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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Practical Steps to Preparing a Family for TEOTWAWKI, by Mitch D.

Author’s Background
I live in Northeastern Minnesota with my wife and four children ages: four to seven.  I teach and am a sports coach at the local high school in town (population 1,200).  We live two hours away from any type of big city, which in our case is Duluth, Minnesota (population 85,000).  My wife is a stay-at-home mom.  Three years ago, we built a new house four miles outside of town on 15 acres that my parents gave us.  Combined, we make just over $56,000 a year.  In just this past year, my wife and I have started making the transition to a more preparedness-minded lifestyle.  As I have scanned and read hundreds of articles online, I have found a wealth of practical information, but little in the way of practical advice for families.  I hope this article helps young families that are either on a limited budget, may feel overwhelmed in their initial stages of preparation, or both.
My Introduction to Preparedness
I didn’t know it at the time, but my introduction to preparedness came in 1999 when I sat at a large table with about 15 other men in a small town cafĂ© for our weekly bible study.  A small portion of these men were worried about Y2K and urged others to prepare.  I thought they were “nuts.”  I did respect them as Christian men, however, and prayed for guidance.  Looking back, I was a squared away 24 year-old but was still spiritually immature.  At that time in my life, I felt no urging by the Lord to prepare for Y2K. 
About ten years later in the middle of a bitterly cold 2009 winter night, the power went out in my newly-built home.  My home, at the time, ran completely on electricity with no form of back-up heat.  I was lucky to have in-floor heat on both levels of my home, but the wind was howling that night, as the temperatures outside kept dropping and eventually hit 30 below zero.  With the wind chill effect, it was probably near 60 to 70 below.  My kids didn’t like how dark the house was, even though we had flashlights on hand for each of them.  I put my four children to sleep early and piled on some extra blankets.  At 7:00 p.m. it was 60 in the house and I wasn’t worried as my new home was well-insulated and built tight.  I went to call my parents, who own the 20 acres bordering the western boundary of our place.  Our phones in the house, however, all depended on electricity so I decided that my call could wait until the morning.  When I went to bed at 11:00 p.m. it was now 50 in the house and I just assumed the power company guys were having a hard time in the wind and cold.  I woke up in the early morning and noticed that it was about 40 degrees in the house and still no electricity.  I was now a little uneasy as I didn’t need pipes freezing up on me.  At 7:00 a.m. I bundled up the kids and took them next door where I knew my dad had a gas fireplace.  To my surprise, his electricity was up and running.  To make a long story short, it was just my place without power as the wires from the transformer came loose when my box moved from winter heaving.  I called the power company and they had my box fixed within the hour.  Nothing bad had happened, but it did get me thinking about a few questions:
  • What if we were without power for a few days, a week, or even longer?
  • What am I going to do to make sure I don’t have to be up all night worrying about my children?
Later, I called up one of the men in my bible study from years back….one of the “nuts.”  We started talking regularly and then I started emailing back and forth with his brother who lives in Alaska.  Both guys are solid Christian men with a heart for being prepared and ready.  They borrowed me the book, One Second After by William Forstchen.  Reading that book gave me a sense of urgency.  In addition, I also teach Economics, Political Science, and Finance and am very weary of today’s economy for numerous reasons.  When I got to the point where I was ready to make a commitment to preparedness for my family, here are the steps we took to get started (these are in no particular order - just how they worked for us):
Step One: Get on the Same Page with your Wife
While my wife and I agree that the man is the spiritual head of the family, it sure makes life easier in all respects when you both agree to commit to something together.  Depending on your circumstances, this may take some time, substantial prayer, and even some tutoring.  This may mean having your spouse read Mr. Rawles' excellent book,"Patriots".  It may mean having them read One Second After.  I have a friend of mine right now that would like to start preparing, but hasn’t had the courage to bring it up to his wife yet.  How is that going to work?  It isn’t.  We need to be on the same page with our wives.
Step Two: Make a Financial Plan
I first thought to myself, “I can’t afford to buy any of these items.  We live paycheck to paycheck with a nice big mortgage payment on the 25th of each month.”  My wife and I then had to decide how serious we really were.  Is this just talk, or are we going to commit to being prepared?  Do I want to watch my kids freeze to death if TEOTWAWKI takes place?  I suggest each family assess their own individual situation and then plan out their finances in two phases if possible:
  • Decide if you can make a “down payment” to jumpstart your preparation.
  • Then, factor in a monthly stipend for preparation goods and materials.  Think of it like paying a monthly life insurance premium, only this one will save your life.
Step Three: Evaluate Your Situation and Prioritize Your Needs
One thing to mention here:  Just because you have something on your priority list of preparation items, doesn’t mean you can go get it right away.  You have to balance your “priority list” with your checkbook.  My wife and I won’t buy anything we can’t afford.  If we have to use a credit card to get it, we simply don’t!  In our individual situation we created this prioritized list:
  • A Wood Stove to heat the house and to cook on in case of an emergency.
  • Installation of a hand pump on our current well for water
  • Back up food:  Both short-term and long-term
  • Learning new skills (Making our own bread from wheat, canning our vegetables from the garden, using non-hybrid seeds, splitting our own wood, etc.)
  • Buying some added security (Guns and ammo)
For example, we decided to cash-in a $6,500 investment that I could get without paying a penalty.  We first used some of that money to purchase a new wood stove and a hand pump for our well.  Heat and water were no longer concerns for us.  What was next for us?  Back-up food.  Each time at the grocery store we spend an extra $50 on canned goods, rice, cereal, staples, toilet paper, etc. to build up a rotating pantry that will last our family of six approximately three months.
The next step for us was the hardest: long-term food.  In my humble opinion, once you decide to buy long-term food, you have entered the official prepper stage.  Now you are in.  We took $1000 from my investment and used half of it to buy a Country Living Grain Mill and all of its extra parts.  We then bought 1000 pounds of hard red wheat, 200 pounds of rye berries, and a few other staples like wheat, sugar, etc.
My friend (from the bible study) and his wife then taught us how to make the following: bread from scratch using the mill, corn meal mush from feed corn, and bannock native biscuit-type bread).  We then set up future dates to learn how to make Ezekiel bread over an open fire, as well as many other helpful tutorials we could use around the house.
Last, but not least, I used my tax return and bought a DPMS AR-15 and 1,000 rounds of ammo for an added sense of security.  If anyone would have come over to our place in a threatening manner and we had to defend ourselves, before that purchase, I only had the following: a single shot Remington Model 37 Steelbilt 20 gauge shotgun, a Remington 30-06 Model 700 hunting rifle, and my .380 Bersa with just one magazine.  With some remaining money left over, I found two spare magazines for my .380.  I have much more on my wish list that we just can’t afford at this time.  I really don’t want to have to use any of these weapons, but if the time comes where I must protect my wife and kids, I will be ready with the resources that I have.
Don't Be Intimidated By What Others Have!  Everyone’s financial situation and priorities are different.  My wife and I could have easily read what others have in the way of supplies and knowledge and just said, “There’s no way we can do that.”  Instead, we just decided to do what we can with what we have.  We have to give our plan to the Lord and let him provide for us in the ways he sees fit.  Start where you can, and get on the same page with your family.  What are you immediate needs?  Can you get them now?  If not, now you have something to save for.  If yes, that is great.  Now you can move down your list to the next priority.  We are now currently saving up for a case of freeze-dried butter powder and a case of freeze-dried egg powder.  My next big wish is to build an underground root cellar somewhere on our property.
Step Four: Include Your Kids in Everything so They are Prepared
If I tell my kids that we are having a fire drill, they can get out of their beds, crawl on the floor, open the window, take off the screens, and get out of the house in less than one minute.  All four kids also know to meet behind the shed if such a thing were to happen.  Our kids need to be a part of the process.  If TEOTWAWKI happens and our kids are so terrified that they can’t function, surviving will be twice as difficult.  I once did the fire drill while throwing pillows at the kids.  That day we taught them to be focused even if there is chaos all around them.
Our kids also help in the bread-making process, each to their own abilities.  The oldest can now turn the mill; one mixes the flour, etc.  All four of our kids also know where we store our food and they know not to tell anyone.  We tell them, “Lots of people don’t have extra grain.  It is like bragging.  Just tell people that dad’s hunting and fishing gear is in that cabinet.”
As a kid I grew up hunting and fishing with my dad, but my dad always did the “messy” work like gutting the deer and cleaning the fish.  My wife and I are doing our best to teach our kids how to fish, a healthy respect (not fear) for guns, the tips to wood splitting, how to start a fire, etc.  Our kids are too young to do a lot right now, but we always take the time to teach the “how and why” of what we are doing.  Our kids love it and are now starting to ask if they can help.  We never deny them that opportunity.
Even if your kids are young, don’t underestimate what they can do.  Here are some things we have been introducing our four young children to:
  • Fishing
  • Stacking, hauling, cutting wood
  • How to start a fire
  • Lighting a candle in the house on their own
  • How to identify animal tracks
  • A respect for guns – an introduction to shooting with the Red Rider
  • How to cook various meals
  • A familiarity with our property and our trail system
  • How to use walkie-talkies
  • Fire Drills and places on the property to meet
  • Camping skills and helping put up a tent
  • How to use a compass
  • How to use a slingshot
Obviously, I am not going to hand my three year old a 12-guage shotgun and let him go in the woods.  All of our boys, however, the four-year old included, can start a fire from scratch in my wood stove or in our fire pit.  As they get older, we challenge them with the next level of preparedness.  Not only are you giving your kids invaluable skills for the future, you are helping them become self-sufficient and not reliant on others.
Step Five: Use Discernment in Finding Like-Minded Friends
My wife and I have been fortunate to find an older couple to mentor us.  We are careful not to open ourselves up to just anyone.  We live in a small town where if one person tells others something, you can assume a large minority of town knows about it.  We have many close friends that have no idea about our level of preparedness.  When we see an opening in a conversation with someone we trust, we will feel them out, and take it from there. 
Step Six: Continue to Research and Don’t Get Discouraged!
I can’t believe how much I have learned in just a year’s time.  SurvivalBlog alone has thousands of outstanding articles written by people who have been preparing for years and years.  Use the internet and any other resources of information you can find.  Like many others, my wife and I have started our own little library of books, articles, etc.  We even learned how to seal up Mylar bags in our five gallon buckets of food storage on YouTube!
In conclusion, if you are a beginning family or have a tight budget, don’t get discouraged!  Even if you just start by putting away $20 a month and save up your funds for a while.  Over time that money will grow and you will have a nice start to your preparedness plan.  Checking out books at the library is free.  Take down the notes you feel are important and then move on to another book.  Before you know it, you and your family will find that preparedness is a way of life.

Episode-426- Developing Survival Knowledge While Camping

My view on survival planning is that running out into the forest to hide if the shit hits the fan is generally a very bad move, well in most situations.  Today though we are going to look at camping in another light.  When you camp you deal with out a lot of the conveniences we tend to take for granted, families communicate better (sometimes by force) and opportunities for leaning and contingency plan development present themselves.
Join Me Today as we Discuss…
  • New MSB Supporting Vendor CampingSurvival.com (MSB get 5% off all orders)
  • Camping to learn about survival vs. survival camping
  • Don’t go spend a lot of money right away
  • The basics
    • Good tents
    • Padding, air mattresses or cots
    • Lighting
    • Food - including some “healthy junk foods”
    • Insect repellent
    • A way to cook
    • First aid kit
    • Storage bins
  • Start out close to home with full amenities
  • Focus on self reliance with shelter, food, water
  • Get away from the crowds even in crowded areas
  • Move on to more remote camping once you have a system in place
  • Purchase animal, insect, plant, bird, etc field guides and use them
  • Make fishing part of your camping experiences
  • Require children to deal with discomfort within reason
  • Take time to work on skill development (crafts, navigation, etc)
  • Use the time for bonding, it may be part of family survival some day
  • The golden rule, have fun and learn
Additional Resources for Today’s Show
Remember to comment, chime in and tell us your thoughts, this podcast is one man’s opinion, not a lecture or sermon. Also please enter our listener appreciation contest and help spread the word about our show. Also remember you can call in your questions and comments to 866-65-THINK and you might hear yourself on the air.

Self Rescue: When Staying Put to Survive Isn’t an Option

by Peter Kummerfeldt as posted at Survival Common Sense
(Stay or go? A fundamental precept of urban and wilderness survival is that during or after an emergency and/or survival situation, you should stay put so rescuers can find you. But what happens if that isn’t a possibility? What if a tornado or hurricane just happened, emergency personnel are overwhelmed or non-existent, and you know there is no possibility of rescue?  
Or suppose an accident occurs in a remote wilderness area with no potential for a rescue? What do you do in a situation where you have to rescue yourself? How do you tell the difference? How do you make the decision to stay or go?
 In this article, survival expert Peter Kummerfeldt looks at the mental and physical processes of  self-rescue. – Leon).
self rescue 1 Self Rescue: When Staying Put to Survive Isn’t an 
OptionA survival situation can be caused by weather, or your reaction to it. Be able to tell the difference between real and potential danger!

Definition of “Self-rescue”:  Getting yourself out of trouble without having to put other people at risk to rescue you. 

If you work or recreate in the outdoors, sooner or later you may find yourself at the fork-in-the-road,  having to decide if you should attempt to get yourself out of trouble or wait to be rescued. You should always be prepared to self-rescue and not rely on others to come to your aid.  Always remember that when you call for help, you are putting other people’s lives on the line!
Every life-threatening event is different, and the mechanics of extracting yourself from danger will be different in each case. While the techniques used may be different, the actual process of getting yourself out of trouble is the same.
  1.  The self-rescue process involves three steps:
  2. 1.  recognizing the threat
  3. 2.  an awareness of “certain” verses “potential” harm
  4. 3.  taking action to remove yourself from the life threatening circumstances

Threat recognition: The ability to recognize threats to your life is based on the knowledge and experience acquired over a lifetime. The ability to recognize those situations that place you in harm’s way can also be learned from other, more experienced people and by attending training programs that teach threat recognition.
Nowhere does the need to be able to recognize danger apply more than when you venture into the outdoors. Being able to recognize warning signs enables you to see what’s coming and then step back from the brink before the hazards threaten your life. Threats to your safety might include inclement weather, dangerous terrain, wild animal attack and many other circumstances.
Certain verses Potential harm. Be able to differentiate between those situations that are going to affect you right now, and those that are not as immediate but will still have to be confronted. Certain harm, for example, is finding yourself in a crashed plane that will explode when the ruptured fuel tank ignites. Or perhaps, you find yourself in an avalanche chute with a cornice above that is about to break loose. Potential harm, on the other hand, could be the onset of inclement weather later in the day or the lack of water in an arid area.
swamp Self Rescue: When Staying Put to Survive Isn’t an OptionRising water could be a potential danger, and not an immediate, critical concern.
Taking Action: When faced with a sudden, life-threatening situation, any immediate action in the direction of safety is better than deciding on the best action that comes too late!  John Leach, author of Survival Psychology,writes: “In an emergency, 75% of people have to be told what to do. Only 10-15% of the people act appropriately leaving the remaining 10-15% sitting on the sidelines acting inappropriately!”  Those in the top 15% had prepared for the events that they found themselves in.

The Steps to Self-rescue 

Immediate life-threat recognition and action: When your life’s on the line, you must act immediately. You won’t have time to think. Whether you live or die depends on what you did to prepare for this moment. If you’ve never thought through what you might do, “when bad things happen”. you are more likely to panic and take what you hope is the best course of action but often isn’t.
Assuming you can extricate yourself from the event that precipitated the crisis situation, your first step is to deal with any life-threatening medical conditions. That includes your medical condition and the medical condition of any others.  Take care of yourself first. Are you bleeding severely? If so, that needs to be taken care of quickly, using first aid. Next, check the accident scene to locate other people who may need immediate help.
Is the site safe?  Do you need to move to a safer area?  Once you have control of the medical issues and area safety, then you can sit back and catch your breath.
Don’t Panic. Easy to say but difficult to do!  Comedian George Carlin once commented, “We should teach people to panic because that what they are going to do in an emergency!”  There may be some truth to Carlin’s observation, but I would suggest people be taught, “The onset of panic is a normal reaction. It’s what happens the moment you realize that you’re in trouble”.
At that moment, adrenaline floods though your system putting you into a fight-or-flight mode.  This is your body’s instinctive way of handling danger: either fight it or run away from it.
survival compass bad weather fire gear 002 300x200 Self Rescue: 
When Staying Put to Survive Isn’t an OptionCarry survival gear in your wallet. I always have (from left) firestarter, charcloth (in a waterproof, plastic bag) and a signal mirror with me.
Out-of-control panic must be avoided, however.  The steps you take to protect yourself from this moment on can make a huge difference in the final situation outcome. Recognize the threats to your safety, and then either remove yourself from the situation or remove the threat.
As dangerous as things can become, you are seldom in a situation where you can’t take just a second or two to think before you act, but you must act.
Coping with a crisis depends heavily on the preparations you have made before your life is on the line. Put another way, a person will do what they have been trained to do when they are in trouble, and if they haven’t been trained, they have nothing to guide them to take the correct action.
Assess your resources.  All of the resources you are going to have to work with are those you arrive with, plus whatever you might obtain from the environment you’re in.  Despite the advice given in most survival manuals and that advice provided by such dubious survival experts as “Survivorman” and Bear Grylls of “Man verses Wild,” you should never believe you’ll be able to gather what you need.
Go through your pockets and inventory your possessions.  Inventory the contents of your vehicle.  What do you have that will enable you to start a fire, erect a shelter and signal for help? Hopefully, you will have emergency equipment (survival kit) available that will enable you to do what you need to do to survive.
Evaluate the environment.  Find and identify the available natural resources that you can build shelter from.  Is there fuel available to build and maintain a fire?  Is water available?  Are there materials present with which to signal for help?
Make a tentative plan. The object is to remove yourself from the survival situation and return to your family and friends as quickly and safely as possible.  At this point, it is very important to be totally honest with yourself and develop a realistic plan with a high likelihood of success.  It is very easy to allow the desire for comfort and companionship to override what may be a better decision: stay where you are.
Ego, especially with men, often gets in the way.  They often grossly overestimate their ability to travel to a distant destination and also grossly underestimate the distance to that destination!  Not a good combination!
Do you know where you are relative to the availability of help?  What time of day is it?  Is it too late to try to walk out today?  Would it be better to hole up for the night and re-evaluate the situation in the morning?  Did you let someone know where you were going and when you would be back?  If so, you can be assured that help will come.  Be patient and allow yourself to be rescued rather than attempting to rescue yourself.  It’s safer.
Step by step, plan your moves:   At least, plan the first few moves because you might not be able to see the entire journey.  Decide what you are going to do and when you are going to do it. Is your physical condition such that you can safely accomplish the overland travel you are planning?  If it is, do you have the clothing you need to protect yourself from the weather conditions that exist?  Do you know where you are going?  Do you have the energy that you will need to get to your destination?  Do you have the navigation equipment you need to reach that destination safely?  If you can answer all of these questions in the affirmative, without letting wishful thinking cloud your decision-making ability, then your next step is to:
Plan contingencies.  Make alternative plans for foreseeable problems.  Anticipate the problems that might arise as you rescue yourself.  These problems may include changes in the weather, rougher terrain than you expected, heavy vegetation, overestimating your ability to negotiate the terrain you encounter and other issues. By thinking ahead, you may already have a solution to the predicaments you may face.
“Do” the plan in your head. Before you start, walk through your plan step-by-step.  Review each stage of the plan objectively, realistically and with an eye for anything you may have forgotten.  Ask yourself, “Can I really do this or is it my impatience and desire to be back with my family that is making me want to “get home?”  If you can’t “do” the plan in your head it won’t work on the mountain!  Revise your plan.  Find alternatives to those parts of the plan you have doubts about and when you are comfortable with it:
Execute the plan. When all is in order, put your plan into action.  Do not let the concerns of others, the promises you made to be home by a certain time, the desire to go for help or any other issue influence your choice of action. Your decision to self-rescue should not be driven by panic or an overwhelming desire just to “get-out-of-here!
Deciding to self-rescue must be based on a thorough, comprehensive, objective review of your situation.  In the final analysis, even if it looks like you can “do-the-plan”, the best choice might still be to sit tight and let the rescuers come to you!
© 2010, thesurvivalmom. All rights reserved.

Fried Rice: Rice Food Storage Recipes

fried rice
This recipe is so good that I don’t even wait until I have leftover rice to make it! Sometimes, I’ll just pressure cook up some rice and serve it with pot stickers from Costco. So easy, so fun, and SO DELICIOUS!
FRIED RICE (Chinese Leftovers)
3 green onions cut on the diagonal thin (part tops too)
3 C Cold cooked rice
3 oz or 1/3 C Pork (or try for 1 Cup chopped left over meat about like ham, pork, chicken
1/2 C raw chopped shrimp-optional (If you use drained canned shrimp, decrease the salt)
left over cooked vegetables like peas and carrots (Optional)
3 Eggs, whisked (Sorry, no powdered egg conversion for this…it doesn’t work well)
4 T oil
1 T soy sauce
If using raw shrimp, dip in 1 tsp corn starch and fry in 2 T oil. Cook until done and remove from Wok or frying pan.
You may want to crisp other meat too.
Add the Eggs, Oil, and Soy Sauce and beat together. Add to hot wok, when it starts to set, add meat, rice, vegetables, 2 tsp salt, toss, add green onions, toss and serve.

Creating a Pantry

Preserved food.Image via Wikipedia
Article Courtesy of Striving Simply

Creating a Pantry

Lately, my pantry has been getting pretty cramped. Since it's about time that we reevaluate our storage system, I've decided to talk about creating a useful pantry.

When we lived in our apartment, we had a gorgeous pantry closet. We actually put my brother in there to sleep when he stayed with us - it was that big. It was right off the kitchen, too. And what did I keep in there? Boxes with nothing in them, a bike, and furniture we didn't want. Now, when I think back, I kick myself. People would have killed for that space! But, when we moved into our house, we found a solution that worked for us.

Step 1: Identify a Space
Finding a good space for your pantry needs is really important. For example, you do not want to put your food storage into your attic - it's way too hot. Make sure the temperature is on the cool side, no more than 80 degrees at any given time. You also want to be able to get to it easily. Don't create your pantry where you have to push loads of toys and boxes out of the way to get to the food.

For us, we had an empty closet under the stairs that the previous owner had built. SurvivalMom has her food storage in a spare bedroom. Other people use the tops of closets and underneath of beds. I've even seen people put #10 cans behind couches. It's all up to you to decide where you can store items and be able to use them regularly.

Step 2: Create a Menu
I learned how to build a pantry from Safely Gathered In. I created a menu for two weeks worth of meals: chili, chicken parmesan, tacos, stir-fry, etc. Make sure these are meals you actually like to eat regularly. Also, be sure they are nutritionally complete. Don't forget fruits and vegetables. Beans and rice get very boring after a while. Start with a dinner menu and work your way up to breakfast and lunch menus.

Then, I created a sheet in Google Docs detailing the ingredients needed for the meals, and tallying how many cans, boxes, and bags of those ingredients I'd need for three months worth of food.

Step 3: Create a Storage System
Given that *B* and I had just bought a house and are still in varying stages of school, we are living pretty frugally. I could not afford to go out and buy nice shelving. So we decided to build our pantry out of 2"x12"s and cinder blocks. It turned out well, and in an emergency, the pantry can be broken down for building materials. For you, though, it might be more useful to buy plastic or metal shelves. Or maybe you have old, very sturdy bookcases lying around.

Whatever you use, it must be stable and able to bear a good amount of weight. You do not want to hear a loud crash in the middle of the night and come down to see your canned food busted open and flour everywhere. Don't put supplies directly against concrete. Raise things off the floor and keep them away from non-insulated walls. Temperature variations wreak havoc on food storage.

Step 4: Start Buying Supplies
It was just our luck that a few weeks after we moved in, our local grocery store had a customer appreciation sale. I was able to get Del Monte canned veggies at 50 cents a can. I bought 20 cans of each corn, peas, and green beans. Again, I can't stress this enough: buy food your family will eat. Don't go nuts buying canned beats if no one will touch them. However, if they like them, go for it.

Aside from shopping the sales, pick up a little bit of food for the pantry every time you go to the grocery store. When I go on my regular shopping trip, and I see that canned fruits are on sale, I'll pick up anywhere from 2 to 6 cans depending on what I need. Occasionally, we go to Costco to get bulk items like flour, sugars, and rice.

Supplies don't just mean food. Gamma buckets are the love of my life. They store my rice, sugar, and flour. Keep extra toilet paper and paper towels. Stock up on cold medications and basic first aid supplies. It's handy to have extra tin foil, saran wrap, wax paper, laundry detergent, and propane. For those of you who have kids or have family with kids, throw a box or two of diapers in there. I also store ammo (not in my pantry, but elsewhere). Think about your needs and plan appropriately.

Step 5: ROTATE!
I cannot stress this enough. If you do not rotate your food, you are wasting money. Everything that you eat and like, rotate it through. In my pantry, we take food from the front left and add food to the back right of each item. Check dates when you buy food and keep an eye on them as you eat your supplies. Also, keep a tally of what gets eaten when. Have you had that same box of pancake mix in there for six months? Don't buy more. You can't keep cereal on the shelves? Pick up a little bit more at a time.

There are ways to get rid of food other than eating it or throwing it away though. Say, for example, you buy a case (12 cans) of canned potatoes. You open one can and decide you don't like the texture. Donate it to a food bank. You bought too much for your family to eat and you're three months before the expiration date? Donate it. There are starving people out there who would love our discards.

Step 6: Make it Your Own
As time goes on, living off of a pantry should be less a survival tool and more a way of life. Stock it with your family's favorites. Don't forget sweets - it's really nice to be able to make a cake or brownies without having to go to the store. And during times of crisis (personal, national, or otherwise) those comfort foods are wonderful. Remember to stock up on foods for sick days like crackers and Gatorade. I had the flu this winter and lived off of Club crackers, Gatorade, and Spaghetti O's from my pantry. I wasn't able to drag myself to the store or stomach regular food, but this worked for me. Don't make a pantry to the specifications of others, because no one else will have to use your provisions but you.

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