Product review: the Emergency Essentials® and Preparedness Pantry’s Food Storage Analyzer™

I found the Emergency Essentials® site recently, thanks to a link someone sent to one of my Yahoo Groups.WOW! Talk about a food hoarder’s DELIGHT! As I’ve said here before, I’m not a Mormon–encouraged by my religion to store a certain amount of food–or a farm wife, trying to squirrel away the harvest to feed her family during the winter. I’m just a city girl with a grown child and only my husband and I to feed. We have plenty of access to food year-round, and I was raised by parents who squeezed every drop out of every nickel food-wise. In other words, I’m an awesome shopper who’s frugal, too …….

……. but I’m also someone whose husband was out of work once before … for 14 months :(

It was tough to deal with when it happened. They didn’t call it the “Dot-Com Bomb” for nothing! And the absolute truth is … that same thing could have happened to YOU just as easily as it happened to us. We were in Austin, TX at the time … the economy took a nasty turn … and suddenly we lived in a city where there were 40,000 computer programmers out of work … all–as we used to joke (to keep from crying)–standing on the street corners with signs saying “Will Program for Food!”  Not only couldn’t he get a job … my incredibly talented husband–who has amazing things on his resume, and who worked like a dog trying to find something–only managed to get three interviews in all that time. And then his first job out of the gate again paid half of what he was making before the crash.

Trust me when I say that can ruin your finances … for a very long time to come.

Thanks to that horrid memory, these days I try to be a little more prepared for something like that to happen again. In fact, I’m working toward trying to keep upwards of a year’s worth of certain foods on-hand for us pretty much full-time … and my first order from Emergency Essentials® is DEFINITELY going to help me in that endeavor! :)

I didn’t really have a plan when I ordered things–I didn’t have the Food Storage Analyzer at that point–so I picked out what interested me from the things they offered. I’ll let you wander through their pages for yourself. There were some REALLY interesting things there!

Some of what I bought wasn’t food. For example, for the emergency packs I’m building to go in each of our vehicles, I bought two of their reflective blankets for each car: a steal at $1.25 each. I also picked up a handful of their plastic lids for #10 cans, since I’m using empty #10 cans to pack all the supplies in for each vehicle. And–at $0.25/each–they won’t break the bank. Empty #10 cans are not only handy to use to store things in … but–in a pinch, if you put a couple of votive candles down inside one of those cans–it can create a small heater for you/your hands. Just be careful of the flame and hot wax … and–as always–if you’re trying to stay warm with open flame … make sure you have adequate ventilation. It won’t do you any good to not freeze to death if you die of carbon monoxide poisoning instead.

I also picked up two different sizes of oxygen absorbers (to pack in with my dehydrated fruits) and this awesome tool that helps you open the tops on those annoying 5-gallon cans. I also ordered us a treat that I absolutely love: slices of freeze-dried neapolitan ice cream! I’ve been buying them as singles over the years from my local Frys Electronics, but now I have a whole can of them! And–bonus points–they were about half-price from buying the singles! :)

I ordered a #10 can of freeze-dried bananas that I’m really looking forward to trying, as well as a #10 can of freeze-dried green beans.

Dried Green Beans? you ask.

Yes! And keep your eyes out here. I have an idea on something to do with them … that will hopefully surprise and interest you, too!

I know all of those things are very interesting, but the two things I’m REALLY looking forward to experimenting with from this first order are my powdered sour cream, and my powdered butter! My mind is reeling with the possibilities :)

Trust me! There will be more blog posts coming about these items! :)

Through Emergency Essentials®, I came across the Preparedness Pantry blog/site as well. It’s a site where they discuss different issues related to storing food, including recipes for using that food! I’ve added them to my bookmarks as well.

Among their offerings, Preparedness Pantry offers a free “Food Storage Analyzer” that caught my eye. Since I’m working toward expanding my food storage around here, their analyzer seemed like something that might be useful to me :)

I went in and signed up for an account. It was really easy to do, and didn’t require me to do more than just set up a user name/password/email account. They didn’t start asking me a lot of personal questions … just to be able to use their tool.

I don’t know about you … but that’s important to me. I HATE sites (and won’t use them) when–to even do the simplest thing there–you have to fill out endless web forms that ask for all sorts of intrusive information. I’m always suspicious of those, since it would be very easy to give them enough information on one of those … name, address–including previous ones, spouse, mother’s maiden name, your elementary school, your first pet’s name … to give them access to even MORE of your information … at even MORE important places.  Therefore, if I come across a site I’d like to try … but they start that … I just vote with my feet and go elsewhere.

Preparedness Pantry wasn’t anywhere near that obnoxious. Their registration took a matter of seconds, and I started looking around. Right off the bat, I noticed that they give you a great set of instructions there. Looking over that first gave me a rudimentary understanding of the dashboard of their tool instantly … and I’ll give them credit: I spent several years writing (and managing other writers who wrote) how-to for the web. In my professional opinion, they did a very nice job of creating their own how-to. That’s praise I don’t often find myself giving many people/sites online.

The tool itself seems fairly easy to operate. You begin by inputting the number of people you’re storing food to feed:

Note that big green button on the top left: that’s where your simple instructions live, where you have ready access to them! :)

Once you establish who you’re planning for, you go in and start adding all the food you have in your house into the tool … in order to get your home food inventory up to date.

I know. That’s a HUGE job at my house, too! On my future orders from Emergency Essentials® … if I go through the analyzer to order them … it will update my inventory of those specific items automatically. However, I’m going to have to come in and manually enter everything else I buy for the stash … especially considering their Grocery Store/Canned goods section is kinda skimpy, which means I’m going to have to rely HEAVILY on their Add your own items section, where you have to input the nutritional label by hand for each of the items you have in your pantry. That could turn into a long/drawn-out process for me. I’m torn right this minute on if that will actually help me manage everything around here  … or if it’s just a lot of work for something that I’ll forget to keep up with later. At this point, I’m still playing with it … and still deciding :)

There are, however, two things I want to point out to the folks at Preparedness Pantry about their great tool.

One, in the function where you can add your own foods, the slot for the overall mass of the stored item is in pounds:

That measurement in pounds became instantly problematic for me when I sat down and started inputting the information from the nutritional label on a can of red field peas. I had to grab a calculator and do the math before I could input the proper .94 (rounded) pounds for my 15-ounce can of peas. A lot of people aren’t that great at math … so making your user calculate their own pounds is leaving room for operator error. Most regular ‘grocery store’ canned goods provide their weight in ounces and grams … maybe occasionally in pounds. I know that Emergency Essentials® sells lots of things by the pound … but we really need a way in this function to easily input ounces and grams, too. Maybe a radio button where we can indicate which one we’re entering? That would be most excellent :)

And two … the design is very BIG AND BOLD, I’m sure to be especially VISIBLE for some of your older clients. Normally I like that sort of thing–especially since most of the problems I have with text on the web are when someone thought that … just because because this is very easy to see:

However, those of us who can see the screen nominally better … and who are on laptops like I am … can only really see a couple of items at a time on any of your lists. I know that great big splashy picture is great for your marketing … but if you could give us the option to use another view … like this Quick Shopping List view on the Emergency Essentials® site:

… then we would be sooo much happier. We could find the things we wanted to order or reorder quick and easy, simply by skimming down a text list of links!

So–all in all–I found the tool (and the Emergency Essentials® site!) very interesting. I plan to keep inputting my inventory into it as I go, because I REALLY like the idea of having all (and I do mean ALL) of my nutritional information together in one place on my computer. That way, I could give my diabetic husband precise carb counts and the like on his meals … based–not on him guessing–but on my crunching the numbers based on the actual serving sizes of what I gave him–not his guess of how much that is–and on the information on the actual nutritional labels. Yes, that means that I’ll have to figure out what the nutritional labels would look like on my own home-canned foods … but I could do that pretty much the same way :)

It would be awesome to just have a complete inventory, too … finally … and even more interesting to see just how long it should last us :)

As always, though … you may have different criteria than I do for what would make a good inventory management tool for your food reserves. Take a look for yourself and decide … and–bonus points–you can write a review like I did, and receive a $10 chance to explore their website further:

Gift Card Giveaway

About Lane

Just a canner ... on this food journey called life :)
This entry was posted in Miscellaneous Ramblings about Food and Life, Product Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply