Plan and Prepared

Chance favors the prepared!

Prepper Food Storage Review – Valley Foods

When outside companies ask me to do a review of their products, I sometimes have just a little bit of trepidation. For example, what happens if the company sends me their product and I do not like it? That could lead to some awkward moments. So I have tried to be selective of what products I review. There have been products I have turned down for this very reason. Anything that I recommend on this site are products/gear/supplies that I have, own, use, and would stand behind.

So when Valley Food Storage approached me to do a review some of their long-term food storage products, there was a bit of anxiety. What if we tried the food and didn’t like it? What if the product was not up to standards?

Still, having stored a lot of beans, rice, and flour, I also knew that if the grid went down for a long time, food boredom is a very real problem. Valley Food Storage has a pretty wide variety of foods. So I decided that I’d give it a try. I agreed to trying it and writing a review. The fact that their products have no MSGs, GMOs, and that they have a gluten-free options was a big reason I decided to give it a go.

So on a Sunday afternoon, my mother and I sat down in her kitchen, and cooked everything they sent us. From almost the get-go, I realized that my apprehension was completely UNFOUNDED! Just smelling the food as we opened the bags help to set my mind at ease. I was not disappointed!

Valley Food Storage sent me 4 entrées and 3 fruits to try. 3 of the 4 entries came in a thick Mylar bags that are vacuum sealed. We noticed that all the bags are resealable. If you only use part of the contents, you can “zip-lock” the bags shut to help them stay fresh. Unopened, the food is guaranteed for up to 25 years. But being able to reseal between uses is nice.

For this review, both my mother and myself will be adding our comments. For Cheryl L’s part of the review, it will be in quotes. Also note that she has purchased long-term food storage similar to these from other companies. So she will be comparing Valley Foods to the other companies products that she has.
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What you need to know about OPSEC for Preppers

shirtWhat is Opsec? Well, let me give you a brief example. I bought that shirt (left pic) because I thought it was funny. But I don’t wear it outside of my house. Why? Well, what does that shirt tell you? Other than I have a sense of humor, it says that I maybe I really do have a plan for the Apocalypse. And if I have a plan….then I have supplies and gear. While this is true, I don’t want everyone out there knowing it.

That is, in a nutshell, opsec for preppers. But that example is a bit over simplistic. There is more to opsec than that.

Opsec, short for Operational Security, means that you are keeping information from one or more potential adversaries. This includes people that may you not even consider to be adversaries right now, but could become so in a long-term SHTF situation. This could be neighbors, co-workers, or distant relatives etc. It could also be thugs and criminals in everyday life.

This information you want to keep under wraps can include details about you, your family or group, your gear and supplies, your home, your SHTF plans, etc. This is information that you do NOT want others to know because it could potentially be used against you if everything were to ever go to hell in a hand-basket.

food-storageFor example, what happens if friends, neighbors, distant family, etc visit you in your home, and see shelves lined with row after row of food, water, medical supplies, etc? You can imagine what will be the first thing they remember in a SHTF scenario. This is especially true if they have gone a day or two without food.

Suddenly, they could be looking to you for help. Help that you may not be able to give. And in a worse case scenario, they could decide to simply take it from you if they are desperate enough.

Another example is purchasing a new, big screen TV and then leaving the box it came in out by the curb for the garbage truck. This tells everyone who happens by your house that you have a new, huge, valuable TV inside your house. Is this something you would want potential burglars to know? Your house could suddenly become a target for thieves. A target that you were not before they saw the TV box.

So with these ideas in mind, I wanted to give you some “food for thought” about keeping and maintaining a low profile with any pre-disaster prepping. And I’ll also talk a little about what to do in situations where you may not be able to keep a low profile.
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Off Grid and Free – A homesteader’s story

garden-house-and-outbuildingsEditor’s Note: Please welcome Ron Melchiore to Plan and Prepared. Ron has lived “Off-grid” and self-reliant for over 30 years. He has a wealth of information on this subject. Here is his story!

A chilly hello from the Canadian wilderness! A plethora of websites on the Internet cater to the prepping/off-grid/homesteading communities and it can be mind numbing to sort through them all.

I like our host James’s site for being clean, uncluttered and straightforward. I also like the name he has chosen. Plan and Prepared. It doesn’t get much simpler than that! If you plan properly, everything else falls into place.

My wife and I have lived an unconventional life and I now find myself in the strange position of writing articles for some of these wonderful websites. We come to you as two experienced homesteaders who have lived our lives unconnected from the power grid for almost 37 years.

I write to you from 100 miles in the Canadian wilderness. This computer/satellite link is our only connection to the outside world. We shop twice a year in the spring and fall and it is only during those 2 times when we take care of our resupply needs, appointments and interact with other human beings.
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How much ammo in your bug out bag?

ammoI have always believed that when it comes to bugging out, (click the link to learn about when it’s time to bug out) speed is your friend. I have written articles in the past stressing the need to keep your Bug out bag/Get home bag, light weight. The faster you get to your destination, the safer you will be.

When it comes to bags, you may have heard of the old adage, ounces = pounds, pounds = pain. Because of this, I tell folks to strip away a lot of the unnecessary accessories they have packed in their BOB. This includes bulk ammunition. Sometimes this notion has be met with a little opposition.

Many preppers out there believe that being prepared also means being able to adequately defend themselves. They argue that it stands to reason that they may find themselves in a situation where they need to be armed with the ability to adequately fight back. Hence they need plenty of ammo. And in some cases, I certainly agree.

But I also believe that bugging out with an ammo stockpile could, in many situations, cause you more harm than good.

8g6oeeHuh?

Let me explain.

Travel Light

The main purpose of your bag, be it a Go bag, Get Home bag, Bug Out Bag, etc  is to be able to move safely and efficiently out of a danger zone. In a SHTF situation, you are most vulnerable while on the move. And I’m not talking about roving bands of marauders that so many people envision. I’m talking about being susceptible to the elements, to fatigue, to stress; being vulnerable to the unknown. Those will most likely be your enemies early on.
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Preparing for the Election – Resources Guide

2nd-amendmentWith the elections just weeks away, I wanted to give some resources for those of you who might be preparing for the results of this year’s election. I also wanted to give you something to think about if you have not yet thought about preparing for it.

When I first put this site together, I told myself that I would not delve into politics. To me, preparedness transcends political and ideological belief. But I cannot hold my tongue any longer when I see our country’s freedoms being stripped away. I feel like if I don’t say/do something and instead remain silent, I am complicit with it happening.

So I have begun to speak out.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you who you should vote for. I truly believe that most people already know who they plan on voting for. If you are an informed voter, then you should already know where the candidates stand on issues like the 2nd Amendment.

I had a discussion with a more left leaning co-worker the other day. He told me that every time a Democratic president gets elected, gun sales spike. Then it calms down and then nothing really happens. Hence gun owners have nothing to panic over.

This has been true in the past. This time however, I think things are different.

I chuckled a bit, and mentioned that in July, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey banned “Assault Weapons” in her state. No congressional debate. No vote of the people. She simply banned them. So don’t think for a second that it could not happen in your state, or worse on a national level.

He asked me the question so typical of anti-gun folks, “Why do you need an AR? All it is good for is killing people.”
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Cell phone use in emergencies – Hints and Tips to know

emergency cell phone tips

Old cell phones can still call 911 if charged

Having a cell phone during an emergency is EXTREMELY handy, and in my opinion one of the best things you can have on you during an emergency. Being able to contact others for help during an emergency situation is one of the fastest ways to resolve your crisis.

As more and more people move away from landlines, (the CDC studies find that almost half of all US households no longer have a landline), the technology needed for contacting emergency services with cell phones has been slow to catch up. So there are some things you need to be aware of when it comes to using your cell phone during a disaster.

Everyone knows that for an emergency, you simply dial 911. (The number is 112 in other parts of the world.) Smart phones today now have a feature allowing you to use that phone to dial 911 even when the screen and other features are locked.

But what happens if you are in a situation where you cannot get a cell signal? Or worse, your battery is about to die? Here are some hints and tips to help you out if you ever find yourself in this position.

The 411 on 911 and cell phones

Despite what you see on TV and in the movies, calling 911 on your cell phone does NOT give the dispatchers your exact location. According to a 2015 article in USA Today:

Today’s cellphone system does not automatically send location data when you dial 911. After the call comes in, the dispatcher’s computer transmits a digital request to the cellphone network seeking the phone’s location. The data exchange can take seconds or even minutes. Sometimes, it doesn’t return a location at all.

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