October 28, 2010

My New Menu Plan

I have a new menu plan. While I like to cook and eat lots of different foods, my husband and children like the same few meals repeated frequently. So I gave in, and we are eating primarily their favorite meals.

Here is our 2 week menu:

Barbecue chicken with macaroni & cheese
Meat loaf with potatoes
Spaghetti and meatballs
Chicken enchiladas
Beef enchiladas
Sweet & sour chicken
Chicken with white sauce and pasta or potatoes
Chili OR White Chili
Vegetable soup OR Tortilla Soup
Breakfast for dinner OR beef taco bake

We'll have these meals, with a few others of my choice mixed in, over and over again.

Pros of this menu method:
  • It will be easy to decide what to have for dinner
  • It's really easy to make a 3 month food storage plan (I will post it soon!)
  • I can easily freeze meals ahead of time when I buy large quantities of meat
  • My family will enjoy dinner all the time, since these are all meals we all enjoy

Con of this menu method:
  • I will get a little bored cooking and eating the same foods

How do you plan your menu?

October 18, 2010

Powdered Eggs Experiment 1

I bought powdered eggs a few weeks ago for the first time, so my experiments are beginning. My first experiment was with cookies.
For this experiment I made 3 batches of cookies. The first was my control group, and was made with a regular egg. The second batch was made with 1 1/2 Tablespoons egg powder and 3Tablespoons of water, as I learned from Everyday Food Storage. The third batch was made according to the container's directions, with 2 1/2 Tablespoons of both egg powder and water.

Here were my observations of the dough:
  • The two batches made with powdered eggs were dry. The third batch (made according to the egg powder package directions) did not hold together completely.
  • The two batches with egg powder tasted the same. Yes, egg powder is pasteurized, so it is safe to eat cookie dough!

Observations of the cookies:
  • I thought all 3 batches tasted the same.
  • Several people noticed that batches 2 and 3 had a slight different flavor than the first batch, but thought they were all good.
  • Several people thought that batches 1 and 3 tasted just the same except 3 was a little more salty.
  • One person thought the third batch was a little more moist, and one person thought it was a little dry.

My final thoughts:
  • Why follow the package directions and use 2 1/2 tablespoons of egg powder when 1 1/2 tablespoons will do the trick?
  • I will try using a little more water next time.

October 15, 2010

Canning, again

The past 2 days 2 friends and I canned 45 quarts of applesauce, and 32 quarts of grape juice.
Here's what I learned:  Applesauce has multiple steps, but is easy!  With a Victorio Strainer, you don't have to peel the apples or remove seeds.  All you do is wash the apples, quarter them, remove the stem, heat on stove in a pot to soften, put through the strainer, fill the jars, and put filled jars in the boiling water bath.

October 13, 2010

Tip for Softening Butter and Margarine

Do you hate when you're cooking along, and you find that the recipe you're making calls for softened butter or margarine, and yours is in the fridge?  Well, here's what you do:
  1. Put the cube in the microwave for about 5 seconds
  2. Turn the cube over, so that the side that was on the bottom is now facing up and cook for 5 seconds
  3. Turn the cube so that one of the sides is now on the bottom and cook for 5 seconds
  4. Repeat step 2
All 4 big sides should have been on the bottom.  You may not need to do all 4 steps.  Just stop when the butter feels soft.

October 11, 2010


I'm posting about my canning experience last week only to give you a few ideas, if you have fruit readily available, and to give you a few tips so that you don't have to make the same mistakes that I do.
My friend and I made peach applesauce!  The peaches growing in my backyard are not very flavorful, but they are sweet, so my sister gave me the idea to put them in with my applesauce.  It was delicious, and I didn't have to add any extra sugar!  Here was the problem, though:  I didn't soften the fruit enough prior to putting it in through the strainer.  When making applesauce, you're supposed to cook the apples (peeled and cored) on the stove just enough to soften them, then stick them through a strainer machine to get anything out that may have slipped in (such as a little peel, a seed, etc.).  Because the fruit wasn't soft enough, it ended up shooting out quite a bit of good fruit with the little bit of stuff I don't want in my applesauce.  I didn't realize that this was the problem until a day later, though, and ended up throwing away a lot of good fruit. 
The next mistake was that the jars weren't warm enough before going into the boiling water.  So one of the jars broke in the boiling water bath.
So there's my mistakes.  I intend to not make the same mistakes next time, and I hope that you won't either.

October 8, 2010

Year Supply Chart

Someone asked me for a printable chart with recommended long-term storage needs.  Here it is.  Remember that you can adjust it to meet your and your family's needs.  For example, f you have never eaten barley, don't store it.  Store more oats instead.  Just be sure to keep the totals.

October 5, 2010

Beginning Food Storage

Why Food Storage?

Why should I store food? Because you never know when you might not be able to get food at the store, and food is essential to your survival. There could be a trucking strike. You could lose your job. You could get sick and not want to leave home. A reverse quarantine could be put in place due to a wide-spread illness in your area. There could be a natural disaster (where you live, or where the food you eat is grown). The government could put rations on what you're allowed to buy at the store. I think you get the idea.

What should I store?

What do you eat? This is what you should store.

How do I rotate the food?

One method is to put new food in the back, and eat from the front. More details below under “How can I afford food storage?”

How can I afford food storage?

Here is my method:

1. First I determined an amount of money that I could afford to spend on food storage each month. This amount was higher than what I originally supposed, because I saved so much money on groceries.

2. The amount of money I budget for food storage revolves from month to month. So, if I don’t spend the money one month, I can spend it the next, or the following one after that.

3. Next I made a list of canned/packaged food that my family eats regularly, and estimated how many of each of these we eat in a 3-month time period. See all my 3 month supply posts.

4. When each of these items is on sale, I inventory how much I have, and how much more I need to complete my 3-month supply.

5. I purchase this amount of the item, plus enough to last until the next time I expect this item to go on sale (usually 6 months). For example, my family eats approximately 6 cans of refried beans in 3 months. When refried beans go on sale, I look in my cupboard, find that I only have 2 cans, and then buy 16 cans, because I don’t expect them to be this price for another 6 months (12 cans to last 6 months, plus 4 cans to make a 3 month supply). I pay for these 16 cans using money that I have saved up in my food storage fund.

6. When I have a good supply of food for my 3-month supply, and/or don’t expect any good sales at the grocery store soon, I go to the cannery to work on my year supply items (wheat, oats, etc.)

7. I use the food that I store for both my 3-month and year supply regularly, so that the food doesn’t go bad, so that I know how to use the food, and so that I save money on groceries.

October 4, 2010

Update on eggs at Maceys

I talked about the powdered eggs on sale at Maceys in this post.  Turns out that the can has approximately 170 Tab in it (I opened up a can and measured), making large eggs about $1.12 per dozen.  Not quite as good of a deal as I had hoped.  But eggs are frequently more expensive than this, so I guess I may save money by using them sometimes.