Why your family should have a stockpile

Do you have a stockpile? You’d be surprised at the number of families that don’t. It has been estimated that the average family has only a 3 day supply of food and water in their home. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that if a big emergency happened, that those families would be in trouble.

canned bottles with picked cucumbers and tomatoes on shelves

It might sound crazy, but in reality, you should keep at least 6 months on hand. Why? Let’s look at why your family should have a stockpile. I’m positive that by the end of this post, you’ll see that you do in fact need one and hopefully will start building yours!

Why Your Family Needs a Stockpile –

How long have you been with your employer? A few years? A few weeks? Great! Now tell me when the last time they downsized was? A few years? Yesterday? Jobs today, especially blue-collar jobs, are not as secure as they once were.

In the event of job loss

What would happen to your family if you lost your job and only had a 3 day supply of food? Before too long you’d have a very hungry family. Sure you could go get assistance, but even on assistance, a lot of families aren’t able to feed their families because the amount of help they receive isn’t enough.

In the event of bad weather

How about this scenario? Do you live in a weather-prone area? I mean things like winter storms, hurricanes, or flooding? What would happen to your family if you were trapped in your home for days on end due to bad weather?

Would you go hungry? Would the baby have enough diapers? Would the puppy be eating table scraps (provided there were any left).

It is for your own protection

It might sound a bit crazy to you, but having a stockpile of food and other items your family uses daily on hand will protect you from those emergencies. Not only that? It can actually save you BIG bucks!

You will save money

Who doesn’t love to save money? By buying items when they’re on sale and stocking up on them for later, you don’t have to buy them when they’re off sale. This means you won’t be paying the regular price for things and by default will save money.

What do you need?

This is just a rough list to get you to understand what we are talking about stocking upon. When you buy these items on sale, and tuck them away? You are saving money big time. We saw price gouging during the early days of the COVID-19 epidemic and the prices charged for some of the following items were horrendous.

Baking Supplies ~ Canned Foods ~ Dry Goods ~ Drinks ~ Misc. ~ Refrigerator Items ~ Kitchen items to have on hand ~ Baby Items ~ Pet Supplies ~  Bathroom Items ~ Medicine Cabinet ~ Gardening Supplies ~ Entertainment ~ and more!

I have a FREE Printable list for you here:

Just Do It

No matter what your reasons for doing it, you need to actually do it. Your family will be better off in the long run, you’ll be prepared for any big emergency that comes up and your bank account will thank you.

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How To Keep Your Stockpile From Expiring

While stockpiling certainly has its ups, it has its downsides too. One of those downsides is when things expire before you can use them. It’s a HUGE waste when that happens and if you’ve worked really hard to build your stock up?

keep-stockpile-from-expiring

It can make you want to just sit down and cry. So how do you keep it from happening? Check out these tips for how to keep your stockpile from expiring.

How to Keep Your Stockpile from Expiring

Decide how long you want to stock for

The first thing you should do is decide how long you want your stockpile to last. We’re all stocking up for different reasons, but most of us expect to be able to fall back on those goodies if we need them. Putting time on it will help you decide how much you’ll need to buy to make it stretch for however long.

If you’re unsure, start with one month and take a second look after you’ve built one for that month. Most people stock for 6 months or 1 year.

It helps to keep sites like Still Tasty bookmarked to make sure what you are stocking is fresh enough to keep your needs met. Just because they found pasta and rice in the Egyptian pyramids that we could still eat safely today doesn’t mean we need to stock that much in our own homes.

Everything in Moderation

Yes, I know you’re stocking up, but keep limits in mind. If you buy too much of one item, more than your family can reasonably use, it will most likely go to waste. Purchase each item with a set number in mind and stick to it.

To be sure that you’ve got the right numbers, watch what your family uses on a daily basis. Then, as you start to have to buy things at the grocery store, write that item down. Eventually, you’ll start to see a pattern as to what is being used and how often you’re using it. This list will help you determine how much you should stockpile.

Here is a great video on food storage for beginners:

Rotation is key

One of the most important things that you can do to keep your stockpile from expiring is to rotate. Essentially, newer purchases go in the back, older in the front. This keeps your stock constantly rotated as you use it meaning that very little will expire before you can use it (as long as you don’t have too much).

To make rotation easier on yourself, mark each item with a sharpie and the date you bought it and consider getting can rotation racks for your canned items.

Or, you could do what I do – and pick up a few of these FIFO (First in – First Out) can rotation racks. That helps make good use of your shelves while you always eat the oldest items up first.

The FIFO first in first out Can Tracker system guarantees you’ll never have to deal with can expiration dates again by rotating your food from oldest to newest. Its easy-fit design also lets you store a variety of can sizes, from small tomato sauce cans to larger vegetable cans.

The Can Tracker can hold up to 54 soup-size cans or 45 regular-size cans. The Can Tracker has two can rotation levels. When the top row has finished rotating, the middle track will begin to rotate through. This is great if you are looking to add an organizer to your pantry or cabinet for organizing soup or vegetable cans.

This can tracker holds up to 54 cans and rotates them for you!
This baby holds up to 54 cans – I put what we use most in them like corn, green beans, black beans, condensed tomato soup, and canned pasta like ravioli!

Eat what you store, store what you eat

If your family doesn’t like beans? Don’t stock them. Why? Because they’ll expire before they get used. If your husband refuses to use a certain brand of shampoo, don’t buy it. While soap doesn’t expire, it’s still going to be a waste of money if you don’t use it.

Buying something that won’t get used, whether it’s food, baby items, pet care, or personal care is just plain silly. Unless you’re buying specifically to donate, buy only what you’ll use and you won’t have a bunch of things that you don’t like going bad in the pantry.

I know there is a learning curve for this – you will start to figure out how much of each item is really a fit for your family.

Keeping your stockpile from expiring isn’t a hard thing to tackle, but you do have to stay on top of it. If you only stash things in the closet and walk away, you’re likely to come back to expired foods and more.

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10 Of The Best Power Outage Boredom Busters

Power Outage Boredom Busters? Power outages can be a bad thing in more than one way. Aside from the obvious, they can be a huge issue for parents. Bored and scared kids will often act out to get their point across and when it’s dark?

power outage boredome busters

 That can be extremely dangerous. That’s why I love these 10 power outage boredom busters! They’re great for keeping both kids and adults entertained when the lights go out and the storm is raging on!

10 Power Outage Boredom Busters

Spotlight

Spotlight is played with a group of people in large, dark environments. One (or more in a large group) player is designated as the ‘seeker’. The seeker is given a torch/flash-light and loudly counts a number of seconds (thirty is a good number). During that count, the rest of the players must run and hide.

The catch? The person who is “it” can only “tag” people with their flashlight beam.

Some people might call this flashlight tag.

Shadow puppets

I know it may seem “lame” to some, but shadow puppets are actually a fun way to make it through a power outage. This old-fashioned pastime seems to have fallen by the wayside but it will help keep everyone entertained.

Check out this video so you will daze and amaze them with your mad skills:

Have a treasure hunt

Hide something (or a few things) in the house and set the kids off with flashlights to find it! First-person to find the item (or items) wins a small prize!

Go camping!

Set up a tent in the living room and have an indoor camping trip! We found this great post to help you plan it: Indoor Camping Ideas for Entertaining the Kids.

From how to pitch that tent or teepee, to games to play, down to food to serve, they have 20 fantastic ideas to pour over!

Power Outage Boredom Busters: Start a band

Grab a few pots and pans and spatulas and make “beautiful” music. Be sure to sing loud!

OK – that might get old quick, but we found this great video that shows how to make four different “instruments” for your band – that alone will keep them busy for a bit – and then they have to practice before their performance!

Play cards

Having an outage during daylight hours? Teach your kids to play cards! Play Go Fish or War for younger kids or 500 Rummy or Blackjack for older ones. They’ll work on their math skill AND have fun!

Actually, pretty much any board game will do – but a deck of cards can go a long way! Bicycle Cards has a lot of great games for kids to play on their site right here. 

Just watch out for “slap jack” – that gets a little rough, LOL.

My Favorite of the Power Outage Boredom Busters: Tell Scary Stories

Obviously, you’ll want to make sure they’re age-appropriate, but scary stories in the dark are a fantastic way to pass the time. Here are some tips:

Get a story.

Have an idea on hand about what you are going to talk about – pulling it off of the top of you head is challenging. I like to talk about Kate Blood. Doesn’t the name alone sound like a great story is coming?

Make it real.

Or at least make it SEEM real – by weaving in elements that make it seriously plausable.

Use suspense, not gore.

People’s imaginations can conjure up scarier things than we can probably describe to them. It’s the unknown that often makes our imagination run wild. This is where you bring in the drip – drip – drip of the blood off the knife or the tick – tick – tick of the clock before it shimes midnight.

Don’t just tell it; act it out.

The best story tellers really get into it themselves – they seem almost animated. Use your body to help tell your story.

Rehearse.

Practice makes perfect – if you have a “story up your sleeve” that is ready to share? You don’t have to memorize it for verbatim, but the general bullet points of flow will help make you a smash hit!

Start with a warning.

All good movies have disclaimers or ratings. Tell them right off the bat that maybe you shouldn’t be sharing this with them…

Use sound effects.

This is another great way to help sell your story – it adds layers of dimension to the entire experience.

Is there a sequel?

I think the best stories are the ones that don’t truely end – there is always that posiblilty that it could happen again, or is still happening. Is that grave really empty? What happened?

Don’t wrap it all up so there is aperfectly happy ending.

I hope that gives you a few fun tips on how to really rock that story – they will be begging you for another one!

Go on a ghost hunt

Things going bump in the dark? Grab your flashlights and go hunting for ghosts!

Power Outage Boredom Busters: Put on a show

Get out the dress clothes or play clothes and act out your favorite tv show or movie for the rest of the family. Remember to use flashlights and LED candles as spotlights!

This can be a hoot – before you know it, everyone is either cracking up or stunned as they realize that there might be an Oscar worthy actor in the family!

Tell a round-robin story

Have everyone sit around the room. One person starts the story with “Once upon a time” then passes to the next person. Each person adds 1 or 2 sentences to the story. You’d be surprised at how silly these can get!

Power outages don’t have to be boring and scary. If you get a little creative with them, they can also be fun! For moms and dads, they are also the perfect time to get things done around the house that you may have been putting off. I know that’s what I do with my time during them!

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10 Ways To Prep For Summer Storms

It seems strange to be talking about how to prep for summer storms when it is currently the middle of winter. (sigh) But that is what preppers do – plan ahead! Summer storm season has shown up this year with a vengeance. With flooding in Texas, tornados in Oklahoma, and more, this year is shaping up to be a monster season.

A Bolt of Lightning Strikes in a Stormy Desert Night

While we can’t really help what the weather does (or really predict it past more than a few days), there are a few things we can do to protect ourselves and our families for when those strong storms come knocking. These 10 ways to prep for summer storms are just a few ideas that you may want to consider.

10 Ways to Prep for Summer Storms

Food storage

Did you know that the average American family keeps a food supply of 3 days or less in their fridge, freezer, and cabinets? If the power is knocked out at your home for longer, what would happen?

You would quickly run out of food. To prepare for that possibility, make sure you have at least a 2 week supply on hand.

Do you have to stock up on those survivalist freeze-dried MREs? No, you can find a lot of very suitable things in your local grocery store.

What kind of food? Think about ready-to-eat meals that only need to be heated up – like canned ravioli, chili, Spam, etc. Even canned condensed soups are a good bet.

Water

Back in 2008, when the State of Wisconsin flooded, there were multiple cities that lost their water supply to contamination. In an emergency, water is one of the very first items to disappear.

Instead of having to scramble to find some for your family, store it now before you need it. Ideally, you’ll want to store 1 gallon, per person, per day, and extra for each pet that you have.

Light

Power outages are no fun for anyone so be sure that you keep flashlights, a supply of batteries, candles, and matches on hand. If you’ve got small kids, you may want to consider flameless LED candles, just be sure to stock extra batteries if you’re going to use them.

Prep for Summer Storms with Batteries

Speaking of batteries? Flashlights and LED Candles aren’t the only things that take them. Make sure you have extras just in case you need them.

My big tip? Black Friday is when Menard’s has had a fantastic deal on both AA and AAA batteries – we always stock up and for literal pennies when compared to the rest of the year.

Do NOT get these at the local Dollar Store. I know it is tempting but they seriously don’t have that great a shelf life. It would really suck to need them and realize that they were dead.

Grab and Go

As little as we want to think about it, there are some situations where it’s best to not stay in your home. Flooding, fire from a lightning strike, roof leaks, and more. To prepare for this, be sure you have a Bug Out Bag for each family member that is packed and ready.

Gasoline

Keeping a few extra gallons of gas on hand serves two purposes. One, if you have a generator, you can use the gas to fuel it in the event that your power is out.

Two, it can also be used in your car to evacuate if needed. If you’re going to be storing it for a while, be sure to add a bottle of Stabil to it to keep it from going bad.

Emergency Radio

If the power goes out, you’ll still need to be able to keep up with the weather and any alerts. Picking up a NOAA Weather Radio will help you do that. Y

ou can find them as cheap as $13 on Amazon. Be sure you spend some time picking yours out because you can find them with a ton of different features.

This weather radio is our favorite as it a hand crank but also has a solar charge option. It is great for charging your phone too! It boasts these features:

  • NOAA weather radio with 7 NOAA channels to get the latest weather and hazard information
  • The hand crank radio flashlight cell phone charger with a 4000 mAh li-ion battery, which charges more than one smartphone in the emergency
  • 4 Ways( Micro USB charge, Solar charge; Hand crank; Replaceable li-ion battery; ) to keep the hand crank generator on power
  • The electricity label will notice you clearly the electricity of the emergency radio
  • The flashlight radio with a super-bright 3 mode flashlight for any dark places you are in
  • Motion sensor reading lamp for you to get up in the mid-night to avoid waking your family

Prep for Summer Storms with Plywood

If you live in a hurricane-prone area, you may want to consider keeping some plywood on hand to cover windows with. While it may not fully prevent damage, it will help some. You’ll also need nails or staples and a hammer to make sure you can hang the sheets.

You may also want to look at the window film that secures against breakage.

Fire safe lockbox

Having a lockbox is a must to protect your important documents like birth certificates, social security cards, and any custody papers. Having them in a fire-safe box as well is just a second precaution.

Insure me

Do you have renters or homeowners insurance? Storm damage is usually considered an “act of God” for insurance purposes which means that they will cover it. Flood insurance is not provided through an insurance company but through the federal government.

Both are typically very affordable and if by some tragedy, you would lose everything in a storm, your home and possessions are covered. On the same note, we never know what is going to happen and there have been many people killed by storms.

Make sure that you have proper life insurance as well. The last thing any of us want is to leave our family behind with no way to pay for debts or take care of themselves.

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GREAT Reads for Preppers

GREAT Reads for Preppers? If you have taken my coupon class, you have heard me say that less than 5% of our population has followed FEMA’s basic guidelines for a 72 hour supply of emergency supplies (food, water, etc) for each member of their family should an emergency arise.

THAT is a great reason to start a (reasonable) stockpile.

Part of your preps should be a little reading.  I am not talking about all those dry manuals on what to do and how to assemble this or that – but a few books that really help paint the picture of what you are preparing for.

GREAT Reads for Preppers

That being said, I love it when I find books that are both entertaining to read, as well as educational. Both of the books I am going to talk about have thought-provoking ideas on what MIGHT happen, and what kind of things we MIGHT want to prepare for.

I have read both of them, and then shared them with like-minded people who agreed with me – that they are worth the read.

Occasionally, we can figure out what we might need to add to our preps by being able to visualize a situation in our minds, instead of reading a black and white text or checklist that tells us what to look out for.

THAT is where stories come in for me – they help me understand little things like why saving silver coins is important, etc.

If you are totally new to the concept of “prepping”, here are a few GREAT books to help shed some light on the concept AND give you ideas on what steps you should take first.

Let’s start with One Second After.
It is a story of a man trying to fend for his family to have a war that sends the United States back into the dark ages because they used Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP). 
It is a weapon that the Wall Street Journal warns could shatter America.
 
This is set in a typical small town and explains what really could happen to us.

A great read and a good thought starter. How it works is an electromagnetic pulse instantly disables almost every electrical device in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. Airplanes, most cars, cellphones, refrigerators—all are fried.
Crazy, huh?
Amazon has it for $9.99 right now – with free shipping for Prime members.

Then, there is Lights Out. It’s a similar plot – EMP causing an effect that leads us back into basically pioneer times.

 
To quote one of the reviewers:

“If the lights go out the stores could close up, our paper money could become worthless, most would likely become hungry and desperate, your neighbors could become your biggest enemies and the proverbial gloves very well could come off if or when the “S” Hits The Fan. “Lights Out” may help get you thinking about how you would handle a prolonged bad situation and how you can start preparing now to keep you and yours better off then.”

This book is on Amazon right now for $19.95, with free shipping for Prime members. I will tell you it is probably one of the best books I have ever read – and was so incredibly well written and full of ideas. It really showed how the little things can add up to a larger problem, and how community disorder can create more problems.

It is a THICK book – but an incredibly great read.

Both of these books are a great “jumping-off point” to see what the big deal on “Prepping” is…and decent reads for the action/adventure lover.

Is there a great book that you have read that I should add to this list? Please share!

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Great Emergency Preparedness Tips for Pets

Emergency Preparedness Tips for Pets? If you live with furry friends it’s important to plan for their well-being and safety in an emergency, too. Few of us will forget the images of pets struggling for survival in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The lesson was learned hard and fast, and animal welfare in an emergency took a quantum leap forward via legislation, public awareness, emergency services, and owner preparedness.

Emergency Preparedness Tips for Pets

Take some time to prepare for emergency scenarios befitting your geography. Every pet owner should have a grab-and-go plan for evacuating a home quickly and some geographies require a plan for extended absences.

Great Emergency Preparedness Tips for Pets

Here are some tips from the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States:

Get a Rescue Alert Window Sticker

This will let emergency workers and others know how many pets are inside your home. Stickers are free from the ASPCA and from some pet stores or veterinarians.

A Pet GO Bag

Make an Emergency Supply and Travel Kit that is easy to carry. It should include:

  • Pet first-aid kit that includes bandages, antibiotic cream, instant cold pack, gauze, alcohol wipes, sting relief, scissors, blanket, and tweezers
  • 3-7 days of canned (pop-top) or dry food (be sure to rotate every two months)
  • Disposable litter trays and litter (aluminum roasting pans are the right size)
  • Liquid disinfectant soap
  • Garbage bags for clean-up
  • Food dishes
  • Extra collar and leash
  • Waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires
  • Bottled water for at least 7 days
  • A traveling carrier, ideally one for each pet
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket (useful for scooping up a fearful pet)
  • Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make “Lost” posters)
  • Especially for cats: Pillowcase or EvackSack, toys, scoopable litter
  • Especially for dogs: Extra leash, toys, chew toys, and enough cage liners to last a week.
  • Documentation for your pet, like if you have any pet health insurance, etc.

Do you have a Senior Pet?

How to Care for A Senior Pet might help you prepare a bit – there are a few added considerations for accommodating them well.

Arrange a Safe Haven and Caregivers

If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets, so don’t leave them behind. Not all Red Cross disaster shelters accept pets, so it is imperative to make an evacuation plan for them ahead of time.

This includes identifying hotels outside of your immediate area that accepts pets and asking friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they would be willing to take in your pet. Establish a permanent caregiver should something happen to you.

Evacuation Preparation

If you must evacuate your home in a crisis, plan for the worst-case scenario. If you think you may be gone for only a day, assume that you may not be allowed to return for several weeks. When recommendations for evacuation have been announced:

  • Keep emergency kit handy or load into a vehicle
  • Make sure pets are wearing tags with up-to-date identification
  • Bring pets indoors. Pets can become disoriented and wander away from home during a crisis.
  • Call ahead to make arrangements for boarding your pet outside of the danger zone at the first sign of disaster.
  • If emergency officials recommend that you stay in your home, determine which rooms offer safe-havens. These rooms should be clear of hazards such as windows and flying debris.
  • Choose easy-to-clean areas such as utility rooms, bathrooms, and basements as safe zones.
  • Fill up bathtubs and sinks ahead of time to ensure that you have access to water during a power outage or other crises.
  • In the event of flooding, go to the highest location in your home, or a room that has access to counters or high shelves where your animals can take shelter.

If you keep other kinds of pets, the ASPCA lists special considerations for birds, reptiles, and small animals that are important to read.

Please be humane.

So many loved pets are left behind in times of crisis because their owners didn’t prepare for THEM if there was a potential threat. I think of Harry Connick Junior who went in a little motor boat from home to home to rescue both people and pets.

I see clips like this – with NO pets visible and wonder what happened to all of those loves…

https://youtu.be/TAN0vl7Xr7E

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