Useful Hard Skills for the near future

What skills to learn, what tools to get
jacob
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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by jacob » Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:16 am

Here's our system. This is the backwall of our kitchen. I don't think it takes up much space.

Image
There are six white buckets of staples (black beans, pinto beans, rice, sushi rice, flour, and sugar) which form the foundation of all our cooking/baking. There are cans (mostly tomatoes) on the next shelves. One shelf has various sundries+other (e.g. jars of pickles, mustard, olives, oil ...). On the top shelf is a collection of more rarely used beans/pulses.

We have what we normally use (just more of it = buffer) and can cook anything we normal cook out of it.

From what I've seen, many people don't have much of anything at all (shelves are empty) or their shelves will be full of crazy stuff that just sits there and never gets eaten, e.g. bizarre spice collections, biscuit or gravy mixes, pickled onions, powdered mashed potatoes, canned coconut milk, etc. stuff that you can't really make a full meal out of. Most rely on what's in their fridge + going shopping every other day. If they do stock up, they buy "special foods" like MREs (expensive) or some other strange stuff they'd otherwise never eat (canned hamburger?) leading to waste when it expires and gets thrown out.

That's where getting into the habit of having a buffer (instead of a stock that just sits in a closet) and being able to turn it into edible meals comes in as a "hard skill".

Some math: Each bucket holds up to 35 lbs. Staples have about 1500kcal/lbs dry weight. Thus, one person needs to eat 1 pound per day to maintain weight or 2 pounds to do physical work. This means that as long as the sum total of the content of all the buckets is over 2 full ones, two people have a month of sitting around... over 4 is two people for two months. Add all the other food as well (freezer and other shelves) and we should be able to go 60+ days. We just fill the buckets up whenever they go low/contents are on sale.

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cmonkey
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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by cmonkey » Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:34 am

Awesome!

What are all the clips/papers under them?

Papers of Indenture
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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by Papers of Indenture » Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:34 am

Ego wrote: In the past I would probably have shut up and shrugged. I may have even played along for the fun of a mental exercise. But I've come to realize that it is harmful to indulge the fear in those who are prone to it. Harmful for them and harmful for all of us. It is like a contagious disease. The contagion of fear builds when we indulge it.

And that fear itself causes real, actual problems.
:shock: Err when I read Jacob's suggestion my first reaction was "Hm might be a good idea. On to the next thing." When I read your comment above my reaction was "Ooh scary. I don't feel good about the world."

A lot of preppers are off their rocker but Jacobs storage unit up there looks pretty reasonable to me.
Last edited by Papers of Indenture on Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

jacob
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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by jacob » Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:48 am

@Fish - I don't think it makes sense to speak of equivalent amounts of water or fuel because of local variations and because they're relatively independent from food. Water will still be running even if the shelves are empty. Unless, we're talking natural disasters or simply the utility company messing around with the pipes. That depends on where you live and what you live in.

@cmonkey - Business cards from the plumber, HVAC, electric, random, etc. people. It's standard office binder clips. Useful for closing bags.

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Ego
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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by Ego » Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:03 am

jacob wrote:That's where getting into the habit of having a buffer (instead of a stock that just sits in a closet) and being able to turn it into edible meals comes in as a "hard skill".
Okay, I admit, that does look perfectly reasonable. We have a shelf just like that one and it looks the same but we stock up because we found the things cheap. I agree 100% that the "hard skill" is turning that into something edible every day. I guess I would add the "extra hard skill" would be for someone who is in the accumulation phase to find the time to make the food and use the stocks so that they did not spoil. Did you have that level of stockpile when you were both working? Did you experience spoilage? When you were living in the RV?

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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by jacob » Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:19 am

Yeah, it was about similar, but not as organized or convenient (original 5-20lbs bags on available shelves, sometimes in other rooms, instead of buckets in a row). Actually, until recently, I had the buckets stacked in a closet instead due to the strange decision of filling the bottom shelf with canning supplies. Now THEY sit in the closet. Having them set up like they are now is easier than going to grab the bottom bucket every time.

Historically, I've cooked for several days at a time (typically 4) since grad school. Because I'm lazy that way + just not that into finer cooking these days (DW is, so she cooks on weekends).

Since inventory turnover takes ~2 months ... we usually manage to get staples on sale every time. Having the stock pile => a lot more time spent not going shopping again. In undergrad and grad I went to the supermarket almost every day. A lot of time wasted. It was the main reason I stopped drinking milk.

It's quite rare for us to throw any food out because it wasn't eaten/spoiled. I can roll most meals into the next one. It also gets easier because most our cooking doesn't involve meat so it lasts longer before risking spoilage.

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cmonkey
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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by cmonkey » Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:29 am

I seem to remember you mentioning you don't have kitchen cabinets. Is that because this works better? Did you have something like this before you moved into the house (when you probably had cabinets in an apartment) ?

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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by jacob » Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:37 am

@cmonkey - Nope, I don't have kitchen cabinets because there weren't any when we bought the house and I've been too lazy to build any yet. That this system works fine (the shelves were free) doesn't help on my motivation/priorities. In the apartment+before I just kept things in their original bags. I resisted getting the buckets for a long time because with the seals each of them is $10 + special order and bulk-$hipping :shock: I think what happened was that after having listened to me talking about them for a long time but hemming and hawing about the price of ordering some, DW saw them in Home Depot and bought a couple. Then I was hooked. They are so much nicer to deal with than trying to get a cup of rice out of a bag.

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cmonkey
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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by cmonkey » Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:00 pm

Personally, I like what you have. Out of site, out of mind is very applicable here and it's how 'food accumulation' gets started. Traditional kitchen cabinets are very conducive to this! If I could redo the renovation we did for our kitchen 6 years ago I would have probably skipped most/all of the cabinets altogether and gone for a nice shelf system instead.

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Dragline
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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by Dragline » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:17 pm

jacob wrote: . . . or their shelves will be full of crazy stuff that just sits there and never gets eaten, e.g. bizarre spice collections, biscuit or gravy mixes, pickled onions, powdered mashed potatoes, canned coconut milk, etc. stuff that you can't really make a full meal out of.
Give me your tired, your poor, your pickled onions, yearning to be eaten . . . :lol:

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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by luxagraf » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:44 pm

@Jacob-

The gamma seal thing is just the lid right? The buckets are just ordinary buckets aren't they? (Trying to figure out if I can fit maybe a couple buckets in the RV, under the bed for rice and beans, which is my family's primary staples. But 5 gal buckets are too tall to fit. 2.5 would work though I think.)

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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 2:47 pm

@jacob: How to you ensure FIFO with your bucket method? Perhaps, I shouldn't admit this, but I always thought that the challenge of figuring out what to cook from an odd lot pantry is fun. Instead of maintaining large supplies of dry staples (which I did do when I was frugal feeding a family of four on a regular basis), I might just start picking up random cans off of clearance racks. Commercially canned food can still be edible and nutritious after decades of storage, but dried beans and flour definitely have a shelf life.

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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by jacob » Thu Jan 19, 2017 6:21 pm

@luxagraf - Yes, the gamma seal is just the lid (and the rim) and the bucket is an ordinary $3 food-grade bucket, bought separately. The 5 gal size seal fits 3.5 gal buckets too. For a 2 gal bucket you need a different size seal. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqIa21b4VLc https://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S- ... astic-Pail

@7wb5 - Not an issue since the turnover << shelf life of the staples. And if there's a small fraction that survives the odds of multiple turnovers, it's not like they spoil the rest. Old beans just lose taste and vitamin. The rest lasts forever. However, you can always pour the old contents into a temporary bucket and pour the new stuff in and the add the old stuff on top---like when the buckets occasionally gets washed. Generally, I don't worry about it.

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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by jennypenny » Thu Jan 19, 2017 8:36 pm

@7W5 -- When it's time to refill a bucket, I dump the remaining contents into another container, put the new stock into the bucket, and then dump the older stock on top. That way the oldest stuff always gets used first.

I keep my flour in the freezer to extend its shelf life and prevent infestations.

@luxagraf--For buckets, I found the best assortment and prices at a local restaurant supply store. You could also use plastic soda or water bottles (but don't use gallon milk jugs because you can't get the dairy out of the plastic).

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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by enigmaT120 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:10 pm

At least I don't have to store water. Even without electricity I think my spring would keep working. I would just have to haul water in buckets, like I do when the power is out for several days.

George, all that fun and here I was wasting my time at a job training thing in Philadelphia. I suppose the mess will be gone when I get back tomorrow. At least I should be able to get my car up my driveway. I barely made it out on Tuesday morning.

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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by halfmoon » Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:43 pm

@jennypenny,

I had to smile when I saw your photo...looks so familiar, right down to the labels. Pinto beans in a 2-liter soda bottle? Check, along with the frustration of trying to shake them back out. They tend to jam at the neck. We've also used a lot of glass gallon jars because they don't retain the smell of former contents, but they're thinner on the ground since we left the restaurant business.

I'm mystified by the opposition to reasonable, rotated food storage. It reminds me of my stepmother, who used to mock us for locking the front door of our house or using sunscreen.

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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by George the original one » Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:04 pm

The I-84 closure affecting groceries is now news:
http://katu.com/news/local/continued-i- ... es-grocers

McGinnis says store shelves are still fully stocked now, but that could change if I-84 doesn't thaw out soon.

"There our loads that we're not receiving at our distribution center because they're coming in from out east. Things like meat and produce, fruits, vegetables, chickens, things like that."
***
With the general populace now alerted, Jacob's scenario of a spike in demand will take place, thus emptying the shelves.

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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by George the original one » Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:05 pm

enigmaT120 wrote:George, all that fun and here I was wasting my time at a job training thing in Philadelphia. I suppose the mess will be gone when I get back tomorrow. At least I should be able to get my car up my driveway. I barely made it out on Tuesday morning.
Flying is no problem at the moment. Be glad you're not trying to drive here!

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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by enigmaT120 » Fri Jan 20, 2017 11:23 pm

I meant I barely made it out my driveway (about 1/4 mile). An '04 Insight and over 8" of snow are not a good combination.

Image2004 Insight by Ed Miller, on Flickr

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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by BRUTE » Sat Jan 21, 2017 4:15 am

Ego wrote:How much space does two months of food take up? Add to that the fact that the conventional prepper-wisdom here says we need to store lots of water as well. How much space does that take?
for brute, the issue is refrigerator space. the only foods that can be stored at room temperature for longer than a few days are dried carbs, mostly grains, and purified fats/oils. brute has about a 2-3 month supply of various fats, but he doesn't eat carbs, especially grains. thus to store even a month's worth of food, he'd need to buy a separate deep freezer, which would probably require a garage, a car to do monthly grocery hauls, and so on.

the small-stock strategy is much more convenient and requires less total capital invested at any given time (in fridges and vehicles). it therefore seems more reasonable when mobility is high or at least valued, or capital invested is being minimized for other reasons.

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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by bristoldude » Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:15 pm

brute seems to have an extensive food stock anyway. Perhaps add some jerky along with the fat? or canned sardines?
I would assume no veg for 2 months would be mostly an inconvenience.

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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by BRUTE » Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:45 pm

spoon of lard a day keeps the doctor away :) good point, brute actually has some canned sardines and tuna from time to time. those could easily be stocked and buffered. most commercial jerky seems to be 25% sugar by weight and very expensive, so brute's not into it. and too lazy to make his own.

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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by George the original one » Mon Jan 30, 2017 3:15 pm

The highways opened the next day, but now onion storage facilities in SE Oregon & SW Idaho have collapsed roofs, so the price of onions is skyrocketing.

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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by BYC » Thu Feb 02, 2017 10:37 pm


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Re: Useful Hard Skills for the near future

Post by ducknalddon » Fri Feb 03, 2017 6:44 am

Southern Spain provides around 80% of the fresh produce for the EU out of season, so it is not just the UK,"
Interesting ...

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