Saturday, May 30, 2009

Two Weeks Preparedness--Lessons to Learn

Many people try living exclusively from their food storage for a week or two. This can be a very valuable experience to evaluate how well your food storage would serve your family in a true emergency.

A few people have written about their experiences doing this. I found it very helpful in evaluating my own food storage and personal preparedness. With their permission I will post them. Here is the first:

Karen M. wrote:

We decided to accept the challenge to start that very day to live off our food storage for two weeks without going to the grocery store. We went home to the food on our shelves and in our fridge.

At first:
We began with a Family Home Evening to explain to our children what we were going to be doing. We allowed them to participate by putting a paper on the refrigerator, and anytime they wanted something that we didn't have, they could write it on the fridge.

I was excited to not have to go to the store for two weeks! I thought of all the time and money that I would save. However, I found that the first few days were the hardest--emotionally more than physically. There is an immediate sense of panic when you realize you are "stuck with what you got." The second week was actually easier than the first.

The hardest part for children:
The hardest part for my kids was that we were out of cereal. The first morning we had oatmeal. The complained, "Oh no! We don't like oatmeal!" After they ate it they said, "That was so good! Can we have some more?" That taught me a lesson right there. Variety is a good thing, even if there is a little grumbling up front.

The hardest part for me:
The hardest thing for me was that there was no chocolate. I normally don't eat that much chocolate, but in a "crisis" situation I discovered it is a comfort food. I hadn't realized how much I enjoy a piece of chocolate here and there and here and there and here and there. I will definitely stock up on cocoa and chocolate chips.

I did a lot of baking and cooking during this time, mainly for snacks. I realized that I was lacking in snacks and in order to keep up with my kids and make this experience easier for them, it required a lot of my time and energy cooking.

Appliances for cooking in working order:
Our gas oven has been on the fritz for a while and we haven't had it fixed. Fortunately, we had already scheduled a repairman to come, and I was relieved when he came. You need an oven when you are baking bread, muffins, pizza, etc.! Unfortunately, the problem was more complicated than he anticipated and he wasn't able to fix it at that time. This taught me the importance of keeping our homes and appliances in good working order--before disaster strikes.

72-hour kits:
On one of the first nights of our experience, we decided to go through our 72-hour kits as well. I thought there would be some good "treats" in there for the kids. Unfortunately, almost all of the food was bad! The applesauce was out of date, and the fruit leather was rock hard. The only things we salvaged were the juice boxes and graham crackers. I realized that we need to rotate the food in our 72-hour kits more often, because we would have been in a lot of trouble if we had needed to rely on them for survival.

Unexpected illness:
During this time my daughter became sick with a sore throat, fever, throwing up, etc. I was grateful for the Gatorade we had salvaged from our 72-hour kits, but realized we needed a bigger supply for the future.

Comfort foods:
When my daughter was sick I also realized the importance of stocking up on "comfort foods" that are required during sickness (such as a certain brand of soup or soda crackers).

Trying new recipes:
The time of crisis is NOT the time to try new recipes. I had about a 1/2 gallon of milk and decided to stretch it by adding powdered milk to it. I had heard that adding vanilla to powdered milk really helped it taste better. Instead of waiting for the recipe, I "guessed" and added 8 times the amount of vanilla that I should have. We had "vanilla sting milk" for the next two weeks! When I tried to make yogurt with the new milk concoction, it turned out runny, for some reason. However, we made do.

My best relief came when I realized that we had strawberries and raspberries in the freezer. I came up with a new smoothie recipe and it was like liquid gold! we were all in heaven drinking up the fresh berries. I discovered that I would like to store more fruits--frozen, canned, dried. These were better than candy during this time.

I have been keeping about 5 dozen eggs on hand, so we were fine for the two weeks, but if it had been longer, I would have run out of eggs. I will be looking in to storing powdered dairy products--eggs, butter, buttermilk, etc.

We celebrated Easter during these two weeks. We had enough eggs for our children to dye, but we dyed them without hard-boiling them because I didn't want to hard boil my only supply of fresh eggs. We found an online recipe for dyeing eggs without food coloring. It is a good idea to think about holidays when planning our food storage.

Lessons learned:
Overall, this was a great experience for our family. The knowledge we gained was invaluable and definitely worth the sacrifice to obtain it. the biggest insight from this experience was that when an emergency happens, your resources are limited to what you have on hand, what you have prepared for, and what skills you have obtained.

Just as you are limited to the food you have stored on your shelves, you are also limited to the skills you have obtained.

In a time of crisis, you do not have the time, energy or resources to obtain new skills. You are limited to what you have already learned. You may have great books on food storage recipes and ideas, but unless you have tried them, they are not skills you can call on in a time of need.

This has encouraged me to expand my knowledge of food and my own personal recipe book so that I am regularly and consistently using my food storage in healthy and tasty ways!

List of food we wished we had:
Powdered eggs
Powdered butter
Powdered buttermilk
Chocolate Chips
Yogurt and buttermilk starter
Gatorade packets (electrolytes)
Lipton soup
Lunch meat in freezer
Bread in freezer
Frozen fruit: bananas, strawberries, peaches, raspberries
Canned fruit: pears, mandarin oranges

Other things we wished we had:
Oven and home repairs

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