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Prepping on the cheap

by: Greenmom

Mon Jun 04, 2007 at 12:51:32 PM EDT


Prepping for pandemic flu-or other disasters, on a limited budget.
Greenmom :: Prepping on the cheap
When I talk to people about  prepping for pan-flu I almost always get-"But I can't afford to prep"-no matter what that individual's income or financial situation is. I'm here to bust the myth that folks can't afford to prep.  True, it takes a little more work and ingenuity, to do it on the cheap.  To quote a tv ad-"you can do it, we can help!

My dearest, wildest fantasy right now (that I can type on an open forum) is to be able to rent a semi,back it up to a Sam's Club, fill it full of prep items, and have a professional moving crew organize and pack it all into my basement-price no object. sigh.

What I have is an ancient station wagon, a tight budget and two teenagers.  Kind of a big gap there- wouldn't you say?  And yet, I have been able to get us to where we can SIP for three months. My goal is a year, and I feel it is achievable.

This is what I've done, and I hope it helps someone.

First- do as much research as you can on pan-flu and what you might need to SIP.

Second-make your list  and make a plan-prioritize your list-what you have to have, and then what would really be a great thing to have and work your way down the comfort list.

Then start working on acquiring the items you need. And this is, for me, the tricky part! :-)

An example: My biggest concern right now is food.  Ive worked out shelter,heat, water.  I already have shake lights and NOAA radios and a lot of those things.  My best and cheapest solution is gardening and I'm working on year-round gardening.  I had the offer of free horse manure-if I could come pick it up.  Even though my station wagon is ancient, I still don't wish to fill it full of manure.  Really didn't have cash to rent a truck.  But I knew someone with a farm pick-up that was going to be out of town for a week.  So-I offered to house-sit for the week-(really tough, that-I picked up mail and newspapers, and watered some plants!) in exchange for use of the truck.  So I got the free manure, plus I used the truck to move all sorts of things-mostly tree limbs, and mulch and compost, that sort of thing from here to there. (It always has to be moved-its never where you want it to be.) Its much cheaper to get a pick-up load of sand from the cement plant, than to buy it in individual bags from the hardware store, its also much cheaper to get bark mulch from the saw-mill instead bagged at the store.  Lesson here- call around for best buys and buy in bulk!  Another lesson-make a plan.  I had a truck available, I needed to plan my time to make the best use of this resource.  Fortunately, the weather co-operated and I got tons of things moved around that needed to be moved around. The garden beds are in great shape and it cost very little in cash.  (Sweat equity was fairly high)  Unfortunately, the inside of my house now looks like Godzilla has been crashing here, because I put housework on hold for the week.

Another great use of the truck-I helped an older couple move.  And in return for that, I got three dozen canning jars, a metal trash can (I will use this to store pet food) a half dozen bed pads, a bag of mis-matched sheets and two comforters(which  are great sick-room preps to have) a set of shelves, and a Fooze-ball table-this will be a great thing to keep the teens occupied during a SIP, especially if the grid goes down.  The jars, the can and the shelves were all close to the top of my list of things to get, so I was very happy. 

These are just a couple of ideas for cheap prepping.  I'll post more as I have more time.

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Sing it again, Greenmom
Trust me, I'm sympathetic to those on tight budgets but I'm getting kinda sick and tired of hearing ... "I can't" ... from those that seem to still have the money to go to the nail salon, buy $100 shoes and $70 jeans for their kids, eat out several times a week, and buy liquor and cigarettes as if they were necessities rather than luxuries.

Come on.  Where is the realism?!

A pack of cigs in Florida cost about $3.50.  By lowering the number of packs that they smoke by only 3 per week by the end of the month they could afford to buy nearly 200 lbs. of rice.  Or any given pounds of other cheap staples. 

Cut out some unnecessary traveling and you can save an extra $40 per month easily given the current gas prices.

Cut back on beer or hard liquor ... not even all the way, just cut back ... and you could probably save in excess of of another $20 - $30 dollars per month, and possibly a great deal more than that.

So let's add that up:

$42.00 (savings from cigs)
$40 (savings from lowered fuel consumption)
$20 (savings from lowered alcohol consumption)
=
$102.00

That is just in one month alone and from only three of the higher priced items that many people tend to consider "necessities" rather than the highly taxed luxury items that they are.

Now, if you are like me and mine, none of those affect you except the fuel part and I'm driving as little as possible already because of the fuel increases.  I don't go to nail or hair salons and my husband and teenage son are the only ones that go to the barber and only because they don't trust me.  LOL!

We "found" money by eating out less.  We also "found" money when I went back to cooking from scratch instead of buying a lot of prepackaged foods.  It took some adjusting but there was a huge difference in our budget after only 2 months.  And, we also lost weight, dropped bad cholesterol points, and found we weren't eating as much because the higher fiber in the homemade meals was greater.  For my family of seven I save a minimumr $200 per month by just changing what I was cooking and then add to that any sales that I can get and it really starts to add up.  That savings doesn't even include what we save by not eating out.

Skip one movie per month ... 4 tickets x $7/each = $28 + $5 (or more) on theater junk food = $33 ... that's about 100 pounds of rice and a few canned goods thrown in for good measure.

It doesn't take a drastic change in lifestyle to find a little extra money to prep.  It does take willingness.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead


I think the way to save the most money-
is to eat at home, and cook from scratch.  And when the pandemic hits, we're going to be doing that anyway so might as well start now, get in some practice and save some bucks!

Kathy you are soooo right.  I have a friend that Ive been trying to get to prep and she keeps saying, "I'm a single mom with two kids, I'm barely making it now"-but she's a heavy smoker, they eat out several times a week, go to the movies almost every week.  If her kids want a new Playstation game they whine til they get it.  My kids get to go to the movies about once every six months and they don't HAVE a Play station!
(They got a nifty practically new Foozeball table though!)

I'm not saying-and I don't think Kathy is either, to cut out EVERYTHING, but start cutting a little here and a little there-it adds up.  Special bonus- when you rarely eat out or go to the movies- its a really cool special big deal when you do get to go out.


[ Parent ]
How to save up
How about even just throwing your spare change into a jar a couple of times a week?  It's amazing how much this adds up (2 years' worth helped finance my wedding--a somewhat cheap wedding, but a wedding none-the-less!). I also threw into the jar money I received as birthday and Christmas gifts (or most of it).  The thing is to set a goal, and work, even in very small ways, toward it.  I even "break" paper bills in order to generate change, and empty my purse each week. 

WhiteSwan


[ Parent ]
Saving Money
A few days ago, the four of us went out to dinner for the first time in about eight months. We had appetizers, dinner, three drinks, two cokes, and two desserts. After tip, the bill came to $115. I almost cried. The food was not even that good! All I could think of was how much prepping I could have purchased for $115. It ruined my evening. I felt so guilty....and so stupid!

[ Parent ]
No reason to feel guilty...
You still have to live your life. You have to take a break now and then and enjoy good company. Good friends, good family, and good feelings. You can't put everything in your life on hold for an 'unknown'...

[ Parent ]
That's what my family said...
and I probably wouldn't feel so bad if my preps were finished. It just gave me a sinking feeling to see the bill. I could have purchased 25 cases of water, or replacement filters, or fruit and veggies...etc.

[ Parent ]
I know how you feel-wikimetoo
Our family took a vacation a few weeks ago and it made me cringe to think of not spending that money on preps, even though this was defiantly a "budget-plan" vacation.  But we all felt so much better when we came back that I now feel it was defiantly worth the money we spent.

You have to takes breaks!  And you know, we are in this for the long haul.  We have to do what it takes to keep spirits and morale up, and keep your emotional and mental health on good even keel.  Think of it as  money spent on your emotional prepping.


[ Parent ]
Don't feel bad!
Hubby and I don't spend much for entertainment, so he takes me out to dinner every Saturday--nowhere really expensive, Applebees-type places, and we try to keep the bill down.  (Actually, it's frugal, as I always get at least 2 more meals out of my entrees, to use for my dinners/lunches during the week).  You need to have SOMETHING fun! That's not a waste.  And there are frugal ways of having fun. 

Another way I afford to prep:  I only get paid every 2 weeks (my husband gets a weekly paycheck).  With the paychecks that I don't have to pay major bills with, such as the mortgage, I buy preps, expecially if they're on sale, such as canned goods. I also have started an emergency fund with my spare change (I spoke before about this).  I recently took the change to the bank to exchange it for bills (I plan to use this for a variety of emergencies, not just BF preps, such as an emergency evacuation due to weather, etc., so I want it to be portable). 

WhiteSwan


[ Parent ]
Maybe this isn't the right spot to ask but
... what is the absolute cheapest way to store water (I don't buy soda-so no empties to use)? I would like to get down to about 50 cents per gallon.

dogsma
get people to save soda bottles for you.  Also, the clear water bottles/gallons save water well though I temporarily use mine to store rice and popcorn kernels.


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

[ Parent ]
Speaking of water, Kathy in Fl-
I saw on the Weather Channel where the Tampa area was getting some good rain and I thought of you.  Hope you got lots of rain, but no trees down or power outage.

[ Parent ]
Water, but none for us
We got a slow steady rain for T.S. Barry, but it isn't near enough to save the trees.  Unless we get an astronomical amount of rain, we'll be in drought conditions until next year.

I know its not the smartest thing to hope for, but I wouldn't mind a few more Barrys coming around. 

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead


[ Parent ]
From what the NAtional Weather Service is saying-
you may get your wish!  I've heard theres supposed to be a lot of storm activity this summer-but thats what they said last year as well.

We are about five inches below normal-mild to moderate drought.  We haven't kicked in any  major water conservation plans yet-but we are always water conscious anyway.  We drove from Kentucky to Florida (panhandle) for vacation and was stunned by how dry Florida was-and yes, we skirted the fires a couple of times.  Alabama looked parched as well.

I'm hearing thunder now and keeping my fingers crossed.....


[ Parent ]
cheap storage container for rice
Everybody's ideas are greatly appreciated and thank you.
KathyinFL, I was just poking around for away to store more rice, so could you tell me why you are only temporarily storing your rice in the plastic bottles?  I think it was back in March that you were going to store your rice in milk jugs (maybe I misread) and I have a lot of empty milk jugs that I was thinking about using as cheap storage container for my rice.  I was hoping it could be a long term, 1-2 years. 
thank you


[ Parent ]
Only temporarily means only until I use it
NC Seeking, what I meant was that I would put the rice into the 2 liter bottles until I used it or moved it to a different container because I needed the 2 liter for water.

I've had rice in 2 liter bottles for over a year and just rotate as needed.  I do throw in a bay leaf, but I've never had a bug problem with the rice at all.

The other bottles I use are the gallon water bottles ... the clear plastic that Zephyrhills and similar brands use. 

I've also got popcorn kernels stored the same way, but I rotate that more quickly because of moisture content.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead


[ Parent ]
I store unopened bags of rice in plastic kitty litter containers
I got this tip from Bronco Bill.  One of those containers will hold 25 lbs of rice and they will stack.  I put the bags of rice n the freezer for a few days to kill any bugs-these are small 2 or 3 lb bags, then put them in the plastic k-l tubs. 

[ Parent ]
Thank you for the good ideas!
Good deal and thank you for the ideas!

[ Parent ]
Have you tried any of that rice after storage?
I ask because when I had a cat, the litter was scented.  Does the scent get into the rice or did you somehow remove it from the plastic?  Or what kind of litter do you use if it isn't scented?  (Maybe I'll get a kitten again some day.)

"The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it."  Flannery O'Connor

[ Parent ]
Actually, I did use some of the rice and it tasted fine-
but the litter was NOT scented. My fam has a lot of allergies and I avoid scented products AMAP.  I DID bleach out the containers before storing the rice-just as a precaution, and also because they had sat in the basement where we do have mice- though there was no indication that mice had been in the container.

I rotated some fresh rice in and old rice out.  There was not litter, plastic or bleach taste or smell to the rice.

That particular litter was Tidy Cats, but I have since switched to using cedar chips (sold in bales as pet bedding) the cedar is cheaper, smells better and I can use it afterwards as mulch for flower beds and hedges(don't use it around food plants) the cedar and kitty smells helps repel rabbits, rodents and deer. 


[ Parent ]
Cheap Water
Dodsma,
I'm researching more on water filters and came across this statement: "the AquaRain® can produce quality drinking water for less than 2¢ per gallon! "

http://www.aquarain....

I'm sure this would be the case for the Berkey system http://www.berkeylig... and others, too.

I just read this and thought of your post. The initial outlay is not cheap, but in the long run, you'll have inexpensive, safe, water, all with little storage space. Of course, this is assuming you have a place to gather water for use in the filter.

Other than a filtration system, having someone save you their empties, like KathyinFL suggested, is probably the cheapest way. Bottled water by the gallon or 35 pk 16 oz. bottles runs about $1 per gal.


[ Parent ]
Cheap water-
We don't drink much soda either so I get people to save bottles like Kathy suggested.  My dh brings them home from his office when ever they have staff meetings/trainings, office parties, etc.  I do a fair amount of volunteer work and bring them home from various meetings/receptions/gatherings.  Ask around places like scout meetings, little league type sports gatherings, PTA meetings. Or family reunions, anniversary parties, baby/wedding showers.  Its amazing how fast you can accumulate these bottles!  I just rinse them out and fill them with my tap water.

I also use clear juice bottles, but I'm careful to wash these out carefully and make sure all the juice is gone-Ive opened one of these bottles that was filled with water but hadn't been washed thoroughly and the water was contaminated. (Smelled pretty bad)  You can also put a few drops of bleach in each one to be sure the water is completely disinfected.  Unfortunately, that leaves a "bleachy" taste.  You might want to use some powdered drink mix-Kool-Aid, Tang, etc to disguise the taste.

I use milk jug to store water for washing-I wouldn't use this water for drinking because I don't think you can completely get all the milk out-also these containers disintegrates much faster than the clear plastic (This has been my experience)  But I keep some of these, with a few drops of bleach, for hand/dish washing. 

You can also use milk jugs to store water with about a tablespoon of dish soap for watering house plants.  Ive done some research into this, and my personal experience bears out, that if you are shut up in an enclosed space for some time, certain house plants will help freshen and even purify (somewhat) the air.  Spider plants, philodendron, peace lilies and ferns are the best for this.  A bonus is that they are inexpensive, easy to care for and you can divide and repot them and have more -you can place several in each room of your house or share with friends.  These plants are an important part of my SIP plan so I want to make sure I have sufficient water for them. 

Also, if you have pets, keep their water needs in mind.  I wouldn't give my pets "milk jug water" 


[ Parent ]
I have an old bleach bottle that I filled with a 10:1 water and bleach solution.
I use it to rinse out wine bottles, then I fill them with tap water.  I save the bleach solution to use again.  It still smells like bleach so I guess it's still working.  Maybe after a while I'll throw it away and make a new solution.

"The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it."  Flannery O'Connor

[ Parent ]
An aloe plant might be a good plant to have on hand
I was reading through this diary and am grateful for the reminder to have some plants to care for and make use of during SIP.  I travel a lot and, for now, have decided not to have extra things to worry about. SIP would be a good time.  I know you know, Greenmom, but let me put it in writing, that an aloe plant would be a good addition for burns.  Anyone who doesn't know: break off a piece, split it to expose the gel, and rub it on a burn.  I'm concerned about all the fire we might be dealing with...sterno, charcoal, candles, etc.

[ Parent ]
Cheap water
We are able to buy 55-gallon food-grade barrels that had been used for vinegar for $3 each from a local food processor.

Siphon: $15

Bleach: (I don't remember the cost, but not much for a gallon)

It works out to about $.36/gallon for the first barrel (with the cost of the siphon), and $.09/gallon for each subsequent barrel, plus the cost of either tap water or screening/connectors (& a filter) for your rain downspouts.


[ Parent ]
Thats a great idea!
Sometime ago Dh picked up for us a couple of 55-gal food grade barrels that had contained syrup for soft drinks-I'm not sure where he got them,- bottling plant?  I use them to collect rain-run-off from my roof to water my backyard garden.

That might be another source for water storage


[ Parent ]
We are on a budget that requires a budget!
Seriously! New York State is very expensive to live in.
I've found that basic prepping does not have to be expensive for food and water. Once you move beyond that, then you start to run into expense. If your creative, you can cut that expense.

People seems to think that they have to buy food and water all at once, therefore, "I can't afford to do that."  They need to be made to understand, that putting food and water back is something you do over time. I had this one woman tell me she couldn't afford to buy prep stuff, and I asked her to explain to me, just how she "didn't have the money" to put emergency items back. I said, "You can't afford to put back a couple of cans of food each week? You can't afford to put back a gallon of water each week? You can't afford to buy a flashlight?" You can't afford a bag of beans and rice?" She said, "Well, when you put it like that, it doesn't sound like alot of money. Is that what you do?" I let out a big sigh, put a smile on my face and proceeded to tell her how I go about it. I then told her about the fluwiki and gave her the website. I haven't seen her in over a month, so I wonder how she's doing.

I use this woman as an example, because she had it in her head, that putting emergency supplies back, meant going out and buying 200.00 worth of stuff at once, and "she couldn't afford that." I just can't undertand that mentality. I have a client(and dear friend), that is so stressed out from her job,kids,and bills, that putting stock back is THE last thing on her mind. This is the majority of the people. They spend money on needless things to manage their stress, then complain about their debt. My client is a shop-a-holic. Try telling her, that instead of shopping for more clothes, go shopping for a camp stove instead. "What fun is there in that?" She's one of these, that if she hears of impending emergency, ect., she'll run to the grocery store and max out the credit card.  That will be her idea of "preparing." She thinks I'm totally off my rocker. Hey, I can happily live with that! ;-)

United we stand: Divided we fall
www.flunewsnetwork.com


And when Secretary Leavitt
tried to tell people the same thing, all we heard was jokes about the "tuna and milk diet."  As though people just weren't smart enough to see that he was obviously using those items as examples.

I don't even talk about this stuff any more except with close friends and people who I know are also the kind who are already preparing.


[ Parent ]
Why has the attitude towards emergency prepardness
changed so much? I recall back in the 70's and early 80's, people were into preps, and one would think that we have even more reasons to prep now. One thing I do know that has changed, and that is the media. We base our perception of things, by what the media reports. Well, the media has stopped reporting about bird flu in Indonesia, so people think it's gone away. Never was a threat, or the media would let us know otherwise.
I don't make the effort anymore either. When there is opportunity, I take it. People around here have been talking about the TB patient, so I've had plenty of opportunities. ;-)

United we stand: Divided we fall
www.flunewsnetwork.com


[ Parent ]
Strange that you should mention
the 70's and early 80's, which is the time I often refer to as "before the MSM made 'survivalist' a bad word."

I first got interested in this during my time with the 2d Infantry Division in Korea back in 76-77.  I must have read just about every survival article Mel Tappan wrote.

Unfortunately, the time after I got out included some very bad years financially and I wasn't able to really start accumulating long term storage foods and other items until the mid to late 80's.  I always had my skills, camping gear and ammo though.  LOL

My wife says she thinks I want to survive Armageddon to get back at those who treated me badly during and after my 6 years of service in the Army.  I don't know if I'm ready to survive Armageddon, but I bet I can make it through TEOTWAWKI in relative comfort.


[ Parent ]
I think the media has also made "thrift" a bad word.
With help from ad agencies  of course.  Everything has to be shiny! and new! (and expensive) or somehow you are a weird old mentally ill miser not to be trusted.

I remember a few years ago a new educational toy came out-I think it was called a leap-pad or leap frog or something like that -very expensive-something like $50 for the basic unit, plus you bought additional cartridges and of course it required batteries.  I got so much grief from other parents and some teachers because I wouldn't buy one for my kids.  I just bought them plain old regular books instead.  Its funny how many of these, hardly used, are showing up at yard sales and thrift stores.

I LOVE books from the 70's/early 80's-my favorite cookbooks/gardening/sewing/craft are from then. Any type of how-to from that period is worth having.  There was a great sense of do-it yourself and recycling.  Now craft books give instructions to buy pre-made units and and hot-glue them together.

 


[ Parent ]
When I gointo my thrift shop
that's the first place I go: the books. Books everywhere.Have gotten some good stuff for all sorts of things. I stay with that time period as often as I can too.
And cheap!!

United we stand: Divided we fall
www.flunewsnetwork.com


[ Parent ]
Now the VISA commercial makes money look bad. Hope money does not disapear n/t


[ Parent ]
Some free prep ideas-
WARNING! Some of these are pretty wacky!

Some time ago, dh and I had coffee at an elderly gentleman's home.  Now this person was pretty well off, made some good investments etc etc.  This is what cracked me up-and probably why he was well off.  When the coffee was ready, he put a rather large canister on the table.  Inside were HUNDREDS, maybe THOUSANDS of packets of sugar/creamer/artificial sweetener.  His wife rolled her eyes and said every time he went to a restaurant/convenience store/fast food place he grabbed up a big handful of these packets and brought them home.

So it got me thinking about what kind of freebies are out there and there are a lot!  And if you feel a little squeamish about it (Will people think I'm some sort of weird miser? A greedy gus?)  Think of this-most of these places WANT you to take the stuff-very often it has a company's logo on it and its advertising.

Here are some things Ive picked up, free, in the last couple of months or so-

The aforementioned sugar packets, plus napkins and straws
condiment packets-ketchup, mustard etc.

Garden seeds-I got packets of Sunflower seeds yesterday from BP gas station, Ive noticed several companies giving out seeds this spring-some sort of Green Initiative?

Samples of soap, shampoo, mouth wash etc.  Some of these are from hotels (dh business trips) some were handed out at stores.  Many of these I don't use but I thought they might be good barter items.

I went to a health fair and got a whole bag of great health related stuff-thermometer, OTC samples, dosage spoons, cups, a free bike helmet for my daughter,(!)

Kids and I ushered at a theater in exchange for free tickets to the performance.  We also each got a free t-shirt, plus several packages of cookies and punch left over from the opening night reception.  The unopened cookies went into my prep stash.

Lots of places (Banks, insurance companies etc) have free pens, paper pads, mints/candy, match books-I try to especially collect the matches, though with all the no-smoking laws free match books are about to become a thing of the past.

  If you work in an office, often sales reps will give you free stuff.  Dh works in a clinic and the stuff drug reps hand out is astonishing! (Ever wonder why your prescriptions are so high?)  We've gotten: bottles of hand sanitizer (Very  handy!) clip boards, every kind of office gadget you can think of, lots of sticky notes! a clock! water bottles, coffee cups, towels, and tons of pens and pencils.

We all take allergy meds and one of the companies (Zyrtec-I think)will send really cool premiums to you if you fill out their survey.  Ive gotten a really nice fleece lap robe, and cool travel game set(magnetic checkers/chess/backgammon set) A cd visor for the car (I'm not sure how this is a prep item but it is great to have.)

Ive gotten two "backpacks" free- these are nylon bags with draw string cord closure and cord straps.  They both have ads on them one a reality company, the other "Drug-free America" kind of thing.  One of them is the perfect size to hold four nylon windbreakers that I keep in my car for weather changes. (Two of the windbreakers were free-they have logos on them, one I got really cheap at a thrift store the other on a sales rack)  The other one holds sunblock/insect repellent/first aid kit/hand sanitizer.  They are pretty handy.  I also have an assortment of canvas shopping bags, most of those were free.

Our insurance company, at New Years, gave out really nice
(fake)leather appointment/planner books.  Mine fits in my purse and has been fantastic for, well, planning!  I use it to co-ordinate my shopping trips and keep a running basic inventory list.  I have a large calender in the pantry that I got, free, at County extension office that I keep pantry notes, expy dates etc. on-plus it has ever so helpful home economic tips on it.  A second calender, from Farmers Supply, has lots of garden info, planting dates, phases of the moon, that sort of thing.


I know some of these ideas are kind of trivial-
but every bit helps and I think it helps to get in the prepping mode-If you start out small, you begin to build up an  "eye" or a extra sense towards building up your prep stashes.

I hope this helps.


[ Parent ]
Oh Greenmom, you are a "trip!"
What wonderful, practical ideas. I've passed up freebies, such as some of the things you've mentioned, thinking I don't have a use for it. Of course there's a use for it! The surgar packets, ect, are excellant ideas. Take up much less storage space, and we don't use much sugar anyway. I've passed up LOTS of soap, shampoo, ect, samples at garage sales, all new. Ugh!(cottontop rolls her eyes). Well, I won't be doing that anymore. And you know as well as I do, that during a SIP pandemic, the bratering system will rule.

United we stand: Divided we fall
www.flunewsnetwork.com


[ Parent ]
More free prep ideas-
These preps take a little more effort than scooping up some sugar packets, but you may find them useful.

We all need shelving for preps.  The cheapo classic is cinder(concrete) blocks and boards.  If you know of any construction going on, ask if you can have leftover/extra cinder blocks-it is often more trouble than its worth for contractors to return these and they will sometimes let you have a few they have left over.  Or scout around-I see poor abandoned cinder blocks all the time.  Contractors will probably NOT give you shelving boards-those are fairly pricey. (though you never know) but there may be something you can use.  I used scrap hardwood flooring-it had a lot of knots, but it came in six-foot lengths.  A friend of mine brought a truck load of nice pallets from the factory he worked at-they were throwing them out. He pulled them apart and made some good shelving, then went on to make a dog house with what was left over.  Buddy up to those contractors and carpenters!  we got a whole set of  cabinets, free, that were pulled out of a house remodel-dh built a great work-bench/storage unit from them.

Several people have mentioned getting food grade 5-gallon buckets from delis/bakeries, and those are great.  Also ask around at cafeterias or restraunts- sometimes they have glass pickle jars (gallon size) that are great, but more and more things come in plastic, which is ok, but it tends to hold the smell of its previous occupants.

Put the word out that you are looking for stuff.  Ive gotten most of my canning equipment from older relatives who were thrilled that a younger generation was taking up canning-they were also glad to get rid of it as they were no longer canning.  If you have priced new pressure canners, you see this can save big bucks.  You might pick up gardening or hand tools this way. I get BAGS of quilt fabrics, thread, sewing/craft materials, yarn, frequently because people know I do needlework.  Sometimes its really hideous, and gets discretely donated to a thrift store in another town, but sometimes the stuff is wonderful.  If someone offers you something,even if its something your not too keen about, take it-you can always barter it sooner or later. 

  This brings me to-Freecycle- technically  it isn't free because you offer up something first, but you get the opportunity to get rid of something you don't want in exchange for something you do.  To be honest, I havn't had much luck with this myself, but I know people-mostly in larger cities who have made great trades.  I have had some pretty good informal barters, though.

My last idea is pretty controversial and that is dumpster diving or trash-picking.  We live in a affluent society, even if some of us individually are not and people toss out all kinds of perfectly good stuff everyday.  I have to tell you I have mixed feelings about dumpster diving.  On the one hand I hate to see things wasted.  But on the other hand, as you see I spend a lot of time on web-sites devoted to epidemics that haven't even broken out yet.  My over active germophobic imagination just reels at the thought of all the pathogens lurking in a dumpster.  Plus I admit to a fear and loathing of mice-if I were to come face to face with an actual rat, and Ive been told they like to hang out in dumpsters, I'd probably pass out or just be really messed up.  So I personally take a pass at dumpster diving though I have diverted items at other people's houses that were trash-ward bound, most notably canning jars and flower pots and kittens and given them a loving home.  I know in some places they have days where people put stuff out they don't want and other people are allowed to pick them up, but Ive never lived in such a place myself. I'm not sure I even know where there is a dumpster, now that I think about it.

But often you do come in contact with folks that are getting rid of stuff that could be useful to you and  you need to speak up and say"Hey, if your going to toss that, can I have it?"  I attended a community arts reception where, at the end the chairperson was going to toss the better part of a whole large sheet cake, several packages of cookies, a deli fruit tray,a deli cheese and cracker tray and several  bottles of soda in the trash because she didn't want to "deal" with it.  I was quite happy to deal with it.

My aunt used to collect "empty" shampoo bottles from a hair salon-there would actually be a fair amount left, its just that the beautician didn't have time to tip the bottles upside down to get the last bit out.

My daughter collects aluminum cans and redeems them to pay for books she wants.  She has politely asked and received permission to put collection barrels in a couple of places round town, plus she has asked all the relatives to save them for her.

Just look around, and ask around and happy hunting!


Can't recommend dumpster diving but...
Can't recommend dumpster diving but I can tell you I have had to empty a school dumpster twice to search for a $200 orthodonture retainer that a couple of my daughters threw out with their lunch trash.  I had to search through a few hundred crumpled up brown lunch bags to find them but both times I did!  I have to tell you it was eye opening to see what affluent middle school kids routinely throw out.  Lots of stuff that was perfectly good and sealed and safe to eat.  I suggested to the school that they should have a Manna (foodbank) collection dropoff but they looked at me like I was crazy.  Looking through a school dumpster at the end of a school day to collect prep items certainly beats going hungry.

More surf, less web



[ Parent ]
Heres a couple of great books for cheap prepping-
Both of these have been recommended on Old Yeller, but are so good I want to mention them again over here.

For prepping NOW I heartily recommend "THe Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyczyn.  It was originally printed in the form of a newsletter, then in bound book form-3 volumes, and now you can get all three in one volume.

Amy gives hundreds (maybe thousands) of tips on how to save money on EVERYTHING.  Theres a lot of great prep ideas in here but even ideas on saving on non-prep things like say Halloween costumes or car insurance  will free up money for preps.  She is very down to earth and practical.  If you really need to save money you can check this out of the library, but it is worth having a copy for yourself.

The second book is "How to Cook a Wolf" by M.F.K. Fisher.  This was first published in 1942 as a guide for British Housewives coping with food shortages, blackouts, air raids and all sorts of other nasty surprises during the Second World War.  A second revised edition with extra material came out in 1951.  ITs still in print-a new edition, along with four other of her works combined in a volume entitled "The Art of Eating" came out in 1990, and you can get it, rather inexpensivly in paperback.

  Although primary a cooking/food guide, (Ms Fisher is particularly well known for her food writing) theres  lots of excellent advise about coping physically and emotionally during an extreme crises.  This book I would recommend you buy and have with you during a SIP situation.  Two minor drawbacks-one she talks about surviving war, a definite crises but one in which you can, in between air raids, get out and do some shopping, or gather with friends and commiserate at the local pub.  The second is that the material is now 60 years old and some things she talks about are now longer around-keeping eggs in a jellied chemical called water-glass, for instance.  She would also be surprised at things we have available to us now-I believe she would be dismayed at overuse of processed food, but delighted at the variety of prep goods available.

I truly wish she were still around to give us some advise about what to prep for a three month SIP.  As she was born in 1909, she lived through the 1918 pandemic as a child.  I'm currently re-reading "Wolf" to pick up some tips.  I believe I'll re-read and track down some of her other work to see if she has anything to say about the 1918 pandemic.


A cheap prep week-
Monday-I have to go to another (bigger) town for some errands and I swing by the the bakery outlet store.  The days offerings included wholegrain loaves for 50 cents a loaf-my grocery sells these for $2.37 a loaf.  I picked up 12 loaves, plus 2 packages each of bagels/English muffins-also at .50 cents a bag. $8.00 Total  These went in my freezer.

Tuesday-farmers market day.  I'm cultivating a relationship with one of the farmers  (ok, bribing him with cheap paperback westerns) He tells me that there will be no local peaches, plums or cherries this year because of a late freeze-I suspected that but now its been confirmed.  Rats.  He gives me a good deal on strawberries-plenty locally and these were not affected by the freeze,  My strawberry bed is not quite producing enough for preserving, maybe next year.  And even though I like to buy locally and seasonally ASMP, he has some late winter oranges at a irresistible price.  I get strawberries, oranges a six-pack of cayenne pepper plants and a sage plant for $10.00.  He throws in some zucchini for free.
Half of the zucchini I served for dinner, (with other stuff) and the other half I blanched and froze.  I also froze a quart of strawberries.

Wednesday-FIL is going out of town for a few days and has milk and bananas that will go bad before he gets back.  The milk is about 3/4 gallon-I mixed up a quart of powdered milk, and added it to his jug-ta da a full gallon of milk, kids never guess its partially powdered-I'm trying to gradually get them used to the powdered milk taste.  I save three bucks on a gallon of milk.  I put up 7 jars of strawberry jam, and 7 jars of orange marmalade.
I use a package of lids-about a dollar, and about $3.00 worth of sugar.

Thursday-Daughter has play practice so I take her to town.  Stop by store and with the 3 bucks I saved on milk buy a box of poptarts (Is bogo, so I get two) and two cans of peaches.  Put these in my stash.

Friday, dh comes home from work -he has (more!) bananas and stale doughnuts left from weekly staff breakfast meeting.  He also has 6 breakfast packs left from summer food program.  Federal Law states any food left at the end of the week must be discarded.  So dh "discards" it by first making sure none of the kids want it, then sharing with his staff.  Even so, there are 6 packs left.  These go in my stash.

Saturday- Bananas are getting too ripe so I make three loaves of banana bread and stick one in freezer. (doughnuts didn't last)

Sunday-I really don't like to do any shopping or major cooking on Sundays.  But I do take a few minuets to look at the coming weeks sales fliers.  June is Dairy Month, and we have some big dairy farms around here, so its taken pretty seriously.  This will be a good time to stock up on dairy items-I'm thinking mostly cheese, for the freezer.  I also look at my pantry/inventory list to see what needs restocking, particularly canning supplies if I come across good produce deals.  I have plenty of lids/jars but really short on sugar.  I check to see if there's any glaring holes in my preps.

So for $20.00 I have bread and jam for 12 weeks, plus breakfasts for a week.  (My fam eats a light breakfast, mostly bread/pastry and fruit.)  Except for the canning, and planning, none of this really took any extra time, because I worked it in with my regular shopping/errands and even the canning could be done in an evening after work or a weekend.  This week just happened to be bread and breakfast.  Other weeks I would think more about lunches or suppers, or grains or beans or whatever.  Some weeks I may not have twenty bucks for prepping-some weeks I might have a little more.  But you see, it can be done fairly cheaply, but it does take some time.

I hope this helps somebody.


A good deal today only. Sunday June 10
Today at www.woot.com  there is a WeatherX Dynamo Flashlight/Radio w/ NOAA Weather Band for
$12.99 + $5.00 shipping.  It has a hand crank and comes with two rechargable batteries.

Woot.com is a site that sells 1 thing every day. When that one thing is gone, that is it untill tomorrow.  Go check it out if your interested in the radio.

Our children change our lives, whether they live or not.
www.misschildren.org


Preps this week
WalMart has Clorox disinfecting wipes, tub of 75 wipes, lowered in price to about $3.60 (I think it was originally $5.+). At any rate, a bargain; I use these to clean my kitchen and bathrooms with.  This brand also advertises on the tub, "Kills flu virus!". I bought 3 tubs to add to my emergency kit.  Sorry I can't state the accurate price; can't find my receipt just now; but I know it was a very good price!

Also, I buy janitorial bulk bathroom paper towels at BJ's Warehouse Club.  I've been using these in the shared bathroom downstairs (we have 3; hubby and I each have our own).  I didn't get a cold nor the flu this winter--a rarity for me!  I think using disposable hand towels helps. Again, I'm not sure of the price; I think you get a huge box of a couple thousand paper towels (they are wide, folded over, flat towels) for anywhere from $17-$21.  These last a long time, since it's only 2 of us, and not many visitors (who like them, BTW; no worrying about using the fancy guest towel; they can have their own, sanitary hand towels.) I just put them in a pretty, wide, flat tray basket on the vanity; they're made to fit into an institutional wall dispenser, which I think BJ's probably sells.

Has anyone checked out Amazon's groceries?  I just used this service for the first time, and am very pleased.  I bought 2 cases of Kraft Easy Mac and 2 of Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger tea (which I swear helps colds, the flu, sinuses, etc.).  Many of the prices were not so great; but the Easy Mac was a crate of 8 boxes (each has 6 individual packs) for $13.12--which comes out to (I think) .27 a pack, as opposed to the cheapest store price of .47 a pack.  If you spend $25 or more, the shipping is free on most items, and the stuff arrived within a week. The Red Zinger was not a great bargain, but slightly cheaper than the everyday price at the store, and I drink at least 1 serving a day (maybe why I didn't get sick this winter?).  It makes a refreshing iced tea, too.  All this was added to my prep pantry. 

WhiteSwan


Preps for 6/29/07
Not exactly earth-shattering news but...WalMart has Snack-Pack pudding on sale for .87; it's normally $1.27 here.  How much of what I bought will ever see the emergency use; and as much as I try to justify it, having a "Have no chocolate in the #%$%^$^ house" fit is NOT a true emergency!  Serioulsy, I like to keep some on hand for upset stomachs and sore throats; I do realize, since it's dairy, it's not so good when you're producing mucous.  This kind doesn't need refrigeration, which means you can put in the pantry for long-term storage (would be good to put in a general emergency/evacuation kit, too).

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