PREPAREDNESS SPRING CLEANING ZONES

Spring is in the air… and with that comes spring cleaning. I admit I buy into the spring cleaning frenzy. I love clearing things out of my house. Recycling, de-cluttering, donating things, and throwing things out makes me happy. Today I wanted to talk about Food Storage and Emergency Preparedness Spring cleaning!

A few Saturdays ago something happened in our schedule that never happens. We had NOTHING scheduled. Well I got giddy with excitement, pulled out some post-it- notes, and started on a rampage. I wrote down every project I wanted done. I got started working through the projects on my post-it-notes one by one. I placed all of them on my fridge and as I completed a task I pulled the note off. I still have a few more post-it-notes to get to, but I feel awesome. These areas weren’t related to my food storage and eprep specifically but the concepts apply.

FSZONES

I realized all the post-it-notes were certain areas, closets, or piles. Of course this is applicable in eprep and food storage. Why not spring clean your eprep and food storage areas using this method. Let’s talk about the areas or ZONES of preparedness that you can tackle this spring. You may not have the same physical zones as these, but they are universal concepts and areas.

PANTRYANDCUP

  • Throw away any expired foods
  • Donate any foods you aren’t going to end up eating after all
  • Move foods you know you should get around to eating to the front
  • Make foods you use more frequently more accessible
  • Install cansolidator rotating shelves to make rotation easier
  • Combine like foods that you may have more than 1 bag open for (pastas, cereals, etc)
  • Sweep out the bottom of the floors and wipe shelves down
  • Keep smaller containers of grains you use less frequently in your pantry to save space
  • Store multiples of the same foods on your food storage shelves if you have a separate area to save space in your pantry
  • Check to see if some of your containers are empty and just taking up space
  • Create granola or trail mixes with foods you have just a little bit left of
  • Clear out old tupperwares with missing lids and old dishes you no longer use
  • Go through baking cupboard and consolidate foods and combine like items

FOODSTORAGE

  • Combine like foods on shelves (fats, grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes etc)
  • Date foods with a sharpie so you know when you bought them if they don’t have expiration dates on them
  • Move older foods to the front, and newer foods to the back
  • Inventory what you have on your shelf for your Three Month Supply and for your Long Term Food Storage
  • Make a purchasing plan for what you need
  • Assess your non-food items (this one is easy to forget)
  • Wipe down any shelves that may need it (dust,spills, dirt)
  • Move foods close to expiring to your pantry to encourage and remind you to eat them
  • Have your kids help

EPRPEKIT

  • Review your 72 hour kits (part 1) (part 2)

  • Rotate 72 hour kit foods by using them for a camping trip or snacks
  • Swap out clothes for kids that have become too small
  • Check batteries in flashlights etc
  • Look over our Emergency Prep Guide to see if you are missing anything
  • Review your emergency protocols with your family
  • Update eprep plan with new phone numbers for family members etc
  • Update your evacuation list with any items that may be new or obsolete
  • Rotate water in your kits
  • Assess and update your Emergency Binder

GARDEN

  • Clean out weeds or old plants from garden beds
  • Make your 2014 garden plan
  • Refill gardens with new compost if needed
  • Prune fruit trees and bushes as necessary
  • Plant vegetables (check out this guide to when you can plant each type of vegetable specific to your area)
  • Rotate water storage by watering your gardens
  • Check water filters

SUPLIES

  • Inventory your fuel supplies
  • Make sure your fuel is still good for powerless cooking
  • Test your powerless cooking tools to ensure they are in good working order
  • Store extra or old dishes cleared out of your kitchen with your supplies instead of buying new ones

KNOWLEDGE

ADDD
We would love to see this list grow. Please leave a comment with any other ideas of things you do when spring cleaning your food storage. We will add them to the main post and make this list as comprehensive as possible!

MAY “Get It Done” Challenge: Make that binder

This month’s “Get It Done” challenge is something that we feel really strongly about. In our Emergency Preparedness Plan we discuss having a 72 hour kit that you can grab and go in an emergency with 3 days of food and water as well as supplies. One of the key parts of that kit is to have an “Emergency Binder” full of all of your family’s important documents that you would not want to lose should you not be able to return to your home.

The emergency binder part of the plan is often neglected for any of these reasons:

  • It’s a hassle to collect all the documents
  • You don’t know WHERE all your documents are
  • You worry about security
  • You don’t have a good binder, dividers, sheet protectors, etc. on hand
  • You think you will “do it later”
  • You haven’t had time


  • If you haven’t made your emergency binder yet for one of those reasons (or any other), this is the month for you to GET IT DONE!

    maygetdone

    YOUR MAY CHALLENGE

    You’re task this month should you “Accept” the challenge is to do one of the following:

    1. Create an emergency binder and compile all your documents
    2. Buy a Preparedness Planner Kit and compile all your documents
    3. Look through your current binder and make sure everything is current (updated insurance policies, birth certificate for your latest baby, current investment statements, etc.)

    Scroll down for helpful ideas on how to make your binder if you are working on starting an emergency binder from scratch.

    SHARE YOUR SUCCESSES

    We love to see when you guys actually finish the challenges, so here is a little “social” game we will play this month:

    1. Post a picture of your completed Emergency Binder on our facebook fan page.
    2. We will post your photos to our Instagram account throughout the month to highlight all the different ways people do their binders. (follow us @foodstoragemadeeasy on Instagram)

    TWO GREAT BINDER OPTIONS

    1. CREATE YOUR OWN BINDER
    In our May newsletter we gave a full tutorial on how to create your own binder including a list of what to buy, what to include, and free downloads for section dividers and a cover page. Check it out if you are a do-it-yourself type! We also saw these adorable pink zipper binders that would be perfect to use (ok it comes in black too). I love that it has a handle for easy grab and go, and it zips shut in case things fall out of your sheet protectors.

    2. PREPARE MY LIFE PLANNER KIT
    This is a robust complete system that will walk you step-by-step through creating your whole binder. Each item you are told to store has a sheet protector created to exactly fit that item (i.e. passports, insurance cards, etc.) The binder is heavy duty, the sheet protectors are top quality, and the worksheets contained inside really complete the package with full instructions.

    The Prepare My Life Planner is regularly $119.95 but is ON SALE for just $99.95 this month! If you want it made easy for you, this is a great product. If you want to save money and make it yourself, that’s great too. The most important thing is to just GET IT DONE!

    Best of Food Storage Made Easy 2013

    We are so excited to start a new year of building our food storage, learning new skills, and helping our families become more prepared. Next week we will be sharing our 2013 New Year’s Resolutions with you and encouraging you to work on your own. But this week we wanted to give you a recap of some of our most popular posts from last year in case you missed any of them along the way.

    3 BIGGEST HIGHLIGHTS THIS YEAR


    Our entire website organize and categorized to make it easy to access everything in one place.


    Complete revision of our Emergency Preparedness Plan with more detail and better format.

    EBOOK

    Brand new 3-Part eBook program to help you build your food storage and learn to use it.

    Other Helpful Posts

    Homemade Whole Wheat “Rhodes” Rolls
    Julie shares her secret bread making tips that enable her to create delicious freezer rolls that are even yummier than Rhodes rolls and made of 100% whole wheat!
    Chicken Tortilla Soup
    Another freezer meal idea, this soup is great fresh or several weeks later out of the freezer.
    Fuel the Fire February
    This is a 5-part series covering common and less-common fuels that are used for emergency preparedness and cooking without power.
    Fast and Easy Chicken Quinoa Soup
    A delicious recipe using a grain that people don’t commonly store but we think is a great option to add variety to your food storage grains.
    New Thrive Sauces (and Seasonings)
    Thrive Life launched a new line of sauces and seasonings at its annual convention in 2013. We love the additional meal options these open up in our storage!
    Sour Dough 101: Part 1
    Learn the basics of sour dough and how to make a starter
    Sour Dough 101: Part 2
    A delicious recipe for Artisan sour dough. Great yeast-free bread option.
    Getting Started Raising Chickens
    Jodi shares about her adventures raising backyard chickens and gives details on everything you need to know to get started.
    Tax Refund Week
    Tips for helping you to make the most of your money when purchasing food storage, especially when you have a large bulk sum to spend such as when you get a tax refund.
    How to Overcome Food Storage Challenges
    Whatever struggles you may have with food storage, we have some tips for helping you to overcome them.
    Rice Flour Crepes
    Using home ground rice flour, you can make lots of different foods that are gluten-free. Great for a change of pace or if you have allergies.
    New and Improved Sun Oven
    The All-American Sun Oven is a complete redesign of the popular Global Sun Oven. This post is a summary of all the new features.
    Greek Lentil Soup Recipe
    Another healthy recipe that uses one of the legumes that you will find on most long term food storage calculators.
    Homemade Household Cleaning Supplies
    Learn how you can use common storage items to replace a lot of your household cleaners. It can save on the amount of non-food items you need to store.
    5 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me 5 Years Ago
    Some tips for beginners that can help you get started with the right thinking. Don’t wait five years to figure this out!
    Pizza Casserole: Food Storage Style
    A great twist on a “facebook” recipe turned into a fully shelf-stable meal.
    17 Ways to Use Your Wheat Grinder
    17 different delicious recipes using different legumes and grains that you can grind in any wheat grinder.
    Water Storage FAQ
    We discuss commonly asked questions about water storage on a podcast episode with links to lots of additional information.
    10 Ways to Practice Powerless Cooking This Summer
    Summer time is a great excuse to practice cooking outdoors and work on those powerless cooking skills. Here are ten tips to help you get practicing.
    Summer Salad with a Quick and Easy Corn Salsa
    A great go-to salad that can be made using food storage foods and taken to any pot luck or barbecue event.
    How to Create a Recipe Binder
    Jodi gives a step by step tutorial showing how to make a great little recipe binder to organize all of your recipes. This is a favorite gift she gives to her sisters as they get married.
    What can you do with YOUR food storage?
    See the different foods you can make just by adding a few more items into your food storage plan. It’s definitely a good idea to go “beyond the basics”.
    Emergency Preparedness Plan: Whats New?
    Download our new 9 page emergency preparedness plan to help make a plan and disaster kit for your family.
    What can you do with YOUR food storage?
    See the different foods you can make just by adding a few more items into your food storage plan. It’s definitely a good idea to go “beyond the basics”.
    Freezer Meals and Food Storage
    Jodi shares about a freezer meal project she did for her grandma and how she used lots of food storage items in her meal ideas.
    7 Day Challenge Recap
    Summary and links to all 7 days of the 2013 7 day challenge, an annual event where we all practice our preparedness in a fun and challenging mock emergency.
    Food Storage Substitutions
    Print out these handy substitutions for when you run out of an ingredient or want to store less ingredients and still make your same foods.

    12 Days of Food Storage Christmas
    Fun gift ideas for Christmas time or ANY time, to help you give the gift of preparedness to loved ones.
      Let’s Talk About Rice
    Rice is a common grain in long term food storage. There are many varieties you can buy, and not all of them are ideal for storage. This post gives lots of detailed info on this staple food.
      Freeze-Dried Foods versus Dehydrated Foods
    Many people don’t realize there is a significant difference between freeze-dried foods and dehydrated foods. This post covers all the basics to help you understand and make decisions on which ones to store for your family.
      All About Freeze-Dried Cheese
    If you can have pizza in an emergency, everything will be ok. Freeze-dried cheese can make that a possibility.
      All About Yeast and Vital Wheat Gluten
    These two ingredients are key to making our favorite whole wheat bread recipe but they can be intimidating if you are new to bread-making.

    National Preparedness Month and the SEVEN DAY CHALLENGE

    Welcome to September! In case you didn’t know, September is National Preparedness Month, so you will probably be hearing lots about it on all of your favorite food storage and emergency preparedness blogs. Today we wanted to introduce you to a little fun activity that we do each September and invite you to join us and participate.

    Back in 2009 Julie and I got this crazy idea that we should do a little “fire drill” and one day just email all of our readers and tell them a big “emergency” happened that we would all work through together. As we thought about how we could do this, we eventually came up with the idea to do a 7 Day Challenge in conjunction with National Preparedness Month. The Challenge became a week long series of mock emergencies with daily limitations and tasks to help assess your level of preparedness. We decided to start it on a surprise day in September, but we give you lots of hints to know it’s coming up soon!

    We are getting ready to start our FIFTH challenge and we have learned so much every single year that we have done this with all of you. We wanted to do a little trip down memory lane to help get you excited about this year’s challenge. We hope you enjoy this and sign up to join in THIS YEAR!

    We did one of our podcast episodes featuring some of our favorite things about the challenge as well as some hints and tips if you are going to participate this year. You can listen by clicking the banner below:

    Seven Day Challenge Highlights

    Here is an introduction to the first challenge we did 4 years ago

    2009: Jodi’s kids LOVED evacuating and eating out of 72 hour kits

    2009: Julie made bread from scratch to practice a dietary limitation

    2010: Jodi and her family making shadow puppets at night (great electricity-free entertainment)

    2010: Julie practiced changing a tire (no husbands allowed to help!)

    2011: Jodi’s Sun Oven dinner failed (rainy day, boo)

    2011: Julie’s little guy had fun testing out the “porta-potty” on sanitation practice day

    2012: Jodi and her kids tested out a 3600 calorie bar (one of them loved it, the other HATED it)

    2012: Julie’s Sun Oven cookies and quinoa were a success

    Tips for the 2013 Challenge

    Follow our Facebook page:
    Go to http://facebook.com/foodstoragemadeeasy and make sure to “like” our page. Sometimes facebook doesn’t show all of the posts in your newsfeed so during the challenge days, make sure you bookmark that link directly and check back frequently. We love to have readers post pictures of THEIR adventures, but they are hard to see on the page. We’ll do our best to repost fun things so everyone can see them. Each day we’ll post a status where you can share your experiences that day. You don’t have to be a member of Facebook to read through these.

    Follow us on Instagram
    If you have an iPhone or iPad you can follow us on Instagram, our username is “foodstoragemadeeasy”. We will be posting LOTS of pictures there throughout the challenge week, and we would love if everyone could post their pics and use the hashtag #7daychallenge and tag us too. That way we can see your pics and all our readers can see what everyone else is doing there. It will be FUN! We will cover Instagram and how we will be using it in a little more detail later :)

    Fill your gas tanks and stock your fridges
    The challenge rules are no spending money, no eating out, no grocery shopping, etc. for the WHOLE WEEK. You do not want to get the email stating that the challenge is about to start on a day when your tank is EMPTY or you have zero milk in the house.

    Print out recipes and other important information
    Many of the days require you to do hard things and we don’t let you use a computer. Make sure you have some resources to help you if you can’t hop online to check a recipe or figure out how to use your Volcano Grill. Now would be a great time to put together your own recipe binder.

    Get your family and friends involved!
    We have SOOO much fun doing this together and getting our friends and family to join in too. We encourage you to have your friends/family sign up to participate, but at least post about what you are doing on your social media, blogs, etc. We all want our loved ones to be more prepared and this is a great way for them to see some of the reasons WHY you do what you do and it might teach them a little something too.

    Review past challenges
    Take a look at our “Why Food Storage” series to get an idea of the concepts that we will be practicing. We try to test ourselves on each of these five concepts of why you might be storing food. Then review some of the activities from the last four years. You can see what things you might want to brush up on before THIS year gets underway!
    2012 7 DAY CHALLENGE Overview
    2011 7 DAY CHALLENGE Overview
    2010 7 DAY CHALLENGE Overview
    2009 7 DAY CHALLENGE Overview

    SIGN UP NOW

    BOSCH GIVEAWAY

    givea

    • What’s our FAVORITE appliance for making bread (and all sorts of other yummy things)?
    • What do we sell at our store for the lowest price online with FREE SHIPPING?
    • What’s on SALE THIS MONTH?
    • What are we giving AWAY with some of our awesome blogger friends?

    A BOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!
    If you are a breadmaker, your heart probably just skipped a beat. Oh how we love our BOSCH mixers.

    While you’re thinking about making bread, and dreaming about a BOSCH, here are some great bread making posts:

    An Amazing Giveaway!

    Fourteen bloggers who are leaders in self-reliance and preparedness got together to have this awesome giveaway as a way to say thank you for your support! Making your own food is not a glamorous revolution, but it’s one of the most important things you can do to promote sustainability.

    There will be TWO winners!

    The first lucky winner will receive a Bosch Mixer and the second lucky winner will win the L’Equip NutriMill. This giveaway will run from August 13th through August 20th at 11:59 p.m. PST and the winner will have 48 hours to respond before we draw a new winner. All you have to do to enter is fill out the Rafflecopter form below by signing in with your Facebook or email account (we’ll need this info so we can contact you if you win.) The prizes will be shipped to residents of the US only. Residents of other parts of the world can still enter but will be responsible for paying shipping. Good Luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Emergency Preparedness Plan: Whats New?

    EPREP
    CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE NEW PLAN

    Last week for our 5th year Blogging Anniversary we introduced our brand new Emergency Preparedness Plan. Today we wanted to talk a little bit more in depth about the plan.

    Here are some of the main differences and additions:

    WHAT’S THE SAME:

    • The three main sections are still the same: Family Plan, Disaster Kits, Evacuation Lists.
    • There’s still room for you to fill in emergency contact info and other important components of your family plan.
    • We still give a menu of food for you to put in your 72 hour kits (and other necessary items for cooking, etc.)
    • We continue to talk about the necessities needed to keep your car stocked and having a game plan for things you would grab in case of an evacuation.

    WHAT’S DIFFERENT:

    • The file is a pdf file now. You can print it out easily even if you don’t know how to print from excel without all the extra spaces and lines.
    • We changed the Disaster Kit titles to include the words “72 Hour Kit”, and “Emergency Binder”. The new titles are more descriptive of what is included in each section. We also added the word “Car Kit” to the Evacuation section
    • We included tips and facts throughout the whole plan to help you in your planning and purchasing processes. These tips are things we have learned ourselves as well as reader suggestions that have helped us.
    • Instead of giving you just the one menu plan for the food in your 72 hour kits, we included several lists of menus depending on varying diets. We also included meal planning worksheets for you to make your own custom menus.
    • TIPS FOR YOUR KITS

      After finishing the new plan, we decided to give it a test and printed it out before going through our 72 hour kits that needed rotating. The plan flowed very well, and we’re confident it will help you rethink (or start) your plan. Here are some additional tips to think about when putting together your plan and kits. A lot of these are included in the plan, but we thought since we had your attention we would share them here too.

      PURCHASING: After you’ve come up with everything you still need to buy for your kit, break it up into a purchasing schedule. Purchase just 1 or 2 things each week for however many weeks it takes you. The point is you’ll be making progress, even if you can’t buy it all at once.

      GRAB LIST(S): Instead of having just one grab list (things you would grab if you have to evacuate) have multiple lists- one for each family member. Tape those lists up on the inside of your front closet door. When it comes time to evacuate, anyone who is old enough can get their list and hurry. This will save time deciding who is going to grab what.

      INDIVIDUAL KITS: For anyone old enough, make them their own kit. Have food, water, and clothes in each kit so in case of separation everyone will have their own stuff. Divvy up the remaining supplies among all the kits. Put the heavier stuff in the stronger family members’ kits. Use backpacks or rolling bags that are easy to transport. Lugging around big rubbermaid bins is HARD.

      TRIAL SIZE TOILETRIES: There are sample sizes of shampoos, toothpastes, deodorants etc. you can purchase for the kits. They are in the regular personal hygiene aisles at the store. No need to lug around big containers of those things. Another idea is to save the samples you get at hotels and put those in your kits. They always get thrown away anyways if you only use a small portion!

      THRIFT STORE CLOTHING: It can be inconvenient and kind of wasteful to store regular usable clothes in your kits that stay stored in a closet while children outgrow them. Consider purchasing outfits at a thrift store for your kits. That way you wont have to feel bad about not using whole outfits while they still fit.

      COLD WEATHER BAG: There are a lot of items you might want in your 72 hour kit if it were cold- but you wouldn’t want if it were warmer weather. Store all the stuff you would need in colder weather in a separate bag or container that you would grab and go in case of emergency during the winter. If it happened to be warmer, you could just leave it behind.

      PUT FRESH FOOD ON GRAB LIST: If time, circumstance, and space allow – grab any fresh food you may have and throw it in a cooler on your way out (if you are leaving in a car). You may really appreciate fresh produce in the first 24-72 hours of a crisis.

      DIAPER BAGS PACKED: This goes for evacuations OR everyday emergencies. Do your best to ALWAYS have your diaper bags packed with extra food, clothes, and diapers. If you’re in the habit of doing this all the time it could really save you in a REAL emergency (like those don’t happen daily with babies on the go).

      IDEAS FOR ROTATION: Depending on how often your kit needs rotating (the foods you chose will dictate this), make it a habit to change them out at the same time each year. Whether it be Halloween (where you use some of the extra candy as comfort food), Spring cleaning week, April Fools Day (we did that last year so we wouldn’t be fools- we know it was corny) or any other time of year, get in the habit of rotating and re-evaluating them.

      COMMUNICATION: If in case you are evacuating and you expect your house to be in tact when you return, it’s wise to maybe leave a note about your where-abouts on a door. That way when people come looking to see if you are safe – they will know you are elsewhere.

      And now, I’ll leave you with a picture of part of my kits sprawled out all over my family room floor. Dumping and pouring your kits out is a sure way to MAKE YOURSELF rotate the food and clothes in there. The food got older, and my kids got bigger since I did this last. Oh and yes, that’s our NEW PLAN printed out on the floor in front of everything. I used it to guide myself through the task :)

      Capture

    Happy 5th Birthday to Food Storage Made Easy!

    5

    We passed our 5th blogiversary this summer and still kind of can’t believe we have been at this for 5 YEARS! It’s amazing how much changes in 5 years (like adding 4 more kids between the two of us), and how much we still have to learn. To celebrate this event, we wanted to say thank you to your our devoted and faithful readers with 3 PRETTY AWESOME surprises that we put together.

    Has Food Storage Made Easy helped you? We would really appreciate if you shared some of these things with your friends and family who may be interested. Pin them, share links on facebook, or forward our monthly newsletter on. It helps us get new readers and be able to teach even more people about getting prepared, which we love! Thanks again for your support in walking this journey with us over the last five years :)

    Alright, let’s get right to it. Here are the surprises we put together for YOU:

    1
    What do you get when you gather almost 300 blog posts over the course of 5 years? A Food Storage Encyclopedia is what you get. You won’t believe this until you see it! All of our most informative posts are listed on the Encyclopedia page and separated by categories. You will be amazed at how much faster you will be able to find things you are looking for and be well on your way to getting your Food Storage going.

    EPREPNEW
    We have been wanting to revamp our Emergency Preparedness Plan for the last 2 years! Well we finally got it together and made it happen. Download this plan and you will be guided on how to create an short term Emergency Preparedness Plan for your family! This version is much more organized and easier to use than our former excel version.

    3
    AUG10
    With the Food Storage Made Easy ebook Binder, you’ll finally know how to build (and USE) your Food Storage. We walk you step by step through what to buy and how to use it including information, recipes, and checklists. Download your copy today and immediately start putting your binder together. This special pricing only happens 1 or 2 times a year so don’t miss out!

    DON’T FORGET TO SHARE WITH YOUR FRIENDS SO THEY CAN CELEBRATE ALONG WITH US AND HAVE ACCESS TO THESE GREAT SURPRISES TOO!

    New and Improved All-American Sun Oven (ok this is really exciting!)

    If you’ve followed our blog for a while, you probably know that we both love and use our Global Sun Ovens frequently. We teach about them intensively in our Powerless Cooking Classes because it is such a great way to conserve your fuel as long as you have a sunny day. You can check out a few of our cooking adventures here and here.

    Well today we are so excited to tell you about the BRAND NEW ALL-AMERICAN SUN OVEN. The company has taken feedback from customers over the years and has made so many great enhancements to the sun oven. We’re going to highlight some of our favorites in this post, but you can check out the full details over at our Online Store. This new Sun Oven is only available in the U.S. while the Global Sun Oven will still be available in the U.S. and worldwide.

    sunoven-newpin

    Benefits of the NEW All-American Sun Oven

    Screen shot 2013-04-09 at 11.19.41 PM 20% LARGER INTERIOR: Without increasing the exterior size of the oven, the interior can now accommodate a regular 9×13 pan. HURRAY for this! Now you don’t have to buy special pots and pans or limit your meals to smaller meals.
    EASIER TO ALIGN WITH THE SUN: No more trying to figure out if the oven is aligned properly with the sun (did anyone else feel like the shadow thing was really hard to get right??) The little plastic E-Z Sun Track Indicators take all the guess work out.
    Screen shot 2013-04-09 at 11.15.01 PM MORE STABLE: The stake at the back is now t-shaped so it is more stable in windy weather, it also includes little stakes you can use to pin it to the ground.
    Screen shot 2013-04-09 at 11.19.34 PM HOTTER TEMPERATURES: With a thicker glass door and a better sealing gasket, temperatures can now get 10-15% hotter than the Global Sun Oven. On full sunny days you can get up to 360-400 degrees. Woo-hoo!
    rack BETTER LEVELING RACK: The new rack looks great, you can use it in different ways, including folding it up and placing it on the floor of the sun oven to increase the usable area inside while still allowing air to circulate in the oven. Love this.
    NEW CD: The new CD that comes with every All-American Sun Oven is full of emergency preparedness info, videos, and tons of amazing recipes developed specifically for the sun oven plus FREE recipe organizer software. You can even update the software to download all the new recipes from Sun Ovens website. How cool is that?

    sunoven-buy

    If you already own a Sun Oven, we have heard that there will be an upgrade kit that will get you all of the new features (except for the interior capacity). We will keep you posted as soon as it is available.

    Sneak Peak at the New Features

    Paul Munsen, the President of Sun Ovens International stopped by my house when he was in town last week to give me a sneak peek at the new sun oven. I canNOT wait to get my hands on one of these and start using it! I tried to film a video of him showing me the new features but alas, when you have a 6 year old help film you end up with only half of a video. You can see the half of it that actually recorded after I took the phone from her. I TRIED, please forgive me :)

    Getting Started Raising Chickens

    CHICK

    When I first told Julie I wanted to get chickens and blog about it, her response was “Jodi, that’s not FOOD STORAGE MADE EASY!” So here is my preface, you don’t have to raise chickens if you want to do food storage. If you are just getting started, make sure to review our “Why Food Storage” series and sign up for our BabyStep Checklists which will walk you through getting your food storage (minus the chickens) over a series of emails for one year.

    Now, if you are interested in having chickens either for fun, for food, for self reliance, or for an educational experience for your kids … READ ON! (Hint, it’s easier than you think)

    Getting Started with Backyard Chickens

    The beginning phases of getting chickens is soooo easy and super fun! If you have an IFA or other agricultural supply store in your area you can grab everything there including your chicks. I took my kids and was in and out in 30 minutes, not a big deal at all. You can also purchase all these things online if you don’t have a store in your area that sells them.

    Baby Chicks

    Housing

    Baby chicks will need to be kept very warm, so it’s best to keep them inside or in a heated garage in the beginning. We keep them in the kitchen because we like to play with them. When they get a bit bigger and stinkier I’ll probably move them to the basement. A large cardboard box or a rubbermaid bin will work for the first few weeks. As soon as they get big enough to fly up and perch on the edge of the bin you will want to either find a way to cover the box or move them to a bigger container. We have a very large box we’ll be upgrading them too when they get bigger.

    Heat Lamp

    For the first 6 weeks or so you’ll need to keep your chicks very warm and the best way to do this is using a heat lamp. You’ll need to rig the lamp up so it sits at the top of your coop. Some of them have little clamps, others have loops you can use to hang them. I used a kitchen chip bag clamp to hold the cord to the box and keep it from falling in. We’re high tech around here. My lamp was $14.50 and the bulb was $3.99 at IFA. Looks like they are a bit cheaper online.

    Food/Feeders

    I got a small 3 lb hanging feeder and rigged up a way to hang it in our box. Once the chickens are bigger and in their coop you’ll need something bigger, but I didn’t want to have a huge feeder in my little box so I opted to buy a small one now and upgrade to a bigger one later. Mine was $7.50 at IFA. You can also find it at Amazon. For food, I bought two five pound bags of poultry chick starter food. That should last a little while until they get bigger and start eating more!

    Water

    Last time I had chicks their water container seemed to be a big mess and they’d always poop in it. This time I bought a brooder nipple bottle to hang on the side of the box. I LOVED it until after a few days it just caused the box to disintegrate on that corner because the chicks would cause it to drip out when they played with it. If you were using a plastic bin this would still be a great option because then the birds don’t perch and poop in the water. I put in my old water container instead now.

    Chicks

    When we raised our last batch of chicks we bought a big mix of breeds and ended up with a few that were our favorites. So this time we bought 2 Rhode Island Reds and 4 Buff Orpingtons. When we got home we noticed they had accidentally snuck 5 Buff Orpingtons in the box though, so we got a bonus ;) There are LOTS of varieties out there but these ones seemed to be nice with our kids and have consistent laying so we went with them. Our chicks were $3.79 each, I know you can order these through the mail but we think it’s fun to go to the store and get them right then!

    Summary

    My total cost was about $70. You could be a little more or less depending on where you buy your materials and chicks, and how deluxe you go on things. It only took a couple of hours to get everything purchased and set up at our house. It is EASY to get started. It gets harder as they start to outgrow their box and you have to keep them contained. It’s also another post entirely when you get into the details of how you will transition them outside, build a coop, keep them out of your vegetable garden, etc. I’ll keep you updated throughout our little adventure :)

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    Making the Most of Your Money When Purchasing Food Storage (aka Tax Refund Week)


    Welcome to Tax Refund Week! We often get asked the question “I got some gift money, or I inherited some money – what would you recommend I purchase?”. Talk about a LOADED question. The answer always ends up being: “Well…. it depends”. In this series, we are going to answer that question. There isn’t a universal answer for this, but by going through each topic below, we’re confident you will have a good idea about what may be right for you – should you get a nice tax refund or other unexpected “extra” money!
    Back to the answer always ends up being: “Well…it depends”. The reason it depends is because not everyone has the same diets, lifestyles, monthly budgets for Food Storage, and ability or desire to rotate their Food Storage. If you are in the habit of replenishing and using your three month supply, then maybe splurging on an appliance you’ve been waiting for is a good idea. If your budget is super tight, and you haven’t been able to put enough food away for your three month supply – perhaps the appliance can wait and it would be a good idea to stock up on your three month supply foods all at once. If you have no real intention of rotating your Food Storage, and you want to have “just in case” foods, then spending money on some “Just Add Water Meals” would be a good idea. We all have different styles and philosophies, so that’s why: “Well… it depends”.

    Here is a summary of all the topics that are covered in this series. We obviously encourage taking advantage of sales, and/or building your food storage bit by bit … but sometimes it can be easy (and nice) to buy things all at once. So take a look below and make YOUR game plan for any unexpected cash windfalls you might be blessed with :)

    BUYING A THREE MONTH SUPPLY IN BULK
    Ideally, you will purchase your 3 month supply little by little, while taking advantage of sales. However, maybe you haven’t gotten around to it, you haven’t been able to afford it, or you don’t trust your ability to stay on top of sales. You might not live close to regular grocery stores, or you could have any other reason to not add to your 3 month supply little by little. If any of those reasons to not add to your 3 month supply bit by bit sound like you, you may chose to use your tax refund (or a big chunk of change) and buy a lot of it all at once.

    Our Babystep 3 teaches you all about figuring out how to make a list of everything you may need for your 3 month supply of food. You can chose to use the spreadsheets included, or the printable forms. Read More >>>

    BEST WAYS TO PURCHASE TRADITIONAL FOOD STORAGE
    When referring to traditional food storage, the food items typically include grains, legumes, sugars, oils, etc. These foods provide a life-sustaining diet and at the very least these should be the ones you store. These items also have a long shelf life thus they are ideal for long term food storage. We recommend including additional foods such as fruits, veggies, meats and powdered dairy products in your traditional food storage to add a variety to your diet, and to allow you more flexibility to make your regular recipes using foods you have stored.

    A lot of people like to shoot for a goal of storing a one year supply of long term food storage, so buying a big chunk of that at one time when you come across some “extra” money is a great way to make a dent in it. Read More >>>

    WHAT TO KNOW WHEN BUYING JUST ADD WATER MEALS
    We used to consider storing Just-add-Water meals to be “cheating” when purchasing Food Storage. However, over the years we have come to realize that there is a time and place for this type of food storage. If you go through a short term disaster or need to grab some food and go, having a bucket or two of this kind of food will be invaluable to you. If you choose to store “Just Add Water” meals there are several things to consider as you determine what you need to store.

    First, decide how many servings your family will need to store.
    Second, decide if you want to supplement with other foods.
    Third, plan for the appropriate fuel and water. Read More >>>

    WHAT TYPE OF FOOD STORAGE SHELVES TO BUY
    Our BabyStep 1 is to get your shelves, and food storage area ready. The reason we have shelves as step number 1 (after your basic eprep) is because when you have a room set up, building and adding to your food storage feels fun. It no longer becomes a task of figuring out where to put stuff. So whether its cheap and temporary shelves, or if you’re more experienced and run into extra money, some of the food rotation shelves can be really nice solutions.

    When deciding on which shelves to put in your home, there are a lot of things to consider. We go into this is greater depth on our BabyStep 1 page. You may have space or budget issues to deal with, but there are options out there. Depending on what types of foods you are storing, rotating shelves can be a great thing to have. It’s also okay to start small with one shelf, and then add to it as you grow your food storage. Read More >>>

    TOP PICKS FOR EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS PRODUCTS
    There are hundreds (probably thousands) of Emergency Preparedness products available out there. Some products are critical to have, while others just make life easier. Over the years of doing this blog, we have tried lots of different things, and have become dealers for many of them.

    When determining what it is you need, we always recommend taking care of basics first. Take care of your 72 hour kits, your water storage, basic first aid, and sanitation supplies. After you have taken care of the basics (and have either saved up money or get a nice chunk of change) add to your supplies. If you follow our blog, you know we often try to teach you cheap or free solutions to tie you over in the mean time. Read More >>>

    TOOLS TO USE YOUR FOOD STORAGE DAILY
    When determining what it is you need in terms of appliances, we recommend the “test yourself” theory. What we mean by that, is test yourself by either borsrowing, or doing things the hard way before buying an appliance. Try making bread by hand before buying an expensive mixer. SURE the mixer WILL make the job easier, and oftentimes make the bread turn out better, but see if you are dedicated enough to the habit or lifestyle before buying something you may never use.

    We borrowed wheat grinders, canners, and dehydrators before ever getting our own, and it was great practice to allow us to see what it was we wanted. So here are a few of our favorite appliances to help us use and preserve our Food Storage. Read More>>>