Monday, October 11, 2021

Ingredients are the Prepper's Gold Standard

This was an interesting article.  Basically, what they're telling us, is that we should get used to shortages.  

A follow-up article quotes the head-honcho of Kraft Heinz, warning us that we should "get used to higher prices." 

Shortages of certain foods and higher prices for the ones that will be available.

I guess we've been warned ... ??

In truth, the Prepper community has been sounding the clarion call for a very long time.  


The article on shortages was interesting, because they mention a couple of highly processed items, like Rice Krispy treats, which will become scarce, and it, sort of, made me laugh.

A couple of weeks ago, I did an analysis of the cost of purchasing individually wrapped, highly processed, snack cakes versus making my own cakes and sending pieces with Deus Ex Machina to lunch.  It saved $24/year, which isn't a lot, but as Melonie pointed out, thinking in terms of what I could NOW buy (like a tank of gasoline for my car) rather than focusing on the tiny annual savings, gave those values a higher ROI.  

When I read that article and thought about not being able to purchase individually wrapped Rice Krispy treats, I will admit that I didn't have even a tiny bit of anxiety.  The fact is that I don't really purchase Rice Krispy treats anyway.

I mean, I guess I like Rice Krispy treats, but the fact is they are so easy to make, I can't imagine why anyone would purchase them premade, except as a convenience if one is out and needs a quick bite, but to purchase them as a storage item, or as snack food, seems a little ... wasteful and silly.

A few weeks ago, Precious decided she wanted to make Rice Krispy treats and asked me to purchase rice krispy cereal.  At the time, I figured one batch, and she'd be done.  Then, she wasn't, and I ended up making a few more stops at the store than I wanted. 

Then, I just picked up a bunch of bags of tiny marshmallows from the grocery store, but in an effort to save some cash, I purchased the cereal, in bulk, from the online bulk foods warehouse, Boxed.com**, where I have been getting most of our groceries for the past several months.  

Then, she was done, but we still had a lot of cereal and marshmallows leftover.


Buying in bulk is an interesting experience.  I end up with far fewer items than I would get when I would shop at the grocery store, but what I've found is that I have a lot more choices.  

I know.  That sounds counterintuitive, but bear with me for a second.

I purchase mayonnaise in huge 46 oz containers from Boxed.com.  That's a lot of mayonnaise, which is good, because I use mayonnaise as a base for a lot of other stuff.  I like mayonnaise on my hamburgers.  I use mayonnaise on my French fries.  Add a little bit of Siracha, and it's amazing for a topping on a buffalo chicken wrap.  Add a few seasonings, and I have a salad dressing, a dipping sauce for vegetables, a sauce (like tartar) for fish, or a cole slaw dressing.   

I don't purchase salad dressing anymore.  I make my own.  It takes about three minutes to mix up.  My simple recipe is:

1/2 c mayonnaise
1/4 c cream or half&half
1 to 2 tbsp wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 tbsp garlic powder and onion powder
1 tsp salt and pepper
herbs (which ones will depend on what kind of dressing you want)

More mayo and less cream makes it more of a dip. 

For a ranch or house style dressing, I add dill and chives (from my garden).  One recipe I saw for ranch includes equal parts mayonnaise, sour cream, and milk (or buttermilk), which has quite a nice flavor.

The amounts given in the above recipe are approximate and to taste.  Mostly, I've made this same sort of dressing so often at this point, that I no longer measure.  I just dump everything in a canning jar, add a lid, and shake well.  Et voila!  Salad dressing.  

A bottle of ranch salad dressing is $3.99, and in the end, all you have is ranch dressing.

Buying mayonnaise as a base for my homemade salad dressing gives me a lot more choices than just salad dressing.  The key is to see the possibilities and to be willing to experiment.  

When Precious wanted to make Rice Krispy treats, I didn't hesitate to get the ingredients for her.  Rice crispy cereal is cereal, which can be eaten with milk, and maybe some fruit, for breakfast.  Marshmallows can be fire-roasted and used for S'Mores, or added to hot chocolate for a creamy treat.  Many cooks will top sweet potatoes with marshmallows.  There are a few uses for both the cereal and the marshmallows beyond *just* rice crispy treats.  And then, there are other options, like this twist on the "treats" - just add peanut butter! 

In short, when I saw the *warning* of shortages with the listing of the types of shortages we might be expecting, it was a laugh-out-loud moment, for me, because those things listed, mostly, are things we, preppers, can often reproduce at home using ingredients that we've either stored, purchased locally, or produced ourselves.

This weekend, Deus Ex Machina and I visited the PYO apple farm, where we picked 44 lbs of apples, at a cost of about $1.13/pound.  I will make applesauce today, which I will can, and I will probably make applesauce several more times this week, along with dried apples, and maybe a batch of slow-cooker apple butter while I'm at work tomorrow.

I might even make an apple Bundt cake (maybe using this recipe or some variation of it).

So many options.   

My mantra is "store ingredients", and that attitude and practice has proven incredibly beneficial to me and my family.  

In these coming times where we might be experiencing shortages and higher prices, stocking up on ingredients and transitioning to a more DIY lifestyle, especially in the kitchen, will become even more important and more valuable than ever before.  While we are still in the midst of the growing season, consider heading over to the farmer's market and "stocking up" on some fresh, local produce.  Grab some eggs from that local farmer and pickle them, or do some baking and store the cakes and muffins in the freezer.  

And consider buying ingredients in bulk from someplace, like Boxed.com, and learn to cook with whole ingredients.  

===========================

Each morning, I write my to do list on the chalkboard in my kitchen.  One of the things I planned to do today was to "prep soap."  A few weeks ago my friend taught me to make a liquid soap base, and "prep soap" means that I put the soap base in a jar, add hot water to dissolve the base, and add essential oils, and then, I use it for whatever it's going to be used for.  Today's soap prep is for the dish soap and laundry soap, which I have been making from that potassium hydroxide base my friend taught me to make.

One of the items that was scarce last year was soap, and this year - and hopefully for evermore (as long as I can find potassium hydroxide, I guess) - that will no longer be an issue for me, because I learned to make my own. 

Soap making isn't difficult, and even if you mess up (which I did), it's still usable.  As long as the saponification process takes place, you have soap.  My last two batches of liquid soap base were imperfect, but usable.  One of them was scalded.  It still soaps up, and I'm using it to wash dishes and laundry.  The other "base" was not fluffy like it's supposed to be.  I guess I may have either over-stirred it, or added too much KOH.  It's still usable.  I can still dissolve it in water and put it in my soap dispensers.  

The next batch will be better.  

Or not.  

The point is to keep trying.

And having ingredients to make soap means that I don't have to worry if Dr. Bonner's experiences shortages, because I have everything I need to make my own. 

And there is nothing quite so empowering as knowing how to take care of one's self.




**This is not an affiliate link, and I get no compensation if you follow the link and make a purchase at the website.   


4 comments:

  1. I'll have to check out that first article - hadn't read it yet. I did read the BBC one and found it interesting. I should probably make time to go listen to the full interview they did with the Kraft Heinz fellow as well. I suspect the portions chosen for the article are the ones that "bleed" so they lead, but there might be other interesting industry insights and tidbits to glean from it as well.

    The boy and I hope to make our own marshmallows - thinking that's a late fall/early winter project. So much going on and I need to get an herb order set up first as well, as we plan to use actual marsh mallow root to do it.

    Good to know about the soap. I need to get back into that too. Still only do melt & pour myself, so I buy that base, but it's a baby step in the right direction. Or that's what I tell myself. ;)

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    1. Making soap was so easy. It takes a bit of time, because the reaction between the fats and the lye takes time, but it's so worth it!

      Making marshmallows is still one of those things I want to learn to do ... some day. Let me know if you make some and how it turns out.

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  2. Good info! You can also make treats with peanut butter and chopped choc chips! Lost the recipe years ago but you csn wing it

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    1. Yes! I had a recipe for a homemade Reese's. It was better than the store bought - in my opinion! Fresher and no preservatives ;).

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