Cannery trip

So I stopped in at the Mormon cannery the other day. Actually, if you want to be technical, its the Bishop’s Storehouse or Missoula Home Storage Center. What it actually is is a solid example of a group of Like Minded Individuals working together for a common benefit. Say what you will about the Mormons, they take care of their own and are not screwing around about it. Their logistics are amazing.

I hadn’t been up there in several years since they stopped the DIY dry-canning opportunities. Nowadays you can go up there, but instead of canning the stuff on your own you buy it already canned. It’s certainly more convenient, but I really liked the hanging out and interacting with other (somewhat) like-minded folks.

Anyway, I went up there not because I needed anything but because a friend of mine wanted to go and he’d never been there before. He wound up with a few hundred dollars of assorted goodies and all parties concerned were glad to help. The official line, as I understand it, is that the church offers the services and products of their food storage facility because they want to help their fellow man. Good on them. I’ve been told by people with a more pragmatic bent that the more accurate reason is because if they make the food storage available to their neighbors it lowers the odds of the neighbors forming an angry mob and coming to take their food storage.. I suspect there is an equal element of truth to both statements.

If you’ve never been to one of these places, it is an outstanding source to get some staple goods at unbeatable prices to round out your home storage. The place is almost exactly like Costco but smaller and with about 200% more Jesus. In all my trips there I never once had anyone put a religious spin into things except for starting the visit off with a quick prayer. No one tries to convert you, engage you in religious conversation, or anything like that. We all know why we’re there and we get it done.

20170225_090700 20170225_091102What they offer are very basic foodstuffs. Wheat, onions, carrots, sugar, pasta, dried apples, oats, etc. These are things that you could survive on by themselves if you absolutely had no choice, but they’re much better used in conjunction with other storage foodstuffs.

Anyway, it was a nice visit. I always feel a sense of belonging around the poeple there when I go…not because of some religious compatriotism but rather because I’m around other people who don’t think stuffing your basement full of food, ammo, and toiilet paper is a weird idea.

Upcoming cannery trip

Reminder: A dozen 10/22 mags for $104 delivered.
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Winter continues apace. A good time for indoor things like reloading, inventorying, re-arranging things, etc, etc.

Got together with one of the LMI the other day. He was asking me about the LDS cannery in town. I hadn’t been there in several years and since then they have changed their policy about food canning. See, it used to be you’d get a half dozen people or so, head up there, everyone put on gloves and a hair net, and you took your place in the assembly line process of canning food. Your task might be to scoop rice from the 100# bag into the cans, or your job might be to put the oxygen absorber in the can, or perhaps your job was to seal the can…you get the idea. Anyway, there was a certain amount of ‘sweat equity’ involved and having to work together with strangers. Normally, I do not like working with strangers but since these were strangers who shared my beliefs and goals it was rather nice.

And then, as usual, .gov stepped in screwed it up.

Health and safety, food handling regs, whatever….short version is that because of bureaucratic BS you couldn’t continue doing it the way it had been done. Instead, you go up there now and buy the food already canned. Heck,  you can even head over to the church website and order the stuff online at the same price.

So, I need to get together with my buddy and make an appointment to go up there and pick up a few things. I was going over my spreadsheet and I’ve a comfortable amount of stuff in storage but, for a few bucks, why wouldn’t you pad that stockpile a bit?

Between bulk stuff like rice, corn, and pasta, the long-term stuff like the freeze-drieds and dehydrated, the mid-term stuff like the canned meats and jarred foods, and the shorter term stuff, I think I could pretty much go quite a while without feeling hungry.

I remember reading “One Second After” and somewhere around three months into the story people were eating heir pets and killing each other for food. I recall thinking “Geez, that’s only three months…I wouldn’t be even making a dent in my stockpile at that point.”

As me and my buddy were talking about the tentative upcoming cannery trip, I mentioned that at this point I’m pretty much just ‘maintaining’ rather than ‘increasing’. I mean, the main needs are met, pretty much. All thats really left are the super big ticket items like the happy little fortified Middle O’ Nowhere house, the uber bugout vehicle, and a few expensive high tech odds and ends. But….that sort of thinking leads to complacency and that’ll cause you no shortage of grief in the long run. So….ABC.

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Food. It’s what’s for dinner.

The post Thanksgiving turkey abundance has finally abated. I was in my local Albertson’s and, as usual, I did a quick pass through the meat department looking for bargains. They had boneless turkey breast, seasoned with rosemary or garlic, marked down 30% off the regular price. Hmmm.

“Excuse me. Is the manager around?”
“Is there a problem?”
“No problem, just wanted to ask him something.”
:::she trundles off to get the manager. Manager shows up.:::
“Can I help you?”
“Yeah, you’ve got a dozen trays of turkey breast in the bin there marked down 30%. Would you gimme a better deal if I took all of them?”
“Best I can do is 50%, I can’t…”
“Done.”

20161202_152435So, these will get vacuum sealed and then off to the cryo-nap. Now, lets do some math. Each turkey breast is enough for two people. With the discount, that’s about $1.35#. Add in a box of Stove Top stuffing at $1.00 (purchased in bulk when on sale), add a can of corn (also purchased by the case on sale). And you have a basic turkey dinner for two people at a price of..hmmm…about $1.50 per person. And thats for a not-inconsequential amount of food landing on your plate. It all comes out of storage or the deep freeze, so it’s good to go for the next, oh, five years or so.

We may store ammo & camo, but food is something we know we’re gonna wind up using. You can never go wrong taking advantage of sales like that. And…don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. They’re not gonna throw you out of the store or anything..worst that happens is they say no.

Security, thy name is food.

 

Grocery bargains

Some things just bring me joy….free ammo (it happens), porn sites with easily hacked passwords, puppies, watching liberals discover the world isn’t what they thought it was, etc, etc. But two things that always soothe my soul are a) bargains and b) food. And sometimes, if the gods are smiling, a & b combine in one glorious moment.

Today? Apparently breakfast cereal was on sale. The real stuff, not the store-brand ‘almost as goods’. (Generic frosted flakes? “They’rrrrrrrrrrrrre…okay!”) So, with regular price being knocked down about 50% who wouldn’t stock up?

20160915_191416I know from experience that they’ll stay fresh in their sealed bags well into next year. And I’m the kind guy who, when he feels lazy and hungry, will just have a giant bowl of breakfast cereal  for dinner.

More importantly, its part of the Alpha strategy – buy it cheap and stock it deep when prices are low. Way I reckon it, I’m good on breakfast cereal for the rest of the year.

Need more milk though……..

Article – Bunker Food: Not Just for the Apocalypse Anymore

The “emergency-food” industry has long sold tubs of dehydrated fruit and freeze-dried beef stew to keep until disaster strikes

The selling point is the food lasts for years. For companies, that is also the drawback. Customers can stock up once—a “one-and-done purchase,” said Greg Allison, vice president of marketing for Blue Chip Group Inc., which makes hundreds of different freeze-dried entrees.

So he and others in the business are asking, Why wait for Armageddon?.

There is some truth to this article. Once you drop the coin for a five years supply of freeze drieds you pretty much never have to buy them again. So, the vendors need to find another way to keep the market active. Rather than sell the complete meals, they should focus on the components. FD veggies, fruits, meats, etc, in bulk are nice for making your own meals. That’s where the money is going to be.

The Blue Chip Group mentioned in the article is the outfit we know as Augason Farms … an outfit I recommend for their wonderful variety and convenient packaging.

Yup, freeze drieds (and other long-term foods) are expensive, but after a long day of hanging looters and fighting off UN troops nothing will taste better than those freezedried porkchops, mashed potatoes, corn, and apple sauce.

 

H/T to Friend Of The Blog, http://harryflashmansblog.blogspot.com/

Those in frequent can failures

It doesn’t happen that often, but while rummaging through the food stocks I came across this:

20160812_214504Note the can on the right. It’s a bit tough to see on a two-dimensional plane, but that thing is bulging like BIll Clinton’s trousers at sorority party. (And before you get worked up, that can on the left isn’t leaking…it just picked up some liquid that was on the counter when I sat the cans down.)

As you know, when a can is bulging it’s a sign that you’ve gone from having stored food to having the one of the basic building blocks of botulism poisoning.

My experience has been that high-acid foods like tomatoes are the ones most likely to have problems. As I think back, every can failure I’ve had has been with high-acid food.

Age? Well, these cans have been sitting in the classic ‘cool dark place’ at slightly less than room temperature for the last eight years. Eight years isn’t that long on canned foods, but these cans were from a boutique grocery and were imported from Turkey. I’m gonna guess that high-quality enamel-lined cans are not exactly a mainstay of Turkish food processing.

Anyway, the moral of the story is next time you’re dinking around in your stored food take a gander at things and check for defects.

By the case? Buy the case.

I’m still slightly amused when I walk into a supermarket, find a good deal on something, and the checker’s response is one of confusion when I tell them I’ll take several cases of whatever it is.

Today’s example…….

Me, I love pasta. It’s bad for me in the sense that it’s pretty much just straight up carbs, but I’ve been moderating my intake for the last couple months and am being sparing about the use of rice and pasta. But..my ‘magic number’ is $1/# on pasta. I have magic numbers for lots of things. The Magic Number is the price at which I will go deep on purchasing something. For example, a can of Coke is about $0.29-31 each when I go to CostCo and get a case. But, if they have a sale or someplace is selling it for, say, $.20/can, I’ll buy several cases. Glocks? At $300  for a used Glock, I’ll take all you have. (Some things, however, you do not buy at a discount. For example, I will not buy ‘bargain’ condoms.)

Anyway, less than a buck a pound for pasta is my magic number. Turns out my local grocery was selling it for $0.50/#. Turn around, walk back to the front of the store, put back the basket and get a cart instead. “I’ll take two cases of the rigatoni, please.” The confused look starts to creep across their face. Look, I know what a case is, I know how many are in a case, I know how much they cost…now go get me two cases. Yes, I know what I’m talking about.

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Do the math. That wound up being 80% off the normal price. But..a normal price of $2/# seems a bit excessive. But still….score!

Once in a blue moon, when I’m sales-raping their inventory, they’ll ask why I’m buying so much stuff. I’m not going to say “I’m one of those paranoid survivalists”, so instead I tell them I either cook for a day care or nursing home, or, more often, I tell them I’m buying for a food bank. (This last one is a very good cover since the items are on sale at blowout prices….seems reasonable a food bank would jump at it.)

So, off to the basement to stock the wire shelves with food. As an aside, pasta and rice are my favorite staples. They keep well, are amazingly versatile, and can be used to stretch other foods or are just good by themselves. Some butter, olive oil, garlic, crushed red peppers, and salt, sauteed for a few minutes and then stirred into hot pasta makes a fast, hearty, and amazingly cheap meal. Drop in some canned chicken or tuna and you’re set.

Sale runs for another couple days, so I’ll be getting another couple cases. So, today’s bright spot in a world of suckage: food security.

 

MH Update

Just a reminder that the Mountain House Cans group buy is still in it’s formative stage. If you’re interested, details are here. If you’ve already gotten the info and you know what you want, you should send me a list so I can add it to the ones I already have and we can see if the threshold for minimum order ($3500~) has been met. If you don’t know whatyou want yet, thats fine too, but try to have a list ready by the end of the month…which is when this thing either launches or gets scrubbed.

Adventures in food shelf-life

When it comes to storage-type food, you very often trade flavor for shelf life. You can have a product that tastes really good, but only lasts a minimum amount of time…or you can have a product with a great shelf life but its flavor is such that you would only eat it after the fallout settles and the Kroger’s is a smoking ruin.

Years ago (eight years, actually) I bought a bunch of the Idahoan instant potatoes in pouches. I recommend these highly, and find them to be very good. So good, in fact, that when I’m feeling too lazy to peel, boil, and mash ‘real’ spuds I reach for these. For the price of two of these pouches I can buy a 5# bag of potatoes at my local supermarket, so economically it may not make a lot of sense to have them all the time, but for storage food….very highly recommend.

One concern I had was the durability of the paper pouches. Its heavy duty paper, to be sure…but how will it hold up over time? Funny you should ask….

13890According to Idahoans website FAQ, this particualr pouch o’ spuds was born almost eight years ago. I’d bought a bunch of these when they were on sale and stuffed ’em into a plastic tub, sealed it up, and sat it on the shelf with all the other mid-term food storage in the classic ‘cool,dry place’. But…after a few years, I was pretty certain theyd have gone stale or bad or whatever happens to dehydrated potatoes. In fact, while I wasnt sure enough to pull them off the shelf and discard them, I was sure enough to pull them off my inventory spreadsheet.

Well, to make a long story short, it appears that even in the simple heavy paper pouch, stored under good conditions, they actually held up quite well for eight years. No discernible loss of flavor or texture. In fact, they seemed just fine. So, despite theyre not being packaged in a long-term manner from the factory, if you just stuff the pouches into a hard container, seal it up, and store it under the usual conditions…it lasts just fine.

So…if you’re looking to ads something to the ol’ pantry that tastes good enough to eat on a regular basis, but has a shelf life that goes on for quite a while…..these come highly recommended.

 

Article – 6 Instant Meals-On-The-Go – Just Add Boiling Water

I rather liked this article.

MRE’s have a place in the world of portable food, but while theyre okay they aren’t the tastiest rations in the world. They’re a really good option for when you want something that you can just eat right away with minimal prep, but they’re heavy and bulky. Freeze drieds are awesome but they tend to be expensive.

The link in the first ‘graf goes to a DIY article on making your own freeze dried meals utilizing freeze dried foods that you can find at (usually) your local market.

The selection of freeze dried meals available these days is actually pretty good, but it’s nice to have the option to make your own to get exactly what you want.