Prepping Items at the Dollar Store

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I passed by a new Dollar Tree so I thought I’d check it out.  I had visited the 99 Cents Only Store a while ago, and wanted to see if there were items I could pick up to add to the stockpile.  I took photos of various items that caught my eye.


Spring water was going for $1 per gallon, which is cheaper than our supermarket, where a gallon is going for $1.25.  I run tap water through the Berkey and fill up empty soda bottles, but if you are just starting out you need to build a stockpile of water.   Picking up a couple of gallons of bottled water a week until you have at few days worth of water to start is a good idea.

Canned goods

CannedveggiesThe canned goods were on sale at $0.79.  They had a good selection of canned corn, mixed vegetables, green beans, peas etc.  I normally see them around $1.25 on sale at the supermarket.  Don’t forget to check the expiration dates, and buy only the ones your family will eat.

Paper goods

paperplatesPaper plates, plastic utensils and cups can come in handy during an emergency when you have no water to wash dishes.  They are also good to have for “everyday emergencies” such as a last minute party at the school or a potluck at work.  These are not a bad deal for a dollar a pack.

As for toilet paper, I thought you can get a better deal at discount stores such as Walmart or Target, or even the supermarket when they go on sale.

Personal care

I thought the best deals were on personal care.


Floss (55 yds) for $1.00 is a good price – I saw the same one at the pharmacy for $1.79.

The cotton swabs were also a good.

I wouldn’t recommend the pain relievers, the ones I saw were close to expiration:  February 2014 is much too close.


Nylon Rope

They had some nylon rope, which is good to have, but is usually overlooked.  At the last hurricane we used one to secure a tree branch to keep it from falling over.

GlowsticksGlow sticks are also good to keep at a handy location during a sudden power outage.  They last a few hours, and are entertaining for kids.

Sponges and steel wool were also in abundance, so I picked up a few.

I also spotted safety pins, clothes pins (in case you have to hang laundry out to dry), mini sewing kits – items that I usually forget to pick up at larger stores, but know I will need.

I believe that anyone can slowly build a stockpile, even with just $5 a week, as long as it’s done consistently.  Not everything is a great deal at the dollar store, but as long as you keep track of pricing and always check expiration dates, it is a worthwhile place to check for prepping supplies.



Water is one of the biggest needs when it comes to survival.  Whether bugging out or sheltering in place, you can never have enough clean water for survival: For your water purifier needs, please visit:

 For beginning preppers

Good ideas for building a food storage plan can be found here:

DebtProof Living


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The Pocket Guide to Wild Mushrooms Review and Giveaway

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 The Pocket Guide to Wild Mushrooms

I spot a lot of mushrooms when taking walks and always wonder whether these wild mushrooms are safe to eat.  Now there is a handy book, The Pocket Guide to Wild Mushrooms by Pelle Holmberg and Hans Marklund, that will tell you which ones are edible or inedible.

The Pocket Guide to Wild Mushrooms contains helpful tips for picking, cleaning and preparing mushrooms, nutrition value, varieties and a large section on edible and poisonous mushrooms.  The full color photos are beautiful and exquisitely detailed so you’ll see exactly what to mushrooms look like from top, bottom, sides and cross-sections.  The book has a color coding system to show specific details about the characteristics of mushroom and tells whether it can be confused with other similar mushrooms.  In this matter, you’ll want as much detail as possible to avoid risking your health.

I liked the coding system and the descriptions of “look-alike” mushrooms are very helpful.  Because of the small size, it’s easy enough to take with you if you were to go foraging for mushrooms.  It’s a good book for people who really like mushrooms, and who would like to improve their foraging skills.  I’ve seen other books in the subject and this book

If I had to quibble about something, I’d say I would have liked to have seen a map so readers can see what common mushrooms grow in each area of the country.  However, the descriptions of the various mushroom species include information about where the mushroom thrives, i.e. “forests of Northern U.S. and Canada” etc.

Picking up mushrooms out in the wild can be dangerous and should not be attempted without learning about them first.   The section on “look-alike mushrooms” should be read thoroughly.  The Pocket Guide to Wild Mushrooms would be a good addition to your survival food library.

Now for the giveaway

Win a Copy of The Pocket Guide to Wild Mushrooms

Just add your comment below:

Describe an experience about foraging and how it turned out


whether you are interested in foraging for food and why.

The winner* will be chosen at a random “Pick a Giveaway Winner” drawing on Saturday, November 16th at 8 pm Central.

*Winner will be notified via email.  Winner must reply to email notification within 48 hours or another winner will be drawn.  

I look forward to reading your entries.  Good luck!


Camping Survival

Camping Survival


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Monday Musings: 11/11/2013 Veterans Day

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Downtown Houston pic

Downtown Houston


Welcome to another Monday Musings, where we share interesting links as well as updates on the blog and preps. 

As we celebrate Veterans Day we express our gratitude to all veterans for your great service and sacrifice for our country.

First the blog updates…

Made a few changes

If you are just seeing the blog for the first time in a few days, you’ll notice a bit of a makeover.  

Blog Name   Starting from the top, you’ll notice that  I changed the blog name from The Apartment Prepper’s Blog to just plain Apartment Prepper, since that is what everyone now calls it. 

Header Photo  I’ve been planning to change the header photo for a while now, but my plans were hastened when a tip from a friend mentioned that my header photo was copied without permission.  My header photo that I’ve had for over a year was copied by someone, with no acknowledgement or link to Apartment Prepper.  Don’t get me wrong, I welcome my articles or photos being reposted with a link to Apartment Prepper, but an outright grab of my actual header photo being used for someone else’s article was just a bit much.  Unfortunately, many fine bloggers have seen some blatant copying going on without permission nor attribution.  Enough ranting, happy to get that off my chest :)  My new header photo comes with a newly designed watermark, which will be reflected on my photos going forward.  

Background Photo  Finally, I also replaced my background photo that appears on either side of the blog.

There will be no change in content; if anything I’ve been posting more lately. 

Giveaway news    Who won the Sport Berkey/City Water giveaway?  Gary S. won the set; he has be notified.  We’re having another giveaway tomorrow so please stop by and enter.

Sponsor news.  A big thank you to Camping Survival, Prep & Pantry App and LPC Survival for renewing your banner ad.   I appreciate our readers visiting our sponsors – you help keep this blog free!

Now for the links…

Who’s watching who  For those who are wondering if there are way to protect your privacy    Ten Steps You Can Take Right Now Against Internet Surveillance

Another bid to regulate herbal supplements   This was attempted before, but it appears there is another effort in the works.

Dangerous Anti-Supplement Bill Would Give FDA Power Over Supplements

A rose by any other name  It’s still pink slime no matter what they call it!

Exclusive — Cargill to change beef labeling in wake of ‘pink slime’ furor

Wish I’d known about this years ago  Earaches can be tough on kids, but this may offer ideas for relief   Home Remedies for Earaches

Crime in your area   Check out this interactive resource and find out about crime stats in your area.  With the holidays coming up, you need to be ever vigilant about security.  See

Adding this to my list of projects   This is the most detailed and comprehensive article I’ve seen on making soda at home.  I think this would be a fun experiment, I can’t wait to try it!   How to Make Homemade Soda

Take care and have a great week everyone!



The Prepper’s Pantry

The Prepper’s Pantry



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Bushnell BackTrack D-Tour Personal GPS

I had an opportunity to test out a personal locator, the Bushnell Back Track D-Tour GPS thanks to Johnson over at Optics Planet Inc.

I wanted to see if this device can help you find your way home in case of emergency or when out in the country.

Set Up

Mr. Apt Prepper and I did the test and followed the Quick Start Guide to set it up.  Here’s what we did:

  1. Loaded three AAA batteries into the back of the unit.
  2. Went outside, pressed the POWER button, and waited for the satellite signal to come up.  It took a few minutes to find the satellite, just like any regular GPS unit.
  3. Selected an icon for our Location.  It has Home, Car, Star,
    Flag or Target to choose from.  We chose Home for this test.
  4. We drove out for a distance to a wooded area and parked the car.

GPS in Wooded AreaAs we walked, we looked at what types of information is given by the device:  digital compass, latitude and longitude coordinates, distances in yards/miles or meters/kilometers, time, temperature and altitude.  As we went further away from the “home” starting point, it tells how far you’ve gone, and how fast you’re going.  Mr. Apt Prepper and I were walking a normal pace of about three miles per hour.  So we figured if we were 20 miles away from home it would take us approximately seven hours to get home on foot.

After a while we decided to head back to where we started.  To return to a location, just select the icon and the Bushnell points to the direction and shows the distance back to the location.

Neighborhood view



– Help you find your car in a crowded parking lot like an airport or stadium.

– Find your way back to base camp while hiking or camping

– Keep a record of trails taken for biking or hiking.  The device comes with a USB attachment and can be connected to your computer to launch the D-Tour app.  The app  is an optional feature that allows you to store your trips, view maps, however you do need to log in with a password.

– Return to your hotel if you are traveling in a strange city


–  Find your way home in an emergency

–  Locate hidden caches that you’ve pre-programmed.

–  Store locations of your emergency meeting places or pre-planned safehouse

–  Mark good areas for hunting or fishing


The Bushnell Back Track D-Tour GPS  has a sturdy and durable construction.  The screen has a nice size and I liked that you can see it clearly in bright sunlight.  The buttons, which are located along the sides, can be a bit clunky as you are trying to grip the device at the same time.  I should mention that the device should be kept at a horizontal position during use to ensure accuracy.

Screen View in SunlightYou can program up to five locations.  According to the product description, battery life can last 16-20 hours, which will outlast a smart phone, and up to 48 hours of trip data can be stored.

Because if its rugged construction, you can use it in places where you don’t want to risk using your expensive smart phone, such as in biking or running trails, or while camping or hiking.

This device would be ideal for anyone who needs a little help finding directions or who get turned around easily.  It would also be ideal for an older child or teen to carry around for emergencies in case they have to find their way back to a meeting place in times of emergency, or for a college student who is away at school.   It would also be a helpful addition to a bug-out bag.  (make sure you have backup batteries)  Before an emergency happens, you’ll need to head to your various locations to pre-program it.

It would make a good gift for both prepper and non-preppers in your gift list.  The regular price is $71.99 but for a limited time, Optics Planet is offering the following discount for Apartment Prepper readers:

10% off expires 12/5/2013
Coupon code: apartprep

Check it out!

 Article update 11/23/2013:    Reader Bob S inquired whether the stored locations will reset if you replace the batteries.  I finally got a chance to try it out:  removed the batteries and replaced them, rode out to a new location and checked to see if it would point back to a previously stored location.  The good news is, it actually did not lose the saved areas.  When I turned it back on, and set it to “Home” (not my real home, just the place I had set it to) –  as soon as it found the satellite, it pointed to the correct direction.   Bob – Thanks for bringing this up!


Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

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Entertainment for an Emergency

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Emergency Entertainment Shelf

Emergency Entertainment Shelf

One of the things I remember during the last hurricane when we lost power for an extended time was being bored from having nothing to do.  We listened to the radio a lot for news about what was happening in the area, did a bit of reading, while there was enough light, but what about when it gets dark?  Kids get bored very quickly, especially being unable to go outside and with no TV or electronics; pretty soon you will start getting antsy as well.  In an emergency, you’ll want everyone to stay as calm as possible and having a few activities to pass the time will soothe frayed nerves and lift morale.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Board Games – Start with the traditional board games:  Monopoly, Clue, Battleship, Risk, Jenga, Chutes and Ladders for the little ones, a deck of cards.  Uno is a family favorite; we also recently added Zombie Flux and Apples to Apples.
  • Puzzles – keep a few sets of unopened puzzles
  • Small toys – Legos provides hours of entertainment especially if you keep a new set just for an emergency
  • Arts & crafts – markers, watercolor, colored pencils, paper, scrap-booking supplies and other age-appropriate projects
  • Books – Tastes in books vary widely so keep a few unread books for each member of the family.  If you use an e-reader make sure you have a backup way to charge the device
  • Music – as with books, have a back up power source for the music player, and a wide selection of favorites.  Playing musical instruments if so inclined is also a great way to pass the time and entertain each other.
  • Writing – Keep a few blank notebooks and pens and anyone can start a journal or keep a record of events.

You don’t need a large budget to stockpile these entertainment items – they can often be picked up at garage sales and thrift stores.  I’ve seen games that are still factory sealed that people have discarded.

Keep your entertainment items in one place, so you can easily find them in a power outage.  We keep ours in a high shelf that is out of the way, but easily located.  You can also designate an entertainment box or bucket that can be kept in the garage.






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Survive an “American Blackout” in an Apartment

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Blackouts a History-NatGeoI got a chance to see “American Blackout” on Nat Geo a few days ago.  If you have not heard of the program, here’s a quick summary from their website:

American Blackout imagines the story of a national power failure in the United States caused by a cyber attack told in real time, over 10 days, by those who kept filming on cameras and phones. You’ll learn what it means to be absolutely powerless. Gritty, visceral and totally immersive, see what it might take to survive from day one, and who would be left standing when the lights come back on.

The show followed five sets of characters:  a prepper family who bugged out to their wilderness retreat, a yuppy couple living in a high rise, a teen home alone when his mom went to work, a suburban family with the wife ready to give birth, and a group of college students trapped in an elevator.   The blackout lasted for 10 days, and the story chronicled what happened to these characters throughout the crisis.

This is not actually a show review, rather, based on the events, I wanted to conclude how an apartment dweller living in the city could have fared under the circumstances as they happened.

How to survive a blackout while living in an apartment in a large city

  1. Hunker down – Unless you had a predetermined bugout location you can quickly run to like the “prepper family” you will need to weather the blackout right where you live.
  2. Have at least two weeks or more worth of water, food and supplies – The blackout in the show lasted for 10 days; they were lucky it did not stretch out much longer.  In reality, it may last longer so have as much as you are able to store.
  3. You need a way to deal with waste – After the power grid went down, the tap stopped running soon after.  There would be no way to flush the toilets.  You’ll need a makeshift toilet, lots of heavy duty trash bags, cat litter, baking soda and bleach.
  4. The “normalcy bias” will get you killed – In the show, several characters knew there was blackout, but still went about thinking things would operate the same as before.  The pregnant lady expected to be able to drive to the hospital to deliver her baby, the high rise couple expected their credit cards would still work, and the teen boy did not expect widespread violence in the city.
  5. Don’t neglect fire safety - The family in the suburbs in the show found their house burned down.  Apartment dwellers are vulnerable to fire, due to proximity between units.
  6. Security will be crucial – The high rise couple found that criminals were going door to door, breaking in and stealing everything in sight.  Even if you live in a security building, the lack of electricity will cause security doors and alarms to fail.  Find a way to make your apartment doors and windows more secure.
  7. Find  your escape routes  - First figure out how to get home in an emergency.  You need to know every entrance and exit to your building so you have an escape route out of your building.
  8. Have ways to defend yourself -You can guess what happened to the woman in the high rise after the criminals caught up to her.   If all else fails and you are not able to run out, as your doors get breached, you’ll need to be able to fight off your attackers.  Know what weapons you can use and how they work.
  9. You may lose contact with loved ones - This is one of the things I fear about a long term blackout:  losing contact with loved ones.  With no phones or  computers working, you have no way to contact each other.  Before anything happens, designate a meeting place in an emergency.  Have backup communications, such as ham radio, two way radios.  
  10. Make your everyday carry count - The college students who were stuck in the elevator managed to climb out by combining items they had with them.  Check your purse or pockets and see what can be useful in an emergency.  Start carrying items you can use – Swiss army knife, paracord bracelet, LED flashlight etc.

Now is a good time to check your power outage supplies.  Replace old batteries, get a solar charger, and    train your older kids to prepare 

You don’t know where you’ll be if or when it happens, so make sure you have an emergency plan for each location your family frequents and have supplies at work and in your car.

A long blackout is very feasible, and has happened in recent natural disasters.  Whether you live in a city apartment, a suburban home or a rural retreat, you’ll have some challenges to overcome.  Surviving a long blackout won’t be easy, and it won’t be pleasant, but being prepared will improve your family’s survival and well-being.

Note: If you missed it, the next airing of American Blackout is WED NOV 13 9PM ET/8 PM CT




For easy ways to become more prepared, read my book:

For low-cost ways to prep:


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Monday Musings 11/4/2013

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Welcome to another Monday Musings where we share blog updates and interesting links.

First the updates:

Blog schedule  I spent some time this past week making a schedule for all the upcoming product and book reviews, and the calendar is getting packed – full until February 2014.  With a full work schedule at my job, and running this blog, I’ve had to decline a few requests due to the time crunch.

Who won  Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living? 

“Mamabear” won the giveaway of the book:  She commented: 

Currently, we save our scraps to give to my parents pigs and chickens. In exchange, we get farm fresh eggs. I save veggie bits (celery and carrot ends, onion peels, etc) and make my own veggie stock. The leftover veggies can still be fed to animals so there is 0 waste!

She did bring up a good question about whether Apartment Prepper shares winner information with anyone, and the answer to that is no, we do not share winner information other than for mailing purposes.  If I am mailing the item myself, then I just use the address once and delete it.  So if you win again, I’d have to ask you for your address all over again.  Sometimes the publisher or company sponsor mails the item directly; and in either case I always mention this to the recipient in advance.

Don’t forget to enter  

Berkey Sport Bottle and Water Testing Kit Giveaway!

It ends at midnight tonight.



Now for the links…

Health related podcasts.   I got an email from Keith who runs Family Survival Radio     He’d had some major health issues and resulting changes in his life, but he has recovered and is back.  Check out Family Survival Radio for free podcasts on various health related topics – based on his research on nutritional therapies for over 100 additional major problems from AIDS to Varicose Veins.  He also runs

Common sense advice  No fear-mongering, just plain good advice on preparing yourself.  See Economic Collapse Preparation

Flying the friendly skies

 Security check now starts long before you fly

 New TSA Pre-Crime Assesment Digs Deep Into Your Records

You can make sliders from acorns Gourmet Foraging and Advanced Acorn Processing

Stockpile or find substitutes  Personal hygiene items will eventually run out, it’s good to know a few substitutes.  See For The Ladies

Safeguard Armor Giveaway – We are not affiliated but for readers who are interested, I just got word that Safeguard Armor is giving away one of their new models of body armor.  For details, see

Take care and have a great week everyone!

 Visit ReadyMade Resources:







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Self Sufficient Saturdays: Cookware You’ll Never Have to Replace

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cast-iron-cookwareMy favorite survival cookware are cast iron pans.  For anyone who is unfamiliar with cast iron, they are the black heavy iron pans that have been around for hundreds of years.

My mother-in-law actually introduced me to cast iron pans.  Whenever I helped her cook anything in her kitchen, I marveled at how her cast iron pans cooked everything so well.

Why I like them so much:

  • They distribute heat evenly
  • When well seasoned, they work like a non-stick pan, or require very little oil.
  • The same plan will cook well with any type of stove:  electric, gas, you can even stick it in the oven and make bread in it.  In an emergency, it will work well over an open flame. 
  • The pan adds iron to your food, which helps avoid an iron deficiency.
  • Because they so sturdy, they will last a lifetime, and you won’t need to spend money for replacement pans.

In those days, I used Teflon pans, but once they get a scratch, they peel and shred after a while.  After I saw how much better the cast iron pans heated through, I tossed out all my Teflon pans and asked my mother-in-law to help me buy some.

She did not take me to a cookware store; instead she took me to Goodwill.  She said she found the best cast iron pans there.  People would toss them out thinking they were inferior to Calphalon or other name brand cookware.  Being of a frugal nature, she encouraged me to find second-hand deals instead of full priced items.

If you are in the market for one, try getting it used at stores like Goodwill, or shop online at Craigslist or Freecycle first.  If you are just starting out, I would recommend choosing a slightly rusted cast iron pan, to make it easier on yourself. 

The same process to salvage it, is the same process to season a brand new pan.

  • If you have a new pan, just wash and rinse, no scraping needed.  If you are working with a used, slightly rusted pan, wash with a strong dishwashing liquid and scrape out the rust with a steel wool.
  • Dry completely with a dish towel.
  • Coat the pan with cooking oil all over.  I have used vegetable oil, olive oil or peanut oil
  • Turn the oven on low heat, around 250 degrees and leave the pan in the oven for 4 hours.  Do not leave unattended.  It may get a bit smoky if the heat is too high.
  • Turn of the heat and leave the pan in while it cools.
  • Repeat the process over a few months until the pan turns black.  You now have a well-seasoned pan.

Cast iron pans are available pre-seasoned.  You don’t have to go through the process if you don’t feel like it.  Just remember the pan should not be left sitting in a sink-ful of water.  It should be rinsed and dried after use and coated with a thin layer of oil.  I’ve recently started coating my pans with coconut oil and it adds a nice flavor to the food.

They are still fairly inexpensive, around $10 for a non-seasoned pan, and about $20 for a pre-seasoned one.  Whether you buy it used or start out with a pre-seasoned skillet, you’ll be pleased with they way they cook, and it will last for generations.


Reminder:  Don’t forget to enter our latest giveaway for  Berkey Sport Bottle and Watersafe City Water Test Kit!

For details click here!


 Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

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Berkey Sport Bottle and Water Testing Kit Giveaway!

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Sport Berkey Water Bottle


LPC Survival, aka The Berkey Guy, recently renewed with Apartment Prepper and has sponsored our latest giveaway:  One winner will win these two prizes (pictured above):

Berkey Sport Bottle

Watersafe City Water Test Kit

Submit your entry below. You can enter between Friday, November 1st until midnight, Monday, 11/4. Lots of ways to enter!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Use Prepper Skills to Avoid Wasting Food

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Don’t throw out old bread – make croutons!

I was catching up on my article reader and found these two articles about food waste that riled me up: About 40 Percent Of All Food In The United States Is Thrown In The Garbage  and Top 20 Foods Wasted

It is such as shame that so much food is wasted while other people are going hungry.   We can’t do anything about industrial food waste, but we can certainly minimize throwing away good food in our own homes.

The same self-sufficiency skills that we are learning as preppers also come in handy in helping stretch the food dollar by avoiding waste.


  • Use your cooking skills to rescue overripe bananas from the trash by making banana bread.
  • Make croutons out of dry, old bread before it turns moldy.  Here’s a quick recipe:  Slice the bread into small squares.  Drizzle olive oil over the bread pieces.  Sprinkle garlic and onion salt over the mixture as well; use your favorite herbs such as basil, oregano etc for flavor.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (your oven temps may vary).  Check periodically to make your croutons don’t get overly brown.
  • Make soup or broth out of roast chicken bones, and vegetable scraps.  Store bits of leftover meats, vegetables and starches in a large plastic container in your freezer.  Once you have a good amount, add chicken or beef broth, a few herbs such as parsley and a bay leaf, season with salt and pepper and make soup.
  • When you carve your Halloween pumpkin, don’t throw out the pumpkin seeds.  Wash the seeds thoroughly, removing any pulp.  Dry on a towel or paper towels.  Spread them on a cookie sheet and mix with 2 tbsp of oil.  Add you favorite seasonings or just plain salt and bake in the over at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Keep checking every 10 minutes to they don’t brown too much.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Add some more seasoning if you like.  That’s it!
  • Make it a habit to eat leftovers for lunch the next day.  Now that the holidays are only a few months away, you will have lots of opportunities to stretch your food budget:  See Avoid Holiday Food Waste
  • If your family does not like leftovers, cook less food.  Cut the recipe in half.


  • I was guilty of using only a pinch of herbs for a recipe and allowing the rest to wilt in the fridge – until I tried drying the herbs myself.  I don’t own a food dehydrated yet, but it is easy to do:  See Drying Herbs without a Food Dehydrator


  • Canning is a great way to preserve the bounty of each season.  Or, if you find you have an overabundance of a certain fruit in your yard, don’t let them go to waste by canning the extra fruit.  If you don’t want to commit to buying canning equipment, make refrigerator preserves.  They won’t last as long, but at least you can make use of the fruit for a longer time.


  • Some of my most popular posts last year was about growing food from trash.  I was surprised to find that new growths could come out of green onion roots, celery stumps and discarded ginger pieces.
  • Use old coffee grounds and crushed egg shells to supplement your soil.

These are just a few ideas for rescuing food and making use of items that would have otherwise been thrown out.  Please share your favorite tips in the comments so everyone can pick up a few ideas.




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