Pest Control and Prepping

Pest control and prepping

Tomorrow is the official start of the spring season, and with the pretty flowers, spring showers come the bugs… lots of bugs.  I’ve seen some huge bugs here in Texas, and though I know many insects are helpful, and can even serve as food, I am not fond of bugs.

Pest control is not probably not one of the top ten survival and preparedness steps you will take to get started but it is still an unavoidable part of any prepper’s plan.  In a grid down situation, the presence of pests can only get worse, as sanitation worsens when trash pickup gets interrupted and vacant buildings and homes become more common.  Pests can carry diseases cause allergies for many people and can ruin your food storage.  This article discusses protecting your home from insects, and in another article we covered protecting your food storage and supplies from pests.

What got me started on this topic

The other night I was horrified to find a huge cockroach on the kitchen floor.  This was no ordinary roach, it was one of those huge roaches that are usually found outside.  Some people call them tree roaches, I call them all nasty and disgusting creatures.  I am very fastidious about keeping the house pest free and I have not seen one of these inside in a long while.  I talked to the building manager and they have a pest control company spray outside but he did say this spring has seen an explosion in the bug population.

Apartment units are vulnerable

Because you share one or more walls with another unit, insects can creep in between homes.  You may be very conscientious about not leaving dirty dishes or food lying around but there is no telling how your neighbors’ habits are.  Be vigilant:

  • Inspect corners and walls to make sure there are no holes that can serve as passages for insects.  If you find any, call your building manager or plug them up yourself using caulk.
  • Be extra wary when you see neighbors moving in or out:  the pests may try to invade your space when the next door unit is vacated or fumigated.  You will need to use preventive measures to keep insects coming from elsewhere out of your home.
  • Avoid clutter.  Pests find a lot of places to hide in a cluttered area.  Remove old magazines and newspapers, keep sinks free of dirty dishes and keep your garage free of junk.  Take your trash out to the garbage chute or dumpster as soon as possible.  I’ve seen other tenants accumulate bags in their garage-that is a sure way to attract pests.
  • Bugs are not the only pests you need to watch out for-there are also rats and mice that can potentially invade your space.

There are a couple of ways you can use to control  pests:  commercial insecticides or natural remedies.

When choosing a pesticide, consider three main factors:  The first factor is safety:  Follow safety precautions on the package to protect people and pets.  The second factor to check for is how long it will continue to work and kill pests.  The third factor is choosing what type of pesticide to target against the specific pest.  Read the label closely to find out what pests will be eliminated by the pesticide.  If you have a wasp problem in your apartment balcony, then check the label to make sure the product will get rid of wasps.  It may sound self explanatory, but I have made the mistake of picking up the wrong product and ended up running back to the store to replace it.  (Disclaimer:  I am not advocating a specific method of pest control, nor am I an expert on pesticides.  If you or your family have chemical sensitivities, then avoid chemical pesticides and try the natural route.)

Here are a few tips to eliminate pests:

  • Before you start spraying, clear out the contents of cupboards or cabinets.  Wear gloves and put on a painters mask to avoid touching and/or inhaling dust and fumes.
  • Spray cracks and crevices with the pesticide, then leave it to dry.  Vacuum the area to remove dead bugs.
  • As we discussed with cracks or holes in dividing walls above, seal any cracks and holes that pests can crawl through with caulk.
  • Spray along the outside walls and doors, preventing entry to your unit.
  • If you are moving into a new unit, consider using a room fogger to eliminate any pests before you move any of your belongings.  You must follow safety precautions when using room foggers.  Protect your carpet or floor by lining it with newspapers under the can.  Make sure you are using the correct size of fogger for the room you are fumigating.  Do not use near heat or ignition sources  such as pilot lights or gas appliances.  For additional safety tip when using room foggers, read the EPA’s Safety Precautions for Total Release Foggers.

Here are a few natural remedies to protect your home from pests:

1.  Soap spray.  Fill an empty spray bottle with water and add two teaspoons of dishwashing liquid.  Shake well and spray on pests such as ants and other flying insects.  Soap spray dries out their exoskeleton and kills them.  Soap spray works best with soft bodied insects.

2.  Garlic.  Pests do not like garlic.  Leave a few cloves of garlic under the sink or where pests are known to frequent and they will avoid the area.  Taking garlic pills are said to deter mosquitoes from biting you, but I have not personally tested this.

3.  Ants will not cross a line of cayenne pepper, and cucumber peels are also known to be ant deterrents.

4.  To get rid of roaches, fill an empty squirt bottle with Borax and sprinkle along base boards and corners.

5.  If you have a flea problem, sprinkle Borax on carpet and leave for 20 minutes.  Vacuum the carpet thoroughly.  Do not sprinkle directly on pets.

I don’t really prefer using chemical pesticides but occasionally find the need to use them.  I use a combination of both methods and recommend you research what works best for you.

10 Unusual Foods You Should Have in Your Pantry

 10 Unusual Foods You Should Have in Your Pantry - Copy

By Lisa Bedford, The Survival Mom

This post original appeared in The Survival Mom

Modern Americans probably have more food choices than any other group in the history of the planet Earth. I was told about a Japanese student who went to an American grocery store for cereal. Seeing the selection in the aisle was so overwhelming they went home without it that day.

For people used to such plenty and variety, beans and rice alone is clearly not a long-term menu plan. But keeping that much variety in one home (or even one store!) is not realistic. Worse yet, it can be hard to figure out a way to store some of our “regular” foods for the long-term so we can maintain a semi-normal diet in an emergency.

So, what “unusual” foods should you consider adding to your pantry? The products listed below are all shelf-stable, meaning they do not need to be refrigerated, and are available from companies such as Thrive Life, Augason Farms, and Ready Reserve Foods.

Survival Mom’s Top 10 Unusual Food Storage Foods

1. Shortening powder 

This product is a sure-fire way of having shortening on hand for all your baking without having to worry about it going rancid. It’s a necessity for making pie crusts and biscuits. Even more important, you can sprinkle some in a hot skillet, and when it melts, you can pan fry! What a concept!

2. Powdered peanut butter 

Peanut butter has an amazingly long shelf life, even after it’s been opened, but powdered peanut butter is still very useful. Every morning I add a tablespoon or so to my protein drink. It adds all the flavor and nutrition of peanuts without any of the fat found in peanut butter. You can even get it with chocolate already mixed in!

3. Butter powder

This product won’t give you exactly the same flavor of butter and it doesn’t quite melt, but it’s still a handy addition to your pantry. Once reconstituted and chilled, it hardens and has the same consistency of refrigerated butter.

4. Tomato powder

The first time I read about this product, I said, “Huh??” Now I think it’s indispensable because it’s a cost-effective way of having tomato paste and tomato sauce on demand and save vast amounts of space at the same time, and it’s easy enough to make yourself.

5. TVP (your choice of flavors)

I know Textured Vegetable Protein isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it comes in handy when you want to add a little more protein to a casserole or soup. Just a handful can add the flavor of chicken or taco meat (a little can go a long way), and you can’t beat the price.

6. Freeze-dried cheese 

You can still enjoy cheese enchiladas while fending off zombies with this great product! I first sampled FD cheddar cheese a few months ago and was amazed by how beautifully it melts.

7. Powdered cheese 

When you buy this in bulk, you have the main ingredient (besides macaroni) for mac-and-cheese but also cheese sauces for veggies, casseroles, and the all-important survival food, nachos!

8. Freeze-dried grapes 

Yes, grapes. Canned grapes have never quite caught on (ewwww!), dehydrated grapes are raisins, but FD grapes have the same color, shape, size and flavor as fresh. They’re just crunchy, and they make a great, healthy snack. Once opened, though, they will absorb moisture in the air and go from crunchy to sticky and chewy. You may want to repackage them in canning jars to retain the crunchy texture.

9. Dehydrated sour cream 

Now, this won’t give you that wonderfully cool dollop you’ve come to expect, but when you make a dish that calls for sour cream, this product does just fine. Add some to mashed potatoes or a creamy casserole, and you’ll never know the difference.

10. Freeze-dried cottage cheese

This was one of the first ‘survival’ foods we purchased. Because we had young kids, we wanted to make sure we had plenty of Vitamin D-dense foods. It sounds strange, but it’s actually quite good when it’s reconstituted and chilled. If the grid is down and you want homemade lasagna, that shouldn’t be a problem with this and freeze-dried mozzarella cheese on hand!

These 10 unusual foods will go a long way toward letting your family diet stay closer to normal in a disaster.

 

Lisa Bedford is The Survival Mom. She is the author of the best-selling book, Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst Case Scenarios.  You can read all about it on her Harper Collins author page.



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Monday Musings 3/2/2015 Update on Selling CDs Online

Monday Musings 03022015 Update on Selling CDs Online

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…

Why I’ll be busy for the next couple of months

I’m working on my next book, The Penny-Pincher Prepper: Save More, Spend Less and Get Prepared for Any Disaster due out this October.  

The Penny Pincher Prepper pic

I’m excited that it is now listed on Amazon, driving me to work harder on it every day.  I’m still posting articles on Apartment Prepper, just not as frequently.  And, I read all comments, though I may not be able to respond to all of them.  I appreciate all your support!

Don’t forget to enter our current giveaway:  This week you can enter our latest giveaway, Daisy Luther’s latest book, The Organic Canner.  All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment answering a quick question – Have you done any home canning, and what is your biggest challenge in this area?  Winner will be chosen on Saturday, March 7th at 8 pm Central.

Sellling CDs online update

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned we were decluttering and trying to make extra money at the same time.  I’m happy to report I got my first check from Second Spin and now I am encouraged to sell more.  I am not affiliated with them, just passing info along in case you want to try making money off old music CDs, DVDs or games.  Read their Selling Help page carefully before proceeding.

Now for the links…

Free water webinar hosted by Gaye Levy and Glenn Meder: How to Properly Treat Water in an Emergency Situation
This online class happens Wednesday, March 4, at 7 p.m. CDT, (8 p.m. EDT / 6 p.m. MDT / 5 p.m. PDT).

Click here to reserve a spot Free water webinar

Simplifying Life Today

10 Daily Habits of Frugal People

Which Saves the Most Money-Dehydrating, Freezing or Canning?

How do I Store That?  Vitamins

Here is an infographic with good information on recommended storage times for frozen food from freezerlabels.net

Frozen Food - Recommended Storage Times

freezerlabels.net

Take care and have a great week everyone!

© Apartment Prepper 2015

My Every Day Carry Items

Everyday carry

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

An emergency can happen anywhere, anytime and you may have to cope with only the items you happen to be carrying with you.

Over the years I have changed a few things on my every day carry (EDC) list.  On one hand, I don’t want to be carrying a huge purse that attracts thieves; on the other hand, I like to be prepared.  I like to make sure each item is useful enough to keep around, even if there is no emergency.

What are my every day carry items?

  • Solar watch – A couple of years ago, I decided to switch to a watch that runs on solar power, as I got tired of having to buy new batteries.  Even my dressy “Sunday” watch is solar powered.  I have never gone back to battery powered watches.
  • Paracord bracelet
  • Taser/flashlight – I researched choices between stun gun, taser or pepper spray.   When making your own choice, check the laws in your state, as some states prohibit them.  Before carrying, know how to use it as there can be unforeseen pitfalls.
  • Pocket aid kit - has various sizes of band-aid, pain reliever, diarrhea and allergy medicine; I also added a few prescription medicines that the family uses.
  • 8 oz Bottled water
  • Small granola bar, 1-2 pieces of candy, gum
  • Sunglasses
  • Swiss Army Knife, safety pin
  • Small wallet that includes ID, insurance information, debit card and $20 cash
  • Pen
  • Small book of matches
  • Cell phone

Of course, I also have a car emergency kit in case I get stranded.

These items have come in handy more times than I can remember; that’s why I never leave home without them.

What’s in your every day carry list?  Please share in the comments below!

© Apartment Prepper 2015

The One Simple Secret to Surviving any Crisis

Simple Secret to Surviving any Crisis

Written by Daisy Luther

This article first appeared in The Organic Prepper

When disaster strikes, will you be ready? Will you be organized, calm, and ready to adapt to whatever the situation brings? Sometimes we have some warning, and sometimes things happen out of the blue. There is one simple secret that will allow you to sail through nearly any crisis. It doesn’t cost a lot of money, or take up an entire roomful of storage space.

It’s your ability to accept the scenario.

The more time you spend denying that this could ever happen to you, happen in your home town, or occur at all, the less time you have to take definitive action. In fact, your willingness to accept that disaster could strike before it ever does puts you even further ahead, because you’ll be ready for immediate action without wasting valuable time wrapping your brain around it.

We recently hovered on the edge of evacuation for 12 days due to the King Fire, a forest fire that nearly reached 100,000 acres.  We got up on a sunny Saturday morning,  never realizing that would be the day an angry man would punctuate a domestic dispute by setting fire to a tree in the other person’s yard. Certainly, no one expected that one act of anger to set off a fire that would exceed the size of the city of Atlanta.

However, he did set that fire, and it came as close as 2 miles to our home over the almost-two-weeks that we watched with bated breath.

During the fire, I joined a number of local groups online so that I could get the most up-to-the-minute information, and during this time, I took lots of notes of my observations. The thing that was very clear is that those who were at least somewhat prepared handled the situation far better than those who simply couldn’t accept that this threat was actually happening to them.

As someone who has studied preparedness for many years, I witnessed firsthand the classic exemplar of human behavior during a disaster.  Tess Pennington, the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, wrote an article last year called The Anatomy of a Breakdown. In the article, she pointed out that in the event of disaster, society devolves in a predictable pattern with four distinct phases.  Her observations were accurate during our experience.  As we watched the events unfold, some people changed dramatically.

The difference between the people who crumbled, becoming easily offended, snarling, and hysterical, and the people who were generous, calm, and effective?  Their levels of preparedness, both mental and physical.

Think about any stressful situation that has ever happened to you.  Once you accepted the fact that it had happened you were able to set a course of action. Once you had definitive steps to take, you probably felt much calmer. You took control of the things you could, and you executed your plan.  Only by taking that first step – accepting that this mishap had indeed occurred – could you take the next two.

1.) Accept

2.) Plan

3.) Act

No matter what situation you find yourself in, these steps will nearly always see you through.

Here’s what we saw.

During our own experience, here are the things I witnessed. They could apply to any type of disaster, natural or otherwise:

Bug out bags are absolutely the first prep you should make. If you’re just getting started, do this one thing. You can do it without spending a penny, by just gathering up things that you already own. You may not have a top-of-the-line, ready-for-the-apocalypse bag like THIS ONE, but you’ll still be far ahead of most people.  When we first learned of the fire and realized that evacuating might become necessary, I had only two things to do. I had to get documents from the safe (the documents, by the way, were already housed in a plastic folder, so I only had to grab that one thing) and pull the pet carriers out of the shed. In less than 5 minutes, we were ready to roll. Had it been necessary, we could have left with only the photocopies of the documents, because those always remain in our bug-out bags. Having your bug-out bag ready means that you have accepted in advance that disaster could strike.

Any time one disaster strikes, several more are sure to follow. This is highly probable.  Some people in the fire zone not only stayed on the edge of evacuation for nearly two weeks, but they also lost power due to the fire.  This greatly reduced their ability to get news and information, which is vital in a disaster situation. It leads to even more worry and stress, and while you’re dealing with the potential of your home burning down, you’re also living through a power outage lasting several days. Getting prepared for a two week power outage is absolutely vital and can see you through most regional disasters. Also, when it finally began to rain, although it helped to quench the flames, firefighters were suddenly threatened by flash floods,. These were made worse because the areas no longer had the same natural obstructions to deter the flow of water.

Unprepared people panic.  Some people panicked initially. When we got the first evacuation alert (a notice that evacuation was highly likely within the next 24 hours), a woman who lived down the street was wailing and sobbing as her husband tried to pack up their vehicle.  She was rendered absolutely useless by fear. Meanwhile, my 13 year old was fulfilling her list while I fulfilled mine and we quickly made an orderly stack of important belongings, then turned on a movie to beat the stress. Had our area actually been forced to evacuate, those who panicked would have either been the last to leave, or they would have forgotten important things as they left in a disorganized rush. It’s important to decide ahead of time who packs what, and for each person to have a list. Sit down well before disaster strikes and make an evacuation plan with your family.

Get organized.  All the lists in the world won’t help you pack quickly if you don’t know where things are. One change we’re making is that all of the items we deemed precious enough to pack and take with us will now be stored in one area so that we won’t have to look for them when seconds count.  Another friend ran into the issue of dirty clothes: he actually had to evacuate with hampers of unwashed laundry. Having your home tidy and organized (and your laundry washed and put way) will help your packing go smoothly in the event of a sudden evacuation.

You can’t be prepared for everything.  Disaster situations are always fluid and they don’t go by a script. It’s vital to be adaptable to the changing situation.

Keep your vehicle full of fuel.  If you have to evacuate, lots of other people will be hitting the road too. When you’re stuck in traffic, you don’t want to be worried about your fuel gauge dropping to the empty mark, leaving you stranded in a dangerous situation.

The criminals come out, like cockroaches. Within 24 hours of the first evacuations, we learned that the local scumbags had looted some of the homes that had been left unattended. Within 48 hours, we learned that the scourge had reached the outlying areas, with these people breaking into cars that had been loaded up with the things that families had determined to be most important to them.  Of course, if you’ve evacuated, there’s nothing you can do about what’s happening to your home. But before evacuation, or in the event of civil unrest, it’s vital to be prepared to defend your family and belongings. In these situations, the first responders are busy, and that’s what criminals rely on. You should consider yourself to be completely on your own, and be ready for trouble. Keep in mind that during the civil unrest in Ferguson recently, the only businesses that didn’t get looted were the ones at which the owners stood armed and ready to defend their property.

The longer the stress lasts, the worse some people behave. As continued stress is applied, the true nature of a person becomes evident. People who formerly seemed like perfectly nice individuals were on the local message forums saying terrible things to one another. They were verbally attacking others for imagined slights and taking offense at things that would normally never ruffle feathers. Some folks were launching tirades against the very people who were performing the greatest service: the admins of the webpages who worked round the clock to keep us informed. If it was this bad in a potential emergency, can you imagine how bad things will get in a truly devastating long-term scenario?

But then…some people are wonderful. Alternatively, sometimes you see the very best of human nature. The generosity of many of my neighbors cannot be overstated. They housed livestock, pets, and families full of strangers during the evacuation. People showed up at the shelter with food and comfort items for those who had been evacuated. Firemen who came from near and far to fight the blaze were constantly being treated to meals at local restaurants, as other diners surreptitiously paid their tabs. Watching the kindness and gratitude helped to restore some of my faith in human nature, after seeing the squabbling and crime. It was interesting to me that the people who gave the most generously were the ones who were the most prepared. These folks were calm and could focus on other things besides “Oh my gosh, I don’t know what to do!” We definitely learned who the people were that we wanted to surround ourselves with when the S really HTF.

Take steps now to be one of those calm people later.

Today, I want you to think about disasters. It’s certainly not a pleasant thought, but considering these things now – when there’s no fire bearing down on you, no hurricane heading your way, no chemical spill poisoning your water, no pandemic in the next town over – allows you to think more clearly and make a definitive plan of action.

So…

Check your bug out bags.

Organize your most precious belongings.

Discuss the plan with your family so that everyone knows what to expect.

Make these decisions now so that when – and it’s always “when” not “if” – disaster knocks at your door, you’re prepared to respond immediately. Learn about what to expect from others in order to keep your family safe and on-plan. Human nature isn’t as much of a variable when you can predict their behavior.

What to pack:

Here are the things we packed for our potential evacuation:

  • Bug out bags
  • Cell phone
  • Address book with important contacts
  • Money, credit cards
  • Pet carriers – I prefer the hard-sided ones so that our pets are sheltered better in a crowded vehicle
  • Pet food
  • 2 weeks of clothing
  • Extra shoes
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Documents (identification, insurance, passports, etc.)
  • A utility bill or other proof of residence
  • Small Portable safe for valuables
  • Family photos
  • Items of sentimental value
  • Reading material
  • Laptops
  • Water
  • A small fire extinguisher
  • Extra fuel in a safe container
  • Phone and laptop chargers
  • car charger
  • On the recommendation of a friend, I threw our swimming goggles in, to offer eye protection in the event we had to drive through thick smoke

Your list might also include:

  • Security items for children
  • Items to entertain children
  • Prescription medication
  • Allergy medication
  • Religious items for comfort
  • Food (If you go to an evacuation shelter, you may end up having to purchase meals out or make due with very small rations)
  • Bedding

Make a written checklist that you can easily access. You might include the location of items that are packed away. Decide on these things now, when you have the time to calmly think about what items are the most important.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of those sentimental items.  We feared that if we had to leave our home, we might never be coming back. Identify the things that are dear to your heart and put them in a place where you can grab those treasures quickly. Insurance can’t replace photos of those who have passed on, special gifts, and items that bring you memories of loved ones.

Have you ever evacuated?

If so, what items did you take with you? Are there any items you forgot?

About the author:

Daisy Luther  lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States.  She is the author of The Organic Canner and The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy uses her background in alternative journalism to provide a unique perspective on health and preparedness, and offers a path of rational anarchy against a system that will leave us broke, unhealthy, and enslaved if we comply.  Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest,  and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

 

 

 

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

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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