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One thing that recent events have led to is the realization that the kitchen and pantry cannot continue to be set up the same way. I always felt that my small kitchen could be organized better and have really tried to make some improvements but I have to admit I have never really been satisfied with how it is organized. Both Matt and I are always rummaging to find a specific thing. Now that we are eating more bulk foods and have stopped stocking some items in our kitchen, it has really gotten out of hand.

Opening up vacuum-sealed bags and mylar so that we can rotate our preps means having bags open and clipped. You cannot just glance in the cabinet and see exactly what we have. There is also the issue of bags always falling over which can lead to spillage if you are not careful how you clip it.

I really love my kitchen but it is small compared to what a lot of people have. I have quite a few cabinets but I am low on counter space at least in part due to buying an electric toaster oven and a hotplate to help reduce our propane consumption during the pandemic and have a back up if the propane runs out at some point.

Extra Table=More Prep Space

Eventually, the plan is to have a small table near the kitchen that will provide additional counter space rather than sometimes using the dining table which is not that far from the kitchen. No matter what size kitchen you have, if you are making enough food products at home, there may be times when it feels a little cramped.

You can get small carts and other things that can help add counter and prep space to your kitchen but I think Matt is just going to make mine out of wood we have on hand so that it matches the rest of the house. Never underestimate just how much a little extra counter space can help in a kitchen. Of course, the downside to that is that it is more space to get cluttered too.

Finding containers to fit your space can be challenging.

I did a lot of research on different containers. For starters, I didn’t want to buy something that was not durable. I don’t like buying things again and again. We have a cast iron sink that is notorious for causing breakage of glass items that slip out of your hands. I love my sink but here lately with so many things stored in mason jars, there have been a few incidents. Once time just the lid broke but I lost about 4 oz of bread yeast and I found out the hard way that yeast will not just wash down the drain. It will clog your sink quite badly. I had to use oxygen cleaner to clear the line out. I was just thankful that the pipes didn’t have to be taken apart and cleaned out that way.

Rubbermaid Brilliance System

I found this system after doing a lot of research. There are a variety of appealing features when it comes to this system. For starters, they come in a variety of sizes and shapes that are made to easily stack on each other. Sizes range from 0.5 cups to 19 cups. All containers are airtight and leak-proof and have easy to lock down handles.

The pantry sized containers are a much better deal if bought in a set. The same goes for the smaller containers if you are just getting started. Of course, you can pick up multi-packs of a certain size if you decide that you need more or a certain size meets your particular pantry needs.

Considering I have never really bought anything except a few baskets and pan racks, I didn’t feel too terrible about spending around $160 on containers, especially something from Rubbermaid. I have never bought a Rubbermaid product that was not of superior quality and exceptionally tough. For those of us that are making even more of an effort to buy US-made products, Rubbermaid makes sense for a lot of household needs.

How COVID-19 has changed my kitchen.

We are eating more foods that come in bulk and we have less garbage.

Purchasing larger amounts of one thing we use a lot of and then repackaging into smaller sealed containers has made a lot of sense for us and reduced how much garbage we produce. It is amazing. We have actually had to start reminding each other about taking the trash out occasionally even when it is not full sometimes because it will sit too long. In order to avoid wasting bags, we just look around the house for anything that needs thrown out and empty all the waste bins into the one bag.

We are opening up some of our older stored foods and using them in our cooking.

It was time to rotate some food. It is very easy to put back food thinking it is for your 5-10 year food supply. That is that it will stay good for that long. Some things will and there are still other foods that may stay good for decades if sealed properly.

That being said, it is a good idea to use some stock and replace it with newly purchased preps. For example, if you find a mylar bag that seems to have a little too much air in it and it is a few years old, it is a good candidate to open and use up if it is still palatable and bug-free.

Remember that flour doesn’t keep as long as you might think. We opened some up that was 5 years old and sealed in mylar and it was pretty stale tasting. This is why so many choose to put back whole grains that have not been ground if they want something that will last for a very long time without tasting weird after a few years.

We have mostly just opened up some beans, grits, and mashed potatoes. After a few years, they all seem fine.

The refrigerator is mostly used for storing leftovers, unthawing meats, condiments, waxed cheese, opened canned goods and fresh pickled and fermented products. Oh and fresh yogurt and yogurt cheese!

Any really fresh stuff is coming in from the garden or from our Shiitake mushroom logs. We don’t have as much space taken up by canned beverages as we used to since we are making a lot of our beverages and kegging them. Seltzer and beer are on tap rather than in a can.

We are better about not leaving dried goods open for extended periods of time. We find creative ways to use them.

Let’s be honest. How much did you actually eat dried beans, rice, potatoes, etc before the pandemic? Maybe I am wrong but I think a lot of people didn’t eat some of these foods except occasionally because they take a little bit of time to cook and they need to be combined with other things to be tasty and not bland.

This is one of the reasons I asked James to do his article on recipes with beans and rice as well as a post on using oats. Even seasoned preppers that have been putting back those types of foods for years, don’t necessarily have a ton of ideas off the top of their head as to how to use them for meals they will actually enjoy. Here are the links to James’ posts if you are struggling with recipe ideas.

Our selection of spices has increased and we have been better about storing them and keeping them in more convenient containers.

Spices are really important when you are cooking from scratch. We have stocked up on some that we use often. Basically none of the ingredients we are using to cook are already seasoned so a good selection of spices to cook a lot of different cuisine is essential. Once you start cooking from scratch you realize just how much salt and other spices it takes to create a meal. When you are buying everything at least partially made already, it is easy to not know that.

Here is a link to an article on what spices and seasonings are good to have on hand. Remember that some spices are only grown in certain areas so the ongoing pandemic situation could lead to some not being as readily available. I didn’t realize that the basic black peppercorn that graces practically every table in the USA is mostly grown in India.

We cook from powdered foods more. Items like powdered whole milk and buttermilk, cheese powder, and more.

There was a time that I would have been a little appalled at the idea of using so many dried powders for cooking but that was years ago when I wasn’t aware of the variety and quality that was available. For example, if I had to make every cheese sauce with cheese powder that was full of artificial colors or flavors, I wouldn’t be as enthusiastic as I am when using a powder with real food ingredients. Yes, it costs more to get better quality dried goods but it is worth it.

Impulse Items and Treat Management

I have found that limiting the number of snacks and the types of snacks offered in the kitchen pantry help us both eat better and not blow through the convenient and easy to reach items quite so fast. During this time I have bought a few foods that before the pandemic I rarely bought but I figured I would buy a bulk pack of 2 oz bags of potato chips for example. I stashed half of the little bags in the more long term preps and have no plans to bring up more for quite some time. At least part of this is due to the fact that when they are too easy to get too they get consumed more than they should.

We don’t have kids so we are just having to practice food self-control ourselves. Those of you with kids are probably having to figure out some ways to keep them from eating up a lot of the snack foods and such. I have heard more than a few parents talking about how they are going to have to start rationing some items more because people being at home more has resulted in some things getting consumed way to fast and other more healthy options getting set aside.

The containers I bought are going to be a big help with rationing things out. Instead of having 4 lbs of one type of dried fruit or nuts out, we have had a single pound or even less of some items. When there is a huge container of something, it is easier to eat more in a single session.

It is important to have items stored where you use them the most.

For example, the dried items like chives, vegetable broth powder, minced garlic, and onion, are above the stove where we can get to them ins seconds when preparing meals.

Consider your kitchen layout and the flow of things.

It may take some time to get it set up the way that is best overall. It is one of those cases where you learn by doing and even if you have lived in your house for quite a while, you may not have spent that much time actually using your kitchen and pantry if you are like a lot of people in the USA. More time at home means more time preparing meals and eating at home too.

Other Food Storage Container Systems

These are often sold under the Foodsaver brand and they require a vacuum sealer that has an accessory port and hose. Even some of the inexpensive vacuum sealers have these on them. Of course, the seal is broken every time you open the jar but this would work well for sealing up a larger container or maintaining the freshness and quality of a product that you simply don’t use that often.

You can buy a lid that will seal standard Mason jar lids and one for Wide Mouth jars too. This is a good way to use standard lids and rings to keep dry food in regular jars. If you are trying to save money and have a lot of Mason jars anyway, this might be a good choice.

These look impressive and they are in the same price range as Rubbermaid Brilliance. I kind of wish I had got a few of these just to see how well they perform. I may have to do that if I need some more really big containers. One of the negative aspects of the Rubbermaid Brilliance System is that it was sometimes hard to find packages of large containers for a reasonable cost. Regardless of the brand, it seems that you can do a lot better by getting a package of assorted size containers rather than buying individually. The downside is getting some smaller bins that you might not find as useful.

Generic Plastic Bins

I saw a lot of these on Amazon and eBay but I was a little concerned about buying just random plastic bins for our food. I am going to include a few that I found that people seem to be satisfied with. Most of these are made with the same style of heavy-duty plastic that you see in Rubbermaid containers but I cannot personally testify to the quality of any of these.

Amazon has their own brand that is similar to the Rubbermaid Brilliance System. These seem to lock down on 4 sides. To me, these would be a little annoying to open and close for that very reason but I have to say the price is alright and despite the shortcomings of Amazon, they do have an excellent return policy.

These are very similar to the Rubbermaid Brilliance containers. If I had not already bought a lot of containers I would be tempted to try these out because they have a solid rubber seal that is airtight and the size and shape of each container are appealing for a variety of dried foods.

Has the pandemic situation changed your kitchen and pantry? Have you found the need to organize things differently? Have you found that you would rather cook at home rather than go out to eat or get take out?

This content was originally published here.

It is one thing to plan and prepare for safe travels before and even during a crisis or a major disaster, but not too many preppers have a plan for how they will travel safely and in good order after a major disaster takes hold.

Have you stopped to consider how long you might truly be living in working in the aftermath? You should, since it will affect every element of your life, including your travels.

There is so much we take for granted today when traveling…

We know where we are going, generally how we will get there, the routes we take will be clearly marked, clear, safe and we enjoy all manner of protection when traveling from first responders as well as private interests who can swoop in to help us when we run afoul of accident or get waylaid.

It is not hard to imagine that you will be lacking most or even all of those factors in the aftermath of a serious crisis.

And the situation might stay that way for some time. Will you be prepared to set out across the land on foot or by vehicle in an era where you are far from guaranteed to arrive safely at your destination? We will help you prepare for that eventuality in this article.

A Free Man (or Woman) Traveling the Land

It is easy to forget just how dangerous travel was in eras past. There were not necessarily highways as we enjoy them today. There certainly weren’t interstates.

Road signs might have been non-existent, or if they did exist, they could have been inaccurate or easily tampered with.

There was definitely no Highway Patrol, no AAA and, potentially, not even many other fellow travelers to help you if you got in a jam.

All sorts of hazards have awaited travelers over the centuries, everything from becoming stranded or overtaken by bad weather to getting lost or even waylaid by highwaymen and bandits.

If you were not fortunate enough to have people in your party, real traveling companions that you could count on, all you had and could rely on was your own wit, grit and resourcefulness to get yourself out of a potentially lethal situation.

Every once in a blue moon, a Good Samaritan might happen by and help a stranded traveler.

But as we all know the expectation of mercy and helpfulness when someone was truly helpless was hardly a thing that could be depended on until our modern age.

If you call yourself a prepper, it is definitely in your best interest to have a contingency plan for dealing with these types of conditions should they befall us again.

In the wake of a major natural or man-made disaster you might no longer be able to rely on the technology, the services, the landmarks and the flat-out certainty when traveling that you are used to.

If you only had to take care of yourself, and take care of business while en route to your destination under the new paradigm is the difference between life and death, between reaching your loved ones or getting back home, ask yourself honestly: will you be up to the task?

Considerations for Post-SHTF Travel

You will have plenty to plan and consider while properly traveling in the aftermath of a major disaster.

If you are going anywhere further than down the street or perhaps across town, you must treat the journey with extraordinary seriousness. Becoming stranded, getting lost, injured or attacked could mean certain death.

Below are a few considerations that should be factored into your trip planning:

Route Conditions

If at all possible, attempt to ascertain the conditions of your route before striking off. This could be challenging if modern communications are disrupted.

You want to know if the route has been physically damaged, is clogged with traffic from evacuees coming or going, or just an ocean of stalled and abandoned vehicles after the situation became untenable.

If you’re unable to raise anybody at your destination or at any official agency that can offer guidance via phone, radio or some other electronic method, try to find someone who has recently come into town via the way you plan on going and ask him or her about the conditions on the path.

Any information might make the difference. You’ll need to know if it is completely impassable, partially passable or clear, along with any possible detours that might exist.

One major consideration is the presence or absence of road signs, Trail markers or any other dependable physical landmarks so you can navigate reliably to your destination.

Do not assume that you will know the way just because you have traveled it a hundred, or even a thousand times before things went really bad: the entire landscape is liable to look very different from the way it did before.

Also factor in the return trip if you are planning one. Just because a route is clear does not mean it will stay that way, and deteriorating road conditions due to weather or other circumstances are far from out of the question.

You might trade a certain outcome where you are for being marooned with an unknown outcome elsewhere if you are not careful.

How far are you going? Are you going across town, across the county, all the way across the state or halfway across the country?

With greater distance comes more challenges and a greater logistical burden, including your method of conveyance, the supplies required and the overall exposure to risk or mishap.

If you are not going far by vehicle, for instance, and something goes wrong be it a flat tire or other mechanical breakdown, you can always grab your essential goodies and hoof it back home or on to your destination.

This will not be a surefire Plan B if you are making a trip of several hundred miles, however. There are too many variables to compute to say your outcome will be anything but uncertain.

Generally, the greater the distance you are traveling means you must weigh even more cautiously the downsides to not making the trip compared to making a trip over a shorter distance.

Getting derailed or sidetracked on a short trip is usually nothing to worry about. The same thing happening on a long trip could spell disaster.

Stopping Points

Whether you’re making a short trip or a lengthy one, do you know where you can stop if you get into trouble or just get tired?

This is especially important on long trips as you might imagine, as having a safe place to stop, rest and attend to other creature requirements of the flesh will be mandatory.

It isn’t safe to stop just anywhere, as you can be more vulnerable to all kinds of things, not the least of which he’s being overtaken by your fellow man who has bad intentions for you, or exposed to the elements.

This is critical if you are traveling on foot; an automobile can at least offer the nominal protection and shelter of its bodywork.

A poorly-planned stop will do nothing but increase your vulnerability, all other things being equal.

You will face increased danger from your fellow man anytime you are living in a without-rule-of-law scenario, for instance the kind we experienced in 2020 that has made travel so risky and uncertain.

When policing agencies and efforts start to fall apart or lose effectiveness at any level you will see an increase in crime, no matter what other existential threat everyone, as a populace, is facing. There are always wolves at the border, and this situation will be no different.

Be they desperate or merely of a criminal bent makes very little difference, practically; many of them will want what you have, including the contents of your BOB, the supplies your vehicle carries if you are driving one, and the vehicle itself.

Some of them will just want to kill you for sport. Others will want to do worse things. Do you have a plan for dealing with such an eventuality?

Hand-to-hand skills are always useful, but the presence of weapons is a virtual certainty, and you must be able to respond in kind.

Effective use of a weapon requires training, and there will be no or little time for training after an SHTF event. Get armed, get trained and practice now so that you will have proficiency later.

Even then, if you are traveling alone, you will be extraordinarily vulnerable to even a single attacker. Multiple attackers will be a critical threat.

Do not delude yourself. This danger magnifies when you are stopped or resting, but blundering into a roadblock or ambush is far from out of the question, and a constant threat on the most heavily traveled routes.

Terrain Factors

Consider what terrain you might be facing in your travels. Especially if you are forced to go off road and travel cross-country, the condition of the underlying terrain will drastically alter your timetable, and the effort/fuel required to transit.

Making a bad call or running into bad luck on terrain might see you halted or, even worse, stuck fast. This is definitely what you would call a bad day if you are traveling by vehicle.

Terrain that you could typically count on, assuming you know the area and your route well, could be transformed into a hazardous trap by bad weather: snow, rain and attendant conditions of reduced visibility will all affect your progress as well as your safety.

If you do get stuck or run into terrain that you cannot risk traversing, do you have a back-up plan? Is there a detour you can take or an entirely alternate wrapped?

For vehicles, do you have any recovery gear like a winch, straps, shovels, jacks and so forth? Failing to plan for these eventualities can spell disaster.

“Flight” Planning

Before embarking on any dangerous adventure, any seasoned wasteland wanderer or expert survivor will advise you to file a flight plan with a third party that you can expect to at least give a damn if you go missing or are significantly overdue.

This might be difficult to arrange in a post SHTF setting, but it is still achievable so long as you are not a complete Lone Wolf.

Filing of your flight plan is simple. You’re simply handing off your intended route along with any alternate routes to a third party that you know you can trust to come look for you or, if they cannot come look for you, to send someone who will if you do not arrive or return by a certain time.

A smart flight plan will leave some wiggle room for contingencies, delays and other generally harmless mishaps, but not so much that you’ll be stranded for an extended period of time sucking down supplies or slowly bleeding out.

Your contact can be someone at your home base or at your intended destination if you can raise them, but what matters most is that they know what your plan is and that they have a plan of their own for seeking you out if you do not show up by a certain time.

One of the most obvious and simple factors for planning any trip is also one where many preppers stumble or get things wrong. What do you need to successfully negotiate your trip, and how much of it?

Fuel is obviously one critical factor, even if you are traveling on foot. A steady supply of calories taken in will keep you operating mentally and physically at peak condition.

It is true that you can go quite a while with no food before you starve to death, but you will start to deteriorate physically and mentally once you have missed several meals.

Vehicles will require liquid fuel, of course, and assuming it is not a one-tank trip you will have to make allowances for the weight, space and security of spare fuel containers.

Other supplies will abound as well: spare parts if you have them along with tools to take care of any mechanical breakdowns or flat tires, shelter supplies in the form of tents, bivys, blankets and so forth.

Perhaps some spare clothing. Various other survival supplies that you should already have in your BOB, and so forth.

All of these things will count against your personal weight tolerances if you are moving on foot, or your vehicle’s space and carrying capacity if going by auto.

Post-SHTF travel will be significantly different from the comparatively smooth, safe and easy travel that we enjoy today. The experience will be harrowing, dangerous, stressful and full of uncertainty.

But like any other facet of survival you must prepare for this contingency. Take the time to study the factors we have outlined above, and you’ll be ready to minimize risk, and help ensure a positive outcome when the time comes to hit the road on a lengthy trip or a short one after the shit hits the fan.

This content was originally published here.

Being raised by a father who lived through the Great Depression shapes how you see things. These are tips we use on our homestead and were passed down from my Grandmother and dad, with Great Depression meals and foods they consumed the most and crops to raise. Listen to the live interview with my dad “17 Self-Sufficiency Tips from the 1940s and Great Depression Era” https://melissaknorris.com/17-self-sufficiency-tips-from-the-1940s-great-depression-live-interview/

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Sometimes things are just out of your control. Today, we’re giving you all an update on the pigs and talking to you about death on the farm. We don’t want any new farmers or homesteaders to get discouraged if they have some of their animals die. It’s just a part of life! Keep doing what you’re doing, don’t give up on raising your own animals, just learn from mistakes along the way! We hope you all enjoy the video.

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Living Traditions Homestead is all about living a simple and sustainable way of life. We believe the world has gotten too “busy” and that people are missing out on many of the true blessings this world has to offer. We started as a small urban homestead in Gilbert, AZ and after the city grew up around us, decided it was time leave corporate America and take a big leap of faith by moving our family to the Missouri Ozarks.

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~~~~~~~~~~~The Pantry Chat Episode #11

How does this busy homesteading family get it all done? From homestead chores to home schooling to meals and everything in between. We’re gonna take you through a day in the life of Homesteading Family and how we plan a day to get it all done…or not!

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– Preserving Culinary Herbs- Downloadable, step by step directions to drying, freezing and salting culinary herbs.
– Render Your Own Lard- PDF with instructions on how to render your own lard.

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The bug out is a big deal and it goes a long way if you truly need to get out of dodge. However, bugging out on foot should be avoided if it can be.

Images: instructables.com

Having an effective, wheeled, method to get to your bug out location could make all the difference. 

You will get there quicker and you will obviously be a harder target to deal with. 

Have you ever dreamed of one of those extreme bug out vehicles? What about a decommissioned ambulance. There are many benefits here but how on earth do you go about getting an ambulance? 

Government Auctions

While it might seem impossible to get your hands on something like this, it’s well within the realm of possibilities. In fact, the governments both locally and federally auction of things all the time! 

You need to do some work on your end. Seeking out the local auctions or the best auctions is going to require you do a little research on your end. 

However, you could find ambulances or something even cooler at these government auctions. 

Repair and Modification

If you want to save money at the auction be sure that you look for vehicles that need some repairs. These will be cheaper and more available. 

This will also give you a chance to learn about the vehicle as you repair it. These things are very important. It’s just like any other type of gear. You need to understand how it works. 

This also gives you the ability to modify your new BOV. This could be aesthetic or operational. The ambulance presents you with many unique options. Be sure you get to know them all before starting to mod this BOV. 

Not only will an ambulance bug out vehicle be a great BOV it is also a great DIY project. 

Bonus: Root Cellar That Can Be Used as a Bunker

If you can’t afford the box culvert option you can look into is building a backyard root cellar that can be used as a bunker.

If you want to learn how to build a backyard bunker like your grandparents had, without breaking the bank, then check out Easy Cellar.

Easy Cellar will show you:

Easy Cellar will also show you how a veteran, with only $421, built a small nuclear bunker in his backyard.

This content was originally published here.