I have been shopping more often and getting very specific items the last couple of months. Normally I treat shopping more like a hunt. I scout the stores ads first before I started my shopping list. I would get the items on my list but also look for things on sale but not in the shopping flyers. That process worked very well for me because when you are prepping you need so many different things getting the best price was more important than having a very specific shopping list.
Now I am making very specific shopping lists about what I need to buy each shopping trip. I still try and get the best price possible but I’m more willing to pay more for quality or to have certain items on hand. At the same time I’m very focused on keeping some cash on hand. While that might sound contradictory, I’m doing more shopping trips that cost $20.00-30.00 rather than my normal bi-monthly shopping trips that cost $60.00-$100.00. One reason I can make those specific item shopping list was a the big investment in buying 1/8 of a beef and a a lot of pork but I’m not sure I got the equivalent of an 1/8 of a pig.
It has been a challenge to break out of my former shopping habits because I was in a rut about the items I shopped for preps. I needed to get out of that rut of buying things for prepping. I already had that Item on hand and buying more was a waste of money no matter how good the sale because I would not be able to use that item before it went bad. I over bought some items because I got so obsessed about having stuff on hand, that I did not have a good plan how to use everything I had on hand.
I have to say using a Food saver to vacuum pack my meats works much better than my old method of using saran wrap then using a Ziplock type freezer bag. I have had frozen meats a year old in the Food saver bags that taste great and freezer burn is not an issue even with a 12 month old meats. I have the Food saver jar attachment that is great for storing dry goods that seems to keep things like crackers, cookies and items that can get a “stale/old” taste in a month or two fresh tasting for at least 3-4 months that I have tested.
On to the wood stove and firewood and how that is going this year. It usually takes a couple of weeks at the start of the wood fire heating season for me to re-learn how to build a good fire. Oh I could start a fire easily enough but building a clean and efficient fire always to a bit of trial and error at the beginning of each wood burning season. That has not happen this year and I think a few changes I have made are making a big difference this year.
Having new windows and siding with an additional thin layer of insulation has made the house less drafty. Even when I put plastic over the windows there were noticeable “cold spots” in the house. When I got my “energy assistance” from the local power company they insulated my attic and my basement but not the wall of my house. I don’t blame them as insulating walls usually is a demolition project or injected that can cost a lot of money. Building up layers of insulation and a rigid barrier against wind can make walls less drafty. I’m not to concerned about moisture getting trapped between the walls as there are air pockets so the walls can breathe. I think the best investment any one can do for their home is to add insulation especially when you have do major maintenance like replacing a roof, siding or a heating system.
Sorry I digressed so back to using a wood stove and how I seem to be burning better and cleaner fires. I am burning last years wood that has more time to dry. My Mom is burning some wood that was delivered this year and she has noticed that her wood stove is staying cleaner and leaving less ash compared to last year. Both Mom and I are using kindling I cut this year and that kindling has dried over this hot summer. I suspect having dry seasoned kindling helps make make a hotter fire in the fire box.
I’m burning hotter fires and then letting the fire go out naturally without trying to damp down or make the fire last over night. I see very little ash and if there is any leftovers of partially burned wood or charcoal the next fire uses up those leftovers. I have embraced the idea that a hot fire with little smoke is a safer than a cold fire that is smoky and does not want to go up the chimney but simply roils in the fire box waiting to ignited. Instead it coats the stove and chimney with creosote. Now Mom did not have a lot of leftover firewood. So her wood delivery was not as seasoned. I have to say we have a great wood delivery person and they have let me know when the fire wood was wet and needed some time to dry out. Even Mom has noticed that her wood stove is burning cleaner even with less than seasoned wood.
I think a hot fire that looks good with a good flame and at higher temps is the best for keeping your wood stove free of creosote. If your glass fire place door is sooting up you are not burning a hot and safe fire. If you are cleaning out ash weekly but you are you burn seasoned wood you might not be burning a hot fire that limits creosote build up in your wood stove. I know it may seem counter-intuitive but a hot clean burning fire creates less soot and creosote than a cool or smoky fire.
You don’t want your chimney pipes red hot but build a good hot fire and warm up your house. Little things can make a big difference. I never thought cutting up and storing kindling early in the year would make such a difference in how easy it is to start a fire. How using egg cartons vs. cupcake cups making fire starters cuts my paraffin wax needs in half.
Theory is a good idea but proving that stuff out can be very different than your expectations.