Why I Prep

by on Nov.18, 2008, under Home

This is a response to Ekim’s question of Why We Prep over on UtahPreppers.com.

Why am I what my in-laws call “A fanatic”?  Actually, I see it as the more normal station in life.  I grew up in a family of humble means.  My mom brought with her a family legacy from pioneer times, and depression era struggle.  She had grown up in a family that knew how hard life in a depression was.  My dad was the consummate woodsman, nothing could keep him out of the wilderness, or from figuring out how to do anything himself.  With this combination, my siblings and I were brought up “the old fashioned” way.  We had clothes that our mom had made, we ate food that was part of the rotation of our storage, we fixed things that broke, we grew and raised quite a bit of our food.

I meet people nowadays that can only see these activities as quaint, something not done anymore.  And can you fault them? Who really does that at all?  My family is far from fully realizing all of the things my parents managed to have us do.  Why would we after all, I make a much higher salary than my parents did, we have a world of products at hand that were barely dreamed of just those few years ago.

And yet for the last several years I’ve felt the need to somehow bring my life back into line with many of the values my parents gave me by their example.  And never has that need been so apparent as it has in the last couple of years.

Food storage has been a prime example of what I’ve needed in my life.  Several times my wife and I have striven to hold some food reserves in our home for whatever the need may be.  Several times we’ve had to rely on that food, which always seemed to be just enough to get us through whatever tight spot we were in.  Layoffs to “tough times” seemed to always happen, bringing our reserves back to nil, but thankfully keeping us from getting into any serious trouble.  Looking forward, with the tough economy, it’s nice to know that I have some food planned out that will sustain my family in any times of need, as well as enough to provide a buffer around food inflation, given a 16.3% annualized inlation cost this year alone (and a one-month amount that hit 72% on some items.  Layoffs are my worst experience in needing to use this reserve, but what about any kind of disaster situation?  I have family members that comment that nobody in the USA will *ever* need any kind of long term food reserve, that it’s unecessary in our world today.  Yet people like this cannot see the disasters that have happened for the warnings they were.  My faith has long taught of the importance in a food reserve, and I fully believe in the divinity of that council.

But simply having some cans of food is not all that is necessary.  Knowledge is the most important thing.  With food, what good is a sack of wheat without knowing all of the options it provides for feeding your family?  You must be aware *ahead* of time how to use any food, tools, gadgets or whatever you have put in place.

I am glad that I am at least familiar with the things I think my family might need in the worst of cases, to the best.  From some sci-fi end of the world situation, to just being strapped for cash because of a medical emergency.  And while I take comfort in what I know, I am smart enough to realize that I have only started, and there is a world of information that I must learn to apply.  As my parents taught me, I must teach my kids, by given them a lifestyle that is sustainable, and teachable.  At worst, my kids become adults that are well rounded individuals.  At truly worst, they are alive, and able to take care of themselves.

Sure, I’m odd, but people think that about me even if they don’t know I’m a “Prepper” (not, not a preppie 🙂 ).  Yes, I can be as fanatical about a bullet caliber as I can about a programming language.  I may discuss gardening tips vs SQL tips.  I like to be who I am, and I try to have that person be ready for *whatever* may come.

Hope for the best, Prepare for the worst.

Oh, and check out Utah Preppers for upcoming information on how you to can begin to get ready for anything.

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Finished Spider

by on Nov.02, 2008, under Home

A shot of how I finished up the spider for halloween:

I wound up spending my time up on the roof, basically inside the spider.  I could control the legs and have the spider shake, or lurch out at people (though not far, enough to freak people out).

Next year I hope to have more time to build it better.  Actually delivering the candy through one of the pipe legs would work well, having a speaker/megaphone or something would be nice, as I got rather hoarse by the end of the night from “hissing”.

The webs really added to the effect, I had a nice spolight on it, with a red bulb in the ‘mouth’ of the spider.

Several kids, and even a few parent refused to even approach the house.

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Setting up Halloween

by on Oct.31, 2008, under Home

So last night, I wanted to do something to add to the Halloween spirit.  See our neighborhood goes all out.  Everybody has picked some theme/location from the Harry Potter series, and has gone all out in the decoration.  Maybe I’ll get some pictures of it for later, but understand that it’s good enough to get featured in the local papers and TV.  So I quickly had to start my bit, here’s a sneak preview.

Right now I’m figuring out how to make the back legs stand up more, so it appears to be walking more, and improving the fangs.  I have a light that goes into the back and makes it glow some, and am putting a floodlight on the front, so the face shows up, and the eyes glow a bit.

I’ll be adding the spiderwebs in today, and a ‘body’ wrapped up in spiderwebs.  The best parts though.  A) I’ll be in the spiderweb, ready to freak people out.  But also, that long front leg, I have fishing line on it, so I can make it reach out and grab kids as they go for the candy 🙂

It’s not a good Halloween unless you can make a kid soil their costume 🙂

The only really bad part is, my wife is refusing to walk in the front door now.

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Food Storage Commentary

by on Jun.05, 2008, under Home, Life

This message is actually some commentary to reply to a recent posting by a “Hoser That’s Not My Brother“.  Since he decided to take his food-snobbery into an area that I care more than a little about, I thought I’d give a few opinions.  Please go read his bit first, and then come back here and this will make a lot more sense.  Actually, from other discussions, much of what I have to say is in agreement with the hoser, but I do hope to clarify some points, and give my opinion on others.

Starting off, there is much confusion in the food storage world, and he’s right, what to store must come from you.  “Store what you eat, and eat what you store,” is an oft-repeated mantra that is very correct. Just blindly following some list will get you in big trouble if you ever need that food.  You probably won’t know how to use it, and it will likely give you serious problems shortly after eating.  The provident living website is a great resource for very basic elements of storage, but it is just a starting point.  Along with that, it’s a good starting point for the information you need in actually using your storage in an efficient manner.

For me, I think one of the most important things to start out with though is by asking yourself the question, “Why food storage?”.  I too have gone through some inter-job difficulties before where the bit of storage we had was a lifesaver for us, but there could be more.  Maybe you want to be ready for WTSHTF aka TEOTWAWKI, maybe you just know that food bought now (well, better last fall) was a great way to beat inflation, and the stock market (often by double digit percentages).  Whatever the case, how much, and what you need to store will change with that definition.  Me, I figure if I’m prepared for the absolute worst case that I don’t think will ever happen, then I’ll feel pretty good if I just get laid off without job prospects again.  Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Now, to review by category:

Yes, it is a lot of wheat to keep around, but then again, they don’t call it the staff of life for nothing.  Try going without bread for a week or so, and see how you feel.  Sure you can say you did the atkins things before, but let’s also look at some other factors.  First, given a situation where you really *need* to use your storage.  There is a good chance that your physical activity level is going to be changing a bit.  Be it heavy stress, to just plain walking a lot more, your body will be needing those carbs quick.  Also the fiber content will be very helpful in combating bad side effects of your stress levels, and other dietary changes.  One word of caution though, do ease into using real whole-wheat (even from store-bought whole wheat flour), or you will have some serious issues to contend with.  Wheat itself can also be used to cultivate simple meat-substitutes (hey, if you’re really starving), and as stated, its protein content is necessary for making breads from other cereals.  Besides all of the above stated, your grains are some of your absolute *cheapest* ways to augment just how much food you have stored, heck even at today’s way inflated prices you can get sealed buckets of hard wheat for $23 or so for 45#.  Add to that the fact that stored properly it has the longest stable shelf life of any food storage item, you should make sure you have a good amount of wheat and cereals in stock.

But it is smart to mix up your cereals some.  Get a couple of types of rice, maybe some softer wheat (cake flour, etc), Rye, Corn, Oats, and others.  you’ll always want some variety in your diet, and hey, you can always just experiment with new breads too.

Oh, and do get a mill/wheat grinder.   Get a powered one first, and a hand mill second. It’s amazing how much better bread is with fresh flour.  With a powered one you’re more likely to use your wheat right now, saving yourself money, getting much better breads, and just getting healthier.  Added bonus, your house smells much nicer.

Fats and Oils

Yes embrace the necessity of Fats.  Well, I know I’ve never needed to tell a chef that, but I’ll just back you up on that one.  For basic storage of oils, I can answer one good reason for shortening over standard vegetable oil.  Shelf life.  Based on it’s nature, it tends to have a longer time before it goes rancid.  You have to be careful about how long you keep your oil around, which is one reason it doesn’t tell you to keep too much.  Most people would buy some Costco sized mega-container, and it would all spoil before it was even opened, much less the problems it would have if opened.  I’ll agree on the PB too, it’s something we can’t have enough of, and have no trouble rotating through (in fact tend to over do that 🙂 )


Dry beans are important for food storage, because as any Brasilian (and really any Latin American) will tell you, it’s food.  It’s cheap food, and combined, beans and rice bring out some wonder-twin powers in each other.  They combine to form more complete proteins which most of us will be lacking in a crappy situation because we won’t have nearly the amount of meat we’re used to.  With he dry beans, yes, choose most any you like, and get some variety (and learn how to use them).  Get the other dry or canned, as you would use them, but variety is good.  Dried soup mix can be the basic soups you see, largely for spices, but more often refers to a Soup Base, that the canneries used to have.  Was a simple soup/stock that was designed for mixing things in.  Stock has great nutrition, even dried, and makes it much easier to use so much of this dried food.


Actually, I wouldn’t lower it at all.  Now part of why this seems so high is based on the targeted usages for your food storage.  It’s expected that if you’re smart enough to be storing food, you’ll probably have a garden too.  You’ll see that sugar disappear the first time you make jam.  Don’t forget your body will likely be craving some things that can sooth a sweet tooth while you change diets, and adding to that, most people can really do with the stress relief of their favorite desert.

As for the kool-aid, if you’ve read this far I’d think you’re drinking some 🙂 .  Actually one of the biggest reasons for the powdered drink mix is for water storage.  Depending on how much, and how you’ve stored it, or what your filtration method and storage is, you can wind up with some funky flavors.  It may be clean, but might taste quite off, and a little flavor will help you keep hydrated, which is pretty key in this area.  Same thing camping, that mountain stream water aint always that refreshingly crisp 🙂

I actually think I’d want more of the honey and molasses though.  We have a lot of good recipes using them.


How could you even question “other”.  As a chef this should be seen as too little, without even trying.  Sweetened condensed milk is a good one, along with evaporated milk.  But let’s be even more obvious:

  • Cheese – Serious comfort food, excellent enzyms and good storage.  Freeze dried, Canned “queso”, or *real* canned cheese (that stuff is quite good, and amazing storage).  Or if you have “wine cellar” type qualities, keep some cheese wheels around, they’ll just get better tasting, and you know you’ll rotate through them.
  • Yogurt – Important dairy, will work wonders for your digestion, especially if not feeling well.  But how do you store it? Well, you can get cultures that will store well, and learn to make your own!
  • Soy Milk – yeah, it’s worthwhile to have 🙂
  • UHT milk – Boxed milk, stores for a year or so.  Parmalat is famous for this.

As for powdered milk, I have a strong aversion to it from having to drink it too often when we lived overseas.  The texture is too different for my main staple food 🙂  However, the morning-moos variety is better than others, and I have recently found Nido which is dried whole milk!  yes, that helps the texture a ton.  You can find it in small cans in the latin foods section of Wally World to try it out, just don’t buy the Nido Kinder (compare ingredients between the two to get a good idea).

There are some good ideas on how you can use powdered milk too, for making things like cheese/yogurt and more.  Those could help you out.

Cooking Essentials

Seasonings Seasonings Seasonings!  You’ve got a lot of ‘basic foods’, you’ll want to spice them up.  Dried, whole, etc, and get your herb garden running.

Oh, and as for the salt, as mentioned with the sugars, just think of having to do some pickling.  Oh, and tanning, since I’m sure *everybody* will be running out trying to do some of that 🙂


This is of course something that we can’t be without, but always think is the last thing that we will not have.  Possibly, but I’d rather be prepared.  I go with the 2gal per person, since I think if I ever really need it, it’ll be in the summer here, and I know I’ll need more.  Plus I like to be clean, meaning more than the minimum.

As for bleach, it loses its real potency starting after about 6 months, so check as to how much you store.  You can get good dried chlorine too, good to keep around, and lasts longer.


There are great books that can help with this subject, and plenty of crappy ones too.  I can suggest a few, and love to help friend get ready for the best or worst of times.

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Weekend Storage Project

by on Mar.08, 2008, under Home

The past couple of months have had me running around forever busy, and especially in regards to work, unable to *do* things.  With the change in employment I’ve been kept out of being able to do any development work, which as most of my friend will probably agree with is something that begins to drive me batty.

Beginning the back roller

Beginning the back roller

So this weekend turns into the first time in a while that I am home with no outside commitments, so I had to do *something*.  My wife is out in Colorado for a baby shower, so I’ve been a bit constrained watching my 3 kids, but still managed to get phase one of some new shelving done.

My basic premise was this wall in my garage.  Previously here was some old thin metal shelving, totally overloaded with assorted cruft.  It also made the “outside” fridge sit in front of other shelving, and was about “Windows ME” in terms of stability.  It also made access to my kayaks a bit difficult (you can see the end of one there in the top corner).  With my growing food storage, I had run out of other areas to put in cans, and wanted to improve the ability to rotate commonly used staples.  Systems such as the “Shelf Reliance” products are very nice, but were quite out of my budget.  Especially considering my needs in this situation.  I wanted the can rotation, but I needed the ability to have standard shelving also.  This would be much more apparent if you looked at the rest of my garage, which is stuffed, much of it the contents of the shelving I just pulled out.

Now I say Phase 1 with this project because this is not complete, in fact I plan on doing more tonight as my children hit the actual “sleeping” stage.  Right now they are *going* to sleep which means I have to stay in earshot to refill water and the like.  The next phase will be building out standard shelving from the wall I have just built, encaging the fridge, and providing storage on its side.  The beauty of this project is the can rollers take up so little space, and then provide a wall in which I can do something like this.  Heck, I could have surfaced it and just had it look like another wall.


The build is really simple, I simply took some 1×1/2 slats, and cut them to fit my 70″ wall, giving a 4″ height difference at the end, what seemed like a good incline.  8″ between rows, then build the opposing wall to match.  1/4″ particle board was laid in my 8″ width.  This size fits your #10 can perfectly, with 1/2″ in each side for wiggle room, and just under 2″ on top.

With my wall size, this will accommodate 96 cans (I could add one more row at the top, but it’s a little to tall for anybody in the family except me).  That’s a lot of food I’m able to move out of my basement, under-the-stairs closet, which I can’t get to most of the time anyways.  Given that this is just outside the kitchen <-> garage door, it makes it a nice accessory to the pantry.  And since my garage is well insulated, and I know the temperature ranges in it, I can put in a pretty wide range of foods without them being affected adversely.

All told, the materials were $61 for this project, including the wood to frame out the front end shelves which aren’t done yet.  Not a bad price for largely increased storage, with can rotation.

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