Monday Musings: 1/26/2015 Almost Time for Gardening!

Monday Musings 1262015

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Welcome to another Monday Musings, where we share interesting links about all things preparedness, as well as updates on the blog.

First the blog updates…

A Time to Endure Giveaway   We got some great responses to the question:  What threats are you most concerned about this 2015?  What steps are you taking to prepare? The winner of the drawing was Dee who has been notified via email.

Almost Time for Gardening  We’re starting to see some good weather out here in Houston, and even less cold is expected next week.  I know many parts of the country are still in a deep freeze, but with the weather changes we are seeing now, our thoughts are turning to starting the planting season.  One of the local TV news anchors even mentioned he already planted his entire garden last week.

I will write more about the getting ready for growing season soon.

Now for the links…

How To Easily Grow an Endless Supply Of Onions Indoors

Feeling Lost? Start Here if You’re New to Prepping

Your ePreparedness Binder – Saving Stuff from the Internet for SHTF!

8 Delicious Ways to Use Freeze Dried Vegetables

DIY Ice Packs

12+ Easy Homemaking Tips for the Busy Homesteader

Know Your Stuff: The 110 Best DIY Tips Ever

Take care and have a great week everyone!

© Apartment Prepper 2015

 

Is Expired Food Safe to Eat?

Is Expired Food Safe to Eat

Written by Julie

This post originally appeared in Home Ready Home

Last week, I went through my pantry, trying to get an idea of how much food storage I have. By the time the organizing session was complete, a dozen or so “expired” items sat on my kitchen counter.

In the past, I didn’t hesitate to throw a can in the trash if it was expired. And according to an article on Urban Survival Site, I’m not the only one tossing the goods. More than 75% (and some studies claim it’s as high as 90%) of us believe that food is unsafe to eat after the expiration date. This time, though, I’ve decided to change my ways and put the expired items back on the shelf.

Why?

Because it turns out that none of those dates stamped on canned goods have to do with safety.  A recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic claims that expiration dates aren’t regulated like we would believe. There is no standardized system for expiration dates.

The study found manufacturers determine for themselves how to set dates, if they want to put a date on packaging, what kind of date they will use, and what that date means.

So what do those dates mean? 

Well, it gets confusing because there are several different types of dates used on packages—like “sell-by”, “best if used by”, “best before”, and “use-by”. Here’s how the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines of each of these dates:

Types of Dates

  • A “Sell-By” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
  • A “Best if Used By (or Before)” date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
  • A “Use-By” date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.
  • “Closed or coded dates” are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer.

And here’s what the USDA has to say about expiration date safety:

Safety After Date Expires: Except for “use-by” dates, product dates don’t always pertain to home storage and use after purchase. “Use-by” dates usually refer to best quality and are not safety dates. Even if the date expires during home storage, a product should be safe, wholesome and of good quality if handled properly.

The only exception to this is the “use-by” date on infant formula, which is mandated by the Food and Drug Administration.

The bottom line is after the expiration date, the food may not be as fresh and it may have lost some of it’s nutritional value, but generally, it is safe to eat.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking—if you can’t rely on the date, how do you know when the food is unsafe to eat?

The simple answer is open it and inspect it. If it smells bad, looks off-color or has a funny taste, get rid of it. And don’t eat the food from rusty, bulging, dented or otherwise damaged cans.

There are also some online resources that can help you determine shelf life of your pantry items. Eat By Date  is my favorite resource and here’s one that my friend, Shelle of Preparedness Mama refers to: Still Tasty 

These sites can help you avoid throwing away still-good food as well as learn the best way to store food for optimal freshness and longest shelf-life.

P.S. If you need a little help keeping your pantry organized, I highly recommend The Preparedness Planner.

The Preparedness Planner

About the Author:

Julie

Hi! I’m Julie, a suburban mom during the week and mountain mama on the weekend blogging about my transition from country club to country living and from fast food to food storage. Follow along as I learn how to garden, cook-from-scratch, build a pantry, master back-to-basics skills and more.
Please visit Home Ready Home for the latest posts.

Can Food Shortages Happen Here?

Can Food Shortages Happen Here

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

I’ve been seeing news articles about the food shortages happening in Venezuela:  people standing in line for hours just to get their basic necessities, their National Guard closely watching shoppers to prevent fights from breaking out, and rows of empty shelves inside the stores.

This got me thinking, what would happen if there were food shortages here?  Can you imagine having to get in line just to enter the grocery store?  Or worse, you get in line at dawn and by the time your turn comes, there is nothing left on the shelves.  What if you were not able to find your basic food items at the grocery store?  

Actually I did have one experience of having to wait in line for an hour just to enter the supermarket.  And when I did manage to get in, the shelves were bare and most of the items were completely gone.  This was back in 2008 right after Hurricane Ike swept across Houston.  The streets were flooded and truck deliveries were not coming.  That was when I learned about “just in time” inventory – grocery stores keep just enough stock until the next truck delivery.  I ever asked a store clerk if they had any food “back in the store room” and was told “stores don’t do that anymore.”  Luckily, the problem I experienced was short term, and stores started getting deliveries as soon as flood waters receded.

But this experience showed me that our system is vulnerable.  If the trucks stop coming, supplies aren’t delivered.  All it takes would be an interruption in that supply chain.

Back in World War II the US had widespread shortages of essential items and many things we take for granted today were rationed:  butter, meat, cheese, sugar, canned fruit and vegetables, oils, even coffee.  Shoppers could only purchase certain items on certain days.  It was then that people put up “Victory Gardens” to supplement their food and learned to conserve food and plan their meals.

If there were a food shortage today, I think people would be a lot angrier and more demanding and food riots would result.  I haven’t forgotten this experience: Up Close Reminder to Continue Prepping from a year ago.  And this was just for roast chicken running out!

What can you do?

Build your food storage pantry.    While things are available, and nothing is interrupting the supply chain, now is the time to add to your food storage.  Build up a few weeks worth of your most used foods:  rice, sugar, salt, coffee, olive oil, peanut butter, oatmeal, cereal etc.  While you’re at it, stock up on toilet paper, toothpaste, soap and other personal care items.

Avoid wasting food.  Learn a few skills to avoid wasting food.  I tell my kids, “Don’t waste food, because one day, you may miss a meal for whatever reason – getting picked up late, forgetting your lunch, and you will think about the food you threw away.”  This actually works because they do remember.

Start a garden.  It may be the middle of winter now, but spring is not far off – it wouldn’t hurt to start planning your garden, even if you only have a balcony or a sunny window.

Back to the original question:  Can food shortages happen here?  Some may say, no way, that only happens in countries like Venezuela.  But the true answer is, Sure they could, and they have happened before.  We hope it never happens but just like insurance, it’s better to have it, and not need it, than need it and not have it.

© Apartment Prepper 2015

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Puritan's Pride

 

 

 

 

Monday Musings: 1/12/2015

Monday Musings 1122015

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Welcome to the first Monday Musings of 2015!  I would have posted last Monday, except I was laid up from the flu.  I tried to be as careful as possible, but in spite of all my precautions, I still caught it.  Goes to show you, sometimes it is unavoidable.  But if you catch it, at least you can try to avoid spreading it to your family.  Good news, I am on the mend and trying to catch up with work and blog activities.

I should have more updates on preps in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, I wanted to call your attention to a great resource, published by Todd Sepulveda over at Prepper Website called the Preparedness Review.  It is a collection of valuable preparedness articles written by several my capable colleagues, all free for download.  You’ll find the latest issue here.

Now for the links…

How to Make Hardtack

Preppernomics:  How to Survive When the Dollar Dies
Everything You Need to Know About Essential Oils (almost)

Get ready for the cold & flu season with these all-natural recipes — 20 of them!
Could You Make a Final Run to the Store Before the SHTF? Think It Through!
This is What Food Shortages Look Like

Take care and have a great week everyone!

© Apartment Prepper 2015

 

How to Avoid Contaminating your Family with Colds and Flu

How to Avoid Contaminating your Family with Colds and Flu

Cold and flu season is in full swing and I am no stranger to the misery involved.  I still have posts going up, but have been absent from social media as I have been laid up with body aches, sneezing, coughing for the last few days.  Fortunately, no one else in our household has caught this.  During my last sleepless night, it occurred to me a lot of people must be in the same predicament:  if you are not careful, you can contaminate your entire family, and re-catch the virus yourself even as you are starting to feel better.  And the cycle can restart all over again.

Here are a few ideas on How to Avoid Contaminating your Family with Colds and Flu:

  1. Isolate yourself  – If possible, sleep in a separate room.  Avoid hugging or kissing anyone.  This can be difficult with small kids who need lots of hugs, but you have to stay strong for everyone’s protection.  Eat in a separate area if possible, or sit as far away from everyone as possible.
  2. Wear gloves and face mask – Cold and flu germs are spread by contact with the virus, whether by air or surfaces the sick person has touched.  Flu viruses live on surfaces for two to eight hours.  If you wear gloves and face mask, you will avoid spreading germs all over the house.
  3. Stay home – Stop going to work and get some rest.  I have been guilty of trying to “power through” a bout of cold or flu but I have learned that this just makes you get worse.  Getting a day of rest helps you recover faster thereby avoiding further spread of germs.
  4. Disinfect all surfaces that you may have encountered.   I have Lysol aerosol spray as well as Clorox wipes – no I do not own stock in these companies and am not trying to push them.  Try any brand you like; just make sure you wipe down light switches, TV remotes, door knobs, refrigerator handles, faucets, toilet and bathroom.
  5. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, using a tissue or handkerchief.  Immediately dispose the tissue or wash the handkerchief.  If you do not have either, turn away from everyone and sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow or shoulder.
  6. Wash your own hands frequently with soap and water.  Don’t just wash quickly and rinse – you must lather up for 20 seconds (sing “Happy Birthday” twice) Get your entire family into the habit of frequent hand washing.  If you are unable to wash your hands, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
  7. Stock up on over the counter and home remedies before you catch a cold or flu-this will help you avoid having to go out while you’re sick.

 

Prepare for cold and flu season



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10 Preparedness Steps for the New Year

10 Preparedness Steps for the New Year

As we look forward to 2015, we continue to improve on our preparedness skills and supplies:

Here are 10 preparedness steps to take

  1. Power outage supplies  We checked our supply of batteries, matches, flashlights, camping stove and lanterns as well as solar chargers in case the power gets interrupted.
  2. Evaluate how long you can last without going to the store.  How much water and food have you managed to store so far?  For us, due to space issues, we have about a couple week’s worth of water, and about 12 weeks worth of food, including the refrigerator and pantry.  I’d really like to increase my water storage but we did add backup filters.
  3. Financial preparedness.  We had a tight year financially, but hope to improve our money situation this year by paying off debt, adding to our stockpile and learning more DIY skills.
  4. Continue adding self-sufficiency skills.  At Apartment Prepper, so far we’ve learned how to make bread from scratch, brew coffee without electricity, sprout seeds and make home made yogurt.  I tried making starter but that didn’t work out the first time-I am going to try that again this year.  I acquired the materials for an insulated cooker, and plan to make one this coming year.  I’d also like to learn more about essential oils and natural remedies.
  5. De-clutter and make more space for supplies.  We are always trying to find space for survival supplies, so we have to keep re-evaluating our space.
  6. Examine canned food expiration dates- we always rotate our canned foods to avoid this food storage disaster.
  7. Evaluate our home security.  Being in the big city, we are always conscious of security issues.  Make your doors and windows more secure and consider other alternatives for home security.
  8. Evaluate items you carry daily and consider personal security items as well.
  9. Update our grab and go binder.  I am sure we have new documents and records from 2014 that need to be added, and old ones replaced.
  10. Revisit our health and hygiene supplies.  This past year the country had the ebola scare, which thankfully did not spread, although it is still ravaging many countries in Africa.  This showed how pandemic threats can surface and supplies quickly sell out.

The above is not a complete list, but should hopefully get you thinking about your own preparedness and survival activities.  Don’t feel bad if you had expectations you did not meet.  Just getting started places you ahead of 70% of the population.

 

 

Happy New Year to Everyone!

 

 

Best Preparedness Gifts

Best preparedness giftsLast week the city of Detroit experienced a huge power outage that lasted for several hours and took a lot of people by surprise.   Many public buildings, office buildings and schools lost power.  This incident reminded me that emergencies can happen at any time and anywhere.   It is easy to forget or dismiss the idea of being prepared until something happens and you wish you had done something about it.

We all have family and friends who are not really into prepping, or who mean to but don’t get around to it.  Since we’re giving gifts anyway, might as well give them something to help them prepare for an emergency.

Here are a few ideas for preparedness gifts for various budgets:

Weather Radio with Flashlight, Solar Power and Cell Phone Charger
Weather radio and cell phone charger
Priced around $32

Fold’n Go 2-Burner Stove
Fold and go stove
Priced around $70

Solar Watch
Solar watch
Priced around $32

Red Pepper Spray with Dye


Priced around $9

Good Grip Can Opener

Can Opener
Priced around $14

Swiss Army Pocket Knife

Priced around $20

AA and AAA Solar Battery Charger

Priced around $20

Door Stop Alarm

Priced around $12

16 GB Flash Drive

Flash drive
Priced around $10

Paracord Bracelet

paracord bracelet

Priced around $20

Essential Oils 4 Pack:  Lavender, Lemon, Tea Tree and Peppermint 

Essential Oils-4 PackPriced around $18-Get 10% off use code APARTMENT PREPPER

These preparedness gifts will get a lot of use.  Some useful items like my favorite, the can opener, can be used daily, and not just in an emergency.   But wait, it’s not all about giving “stuff.”  If you prefer, you can still give the gift of preparedness by helping someone accomplish a chore that they never get around to doing:

  • Back up documents and photos for a close relative
  • Share some skills that you have as knitting, canning, yogurt making, breadmaking or even a free cooking lesson.
  • Print up PDF files for an emergency binder
  • Make water proof matches or firestarter with household items such as cotton balls and petroleum jelly and packaging a handful in a jar labeled Emergency Fire Starter, with instructions.

Sharing your knowledge and time is just as valuable as giving an item.  We all want to help our loved ones prepare and Christmas is a great time to spread the “joy of preparedness” in subtle ways.

 

Cheap Food Storage Items this Thankgiving Week

Cheap Food Storage Items this Thanksgiving WeekThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

When I went grocery shopping today I noticed a lot of sales for items that can be used for food storage.  I always encourage anyone starting their food storage plan to set aside a small amount, say $5.00 and pick up a few things every week.  You can easily supplement your emergency food supplies by picking up a few extra cans or boxes.

Cheap food storage items that I saw:

  • canned corn
  • canned green beans
  • instant mashed potatoes
  • canned cranberry
  • canned mandarin oranges
  • canned peaches
  • gravy packets
  • pumpkin puree
  • flour
  • sugar
  • yeast
  • honey
  • cooking oil
  • oats
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • bread mixes
  • canned evaporated milk
  • canned condensed milk
  • wine and liquor

Make sure you check expiration dates before you buy.   Don’t pick the items from the front; those usually have the shortest expiration dates.  Reach way back in the shelf.  I realize some store clerks don’t like this, one pointed out there is no difference in reaching way back.   The stores usually keep the earlier expiration dates in front, so I reached to the back of the shelf anyway.

You can also pick up everyday staples or sale items and freeze them for use later, such as:

  • butter
  • green beans
  • turkey
  • ham

Yams and potatoes are also going at good prices and these last for a couple of months in a shelf.  Even if you just use these foods for everyday meals the savings are well worth it. 

These deals won’t last.  Last year I waited until after Thanksgiving, thinking the low prices would continue.  But I found out that inventory gets really low after Thanksgiving, and prices go back to normal levels.  This time, I am not waiting around.  If I had more space, I’d have picked up more.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

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Monday Musings: 11/24/2014

Monday Musings 11032014

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com
Welcome to another Monday Musings, where we share interesting links about all things preparedness, as well as updates on the blog.

First the blog updates…

We’ve had back to back giveaways so I haven’t posted Monday Musings in a while.  But this week you will get double the links because I saved them up.

Black Friday Giveaway coming up!  Check back with us this Friday 11/28 for a great giveaway we have planned with our sponsor, The Berkey Guy - it’ll be worth your while to stop by!

Food Storage Entree tryouts  I mentioned a while back that we have been cutting back on the food budget and using some up of our food storage items.  Some of our old favorites are as good as ever – Mountain House Noodles and Chicken stands out.

Wise Food Beef Stroganoff

Wise Co. Beef Stroganoff

But some do not work out such so well.   I had a packet of Wise Co. Beef Stroganoff.  I followed the package instructions and gave it enough time to cook.  The result was more like a soup than anything else.  I was not expecting soup for a Beef Stroganoff entree.  To remedy the situation, I used a colander to drain out the excess sauce.  Maybe it’s a personal preference but I didn’t care for the mushy taste and texture.  When trying out food storage I always consider whether I’d think differently if I were starving in a survival situation.  I am sure I’d be grateful to have food at that point.  So if you have it for food storage, hang on to it.  I still ate it for lunch, but this not one I’d eat for everyday meals.

 

Now for the links…

Intel boss’ warning on cyber attacks no joke, say experts

100+ Non Food Items to Have in Your Emergency Supplies

Rich Becoming Overlords, Poor Becoming Serfs: “We’re Approaching a New Middle Ages in America”

4 Life-Saving Tips for Vehicle Preparedness

20 Mason Jar Gift Ideas

A Lady and a Gun

Gravity water filter scientific test results released by Natural News: Big Berkey, ProPur, Zen Water Systems and more

15 Organic Fruits & Veggies That Aren’t Worth Paying More For in 2014

Gag Gifts for Preppers – The 2014 Holiday Guide

5 Beauty Products to Stop Buying and Start Making at Home

Take care and have a great week everyone!

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

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20 Tips on Staying Safe During the Holiday Season

20 Tips on Staying Safe during the Holiday SeasonThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away and the Christmas season will soon be in full swing.  Theft and other crimes seem to increase when people are out and about shopping or partying and not paying much attention to anything else.

The other day the management company left a flyer on our door about a “Resident Meeting” regarding apartment safety. I was concerned enough that I attended the evening meeting after work. A couple of policemen and the building management were in attendance. The reason for the meeting was to discuss recent criminal activity in the area, and to warn residents about personal safety.

My neighborhood is in the middle of the city of Houston. If you ever visit the city, you will notice very quickly that the city does not have strict zoning laws. As a result,most areas include a mix of residential, commercial and industrial. One block could be a nice residential area, and across the street would be high rises or industrial parks, unless you live in a planned community in the suburbs. So you can live in a block with nice residences, but go two blocks and you can quickly find yourself in an unsavory looking area. Being careful and aware of your surroundings is very important. Not being critical or negative, that is just the way it is. While we carefully picked the apartment we live in, checked crime statistics and all that, crime in any area is inevitable.

Back to the meeting. Apparently, the management company decided to have a meeting due to a recent shooting that occurred in the complex. They wanted to reassure the residents that it was not a random event but a shooting between acquaintances, a “drug deal gone bad.” There were no fatalities, the shooter was arrested and the victim was shot in the leg. I was still unsettled by the incident – it is not very reassuring to hear that a resident was doing a drug deal. The resident has since been evicted; at least he is not around anymore. The cops also informed us there have been car break-ins and some theft.

Staying safe during the holiday season

  1. This meeting has just reinforced my feeling that there is no such thing as a “safe area.” We need to be on guard at all times, and always aware of our surroundings. Always find out about what’s going on around you. Surprisingly, for a complex this large, not a lot of tenants attended the meeting, considering it was about something important.
  2. Maintain an alert stance and scan the people around you.  Thieves avoid people whom they perceived is too alert and may have already noticed them
  3. If you start to have a bad feeling about your surroundings, stop and pay attention to these feelings, it is your intuition telling you not to proceed.
  4. Thieves try to target people whom they perceive as more vulnerable: the elderly, women alone or women and children.
  5. To avoid being targeted by thieves, think about what attracts these criminals: flashy jewelry, a large purse that looks stuffed with goodies, smart phones, shopping bags, etc.
  6. Carry only what’s necessary and leave the rest at home.
  7. When shopping, always lock your vehicle and do not leave your items in the car, lock them up in the trunk. The cop revealed that they patrol certain malls because thieves are known to “harvest” items that people leave in the cars while shopping.
  8. Consider a protection device such as mace, pepper spray or a concealed gun if you know how to use them and are licensed in your district.
  9. When in public, avoid being engrossed in your phone or tablet.  This sounds simple, but I have seen so many people with their heads buried in their cell phones even while crossing the street.
  10. When walking to your car, have your keys ready in your hand, no fishing around the parking lot for missing keys. Brief inattention to your surroundings can cost you your life. If leaving at night, try to walk with someone or have security escort you.
  11. Train the kids to only open the door to family or friends who know the “password” and never open the door to strangers.
  12. Keep your curtains or blinds closed. The more passersby see your appliances and items, the more likely a thief will get interested in you.
  13. Consider an alarm system or a dog if your building allows it.
  14. Make sure you always lock your doors and windows.
  15. Look around the area before you open your door or garage, as thieves have been know to follow people in as they get home.
  16. Be careful about announcing your activities and plans on social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook, this will give potential thieves a “heads up” that your house is available.
  17. Before walking or driving up to an ATM machine, make a note of who is in the area.  Is there a car just parked nearby?  Are there a lot of bushes where someone can hide and jump out at you?  If you are not sure, just bypass it and go somewhere else.  The most you will lose is time and possibly gas, but at least you’ll be safe.
  18. When in crowded shopping centers, be alert for pickpockets especially when someone bumps into yo
  19. If you are working late, walk out with a co-worker or call security and have them walk you to your car.
  20. If you feel you are being followed home, don’t pull into your driveway.  Instead, keep driving and go to a crowded area, police or fire station.

Sorry if this article sounds a bit paranoid, but these are the times we live in. A big part of survival mentality or preparedness is paying attention to your own personal and family security.

 

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 



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