Thursday, March 31, 2022

My Thrifty March In 2022


I began the month with $142 in my checking account, $35 in my wallet, half a tank of gas in the car and a little bit less than that much in my truck.  I topped up the car, added $25 worth to my truck just a head of the big price surge and prepared for what was to come.  On the fifth I paid all of the utility bills as well as the mortgage a month ahead of schedule.  My next check was used to pay all of April's expenses, add more items to our prepper pantry, pick up a new pair of summer sandals and the rest went into savings.  I am very blessed to be sitting in a good spot financially at the moment.


April is going to be very different and extremely exciting.  I will share more about what I have planned very soon.  So many changes up ahead.  My daughter will be graduating from high school in May and within a few months heading off to college.  My oldest daughter has a lot of changes ahead of her too.  I am preparing ahead for as much of it as possible.


One thing I am going to tell you right now is that I'm challenging myself to a no spend month which is why I decided to pay the April bills ahead of time.  Lord willing, I'm seriously planning a NO SPEND month!  That will go hand in hand for a lot of other things I've got planned as well so I hope you'll hang around for what is to come.


Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Do The Math


How do I know if I've put away enough of anything when it comes to our long term storage?  I literally sit down with a pencil and paper as well as a calculator and I do the math.  I figure out per serving, how many times I would likely eat a certain food and then I figure out how many servings over the span of time ( 90 days, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, etc.) I have planned that would equal and then multiply that times the number of people I am feeding.  It does take some thought, but it's easy math and extremely helpful in determining how much I want to store.


Initially I began with a six month plan for three people, which easily evolved into a one year plan simply by doubling up on everything I had already stored.  It literally felt like starting over and doing it again.  And it was!  Prepping isn't difficult.


As time has gone on things change and evolve and they always will so adjustments will need to be made.  Now that both of my girls are college age and more independent they do their own prepping and rely less on me so I've made adjustments and although they're adults I do know they have the limitations of both funds and space.  Instead of prepping for all three of us I now only prep for two people and I've managed to increase our span of time to two years.  A lot of preppers feel a three year long term storage is ideal.  Not only is it feasible, but also quite manageable if you have the space to do it.  I would have to get pretty creative to do something like that, but in the meantime what I do have in place makes me feel well protected and is quite manageable.

And it is easy math!  Who doesn't appreciate that?


Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Another Great Prepper Pantry Haul


I've been fortunate to be able to fill in some of the areas we aren't as strong in our long term food storage.  Last week I went to the grocery outlet and was able to get some good items like pastas and even some sauces.  I added a couple more breakfast foods as well as spices.


Salad dressings, pesto, and a few more baking items rounded out this shop quite nicely.  My biggest reason to go, however was to find a good price on some olive oil, which I did.  $7.99 for a 34 ounce bottle.


Have you been stocking up on anything in particular?

Sunday, March 13, 2022

A $50 Meat Haul & What I Did With All That Meat


A couple weeks ago I was thrilled to find a great sale on meat as well as some items in the markdown bin.  Because of that I was able to fill in some gaps in our chest freezer as well as do some canning to add more meats to our long term storage pantry.  If you are at all interested in knowing more about what I got or what I did with it click here and here.


Let me know if you've found any great bargains on meat lately and what you've been doing with it.


Thursday, March 10, 2022

Getting Caught With Your Pants Down

Prior to the start of the pandemic I was pretty good at keeping a well stocked pantry and quite a bit in our chest freezer in our garage.  I would stock up extra in time for winter so I wouldn't need to shop if the weather was bad and I wouldn't need much when I did shop.  With higher heat bills it was nice to cut back on our grocery budget to help offset that expense.


No one wants to get caught unprepared, but to be honest, I was completely unprepared when the panic shopping started on March 13th 2020.  I had decided at the end of 2019 to cut back and only shop for what we needed and not over shop anymore.  However, we were almost out of toilet paper and I had a digital coupon to pick up a 36ct package on sale.  The only problem was every single roll of toilet paper had already been purchased and the shelves were completely empty.  

As I stood and looked around at the long lines of people with carts heaped to overflowing I was shocked.  I'd never experienced anything like that before.  And pushing, shoving and arguing with total strangers was mind boggling.  I left the store telling myself we could cut up a sheet or drip dry, but I was out of there.  It was complete chaos and it was nuts!


At the time I never anticipated this situation lasting as long as it has, nor did I expect the snowball effect it created and how that has impacted so many facets of our lives.  Nonetheless, my gut told me then, that what I had witnessed and what I was about to experience would be like nothing I've ever really experienced before.  Within a few short weeks I had made a decision I had never thought I would make, not in a million years.  I became a prepper.  Not being able to go to the store and buy a package of toilet paper wasn't a huge deal, but that experience alone was a lesson.  You just never know.


I also believe that if you don't pay attention and learn then you put yourself at risk.  For me, I’m just not willing to risk my family and our wellbeing.  So I've been carefully, methodically and steadily researching, learning and prepping.  I know it is unlikely I can prepare for everything that might happen, but I feel better knowing I've prepared something.


Our world is rapidly changing all around us and our tomorrow remains unknown.  While I have no plans to dwell on the "what ifs" what I do choose to do is prepare as best I can for them.  I encourage you, if you haven't already, to do the same.  Put whatever resources you may have toward preparing for your future.  Get some long term food storage in place, add an extra package or two of batteries, get some candles, extra band-aids or Tylenol.  Do what you can with what you have and invest in your future.  Avoid panic shopping.  Become prepared so you don't get caught with your pants down, so to speak.  I feel it is important.


Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Starting Seeds


I know that I am no gardener by any means, but I've decided I want to try again.  For awhile now I've been collecting toilet paper tubes and had filled up a one gallon ice cream pail.  After going through my seeds I watched a Youtube video on how to turn toilet paper tubes into seed starting pots and got busy.


Once they were done I filled them with potting soil I had in the garage and carefully planted the seeds according to the directions on the packets.  So far I have planted two types of tomatoes, sugar pumpkins, green bell peppers, jalapenos and cantaloupe.


With all of my seed pots tucked back into the ice cream bucket I mixed up a little miracle grow in some lukewarm water and gave each pot a nice drink.  I have my seeds sitting on top of our infrared heater with a grow light set on a twelve hour time. Wish me luck!


Thursday, March 3, 2022

Emergency Meal Kits


Last year we started to experiment with some thrifty emergency meal kit ideas.  Our thought was that these meal kits would be an excellent addition to our prepper pantry.  The criteria for us was that these meals needed to be easy to prepare, fairly lightweight and portable, nutritionally complete and inexpensive.  Most importantly they needed to be edible.


Mac & cheese with tuna

Not all of our meal kits were a hit, especially in the edible department.  We learned very quickly that all store brand boxes of mac & cheese are not created equal.  Some things we tried were super salty, while others lacked good flavor altogether.  This is a good reason to experiment beforehand.

Beef, gravy & rice with dehydrated vegetables
Instructions for cooking are included

What we did end up with is pretty good.  Yes, these kits do include some prepackaged foods, but in an emergency you may not have a lot of resources available so I feel it is much better to have this than nothing at all.


Once I put together some meal kits I placed all of the ingredients into a vacuum seal bag and sealed them.  Not only does this keep things fresh and shelf stable, but it also helps me stay organized.  I have a complete meal inside one bag.  In an emergency situation being organized well ahead of time is also very important.


A complete chicken pasta alfredo supper

All of the bags then went into another bag with handles so it is easy to grab and go should the need arise.  I'll be upgrading my current bag to either a reusable shopping bag or an extra backpack, but for now a paper shopping bag will suffice.  The point is to have it ready.


I currently have enough meals in the bag for a seventy two hour situation.  I'd like to ultimately have a thirty day emergency meal plan kit set up in a tote.  Not only do I think it would be a good idea, but a fun project to work on as well.


The makings for a stove top tuna casserole

The hope is not to need the kit, but one never knows when the power will go out, a water leak could occur in your home, a tree could fall on your roof, or you have to bug out for some reason such as a hurricane (not here in Idaho, obviously) or some other natural disaster.  My next door neighbor had a undetected water leak in her home which caused mold.  She was displaced for a month in a hotel until her home was properly repaired.


I used items straight from my pantry

To keep the kit fresh we plan to use these items and replace them when we do.  In addition to emergencies I also see the value in having them for travel or camping.  I wish now I'd had some of these put together when I traveled to Minnesota last fall.  They would have been really handy.


Nothing fancy, but it will fill you up and keep you going

My meal kits will be another piece to our prepper pantry and something I intend to continue working on.  As I get more of these done and put together I'll be sure to share with you.  I think it is a really good idea to have a few (or several) on hand.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

My Thrifty February In 2022


I was quite pleased to begin the month of February with $23 and a few coins in my wallet, $71 in my checking account, two thirds of a tank of fuel in my car and a nearly full tank in my truck.  My pantry was full, my chest freezer was full, our prepper pantry was well stocked, we had some leftovers in the refrigerator and lots of things in the freezer to use up as well.  It was a great way to begin a new month.  We were very blessed and we still are.  I am so, so grateful.


Once again I was able to cover all of our monthly expenses with my first paycheck and send my second one directly to savings hitting all of my savings goals for the month.  I plan to do the same thing again next month too.  My state and federal tax refunds arrived and were deposited into savings, all but $62 of which I earmarked for prepping.


Regular grocery spending was kept to a minimum so I was able to come in well under budget again last month.  I'm trying to only buy what we need, replacing items as we use them from the freezer and pantry along with fresh produce and dairy items.  Along with that we are concentrating on making what we do have stretch as far as possible and making sure we keep any food waste to an absolute minimum.  So far this year it seems to be working out rather well.


Our garbage disposal was in need of replacement.  I researched and shopped around quite a bit before settling on a Moen disposal.  Amazon had the best price so I placed an order and my youngest and I installed it on a Sunday afternoon.  Doing the install ourselves saved me the cost of a plumber and we derive a lot of personal satisfaction by doing it as well.  While plumbing is not one of my favorite do-it-yourself projects, it always feels good once all is said and done.


I spent some of that $62 and used a $30 store gift card to purchase a good supply of fresh beef and chicken, which I pressure canned in pint jars and added to our long term storage.  Adding those jars of meat allowed me to cross off another prepping goal from the list and being able to do it on a very slim budget made it even more satisfying.


With January and February now in the books I feel like I'm doing really well so far and on the right track to meeting a lot of the goals I've set for myself in 2022.  Now we'll see how March goes! 😃


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