Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bug-Out Dinner Buckets

If you're one who thinks stocking up on food storage is a good idea, Congratulations! You've probably got shelves full of food and water ready to go should you need it in an emergency. You may even have a portable stove. These are all great beginnings.
Well, here's an idea that may just help to supplement your food storage supply, so that if you had only 10 minutes to "grab & go" in order to evacuate your home, you could easily grab your "bug-out" dinner buckets, and be on your way. These buckets of food could supply you and your family with 30 to 60 dinners. Wow! Now that's preparedness.
Although you may not be one who eats out of cans frequently, remember, these are emergency meals, offering you sustenance and nutrition in an emergency. You'll be glad you thought ahead and that with very little cooking, you can enjoy a meal.
Let's walk you through the process so that you understand how to put your own "Bug-out" dinner buckets together . . .
Here are some of the recommended tools you'll need to get started:
·        6 to 12 5 or 6 gallon food grade buckets (depending on the size of your family). You'll need one bucket per menu plan
·        Gamma lids for each bucket (optional)
·        Vacuum sealer to seal your spice packets and dehydrated foods (optional)
·        1 Laminated recipe card for each bucket (plastic sleeves also work)

Think ahead and make smart decisions.
·        Consider purchasing freeze dried meats instead of canned. They have a 25
year shelf life, as opposed to 1-2 years.
·        Consider purchasing freeze dried vegetables over canned or dehydrated, as
their shelf life is also longer
·        Investing in a good vacuum sealer can help prolong the shelf life of your
foods, while making them more space friendly inside your buckets
·        6 months before your bug-out dinner buckets will expire, start to use up the
ingredients, and replenish with newer ones, just to make sure you're not
wasting your food supply.

Here are some basic steps to get you on your way:
·        Gather together 6 to 12 of your favorite dinner recipes.
·        Decide how you'll trade out fresh produce for dehydrated, freeze dried, or canned. For example, if your recipe calls for ground beef, consider purchasing freeze dried ground beef. If your recipe calls for fresh tomatoes, consider using canned or dehydrated tomatoes instead.
·        Decide how many dinners you can fit in a bucket, based on the bulk of your food. Typically 4-5 times the recipe fits perfectly into a 6 gallon bucket.
·        Browse your food storage shelves to see which ingredients you may already have that you can use in your bug-out dinner buckets.
·        Make a list of all of the missing ingredients you'll need to purchase at the store, then times those ingredients by the number of dinners you'll need to make. For example: If one of your dinner buckets is for Taco Soup, and each batch of taco soup needs 2 cans of corn, you'll need to have 10 cans of corn on hand in order to make that recipe 5 times. All of those taco soup
ingredients will go into 1 bucket, labeled "Taco Soup."
·        Make large labels for each of your buckets with the name of the dish.
·        Consider a "kid-friendly" bucket with favorite comfort foods-ramen, hard candy, gum, crackers, Nutella, cereal, peanut butter, applesauce, dried fruit, etc.
·        Gather paper goods, such as plates, napkins, bowls, cups, utensils, as well as cooking supplies needed in an emergency. These could all be stored in a bucket with a gamma lid as well, labeled "Paper Goods."
·        Gather extra cooking pots and utensils along with a simple butane stove and fuel. If you have a camp oven, make sure to have plenty of propane on hand for that.
·        Have plenty of water on hand (5 gallon blue containers are ideal for "bugging-out", and you'll need plenty of water to cook with.)
·        Practice making each meal straight from your bucket supply, to see if you're comfortable with the recipe, and make sure your family enjoys it
·        Be sure to mark the date you packaged your bug-out dinner buckets to make sure they get rotated regularly. (Usually every 2 years is adequate.) 

Here is a sample recipe:

Taco Soup

1 lb. freeze dried ground beef
1 Tbsp. dried onion
1 can tomato sauce
1 can corn
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans kidney beans
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
beef bouillon

Pour boiling water over beef until crumbly. Drain. In a stock pot, combine all ingredients together and add water and beef bouillon if necessary. Cook 25 minutes until cooked through.

For 5 Meals:

1 can freeze dried ground beef
5 Tbsp. dried onion
5 cans tomato sauce
5 cans corn
5 cans diced tomatoes
10 cans kidney beans
5 pkgs. taco seasoning mix
1 cup beef bouillon

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Living Providently

From President Thomas S. Monson . . .

In the vicinity where I once lived and served, the Church operated a poultry project, staffed primarily by volunteers from the local wards. Most of the time it was an efficiently operated project, supplying to the bishops’ storehouse thousands of fresh eggs and hundreds of pounds of dressed poultry. On a few occasions, however, being volunteer city farmers meant not only blisters on the hands but also frustration of heart and mind.
For instance, I shall ever remember the time we gathered the Aaronic Priesthood young men to give the project a spring-cleaning. Our enthusiastic and energetic throng assembled at the project and in a speedy fashion uprooted, gathered, and burned large quantities of weeds and debris. By the light of the glowing bonfires, we ate hot dogs and congratulated ourselves on a job well done.
However, there was just one disastrous problem. The noise and the fires so disturbed the fragile population of 5,000 laying hens that most of them went into a sudden molt and ceased laying. Thereafter we tolerated a few weeds so that we might produce more eggs.
No member of the Church who has helped provide for those in need ever forgets or regrets the experience. Industry, thrift, self-reliance, and sharing with others are not new to us.
We should remember that the best storehouse system would be for every family in the Church to have a supply of food, clothing, and, where possible, other necessities of life. The Lord’s storehouse includes the time, talents, skills, compassion, consecrated material, and financial means of faithful Church members. These resources are available to the bishop in assisting those in need.
We urge all Latter-day Saints to be prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living, and to avoid excessive or unnecessary debt. Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had a supply of food and clothing and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have a supply of debt and are food-free.
I repeat what the First Presidency declared a few years ago:
“Latter-day Saints have been counseled for many years to prepare for adversity by having a little money set aside. Doing so adds immeasurably to security and well-being. Every family has a responsibility to provide for its own needs to the extent possible.
“We encourage you wherever you may live in the world to prepare for adversity by looking to the condition of your finances. We urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt. Pay off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from this bondage. Save a little money regularly to gradually build a financial reserve.”1
Are we prepared for the emergencies in our lives? Are our skills perfected? Do we live providently? Do we have our reserve supply on hand? Are we obedient to the commandments of God? Are we responsive to the teachings of prophets? Are we prepared to give of our substance to the poor, the needy? Are we square with the Lord?
We live in turbulent times. Often the future is unknown; therefore, it behooves us to prepare for uncertainties. When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

How the Sun Sees You

We all know that, as wonderful as it feels, the sun causes lifelong damage to our skin. Check out this YouTube video to inspire you to protect yourself from sun damage.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) dates back three or four thousand years when the Incas first realized that the seed was fit for human consumption. Quinoa was the "gold of the Incas" because they believed it increased the stamina of their warriors. Often confused as a true grain, quinoa is actually a pseudo-grain -- the seed belongs to a family of beets, spinach and Swiss chard. Extremely versatile, it provides numerous cooking and meal options, especially for those with gluten sensitivity.

Quinoa packs in a powerful amount of protein (14-18 percent) for a plant food and includes a balance of nine amino acids. It also provides a quality source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and iron, as well as being very low in cholesterol and sodium. A cup of cooked quinoa has 220 calories, 8 grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fat, 39.5 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of fiber.

How to Prepare Quinoa
  • How much cooked quinoa does 1 cup dry quinoa yield? 1 cup dry quinoa yields about 3 cups cooked quinoa.
  • How much liquid do I need to cook quinoa? To cook 1 cup quinoa, you need about 2 cups liquid.
  • How long does it take to cook quinoa? I cup quinoa will cook in about 20 minutes on the stove top. In a pressure cooker about 6 minutes.
  • How do I make quinoa less bitter? Nearly, if not all, of the natural bitterness of quinoa's outer coating can be removed by a vigorous rinsing in a mesh strainer.
  • How do I make better-tasting quinoa? Quinoa is really excellent when cooked in vegetable or chicken broth. Also, add about 1/4 teaspoon salt to each cup dried quinoa when cooking. Try adding other spices or aromatics during cooking: a clove of minced garlic, a sprig of fresh rosemary, and/or a dash of black pepper.
  • How can I tell if quinoa is bad or spoiled? Since quinoa has a long shelf life if kept dry, it is hard to tell if it has gone bad. It generally does not become rancid or smell. Cooked quinoa that has gone bad will show a loss of texture as it hardens and then can grow mold.
  • How can I store quinoa to extend its shelf life? The best way to store quinoa is in an airtight container in the pantry or another cook dark place with constant temperature. Do not allow cooked quinoa to sit out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. For a long-term option, you can freeze your dry quinoa in an oxygen free freezer-safe container. Cooked quinoa also freezes well in an airtight freezer container.
Here are some tempting quinoa recipes from HealthyLivingMadeSimple.com:

Quinoa with Toasted Almonds & Cranberries

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds
  • 1 cube broth stock
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Cooking Directions
  1. Over medium heat, sir and toast the slivered almonds until golden brown. Add quinoa and toast a few more minutes until quinoa begins to darken.
  2. Transfer the toasted quinoa and almonds to a 2-quart saucepan and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, covered, then reduce the heat to simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Fluff gently with a fork and serve.

Quinoa Salad with Grilled Vegetables & Feta

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 3 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 2 zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 summer squashes, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, larger leaves torn
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, larger leaves torn
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Cooking Directions
  1. In a 3 1/2-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring until lightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the water, season with salt and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the grains are tender and the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Let the quinoa cool.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat a grill pan or outside grill on medium heat. In a large bowl, gently toss together the onion, zucchini, squashes and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Working in batches, grill the vegetables, turning once, until nicely grill marked and tender, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool slightly, then cut into rough 1/4-inch dice. Add the diced vegetables and the tomatoes to the pot with the quinoa and stir gently to combine.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Add the vinaigrette to the quinoa along with basil, mint and half of the cheese and stir to combine. Top with the remaining cheese and serve.

Gluten-free Moroccan Skillet Quinoa & Chicken

Makes 4 servings
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 Tbsp. of paprika
  • 2 tsp. of ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. of ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. of kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. of black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup organic quinoa (pre-rinsed)
  • 2 cups gluten-free chicken stock
  • 1/2 cups sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 2-inch pieces
Cooking Directions
  1. Juice one of the lemons and thinly slice the other. Cut the slices into quarters so that you have small pieces of lemon. Set both aside (separately) for later.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the paprika, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat.
  3. In a large skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes. Add the lemon pieces, onion, garlic and apricots. Cook, stirring frequently until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and lemon juice. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Cover pan, lower the heat to a medium-low and cook covered for 20 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
  4. While the quinoa and chicken sits, toast the almond slices. In a small dry skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds for a few minutes, stirring often until they are browned and fragrant.
  5. To serve, put the quinoa chicken mixture in a serving bowl, fluff gently with a fork and top with toasted almonds and parsley leaves

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Storage for Bartering

In a long term emergency situation, money could become useless and bartering could be an important way to obtain items your family needs. Consider storing these inexpensive items not only for your own family's use, but as bartering possibilities.

1. Toilet Paper
2. Chap Stick
3. Eye Drops
4. Matches
5. Bleach
6. Bandages
7. Warm Clothing (Purchase used coats for bartering at your local used items supplier. At D.I. you’ll find tons of coats and other clothing for under $5)
8. Tape
9. Water
10. Sugar
11. Flour
12. Feminine Supplies
13. Condoms
14. Flu/Cold Medication
15. Lotion
16. Soap
17. Ziploc or Garbage Bags
18. Seeds

19. Sunscreen
20. Fever/Inflammation Reducer
21. Pain Relievers
22. Pens
23. Ramen
24. Neosporin
25. Toothpaste
26. Water Purification Tablets
27. Milk Powder
28. Utility Cord
29. Plastic Wrap
30. Sanitizer

This is a suggested bartering list to fit into your budget. There are other great items you could trade that are on the more costly side like fuel, bullets and batteries.

The easiest way to come up with cheap trades is to think of scenarios throughout the day in which you feel discomfort and would use something small and cheap to remedy the situation.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Making Hard Career Choices

Regardless of your political persuasion, it's hard to miss that Hillary Clinton is on a national tour for her latest book Hard Choices. But if you're facing your own hard choices, be it in love, living conditions, or a career, a better source to consider might be the lesser known TED Talk by Ruth Chang similarly entitled How to Make Hard Choices. Released in May 2014, Chang's talk pre-dates Hillary's release, takes only 14 minutes to absorb from beginning to end, is free, and falls much closer to home on how we face our own hard choices in careers and other key walks of life.

"Understanding hard choices uncovers a hidden power each of us possess," Chang notes in the beginning of her talk. Using examples from her own life where she had to choose whether to be a lawyer or philosopher, she deconstructs why we agonize so much over major life decisions. The answer may surprise you, and her own choices may surprise you as well.

A child of immigrants, Chang chose to become a lawyer. Like many overachieving first-generation Americans she not only got a law degree, but has a J.D. from Harvard. She admits that she did what most people do when faced with two hard choices. She took the easy way out.

Although few would consider a law degree from Harvard an easy route, for Chang it was clearly the safer choice. Here's why: A legal career closely matched what she felt her parents would want for her. By becoming a lawyer, she was helping to achieve her parent's dreams, if not her own.

Career choices are value judgments
Career choices, Chang notes, are value judgments. There are no right or wrong choices, just individual values. One person may value being creative and become an artist, while another might value money and become a banker. Neither value is wrong – just different. And since there is no right or wrong, the choice of whether to become a doctor, coach, or any other profession, becomes hard until you define your own values.

It's not the age-old question of "What do you want to become when you grow up?" Instead, it's the new question of "Whom do you want to be now and for the rest of your own life?"

According to Chang, there's a hidden gift in hard choices. Here it is: Each hard choice allows you to better define who you are. For instance, Chang became a lawyer because it matched the reasons her parents would pick a career. Once Chang became a lawyer, she realized it wasn't the life she wanted for herself.

Today, Chang is a philosopher at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ studying how the rest of us make our own hard life choices to pursue alternate passions including careers.

In facing hard choices, Chang states: "We become the authors of our own lives." People who avoid hard choices are in contrast "drifters" -- people who let others determine whom they'll be. While many people might choose to avoid the agony that comes in deciding between hard choices, Chang suggests hard choices be viewed as "Godsends." They are, she says, "special opportunities" to become distinctive.

How the long-term unemployed can think differently
Many people, particularly the long-term unemployed might argue they have no choices so any job offer is easy, and certainly not a hard choice. Chang might challenge them to think differently.

Did they decide not to relocate, not to invest in training, pre-decide before sending in a cover letter that not having a degree was disqualification, not try an alternative career, or simply to keep hitting the same brick walls? Hitting brick walls doesn't sound easy, but for some it is easier that climbing over them and taking a peek at potential new landscapes.

What story are you writing for yourself?

Is it a political career instead of a legal career as Hillary Clinton seems to be pursuing, or a philosopher's life over a legal one as Ruth Chang has chosen? What are your hard choices, and how can they help you define whom you want to be versus whomever you were becoming before?

Remember, there are no wrong answers.

To watch Ruth Chang's Ted Talks video, click here.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

So Much Zucchini!

Wondering what to do with the zucchini that is already becoming prolific in your garden? Freezing zucchini is a great option to preserve it for the winter months when some chocolate zucchini bread would hit the spot! Blanching is recommended to preserve the quality of the zucchini. These guidelines come from the National Center for Home Food Preservation:

Summer Squash

(Cocozelle, Crookneck, Pattypan, Straightneck, White Scallop, Zucchini)

Preparation – Choose young squash with tender skin. Wash and cut in 1/2-inch slices. Water blanch 3 minutes. Cool promptly, drain and package, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Seal and freeze.
Grated Zucchini (for Baking) – Choose young tender zucchini. Wash and grate. Steam blanch in small quantities 1 to 2 minutes until translucent. Pack in measured amounts into containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Cool by placing the containers in cold water. Seal and freeze. If watery when thawed, discard the liquid before using the zucchini.


Blanching (scalding vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time) is a must for almost all vegetables to be frozen. It stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture.
Blanching cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the color and helps retard loss of vitamins. It also wilts or softens vegetables and makes them easier to pack.
Blanching time is crucial and varies with the vegetable and size. Underblanching stimulates the activity of enzymes and is worse than no blanching. Overblanching causes loss of flavor, color, vitamins and minerals. Follow recommended blanching times (see below).

Water Blanching

For home freezing, the most satisfactory way to heat all vegetables is in boiling water. Use a blancher which has a blanching basket and cover, or fit a wire basket into a large pot with a lid.
Use one gallon water per pound of prepared vegetables. Put the vegetable in a blanching basket and lower into vigorously boiling water. Place a lid on the blancher. The water should return to boiling within 1 minute, or you are using too much vegetable for the amount of boiling water. Start counting blanching time as soon as the water returns to a boil. Keep heat high for the time given in the directions for the vegetable you are freezing.

Steam Blanching

Heating in steam is recommended for a few vegetables. For broccoli, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and winter squash, both steaming and boiling are satisfactory methods. Steam blanching takes about 1½ times longer than water blanching.
To steam, use a pot with a tight lid and a basket that holds the food at least three inches above the bottom of the pot. Put an inch or two of water in the pot and bring the water to a boil.
Put the vegetables in the basket in a single layer so that steam reaches all parts quickly. Cover the pot and keep heat high. Start counting steaming time as soon as the lid is on. See steamblanching times recommended for the vegetables listed below.


As soon as blanching is complete, vegetables should be cooled quickly and thoroughly to stop the cooking process. To cool, plunge the basket of vegetables immediately into a large quantity of cold water, 60ºF or below. Change water frequently or use cold running water or ice water. If ice is used, about one pound of ice for each pound of vegetable is needed. Cooling vegetables should take the same amount of time as blanching.
Drain vegetables thoroughly after cooling. Extra moisture can cause a loss of quality when vegetables are frozen.

Blanching Times*

VegetableBlanching Time

Small Stalk
Medium Stalk
Large Stalk

Beans-Snap, Green, or Wax3
Beans-Lima, Butter, or Pinto

(flowerets 11/2 inches across)

Brussel Sprouts
Small Heads
Medium Heads
Large Heads

Cabbage or Chinese Cabbage

1 1/2
Diced, Sliced or Lengthwise Strips

(flowerets, 1 inch across)

Small Ears
Medium Ears
Large Ears
Whole Kernel or Cream Style
(ears blanched before cutting corn from cob)


All Other


Whole (steamed)
Buttons or Quarters (steamed)
Slices steamed)

3 1/2
Small Pods
Large Pods

(blanch until center is heated)

10-15 seconds
Peas-Edible Pod1 1/2-3
Peas-Field (blackeye)2
Peas-Green1 1/2
Strips or Rings

Potatoes-Irish (New)3-5
Sweet Potatoescook
Turnips or Parsnips

*blanching times are for water blanching unless otherwise indicated.

This document was extracted from "So Easy to Preserve", 5th ed. 2006. Bulletin 989, Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia, Athens. Revised by Elizabeth L. Andress. Ph.D. and Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D., Extension Foods Specialists.