bringing back our Powerless Cooking Adventures but with an added community aspect to it which we are totally excited about!


Here’s how the adventures will work:

  • We commit to cooking AT LEAST once a week using one of our powerless cooking options which we will list below.
  • We will share our adventures via all our social media channels so make sure you are subscribed wherever you prefer to follow us:
    – Instagram
    – Facebook page
    – YouTube
  • YOU can join in the fun by posting YOUR powerless cooking adventures over on our Facebook group. There MAY even be prizes involved along the way.
  • We will also post lots of educational content throughout the month so make sure to keep checking the blog and also sign up for our newsletter list so you don’t miss anything!

Powerless Cooking Options

All-American Sun Oven – Cook with the power of the sun
Volcano Grill – Perfect for dutch oven or using a variety of fuels
HERC Tea Light Candle Oven – Cook indoors just like a regular oven
Helius Rocket Stove – Heavy duty rocket stove for major cooking or outdoor canning
Camping Stoves – Any small camp stove will be good to practice on
Butane Stove – We like this option for cooking on a stovetop indoors
Barbecue Grills – This should be an easy one to practice, so no excuses!
Cardboard Box Oven – Make this using household materials and cook with charcoal
Pizza Box Sun Oven – Cook slowly or re-heat foods in this simple little oven
#10 Can Grill – Perfect for roasting hot dogs and fun to make
#10 Can Stove – Uses any number of fuels and boil water or heat up foods

Making Potato Salad in a Sun Oven


Last week we hosted a Sun Oven Cooking Essentials Webinar (you can still access the free class through Wednesday, May 4th at midnight). Paul Munsen, president of Sun Ovens International always shares so many great tips on actually USING your Sun Oven to save time and money in the kitchen and I learn something new every time I listen to him speak.

This class was no different. I got it in my head that I really wanted to try the hard-boiled egg trick and Sunday dinner was a perfect opportunity. I somehow ended up hosting my entire family for a dinner and there were 24 people coming to my house for a barbecue. I was scrambling to make a bunch of side dishes and decided this would be a great time-saver to throw my eggs and potatoes in the Sun Oven to cook while I worked on other food items (I was also making this amazing pasta salad using tons of my food storage foods, it was a good preparedness day over here).

I wrapped up my potatoes in aluminum foil after washing them off. I didn’t poke holes in them or peel them or anything. I laid them out on the Sun Oven tray with space in between each one. Then I stuck six eggs in there on top of the potatoes and closed the lid.

After about 90 minutes I went to check on things. I hadn’t repositioned the Sun Oven so the temperature dropped a bit. The potatoes were close to done but still a little firm in the middle. The eggs were more like a soft-boil consistency but the whites were still a bit goopy too. I got the Sun Oven a bit hotter and left them in to keep cooking. In the meantime my family arrived and I sort of forgot about making the potato salad in all the chaos. After about two more hours I checked on them again. Oopsies.

Surprise surprise, it still worked! The potatoes were PERFECT. They did not get too soft or mushy by being overcooked. The eggs took on a strange orangish-yellowish tinge (I believe because I overcooked them) but I tasted them and they were just fine and the consistency was great.

After everyone left I chopped everything up (left the peels on the potatoes and everything). It took me literally five minutes to throw together a complete potato salad. I now have a full bowl just to myself since I missed having it ready for the family, but it was delicious and I’m not complaining!

This is definitely something I want to try again. I loved not having to heat up my oven for 45 minutes to bake potatoes or peel and chop and boil on my stove which always seems to make a huge mess. Don’t forget you can still grab your special Sun Oven Webinar Package until Wednesday if you don’t already have your own. We really do love them not only for emergencies but for every day use!