Food Storage Mistakes
11: Paying Too Much for Food
The number one reason why people pay too much for their food is because they impulse buy. That impulse may be triggered by some slick mail campaign from one of those companies that prides itself on instilling fear, or it may be caused by a lack of planning and discipline. However, paying too much for food also happens because of a lack of education.
I look at my food supplies as my own personal Wall Street—except I have a success record for coming out ahead a thousand times more often than Wall Street ever will. Why? Because of the nature of the commodity and my discipline in sticking to my price points.
The nature of the commodity, food, has NEVER decreased in value since food commerce began. That can’t be said about gold, silver, or any other investment that Wall Street pushes on our retirement fund managers. And guess what, because it’s a necessary requirement to for us to LIVE, it never will decrease in value. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t leverage our useless dollars and beat the system. I successfully do so two different ways 1) Coupons and 2) Sales.
Picture my pantry like it’s the floor of the New York Stock Exchange—except that I’m the only one yelling and carrying on, screaming “buy, buy, buy” at no one else other than the cat and three dogs. I essentially have a “Buy” order for everything consumable in my home. As soon as a product hits that Buy level, I buy and buy and buy. More importantly, I refuse to buy UNLESS that price point is met. I never, ever pay full price for anything consumable for the same reason that so many Americans buy used vehicles—they don’t want to lose a significant portion of their investment simply by driving the car off the lot. When the rare occasion arises in which I pay full price for something, I consider that a Panic Price. But if I stay focused on my goals of being self-reliant, I make the abundant advertising and marketing campaigns subsidize my food costs. They do so in the form of sales and coupons. When I snag ground beef at a killer price of only 88 cents a pound, I bring it home, can it, and put it on my shelf. Then, when I take it off of my shelf 2 years later, it’s STILL only 88 cents a pound—a phenomenon that is not likely to happen with your food costs any other way. By applying these strategies and controlling them (instead of them controlling me, like you see on TLC’s Extreme Couponing) I’ve been able to purchase soups, pastas, fruits, meats, baking supplies, hygiene products, and medical supplies at or below 1960 prices! Boy, don’t you wish you could do that with other things in your life?
12: Making Food from Scratch
Continuing along with the previous mistake, let’s take the whole “paying too much for food” to the next level. I can make two mouth-watering loaves of bread, a hearty, satisfying pizza with meat, veggies, and cheese toppings, a batch of oh, so fabulous Key Lime Cheesecake Rolls, and a small braided dessert bread that I usually give away to a neighbor for a whopping total of…ready for it…$4.32 cents. OR I can spend $4.32 on a single loaf of bread at the grocery store that won’t even begin to compare to my bread in taste, texture, and nutrition. The trick isn’t using coupons in this case, it’s going back to the kickin’, old school skillz and making it all from scratch.
Do I really need to tell you how much better food tastes when you make it yourself? Believe it or not, you can make your own mayonnaise in a matter of minutes and once you’ve done so, I doubt you’d EVER go back to the stuff in the jar that contains sugar, corn syrup, or chemical preservatives you can’t pronounce. I once had a young receptionist work for me who wasn’t sure what plant pickles came from. Why? Because creating something fabulous from a bunch of base ingredients is just unfathomable to us, but the truth of it is, it’s MUCH less expensive, it tastes better, it’s significantly more nutritious, AND more impressive (as in the multi-layered German Chocolate Cake I made from scratch the other night) AND you can actually reclaim control over what you put into your body this way. If you think about it, none of the cooking shows would be interesting if everything was made from a box or a microwave. Can you just picture it on The Iron Chef?
“And the secret ingredient is…Carrots!”
“Chef Rob rushes to the freezer to pick up the Hungry Man frozen entrée of chicken and dumplings. Brilliant, Chef Rob.”
But wait; it looks like Chef Suzanne is going to trump him as she opens a can of Veg-All Mixed Vegetables AND grabs a frozen Marie Calendar’s Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting! This is going to be a nail biter, Folks! Will she be able to thaw the cake sufficiently to please the judges?!”
Seriously though, from a nutritional standpoint nowadays it’s becoming more and more important to control what’s going on our plates. Even when ingredients are listed on our foods, the government initials are allowing numerous omissions on the labeling or at the very least misleading labeling. Individuals with serious allergies to wheat, peanuts, and other ingredients that can trigger anaphylactic shock are to the point now that they simply can’t trust anyone else to cook for them.
Learn to make it from scratch and you’ll find peace coming your way in more ways than I can possibly share within the confines of this article.
13: Prepare to Share Your Food
It’s kind of counter-intuitive to think that a person who rarely has guests over for dinner now can actually bank on the possibility that they will in more trying times, but it’s true nevertheless. If there ever comes a time in which food is a precious commodity, you can PLAN on needing more than what you’re presently planning. As such, I suggest that you ignore any so-called expert advice that would suggest you need X number of pounds of grains for men and active women and only a smaller percentage of that X for infants and children, etc. The reason being is because the one thing that I’m certain you can rely on is that you will be thrown a curve ball, that when it comes to food, you could always use a little more. So when you’re calculating how much you need, do so based on the most ferocious appetite that you already cater to because someone, someday, is going to show up on your doorstep and you’ll want to feed them.
Case in point; my folks appeared out of nowhere one weekend. (Really, Dad? No notice when you’re flying from Ohio?). All of the sudden I had to come up with something fantastic for dinner (as Dad wouldn’t expect anything less from me.) Thank goodness I don’t know how to make a meal that would only feed two. Instead, when I make a great dish the leftovers either get claimed by my husband as his for the rest of the week, or they get canned for later use, or they are frozen for later use. Sometimes this later use may be when I do not feel like cooking anything or when I get a call from the gal in my church who’s coordinating meals to be brought over to the infirm. Either way, I’m ready for the everyday events, and as such I’m prepared for the more serious events as well. You’d really be surprised how quickly these little extras add up. After our first year of marriage with me cooking sporadically due to the travel necessary with my work at the time, I had a year’s supply of ready-made meals just by following this strategy.
Think of it this way. On average American households throw away $500 worth of groceries per year. If I preserve our leftover food right away for the long-term, instead of waiting for the leftovers to go bad as a result of my husband’s case of Appetite Fatigue, then that can translate into at least $500 worth of meals that I can accumulate throughout the year without any extra money coming out of my pocket. Based on the strategies I’ve shared earlier, that $500 can go a long, long way towards feeding delicious, comforting food.
14: Throwing Food Out Too Soon
I wish people would understand that expiration dates, warnings, and a whole lot of well-intentioned guidance with regards to viable shelf-life of our foods is very, very wrong, misleading, and in some cases, suspect. For example, there have been numerous DECADES of homemakers canning foods and “putting them up” for years at a time and yet if you read the panicked guidance of a certain chef which shall remain nameless, she’s have you believe that canned foods aren’t safe to consume further out than a year from the date of canning. Additionally, the instructions on the outside of the box of canning jars actually state that foods are to be canned for only 1 year’s time. This in spite of the fact that this nation’s “greatest generation” was raised on homemade canned foods. Forget the fact that a homemaker is more likely to be more attentive and mindful of safely canning foods at home than a minimum wage worker who oversees hundreds of thousands of canned products in a manufacturing plant. I can assure you that the mothers and grandmothers who can their foods care more about the health and well-being of those who would eat it than does the blue collar worker who’s distracted with burgeoning debt, increasing social unrest, and a host of other problems working for just enough pay to make it until the next payday, right?
In addition, we also have the “best buy” dates, “expiration dates” and all kinds of dates and lot numbers on our food nowadays that practically threaten an international pandemic if we have the temerity to use a food product past any of these dates. In our rationale we assume that such dates are crafted for the safety and well-being of the consumer when in fact such dates are only relevant to the consumer in terms of how soon can we be convinced to purchase the product again. These dates have NOTHING to do with food safety. The USDA has no such guidelines for the labeling of foods with expiration dates. After all, think of all of the foods you purchase that don’t have any date on them such as those bananas and strawberries you bought that went bad faster than you could consume them. You didn’t see any “expiration dates” on those, did you? Expiration dates only serve the purposes of protecting a company from litigation, ensuring you get their best foot forward with regard to taste, and ensuring that you’ll throw it out and repurchase soon. After all, in order to put a proper expiration date on a food product, the manufacturer would have to know exactly HOW you’re going to protect that product, right? We all know that heat, light and humidity dramatically affect the shelf-life of a food, and yet we don’t see different expiration dates for Atlanta Georgia than we see on the same food product in Kenai, Alaska, right?
I’ve been doing this long enough that I know that I can go a long, long ways out beyond the “best buy” date even on the foods which have a reputation for going bad quickly such as brown rice, nuts, and herbs. It’s all just a matter of controlling the environment in which I protect them.
So, keep this in mind as you’re utilizing your hard-earned purchases. Control the environment for your foods so that you can control their shelf-life. Don’t let some guy behind a desk make that decision for you. Your pocketbook will thank you.
15: Rely on Your Own Research
This goes along with the previous point. There are SO many SAFE and HEALTHY ways nowadays to protect and preserve and grown your own food, etc. thanks to even better technology and the application of old-fashioned tried and true techniques. Unfortunately though, the application of many of these techniques rub others the wrong way either because they have a financial interest in you doing things their way or it threatens their ego that’s buoyed up with their formal education. And, I’m sorry to even be able to say this, but the fact is there is opposition to the applications of wisdom in our food simply because of political issues. This is a very, very serious component that will affect how you become more self-reliant in this area of your life. Nowadays the food you eat serves only one of two purposes—it will harm your body, or it will help your body. That being the case, don’t you think it’s important that YOU rely on YOUR own research and conclusions rather than investing in the tripe of others?
I frequently am berated for my villainous acts of canning butter, waxing hard cheeses, preserving eggs with mineral oil, and yes, heaven forbid, canning meat. And don’t even get me started with the criminal act of drinking raw milk and using it to make other dairy products. But understand that when I do so, it brings me a great deal of peace, knowing that what I’m providing for others and my own health. I do so after a great deal of research (Mental Preparedness) and as listening to my gut (aka Spiritual Preparedness). The fact of the matter is, those who have taken it upon themselves to ostensibly protect us are imperfect. Unfortunately they tend to be imperfect more often than accurate if you look at history. (Remember when cigarettes were actually recommended by doctors? Remember when palm oils were vilified by the canola oil industry? Remember when all fat was bad for you? How about the fact that a chemical maker is NOT being required to go through FDA approval to impact your food but Cheerios is having to sue just so that they can continue to say that their cereal is good for your cholesterol? Oh, how about the whole “a pound of fat weighs more than a pound of muscle…hello! They both weigh a pound!) Unfortunately time will reveal many more dogmas that we’ve taken hook line and sinker which were perpetuated with ulterior, and even sinister motives. Supplements will soon be vilified as will nearly any other alternative health care that’s not administered by a doctor. (One man is actually being prosecuted for sharing his story about how he cured his own cancer. He’s not telling anyone else how to do it, he’s simply sharing how HE did it for himself. The FDA and the annual 50 billion dollar cancer research industry doesn’t take kindly to that, though.)
I frequently hear the question “do I need to wax the cheese that is already waxed in the grocery store?” My answer is always YES because that’s not even cheese wax on that brand. It’s nothing more than a marketing aesthetic to make them stand out and be associated with a more “pure and wholesome” kind of cheese. But more importantly, my answer is based on this principle: “Do you really want to trust someone else with preserving the food that your family will rely on long-term.”
When it comes right down to it, no one will be more motivated to care for your family’s nutrition and comfort needs better than you. So put the time in, establish baselines that you’re comfortable allowing others do for you by doing a little research, and then do what you need to do to be absolutely certain that you’re doing what’s best for those you love. That’s how peace comes and that’s what we’re all preparing for, right?
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When will you come out with a cookbook? A book to help those of us that try very hard to cook from scratch, but something just isn't right. I have the basic canning, gardening and couponing. My mother was not a cook, gardener or couponer so I am flying blind. Non of the people I know do any of these things. I keep buying books and they help, but I would love a book with your recipes. Sorry I missed you in Colorado, hopefully you will be in Dallas.
Every time I read your blog, I get more excited and focused. Thank you for recognizing that people with food allergies can't even trust what is listed on the labels. It is completely true! I trusted a label and it almost killed my child who is allergic to nuts. See I trusted a label from the bakery not what I thought was already prepackaged food. I was under the impression that the "bakery" at the stores made things from scratch. Let me tell you when I had to contact them about their mistake, well my heart sank. I was such a fool. The bakery is no more an instant chef then you are if you buy the box of cake mix and add the eggs, water, and oil. So I can reaffirm that you hit the nail on the head, so to speak, when it comes to having to make things from scratch to really know what is in it. I just decided a few weeks ago to take my discipline further and I am working on learning how to make all kinds of breads. Because I am not willing to pay more than a $1 for a loaf of bread and since that is not going to happen any time soon. I will make all kinds of breads for $.75. Plus at the rate my family is going through the bread, even if I had found bread at my price, I have no way to freeze or save what I would need.
Anyway, Kellene, thanks again for a great article!
There are some AWESOME bread cookbooks out there. The Bread Bible is one of my favorites!
Good luck to you, Dear!
OH I am going to find that book. Thank yoiu, I will let you know how I do. So far I have been using my grandma's bread maker she had. I don't like using it to make the loafs b/c they come out weird but to help me make the dough a bit faster, it is a super time saver. With 3 young kids I am on the go go go. So anything that can get me a chance to multi-task is cherished. Today we are making our own laundry detergent. As I learn so will my kids, I had to think of something to do with them on summer break. So what better way to do two things at once. Include them in the prepping and learn something new. They will be learning bread making too this summer. I think I may even see if I can bake the bread on my grill along with dinner. I dislike turning on the oven in the summer. So until I get my SunOven on my birthday, Grill cooking I will be.
You will love bread baked in a Sun Oven. Whether it's from scratch, frozen bread loaves, or Pop-and-bake french bread, they all taste good when baked in it.
A great cook book for anyone, in my opinion and one that every person should have as a staple cook book is the "Better Homes and Gardens" New Cook Book. It gives you so much information in there that my mom had one, my grandma had one and when I moved out on my own they each bought me one. So I had 2 of them until one feel apart from me using it. It has so many easy receips in it. It also has weights and measures, microwavave hints, emergency substituions, how to set a table. I mean everything for someone who is just begining or has cooked from scratch forever. I love cook books, and I always look for new ones. But that one will get you started.
I agree with you though, if Kellene comes out with one, I too will buy it. How she cans some of these things amazes me.
Ooh... Is there a cookbook? That I would buy! Everyone in my family that had any of these skill died when I was a child. My mother once burned jell-o! To this day I hate tomatoe soup and it took until my late 20 to be able to eat pb&j again. All because I ate it way too much as a kid since my parents couldn't cook.
Thankfully my mother in law is a great cook and knows how to can, unfortunately in the 8 years I've been with her son she has lived in another state. She did write me a cookbook of the families recipes but its mainly baked goods. I need meals!
I would be interested to know how you can leftovers. For instance, let's say you had Roast beef, mashed poptaoes and corn for dinner. You have feft overs. Now what?
Put them in a Mason Jar, and process them in a pressure canner. (I actually would only do the meat and the gravy as the veggies would get too mushy. Then when I pulled out the roast beef, I'd whip up some mashed potatoes from my potato pearls and corn from my freeze-dried corn OR I would have used the mash potatoes and corn and left over roast beef to make some FABULOUS Shepherds Pie!)
#12 Cooking from Scratch is probably the key for many people. Young adults today do not understand how to prepare meals as their grandparents did. They do not have the basic ingredients, recipes, experience or time. Prepared foods lock you in to a boring diet. A pantry full of ingredients with an open recipe book yields an infinite menu. Learning to "Cook from Scratch" should be one of the first skills learned.
I agree with Kelly and Jackie. A cookbook designed to use only storage food would be much appreciated. Thank you in advance.
I'm working on it. I assure you. :-) But I will say this...it's so worth the wait.... I just put together the Key Lime Cheesecake Rolls. YUM!
A suggestion for your cookbook, since is going to be based on "food storage" may I recommend putting in the most basic recipes like "making sourcream from powdered milk", making cheese, yogurt and ice cream from powdered milk and with no electricity. Alternative cooking method tips, ie specifics if cooking on a grill (bread or pizza, etc) vs in the sun oven vs dutch oven over an open fire vs use of electricity vs gas stove. It probably seems silly but when you say in a recipe to use sour cream please give me instructions somewhere in that book how to make the sour cream from powdered milk because I will buy your book expecting it to give me recipes and cooking tips for WTSHTF using my food storage shelf stable foods not just another cookbook to use with my electric or gas stove/oven and a quick trip to the grocery store or my fridge. Thanks! I need this book NOW, I hope you finish it soon because I need new ideas before things get any worse and prices go up. I will go shopping with your book in hand :)
We got ya covered there, Heather. :-) I'm a full service kind of gal that way. :-)
Number 14 is the one that I have a hard time convincing others about. They think the 'Best used by" dates are made by something other than lawyers and marketing decisions ---
Well then I'd suggest directing them to the USDA Guidelines and have them show you where it's required for any food manufacturer to use expiration dates.
In fact, there was a serious drug study done in the face of shortages of so many drugs, and the GOVERNMENT study found that the pharmaceuticals can easily go SEVERAL years (in some cases even 10) past their expiration dates. (See the Fish Antibiotic article for the research report) I think we can both agree that pharmaceuticals are more volatile than food.
Oh that in interesting about the medicine. Because I have Epi Pens I have to purchase and they are a down right expensive. They only last for a year per the experation date. Because my daughters food allergy is anaphlaxic I have to have them. So every year I have bought new. Kept the old as just in case. I am going to have check the the site out and see what / if there is anything there for the Epi Pens.
I have all my epi pens from 5 years back. As long as the liquid is clear they are good. I used one 6 years old that was kept in my
car, no special treatment, so what ever the temp was the epi pen was. Had an emergency and told the parent the age, she looked at the fluid color and use it. Worked Great-no issues.
I also read something similar to that study ( may have been the same one). The ten year date is for refrigeration. They found that if frozen, the drugs lasted 20 years.
Love your blog! Lots of helpful info here. I was wondering how you make all that stuff for $4.32 though. I don't want to be misunderstood but I'd like to know a llittle more about how you can do all that for so little money? Thanks.
We did a cost breakdown of what everything cost. For example, the pepperoni was only .49 cents on sale for the pack of 50. I used 12 pieces of it making it less than 12 cents per piece of pepperoni. The cheese was $1.49 for 2 pounds. I use 3 ounces of the cheese, grated, making the cheese only .13 cents for the pizza.
By the way, another tip, you can also find GREAT deals on your food by shopping through restaurant supply places.
Did I miss #12?
Nope, but I sure did. Thanks for catching my bugaboo. :-)
Where is the # 12 paragraph of these suggestions?
I didn't think you could really handle #12. But if you insist... I fixed it. :-)
Kellene, when you combing leftover foods in a mason jar - like the roast beef & gravy mentioned above-do you wait to pressure can it until you have a canner load? & How would I know how long to can it for? I'm assuming you mean to pressure can it, maybe you meant to waterbath it to just seal it??
Jan, did you get an answer to this question? Looked for one and maybe I just missed seeing it. I was wondering about some of the same questions you asked.
No, I can as I go; no sense in increasing the possibility of bacteria by letting the food sit there. Then again, I frequently make more than we're going to eat so that I CAN can it.
This comment isn't for this article but this is the most recent one I read and I don't know of a place to comment other than on the articles.
I am a new comer to your website and I have loved reading your posts! As a new comer though, I am getting bombarded with information that I can't hold on to all at once because I haven't built up the base of knowledge on where you are coming from, especially when you reference articles that you wrote previously. I have had a hard time trying to navigate your website and find the oldest posts and I was wondering if there was a quicker and easier way to get to the oldest posts than clicking the "Older Posts" button 10-15 times? Or if there is a master list of your articles ordered from the oldest to the newest instead of alphabetically or newest to oldest or by category.
I hope that I am not coming off as rude I have really enjoyed reading and learning I am just looking for help in navigating your website.
Each time I reference an article in an article, it's hyperlinked so that you can go there. Also, if you'll read the article "Prepping for Beginners" http://preparednesspro.com/prepping-for-beginners/ it will give you some good info as to how best to tackle the information that's out there. We teach focused on the 10 Principles of Preparedness and as such, we've classified each article as it relates to those 10 areas. If you click on one of the gold and red icons that you see to the top right on the page which carousel through, you can click just on those articles that are relevant to the principle of preparedness that you'd like to see. For example, medical preparedness is the icon with the red cross going through it. If you click on that it will bring up only those articles that have been flagged as addressing the topic of medical preparedness. I hope that helps. We will be transferring our site over to a new server this next week and launching a new site which will have a discussion forum too. So I suspect you'll see some more helpful ways of using it then.
Thank you for your quick response! I didn't even notice the principle icons before now! I will keep reading and try to catch up as quickly as possible and now with your help it will be quicker! Thank you again!
Is it safe to store rice, beans and such in 2-liter soda bottles.?? And also I saw where a gentleman was using hand warmers instead if oxygen absirbers...Is this safe?
Yes, though it won't have anywhere near the shelf-life that alternative options will such as glass, #10 cans, etc.
Yes, handwarmers are the same as oxygen absorbers.
It all depends on your storage conditions...how cool and dry you kept it. Keeping it in glass jars is the best option you could do without sealing everything, so at least you've got that going for you. 5 years? I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable with that number. I'm thinking 3 without it being sealed properly. If it was in it's original packaging then I'd be comfortable with 5 years in ideal storage conditions. I use a lot of half-gallon jars. The wide-mouth mason jar attachment seals those just fine.
We have a really neat chain of stores here in Oregon and Washington called Grocery Outlet, they sell almost outdated, or non major brand, or slow selling or off season items. I have gotten dried potato flakes, sweet potato flake, beans, rice, lots of cheese half price. But the two best scoreswere Martha Washington white corn meal for a quarter a pound bag, and mini Nestles chocolate chips in sealed plastic containers for $.99, great deal till my husband found them AKA otherwise know as the chocolate theif in my house. There's also other ding and dent stores, but you do need to be careful what you get, some can be damaged cans and you don't want those. Botulism is deadly.
So I would encourage your readers to check out brands you don't know, there is the Helmans / best foods mayonnaise thing to think of, if you live east of the Rockies you get Helmans, if you live west it's Best Foods, same thing different label.
Are you going to post 16-20 food storgar mistakes? Love your blog, I'm always cheking it!!
It's just been posted.
Could I ask one more "burning" question. Now that I have done a bunch of stuff.. wonder if I did it correctly! (I know... the barn door is open.. and I hope I can catch the horses!)..
I have stored coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, agave, olive oil... in gallon glass jars. However, the jar size is too small/large to fit on a food saver lid type. What might the shelf life be when the bottle is not store sealed? As we use quite a bit of each item, I purchased these in 5 gallon bulk containers. I am hoping for about 5 yrs? I purchased a two - three year supply and will rotate though the bottles. While I realize a food saver sealed Qt jar would be best.. having the room to store that many Qt jars would be not possible at this time. They are being stored in a cool dark place.
Once again, Blessings for sharing your knowledge with all of us.
several of the fish antibiotics aren't penicillin based actually. You'll need to search on drugs.com though to get the full info.
Kellene, you mentioned the Fish Mox antibiotic. Are you aware of anything similar that is not penicillin based?