Stocking the Pantry; Saving Money

My prepping philosophy is buy foods that we routinely eat and restock the pantry as needed, rather than purchasing the dried meal types or MRE’s. I want food on hand that we will actually eat and enjoy and allow me to take advantage of sales.

I recently wrote in Prepping for Polar Express 2021 about Gossner boxed milk that has a shelf life for one year and tastes like real milk. Keeping the pantry stocked eliminates last minute trips to the store.

I’m very excited about my latest find, Keystone Meats. Canned meats in our house has been limited to tuna, Spam and the occasional chicken. Keystone Meats is a family owned business since WWII. A cattle rancher, Raymond Dorley from Lima, Ohio added a meat packing company to his ranch. Raymond’s son, Dave expanded their operation to a small USDA approved cannery. Their processing facility, butcher shop and cannery is still in Lima, Ohio but their retail market has expanded all over the United States.

They choose lean cuts of meat to can, add just a little sea salt and no water. That’s it! Here is a link to their canning process.

Quality and convenience is great, but is it worth the money? I did a little research. How does Keystone Meats compare to purchasing and cooking it yourself? I first needed to determine an approximate shrinkage rate of the meat after cooking. I went to to get some help. The USDA actually tests this!

MeatShrinkage Raw WeightCan WeightCost Fresh1Cost Can1
2Beef13%1.98lb.28 ounces$12.94$6.98
3Chicken12.8%2.00lb.28 ounces$ 6.80$6.28
4Pork10.1%1.94 lb.28 ounces$5.88$6.28
5Turkey9.3%1.94 lb.28 ounces$4.56$6.28
80% gr. beef20%2.125lb.28 ounces$7.03$6.28

I was surprised at how economical the canned meats are in comparison to buying at the store and cooking at home. This does not take into account savings on electricity for the freezer, gas to the grocery store and cooking fuel. I like that I can have this on hand in case of an emergency, unexpected guests and a quick meal is needed and it saves on freezer space. I love that I know where this product comes from which fits into my Buy USA Plan, I’ve Accepted The Challenge – Will you?

I bought cans of each variety based on the excellent reviews across several sights. The biggest complaint for Amazon and Walmart was receiving dented cans. I have to report that at least Walmart paid attention. It was well wrapped and all cans were fine.

The final test is how does it taste? We enjoy bar-b-que pork sandwiches and it’s a quick fix, so this is where I started. Upon opening the can, I saw a small bit of fat, about 1 teaspoon, indicating the meat used was lean. I drained about 1 cup of natural pork broth which can be saved for soups and gravies. The meat did not have a salty taste as often canned meats do. It was quite good and I’ll probably be able to get about 5-6 nice sandwiches per can. I think next time I will add a little broth back to increase the moistness. I can’t wait to try the chicken, beef, ground beef and turkey. If I need recipe ideas, I can always visit Keystone’s website.

We’re planning on doing some rv camping this summer and this will be the perfect thing to take along for quick and simple meals. Oh and I don’t get any payment for this. I just enjoy passing on a new find!

  1. Prices from our local Walmart
  2. Used price of chuck roast for the comparison.
  3. Skinless, boneless breast
  4. Tyson All Natural Ribeye Boneless Loin Roast
  5. Butterball Turkey Breast

Buy USA Plan Update – How’s it working for me?

I recently made a commitment to buy products made in the USA I’ve Accepted The Challenge – Will you? Having the internet has made it easier to research, but more time consuming than just going to Walmart or Amazon, finding the best price and reviews, press the button and done, package on it’s way!

I haven’t been successful in every case. In a recent emergency, I just made the purchase because it was a serious health issue. The current Covid pandemic brought the seriousness of lack of USA medical personal protection devices to light. This also extends to thermometers and oxygen meters.

Another problem is–Coffee. I have a serious coffee addiction. To support my habit I buy large 30 ounce cans of whatever is on sale and stock up. Brazil, Vietnam, Columbia and Indonesia are the top 4 coffee producers. There is no “Made in the USA” when it comes to coffee. Fair Trade Coffee is an option that I’m currently researching. Fair Trade Coffee helps support farmers from wildly fluctuating coffee prices to provide a stable price to provide a living wage for the farmer and his family. gives a good explanation of the details. Even my local Walmart has a good collection of Fair Trade Coffees including Newman’s Own, Ethical Bean and Seattle’s Best. Yes, the price is higher than my discount brands but I can drink less and also waste less.


I am thrilled that Dollar Tree has Gossner’s Boxed Milk back in stock. I’m not a fan of powdered milk so this has been my go to prepper’s milk for the last few years. It has a real milk taste and has a year shelf life. Gossner Foods is a family owned business with locations in Utah and Idaho. The boxes come in quart sizes. I can order a case of 12 for $12 online thru Dollar Tree and have it shipped to their store location for free. My order came just in time before our recent snow storm hit. Prepping for Polar Express 2021 What a relief to have on hand when the roads are bad!

These Keen soft toe work shoes are made in the U.S.A. They are more expensive but are very sturdy and well made. John is very hard on shoes working on the ranch, welding, and chopping cedar trees.

Can a Buy USA plan be done? Yes and No. Some purchases, such as parts for John’s Mahindra tractor (bought used) requires foreign parts. Should we give up? No. If I can achieve a 90% buy USA, and buy used when options are not available or out of our price limit or buy from a country that does not use slavery for the remaining 10%, then I have come a long ways to stop my family’s support of slave labor.

I would like to hear about your successes and failures to Buy Made in the USA.

Prepping for Polar Express 2021

Frigid temperatures (for Oklahoma) have been with us for a week. We’re looking at 10 to 12 inches of snow this weekend with below zero temps. Extended cold weather for weeks is new for us. It was our native Will Rogers who said, “If you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma, wait a minute and it’ll change.”

However, dramatic and severe weather events are expected; deadly tornadoes, daily earthquakes, extended droughts, devastating fires, and the dreaded ice storms. We’ve learned to be prepared for anything. Yes, there is still those who make last minute runs to the grocery store to stock up, even if it’s going to be just a little snow event, which is gone the next day. Because we live in a rural area with a large household, we can’t wait until the last minute.


Frigid weather with ice, always a possibility, means losing electric is always a concern. In 2011 we lost electric for 14 days. Because we have a gas welder/generator, we kept power without any loss of food. Having a supply of gasoline to run the generator is important if we’re unable to get out on the roads to get more . We have propane heat and a stove that does not require an electric start. We know we’ll stay warm and can eat hot food.


We’re on well water that depends on an electric pump. An automatic heater is kept in our well house to prevent frozen and busted pipes. I would love to have a hand pump but we have a very deep well and it’s not practical. I keep a supply of water stored in our storm cellar for short term outages. We also fill up our large bathtub if it looks like the electric going out is a real possibility. This will get us by for a day but with 9 people, rabbits and chickens, we’ll have to hookup the generator.


This is the first year I’ve put egg laying chickens in a movable pen that includes a small chicken house. I’ve raised broilers on the pasture but they were only out for less than 5 weeks during early summer. I don’t have a source of heat available to the pen. Their house has a door that we can shut at night and this does help but it means we’re going out to the pasture every morning and night to open and shut the door. Right now it also means several trips to break ice and provide drinkable water. Next year a traditional pen needs to be built before Winter. Laying pellets and scratch is bought in bulk and stored in 50 gallon rubber barrels.


Because we’re a hunting family with land nearby, we’ve been blessed to put venison in the freezer each Fall. I try to stock up on other sources of meat during the year when I find a sale. We’ll also raise a steer or pig occasionally to add to our freezer. This Fall we killed the roosters from our baby chicks we purchased in the Spring. Tougher than hens, the roosters make great chicken and dumplings! We have a good supply of canned fruits and vegetables.

I don’t care for the taste of powdered milk but Gossner Foods Foods produces boxed milk that is shelf stable for at least 6 months. I really like the taste and it prevents last minute runs to the grocery store when we’re out of milk. Dollar Tree sells this in their stores for $1.00 a quart or $12 a case online. I order online and have it delivered to their store for free shipping. During most of the pandemic I was unable to order online. Recently I noticed it was back in stock and purchased 2 cases that I picked up just in time.

Neighbors and Family

Last minute calls were made to our “city family and friends”, who don’t always live by the weather, to make sure they are ready. Many were, some weren’t. Most of our neighbors have been out here for years and are prepared. Some are living pretty thin and need a little more help. We’re a community and try to help each other. Even though my nearest neighbors are a mile or so away from me in all directions, I know them so much better than I knew my next door neighbors in town.

It’s not a totally perfect plan. We get lazy and put things off, but we have the basics in place. Then we trust the Lord for the things we did plan and the things we forgot.