prepping

Saving Versus Hoarding: Too Much of a Good Thing

juicebottle

I have been planning on writing this post for a few weeks, but I have things in my draft folder I intended on posting prior to this one.

Then I started thinking about this orange juice container.

I buy orange juice maybe 3 times a year. If that. I am really picky about my juice and I really can’t justify the price for the quality I want more than that. I’m not at the point where I think about the reusability of the packaging I buy [yet] [though I also admit that I am annoyed that Wegmans swapped out their pasta sauce bottles for plastic, at least in the bulk pack]. However, the quality of juice I buy normally comes in a bottle more often than a carton.

So I rinsed out the bottle and set it aside for the tea that Mid brings to work. We don’t know what happened to his normal Stanley thermos at this stage of the move, though I’m sure it’ll come up again at some point.

It did however get me thinking about this subject again, so I’ll touch on it tonight.

Saving Versus Hoarding

There is a certain frugality to getting as much use out of what you own as you can, instead of buying a separate product for that purpose. That’s why I use canning jars in my kitchen for storage instead of dedicated kitchen storage pieces, unless they go on deep sale.  During my research for the money saving posts, one of the consistent tips was to never throw out anything that can be used for something else.

I’m going to tell you there comes a point where you need to let things go and throw them away.

Again, I do agree with the idea-and use it-but as with the majority of things in life, it’s a matoter of degrees. You can tip from ‘frugal, green reuse’ into ‘kind of scary stockpile of old stir fry bottles.’

My system for avoiding a hoarding situation and maintaining a useful stash:

[This system takes into account seasonal use items like Christmas decorations or winter gear, but the idea is still the same. Even if the item is only used once a year, it should be getting used during that point of the year. If you have 1000 Christmas ornaments and only really use 50, it’s time to purge.]

  1. Figure out when you use the items you already own-if you already have a stash of 50 bottles and only use 10, it’s not time to start hanging on to more bottles. It’s time to purge at least some of those overflow bottles.
  2. Determine how much storage space you actually have to put towards saving-not what you -think- you have, not what you -might- have if you were to clean things out, what you have right now.
  3. Occasionally deep clean-go through and clean out cupboards and closets and drawers. Get rid of things you haven’t used in an allotted amount of time. For example, if you haven’t used something in a year, at the very least put it into more remote storage like an attic or store room, or purge it.
  4. Forget how much you paid for it-with some exceptions. If the item was truly expensive, try to sell or trade it to recoup some of the costs. But if it was a normal sized purchase, the money is already gone regardless of whether or not you keep it.
  5. Once you have an idea of actual space, have cleared out your stashes, and know what you have-only keep things that you can name a use for. Try to avoid ‘but I might need it some day’ if you don’t have any idea what you’ll be using it for on that random future day.,
  6. Don’t keep items that need more than light repairs. A box that can be taped is one thing, an engine that needs to be completely overhauled is another.
  7. Stop saving when you stop using-every so often I have to go through and purge small bits of yarn. I do a lot of scrap knitting, but there comes a point where my small bit collection outsizes the amount of time that I spend scrap knitting. Don’t save more glass jars than you will ever feasibly use.
  8. Only keep things to ‘upcycle’ if you actually intend on upcycling them. I feel like upcycling is my generation’s answer to the Depression’s keep it because you may need it and not have resources to get it. Upcycling is awesome, but if you don’t know how to sew, now is not the time to start holding onto piles of old blown out jeans. You can certainly try to trade or barter them to someone who can upcycle them for you, and you can definitely work on learning to sew so you can eventually upcycle old denim-but there will be plenty of old denim available to play with when you get to that point. Basically, don’t start holding onto items for skills that you don’t actually have yet.

Learning to Homestead-Basic Food Prepping List

whats-on-my-food-prepping-list

[Repost]

It can be hard to figure out what you need to have in your ‘stockpile’, especially if you’re starting out from scratch.

The easiest way is start is to think about what you normally need-if you absolutely, insistently, will not eat beans, then don’t put them on your list. Remember, start prepping for mundane reasons like bad weather and economic hardship first, and worry about the zombies and SHTF later. Call me overly optimistic, but I’m fairly certain job loss is much more likely than the grid falling.

If you have as many staples as you can built up, you can supplement with fresh dairy and produce.

Then think about your space, and optimize your list in importance by what you can use and can easily store first.

My list, depending on space and sales, in no particular order:

White Sugar

Black Strap Molasses (both can be used separately, and can be used together to make brown sugar)

Coffee

Dried Milk

Canned milks

Shelf stable soy or almond milks

Shelf stable tofu

Beans-canned and dried

Corn-canned and frozen

Peas-frozen, if I have room

Green beans-frozen and canned

Tuna fish or salmon, canned

Tea Bags

Raw sugar, when I can find it under $1.50 a pound

Peanut butter

Oats-not in large quantity, they can go rancid, steel cut and instant. I often get these in the bulk bin

Dried fruits-in the bulk bin

Nuts-in the bulk bin

Baking supplies-baking powder, baking soda, chocolate chips, etc. I get these on the Christmas and Thanksgiving baking sales

Unbleached white flour

Wheat flour-in small amounts for bread

Yeast-I try to have some in the house. but I don’t stockpile it

Shelf stable stocks or stock bases

Stocks-frozen or canned

Canned fruit

Oils-olive, corn, coconut

Garbage bags

Dish soap

Dish rags

Parchment paper (eventually I’ll get some Silpats, but for now, parchment paper)

Tin foil

Plastic wrap (only a box or two, one box lasts me years)

One or two bee’s wax clothes

Paper towels-there are some really nasty tasks I still prefer paper for, like draining bacon

Cleaning rags

Vinegars-white and apple cider

Citrus cleaner-I normally make my own

Salt-table, and whatever other kinds I can find on sale

Canning supplies-have on hand if you know how to can in case you find awesome produce sales

Pastas

Canning Month-Firestarter Jam [Peach/Superhots]

Pixabay

Pixabay

I post this recipe every few years. It’s still a fan favorite, and honestly, it really is that good. You can adjust the heat on this one-if you really want to up the heat, overload it with superhot peppers and freeze it.

Firestarter Jam (Peach-Scotch Bonnet Jam)

3 cups sliced peaches

1 seeded, diced scotch bonnet pepper- I really would seed it. The heat level on this isn’t unbearable for me, but I don’t think I would leave the seeds in there either. If you can’t get a scotch bonnet, try a couple bird’s eye peppers or a habanero.

scant 1 1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 table bottled lemon juice

Prep 3 quarter pint jars for boiling water bath canning.

In a large saucepan, bring fruit, sugar, pepper, and lemon to a hard boil. After 10 minutes of boiling check for gel by placing a plate in the freezer. Place a small amount of jam on the plate and freeze for 30 seconds. When you can run your finger through the jam and it holds it shape without running together, it’s gelled.

Fill jars and process for 10 minutes using a boiling water canner. Or, you can freeze the jam for up to one year.

I did BWB process these jars. If you are not familiar with how to boiling water bath process food for canning, please make sure to read over a source like the Ball Blue Book or the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Canning is not particularly difficult, but it’s also not a process that you should take lightly. This recipe assumes you know the basics of boiling water bath canning. If you are not comfortable with canning, this recipe can be stored in the freezer for 1 year.

2016 Canning List

apple-947674_1920

I am giving March the theme of Canning Month; 2016 is a year that requires themes for me to post consistently.

I want to start canning early this year-a lot of this list I can make with frozen produce or other supplies I can get at Target with cards from S.w.agbu.cks. So March will be covering a lot of older recipes or trying new ideas (I want to try Firestarter with dried peppers).

I didn’t get through a lot of last year’s list so this may be a repeat to older readers.

-Carrot Cake Jam

Firestarter

–different fruits as well as peaches

—-pineapple has been requested

apple pear jam

-apple sauce

-cyser style apples

-banana fridge jam

-dilly beans

-whole and crushed tomatoes

-dill pickles

-spiked oranges

-plum sauce

-pickled hot peppers

-bbq sauce

-apple butter

-peach butter

-peach pie jam

-cherry jam

-mint syrup

-preserved mint

-salsa

-cider molasses

-pickled beets

-…lemons?

-sweet pickles

-blackstrap strawberry jam

-relish

-strawberry mint syrup and jam

-fruit syrups

-hot sauce

-whole peaches and nectarines

 

Quick Idea: Marking Your Storage Lids

applesauce

I’ve been marking my ‘storage and eating’ jars with hair ties for about a year now based on a tip from Food in Jars (eating out of jars tends to weaken the glass over time, the hair tie can stay on the jar and get wet; it also shows that this is the designated drinking/oatmeal/whatever jar).

I’ve been having problems with the lids to those jars. The used ones (I don’t always use a can opener on the lids-so no dents, and the sharpie washes off sometimes) would get mixed in with my new ones-or rather, the other way around. I would end up grabbing a new lid out of the box just to have something to use and then it would be swallowed up by the used lids bag. I admit a lot of this was due to rushing around in the morning trying to get both of us out of the door at the same time or trying to get left overs put away before bed.

People dislike using traditional stickers on jars because of the way that they never come off, which was my sudden bolt of not so new inspiration. I started marking my storage lids with ‘normal’ stickers. Right now they’re stars; when I’m out of stars it’ll be loose leaf reinforcement circles. I don’t necessarily care if they stay looking pretty, as long as they stay marked this way.

Rhys [And CousCous Salad]

rhys1My father has put in a request for Ted’s hot dog sauce for Christmas. That’s sort of irrelevant to anything but I find it amusing. I feel like it’s going to amount to an even swap, the hot dog sauce from Buffalo and whatever food they send me home with at the holidays.

This shawl…you’re probably going to be seeing a lot of it. Size 2 needles feel like I’m knitting with toothpicks when I normally work this pattern on 8s or higher.

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Occasionally I start doing what I call ‘shopping my kitchen’, much to my mother’s annoyance. It might be best described as actually eating the food in the stash you build up in as a food prepper and urban canner.

It’s great to have the food on hand for when you need it-but I’m a realist prepper in that I’m not going to waste money I don’t need to on food I already have in the house just because ‘what is going to happen if Z day/E day/[insert favorite conspiracy theory here] comes and I have no food?’ So I start building meals around what’s in the freezer and the food boxes.

I make this salad sort of semi-frequently, using what I have. It’s so insanely adjustable-use a grain instead of couscous, throw in whatever protein you have in the house, do whatever.

Note:if you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you’ll know that I’m pretty live and let live with convenience foods. I try to scratch cook what I can but I’m not going to sing the evils of bottled salad dressing. Use whatever makes you happiest at the time.

CousCous Salad

1 box couscous, prepared

Vegetables-fresh, canned, frozen, pickled, whatever you have. My last batch had chopped up quick pickles, frozen corn, and frozen peppers and onions

Garlic-fresh or pickled, finely chopped

Feta cheese

Cesar or Greek salad dressing, about half a bottle

Fold the vegetables into the couscous. I like to add the couscous right out of the pan if I’m using frozen produce, the heat helps defrost the vegetables and the produce brings down the temperature of the couscous faster.

Let sit until room temperature. Add the cheese and the salad dressing.

What’s On My Food Prepping List

what's on my food prepping list

It can be hard to figure out what you need to have in your ‘stockpile’, especially if you’re starting out from scratch.

The easiest way is start is to think about what you normally need-if you absolutely, insistently, will not eat beans, then don’t put them on your list. Remember, start prepping for mundane reasons like bad weather and economic hardship first, and worry about the zombies and SHTF later. Call me overly optimistic, but I’m fairly certain job loss is much more likely than the grid falling.

If you have as many staples as you can built up, you can supplement with fresh dairy and produce.

Then think about your space, and optimize your list in importance by what you can use and can easily store first.

My list, depending on space and sales, in no particular order:

White Sugar

Black Strap Molasses (both can be used separately, and can be used together to make brown sugar)

Coffee

Dried Milk

Canned milks

Shelf stable soy or almond milks

Shelf stable tofu

Beans-canned and dried

Corn-canned and frozen

Peas-frozen, if I have room

Green beans-frozen and canned

Tuna fish or salmon, canned

Tea Bags

Raw sugar, when I can find it under $1.50 a pound

Peanut butter

Oats-not in large quantity, they can go rancid, steel cut and instant. I often get these in the bulk bin

Dried fruits-in the bulk bin

Nuts-in the bulk bin

Baking supplies-baking powder, baking soda, chocolate chips, etc. I get these on the Christmas and Thanksgiving baking sales

Unbleached white flour

Wheat flour-in small amounts for bread

Yeast-I try to have some in the house. but I don’t stockpile it

Shelf stable stocks or stock bases

Stocks-frozen or canned

Canned fruit

Oils-olive, corn, coconut

Garbage bags

Dish soap

Dish rags

Parchment paper (eventually I’ll get some Silpats, but for now, parchment paper)

Tin foil

Plastic wrap (only a box or two, one box lasts me years)

One or two bee’s wax clothes

Paper towels-there are some really nasty tasks I still prefer paper for, like draining bacon

Cleaning rags

Vinegars-white and apple cider

Citrus cleaner-I normally make my own

Salt-table, and whatever other kinds I can find on sale

Canning supplies-have on hand if you know how to can in case you find awesome produce sales

Pastas