Smart Habit Saturday-hosted by Lara the Lazy Organizer


Okay, I'm posting this today, Friday, because I know I'll forget tomorrow. ;-) My new habit for this week is planning a menu AND actually USING it! I tend to plan one (once in a while), and maybe even buy what I need, but then forget all about it and freak out trying to figure out what to make that will only take ten minutes.

Yes, I truly am that bad! LOL I'm hoping to get my butt in gear and use the crock pot and bread machine this week, but just sticking to a menu is the main goal. The kids meals haven't been unhealthy, but they have been very, very repetitive.

Go over to Lara's blog and check out her SMART Habit Saturday posts, as well as her tips.

The First Step: The Pantry

Once I decided I needed to prepare my family for potential emergencies, I knew what my first step would be. The pantry. We needed a lot more food. I have been going to the store every few days lately, which is not only poor planning, but a recipe for financial disaster. The more often you go, the more likely you are to spend extra money on unnecessary items. Not to mention the waste of gas and time.

I knew we had a good amount of meat in the freezer from recent sales I've seen. But canned food was scarce. My first goal is to amass a month's worth of food. So I sat down and made a one-week menu, a list of needed ingredients, and doubled it. That gave me two weeks worth of food. My plan was to go to the store, and attempt to double it again, if we had the money, or just get the amount on the list. Now, you wouldn't want to buy a huge amount of food based on a one-week menu plan...boredom would set in very quickly. But this is my plan for the short term. I was able to get almost a whole month's worth of the basics. I still need more sucanat and whole wheat from the health food store, but we're short on money this week, so I'll wait til next time.

When our next paycheck comes, I'll make a new one-week menu, and repeat the process. We get paid every two weeks. So every two weeks, I'll buy one month worth of food. Within three months, I should have an extra three months worth of food on hand at all times.

You may wonder how I can afford this. We're not rich, or well-off, or even "comfortable", although our financial situation is improving. Once all our debts are current, I would consider us doing "okay". Right now, we are "struggling less". LOL.

Basically, we spent about the same as we normally would on food for two weeks, including fast food. So we've given up fast food, and have made a commitment to eat at home from now on, unless it is necessary because one of us is on the road. (The day I shopped, I was gone for over seven hours, which I didn't expect to be, so I ate out.) Although I'm trying to get healthier food for my family, and try to buy some organic food when I can, I decided this week would be almost all regular food, because having SOME food in the pantry was more important. After the pantry is a little fuller, I will try to incorporate more organic food. All food bought in bulk, like flour, etc. will still be organic, as it is reasonably cheap to buy it that way. Whole wheat organic flour is usually .69 a pound.

I shopped at Aldi's, because some of their food is very inexpensive. You have to know your prices, though. Some foods I can get cheaper at Sam's Club or Walmart. I bought a case each of corn, green beans, diced tomatoes with chiles, large cans of pears. I bought ten pounds of boneless chicken tenderloins. Chicken breasts are usually cheaper, but I found tenderloins much more tender, quicker and easier to cook without overcooking the edges, and easier to calculate portions, especially when you have a lot of little ones. I also bought enough soap, and shampoo to last a month. It will be nice to have that stuff on hand, as it never fails that once the shampoo runs out, so does our soap, dish liquid, razor blades, toothpaste, etc. , and usually all during a week when we're broke, lol.

At Sam's Club I bought a gallon jug of salad dressing, some produce, and eight small jugs of organic juice (probably should have gone with regular, but it was a good price). I bought three cases of bottled water (soon I want my own high-end water filter to save money), a large container of deli meat (the only inexpensive way to buy it), and a ton of toilet paper and paper towels. (My husband still likes using them, and my mini hand towels are still packed up somewhere.)

At Walmart we bought a gallon of mayo (cheaper than Sam's club, surprisingly), razor blades, some canned soups, and some miscellaneous things, including Easter candy. I haven't added it up yet, but I think I spent around $300 not including the Easter candy. I did spend some extra money on a few unnecessary items such as new Easter baskets, etc. that isn't included in that amount.

As an aside, the "Easter bunny" does NOT visit our house. Easter here is about the Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord, not a fictitious bunny who gives them candy. We do have baskets and an Easter egg hunt, but our children know that these are given by us, as a celebration of a religious occasion.

Back to the pantry issue...I couldn't believe it, but I actually fit almost all this food into our little pantry cabinet. It's not quite full. I'm glad it all fit, because cabinet space is at a premium in this newer house. The amount we spent would have been more if we hadn't already had some items, especially meat. But most of the menu calls for chicken breasts for dinner, which will come out of the ten pounds I bought. I know that once my pantry is stocked well, my costs will be even lower, because I can shop by what's on sale, and buy in bulk. I know I probably didn't get every thing I needed for this month, and of course things like milk will need to be bought again before my next shopping trip, but it's a start.



When I was single, I did tons of research and reading about preparedness. This was over a decade ago, when Y2K was barely a blip on most people's radars. It started with reading Countryside magazine, which is a wonderful magazine about homesteading and country living, with articles written by people who are actually doing it. I also started reading Back Home Magazine, Backwoods Home Magazine, and American Survival Guide a (now defunct) magazine that focused more on preparation and survival of many types of situations.

Many people laugh at the idea of "preparing" the equate it with Y2K "survivalist nuts" who spent thousands of dollars on giant cans of "survival food", only to find that the year 2000 brought no catastrophe, and gave away their stash of goods. What has happened to our country? Only a few generations ago, preparing for bad times was the norm! Only a fool would keep enough food on hand for just a few days or a week, in those days. Even city dwellers kept pantries, though probably not as big as the ones country folks had.

If your family's breadwinner lost his or her job and had an extremely difficult time finding another, how would your family do? How long could you pay your mortgage, all your insurance, the utility bills, the vehicle payments, not to mention put food on the table? What if you had to fight in court for unemployment benefits, and you still didn't have another job after six months? What if the breadwinner had a major injury that took place outside the workplace, and was still an invalid six or even twelve months later?

What would happen if a disaster hit your area? Can't happen? Ask the Katrina victims what they think of that foolish notion. You could very easily become the victim of a record-breaking blizzard, tornado, earthquake, flood, hurricane, or other major disaster that knocks out power, destroys homes, disrupts the transportation of food, gas and other necessities, and traps you in your home. Could your family survive two weeks without electricity, plumbing, or a way to buy food or other necessities?

Do you live near a nuclear facility? A plant that produces chemicals? A military installation? Anywhere near a major highway or train line where loads of chemicals or nuclear waste could be transported? If so, you could be vulnerable to a disaster, and may have to evacuate your home.

What about terrorism? After 9-11, and several plots since then that have been foiled by homeland security, can we ever be sure of our safety here at home? We have had the luxury, as a country, of having no wars fought on this land since the civil war. Because of this we have become complacent, assuming this will always be the case. It will not. Human nature unfortunately dictates that sooner or later, we will endure war on American soil.

This may sound like gloom and doom to you, but it is not. It is a fact of life that bad things happen. You don't need to dwell on it all the time, but you should make yourself aware of it, and prepare for the worst. Even on a small income, you can make some preparations. If you even had supplies to keep your family safe, clean, fed, warm, and healthy for two weeks, you would be ahead of most Americans. Personally, I think a month should be the absolute minimum, and three months would be a smarter choice. There are some Americans who actually keep a year or more in supplies. Believe it or not, it can be done. It may take time to figure out how to do it and amass your supplies if you are short on space or money, but it can be done.

This came to my mind recently, after seeing the show "Jericho" on CBS (go to their website to view the show online) and reading "Lights Out", a free book online, which I found to be very realistic and had helpful ideas for those who want to be prepared. I realized that my day to day duties as a wife and mother have drawn me further into worldly desires and concerns. I find myself wanting to have everything fast and easy. Convenient, pre-packaged and unhealthy foods, the best of everything, it is very seductive. We had no more than a week's worth of food on hand, and many needed items not on hand at all. We have no water stored.

Ironically, before I met my husband, he, like I, was living off-grid. He didn't have a pantry, but he had non-electric alternatives. We both know what it is like to heat a home with wood or a kerosene heater, and to cook with it. We have hauled water in large containers, by hand. When Y2K happened, I didn't have a whole lot stored, but I had enough to survive about a month. We still have some of these supplies...kerosene lamps, water containers, etc. But no fuel, water, or food stored. I have become, like most Americans, complacent. Sure that tomorrow will never bring sickness, tragedy, or disaster.

Many Americans think "oh, the goverment will take care of us." How foolish...anyone remember how long it was before Katrina victims got any decent amount of food or water from FEMA? And that was one small area of the country! As for shelter, would you want to live in the Superdome with all the crime, assault, rape, etc. that was going on there? Not to mention the unsanitary living conditions that quickly arose.

If you want to live like an ostrich with your head in the sand, that's fine, as long as you don't go crawling to your prepared neighbors in an emergency, demanding that they help you and accusing them of "hoarding" and "stealing" from everyone else, simply because they were smart enough to prepare. Even animals in nature are intelligent enough to prepare for hard times. But if you have helpless dependents...children, babies, the sick, the elderly, and even animals to care for, you don't have the right to leave them unprotected and vulnerable to the slightest emergency. It is your responsibility, not the government's, to care for and prepare for the needs of your dependents.

I'm ashamed to say I'm no better than anyone else. I've been lulled into the false sense of security that relatively easy times can bring. But life has its ups and downs. Don't be caught unawares during a "down" time. Your well-being and that of your loved ones may depend on you.

I plan to keep reading and researching, and sharing my finds with you. I will post links to sites and list any good books or other helpful resources. I highly suggest reading "Lights Out". It is free to read online or download. It is long, but an easy read. After a few days, I did have some nightmares about it (but then I'm pregnant and highly prone to nightmares lately, lol). I just stopped reading for a few days, then picked it up again. Even if you just read the first half, it will give you some idea of what to really expect in a major nationwide disaster, and what you might need to survive something like it. If you even just stored a few weeks of food, water, and necessities, you would be helping your family a lot. I did it when I was single and poor, and working only part time earning a little over minimum wage. If you do it the smart way, it's not as hard as you might think.

Upcoming Ultrasound

I know my posts are few and far between. It is nearly impossible to sign into Blogger now that Google took it over. Ever since then, when I try to sign into Blogger, it shuts down my browser almost every time. I just haven't found any other free blogging sites I like to switch over to, so until then, I'll do the best I can to post (when Google Blogger lets me).

I have a level II ultrasound this week. This is to check on the baby's development and make sure all is normal. Since I have gestational diabetes, E antibodies, and I'm sooooo old (lol), they want to check. I told the doc that's fine, as long as he knows that I'm not aborting my baby if there's anything wrong. Quite frankly, I don't really want to know if anything is wrong, unless there's something that can be done about it (intra-uterine surgery, etc.). The last thing I need is to spend the next five months worrying about something I can't change!

I'm sure it will be normal. My anti E titers were low, and I haven't heard differently about the titer I took last week, so I assume that was low also. I REALLY need to change my eating. It's been pretty terrible the last few months. My husband is not being nearly as supportive as he normally is. I tried to go cold turkey on any refined carbs last week, and the very day I start that, he decided to "help" me by making a cake with chocolate frosting, just to "get rid of it." Yeah, smelling cake baking and seeing the chocolate frosting was a big help. I held out all day, and then got so frustrated I decided to have some. But he and the kids had eaten it all, and that just made me mad, so I went to the store and bought a bunch of junk. I know, it's my own fault. But you don't help an alcoholic by drinking a bottle of vodka in front of it follows that you don't help a fat person by eating cake in front of them. Grrr!

Normally he's been great in the past, taking up any diet I wanted to try. But I've noticed the last few times he's been less and less supportive. I wish I knew why. I'm very weak-willed, and the only times I've been successful at weight-loss was when he supported me. I guess we just need to sit down and talk about it. If I don't get my blood sugar under control, I'm going to have to take insulin. And I DON'T want to do that, if I don't have to.