Monday, March 31, 2008

72 hour kits

I want to address the issue of 72 hour kits. This is a really important component of a preparedness program. I have friends who have had to use theirs and I know from their first hand accounts what a powerful asset it is to be prepared in the time of an emergency. As we come up to General Conference (our church has one twice a year), it is a good time to take stock of your kits. This is a good time to change your smoke detector batteries and rotate the food in your 72 hour kit. Unless you have MRE's of course, then you should only eat those if you are starving. I'm going to start this series with some links for information on how to get started and what to include. Throughout the next couple of weeks I will be posting about our kit, what it looks like, where it is stored and what we have in it.

These are just a few to get started. I will update the list as I come across more information.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tom Thumb

This was a last minute trip. I forgot a couple of things at the grocery store on Tuesday so I had to stop in again. I hate it when that happens. They had a coupon (a store one) for 4 boxes of cereal for $4. There was a minimum purchase of $10 so I figured I'd work in the things I needed so I could get another deal. I needed the brown sugar, ziplocs and edamame. The muffin mix is for treats for the kids lunches. My total before coupons was 28.50. I had $10 in store specials and $10 in mfr coupons. So my final total was $8.62. It was a good opportunity to pick up things I needed and get some extra things for free.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Principles and Warnings

I was forwarded this short article and thought I would share.

I have had people say to me before that they feel that they are financially secure so why store food. If they have an emergency fund, won't they be able to buy food if they have a disability or a loss of income? This is not necessarily the case. Food is not always available. I don't subscribe to alarmism. I don't think that panic is a good reason to be living providently. However, I do think there are enough signs out there that our sources of necessities are limited. We cannot count on others to feed our families. Self reliance is a principle that is taught in our church as a means to secure liberty and blessings to its members. It is unfortunate that we waste valuable energy debating whether or not we should practice this principle. The process by which we learn to live below our means with prudence and self restraint is one that is sanctifying and freeing. What if we could consume less? Live without more? Be more free of material things. This is a true blessing because it frees up valuable brain power to concentrate on other more important things. I classify certain kinds of eating as materialistic as well. Now, I like to eat as much as the next guy. But I have a hard time paying $5 a pound for one steak that will only feed one person. We rarely eat red meat because of that. Even ground beef is highly expensive and in my opinion not very nutritious. There are better sources of protein out there but they are not fashionable and they are not easy to cook. Our society does not know how to eat a grain and legume based diet. Many people would argue about health and taste and comfort. For our family, eating a more vegetarian based diet works. We consume less food, we are more full and we feel better. (Aside from all the chocolate we've been eating because CVS has had some good deals). I wanted to post about this because I think it is a common idea that we "deserve" to eat certain things, or we are accustomed to a certain type of diet that cannot be changed. Change is something we need to be familiar with. It happens everyday all around us. Being flexible is a good start to begin or continue a food storage program. It is important to be open to new foods. One of the points the article makes is that the prices for wheat have gone up quite a bit. Wheat is not the only grain that will store a long time. There are other sources of grain that could be more afforable, such as quinoa. I haven't priced it for a long time but the point is that there are alternatives. Saying "my family just doesn't eat this way" is a way of saying, "I'm not willing to try something new" There is so much variety and so much available whether through the mail or locally, there are no excuses to engage your family in being prepared.

This is my favorite article on preparedness. It thought I would round out the post with something great.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


For anyone who is not familiar with CVS and ECB's go and check out Money Saving Mom. She has an essay on CVS to help guide you in the process of learning how to use ECB's to increase your stockpile.

Non-food items

Non food items are something that not everyone remembers to include in their food storage. It is a wonderful additional to a home storage program because we often don't think enough about them. I know I don't. I HATE to run out of soap or shampoo. I very rarely have less than two extras in my cabinet. I think that is because I don't really allow myself a "household" portion of my grocery budget. I never have. I'm learning that having this stockpile is a good way to have that be a non thinking area. With the craziness of my life I really need things to run in certain ways without me having to think a lot about them. For instance, I don't have to think about deodarant for a while. This frees up a few braincells. Trust me, when you are studying Shakespeare you need all the brain cells you can access.

More CVS

Ok, so I'm a little obsessed. CVS is such a cool place! I have been greatly pleased at my ability to stock my cabinet in my bathroom. This is such good peace of mind. I'm trying to tighten the belt, fit in the things we need to store with the budget for the things we need now. This is a huge blessing. Plus I'm trying a few new things as well. So, for a total of .61 this is how yesterday went.

First run:

Dove lotion $6.99
Degree deodarant $3.49
Dove deodarant $3.49
Dove bar soap $2.50
Total before coupons $16.50

Coupons used: $5/$15, $2.25 manufacturers, $3/$15 beauty, $5 ECB's

Final total: $0.22 and I got $5 ECB's back

The next trip was kind of random. I've been trying to stock up on razor's but they run out of them really fast. I have to try another CVS today and see if they got some in.

2 Glade air fresheners $1.98
5 Speed Stick deodarant $1.99 each
1 kids mouthwash $2.99
2 packs plastic eggs $1.98
2 bags jelly beans $1.98
Total before coupons about $19

Coupons used: $5/$15, $3.50 manufacturers, $10 ECB's
Final: $0.39 plus $13 ECB's

So, I am good to go on Ladies and Men's deodarant for a year. I feel very good about this. I will keep an eye out but I think I'm good for now on that. I also added to my friend's birthday basket and I have the needed items for our easter egg hunt next week. This has been a great week and I'm not done yet.
I did also head over to Tom Thumb for their deal on cereal. I looked for formula everywhere I went yesterday and just wasn't feeling it. The last can of enfamil I bought was only $4.50 so I am a little spoiled. I decided to just wait for the right deal. It came. At Tom Thumb if you spent $10 you could get three boxes of cereal for $3. Plus a dozen eggs for $0.99. So, I bought my formula (generic there was $13.49) and got the cereal and eggs. Plus, it printed me a catalina for $3 off my next purchase. So my total there was $16.16 out of pocket after manufacturers and I got the $3 coupon. So I got the cereal and eggs for free. I have realized that for baby items in particular it may not be that I get an awesome deal on those things (although sometimes I do). What is cool is that I pay for those things that I have to buy and get additional items for little to no extra cost. This has enabled me to stock up on things that I wouldn't be able to otherwise.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

CVS and Kroger

CVS is so great for things like birthday gifts. I have been picking up a few things here and there to make a basket for a dear friend whose birthday is coming up. By using ECB's and coupons you can add items without increasing your budget. For this transaction:
2 Scented oil candles 6.99 each
Tresseme about 6.00
Glide flossers 3.99
Total: $22
Coupons: $5 off $15 purchase, Glade buy one get one free, flossers $1 off
I had $13 in ECBs so I had to add a chapstick to be able to use them all. Total oop: $0.60
I did only generate $10 in ECBs so there was a defecit but I'm realizing that that works out. I will use those ECB's this week to generate more.

I bought a lot more at Kroger than just these two things. I saved $54 on my $120 transaction. I had $25 in manufacturers coupons. I wanted to showcase the toothpaste because this is a good example of how to make coupons work in your food storage. Colgate was on sale for $1 this week. I had $1 off of 1 for the toothpaste and $0.75 off of the toothbrushes bringing the total for these items to $.50. This was a great way to build my stash. I have a lot of toothpaste actually. But it doesn't go bad and is wonderful to have on hand. I also have a lot of toothbrushes. I feel that it is important to keep these things around. I will post a picture of my stash later. As I'm getting to full stash on these items I will begin to look for other things. One of my next goals is to stock up on deodarant and razors. By doing this I can increase my stock pile of things we use all the time as well as cut our budget.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Coolness is Key!

How cool is this bag! If I'm going to be a hippy chick saving the planet it is very important that I have a really neat bag. This even has fringe. I found this at the thrift store for $1.00. This is one less item out in circulation. It is big enough to hold two other fabric bags (I used one at CVS today), my coupon tin, my circulars, a calculator, a water bottle, pencil, notebook and anything else that strikes my fancy. It holds a bunch. It is also very comfortable to carry. I wish I had a couple more. Hopefully, all my new shopping bags will be this awesome. Who says frugality has to be boring.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Quotes from October 2007 Conference

I was listening to the Relief Society session of conference today (for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) and I was struck by the comments about preparedness. Every session of conference just about has a quotable about being prepared. I feel like the best peace we can have is in knowing we have looked to the future and planned now. Whether that is a lost job, a lowered income, a disability or a calamity, we all need to be thinking what if. Sometimes it seems that "What iffing" is defeating. If we think about it then we must be assuming it happens. But thinking about it erases anxiety, lifts us up and allows the Lord to bless us with inspiration. As I have begun this blog and been thinking about preparedness I have found so many little things that the Lord has whispered. Comfort about getting an education, peace at having food stored, love for the protection that we have had hitherto. All it takes is an awareness of a principle and the opportunities for growth and learning will present themselves. Now for the quotes:

Sister Julie Beck: "They should be laying up a store of money, food, and skills, which will sustain them and their families in perilous times."

Elder Walter Gonzalez: "We don't know when or how earthquakes will hit us. They likely won't be literal shakings of the earth, as happened in Peru, but rather quakes of temptations, sin, or trials, such as unemployment or serious sickenss. Today is the time to prepare for when that type of quake comes. Today is the time to prepare-not during the crisis."

Elder Cook quoting Paul: "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7)

I love this story that Elder Cook told about the people in the Pacific Islands: "Vav'u which is a relatively small island, usually has sufficient rain but periodically there are severe droughts. The island has long inlets or bays, almost like sounds, which curl into the island below steep hills. When drought conditions left the billage without water, there was only one way they could obtain fresh water and stay alive. Over the centuries they had found that fresh water traveled down through rock formations inside the mountains and came up in a few spots in the sea.
The Tongan me would set off in their small boats with a wise elder standing at one end of the boat looking for just the right spot. The strong young men in th eboat stood ready with containers to dive deep into the seawater. When they reached the appropriate spot, the wise man would raise both arms to heaven. That was the signal. The strong young men would dive off the boat as deep as they could and fill the containers with fresh springwater. "

Isn't that just beautiful? In a topsy turvy world we know where to find that fresh water. In terms of provident living it is such a blessing to have guidance and direction, like at Provident Living.

There are many more quotes from Conference. There are also many resources out there that are full of motivation and guidance. Seek them out and they will come.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Clothing Storage

I have gone back and forth over the years on how much clothing to store for my kids. Hand me downs are an important money saver in a big family. I have tried to always keep the best items and pass on the things I didn't like or throw away the things that were beyond salvage. When I clean out drawers as the kids grow I place all like sized items in a box and they go in the attic. I usually have no trouble keeping things straight or together. The last few weeks has brought an influx of hand me downs from neighbors and I am struggling to keep it all together. So part of my snow day yesterday was organizing and putting together correct sizes. I have two entire wardrobes for a four year old. My neighbor gave us so much stuff! I will pass on half to my friend with a two year old and keep the rest. Its all neatly put away in the boys closet for the next season. For Abby I have been boxing up Ayla's clothes as she grows out of them as well. I don't have quite as much stuff for her but a good base is always really good to have. You never know what situation you might find yourself in when they get to those stages. I haven't bought much for Abby at all. My clothing budget for all four kids rarely goes above $20 a month, if that. One of the big reasons is thrift stores. I find so much great stuff. I love to buy second hand. It is good for the environment, it reduces waste and its easy on our budget. I have found incredible deals on name brand clothes at thrift stores. Today, for instance I stopped at one of my favorite places. They had a deal, fill a paper sack with as much as you can for $10. I was able to grab a ton of church clothes for W and for my friend's two year old. I even got W a suit! I also got a couple of things for Abby to wear for summer and a few fun things for Ayla. For ten dollars I outfitted three kids (four if you count what I will give away). So I have some sizes bigger than I need, this is the beauty of preparedness!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Homemade is great!

One of the reasons I love food storage is because there is a great deal of peace of mind when the weather is unpredictable. Yesterday was a good example. When I headed out to get the kids I realized I wasn't going anywhere else for the rest of the day. Now, in this situation I knew that today the sun would come out and the power would probably not have any trouble. However, I've been in ice storms before in which the power did go out for a while and the store shelves were empty. It is such a relief to know that if we got stuck at home we would be fine for a week or more without any additional store trips. I would be a busy bee because everything would be made from scratch but it works.
So yesterday's scratch meal was hot chocolate (from the Cannery, that they do not carry anymore) and homemade donuts. I'm constantly amazed at the variety of food items that you can make with flour, sugar, and fat. With a few added ingredients your possibilities are endless.
This donut recipe is a favorite. It doesn't make a huge batch but just enough for us to have a snack and the kids took one in their lunch today. It makes a crispy outside and a cakelike inside. Covered with cinnamon and sugar and nice and warm.....MMMM!

Best Ever Doughnuts

Makes 1 dozen (I found this high, I only got like 8)

3 cups unbleached flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsps butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
oil for frying

For dipping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a separate bowl until light and smooth. Add butter, milk and vanilla to the egg mixture and whisk well. Add the dry ingredients, mix just until smooth. Turn out the dough and knead a few times, then roll and cut. I don't have a donut cutter so I just used a biscuit one and cut out the center with a child's medicine cup :) The dough is soft but easy to work with. I found that rolling the donuts thicker rather than thinner was better. The recipe says 3/4 of an inch exactly! I had some that were thinner than that and they were fine. The thicker the dough is the more chance there is of them not being done when you fry them.

So once the dough's rolled out and the oil is good and hot you just drop them in. I was actually pretty surprised at how fast this went. I always think that frying things is this huge ordeal but it wasn't bad. This is definitly a healthier alternative to store bought donuts and it was a comforting and warm snack after fun in the snow.

The kids also thought it was so cool that we could make our own donuts. I concur!

New site

I just found a great site about food storage. Its called Frugal Abundance. She lists here, her 6 month plan. I think I will use this for our family and tweak it a bit to suit our needs.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Nearly free is good.

Tom Thumb is definitly becoming my favorite stockpile store. Every week it seems there are awesome bargains to be found. Today was no exception. The items on the table totaled about $51 before coupons. I saved $37 and paid $14 out of pocket after coupons. This was a sweet deal because the cereal was all kinds that we like, are low in sugar and will last a while. My mom asked how we could eat that much cereal before it went stale. Believe me in this house of six, we eat a lot of cereal. Its expensive and when I can't get it for a reasonable price we eat other things like oatmeal and pancakes. However, I'm leaving early in the mornings to go to school and Dad just doesn't do hot breakfast. Anyway, I feel like I'm well on my way to having a month supply of the things we normally eat. I feel like right now I have let my stores drop way below what I normally have. School has been a huge distraction for that (Go figure). In any case, I want to start building up what we have.

Update: a few days ago I mentioned I had a goal of going to all fabric shopping bags. Well, this shopper has realized you have to actually own some first. For some reason, all of my bags I have used before have been recycled to someone else's home. So, new plan: look for shopping bags at thrift stores to build up a good stash.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

CVS trip

I did pretty well last night and today at CVS working the deals, despite some glitches. For anyone not familiar with CVSing go to Money Saving Mom and read up. Last night I braved the snow to go out and grocery shop. We were hitting critical points with toilet paper and dishwasher soap so I decided I should stick to my Monday night run. I haven't been buying as much at Costco as I normally do because I'm trying to make the grocery stores closer to my house work better. I still have to go to Costco for a couple of things but I'm not spending as much. So, back to last night. First, I went to CVS. I bought a night creme and some face wipes and some eggs. Total before coupons: 23.50. I used a $15 ECB, a $5 off coupon and a $3 manufacturer. Total out of pocket: 0.33 Then I headed over to Kroger for their sales. Here's the rundown:

3 boxes lean pockets
2 calzones
2 peter pan peanut butter (these are a food storage item)
3 lb pears
3 lb broccoli
1 Naked smoothie (I'm feeling quite sick)
1 box gogurt
Total before coupons: $35
Total after: $20.20
Plus I have a $2 off coupon for my next purchase there.
This run was for lunches and snacks.

Next I headed to Albertsons. This shopping trip was a little disappointing. I paid almost $10 for a gallon of milk (this was the correct price because it was organic)! I didn't realize it until later and I'm really bummed. Take that out of the equation under stupid tax and I did ok. My total before coupons was about $65 and I paid $38.85 out of pocket. If you subtract the stupid tax I did ok. This is my household budget for the week. The total is only about $60. This is an improvement over my previous weeks. However, I did not buy formula, diapers or wipes. This really bumps up our bill. I have been able to work in diapers to my CVS deals for the most part but formula is a killer.

Ok, now to explain the picture above. I went to CVS this morning to pick up the razor that's on sale and some easter candy. The razor was $10 and I had a $4 coupon, then you get 6 ECBs. This was really cool. So I got the men's razor (still have to go back another time for the women's), and the candy and my total that time was $.051. Then I went to another CVS for the toothpaste and got some more candy. My total that time was $0. I was frustrated because the candy was marked $2.99 and I needed $10 worth of candy to print a $5 ECB, when I went to pay I realized the candy was only $1.50 so I didn't have enough candy to get my ECB. I'm only $2 from getting that $5 and I have more Hershey's coupons so I should be able to swing that for free. Hopefully, I can work in a few more free or almost free deals for stocking up. One of the reasons I feel like this is worth my time is because from a storage perspective I am picking up items that we use regularly (or in the case of Easter, expensively) for very little money. One of the basic principles of food storage is to buy things you don't need so you have them when you do need them. Because these items are consumable they get used up and need to be picked up regularly. Making CVSing a habit has become a way to increase my storage capability without dramatically increasing our budget. I'm going to shave my legs, why not do that for free!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

My First Challenge

As part of my goal, this year to reduce our waste (money and otherwise) I want to start using cloth bags at the grocery store. I started using them a couple of years ago and the sackers looked at me like I was insane. Sometimes you have to swim upstream I guess. Well, I stopped using the bags. I really would like to start that again. I have decided to put together a shopping survival kit. This includes one big canvas bag as the primary. Then inside go my other fabric bags (picked up at resale shops etc), my coupon tin (a tin of money in my opinion), my seat cover for the baby, grocery list, pen, paper, store ads, and a bottle of water. Being ready to go the store like this will help me to reduce waste by being prepared and also to help me to use less plastic bags. I'll check back in after my first trip and let you know how it goes.