I Just Had an Attack of the OVERWHELMS.......

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My husband and I began preparing June '98, the same month my husband was layed off due to a company downsizing. Since then, we have moved twice (unforeseen second move), he has had 3 surgeries foot, back, bladder cancer), and, as a avid cyclist, had a dog run headlong into the front of his bicycle last August and he slammed to the ground breaking his pelvis in two places. From that incident, he was on crutches for 16 weeks. Thankfully, he is fully recovered from everything now and the cancer for the moment doesn't require chemo or radiation.

I said all that, to say this. During all of this, he hasn't been able to physically help with the accumulation of things we needed for prepping and I could only fit it in between work and the other necessary tasks. Our last move was to a mobile, located in the country, with a 12x20 shed behind for storage. No shelves were up, so supplies were stacked in boxes, those we brought with us and those we purchased here. I had started a list of supplies, but like a diary, I didn't keep it up.

This week, after finishing the shelves and neatly organizing all of the purchases, I found myself OVERWHELMED with the amount of food we had. I purchased almost entirely at discount warehouses and food outlets......and they are things we normally eat (except perhaps 25 # dried onions). Among the items,I have 60 jars of assorted spaghetti sauces, pasta to match....knowing, of course, that they will last for years, but for two people it seems overwhelming. Planning for about 6 months supply, I think I have a year +. I love to cook and try new recipies and have been a winner in many national cooking contests. Even so, I look at our accumulation and it seems like we'll never *eat through it*.

I can imagine what other women might feel like with beans, rice, wheat on hand and they don't really like to cook or don't know what to do with the items or are concerned whether or not their family will eat it.

Is anyone else feeling a bit overwhelmed, or are you, like my daughter (who has a hubby and 5 children) HAPPY to have the extra stores ?

-- Kenin Marble (kenin17@yahoo.com), January 06, 2000


Hi Kenin

I'm overwhelmed too. I can see now that Y2K hung over me like a cloud and I was really over-zealous in buying food. I have it stashed all over and I don't know how long it will take us to eat through it. I have limited time to cook, but I am trying, and the worst part is I don't know where everything is. I have to start sorting and eventually I think I will donate quite a bit of it to a food bank. I will try to empty my freezer and keep a lot of the rice and flour etc. in there and donate the rest. Canned goods no problems.

My pretty little house now resembles a warehouse and I am working my way through disposing of bottles etc., drinking water etc. Well - better this than my mother moving in! She has reminded me several times that her faith made her KNOW nothing would happen, but I took it too much to heart. Grrrr.

-- citygirl (citygirl@idirect.com), January 06, 2000.

I came in here today to ask if others had the same experience as I did while sorting my store room, but found this thread which answered my question! I decided it was time to sort my *stuff* so I could start using the things I wasn't sure would last till we ate down to them. What a surprise I got!!! Apparently I REALLY should have made a shopping list! Most of the stuff is canned and durable, but I found LOTS of raisins!! I can't imagine HOW I am ever going to use them up!! I guess every time I was shopping over the past year, I'd decide raisins would be a good thing to have!

Actually, I had a good laugh at myself ....... I wonder though, if my family is going to see the humor in having raisins show up in EVERY meal for the next 3 years.....

-- Sheila (sross@bconnex.net), January 06, 2000.

My two cents, hang on to your preps for a couple of months before doing anything with them.

You don't know what's coming down the pike and you may be surprised at how you learn to incorporate prep items in your daily living.

This is new to me too, however this is what my mother did and it kept the family fed during good times and bad. She was also able to save money on a very limited income, by buying sale items to keep her pantry stocked.

This new year will be great for my husband and I financially, all our bills are paid and we won't need anything from the grocery store other than fresh produce.

I don't know about you, but the grocery store is one of our biggest monthly bills.

-- Mabel Dodge (cynical@me.net), January 06, 2000.

I did a good job of it as well, and have no regrets because I will not have to shop for a L-O-N-G while :-) I am collecting recipes galore for tuna, salmon, rice, beans, soups, etc. and having fun at it.

Citygirl, you can save that freezer space if you use diatomaceous earth in your rice, beans and flour, then put it into mylar bags, throw in oxygen absorbers (and if you're fanatic about preserving it, like me, some bay leaves for good measure), then put the bags into buckets, that stuff will last you for years ahead. (We still do not know what may be coming down the tracks!)

And yes, you-all, my condo looks like a warehouse, but I'm trying to find a creative way of stashing stuff, other than in the house! Can't afford a storage rental, and would like to have less clutter nearby. Oh, well, can't have everything, and I'd rather be ready for an emergency than not.

Sheila, those raisins cracked me up! ME TOO! RAISINS, no less! See my recipe under Old Git's use of oatmeal thread for one more use of them.

-- Elaine Seavey (Gods1sheep@aol.com), January 06, 2000.

My storage system doesn't exist. Stuff is just stashed where ever, how ever. But I'm glad I've got every scrap of it.

Dried onions-lucky you. I throw them in the boiling water with the pasta. Throw them into soup stock. Soak them in water or stock, mix in with meat or meat-subs for burgers and loaves. Soak them (etc) and add to bread and roll recipes. The dried onions will keep for a very long time. And where did you find them? All I can find around here are the expensive little jars in the spice section of the grocery store.

Here's a basic recipe that I posted to another board. 1 can each light and dark kidney beans, drain and reserve liquid 1 can black beans, drain 1c dry long cooking rice, cooked in 2c+ water dry bread/crumbs/stale crackers/whatever

Mix all together, add some of the reserved bean liquid, maybe 4-8 ounces grated cheese (or cheese soup, cheese sauce, etc)

Add any scraps of cooked meat, meat substitute, black olives, whatever you need to get rid of. Bake at 325 til the cheese melts. Works great as either a side dish or a main dish. Use what ever kind of beans you have on hand, I like a mix but all one kind works too. If you're using your own home canned or freshly cooked beans, there is roughly 1 1/4-1 1/2c of beans in a purchased can.

As for the raisins, gerbils love raisins. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (ima_gerbil@hotmail.com), January 06, 2000.

Raisins galore, me too !! AND, chopped dates (25#), Craisins (20#), and unsw. coconut (15#). They're yummy added to bread or rice pudding in cookies, trail mix, breads. Even so, that is *still* a lot. I understand that gin soaked raisins are a really good arthrisit cure. Maybe I'll give it a try....

I think what makes it still seem overwhelming is that it all represents WORK. Not that we wouldn't have to cook every day anyway, but having it all before our eyes everyday makes it seem a larger effort....especially for those who have small areas which now seem to have been taken over with food, and it either can't be all hidden from view, or it is taking up valuable space needed for other things. Like all things in life, though, it will all work out.

-- Kenin Marble (kenin17@yahoo.com), January 06, 2000.

Kenin, Citygirl, etal... As a man, I might have a slightly different perspective, but yes, I have had some of the same reactions (i.e. being overwhelmed). My wife actively helped in our buying preps, so there were no major surprises in the pantry. Still, as we inventory everything, we are a little taken aback by how much we have! One important thing we did was discuss how we might be able to use all of the food in a BITR scenario. We aren't wealthy enough to waste very much. Virtually everything we have has a good, economically sound use in the coming year and I suspect that if you sit down, reflect and have a calm cup of coffee or tea, you'll see you "provision curse" as a blessing. You'll probably find that most of what you have -- especially food in cans and jars -- will keep exceedingly well. Don't waste any anquish over it; just use it as needed. Many bulk foods, such as beans, rice and whole grains should be good for at least a year and probably much longer if it was properly packaged. If you have animals, most of your wastage can go there. We have had some slight spoilage from bug infestation. A few bugs in your diet wouldn't hurt you, but we prefer to let the animals enjoy these "delicacies." ;-) Our chickens, pig and dogs are getting any of our bulk foods that start to become unpalatable. This can stretch your normal dogfood or pet food supplies considerably, the animals enjoy it immensely and if done with common sense, will not hurt them in the least. Other things just require a little adjustment in diet. We've got a large stash of canned hams which we acquired at a "killer" sale. This is perfectly good food, though we previously didn't each much canned ham. Oh, well... yard fresh eggs with fried ham slices simply become a more regular part of the menu. Beans and stews with ham chunks appear on the dinner table more regularly. No big deal, just an adjustment. If the economy doesn't tank this year, you should enjoy the reduced grocery bills and if trouble does rear its ugly head, you'll still be in good shape to weather things through. Personally, I think it's prudent to draw down your supply level somewhat since the threat level has been reduced as we enjoyed a catastrophe-free CDC. I do not think it's prudent to totally eliminate your reserves. I'm planning on reducing my reserves by about 50%, but that will still give me a 3-to-6 month cushion.

Best regards


-- T.H. "Doc" Toups (ttoups@aol.com), January 06, 2000.

Raisin bread! If you have one of those, toss in the ingredients - push a button - come back in a few hours breadmaker, that thing will grind the raisins into threads during the mixing and beating process. They will tend to make the bread heavy so you might want to mix the yeast a few hours ahead of time or add some gluten. Anyway, copius amounts of cinnamon or sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on the buttered bread.

-- Ken Seger (kenseger@earthlink.net), January 06, 2000.

Why not melt some chocolate & dip the raisons in it.Chocolate covered raisons great.Better still add some rum to that melted chocolate !!

-- Chris (griffen@globalnet.co.uk), January 06, 2000.

I went looking for AA batteries last night. I KNOW I bought a ton of them, both energizers and rechargeable NiMh's, they are here someplace...but after looking above the stove, in the back of the pantry, in the drawer where batteries usually are, in the hall closet, under my bed, under daughter's bed, in my bathroom cupboard, in daughter's bathroom cupboard, in boxes in the garage...I gave up.

So, I guess "complete new inventory list and map" is on my new TO DO list.

-- mommacarestx (nospam@thanks.net), January 06, 2000.

Chris.....what a CLEVER idea!!! I'm going to make some.....wonder how much rum I should add? (It will be fun experimenting!)

-- Sheila (sross@bconnex.net), January 06, 2000.

I think we have enough for at least a year, and far more dried beans than I care to think about. The funniest thing is that when I was feeling really paranoid (about 2/99) I started hiding 1-lb bags of dried beans behind the books in our extensive library (my husband is a book collector). I have visions of his adult children clearing out the house someday after we both die (of natural, non-bean-related causes) and how this will confirm their opinion of what a nut I am! I am not sure that I will be able to get all those hidden beans out in time!

-- judy (wednesdayschild@hotmail.com), January 06, 2000.

While preparing for Y2K..all last year I kept tucking away money and change "here and there". I've been playing treasure hunt the past few days, because I can't remember where I put it all. It's been fun. I noticed some of the water bottles I had stored were leaking. They were Foodtown 2 1/2 gallon waters. Out of 18 of them, 5 of the older ones were only half full..having leaked out of tiny cracks in the plastic. Next time I have to store water for ???, I'll probably go with something more sturdy.

PS..Having received it for lunch every day this week, my children have already given a thumbs down to chef-boy-r-dee anything...the spagetti-o..the raviolis..they never want to see them again. I still have three six packs...guess I'll have to eat them..ick.

-- kritter (kritter@adelphia.net), January 06, 2000.

Not sure about actually 'laughing' about this (yet), but I am certainly smiling. My husband is a raisin fiend, so I probably didn't buy 'enough' raisins for him. Every prep purchase and actions seems to be, overall and in general, a step towards healthier living. That's a comforting thought. We have fresh eggs every morning. My crew (which includes six males) loves eggs for breakfast. We just sold four calves, so I am getting ready to actually try to pasteurize the now available milk, that is, when my backordered dairy thermometer finally arrives. Any advice from dairy people out there? We have a Guernsey who has very creamy milk. I would like to try making cheese, and bought rennet and little cheese kits from Lehmans, but can't afford a cheese press yet. What a spin my life has taken! Lived in a city for fourteen years and now I'm so farmerish I hardly know myself.

Keep sharing your favorite recipes everyone!

-- Mumsie (shezdremn@aol.com), January 07, 2000.

Well Kenin, sounds like you certainly ought to have a little good luck in 2000.

Try not to feel too bad about feeling overwhelmed. Sooner or later it happens to everyone who has a preparedness program. I've been doing this for years and at least once a year I get into a state that I've come to call "feeling the weight of my possessions" and think about chucking them all and living a much less cluttered, if also less prepared, lifestyle.

What I suggest is this:

If you haven't already done so, package up your storage foods in a manner that'll extend their useful shelf lives. I have detailed instructions for this in the Prudent Food Storage FAQ which is available for free from the Providence Cooperative site. This will give you some breathing room to work in before the foods begin to go over on you. You don't have to go the whole oxygen absorber/Mylar route, just getting them into air and moisture tight containers, keeping the food dry and in a cool spot will extend their useful lives.

Having done that, get out and take a break for a few days. This stuff is all supposed to be a means to an end, not an end in itself. Get out and remember why you're interested in preparing in the first place, namely so you can live a fulfilling life.

Once you've gotten your perspective back, start rotating out your most perishable foods and gradually working them into your family's everyday diet. Inventory what you have and track what you take out until you're down to the six month supply you want and start replacing any foods you take out after that to keep your pantry rotated. The FAQ doesn't cover it, but I discuss how to work your storage foods into your everday diet in my book, The Prudent Pantry as well as how to find a place to put it all and how to store it properly. Pull out your favorite cookbooks and start looking for recipes that will adapt to your storage foods, there's a lot more than you may think. I love my copy of Vickie Tate's Cookin' With Home Storage and use it often but my copies of The Joy of Cooking (old and new) are what gets taken down most often.

There is no one right answer to this process, we all find solutions that work for us that may not work for anyone else. Think of it as an ongoing, low-key research project and you'll get through it and come out the other side with a lot of priceless experience.

Good luck!


The Providence Cooperative - A great source of preparedness information


-- A.T. Hagan (athagan@netscape.net), January 07, 2000.

Well.........since this seems to be the "CONFESSION" thread, I will fess up. I have 146# of TVP. I ordered 100# and for a reason I can't remember, Lumen sent me 146# at no extra charge. NOw....how many pounds of TVP will it take to barter for those 25# of dried onions?? Maybe we should set up a "trading post" on this forum. LOL


-- Taz (Tassi123@aol.com), January 08, 2000.

Alan....Thanks, your suggestions are basically what I do normally, but this plan will have to extend much longer. Most of my dried goods are either vac sealed, nitro sealed, or have diatomaceous earth.

Taz....Yikes, Lumen is a great product and it does keep for years. I have some that is probably 5 years old and still good. My husband kept trying to get me to order more and I just kept putting it off. Thankfully, I didn't....

-- Kenin Marble (kenin17@yahoo.com), January 08, 2000.

Hi folks! Funny...I have three medium boxes of canned goods, some packages of dried items-meat and fruit-that I did and a couple of 5 gallon buckets with bagged rice/beans and milk. I am hoping to never have less and perhaps add to it. I was homless, living in a national forest in Florida...I remember what it was like going hungry...or eating raman soup for weeks on end...made a impression on me mentally I guess.

-- Satanta (EventHoriz@n.com), January 09, 2000.

Kenin, I can understand somewhat, but being a guy it probably gets to me differently.

We have also moved onto a farm with only a trailer. The barn and animal pens have to come before the house gets built.

The Organization of your supplies are important,date codes are going to be more critical as the need to immediatly consume the items goes down.

A complete up to date inventory that is printed out weekly or monthly is a good way to prevent food going bad. Just work the items coming up for expiration into the menu.

I'm sure that I am "preaching to the choir", but Knowing we need to rotate and Doing it are sometimes a different matter.

Going back through the bulk storage items and repackaging into smaller units could be helpful. The thought of opening a carefully sealed bucket just to get a single meals worth of rice out is stressful to contemplate, knowing that the clock is now "ticking" on the whole bucket.

Living in Texas, we also have the problem of heat reducing the shelf life of items stored out in a shed. Still have a couple of months to work on that problem, anyone have any ideas?

-- Possible Impact (posim@hotmail.com), January 09, 2000.

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