Saturday, September 24

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.


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. Today we must use our long term food storage and really focus on how to live in an extended emergency situation.

Goal: PRACTICE a long term emergency situation

Today’s Tasks:

  • Make a loaf of bread from start to finish without electricity (this video shows how we did it in a previous year).
  • Prepare all your meals without using electricity today.
  • SOS. A friend that lives a mile away got stranded and needs some supplies. Have your family carry your 72 hour kits to them since you are well enough stocked at home and can donate them. (Remember gasoline is not available so you must go on foot. We know this is far fetched— but we usually have 7 days of scenarios and do an evacuation day so we had to slot it in somewhere- don’t take it too literally. The point is… Are your 72 hour kits complete and can you transport them?)
  • Update your long term food storage calculator with your current inventory levels.
  • You must eat foods ONLY found on your long term food storage calculator today (all your regular fridge, freezer, and pantry foods have run out). Freeze-dried items as found on our Thrive food storage calculator are ok.

fbSHARING TIME: Visit the Facebook Event Page and share a picture of your bread-making adventures. 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 your car today.
  • Do not eat any foods that are not on your long term food storage calculator (you CAN use the long shelf life freeze-dried foods we recommend on our Thrive food storage calculator if you wish)

Advanced Tasks:

  • Make a one week meal plan based off of your long term food storage foods.
  • Cook your meals only indoors as there is some serious weather problems outside.
  • Calculate how many meals can you cook based on the fuel that you currently have. Use our fuels handout for a guideline on calculating.
  • Discuss with your family what you would need to do and what you would bring should the time come when you would need to evacuate your home for good.

Food Storage Helps for Groups (and families)

Often times in communities or churches there are people tasked with the responsibility to help those around them become more prepared. In communities it’s called CERT (Community Emergency Response Team). In some churches its called the Emergency Preparedness specialists.

I was recently asked by a friend of mine who is the E-prep specialist at our church for some help planning the year. After working with her on a calendar for the year this idea was born. It’s a Monthly Preparedness Projects calendar. It’s not exactly what I did with my friend but it’s something that I thought you all might like. We shared this handout with our newsletter list last month. Are you on the newsletter list? If not you can sign up here. Today we are publishing it on our blog along with a couple other tools you may find useful. If you know someone who is an Emergency Prep specialist feel free to share this blog post with them. They may thank you for making their lives easier!

Monthly Preparedness Calendar

In this monthly preapreadness calendar we give you ideas with a link to full instructions and details of projects you can do with your family or community to become more prepared that month. Each project is designed to take just a few hours.

Lesson Plans

lesson plans

We created these lesson plans for you to use when you have events, group meetings, enrichments, or even just family activities. The lesson plans and/or handouts can also be helpful for you to share with friends and family members.

Emergency Preparedness Plan


This is a document you can hand out and use for any activity or group. We compiled information from a lot of different resources and created a Family Emergency Preparedness Plan for you to download. This document will guide you through developing your own Emergency Preparedness Plan.

Hopefully these tools help you in your journey. Also our Encyclopedia has TONS of resources. We also do group buys on our ebook. Scroll to the bottom of this page to learn more.group

Cold Weather Clothing Bins

Babysteps. We started this journey with Babysteps. There were several topics we didn’t tackle straight away. We worked on 72 hour kits, water, basic food and necessities first. We tabled the concept of powerless cooking for a couple years because it was “scary” at first. Well then we tackled powerless cooking, we tackled sourdough, and now we’re tackling cold weather clothing. Make sure you read until the end because there’s a video where I show you how I’ve started this project.

Back in November we introduced Fortress Clothing to you . Finding them was a dream. These clothes are amazing and we recommend you check them out, and make sure you use our coupon code found in this post to get a deal. Right now their clothing doesn’t come in kids sizing and we know that it’s not necessarily in everyone’s budget to get them so we wanted to share some ideas we have developed. It’s still a work in progress but we’re feeling like we’re getting somewhere with it.


A facebook reader shared a couple articles with us that had some great info. The articles talked about layers, types of layers base, mid, outer), and different types of fabrics to use within each layer. Different fabrics breathe differently so make sure you check out these articles:

Intro to Layered Clothing: http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/a/11061/Introduction-to-Layered-Clothing-Systems
How to Layer Clothing for Each Season: http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/a/11070/How-to-Layer-Clothing-for-Each-Season


After reading these articles I went to Ikea and got some bins to store each of my family members items in. I watched sales and got the items for each kid and made sure to get them a little big for next year too. My kids actually got a lot of these items for Christmas. They loved it. I keep most of these items in the bins except for days we go sledding. That way I know we aren’t losing stuff around the house (because that happens here). My bin contains my bug-out bag from Fortress. It seriously made that part of this project way easier.

Contents in my bins (for my kids and husband):

  • Boots: I made sure to get some that were rated for cold weather but also waterproof
  • Socks: I got some wool socks at Costco for my husband and myself. I had a hard time finding kids sizes so I got some black womens ones for my boys.
  • Underclothes: I found some great thermals that weren’t cotton at Costco. I got a couple of each size.
  • Pants: Target had a sale on snowpants 50% off and I got some that were a few inches too long for each kid. They fit well enough this year but will for sure fit the next couple of years. I also have sweat pants to wear over the thermals and under the snow pants in case it’s way cold.
  • Coats: I have a variety of coats for my boys. I plan on keeping their winter coats in their bins once winter is over but for now we are keeping them in the main laundry room closet.
  • Mittens: I have gloves, mittens, and more gloves and mittens. Depending on what things we will be doing “outside” I think we will need both.
  • Balaclavas: I got some balaclavas from Amazon to use for now but I would like to look into other options and investigate the fabric on these a little more.

To see a video I made and posted on facebook when I first started my bins click on the image below:

Do you know what CERT is – is it for you?

CertlogoFor years I have heard of CERT certification and have been curious about it. I have wanted to become certified but between pregnancies, nursing babies, and my schedule I haven’t been able to make it work. This month however my church was sponsoring a CERT class that would run 2 Saturdays ALL day. I knew it would be a sacrifice to attend but I also knew a typical CERT certification course ran for weeks one night a week. A weekly schedule for many weeks just doesn’t work for me right now so I jumped on this opportunity. I am only finished the first Saturday but I’m really excited about what I am learning and wanted to encourage you all to check it out, learn more, and eventually become CERT certified if it works for you. As I finish the certification I’ll share some of what I have been learning with you.


CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team. CERT educates individuals about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT volunteers can assist others in their community following a disaster when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT volunteers are also encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking an active role in emergency preparedness projects.

Some things I learned on the first day:

  • More about disasters that can happen in my community with a lot of information on earthquakes
  • How and when to turn off utilities
  • What to do in case of fires
  • Triage and communication plans
  • Carries and holds for moving victims
  • Basic first aid
  • Search and rescue techniques
  • Basic psychology issues to be aware of
  • Organizing block captains and tagging/assessing homes
  • Using cribs to remove victims from under obstruction
  • Setting up an NEOC (Neighborhood Emergency Operation Center


One of my favorite things was when we got to put out a little fire with an extinguisher. I can honestly say I have never used an extinguisher and if push came to shove and I had to use one I PROBABLY would have panicked. Now that I have practiced using one I feel confident I could use one in an emergency. It’s just like so much of what we teach and talk about. Practice, practice, practice (when you don’t really need it). Then when it comes time to using those skills you’ll have confidence in your abilities.


Here are a couple links that might be of interest to you in learning more:

CERT information page
Find a nearby CERT programs

EXCLUSIVE DEAL: Lindon Farms Just-Add-Water meals


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How to make: Basic Black Beans

Today’s post is super quick. I just had to share this new discovery with you. I know it’s not a new thing but it’s new for me. I’ve been using my electric pressure cooker to cook black beans (among other things) for years. I absolutely LOVE it. My favorite Brazilian Black Beans are done in my electric pressure cooker. I can get my dry beans cooked in less than an hour and don’t really need to plan ahead with it.

ALL UNTIL my dear husband washed part of the lid in the dishwasher. So while my lid is out of commission and I order a new one I came across this way of doing black beans. I have to admit, for the days I think ahead I may just use this one, a lot! These beans turned out perfectly and were so easy, even my husband can cook them. My husband helps with a lot – but cooking (and apparently dish-washing) isn’t his forte.


9 cups of water
3 cups of dry black beans (rinsed)
1 onion halved
6-8 cloves of garlic or minced garlic
2 Tablespoons of salt
1 jalapeno pepper diced (I used freeze-dried green chilies)

Put all the ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on high for 8 hours. Eat!

This makes a huge batch. With 4 hungry boys in my family I can stuff these in tortillas, serve with rice, add to salsa’s… the options are endless!

WEBINAR: How to plan a year supply

Recently, we did our very first webinar on how to plan a year supply of food storage. Thank you all for your support in listening in, participating with great questions, and for giving us amazing feedback. Here’s just one comment from one of our readers:

Normally, I don’t critique webinars afterwards. I listen, take notes if inspired, and go on my way. I’m making an exception because that was an incredible, info-packed webinar. Took lots of notes. You really know your stuff and present it in a clear and concise manner. I loved it and am so grateful for your effort. When I have money to invest in product, I’ll be looking for you guys!

A lot of you have been asking for the slides in the presentation. Today we wanted to give you an overview of what was covered along with some of the slides. NOTE: These are just the high level slides. A lot of the slides included are int he webinar you can watch but not in this post.

If you want to watch the replay as though you were there live use this link. The video doesn’t start for about 3-4 minutes, so just hang tight and it will start at that point. It’s the best way to view it so you can see the chat and all the links that pop up.

If you can’t get the replay to work for some reason you can also access the video via our youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1&v=qVeVlgGoKmU

Throughout the webinar we talk about different resources available for you to use. You can find these all on the webinar page here


Just a little overview of what we covered with a portion of the slides in the presentation:

We started out the webinar by introducing the topics we were going to cover along with some basic questions about how the webinar would work.

Before getting into the details of actually planning the food for the year supply we spent a number of slides on the basics of an Emergency Preparedness Plan, Posts on Water, Non-Food Items, and Powerless cooking

Then we jumped into some different ways of building a year supply. We talked about the pro’s and con’s of each of these plans and who may prefer which based on budget, diet, space etc.

The “Basic” plan featured basic life-sustaining ingredients. We answered a lot of questions and demonstrated how to alter the common calculators.

In the “Basic Plus” plan we discussed how to enhance the “Basic” plan to better fit your regular more typical diets. We discussed how to go about doing that and where to buy stuff.

In the “Packages” plan we talked about what kinds of packages are out there, how to know which ones you might want to buy, why some are so much more money than others etc. We also taught how to modify, or customize packages out there to get a better deal.

These were just some of the recommendations and suggestions we made on purchasing when customizing a package.

In the “Just-add-water” plan we discussed some things you may want to know before investing in a big purchase. We talked about the different types of meals and variations in prices, servings etc.

Again here were some of the tips and things we talked about to allow you to know how to figure out when and how much to buy.

For some, purchasing on a monthly budget rather than all at once is the answer. The Thrive Q is a great way to do this.

In this portion of the webinar we talked about food storage and allergies.

Here is where we covered some miscellaneous items that people asked about.

Green Smoothie Girl: Food Storage Make Over

Today we’re very excited to show you some before and afters of our Food Storage Makeover on the “Green Smoothie Girl”. We even got a video of the whole thing so make sure you read to the bottom. Robyn from Green Smoothie Girl is one of Julie’s long time heroes. Julie was introduced to Robyn’s blog years ago and credits her for a lot of the healthy eating habits she has made over the years. Robyn also happens to be a fellow blogger we are working with on a campaign called blendaid to to build a school for AIDS-orphaned kids in Africa through Mothers Without Borders.

During the summer we were meeting with Robyn and she asked us if we could get someone to come over and redo/makeover her food storage. Robyn has always been a believer in food storage, however last time she moved homes, a lot of it was actually stolen by the movers. She also hasn’t been able to keep up with it because standard food storage foods don’t coincide with her healthy eating lifestyle. We told her we would love to help her with this project and get her hooked up with some foods that would make sense for her lifestyle. You see anyone can do food storage, it just takes a little thinking outside the box.

A few weeks later we went to Robyn’s house, made a plan, and voila! A food storage make over we’re excited to share with you today!



Step 1: Inventory

The first step was for us to get together with Robyn and make a plan. We inventoried what she already had and found out what her goals were. Each and every household has different needs, budgets, and goals for their food storage. As long time followers and fans of Robyn’s blog we weren’t surprised to hear her tell us she wanted to stay away from certain kinds of foods. We also weren’t surprised she wanted a lot of vegetables and fruits in her food storage.

Robyn had a really great start on her food storage. The holes she had in her plan was from foods the movers had stolen and from not knowing how to store vegetables and fruits long-term. She even had a Thrive Food Rotation Shelf that was empty (and ready for some food). She did however have PLENTY of toilet paper! We maybe teased her a little about that one. Robyn also had a great supply of her very own protein powder and other nutritional foods. She had great 72-hour kits in her garage but very little water storage.


Step 2: Make a plan

Our plan was to get Robyn’s garage set up as her emergency prep zone with 72 hour kits, powerless cooking, water storage, and an evacuation station. The basement was designated for all her food and non-food toiletry type items.

The main things we found she would need was powerless cooking tools (Sun Oven, Helius), water storage containers and filters, and freeze-dried fruits and vegetables. Robyn had some healthy sugars, fats, and grains already. Since she relies so much on fresh fruits and vegetables in her diet she hadn’t figured out the solution for that. In came Thrive freeze-dried fruits and vegetables. If you’re not already aware of the health benefits of freeze-dried fruits and vegetables you can learn more about it on our Thrive page HERE. The best part is you can even use a hand crank blender and have green smoothies in an emergency!


Step 3: Purchase the products:

Purchasing the products was probably the easiest step in the process because we knew exactly where to go for everything. Through our Food Storage Made Easy Store and our Thrive Consultant Website we knew we were getting Robyn the best pricing and quality products. We had some things ship directly to Robyn and we picked up her big Thrive order for her big EMPTY Food Rotation shelf. We timed it all to come in around the same time so we could go over there with everything we needed to complete this super fun transformation.

We know that buying everything at once is not realistic for everyone. We have our Food Storage Made Easy ebook that breaks things up, and you can also sign up on the Thrive Q to get your foods delivered to your door on a monthly budget.


Step 4: Re-arranging the room/garage

You can see up in the before picture the two metal shelves Robyn had were close together and hard to navigate around. It felt more like a crammed row of shelves than a room. Also the Food Rotation shelf Robyn already had was in a separate area of the storage room and not accessible due to buckets blocking the way. It was empty so it didn’t really matter that it was not accessible. Other buckets were placed somewhat scattered around. We opened the row of shelves, moved the Food Rotation shelf over into the main room and put all the buckets in the other area where the Food Rotation shelf was.

In the garage we sorted through the miscellaneous things and made designated areas for like items. We now had a sports area, emergency prep/water area, and misc area.


Step 5: Stocking the shelves

Finally! This was the FUN part. We even had our kids help a little with this. Having lots of hands made it a little easier. We moved everything off shelves, put like objects together in the food storage room, put glass items on bottom shelves, lighter items up top etc. We also got everything in the garage placed on the shelves.

And then it was time for the reveal…. Robyn loved it! This is Robyn and Julie after she saw it for the first time!


*Disclaimer: While it would be super fun for us to do these types of makeovers for everyone, it’s not something we do outside of close friends and family members. We have a bajillion kids between the two of us. We will however be holding a FREE webinar on how to plan your year supply of food in a couple weeks.


Sourdough Sandwich Bread

About 2 years ago I was introduced to sourdough bread. I blogged about it in a 2 part series here: Sourdough Part 1 Sourdough Part 2 Since then I got pregnant, had a baby and let my starter die a slow awful death and haven’t revisited it much. Does this sound familiar? Well about a couple months ago I decided it was time to venture back into the sourdough and natural yeast world. I wanted to be able to make this type of bread regularly and use it in my kids lunches. I wasn’t going to stop until I learned it! Well I have been experimenting and studying a lot the past few weeks and have come back to this concept a lot more confident and excited.


If you need a quick refresher, sourdough bread comes from a natural yeast starter (which is a pancake/muffin batter type texture of wheat and water) and other bread ingredients. The starter is what raises the bread and while it does so it unlocks a lot of nutrients and makes them easier to digest. It’s the way we used to make bread before commercial yeast.

The book that changed everything

artofbaking I started round 2 of my sourdough journey by borrowing this book from a friend. Let me tell you, I LOVED this book. The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast is awesome! Usually books like this overwhelm me. I feel like they tend to have so much information and ingredients I can’t actually digest it. This book was JUST right. It was an easy read and full of information that I could understand and apply. I had a friend that could give me some of her starter so I wasn’t looking for a detailed book on how to make your own starter. I was looking for one on how to use it and maintain it. If you’re looking on how to start your own starter you can check out this link. Now that I’m feeling confident in how to use my starter maybe I’ll try making my own.

A Starter?!?!?

Ok back to the starter, I decided to make a very QUICK and informal video to show you what a starter looked like and how to feed it. I know seeing a friend do something with them makes understanding this a lot easier, so come on into my kitchen while I show you what a starter looks like:

Now what

After you have some starter made and fed you can use it to bake breads, muffins, crusts etc. Putting starters in your recipes and then letting it sit and sour will be what it needs to raise. This is how people made bread before commercial yeast. This is natural, this is sustainable. THIS IS AWESOME! Can you tell I’m excited. What has excited me most about this whole journey is learning how much healthier this is. The process of souring your foods will do great things. It makes breads more digestible, lowers the gluten content, increases the availability of nutrients and so much more.

When I was making my sourdough bread the first time I was making an artisan type loaf. My kids ate it just fine but I couldn’t make sandwiches with it and never got in the habit of making it regularly. I wanted to combine this sourdough bread concept with everyday life. With one of the basic recipes from the book (that included a kneading component that I didn’t do with the artisan bread) I have been making sandwich bread now for 3 weeks for my kids at school. I eat the bread with eggs in the morning. I make pizza dough with it. I have felt fuller longer and my gut feels great. Had that been regular whole wheat bread I couldn’t have tolerated as much.

Basic Recipe

This is the basic recipe I’m using, but in the book I got the author has 6 basic ones you can use and tweak for your liking. It has one that has molasses and honey (that is delicious). It was one that uses a little coconut oil. It has a bread machine variation and more. I have tried nearly all of them and just love that they have all worked great.

1/2 cup starter (after it’s been mixed)
2 cups warm water
2 tsp salt
5-6 cups of whole wheat flour

Mix first three ingredients. Add flour one cup at a time. You’ll want the sides to come off the mixer but don’t over flour. Knead for 10 minutes. Let sit covered for 6-10 hours. Once the dough has nearly doubled in size after 6-10 hours, put into loaf pans and let raise another 2 hours. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 mins. This will make 2 loaves.

If this is something that interests you I would highly recommend getting The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast. I can’t adequately relate everything I learned (and I don’t really want to plagiarize)

Sweet and Sour Meatballs and Zucchini

We’re just dusting off our computers and are ready to get back at it after taking a little bit of a summer break. We have missed you all but we had some great times with our kids while they were home for the summer and hope you’ve been well!

This year was the first year I’ve planted and harvested a garden in my own yard. Prior to this year I have worked some ground in my mom’s garden and tried small things in pots. Last fall I convinced my husband to build garden boxes and now I have some of my very own garden produce to enjoy. It’s been really fun. My goal this year was to just TRY something. The day I transplated some tomato plants into the boxes there came in a giant wind storm and I was convinced nothing would survive. Well as luck would have it my plants didn’t all die and I’ve been getting some tomatoes and zucchinis. The tomatoes still need to ripen but the zucchinis are excellent and I’ve been enjoying find ways to use them up. Since this is the first time I’ve ever successfully planted vegetables in my own yard I get to show pictures of what it looks like. It feels great!


Back to zucchini. I love zucchini. My kids (half of them at least) love zucchini. I find ways to use it however I can. This last Sunday we were coming home from church and I hadn’t thought about what I was going to make for dinner. I had found these new meatballs at Costco (my 3 year old is a sucker for samples) the day before and I thought I could try and invent some sort of recipe using them. For lack of a better name, we’re going to go ahead and call this “Sweet and Sour Meatballs and Zucchini”. Don’t let the boring name fool you. This was way good and my whole family wants me to make it again. Well minus the 3 year old who just wants it to be “Sweet and Sour Meatballs”. I told you only half of my kids like zucchini.


Sweet and Sour Meatballs and Zucchini

Meatballs (I used pre-made but you could make your own)
Sweet and sour sauce (see below)
Zucchini (cubed)
Pineapple (cubed – reserve juice for sauce)
Any other vegetable you have on hand

Warm meatballs in a pan. In a separate pan fry zucchini, vegetables, and pineapple. Once vegetables and meat are cooked, add sauce. Serve over rice.

Sweet and sour sauce

1 cup pineapple juice
1⁄3 cup water
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1⁄2 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch

Combine all ingredients in a pan and sir. Bring to a boil. As it comes to a boil it will thicken.

Other Zucchini Recipes

Homemade Marinara with Zucchini
Spaghetti Bake
Homemade Coleslaw
Sweet and Sour Chicken and Quinoa
Chocolate Zucchini Bread (scroll down)