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.

Monday Musings: 1/19/2015 The First Steps to Take when Getting Out of Debt

The First Steps to take when getting out of Deb
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, my updates…
Add your “two cents!”  For our avid readers, our giveaway for A Time to Endure by Kyle Pratt is still going on.  Read the review and sign up for the giveaway here.  All you have to do is enter your answer to the following question:  What threats are you most concerned about this 2015?  What steps are you taking to prepare?   There seems to be a common thread in the answers so far.  Add yours and I will do my best to post articles regarding your most pressing concerns.
When getting out of debt is a goal Like many of you, I too have some credit card debt that I am resolving to pay off.  Although I am frugal and have been careful with spending, I have some old debt from the last downturn that is still hanging around.

Whether you have old debts or new debt incurred from recent Christmas spending, you know that feeling that comes over you when you JUST KNOW you need to do something.  But just like prepping for the first time, planning to get out of debt can be overwhelming.

What first steps can you take to when you want to get out of debt?

1.  The first step is simple but requires self discipline:  Stop using your credit cards!  Do whatever you need to do to get out of the habit of using credit.

  • Don’t keep your credit cards in your wallet within easy reach-leave them at home.
  • Store the cards away in a safe deposit box.
  • Some people freeze their cards in a block of ice, or take the more drastic measure of cutting them up.
  • Even if you cut up your cards, don’t cancel the cards because some creditors will immediately expect you to pay the debt in full, OR, your credit rating will be negatively affected by the loss of credit.

2.  Check the balances for all your debts, interest rate and monthly payments so you know what you are up against.  Knowing this number will stop you from being in denial about how much you really owe.

Once you’ve done the two steps above, you’ll need to track and slash your spending and make a budget.  I am doing various cost cutting measures and will write about it in a future posts.

Please share your favorite money saving tips in the comments! 

Now for the links…


 

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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Emergency Uses for Old Socks

Emergency Uses for Old SocksThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Some of the most commonly thrown out items of clothing are old socks.  Even if you are careful about keeping them together, invariably, one will get lost.  Don’t throw them out – there are some good emergency uses for old socks.  I keep a bag of clean, mismatched socks for cleaning.

Here are a few more ideas:

Dusting

Instead of using paper towels, save a few tube socks and use them for dusting. Put your hand inside the sock and dust your surfaces.  Even the ones with holes can be salvaged for dusting.

 Warm your hands

Put socks over your hands before putting on gloves to give you an extra layer of warmth.

Prevent Door Drafts

You can also fill up the sock with other materials such as rags and use as a barrier under doors or windows to keep draft from entering your home.

Layer up

Of course, you can wear old socks under other socks as another layer of insulation for when it gets really cold. No one is going to see them nor care if they are mismatched.

Heating pad for aches and pains

Fill up and old cotton sock (must have no holes in it) about 1/2 – 2/3 full with rice and sew the edge shut. You now have an instant warmer.   Microwave the rice sock for one to two minutes and apply it to the affected area.  Or, use it to warm yourself up in the winter.

Ice pack

Similarly, you can use an old sock when you need an ice bag:  Fill a baggie with ice, zip it shut and place inside a sock.  The sock acts like a barrier between the ice and your skin.

Hiding Place

I sometimes hide extra cash inside an old sock and throw them among others. Just make sure the sock does not have any holes and remember where you stashed it.

Weapon

A large handful of coins inside a sock with the open end tied together can be used as a makeshift weapon in an emergency situation if you are being attacked.

Filter for Water

If you are desperate, use a clean sock to strain out solids from water.  You will still need to boil or purify the water, but at least you can remove rocks and other debris.

Scrubber

A single sock can be used instead of a sponge or scrubber.

Shoe Polisher

You can use an old sock to polish old shoes.  See Basic Shoe Care for tips and use your old socks as rags.

Cushion for Packing

I’ve used old socks to pack away fragile items such as Christmas ornaments, porcelain etc.  You can also use them to wrap shoes before placing in your luggage.

Prevent Scuffing

When moving furniture, wrap old socks around chair legs and other furniture parts that may scuff the floor or walls.

With all these multiple uses, you’ll want to give your old socks a second chance before throwing them in the trash.

Please share in the comments your favorite uses for old socks.

© Apartment Prepper 2015

 

 

 

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!

 

 

So Can’t Afford to Prep, Eh?

So You Can't Afford to PrepThis article first appeared in Preparing with Dave

Article by Dave at preparingwithdave.com

Can you afford not to?

Sadly enough, I feel like most of my time is spent trying to convince even preppers to prep. I hear many times that people cannot afford a necessary prep. A necessary prep means that if you don’t have it, you risk death in a survival situation. How could anyone not afford it? The answer lies in prioritizing one’s life and future. Many people are not fully internally aware enough of the seriousness of needing to be seriously prepared, thus not taking it seriously enough.

We make sacrifices to put money away for retirement, and call it an investment. Preps are investments, too. Water filtration devices are investments on life-saving hydration. Security devices and self-defense tools are investments to protect our lives from harmful people that said they couldn’t afford to prep, or just didn’t see it as important, which is kind of the same in my opinion. Their actions to aggressively acquire what they need will be the same.

Most of every item in my Emergency Survival Pack or Bug-Out Bag, is under or around $20.00 in cost of investment expenditure. Therefore, I will base some examples I offer you around that dollar amount of investment. Here are some examples of sacrifice to secure “Necessary Preps“.

Example one:

Some people drink two sodas per day. That’s around sixty sodas per month. Cost is around $20.00 to $40.00, depending on their favorite brand and flavor. That equals the cost of one to two Sawyer Mini Filters that filter 100,000 gallons of life-saving water each. Just cutting consumption of soda for one-month, and someone can have 100,000 gallons or more of water filtration prepped.

Example two:

The average lunch or dinner in a restaurant is $10.00 to $25.00 per person, depending on whether it is a fast-food or sit-down meal with tip. This could buy a couple of inexpensive packs on sale to start sticking preps in, to grab and go in an emergency situation. Skip these meals and go simple at home, and this prep is taken care of now. Add number one and number two example together, and you’re on your way to some good preparedness.

Example three:

Any service you have someone else do for you, like nails, hair, car wash, taking care of your yard, changing your oil, etc. These services add up to a healthy sum of money in a year’s time, or even just six-months. Actually, having all of these done in one-month adds up to over $100.00. That’s a lot of preps if you do a few simple tasks on your own, instead of paying someone else to do it for you. $100.00 dollars could buy eight fire starters, a family water filtration four-pack, 140 Mylar blankets, ten emergency shelters, ten emergency two-person sleeping bags, five Life Straws, ten containers of waterproof matches (250 matches), five WaterBobs, one high-quality crank emergency radio/flashlight ($30.00 leftover), and more. Get the idea?

Affording To Prep

These are just a few examples of what I call monetary maneuvering to acquire necessary preps. It takes sacrifice to have anything that is important enough. We have made many sacrifices around here to have what we need for our survival investments. We have a very nice “grid-down fund“, or “convenience-lost fund“, that is not monetary. It’s all in preps, since in SHTF, money isn’t worth anything and banks won’t be open to access the worthless notes anyway. You can do this too, if you prioritize your preps versus whatever else you are spending money on.

We have skipped favorite meals here and there, we do most everything ourselves, and we don’t buy frivolous items or services. We also prepare our owns meals that are healthier and actually much tastier, because we don’t use cheap food sources to cut costs and raise profit margins like restaurants do.

Do this or not, because it’s your choice and your life that’s at risk if you don’t…NOT MINE!”

About the AuthorDave writes preparingwithdave.com.  He created this page to share his experience, knowledge, actions, and continuing path with others.  He hopes your tour around the website is informative and you continue to visit for updates and sharing of your comments. Please visit Dave, on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/preparingwithdave

If you have any questions, ideas, or comments, please feel free to message him on Facebook:

 https://www.facebook.com/preparingwithdave

Get out of debt

Christmas Shopping Deals

 
 
 

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.