How much stockpiling is enough?
DEAR SARA: I’m wondering how much of a stockpile you have on hand. For how long do you think you could feed your family? — Sherri, West Virginia
DEAR SHERRI: I don’t stock up like I used to, but I have a fully stocked meat freezer. It contains about 350 pounds of pork and beef. We recently bought a whole hog. We’re getting ready to try a new source for organic free-range chicken, too. That would increase our freezer inventory. I like to have enough meat and poultry stored to feed us for a few months. I don’t like meat, but my family does. As for our pantry, I don’t fill up my cabinets, closets and basement shelves anymore. I’ve discovered that we tend to use more if there is more. When I did stockpile, I liked to have at least three to six months’ worth of food and household items. I’ll still stock up on some items if there’s a sale. I have enough shampoo for the year, for example, but I won’t buy 50 packages of hot dogs just because they’re on sale. However, I do like to buy all of my bread (to last a month) in one trip at the bread outlet. I know what we’ll use in a reasonable amount of time. I like a full pantry, but I don’t hoard.
While the average person might pick up one or two extras if there’s a sale, I will pick up double or triple that amount, but that’s plenty for me. Some people might still find it extreme, but in comparison to most of my Web-site readers, I’m no longer a stockpiling and coupon queen. A simple look at our community stockpile photographs will amaze you.
To begin your stockpile, I suggest you buy a few extras each shopping trip if an item you use is on sale. If you have coupons, you’ll have even greater savings. You can start out by cutting one item from your grocery list or budgeting in a few bucks more for your groceries. With that extra money, you look for a sale item you typically use. Maybe you’ll find a buy-one-get-one-free deal. You can buy four. The following trip, you can use the money you saved from the first sale to use toward the next sale on another product you typically use. You’ll build enough savings so that instead of buying a couple of extra when an item is on sale, you can buy more. Eventually, you won’t be paying full price on much of anything. You’ll have a decent stockpile, too.
DEAR SARA: How do I make mint tea from fresh spearmint? I have a plant, and I would love to make tea as gifts, but I really wouldn’t know what to do. Can it be done? — Tiffany, Arkansas
DEAR TIFFANY: Get 10 mint tea bags, 10 cups of water, a handful of mint leaves, 1 to 1-1/2 cups sugar and 1 small can of frozen concentrate lemonade. Boil the water with the mint leaves. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add tea bags. Let steep a few minutes. Add frozen lemonade. Fill the concentrate cans 4-1/2 times with water, and add the water. Serve over ice. For hot tea, pick, shred and dry mint leaves. Boil water and pour over 2 to 3 tablespoons of dried mint leaves. Let steep and strain the leaves out, or use a tea ball if you have one. Add sugar to taste.
DEAR SARA: Do you know a tip on how to clean the inside of an electric kettle? I found a used one that they were going to throw out at school. I would like to clean and disinfect it. — Lucie, e-mail
DEAR LUCIE: Use a fresh lemon. Cut it into pieces, squeeze some juice into the kettle, put the lemon parts into the kettle and add water. Boil. Let it cool and pour it out. If that doesn’t work, try adding vinegar to your kettle. Boil it. Let it cool and pour it out. You can also contact the manufacturer and ask for its recommendation.