Prepping, homesteading and living the simple, green, independent life.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Advantages to Storing Food

"Are you expecting some a disaster or something?", my wife said after I set up our new can organizer.
Tth Cansolidator is a can organizer that I bought through Shelf Reliance, which are actually meant to go in cupboards or pantry shelves. The plastic is pretty sturdy and it's easy to put together but if I had the money and space, I'd probably have gotten one of the larger metal framed shelving units. 
The basic idea with these is that you put new cans in the top slot and when you want one you pull it from the bottom slot. When you pull out a can, the others roll forward. This way you're always pulling out the oldest can and you automatically rotate your supply.
I've seen designs online to build your own out of cardboard and some really interesting do-it yourself systems between wall studs or using old dressers.
I really wanted to try making my own out of cardboard but I broke down and bought the Cansolidator since I never had the time.
When you begin storing food a lot of people have reactions similar to my wife (who I think was only half-joking).  For some reason you get labeled as a paranoid hoarder.
Back in the ice-storm of 98 I remember driving out with my parents to the only grocery store in town that was open.  The power was out everywhere and the only way we could see was with our car headlights. 
The grocery store was on the other side of town and the roads were pure ice.  I recall almost ditching the car a few times and when we finally got there, the store was almost totally empty.  I don't remember everything that we bought but the only meat we could find was a stick of dried pepperoni and since all the bread was gone we bought pitas to make sandwhiches.
Luckily the power was only out in our town for a few days and we had enough food to last that long.
So ya, having a few weeks worth of non-perishable food would come in handy if there's an emergency like that but this isn't the only reason.
First off, the food is something I'm gonna buy anyway so the money isn't wasted.  This is why it's important to follow the saying of "eat what you store, store what you eat".  Think about what you often buy and eat; there's usually quite a few things that you use a few times per month.  To be more accurate, you could even make a log of what you buy and eat.
Secondly, it's also just handy to have the food on hand.  If guests come over you don't have to do a grocery run and if the stores are closed you're not stuck.
For me however, the main attraction is reducing our overall cost of food.  By stocking food you're never in a situation where you "have" to buy a certain item.  Thanks to this I can watch the prices of items I stock and only buy when the price is low.  For example, one item I always keep stocked is Kraft Diner.  I've seen the price for KD be anywhere from 50 cents to $1.40.  My rule is that I buy when it's less than 80 cents so if KD is over a buck one week, I know I can hold off on buying until the price drops because there's a dozen boxes at home.
It may seem like a big expensive job, but if you just buy one or two extra things each time you do groceries you won't notice it.  I figure I only spend an extra $5 or so each time but it's surprising how fast you can stock up.  In no time you can be a paranoid hoarder too!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

You Know You're Getting Old When...

A few weeks back we received our new high-efficiency front loading LG washer and dryer set and I have to say, I'm pretty impressed by them.
The set was only around $1000 (on sale) but I felt like I'd gone from a Chevette to a Cadillac when compared to our old set.  A cute little luxury feature is that they play a little song when a load is done.  I told my wife I've always dreamed of having a somebody who loved housework so much that it sang to her.
The washer is very efficient at conserving water.  In fact, at first we weren't sure if we hooked it up properly because we couldn't see any water through the glass door.  It turns out that the machine weighs how much clothes are in it and only uses enough water to soak the clothes. I'm very curious to see how this affects our next water bill because I estimate we've gone from using approx. 20 litres a load to maybe only 4 or 5.
Although these style of washer do take longer to clean a load (about an hour), we can do much larger loads so the time spent works out to about the same.
Another thing that's great about the washer is that it spin-dries the clothes so well that they come out of the washer just damp and almost dry.  Sometimes I have to think twice if a load has even gone through the washer since so much water is removed. 
As for the dryer, I'm a little disappointed that it was rated as only average when it comes to energy use, however we're noticing that most loads get dried in under 25 minutes. Not only does the washer do such a great time spin-drying, but the dryer also has a sensor that can tell when the clothes are dry and it will shut itself off.  Very often the timer will show 30 minutes or so left but then a couple minutes later it shuts off because the clothes are dry!
In a few years time, after we build our next house, I'd like to look into getting a similar style propane or natural gas dryer.  This would really reduce our energy use.  Sure we could use a clothesline to dry our clothes, we used to and probably will again some day, but with two little kids it's much easier to just use the dryer.
On the "luxury" side of things I'm impressed by how huge the interior of the dryer is and it's kinda neat to have a light inside it.
So far the only minor downside to these is that I find we have to remember to leave the washer door open to allow it to dry out.  The front loading door is water/air tight and I've noticed that if we forget to leave the door open it is still damp inside days later.  I'm afraid that this could lead to a musty smell and maybe mold which probably explains why the washer has a "self-cleaning" feature.
We're pretty happy with our new washer and dryer set but also a little depressed.  When you reach the stage that the most exciting thing in your life is your new washer and dryer you know you're getting old!