On Saturday, we spent the day together going to a few new stores too look around and eventually hit the local Sams Club since I got paid for some side work. We visited a natural foods co-op, where I found stevia and got a small box of 50 packets. I've been using it since in my iced tea and am getting very used to the taste. At first, I noticed a bit of an aftertaste, but now after a few days, I don't notice it at all. It takes a LOT less stevia to get the same sweetness that you do from sugar. Articles I have read state that stevia is between 10-20x as sweet as sugar in it's refined and powdered form. It can be used just like sugar or any artificial sweetener, and is calorie free, and perfectly safe versus the manmade artificials. We plan to switch to it and honey as much as possible, which will mean finding it in reasonably priced bulk bags rather than tiny packets.
The trip to Sams almost completely restocked the bulk items in the pantry. We got 50lbs of flour, bread flour, sugar, and 25lbs of brown sugar. We were hoping to find whole wheat flour and brown rice, but they don't carry either. We'll just find another source. Other than a case of TP, everything else was just plain groceries. Later this week when I get some more cash, we'll hit the local grocery stores for the items we have circled in the ad flyers. There are quite a few buy1/get one, 10/$10 and 5/$5 sales that we will take advantage of and continue to restock the pantries. We also need to restock the shelves of cleaning supplies, and supplies to make our laundry detergent. I plan on getting (minimum) 2 each of Fels Naptha, Zoat, washing soda, and Borax, which are the four ingredients for the laundry detergent.
Beyond food and cleaning supplies, we got a good look at the medicine cabinet and bathroom cupboard on Sunday. There are things that we are low on or out of that we shouldn't be. Some things should ALWAYS be here, but somehow right now they just aren't.The kitchen items will be mainly spices and additives, though some will be things that we can't or don't grow for ourselves. Lisa had our usual Sunday dinner guests stop and get her Advil because we were out, and that made us go take a long overdue inventory. We'll be getting a minimum of 2 each of pain relievers, cough medicine, antihystamines, decongestants,feminine products, shampoo, and first aid type of supplies like peroxide, iodine, and more bandages. I hate the fact that we are low or out of these things, and despise the thought that if our friends weren't coming over, I would have driven to the store just to get one item. That's one of our main motivations for storing/prepping. It's not so much for emergencies and such as it is convienence. I'd rather have everything we need here at home than have to worry about going to the store for something as simple as Advil. This Saturday we will be taking an inventory of everything in the house, comparing it to the inventory sheets we have neglected, and make out a shopping list.
In keeping with our wanting to preserve food, and our desire to now eat healthier, we have decided to save for a semi-expensive purchase. We've talked long and hard about it, and after some reading, watching videos, and listening to a TSP podcase, we are going to buy an Excalibur dehydrator. We already have 2 of the smaller ones, one with a fan and one without, but neither have the size or the options that the Excalibur does. They have a temperature setting, timer, and have the fan in the back rather than in the bottom like one of our round ones. (the fan in the bottom pushes/pulls the water through several layers to the top, where the Excalibur pushed it straight out the front) We dehydrated a lot over the last year, and planned on doing more. It's just more feesable with an Excalibur. We did mushrooms, onions, apples, bananas, and a few peppers. This year we want to do more for several reasons. Dehydrating retains more nutrients in food over freezing or canning, storing in bags takes up less space than canning jars, and we can dehydrate fruits and vegetables for snacks rather than buy something out of the box from the store. Though I'm not keen on the idea of using more plastic bags to store things in after they've been dehydrated, we'll use ziplock style bags that can be washed and re-used. They're around $250, but have a great waranty, and will be something we use enough to pay for itself rather quickly.
Now with the new bigger dehydrator and diet change in mind, garden plans will change yet again. We won't only be growing more to eat fresh, but we'll be growing more to store, and more to dehydrate. This will mean MORE potato's, more onions, more peppers, and adding other vetetables to the list for the dehydrator for basic food ingredients. Some fruits we want to dehydrate we simply can't grow here, but we will watch for those things on sale at the store or at local markets. We'll of course add more and save plenty to can, but we're taking everything into condsideration and planning from there. So, once again, the garden grows as we take another step in our journey to a better life. Something new always seems to happen every year, just like every year we seem to umnplug ourselves from something unnecessary. We are constantly growing here, whether it be personally or in our homesteading goals. Each new step gives us new experiences, new knowledge, and less reliance on the machine. I love our adventures, I wouldn't trade this life together for anything.
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