Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Living on Food Storage

Nearly a year ago I published a post about living off of food storage for a week (see May 2009 post from this blog). Here is another, different, experience from a family who lived on their food storage for two weeks. During the final three days, they also went without electricity.

While reading this I wondered how prepared I am to live on the resources I have on hand (this could be necessary, for example, during a power outage from a winter storm). In addition to food, do I have a way to cook food? Some way to stay warm? Sufficient water? Correct foods for members of my family with dietary restrictions?

This family was very creative, and very well-prepared. They are also a good example of making life happy for their family, no matter what the circumstance!

Denise B. writes:

Ready or not...
Tomorrow is the day...the beginning of two weeks "survival". The plan--to live as though we are dealing with an emergency situation in our home, and still function normally outside of our home. As of tomorrow morning we will be drinking stored water and washing our hands with water saved in 2-liter bottles. There will be no trips to the store to purchase anything. Any gas that is needed will be purchased with cash on hand. Baths will be taken with water heated on the stove.

Our goal is to find out what we lack, as far as supplies, food, ingenuity (and patience) and work to overcome those shortfalls. We hope to gain a better appreciation for the conveniences and blessings we take for granted every day, and become more self-reliant in the process.

Two days down, Ten remain
The last two days have flowed fairly smoothly without turning the faucets on, but I had no idea we would go through so much water. I filled a garbage bag with the 2-liter bottles we emptied just for washing dishes and hands...When I looked at the number of full bottles that were remaining, I realized there is no way we will make it through the two weeks without running out of water.

We have tried to use some ingenuity in trying to make hand washing easier. We punched 10 small holes in a circle shape at the top of the 2-liter bottle, so it now works like a water sprayer.

So far, the boys haven't noticed much of a change. There were lots of questions yesterday as to why there were "No Water" signs posted on all of the faucets. They wanted to know when there was going to be more water and why the sink was broken. Now they are having so much fun with the water sprayer bottle.

There are many things that I have found I am more grateful for: the microwave, toilets that flush, lights that turn on, water that comes out of a faucet (hot and cold), a dishwasher, a comfortable bed...the list could go on and on.

Eating Gourmet!
With the decision to not use electricity for three days, came the question of "What are you going to make for dinner, and how?" The inevitable "What's for dinner?" question is always one that can be the turning point of my day. So I knew planning meals for the rest of this week was going to be a bit tricky.

We have eaten food cooked in our fireplace before so I knew I was capable of cooking without the stove. However, earlier I had made tin foil dinners, but this week "aluminum foil" was one of those things on my shopping list that I didn't have on hand. So, I pulled out the dutch oven and oiled the inside. I started a fire in the fireplace around 3:00 so there would be plenty of time to burn the wood down enough to make coal. I cut up chicken and potatoes and let them marinate in Italian dressing. At 5:00 we put the dutch oven in the fireplace to pre-heat and then added the potatoes and chicken. It was exciting to hear the oil sizzle as we put the food in. While we waited we lit candles and the boys found sticks to roast miniature marshmallows over the candles until it was ready. I felt like a queen--eating green salad, homemade bread, roasted chicken and potatoes by candlelight. I never thought I would be eating fancy meals while "roughing it."

We've eaten by candlelight all week and the boys have been great eaters and have stayed at the table through the whole meal. When the only light in the house is where the family is, that is where you stay.

Survival week--would you do it?
We shared our experience at a Food Storage/Preparedness Fair after the two "survival weeks." A lot of people couldn't believe we would live without electricity and running water. After listening to the other three individuals and families that participated, I think we had the most enjoyment. Some of the others ended up in the doctor's office or hospital. One woman with diabetes had complications because of the high carbohydrates they consumed from food storage.

We did plan for the last night of our 2-week survival to be a celebration. I knew I was going to need something to look forward to, to get me through the week. We cooked beans and little smokies in a dutch oven in the fireplace and also ate homemade applesauce. Then we set up the boys' tent and brought some mattresses to the room with the fireplace [it was January and cold outside]. I played some music on my violin and we read from the scriptures and then from "Little House on the Prairie" by firelight/candlelight. It was a memorable evening.

The next morning I woke up and started making bread (in the breadmaker), apple crisp (in the oven), rice and beans (in the crock pot) and pancakes (on the griddle). I went from not cooking with any appliances to using most of them in one morning. I am very thankful for modern conveniences (especially the shower). It is all too easy to ignore the many blessings we have until we live without them.

I will be forever grateful for what the last two weeks have meant for the unity of our family. It has made very clear to me what the priorities in my life are.

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