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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.

I'm Getting a Pig

October 11th, 2017 at 05:17 pm

Not one to raise, thank you very much, one for the freezer. A woman on my farm group is selling pork and originally she was just selling halves, but she was offering them $250 for a half. That includes slaughter, cut, and wrap as well. So I asked if it was possible I could get a whole one for $500 and she said absolutely. The hanging weight on one she just did was 130 lbs per half, so 260 pounds after all the waste is removed.

It could be as little as 200 pounds, but at just 200 pounds it still works out to $2.50 a pound. At 260 pounds it works out to $1.92 a pound. So the likelihood is somewhere in between the two, but maybe it'll be a bigger one, as she said they were getting rid of the feed burners first, which tend to be the biggest ones.

And they were fed a soy free diet, which is important with my daughter's soy allergies. You are what your food eats. What they were fed was barley, whey, corn, and vegetables. So I am pretty happy, even if it is not organic.

With this purchase I feel like we can go at least 9 months without having to buy beef or pork, possibly even a year without having to buy pork unless we run out of bacon. Well, we might run out of hamburger, too, but I can get a big box of that for $300 if it comes down to it. It makes me feel much more secure. I will be canning a lot of the pork, just because we mostly like pulled pork for various recipes. We still don't have enough chicken, but I've been working on that. We have plenty of fish and plenty of rabbit.

I'll be canning squash, too. I wish I could can it pureed, but that is not considered safe. I have to can it in chunks. But squash can sit for months before it has to be dealt with. I know we'll be fine when it comes to food now. It is just everything else that I still have to worry about.

Planning for November and December

October 6th, 2017 at 12:58 pm

I did the math and I think I've got a fairly good grasp on where things are right now. If DH works through the 20th, which is what they are thinking right now we will come out of things with about $7000 once all bills are met for October. If he goes through the original end date of the 26th it'll be around $10,000. If it goes longer, and with DH's experience with these things winding down, it often goes a lot longer than the PIC's think it will with all the last minute stuff that has to be done, then we will have more. Who knows?

Right now, though, I can guarantee $7000 for November and December. One silver lining is that they are paying his return home ticket, because they really aren't firm on his last day and there is no way he can buy a ticket without a firm date. So they will buy him his last minute final ticket.

That $7000 should cover all of November's expenses, plus some of December's. We do have to pay for my daughter's tooth implant, which will be $650 and my son has to get wisdom teeth x-rays to see if they need to be removed or not. If they do, that'll probably be $1000. It was $800 when my daughter had hers out 5 or 6 years ago, so I am assuming inflation.

So I'm not sure how far into December that $7000 will go, due to those upcoming expenses, but at least a little ways, before we will have to touch the Emergency Fund. If he can work until the 26th I think we can do 2 full months without having to touch savings.

We are going on lock down for expenses after October. No eating out, no computer games or downloadable music or all the things DH and the kids like to nickel and dime. No allowances for the kids. Just basic expenses and a jacket for my husband. The kids and I all have coats now and good shoes. No snow boots, but my work boots are insulated and we usually only have snow for a few weeks.

DD and I got our coats through a coupon that if you spend $100, you get $50 off. Our two coats together came to $137 so we got the $50 off, bringing the cost to $87 or $43.50 each. Both jackets are waterproof and warm and we got them big enough that we can wear sweaters underneath if they need to be warmer. They cost a little more since they are both plus size and waterproof.

DS got his on a clearance sale from JC Penney. Original cost was $120, but it was on a 50% off sale, which brought the price down to $60, but I had a gift card I'd earned from something a while back, so that was $20 off, and then when they rang it up after that it came out as just under $30 not $40, so I think there was an additional discount somewhere or else they made a mistake. Or it is possible they were doing the no sales tax weekend.

DH will probably have to order his from a magazine unless Freddy's has his size. He has a hard time finding coats that fit as he has a very long back and broad shoulders and needs a plus size as well. So probably the big and tall magazine.

I am determined that we all focus on weight loss during this job loss. I think that we all ate our emotions during the last one. Well, my son isn't in the same shape as the rest of us and he's already been working on losing weight and building muscle so I think he will just be happy to have the rest of us along. I have been trying, but it is just so much easier for me to have the whole family on board.

DH and I have been talking about school. If he doesn't find another job soon, we may just have to suck it up, take out loans and have him get his BA in electrical engineering. I hate the idea of student loans with a passion. We didn't use them the first time around and I hate to use them now, but his 20 years of experience and an AS and several glowing letters of recommendation seem to hold no weight to hiring people who think the expensive piece of paper that says BS on it is the end all and be all of life.

I don't know, we'll figure it out.

Adding to Our Food Storage in Preparation for Job Loss

September 26th, 2017 at 08:14 pm

I spent the day canning and as much work as it is, I now have an additional 24 pints of potatoes on the shelves and Mom has 8 for her. It goes a lot faster when two people are doing the work, but even so we were at it for 4 hours with only a five minute break.

I hope to do 20 more pounds in a couple of days, but it depends on whether they have any at the no-spray farm or not. I am still trying to track down more green beans as I'd like to put up another 20 pounds. And I'll need to track down some sweet meat squash as I did not grow any this year, though I've got acorn squash growing. That doesn't keep for 10 months, though, just a few. Sweet meat keeps a long time.

I put in a pretty large order of freeze dried foods. I've been cooking with some of that fairly frequently, especially the chopped onions, celery, carrots, and bell peppers. I find it much easier on days that I have arthritis flare ups or exhaustion caused by the auto immune stuff, that I can still cook without having to peel and chop things, I just have to rehydrate it first.

I will probably do one more order next month when their semi-annual sale is on. That is the time to order the freeze-dried meats because the discount is substantial. They work great in chili, spaghetti, and tacos. And in soups. I like this company a lot as it is all non-GMO certified with almost everything coming from North America, most of it the US.

I'll have to put it on hold after that until DH gets another job. We should be able to pretty much weather six months without having to go to the grocery store except for greens once the garden dies.