January 31, 2011

Bean Basics

Beans are great! They are high in fiber and protein. They can be counted as either of vegetable or a protein in your daily intake of food. Nutritionists recommend eating beans at least three times per week.  They are inexpensive, have a long shelf life, and are easy to use in recipes. They are delicious. They can be bought dry, or in ready to use cans.

Yes, if dry beans are stored properly, they can be used 30 years after the purchase date. However, they become very hard, and difficult to make soft and recipe ready. Therefore, it is recommended that you use dry beans within a year or two of their purchase date. For this reason, in addition to the list above,you should use beans in your cooking regularly. 

I remember when I first started cooking with beans, I asked a friend what you can use beans in besides chili.  I clearly remember her saying "Lots of things!"  The only two things I remember her listing are in salads, and fed plain to small children.  Now, two and a half years later, I am far from an expert on beans, but I do cook with them at least 1-2 times per week, and have learned to love them.  My favorite way to use beans is in soups.

Tortilla soup recipe
Good and easy black bean uses
Boston baked beans (a little thick, but good)

More recipes to come!

January 29, 2011

Bulk Food Comparison Shopping

This week I have been doing simple math to determine where the best deals are right now (Maceys vs. Family Home Storage Center [LDS canning]).  So I thought as long as I've already done the work, I should share.  The ad I'm using at Maceys is good through Tuesday, February 1 (although I'm guessing these sales will continue for another week).  The prices I'm using for the Family Home Storage center began on January 7, 2011.  The prices are usually valid for about 6 months.  I also give my opinions of all the products below, so you may consider reading, even if you won't be shopping.
Let us begin.

Powdered Milk
  •  Non-instant nonfat dry milk from the LDS cannery in a #10 can = $1.83/gallon
    • Purchasing it in a 25 lb. bag brings it down to $1.60/gallon
    • I like to use this powdered milk in baking.  I do not like to drink it plain.  I do like to drink it with a large helping of Nestle Quik.
  • Morning Moo's Lowfat Milk Alternate from Maceys in a #10 can = $1.60/gallon
    • Purchasing it in a 50 lb. bag brings it down to $.87/gallon  (I'll be buying this!)
    • This is not real milk!  It does contain milk ingredients (whey).  It has 2.5 grams of saturated fat per cup of reconstituted milk.  If any of this bothers you, then do not buy this.  I like to use it in sauces (white sauces, etc.).  It makes them nice and creamy, and does not give the sauce a powdered milk taste.  The package says that it is great in baking because it shortening-like properties.  I have not tried this yet.  It tastes good to drink.  In fact, I know several individuals and families who have lived off of this when they were unable to afford milk.  I cannot always get it to dissolve properly, though.  And powder at the bottom of a cup of water=really yucky!  I guess I just need to drink it with a spoon, and stir before every sip.
  • Country Fresh Milk at Maceys in a #10 can = $3.75/gallon.  Expensive!

Powdered Eggs
  • Maceys has these in a #10 can for $12.79.  This equates to $1.10/dozen (if you use 1 tablespoon of powder per egg).  I have had great success using powdered eggs!  I use them in everything right now, since eggs are ridiculously expensive (over $1.50/dozen).  (Actually, Fresh Market has an in-ad coupon right now for a dozen eggs for $.79, maximum 2.  Woohoo!)  Anyway, I will be purchasing 2 more cans of powdered eggs.  Be sure to buy the whole egg mix.

  • LDS cannery has both red and white wheat for $.31 per pound when purchased in a 25 lb. bag.  (This is slightly higher than the prices a year ago.  I personally think the price will continue to go up.)  
  • Maceys has both red and white wheat for $.39 per pound when purchased in a 45 lb. bucket.  This makes the bucket cost $3.54, if I say that the wheat really only costs $.31/lb.  I hope this makes sense.  Regardless, I will be buying a bucket of white wheat.
  • Learn more about the difference between red and white wheat here.

All Purpose Flour
  • Maceys has a 50 lb bag of all purpose flour for $12.99.  Great deal!
  • LDS cannery has a 25 lb. bag of all purpose flour for $10.30.

  • LDS cannery has oats (both quick and regular) in a 25 lb. bag for $9.85 (equal to .$39/lb).  
  • Maceys has 23 lb. of oats in a bucket for $17.89.  (It would be cheaper just to buy the bucket separately.)

  • LDS Cannery has spaghetti for $1.05/lb (in #10 can) and macaroni for $1.13/lb (also in #10 can).
  • Maceys has 3 lb. bags of spaghetti and macaroni for $1.69 (equal to $.56/lb)
  • If you want pasta to store for 30 years (or survive a flood), go ahead and get it sealed in the #10 can.  If you want it to eat, get it in a bag.

  • Bean prices at LDS cannery in 25 lb. bag
    • Black beans=$.53/lb
    • Pinto beans=$.70/lb
    • White beans=$.50/lb 

Maceys also has good prices on 5 lb. containers of honey, refried beans, etc.  Check out the deals at grocerysmarts.com.

Anything that I missed that you want to know about?  Does anyone know when Maceys case lot sales are?  Or is this it, and they're just not using the name?  Because these do seem like good sales, but just not quite as many advertised items.  Hmmm.

January 28, 2011

Rising food prices

Loved this post about rising prices!  She says that corn prices are rising, meaning corn syrup is too.  And this is in everything you know....  One person commented that chickens eat corn.  So, chicken prices would also be rising.  Yikes.  (Good thing I bought 40 or 50 pounds earlier this month!)

Here's my view on corn syrup:  sugar is sugar.  It is usually found in very processed food, though, which is not healthy.

January 26, 2011

Food Storage Basics

I have two food storage principles that I think fit in perfectly with my recently discussed topic of gluten free eating:

1.  Eat what you store, and store what you eat.  It's that simple.
2.  Learn to cook.  Even if you don't bake your own bread, for example, usually, know how to.  This way if you had to, you could.  So you should also store a little of these baking ingredients as well.

With these two principles in mind, it doesn't matter what food allergies or eating style you have.  Food storage does not need to be difficult or expensive.

Here's an example, continuing on with the bread example:
If you normally buy your bread, buy a couple of extra loaves to keep in your freezer.  You may also like to find a bread mix that you like, and store a little of that.  Once every month or two make some bread from the mix.  Then learn to make bread.  Store the ingredients to make this as well.  A couple of times a year, make some bread. 

January 24, 2011

Family Plan

January is quickly slipping away.  I still haven't touched my 120 hour kit, but I did complete my family plan.  First, the purpose of a family plan is to help you find your family in case of an emergency.  Where would they most likely be?  Where can you meet?  Who can you call to give a report of how and where you are, and maybe find out how other family members are, and where they are?  I filled out the forms online here.  Then I printed out a completed family plan.  It only took a few minutes!  I made copies, and put a copy of everything in our family's 120 hour kit.  I will put a copy of the papers my husband may need in his work kit, when I make that in February.
Have you made a family plan?

January 17, 2011

Gluten Free and Celiac Disease

Okay, I'm back.  I'm sorry I've taken so long to publish this post.  I've been busy (sort of) learning about cleaning without chemicals, making yogurt, pressure canning, making my family plan... Maybe I'll post about all of these someday.  Don't count on it being soon.
On to gluten free...
What is up with everything being gluten free?  Suddenly during the past couple of years whole shelves and freezer cases at grocery stores have been dedicated to items with "Gluten Free" written in bold across the font of products.  Chex cereal has "Gluten Free" written on the box in several locations.  I could go on.
Let me start at the beginning of my gluten story.  When I was in high school I had several friends, family members of friends, and family friends who had celiac disease, and consequently did not gluten.  So I became familiar with the disease, and learned that gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats (if grown in a typical fashion).  When I started having some tummy problems, my mom had me go off of all gluten for one month.  It didn't help, so I happily regained my diet of lots of bagels.
Just over two years ago, two of my siblings were diagnosed with celiac disease.  It is believed that about 1 in every 130 people have celiac disease.  If you have a close family member with it, your chances of having it increase a lot.  So I did a blood test to see if I had it.  I did not.  However, that doesn't mean I'll never have it.  Celiac disease can be triggered by an emotional or stressful event(s). 
So, between my two family members, a growing number of friends and neighbors, and the chance that I could someday have it (maybe I'm a little paranoid), I have a lot of interest in celiac disease and gluten free eating.

So, I'm going to take a break from wheat, barley, and oats.  (I don't think I'll ever mention rye on this blog.  But who knows?)  My next two series are going to be about beans and powdered milk.  My favorite way to eat beans is in soup, and this is the perfect weather for that, so expect a lot of soup recipes.

A note of caution:
I will post a lot of recipes that call for chicken bullion.  Some have wheat, some do not.  It is important to read labels if you want something you're making to be gluten free.  Food that is manufactured in the US require labels to say if the product contains wheat.  So just read the ingredient list and look for this warning.

January 12, 2011

Tortilla Soup

Here's what I had for dinner:

 Note:  The picture does not do it justice. 

Tortilla Soup
Printable version 

2 tsp oil
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp ground cumin
7 cups water
7 tsp chicken bouillon
2 cups corn
4 cups white beans (2 cans)
2 tsp chili powder
2 cups salsa
2 tab lemon juice
tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream

In a large pot, warm oil over medium heat.  Add chicken and onion.  Cook until chicken is cooked through and onion is tender.  Add garlic and cumin and mix well.  Add water, bouillon, corn, beans, chili powder, salsa, and lemon juice.  Cook until warm.  To serve, break chips into bowl.  Pour in soup.  Top with cheese and sour cream.

January 6, 2011

A Thought

I found this article on Preparedness Pro a few days ago.  I have not read the entire entry.  But I loved the beginning:
To me preparedness is not about storing lots of food, ammo, or creating a 72 hour kit. Those are simply activities that in which someone might be engaged as a result of their convictions of preparedness. Some might be surprised to hear that my idea of preparedness doesn’t even acknowledge the word “emergency.” Instead, I look at preparedness as a state of independence and effort to be independent of providing for myself, my family, and those others I love in the event we’re in the path of one of Life’s Curveballs.
"Life's Curveballs" happen to all of us.  That's why I prepare.  To learn more, find out why I have food storage.

January 5, 2011

Hot Deals this Week at Utah Stores

I was just browsing this week's grocery ads, and thought I'd share what I learned.
What's on sale this week at many Utah stores?  Boneless skinless chicken breasts and broccoli.  Some stores you have to get a 10 or 20 pound box, but at Lee's you don't.  It's priced at $1.49/lb.  I am very grateful it's such a great price this week because I realized just yesterday that I am almost out, if not completely out, of chicken.  So I will probably buy 20 pounds or so, slice it up, and put it into quart size freezer bags in meal-sized portions.  Broccoli is on sale at several stores, as well.  At Lee's it is $.79/lb.  I'm trying to feed my family more vegetables.  I realized a couple of weeks ago that my husband is supposed to eat at least 3 1/2 cups of vegetables a day.  He probably only eats 1/2 cup per day.  Similar story with me and my kids.  So I'll buy a bunch of broccoli.  I may even freeze some.  Haven't decided yet.
Case Lot Sales start at Smith's today.  This also means that Maceys, Lee's, and Fresh Market will have their case lot sales soon.  Water, canned beans, canned tomatoes, Hunt's pasta sauce, Duncan Hines Cake mix, and Pillsbury Brownie mix are all good deals.  I will be stocking up on Shredded Tillamook Cheddar Cheese.  It is $9.99 for a 5 lb. bag.  My family loves cheese!

Learn more at grocerysmarts.com.

January 1, 2011

January: Evacuating Part 1 (Family Plan and 120 hour kits)

Welcome to January 2011!  The beginning of "Be Prepared in 2011!"  I hope that you are as excited as I am to get all your preparedness gear organized this year.

This month we will be working on preparing to evacuate your home in case of an emergency.  Here are some ideas of things to do:
  • Organize a family plan.  
    • Create a family plan.
    • Determine an out of state contact.
    • Make sure every family member has out of state contact's phone number and other family member's contact information.
    • Determine what you will do if you are at home without a car
    • Visit ready.gov for more information
  • Create a 120 hour kit
    • Include food, water, warmth, light, contact information, first aid kit, money...
    • Consider kit size and portability.
      • Because my children are small, I just have one kit for the whole family in a rolling suitcase.
    • Visit ready.gov for more information
  • Make a list of things to do prior to evacuating (if time allows), and place on your 120 hour kit.  Ideas:
    • Bring:  (tent, sleeping bags, more water, etc.)
    • Shut off gas, electricity, and water, if necessary
    • Call or email out of state contact
    • Leave a note stating where you are going
    • Check with neighbors who may need a ride
    • Wear sturdy shoes and clothing
Can you think of anything else you should do to prepare to evacuate from home?  What have you, or will you do, to prepare?  You may email me  pictures or comments, if you prefer.  (Please note that these may be put on this blog.)