Friday, August 31, 2012

Got Water?

Have you ever been in a hurricane or the aftermath of a hurricane without power or water? Have you ever been in an ice storm where the power was cut off for days? Have you ever been in a snow storm where the roads were blocked and you couldn’t get out? Have you ever been laid off? Have you ever been sick and could not work? What would you do if you could not get to the store? What would you do if the stores were all closed or the shelves were empty?

September is National Preparedness Month in the United States, so it is a good time to talk about food storage and emergency preparedness for all contingencies. Having food storage is important, but it is not the most important thing. It is not possible to be prepared for emergencies unless you have water storage as well. Just think about it.  What would you do if you turned the tap on and nothing happened? If you have a well that requires an electric pump to bring the water to your tap and you loose electricity, what would you do?. If you have city water and a wide spread electric outage that goes for an extended time, what would you do?  It is not guaranteed in an emergency that you will always have clean tap water from your faucets. What should you do?  Store water!

FEMA recommends that each household keep two weeks of water for each person in the house.  I can state for certain, this isn't one gallon per person.  Think about all the times you turn on the water.  Cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, taking a shower, brushing your teeth all require water. Not to mention what you need to drink in a day.  If it is hot outside or if you are doing heavy physical work, you need even more.

Storing a lot of water is a challenge.  It is heavy and takes up a lot of space. You really have to get creative to think about where you are going to put it. Here are a few places on the Internet that will give you some ideas:

The Safely Gathered In blog has a series of posts on water that covers storing water in two liter bottles, storing water in other containers, purifying water, and finding some unique sources of potable water.

The Prepared LDS Family blog has a post on using 55 gallon drums to hold water.

Here is a picture of how I store most of my water.  I can't have 55 gallon drums because I don't have the space.  I do have the space for some five gallon containers shown here. I put them in my closets.

This one is on the kitchen table because I am rotating the water in it.  I do this every year.  I have city water so I don't really need to change it more than that.  For the most part, I also don't worry about algae growth but if that is a concern for you, you can add a few drops of bleach to keep the water clean. I know some people who store well water always add a few drops of bleach to their water containers before filling them. 

When you open the container to change the water after one year of storage, it may smell a bit musty.  I will say, the first time I opened a water container that was stored for one year, I was a bit concerned about the smell. You can remove the musty smell by pouring the water back and forth between two containers to add some air to it.  You can also filter it, if needed.  I have drank water stored for one year and it tasted fine. But until you get used to it, the musty smell is a bit disconcerting. When rotating water, I usually use my stored water to water my houseplants.

This is one of the mylar bags I use to store my water.

Once you refill the bag and seal up the box, be sure to update the date so you know when to rotate it next year.

Back into the closet it goes.

As you can see, I got these from Emergency Essentials. I have mentioned before how much I really like this store.  I don't get any compensation to talk about them.  I have been a satisfied customer for over three years.

While I have a few of these containers filled with water, it is not my only water storage.  I have purchased some water storage containers from the big box stores as well (in the camping section). Those are nine gallon containers.

I consider this my first line of defense if I loose the ability to get water from the tap.  However, if I had to rely on this water for an extended period of time, I would quickly run out. After that, I would have to rely on a secondary water source.

Most people don't realize it, but almost everyone has a secondary water source in their house that is potable.  It is the hot water heater!  Once the heater is completely shut off, you can drain the water and use it in an emergency.  This should be between 30 to 50 or more gallons depending on the size of your hot water heater.

If any emergency continues beyond that, you must look for open water sources such as a local stream, swimming pool or pond. This water will need to be filtered to remove impurities, or boiled to make it safe.  You can always boil it over an open fire if necessary or you can purchase filters such as this one.  I have a Berkey Filter System for a 'just in case' emergency.  If you are interested in a filter system for your own water storage program, you can search the Internet and find many different filtering options in different price ranges.

Be prepared to face an emergency...not scared!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pray for those Affected by Isaac

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those in the gulf coast area of America, now under siege by Hurricane Issac. I so hope everyone there was up to date on their emergency supplies and skills. Our ancestors had to rely on self sufficiency skills and sometimes, mother nature forces us to do the same.

I do so hope all returns to normal for them soon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Do You Have Problems Getting Whole Wheat Bread to Rise?

Making your own bread is fun and very rewarding.  We have not bought a loaf of bread in years.  If you are new to bread making, I suggest you start with white bread flour to get a feel for the dough and how it rises.

After you have mastered that, you can switch to whole wheat. We buy wheat and grind it ourselves.  It is cheaper to grind your own flour and wheat berries store better than flour purchased at the grocery store.  It is also healthier. You can mix the flour 50/50 and use 50% whole wheat and 50% white bread flour if you would like.  You can read about how to turn the wheat berries into specialty flours here.

I know a lot of people think whole wheat bread is very dense and feels like a brick when compared to white bread. I will write a post on how to make bread soon. In the meantime, let me assure you that as you gain experience, your whole wheat bread can rise just as high as white bread.  Here is one tip I use to help my whole wheat bread rise higher. Use 1 TBS per cup of whole wheat flour.

Whole Wheat Dough Enhancer

1 Cup Powdered Milk
2 Cups Vital Wheat gluten
2 tsp Powdered Ginger
1 pkg Pectin
4 TBS Gelatin
4 TBS Lecithin
1 TBS Ascorbic Acid

If you're interested in trying it, you can purchase dough enhancer in the grocery store.  You can find it in the same isle as the flour.  However, pound for pound, making your own dough enhancer is cheaper. Also, you will find that the individual ingredients store better than the box of dough enhancer you could purchase at the store. 

This is a great idea to add to your food storage program!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cooking without Electricity: Alternative Fuels

This is the last post in the series on Cooking without Electricity. We have spent 10 weeks exploring some inexpensive ways you can cook food when you don't have access to electricity. Although some of the ideas require purchasing products (like the Sun Oven), most cooking techniques use items you will probably find around your house or yard.

Today's post will provide some novel ideas on how you can create fuel for cooking when you don't have anything else.  No charcoal or propane? How about wood?  Any camping fuel?  No? No worries!  You can make a fairly long lasting fuel with paper! 

A common way of making fuel with paper is to use newspaper.  If you don't have a lot of newspaper, any paper will do.  Paper is something most everyone has in the house somewhere.  What about junk mail? Everyone has extra junk mail they don't want! Your kids also have notebook paper for school and you probably have extra paper for your printer in a closet somewhere. Now, I don't recommend using notebook or printer paper on a routine basis because of its expense; however, it will do in a pinch.

The first idea comes from a blog post I read a few years ago.  I have tried this and it works!   Homemade firewood  I have a stack of rolled newspaper logs stored in my garage now.  (They are in a large Tupperware tub.)  I have used them in my fireplace. I think it would also work well in an outdoor fire pit.  My experience is each newspaper roll burns in about 15 minutes. You can see how I made them here.

Another idea is to make some fire bricks. You can see how to do that in this YouTube video. Here is the link:  Fire Pellets.  In the YouTube video, this man shows how to use a metal caulking gun to make fuel pellets. I used a cookie press to make mine. I wrote about it in another post. You can see that here. The best part is you can use things like paper, leaves, animal dung (from animals that don't eat meat), grass clippings or sawdust.  Whatever you have on hand!  I used shredded paper.  It is a great way to use up junk mail.

I was also reading some survival blogs a while back and came across this slide show.  It shows how you can make sawdust and paper fuel briquettes without any fancy molds.  You can use a 2L soda bottle or even just packing it together with your hands. It also covers other items that can be used, such as leaves and grass. 

I hope this post has given you some ideas on how you can make you own cooking fuel with just the items you can find in your neighborhood! 

If you liked this post, you may also like other posts in the Cooking without Electricity series:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Making Your Own Potpourri: Part 2

(And Drying Other Stuff Too)

This is the time of year to start bringing in the harvest.  So far this year, I have canned quite a few green beans, made tomato sauce, dehydrated many squash and figs as well as harvested tobacco.  We also have eaten many fresh strawberries and blueberries.

The one section of my garden I have not begun to harvest yet is the herbs.  That will be my focus for the next few weeks. The first thing I noticed today is that I have a second set of blooms on my lavender.  I use a lot of lavender for my potpourri and so it is time to dry it. This is the easiest no fuss way I have found to dry any herb! It will work for all those wonderful herbs you put in tomato sauce too!

You can also see how I dry other ingredients for potpourri here.

To start, cut the leaves or flowers of the plant you want to dry.  Here is a picture of the lavender before I cut it.

Grab a small brown paper bag.  It is best to use a separate bag for each herb.  Place growing tips of the plant into the bags.

Gather the cut ends of the plant in the top of the bag and wrap the stems and the top of the bag with a rubber band.

Store in a cool, dry place for a few weeks.  If you are harvesting quite a few herbs at the same time, you may want to label each bag so you will know what is what.

And that is it!  Now, if you wanted to, you could also use a dehydrator to dry your herbs or even a microwave oven.  I sometimes use the microwave if I need some for tomato sauce and need them dried quickly. Otherwise, I think the convenience of drying them in the bag outweighs the effort required to dry them in the microwave.

The only plant that this idea won't work for is tobacco.  (Tobacco isn't really an herb anyway.) Tobacco must be cured in a humid place with warm temperatures.  Well, I don't have any fancy place to cure my tobacco, so mine goes into the laundry room.  If it gets too dry, I mist it with a spray bottle.  Since I am in the laundry room almost everyday, I can check it often and mist as needed.  The tobacco should cure for about 8 weeks until it is leathery.  Since I am not curing it to smoke, after 8 weeks, my tobacco will be ready to use.  Commercially, tobacco is left for 1 year before it is made into a product to smoke.  Here is a picture of my tobacco hanging in my laundry room.  It is strung between two hangers with some upholstery thread.

Start harvesting those herbs and soon you will have some wonderful flavors to cook with this winter!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cooking without Electricity: Cook with a Kelly Kettle

This is the ninth post in the series Cooking without Electricity. As you've seen in past posts, I try to look for methods of cooking that don't cost a lot money and that are available to anyone on a moment's notice should the electricity go out unexpectedly.  Today's post covers cooking with a Kelly Kettle. Unfortunately, I don't know of any way you could make it yourself.

I purchased my Kelly Kettle (and the two support pieces) to help augment my ability to cook when we go camping.  However, it has turned out to be a great helper right here at home. It is now a valuable piece of equipment I will depend on if the electricity ever goes out.

Let's start with a review of what I purchased. 

I purchased the basic Kelly Kettle with a Kelly Kettle Cook Set and a Kelly Kettle Pot Support.  I purchased it on sale from Emergency Essentials.  They now have a video on their page showing a demonstration on how to use it. 

Full disclosure, I don't get any form of compensation from Emergency Essentials, I am just a satisfied customer.  I have been ordering from them for over three years.

The innovation behind the Kelly Kettle is it will quickly boil water with very little fuel.  The kettle holds 1 1/2 litters (it is made in Ireland) and will boil water in just a few minutes.  It works great for heating water which can be used for either cooking or purification for drinking, if needed.

I must say I really like the Kelly Kettle cook set.  It has two different pots with a removable handle and a grill to use on the base of the Kelly Kettle. Here is a picture of the cook set with the Kelly Kettle base.

Today, I used the Kelly Kettle to boil water and heat a can of beans for dinner.  I used the pot support to cook the beans at the same time I boiled the water.  The first thing to do is get the beans.

When I first opened the cook set, I thought the pans were quite small.  However, as you can see here, the pot held the entire can of beans and I think it would have held another one if it were needed.

Next, I set up the base of the kettle on my back patio.  Since this requires starting a fire, I placed the pot on my cement block, with a cookie sheet underneath it.  I used Fired Up! as the fire starter. I also added a few pieces of wood.  I pulled these pieces off of some of the wood in my wood pile.  Notice, it isn't much.  For safety sake, be sure to follow all instructions enclosed with the Kelly Kettle.

I lit the fire and placed the kettle on top of it.  (Of course, I filled the kettle with water first.)
Then I placed the pot support on top of the kettle and added my pot of beans.

I tried to get a picture of the flames in the base of the pot, but unfortunately, you can't see them. I can say that I got boiling water in about 5 to 6 minutes and hot baked beans in about 7 minutes.  I had more than enough fuel.  In fact, I think I had too much.  I could have emptied the water into another container and boiled some more without adding any more fuel.  In addition, the water stayed hot for quite some time.  I went back to check on the water after we finished dinner and it was still quite hot.

The primary advantages of the kettle are that it heats quickly and it won't use much fuel.  That can come in very handy.  Additional advantages are that it is light weight and easy to carry when camping. Although it is great for camping, it works just as well in the back yard!  If you would like to see a more detailed demonstration on its use, click on the Emergency Essentials link above.

If you liked this post, you may also like other posts in the Cooking without Electricity series:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Make Your Own Cream Cheese

I can't really say that making your own cream cheese is cheaper than purchasing it at the grocery store.  However, it is a self-reliant skill that may come in handy some day.  And besides, homemade tastes much better than what you get at the store!

So, here is how I make cream cheese.

Start with light cream or half & half.  You can use fresh light cream or half & half from the grocery store.  However, you can also use shelf stable half & half which allows you to add it as a food storage recipe. It is a little easier to find shelf stable half & half than it is to find shelf stable whipping cream.

Start by heating the half & half to 86 degrees.  A  dairy thermometer comes in handy here.


Pour the half & half into a thermos type container and add a packet of Creme Fraiche culture.  In my opinion, cultured cream cheese is better than the type made from lemon juice, vinegar or Junket Tablets (I used lemon juice once and didn't like it at all). I purchase my cultures here.  However, you can find cultures at many different places on the Internet.  I used my YogoTherm for the container.

Let the culture rehydrate for two minutes and then stir.  Cover and let set for 12 hours.

It is now ready to use. The flavor is wonderful but the cheese is a bit runny at this point.  If you want a more firm cream cheese, similar to what you get at the store, you should hang it to drain.  Line a colander with butter muslin and gently spoon in the cheese. 

Tie the ends of the muslin together and hang to drain.  I am lucky here.  I have kitchen cabinets next to the sink.  I can swing open the cabinet door and it will be directly over the sink.  I hang the muslin on the cabinet handle.

Let it drain for four to six hours.  It will have the consistency of store bought cream cheese, only it will taste so much better! 

Try making your own cream cheese, you won't be disappointed!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, Inc.

My husband and I are both veterans.  We fully support all veterans, especially those who have fought to keep us free.  So, when I saw this website mentioned on another blog, I knew I had to post it here as well.

Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, Inc. is based in Wisconsin.  Their goal is to send every surviving American WWII veteran to Washington DC to see the World War II memorial.  They fly the veterans for free.  What a wonderful idea! 

The first link is to a YouTube video (it's a documentary trailer) that shows some of the veterans and how they feel about their trip to DC. The second link is to another video that shows how some of these veterans were greeted in the Chicago Airport when they returned from their trip.

The Story of Start and Strips Honor Flight

Chicago Honor Flight

This next link is to the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight web site. It explains their organization and mission.

Stars and Strips Honor Flights, Inc.

Send these links to everyone you know so we can spread the word and support for this wonderful organization. Maybe we can help grow the number of states that offer these flights.

These men and women are from the Greatest Generation and they deserve our support!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cooking without Electricity: Cook in a Steam Pit

This is the eighth post in the series on Cooking without Electricity.  I first learned about this method of cooking last year.  Unfortunately, in my neighborhood, I would not be able to build this unless we were in the middle of a long term power outage.  I have written notes about this cooking method in my emergency binder so I can refer to it if/when I need it.

One of the reasons I really like this method of cooking is if you were ever out in the middle of nowhere, without any tools, you could still cook your food.  All you would need to do is scrounge up what you needed: a few sticks and a few rocks.  Cooking in a steam pit is a slow cooking method. It doesn't require you to monitor the meal through the entire cooking process. If need be, you can walk away and take care of other business. Come back in a few hours and your food is done! 

I like the two following references I found about this cooking method. They both give the general idea of how it is done but they use slightly different materials.  Varying the materials used gives you some flexibility if you ever needed to build a steam pit and it allows you to use what you can find locally in your area.

The first method is amazing to me because it doesn't even require a shovel to dig the hole!   You just gather some large sticks and dig a hole with them. Before covering the pit with dirt, the people in the video did use a tarp to protect the food. This is a YouTube video. 

Cooking in a Steam Pit

The second method is slightly different from the first.  The couple presenting this method of cooking didn't remove the fire embers but placed aluminum foil over everything, put in the food, covered the food with additional aluminum foil and then just covered everything with dirt.

Stone Fire Pit Oven

I would so love to try cooking some pulled pork or stew beef with this method!  There are some quartz stones in the common areas of my neighborhood that I have my eye on...

If you liked this post, you may also like other posts in the Cooking without Electricity series:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Garden Tips for the Hot August Days

In our part of the world, August is the hottest (and sometimes driest) month of the year. Your garden is doing fine one day and the next day it looks terrible!  There is no need to give up! Here are a few tips to help your garden thrive in August.
  • Most gardens need a boost to make it through the hot weather.  You can give your garden a boost by spraying it with seaweed extract. Seaweed extract is supposed to be available in garden centers but I have a hard time finding it.  If you are like me, and can't find seaweed extract, try kelp powder.  It works just as well.  Kelp powder is generally available in health food stores. I have no problem finding it. You don't need a lot and the bottle lasts a long time.  Use 1 TBS in 1 gallon of water.  Spray the plants in the early morning or late at night.  Make sure the plants are well watered before you spray.  If your tomatoes stop producing because of the heat, this will fix it.  If you have any spray left over, spray it on your foundation plants and problem areas in your lawn.
  • Squash can present a problem this time of year.  The squash vine borer, squash bugs, stink bugs and aphids can all kill the squash plants you've been growing all summer.  If you didn't place aluminum foil down when you planted the squash, you can still coax a few more vegetables out of the plant by dusting the entire plant with diatomaceous earth. (Diatomaceous earth is not toxic and is safe for your family as long as they don't breathe the dust. Be sure to follow the safety precautions on the package.) Pay special attention to the growing tips of the plant and each individual squash.  Your goal here is to dust it like you would flour a cake pan.  Repeat if it rains.
  • Is something eating your green beans?  Diatomaceous earth will stop that as well.  Mexican bean beetles love green beans.  If not controlled, they can kill the plants. Dust each plant with diatomaceous earth and get a few more beans from them!
  • Have you noticed large worms on your tomatoes? They are tomato horn worms and they eat a lot of leaves!  They can also eat holes in your tomatoes.  It really isn't necessary to spray them.  When you find one, cut the leaf off of the plant (the leaf the worm is sitting on) and place Mr. Worm (along with the leaf) somewhere in the lawn where the birds will see it.  Birds love tomato horn worms! Do the birds a favor and leave them a snack. One other way to keep the worms off of the tomato plants is to plant tobacco. The worms prefer tobacco to tomatoes.  Just don't plant the tobacco and tomatoes together.  Although they are related, tomatoes can catch a virus from the tobacco plant and die.
  • Another tomato problem this time of year is blossom end rot.  Blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency.  The extremes of dry soil and then very moist soil inhibits the plant from accessing the calcium it needs.  To fight blossom end rot, crush some Tums (any brand antacid tables work fine) and sprinkle around the tomato plant. 3 to 4 tablets per plant works - and it works immediately.  To prevent blossom end rot from returning, try mulching the plants well. That will help keep the moisture level in the soil steady and the plants can access the calcium.
  • Most of our country is in a drought so many readers might not have this next problem, powdery mildew.  However, if you do have powdery mildew on any of your plants, you will need to deal with it or they can die.  Powdery mildew is common on squash, roses, strawberries, green beans and others garden favorites.  I have even seen it on annual flowers.  No need to get a fungicide.  You can kill the powdery mildew with powdered milk and baking soda.  Use 1 cup powdered milk to 1/2  - 1 gallon of water. Then add 3 TBS of baking soda.  Shake well and spray.  The milk will coat the mildew and stop the spores from spreading.
If you have a specific garden question or problem,  leave a comment.  I would be happy to help!

Happy Gardening!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Cooking without Electricity (Almost): Cooking with a Hot Box

 This is the seventh post in the series Cooking without Electricity.  I hope you are enjoying the series and gathering ideas on how to cook if you find yourself without electricity. The post for today is an idea I use all the time - I believe it can save you money in the long run!

There are other names for this cooking method on the Internet: Hay Box, Wonder Box, and Fireless Cooking.  I first learned about this idea on the Food Storage and Survival blog.  You can read the original blog post here.   In this post, Angela (the writer),  uses a special insulation cover that she made.  I printed the instructions she gave with every intent to make my own.  Well, that never happened - life got in the way!  So, this post is my interpretation of how to use a Hot Box without the pretty hand sewn insulation cover. 

This method is perfect to use with recipes that say:  'heat to boiling, reduce heat, and simmer for X minutes.'  How you heat to the point of boiling is your choice.  If you don't have any electricity, you can heat to boiling on your grill using propane or charcoal.  If you are just trying to save on your electric bill, you can use your stove top.

Today, I am using the Hot Box to make meals for my little angel.  Unfortunately, she is allergic to life.  Constant rashes, ear infections, a constantly runny nose, and very itchy feet make me feel so sorry for her that I wish I could help more.  She is allergic to grass, trees, bugs, cats, dogs, and all types of mold.  Everything we have plenty of here in the south!  She also can't eat 'normal' food.  She does much better when I cook for her.  Here is a picture of the princess. Her name is Molly.

I got this recipe from a nutritionist. (Yes, there are dog nutritionists - and they are very expensive!)  And for anyone wondering, she also gets allergy shots.

The first step to making a Hot Box is to find a cardboard box that is big enough to hold your pot.  You don't want a tight fitting box - be sure it is quite a bit bigger then the pot.  I used a standard size moving box. After you've found an appropriate box,  line the bottom of the box with old towels. 

You want at least 3 to 4 inches of towels in the bottom of the box.  This cooking method won't work if the box isn't well insulated.  Don't skimp on the towels.  You can also use old tee shirts, rags, blankets or what ever you have.  It doesn't have to be towels.

Prepare your recipe and heat to boiling. At the point in the recipe when it says to cover the pot and turn the heat down to simmer, cover your pot and place it in the cardboard box.  I removed the pot cover for the picture.

This picture shows the frozen green beans and squash from the garden that I added while the water was heating up.  The carrots are dehydrated.  I got them at the LDS Cannery. There are pumpkin pieces in there too.  I used Seminole pumpkins that I grew last year.  They were cut fresh (Seminole pumpkins store very well). The rice and turkey are at the bottom of the pot.  The rice and carrots were just added a few seconds before placing the pot in the box.

Add additional towels and blankets and such to the sides of the box.  You are going to insulate up to the top of the pot and then place about four inches of additional insulation over the top of the pot.  Here is mine when I was finished.

It is not necessary to fill the box to the top with insulation if your box is really big.  All you need is to do is cover the top of the pot with about four inches of the insulation medium you are using. 

Let the food simmer in the box.  The rice is usually done in about 45 minutes but I let mine stay 1 1/2 hours because I went out to work in the garden for a while. 

This is what it looked like when I took the cover off.

Be careful!  The pot will be extremely hot!  I burnt my arm taking the pot out of the box.  At this point Molly was very hungry, but the food was too hot to eat.  I put some in a bowl and let it cool a bit.

There are a few things to watch for when using this cooking method:
  • This works best if you size your pot appropriate to the recipe.  The pot should be full.  If there is a lot of air space in the pot, you lose some of the insulation value.
  • Pack the insulation medium in tightly.  Don't leave a lot of air pockets around the pot.
  • Don't peek at the food! Every time you open up the box and remove some of the insulation, heat escapes.  You lose some of the cooking power when that happens.

If your recipe states to simmer the food for only a few minutes (say about 10 minutes), you can also just cover the pot and turn the heat completely off while leaving the pot on the stove top.  I have a ceramic stove top and this idea works wonders!  Routinely, I turn the stove top off early no matter what I am cooking.  The ceramic cooking surface always holds the heat and it is a great way to save electricity. 

If you have a gas cook top you are not going to get as much mileage from this technique.  However, I bet it will save you money over the long run if you turn the burner off 30 seconds to 1 minute early each time you cook something.

Using the hot box to cook is so easy!  In addition to printing and placing these instructions in your food storage binder, try this cooking method out now - you will be very pleased with the results!

If you liked this post, you may also like other posts in the Cooking without Electricity series:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How Much Do You Pay For Meat at the Grocery Store?

This post is only applicable for those who live in the 48 continental United States.

In this economy I am sure your answer is "Too much!"  I have just tried a new alternative to those high prices.  It is called Zaycon Foods.  I was really impressed so I thought I would tell you about it.

The idea behind Zaycon Foods is that you order meat over the Internet and the company deliveries FRESH (never frozen) meat to a local pick up point in your area (usually a church). You meet the truck in the church parking lot and pick up your order.  This idea isn't for everyone. There is a minimum order so you must be prepared to buy in bulk.  However, if you don't want to buy in bulk, you can always split your order with some friends. It is a great way to get fresh meat at a very good price. 

The order process is very easy. You start by signing up to receive emails from the company.  When they have a delivery scheduled for your area, you will get an email.  Usually, you have about a week to order if you are interested in purchasing.  If you're not interested, you are under no obligation to purchase.  By signing up, you simply gain access to emails notifying you when they will be in your area and what they will have available. 

Let me take a moment to state here that I am not affiliated with the company in any way.  I signed up to receive emails on purchases that would be available in my area based on a friend's recommendation.  I have been receiving emails since mid-May but never purchased anything until now. I don't receive any compensation or discounts for mentioning the company.

About two weeks ago I received an email that they were offering boneless, skinless chicken breast for $1.77 a pound.  They were also offering ground beef but I didn't care to purchase any beef.  A few phone calls to some friends to see if they were interested and I decided to go in with someone else on an order.  The minimum order was 40 lbs.  We each agreed to take 20 lbs. The truck was going to be in my area on Saturday, July 28th between 3:00 and 4:00 pm. 

We were going to a luncheon together that day and decided we would leave the luncheon and drive directly to the pickup point, get the chicken, then go home. Well, we were having such a good time we forgot about the chicken and it was 4:15 before we arrived at the pickup point! We were very lucky that the truck was still there. 

We showed our receipt (you pay for it in advance and they email you a receipt), and they put our order in the back of the car.  Then the driver said that there were a few extra cases of chicken and he asked us if we wanted them.  He said we could have them for half price!  We said yes and took two extra!  All it took was a few additional phone calls to see if anyone else we knew was interested in purchasing the chicken. (I took an additional 20 lbs.) Since the two additional cases were half price, it dropped the total cost for the chicken for each of us to $1.40 a pound.  You can't even find that price at Costco or Sam's Club! 

When I got home I divided up the chicken into individual bags and was surprised at how big they were.  Some of them weighted almost 2 lbs.  I put half the bags in the refrigerator to can later and the other half went into the freezer.  Here is a picture of the ones I canned.

Overall, the purchase experience from Zaycon was a good one.  Next time they come to my area, I expect to purchase some ground beef.  They also offer seafood and other items like fruit.  If you click on the link above, you can read about the locations they deliver to and all the items they deliver.  If you think you might be interested in this idea, sign up to receive the emails.  You are not obligated to order anything!

Although I have not eaten any of the chicken yet, I have been told by people I trust that the meat is excellent quality and tastes delicious. In this economy, it pays to save as much money as you can on quality food for your family!