Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Continuing to Build My Pantry

I have wanted to keep you updated more about my pantry efforts, but my progress occurs in the span of months, not weeks.  That is poverty.  Growth is very slow, and hard to accomplish...and to maintain.

I can tell you that I am eating cheap foods and trying get to save as much of what I have as I can.  I have to buy my staple foods, like pastas and dry milk and coffee, but I am also trying to buy extras of the least expensive foods.

I finally made the decision to buy a small pressure cooker (4 quart instead of 6 quart) so I can start to learn how to cook dry beans and other foods with it.

Deciding how much I need as a three-month supply is becoming an interesting quest. 

I am also deciding on my primary storage options.  I like the clear plastic securely locking containers I currently use, so will try to decide how many I will need for my food items.  If I can work out the storage for one month, I can just multiply that by three.  It will be a lot easier for rotating supplies.

As I figure out my emergency pantry, I will try to update you.  I will use the starting keywords "food emergencies" so you can easily find those posts among my other food-related posts.

Until next time, I hope you are thinking ahead to your own possible emergencies, whether in food, money, or health issues.

In Christ,
Deborah Martin

I decided to take a photo of my food supply...
and my storage containers.  Not much, but where I am right now.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

After Shopping

I thought I would let you know what happened with my first shopping exercise...

I ride the bus to do my traveling, and that includes shopping.  I really didn't have much food left yesterday.  As I was getting ready to go, I was weak and shaking, so I decided to eat what I could before I tried to leave.  I didn't expect that physical reaction, and consumed some almonds I had, a section of the homemade bread I had made the day before, and the last of some cinnamon applesauce I made this past weekend.  After resting a bit, I was well enough to try to leave.

Imagine what it must be like for people all over the world who are battling starvation... I have been hungry before, lived on foods that were cheap, gone to community meals, and sought out food boxes for the poor...  the effects of hunger and starvation are not something I welcome.

I finally made it to the store in the later part of the afternoon.  I could only go to one store because of my morning experience, so I decided to start at WinCo.  They have good bulk food prices, and reasonable prices for many other food items.  Starting to fill my empty shelves with new supplies took half of the food stamps I had left for this month.

I did purchase several of my planned meal supplies, but these were for my consumption.  I'm not sure how long my new food supplies will last, but the effort has begun.  Stretching food supplies has been a constant part of my poverty experiences.

As I realized how difficult this new food effort would be, I decided I might need to make a separate list of my emergency foods.  In thinking more about what I would be doing, including some kind of purchase references (when, where, etc.) and possibly the expiration date, if it applies to that food, would help keep track of what I have saved.  Special storage containers may also be an important thing to consider.

The need to separate my regular food budget from my emergency food effort became an obvious issue as I shopped.  I noticed how little $11 would buy... this was going to take a long time at this investment level.  Maybe I will need to find other resources to help me speed up the effort.  Making a food record for my emergency pantry seems like the best way to deal with creating my meal plans and keeping trwck of sources and expiration dates.

When I did my recordkeeping later, I made a new shopping list for my immediate needs.  I am still trying to build my current food pantry with staples like flour, sugar, dry milk, condiments, bulk foods that store well, and everyday food needs. 

This is an new and evolving experience for me even though I have been keeping some kind of emergency pantry for as long as I can remember. Creating a meal-based pantry is very different.

Until next post,  Deb 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Budgets and Emergencies

I am again working on my budgets.  At the end of one financial month, before the beginning of the next financial month, I try to plan how I can make my small funds last until the next infusion of money.  It has always been a survival issue for me... started way back when I had kids and lived on welfare only.  Now I only have a small Social Security Retirement check along with a small amount of food stamps (currently called SNAP).  Not much has changed in my income, despite lots of efforts to change it, but it is only me right now.  My kids have grown.

Right now I am at the end of my food supplies and planning to create a better emergency pantry than I have had in the past.  I know I have talked about it before, but let me update what I can as I write this new post.

Awhile back I purposely tried to live on my back-up food supplies.  I discovered the meal options were not very good.  I had a lot of easy to store foods like rice and dry beans, but little to go with them to make a decent meal.  I decided then to make a change in how I prepare for unexpected food emergencies.  I am trying to make a pantry that would create meals I like to eat.  I am now working on that challenge.

Since I live at such a low income level, I am going to work on a three month pantry first.  My food budget is so low (only $126 each month), I can only use a small amount of food money to begin the building process.  This morning I decided there is only $11 available for my emergency pantry efforts each month.  This will be quite a task.

I have created a plastic container to act as my starting storage option.  Naturally, I will eat the food if I have to, but the bigger goal is to stretch my other purchases to meet the regular food needs of November.  I see a lot of rice and pasta ahead... maybe a steady diet of ramen, a great meal stretcher !!  😃

Actually, I have been reading a lot of materials about food and diets and weight loss.  FOOD RULES by Michael Pollan is the latest book I have been reading.  Eating healthy and eating cheaply is the main difficulty in poverty.  I hope to find some useful solutions to those problems.  I will share them with you when I do.

What will eleven dollars buy for my first month doing this?  I don't know...yet!  My staples for quick meals are Rice-a-Roni Spanish Rice, ramen, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese... they will probably start the process.  Canned milk is good to have on hand.  That might be all I can get in one budget.  Dried fruits store well, so I need to decide which ones to get and how to package them.

By the time we get to December's budget, I should have more meal ideas to start collecting for.  Let me know if you have any good ideas for this effort.  I search lots of resources, and will try to share those with you as time goes by.

In Christ,  Deb  💛

Friday, May 6, 2016

Friday, 6 MAY 2016 :: Checking in and catching up with everything

I have been trying to develop an Excel sheet for farm income options this week... it has been a challenge because I am just trying to get the data into some kind of a projection order.  I haven't been able to operate a farm yet, so I need to know maximum CSA possibilities before it can even begin to make sense, but the idea of making money farming is important to me and to Working Together. 

In my ongoing research about food issues, I decided that CSA's are the way for small farms to go because each farmer can work to find their own customer base.  Income sources can be expanded to other products or activities, like Farmer's Markets, restaurant supply, and finished products for retail sales, but the funding that CSA's provide can be the base that keeps a farm going.  Once you know the minimum and the maximum number of CSA's your farm can handle, they become your goals and your limits.

My primary focus is poverty populations.  I have never been able to take advantage of CSA's because they are often way beyond my income level.  I would need some kind of monthly payment plan.  In my Excel effort, I have CASH and CREDIT options at FULL, HALF, and QUARTER share levels.  The cash, paid in full, option receives a major discount, the credit, pay by the month , option is charged a 20% credit fee.  The product shares are the same for each category, but the pricing levels are different.  It works on paper as a guide, now I need the real figures to decide how to make it work in real life.

A lot depends on what is available during each month of the year... and I have the price of the share as my guide for product contents.  It seems to me that vegetables and fruits are not the only food that needs to be included... eggs, cheese, meats, and other farm products can also be included in the share contents.  The details are the issue for me... I need to know how many acres, what kind of land, where it is located, what to grow, how much it costs to produce and deliver.  Just a little bit of details....  :-)

These are the directions I am moving in, and business plans with cash flow projections have gotten me started. 

I am wondering if a co-op would work, if urban options can work, if I can find land on major bus routes to let low-income households reach me, and lots of other possibilities.  I want to find a way to make it achievable... and have a lot more to learn about the process of reaching these goals.

If you have any great details to share, let me know them...

In Christ,
Deborah Martin