Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Spoonful of Laughter Makes the Medicine Go Down

This is my third offering for a church food storage/preparedness activity.  If you want a corny skit and some laughs to balance the serious topic of food storage for a ward dinner or party, gags modeled on Hee Haw might be it.  (We get youth babysitters for little kids and invite ward members age 16 and up to the event.)

This skit uses adapted gags and adapted lyrics. You can find the songs on Youtube and elsewhere.  We painted a freezer box to look like an old store front and also painted a "fence" on another box.

We always end our food storage  dinner on a serious note, after we've had some fun.  Laughter prepares people. (Click on the pages to bring up an image you an enlarge.)


Taking Food Storage to the Cosmos

This is my second offering you can use with a food storage/preparedness activity.  We had a preparedness dinner every year for the adults (but we didn't call it a food storage dinner, if we could help it).  It was always potluck in some way, and once was a Chili Cook-off.  I always tried to balance the weightiness of the topic of preparedness with a light-hearted addition so people would come the next year.  This skit we wrote is not really motivational, but fun and corny and it involves people.   You want to involve a many people as possible to get a good turn-out.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Rah Rah for Preparedness!

Over the years, I've wanted to have some fun activities for preparedness, and I've found only one activity online.  Motivation has to be fun!  I'll be posting a few activities I've done to try to motivate people to prepare over the years. This is the first. 

Be Your Family's Food Storage Quarterback
Do you have trouble motivating the men of your family or the men in your ward to prepare? They have been asked to be involved, and truly, we need them on board:
 "We call upon priesthood bearers to store sufficient so that you and your family can weather the vicissitudes of life.... Wives are instrumental in this work, but they need husbands who lead out in family preparedness. Children need parents who instill in them this righteous tradition."--   Bishop Keith B. McMullin, April General Conference, 2007.

In this activity, we try to get everyone in the family involved in preparedness, and we hope to encourage the husband (if there is a husband in the home) to be the "quarterback" for preparedness.  Sometimes, the quarterback will be moving the ball himself, but often, he passes the ball to other team members.  Yet, always, always, he is aware of everything going on with his team and keeps playing that strategy role.  Yard by yard, the quarterback works to accomplish the family goal of being prepared.
This activity is meant to begin in late summer and end right before the Super Bowl.  Use this just for your family or make it a neighborhood or ward activity where each family is given the sheet below. 

Remember:  Football is just like food storage – you score one play at a time.  

Whether your family has set a  1-month, 2-month, or 3-month supply goal, use this sheet to get moving:
  • "Kicked Off” – your family has a 3-month supply plan and a shopping list.     
  • Moved 10 yards – you have all of one category on your shopping list. 
  • Moved 20 yards – you have all of a second category on your shopping list.  
  • And so on...

The team (family) plans and then executes that plan.  The team captains (parents) sometimes run with the ball themselves and, other times, toss the ball off to another member of the family – everyone should be involved, even if they are not the one "carrying the ball." Kids can label cans and help put them in the storage area, and they can help inventory, among other things. They can move the ball on the family score sheet.  If you put this on the refrigerator and put a magnet behind your ball, it works very well. 

Here are the balls :    Score with your food storage!

How to Help Your Neighborhood (or Ward) Get Food and Other “Stuff” They Need to Be Prepared

Group Orders:

You do not have to be in a preparedness calling to help your neighbors with group buys, and aren’t we all in this together, anyway? If you need something for your own food storage or for preparedness, look into doing a group order. Ask if a business will give you a cost cut if you buy and what is the minimum.  Most often, it’s less expensive to buy as a group and people are more apt to prepare if you make it ultra easy for them to do so.  If it’s something online and you can get a large enough order, most of the time, you can avoid shipping.  Even a store like Home Depot has price cuts for bulk buy of certain items (e.g. heavy duty plastic to cover windows if there is an earthquake.)

The key to success with a group order is to stay organized and to give people two weeks to sign up and pay. Two weeks gives them time to decide, as well.  Don’t go longer than that, as people tend to stop listening.  Design a sign-up sheet with the info people need and make lines for them to sign if they want to buy it, including the quantity they want and the total they owe you – see example below. 

You will have to take care of collecting all the money yourself, which means you will probably have to call a few people a couple of days in advance to give you their money – it always happens, as we’re human and forget.  I usually have them make the checks out to me, since I have to pay for what they order with my own credit card or with cash. Therefore, do not buy anything that people have not already paid for, even if they say they’ll pay later.  Also, if you’ve given them enough notice of when to pick up (two days before the product is coming so they get a chance to see their email notice from you), kindly insist they pick up their product within a certain window. Practice patience and remember the times you have not done what you said you’d do. :)

Over the years, I've done group orders for:
  • Honey (several times)
  • Grain (steel-cut oats, included)
  • Olive Oil
  • Dehydrated veggies and fruit in #10 cans
  • Freeze-dried fruit and veggies in #10 cans
  • Real Salt
  • Nuts and Peanut Butter (every year for years)
  • Bulk Spice and Herbs
  • Canning Lids & Rings (several times)
  • Cacao Nibs
  • Clear Heavy Plastic Sheeting (earthquake prep)
  • Extra-wide Gorilla Tape (to tape the sheeting to the windows)
  • Collapsible lanterns
  • Battery adaptors that turn three AA batteries into a C or D battery
  • Pump 'n Seal (a product from Wyoming that takes air out of bottles)
  • Wheat Grinders
  • Water Barrels
  • Food Storage Buckets
  • Lid lifters
  • First Aid Kit

Preparedness Projects:
We recently made fire starters.  We plan to make Wonder Boxes. A zillion other DIY projects are possible. 

Teach Gardening and Canning:
We've taught people how to can chicken in groups and personally.  We've had heirloom tomato tasting.  We've gone to the Home Storage Centers as a group.

Encourage, Cheer Them On, and Keep Smiling and Trying! 

Anything you need, included someone else and bless their life. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

How Will You Handle an Extended Power Outage?

So much hype! So much conflicting info!

What’s the truth about solar, fuel-run generators, and large batteries?  Learn what you can expect from each of those options in powering your refrigerator, your freezer, or your entire home. On Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 9:00 a.m., preparedness expert, Grant Johnson, of will be speaking in the Elk Ridge Stake Center Cultural Hall. His topic is “Alternate Power and Portable Solar; Setting Proper Expectations on Their Use", the same topic he presented at the GetPrepared Expo in Salt Lake City last month. He shows and he tells, with the batteries, generators, and solar panels. ER 1st Ward R.S. is sponsoring the event and inviting adult members of the stake to attend. Please invite your neighbors who won't see this announcement, so they, too, can be prepared.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cooking on a PC & Other Easy Emergency Fuel & Grills

Have you ever thought about fuel storage at home and were immediately overwhelmed? Me!!!   There are two very cheap options for cooking:  charcoal and newspaper. My chiropractor is extremely prepared, and part of his storage is a lot of charcoal briquets.  Quoting a web site I will link here, Be Prepared, Not Scared

Did You Know . . .
That 1 Bag of Charcoal Briquettes will make it possible for
 you to cook 1 Meal a Day for a Whole Month?!?

Charcoal is cheap, condensed, and easy to store --- it is something we could all have on hand to cook during an extended emergency. You don't have to own expensive volcano stoves to make this work for you. We still have (I think) a little hibachi grill from when we first got married, and even a large can (like the type popcorn comes in with a hole cut out of the top and some air holes along the side or bottom (with a camping grill cover) would work great (a la Diane Thomas and her Roughing it Easy books) and you can buy grill baskets fairly inexpensively, too.

The site linked above talked about getting a special little doo-dad (technical word) that makes charcoal easy to light without stinky lighter fluid, which would also mean less expensive and not having to store flammable liquid. Go to the site and learn more!

I found a small grill that I think anyone could make, as most of us with food storage have at least one of those #10 cans sitting around -- the disposable and portable #10 can grill. One of the comments by the author below the instructions says, " If I had it to do over again, I might have sunk the grill a bit lower to have an edge." More important, DO NOT use a can with lead or zinc, as the fumes would be toxic. (How would you know?) So, keep that in mind.
Photo from Instructables

Now for newspaper.... when I first got married, my grandmother gave me a little collapsible grill called the "Quik Cook" that cooks with only crumpled newspaper. Believe it or not, just crumple newspaper (something that is usually plentiful if you or a neighbor has a subscription to the paper) into loose balls and one batch will cook several steaks -- the fat from the meat drips down and makes the newspaper burn longer. The bottom two layers fit inside the top layer for storage. I don't know if you can buy these new any more, but Ebay has had a few of them if it interests you. You can also use the crunched newspaper on the can grill I described above

Last, I had to include this, as this has to be one of the most unique and effective recycling ideas of which I've ever heard.
 Cooking with an old PC!

Photo from Komar . org

Most of us either have an older PC sitting at home or can pick one up for just a few dollars at a thrift store (or even less at a yard sale). I have linked to instructions (and modifications that allow toasting and heating cans) made by someone else "Hottest PC Ever . I think you'd have to use charcoal or wood with this, because it's not deep enough to use with newspaper -- you could try it, though. I like that the case design allows for the kebabs they show to be suspended over the flame.

Photo from Coolest Gadgets

Please realize that due to carbon monoxide, all of the above are outdoor techniques.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cut Your Food Budget & Convenience Foods

There are small ways to save money that add up to quite a lot if you have several children, if you have a big credit card bill, or if you have trouble living within your budget. It's obvious that spending has to be cut back, but if you are already careful with your spending, sometimes the only thing left to cut back is your food budget. How?

First, as I've continually encouraged, buy as much as you can on sale. That's why I talk about the great deals in local grocery stores and encourage you to buy by the case when possible, or at least to buy as many cans/boxes as you can afford of non-perishables or perishables that store well. If you can save about half the price of an item, as butter was last week in two grocery stores, then you can afford to eat well on a budget all year.

Second, eating a lot of convenience foods is costly, both to our wallets and our health. Make as much as you can from scratch:  there are ways, though, to make your "from Scratch" foods be convenient and fast, which I will explain. Perhaps the biggest and easiest  saving for a big family would be to seldom buy cold cereal. Think how many boxes you use a week and how much it costs. What is the alternative if you are a busy family? Short-term planning. Here are some examples of  inexpensive breakfasts:
  • Make a double or triple batch of pancakes, waffles, or french toast, feed your family and freeze the rest in freezer bags. We often just reheat a pancake or a waffle in the toaster, which takes just a minute on a busy morning.
  • Cook oatmeal, cream of wheat, or another hot cereal. Oatmeal is great with chopped apples and cinnamon. Here, too, it can become a convenience food if you plan: one of the first issues of our blog has a recipe for instant oatmeal.  Cold cream of wheat is a solid mass, but if you put a little water in the pot and break up the cream of wheat as it heats (adding water when needed), you can use a wisk and end up with creamy cereal a second day.
  • If you really want to save, buy the hot cereal in bulk. If you live where you can buy bulk grains, you've seen the larger sizes of oatmeal or steel-cut oats. Cream of wheat is also known as "farina", and you can buy a big bag of farina in most places that sell bulk grains -- I think I bought my last bag from Leland Mills in Spanish Fork. One bag lasts years in our house.
  • Wheat and other whole grains can be cooked overnight in a crockpot and be ready to eat in the morning as a hot cereal. Cooked whole wheat is very chewy and filling. If you have a rice cooker that turns itself to warm when done, you can cook brown rice or basmati brown rice (which we prefer for flavor) and it will be warm when you get up in the morning (just add about a cup more water than the rice cooker shows to add for white rice). You can even toss in some dried raisins, craisins, or another dried fruit while cooking to sweeten the rice.
  • More time consuming, but definitely a savings, is to make your own bread, but did you know homemade bread freezes very well? You can't beat french toast made with homemade bread, as it soaks up more of the egg mixture -- yum!  Because one of my children had a milk allergy as a child, we don't even use milk in french toast: just egg, water, a little vanilla, and cinnamon. You'd never miss the milk.
The best way to save money, ever, is to simply take a few minutes a day or so ahead and plan. Planning takes the stress out and helps us be less apt to spend a lot eating out or ordering a pizza. :)

Back to convenience foods in general. Most of them are really expensive for the quantity you get. Most of the convenience foods you really enjoy can be made from scratch, and the dry ingredients can be put in jars to use as a homemade convenience food. Take "Hamburger Helper", as one example. Just look for recipes in a Google search. 
Yes, I know that some of the things going into these online recipes are also convenience foods, but you get to decide if you want to make it all from scratch or not, as there will be recipes that do it both ways --  I, for one, don't use Hamburger Helper, but I will probably not be giving up canned cream of mushroom soup any time soon. There are whole websites and books devoted to making your own mixes, and you'll save a bundle that way over buying convenience foods.

Just keep in mind that convenience foods (as produced by manufacturers) are not necessarily good for our health. Here are two very similar quotes from LDS President Ezra Taft Benson, who was also the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture under both terms of the Eisenhower administration:
"In general, the more food we eat in its natural state and the less it is refined without additives, the healthier it will be for us. Food can affect the mind, and deficiencies in certain elements in the body can promote mental depression."  [Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign Nov 1974, Do Not Despair]
"To a great extent we are physically what we eat. Most of us are acquainted with some of the prohibitions, such as no tea, coffee, tobacco, or alcohol. What need additional emphasis are the positive aspects--the need for vegetables, fruits, and grains, particularly wheat. In most cases, the closer these can be, when eaten, to their natural state-- without overrefinement and processing--the healthier we will be. To a significant degree, we are an overfed and undernourished nation digging an early grave with our teeth, and lacking the energy that could be ours because we overindulge in junk foods."[Ezra Taft Benson, Fireside Address at BYU March 1979, In His Steps]
Back in 1990, when I mentioned these quotes in a meeting as a way to encourage whole grains, I got a lot of negative feedback, and that was in the days when families were not eating much convenience food. Why? People didn't catch Pres. Benson's vision then and they felt stressed to think of making changes.  It is interesting that over the last 20 plus years, in addition to some of the public turning almost exclusively to convenience foods, we also have seen huge popular movements that head in exactly the opposite direction. People use other words to describe it than President Benson did, including "Real Foods", "Whole Foods", "Clean Foods", "Organic Foods", and so on.  The goals, though, (and most of the food choices) are exactly the same -- a healthy mind and body and loads of energy.

If changing your cooking habits or dietary habits is your goal, then take a look at where you are and where you want to be and then take baby steps toward it -- that's the way to be successful in any such changes. I appreciate those sites, like some of the links above, that support us in making changes in ways that we can still eat what tastes good to us while making healthier choices.