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Emergency Fund Update

August 2nd, 2019 at 03:03 pm

I don't take money out of the Emergency Fund often, and I certainly don't like to, but sometimes life hands you some serious Murphy and that is what the EF is for. It's been a rough week, but everyone is still alive, so I'll leave it at that.

$4625.77 Balance Forward
-_746.80 Amount Withdrawn
---------
$3878.97 New Balance

Massive Grocery Shop Plus Some Food Rambling

May 4th, 2019 at 02:56 pm

I went and did the two week grocery shop, but I also stocked up on a lot of chicken. I went to four stores in one day and boy is my body telling me I overdid it today. Although it might also have to do with some weeding last night.

Safeway has boneless skinless thighs (and breasts) on sale for $2.99 a pound in my area. I was going to get some bone in skin on chicken elsewhere for 88 cents a pound, but they were all out of it and didn't have more in the back, which was annoying.

It is cheaper to do it myself, but my hands are bugging me and I didn't want to deal with pulling skins off and working the bone out while keeping the most meat possible intact. Since $2.99 is my buy price for boneless/skinless chicken thighs, I bought 8 of them. They were around 4 pounds each. So today we will haul out the Food Saver and divide them up into 8 piece packages and take most of them out to the deep freezer in the garage.

My first stop was Trader Joe's and I spent $96.51. I bought:

2 boxes maple pecan granola cereal
1 chive and onion cream cheese
4 frozen chicken fettuccine Alfredo
4 frozen mac and cheese dinners
2 bags flour tortillas
1 box fish nuggets
3 bags garlic naan bread
1 box peanut butter granola bars
1 bag (of six) large hamburger buns (no soy!)
2 packs Co-Jack cheese sticks
1 4 lb bag organic gold potatoes
1 5 lb bag organic russet potatoes
4 boxes chocolate truffle bars (no soy!)
1 organic Caesar salad kit (they were out of plain romaine)
1 bag organic baby spinach

Our next stop was Fred Meyer were I spent $50.47. I bought:

2 Simply Strawberry lemonades (digital coupon)
2 Simply lemonades (digital coupon)
4 boxes organic fettuccine noodles (cheaper than normal ones on sale)
2 bags English muffins
2 bunches organic green onions
2 organic red onions
6 organic yellow onions
1 bunch organic bananas
4 containers Pringles (on sale 2 for $3)
4 organic lemons
2 organic limes
1 large container cubed watermelon

Then we hustled across the street to Whole Foods where I bought only 4 items, but the meat was expensive. I spent $41.37 and I bought:

1/2 pound of uncured pepperoni
1 pound of uncured sopresatta
1 box organic strawberries
4 strawberry mochi

After that we went to Safeway and spent $145.16 and bought:

4 boxes of organic spaghetti noodles
1 box of organic lasagna noodles
1 big bag of ice
1 1/2 gallon of milk
1 package organic white cheddar cheese slices
1 box of Vital Farms pastured eggs
1 10 count box of cupcakes
8 packages of boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 pounds of wild cod (on sale for $5/lb)
1 pound of Dietz and Watson deli roast beef
1 pound of Dietz and Waston deli homestyle roasted turkey

The total on groceries spent is $333.51. That leaves me with $66.49 in the grocery budget for next week if I need to pick up milk, tortillas, or more deli meat.

I should not have to buy any more noodles for a couple of months as the noodle cupboard is fully stocked. I also don't need to buy any spaghetti sauce for a few months as I finished stocking that up the previous pay period. We eat pasta once a week, because it is fast and easy in the Instant Pot. I have learned how to do penné, bow ties, rotini, spaghetti, and fettuccine all in the Instant Pot and have been pretty pleased with the results.

I like having a three month supply of everything in the house in case of emergency situations. Then of course my extended pantry for six months of food which got us through those 10 months of unemployment a while back. My ultimate goal is a year's supply, but that takes a lot of time to build.

I need to make up a big batch of meatballs again for the freezer and then it will be even easier to just pour and dump the whole thing. I have to get DS to shred the parmesan and romano for me, though. That is the hardest part for my hands. We like it at powder consistency, otherwise I'd use the food processor or salad shooter, but the little cheese mill is all we have for it.

I am thinking about getting an electric cheese mill, but it is around $100. We do eat a lot of powdered cheese, though, and the only way to get it without the anti-caking agents is to do it ourselves. So it might be worth it. I haven't spent the majority of my allowance in ages so there is quite a bit built up in the allowance envelope. Also we have $100 from MIL that we could use to buy it from our anniversary in March. We hadn't figured out what we wanted, though I was thinking about an electric flatbread press for making tortillas and pita bread easier. I need to watch more videos of people using them and see if they are really worth the price. Does anyone here use one?

Sinking Funds Vs. Emergency Fund (for Amber)

April 23rd, 2019 at 04:07 pm

Amber was asking on her last post about how much is too much to save in your sinking funds and was it necessary to do that when you had an emergency fund, after listening to some speaker who did not think they were. My answer got so long I decided to just make it into my own post.

As for the sinking funds, they are very necessary. To me the emergency fund is for true emergencies, not the expected expenses that can come up over the course of a year or two. Emergencies like a tree falling on your house, flooding taking out the bottom floor of your house, a car accident that puts you in the hospital due to an uninsured motorist, your car engine just dying for no discernible reason, or losing your job and not being able to find work for six months (or longer). Not for the things you can really plan for.

What a person might do is sit down and figure out how much they really need in each fund. As for the house repair fund, I'd work towards having enough in there to replace your roof. It may be several years before you need to, but those are very expensive. You probably need to eventually have saved up $7 to $10K for that, which should also cover lesser things like painting, faucet or toilet repairs, deck or porch repairs, etc. Maybe more if you want to be replacing your carpets or windows at some point.

The amount in your car maintenance fund should probably be figured by how old your vehicle is and whether or not you have any large repairs that might be coming up. For me, my van is coming up on 8 years old and will likely need new brakes when we hit 50,000 miles, which is 5000 miles away. It is also probably going to need new tires at about the 60,000 mile mark. So I am working towards saving up about $2000 for that over the next two years. We don't put that much mileage on the van. We might need to replace a belt or a fuel pump along the way as we haven't had to so far.

I have an Appliance Fund in case one of those things go out. How old is your fridge, your dishwasher, your stove, and your washer and dryer? Having the money to go for that is a good idea if your appliances are old.

And of course having sinking funds for your car insurance, sorority dues, HOA dues if you have that, and any other six month or yearly expenses is just smart planning.

Having enough in a medical fund to pay your deductible for the year is a tremendous relief. To not get smacked upside the head with emergency medical expenses and have to worry about shelling out a bunch of money you do not have is life-altering. It is so much better than having to scrape for 3 to 12 months to get it all paid off and is worth it's weight in gold.

It is all about being prepared so these things don't destroy your finances. So figure out what works for you. Do not listen to pundits who are there to make a quick buck and may not have the facts and figures to back them up. Use common sense and logic and listen to people who have been there and who have done that instead.

For CreditCardFree on Thrive Life

March 26th, 2018 at 03:55 pm

CreditCardFree asked me to talk about Thrive Life freeze-dried foods, what I like, what I don't, what I use, and whether or not it really saves money.

I think it would be easier for me to say what products I don't like than what I do like, since I have liked almost everything I have tried. I dislike their instant potatoes. I find the texture to be a little rubbery and unless you season the heck out of them they have no flavor. I don't like the asparagus, it reconstitutes to be very mushy. I don't like the Passionfruit yogurt bites. I don't care for the larger chicken slices and the larger beef slices, as I think it takes far too long for them to reconstitute, longer than claimed.

The small beef and small chicken I like a lot, as well as the ground beef crumbles and the sausage crumbles. I have not tried any of the vegetarian meat products.

What I use most are the onions, the bell peppers, the chili peppers, the potato dices, the celery, the carrots, the green onions and the sweet corn. The sweet corn tastes like candy and we often eat it right from the can like popcorn.

I use the sour cream powder a lot. I have wasted so much sour cream over the years, so to be able to make out the exact amount per recipe with none leftover to mold in the fridge has saved us quite a bit. I also like their instant milk, for those days when we run out and I need a cup for making potatoes or something. I love the butter powder, too, because we have also run out of butter on occasion. I can just make up as much as we need or put some in a recipe.

I also use their seasoning blends, sauce mixes, bouillons, and tomato powder (which is in place of using tomato paste). They have no MSG or other suspect ingredients in these, which is amazing for bouillon. Less occasionally I use the kale and spinach in soups. We love the yogurt bites in vanilla, cherry, strawberry, pomegranate, and blueberry. That's one of my favorite things, actually, as I hate the texture of regular yogurt and I can just eat these straight without adding water and the texture issue isn't there.

I do use the freeze-dried fruit, but I haven't quit buying regular fruit. My kids like the fruit a lot and eat it as is. I think it is great for putting into cereal or muffins, but I don't care to just snack on it.

Most of the veggies are good. I like the broccoli, green beans (though I prefer my home canned), zucchini, and cauliflower. My husband likes the mushrooms (I can't eat mushrooms). The sweet potatoes and butternut squash are pretty good. Nothing is going to be crisp with freeze-dried and dehydrated foods, so I usually use fresh veggies for stir-fries, and these go into casseroles and egg bakes. My MIL likes eating the cauliflower straight out of the can.

Their instant brown rice and instant white rice we use on occasion. They are good, but I'm not sure they are any better than minute rice. I do like the fact that they have some instant beans. My son raves about the multi-grain pancake mix.

I do see some money saving. Because I am not having to peel anything, I am not paying for the weight of the part of the food that gets peeled off and thrown away. It is already cut up into the right size, so I am not having to spend time cutting up onions or other veggies, which saves my hands. With the RA, my hands often hurt too much to peel and chop, so that is a meal saver on those days. It doesn't have the chance to rot in the fridge before I can use it, so I'm not then having to pay to throw it away.

I tend to buy the products that are more pricey when they go on sale. They have different products on sale each month and then they do two semi-annual sales a year that have almost everything discounted. They have one day flash sales once in a while as well. The meat and the yogurt are most expensive so I only buy those when they are on sale and the same with the more expensive fruits (raspberries, grapes, cherries, pears). The rest is pretty well-priced and if you buy more than $100 on the monthly delivery program the shipping is free.

I don't buy the Simple Plates, which are the pre-made meal kits. I think they are expensive for what they are. They are meant to compete with things like Blue Apron and Freshly. While I got several when I got my consultant starter kit, most of them have mushrooms mixed in with the rest of the veggies, so I can't eat them. The family has liked what they have tried, but I wouldn't purchase them myself.

They do have some starter packs called Chef Kits that come in a set for $105 and come with recipes and you can make several recipes from each kit. They have a Southwest Chicken Kit, a Ground Beef Kit, and a Pulled Pork Kit. A lot of people like to start off with those so they can make a few meals and see if they like them. Or they have variety packs of vegetables, fruits, yogurts, and cheese which brings the price down a bit.

I seldom buy their cheese, but when their Parmesan or Monteray Jack goes on sale I will get some if I am out. Those we use so little of that it is not worth buying from the store because it'll go bad before we can use it all. But cheddar and mozzarella I still buy fresh as it is cheaper.

What it is great for is the shelf-life. Most products are one year after being opened, with three exceptions, the ham, the turkey, and the pulled pork. The ham is awful anyway. I forgot to say that I didn't like the ham. It didn't taste like ham to me, just pork and not well flavored. Unopened products have a shelf-life of 25 years, so there is that.

So like all things, you have to comparison shop and get some items on sale. But it has been worth it for me to save my hands a lot of work.

For everything you buy, you get points and after you get enough points you can cash them in for free product. As a consultant I also get a commission off of anyone's purchase from my website:

Text is https://www.thrivelife.com/luckyrobinshomestead and Link is
https://www.thrivelife.com/luckyrobinshomestead. If anyone signs up for the monthly delivery (which requires a $25 purchase each month) I get a larger percentage commission and if people sign up to be consultants under me I get a percentage of their sales. It only goes four levels so it is not an unending pyramid. As a consultant I am required to spend $50 a month, which I more than spend anyway. I also have the expense of the website which is $10 a month. But I so far have been making about $60 each month. I don't really work the business, though. I have a couple people that purchase each month. I get a little business from my youtube channel, but I don't do parties or anything. If I did, I could make a lot more, but this is more passive for me.

Anyway, I hope that answered all of your questions and if not, let me know and I will try to answer any more you have.

Food Preservation and Preparation Plan for 2018

January 11th, 2018 at 12:15 am

I've been working on a comprehensive list of what I am going to grow, can, dehydrate, freeze, and purchase this year for food. The freeze-dried list is for long-term food storage as we are working on building a 1 year supply for four people. It might take us more than one year to build that supply, though. Some people might think that is nuts, but you know, we did not need to worry about food at all for the ten months DH was unemployed and I really liked that. Of course, if DH's job doesn't last past mid-March, then buying all of the freeze-dried food will be put on hold.

The other is food for the year and in the case of green beans, some extra. We had a bad bean year last year all over the county because of the weather being irregular and I didn't plant any last year, either. Fortunately, I had canned enough in 2015 and 2016 to have plenty for 2017, but we are running low and it is one of my go-to veggies, so I plan to do extra.

What I plan to can:

Green beans--156 quarts (half cut, half French-style)
Yukon gold potatoes--104 quarts
Diced Tomatoes--52 pints
Radishes--7 pints
Parsnips--28 pints
Carrots--52 pints
Celery--52 pints
Italian Plums--14 quarts (more if tree produces more)
Pears--102 quarts
Strawberry Jelly--24 pints
Bumbleberry Jelly--6 half-pints
Dandelion Jelly--6 pints
Apricots--24 pints
Blueberry Pie Filling--14 quarts
Apple Pie Filling--7 quarts
Peaches--28 quarts
Rabbit--52 quarts
Chicken--52 pints
Beef Chunks--52 quarts
Salmon--21 pints or 42 half-pints
Ham--14 half-pints
Ground Beef--30 pints
Lamb--7 quarts
Beef broth--21 quarts
Turkey/Chicken broth--52 quarts
Rabbit Broth--52 quarts
Onion Stock--21 quarts

What I plan to freeze:
Gold Rush Zucchini--40 packages
Onions--30 packages sliced
Bell Peppers--52 packages sliced
Poblanos--1 gallon, diced
Jalapenos--2 gallons, diced
Snow peas--25 packages
1/2 a beef
1 whole hog
1 whole lamb
30 whole chickens
2 whole turkeys
120 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
80 pounds ground turkey (1 lb packages)
200 pounds of rabbit meat

Dehydrating Plan:
1 quart sweet basil
1 pint Thai basil
1 pint sage
1 quart powdered oregano
4 quarts diced garlic (will make powder as needed from this)
4 quarts diced ginger (will make powder as needed from this)
1/2 pint of thyme
1 pint of marjoram
1 pint of rosemary
1 quart Italian parsley
1 quart curly parsley
1 pint cilantro
2 quarts bee balm petals
2 quarts bee balm leaves
2 quarts calendula petals
2 quarts whole calendula flowers
2 quarts Echinacea
2 quarts yarrow
2 quarts comfrey
1 pint celery powder
2 quarts celery leaves
2 quarts raspberry leaves

Freeze Dried Food Plan:

6 #10 cans of sausage crumbles
6 #10 cans of ground beef crumbles
12 #10 cans of small diced beef
6 #10 cans of chicken dices
24 #10 cans of onion dices
6 #10 cans of mixed bell peppers
6 #10 cans of white flour
6 #10 cans of whole wheat flour
6 #10 cans of celery
6 #10 cans of carrot dices
6 #10 cans of yogurt bites (pomegranate and black cherry)
6 #10 cans of instant white rice
6 #10 cans of instant brown rice
6 #10 cans of pure cane sugar
6 #10 cans of brown sugar
2 pantry cans of Instant dry yeast
6 #10 cans of potato dices

I am debating on whether or not I will grow squash or not, other than zucchini. It takes up a lot of space and is very cheap to buy, so probably not.

Draining Week

November 18th, 2017 at 11:43 pm

The funeral on Wednesday was beautiful. I was able to speak, which was a good thing, because neither DH nor SIL could manage, though MIL did. I got a lot of compliments on what I said, which was nice, because I did not go in with a prepared speech. I don't like speaking in public, but I didn't feel it could go by without one of us saying something.

My favorite of DH's cousins did not attend. Her grandson, who is only 5, has a brain tumor. They biopsied on Tuesday and found out it is a very aggressive cancer and the tumor was the size of a tennis ball. Wednesday he had the surgery to remove it and they were able to get it all, but they still had to see if it had spread to the bloodstream. I am at such a loss. I am so tired of cancer hitting my family. This year has been a horror.

I am still pretty sick, but Thursday was my worst day. I think I have turned the corner with this cold, but I've been wrong before and gone on a second downswing. Hopefully not this time, though. Unfortunately, both kids are down with it, and DH started sneezing like crazy today. He's dosing on vitamin C. I hope he can keep going, because I am not at the stage where I can do any of the household or farm chores. Well, I did manage to fold one load of towels and one of clothes and then had to rest before I could put them away.

DH's interview was on Friday. He was supposed to be interviewed by two people, but the second one had a death in the family and couldn't be there. So the first guy said he needed to talk to the second guy when he gets back and see if he felt he needed to interview DH, too, or just go based on the first guy's opinion. He wanted to know if DH could start immediately, so I guess that is promising, but I'm not getting my hopes up yet.

DH and I went down to pick up our turkey today. We asked for one in the 13 to 16 pound range when we ordered a few months ago, and it is 15.07 pounds. I also picked up some sausage since we didn't get any with our pork. They had chorizo, which I was excited about, because I've never been able to find a chorizo without some bad additives in it. So one day next week I will make chorizo con huevoes with rice for dinner. Or possibly for breakfast with cauliflower rice.

I also picked up some roasts for canning. The roasts from our beef all have bones in them and I like them for pot roast dinners, anyway. But I want to can some meat for stews and chuck roasts available at the farm have no bones so are easier to cut up. In the winter I like to have stew once a week and we've been out of canned beef for a couple of months now.

We're also going to juice up a bunch of the apples we got when we went to the orchard a while back. I clearly got too many. If I juice it, I can can it and it will be shelf stable. That is a relatively easy task, but it will still have to wait until I feel decent enough to do it.

I was really hoping to do a better job at blogging with daily blogs this month, but I just haven't had the energy, so catch up posts a couple times a week are just going to have to do it for now.







Picked up Our Pork Order--Breakdown on Cuts

October 20th, 2017 at 05:28 pm

We picked up the majority of our pork order today. The hanging weight on the hog (the amount after it has been gutted) was 245 pounds, so at $500 it worked out to $2.04 per pound. The bacon, ham, and sausage links will not be ready for another 7 to 10 days. Curing takes longer.

So anyone who has not purchased this way before can get an idea of what you get, this is what we have so far.

6 packages of spare ribs (at least 4 pounds each)
2 loin roasts (at least 2 pounds each)
3 shoulder roasts (at least 4 pounds each)
42 pounds ground pork
12 packages of pork chops (48 chops)
4 packages of pork steaks (16 steaks)

What is to come:

42 pounds of sausage links
I'm not sure how much bacon, but quite a bit
4 hams

Now they told me that each hog has 2 hams of about 17 to 18 pounds. I am having each ham cut in half, so they should be 8 to 9 pounds each. Every time we make up a ham, I will can the excess in cubes in pints and half-pints. Then on pizza night, a half-pint will be perfect and on ham and potato soup night a pint will be perfect.

Actually, come to think of it, I am supposed to be getting some shanks, too. They were not in what I got today. I thought I had told them not cure those, but I can't remember for sure and they might have done so, which would explain why I didn't get them today. Curing will make them ham-like, too. No big deal if they were cured, but I need to remember to make sure they are in the second half of the order.

I am going to be making jam and pie filling with a lot of the frozen berries that were in the freezer. I needed to get them out of the way for the pork. A lot of these berries are from last year. I plan to make strawberry jam, blueberry pie filling, blackberry jam, and maybe bumbleberry jam, too (which is a combo of blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, and blueberry). Or syrup. We'll see. And then if I can find the frozen plums, plum sauce and plum butter.

But strawberry is first up, because it is DH's favorite, we're out, and he keeps buying it. He won't have to do that if we make it at home and keeping him out of the grocery store is always beneficial to our budget.