Friday, July 15, 2011

Suburban Prepping...Or Saving a Buck

The Apartment Prepper is the blog perfectly suited to those of us in small apartments who are trying to change our lives. For those of you who may not know, "prepping" is a term that simply means preparing for...well, anything. Financial collapse, hurricane, floods, fires, sudden unemployment, sickness, sudden food or water contamination, power interruption, anything that might change our daily lives in a dramatic way. The Apartment Prepper, gem that she is, has written a wonderful book "The Prepper's Pocket Guide:101 Easy Things You Can Do To Ready Your Home For A Disaster" The book is not a massive tome, so it fits easily in a bag or briefcase for that commute into work. It's broken up into manageable sections and chock full of great ideas that anyone can achieve, so there's no need for 'prepper envy'. I love the idea of storing drinking water in sterilized 2 L pop bottles. Easy and totally do-able. Before you think we've gone all strange on you, think about your own area and how many times you may have been under a boil water advisory. With water stored, this event won't be a big deal. If your city has ever sent around notices warning of work being done on the water mains, it's no biggie if you have drinkable water stored. But, storing water isn't the point of today's post. Suggestion #32 in The Prepper's Pocket Guide is.
Simply, "learn basic cooking skills"
Now, even if you aren't a prepper, hear me out. Basic cooking skills are getting harder to find in most folks. I know people that would burn water, teenagers that have no idea how to cook anything other than a pop tart in a microwave. We're not talking about making a roux, or learning how to make eggs benedict, just ordinary cooking skills. Knowing how to make your own potato chips if the store is closed, or looted, or just didn't get their delivery when YOU want chips. Knowing how to make a burger, from scratch. (Just imagine the envy around the barbeque next company picnic!) For those of us trying to make our income stretch, this is a good idea too. Figure out what a box of Hamburger Helper costs where you live. Now, break that down into basic components. Meat, noodles of some type, flavoring and thickener. All of this is attainable. You can put any kind of meat you want in there, even more than one kind if you want! You can also control the fat content if that's important. Substitute ground turkey for beef, or consider adding sausage to beef if you're looking for added flavor. Herbs are easy, depending on the flavor you're aiming for. An Italian-type dish would have oregano, thyme, perhaps a bit of rosemary, and garlic. A Mexican style dish would have paprika, cilantro, chili or even cumin. Noodles of any type can be purchased in bulk, as can thickeners if you need them. Browse your local yellow pages for a bulk food or dried goods store, you may be happily surprised. The more you can buy in bulk, that you realistically have room for, the more money you save, while being less dependent on someone else to feed you. Do you work all week, or possibly work weird hours and don't feel like cooking when you get home? Have teenagers in the house and slightly concerned about what they eat? Want to insure that your family have something good to feed themselves in case you get ill or have to leave on a business trip? Easy, make meals ahead and freeze them. Let the family know the dishes are there and make sure they understand how to properly warm them (think latch-key kids here or teenagers).

Go to your local library and look for books that teach beginners how to cook. (We love Rachael Ray) Teach yourself how to cook if you don't know how, or teach those teenagers, or tweens, or husbands how to cook by having them help you while you make basic recipes. If you don't have a library card, get one, they're invaluable when you haven't got enough of a budget for entertainment. Scour the web for interesting recipes. What originally got me cooking years ago was a love of Mexican food. I don't do it as often as I used to, but it's on my list of things to pick up again. Perhaps there's a member of your family that is a really good cook? Ask them to teach you how. You may develop an interesting relationship while you learn a skill! Are there cooking classes in your neighborhood? Usually community colleges offer "continued learning" classes for a small fee, and the most popular classes usually revolve around food.

Learning how to cook can provide us with benefits many of us don't even consider. From a prepping point of view, it is security and control. From another view, it helps us save money and provides an opportunity to teach and share with family, or even learn and share.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A couple of months ago, an art teacher was being interviewed on the CBC and related a story about asking her 10th grade students to bring in a pot from home to draw. These 10th graders asked "what's a pot?" "for cooking dinner" the teacher replied. "Cooking dinner? We don't cook dinner in a pot." "How do you make dinner?" asked Teach. "Take it out of the cardboard box and put it in the microwave."
I think folks have forgotten how to cook dinner...they 'assemble' it instead; and that's when they don't bring it in.

Enjoying the blog!