Just wanted to give an update on my no spending experiment and my not using the refrigerator experiment. The no spending is doing pretty well, the no refrigerator part of it, slight failure.
I have spent a little money since I started this exercise. None of the hotels/fuel costs are being counted since those are work related and work is footing the bill. Again on the trip I just returned from last night I didn't purchase food or drink during the day and a half I was gone. I bought the lunch last week when I had to travel down south, but I knew that before I started this exercise. Wednesday night I did make my only purchase that broke the no spending exercise. Don't forget, prior to starting this I did make the exception that if something came on sale that was "too good to pass up" then I was going to buy it. No reason to not save money for a future prep because of the exercise. I just don't want to buy anything for immediate use.
Tractor Supply had a sale on sticky traps for mice. While I poison mice, use snap traps, and cats, I like to do overkill on the mouse catching because they can be so destructive. The sticky traps were two for a dollar, normally a dollar each. These are the flat kind that you can fold up into a box but I just leave them flat. Getting them 1/2 off was something I didn't want to pass up. So I didn't. That's ten dollars spent.
As far as not using anything from the refrigerator or freezer...I used up the fresh milk. I said that I would do this because I'm not going to have food go to waste. I also set up the clay pot cooler on the patio. I am storing water and instant milk in it. The water comes out of the well at 55 degrees. This is fine if you just want a glass of cold water but if you want cold milk, 55 is too warm. Since the temperature outside at night has been in the 40s, the cooler is easily getting into the high 30s and low 40s and staying in the 40s for most of the day. This is cool enough for the milk. I'm making 3 cups in the evening and it is perfectly cold for the morning breakfast. If I need milk during the day I will use water out of the tap but if we are drinking milk at dinner I will use the cold water in the pot to make more cold milk. It's working, although none of us like drinking powdered milk straight. (It tastes much better with chocolate or strawberry Quik.)
Then how have I failed on the refrigerator part? We like cheese. As I've lamented we don't have any freeze dried cheese in our storage program and we eat cheese at least once a day. I do have powdered cheese and we use that but we like shredded cheese on tortillas, eggs, potatoes, straight out of the bag... We use at least one 5 pound bag of shredded cheese each month that we get from Costco. I could keep the bag of cheese in the pot cooler, it would stay fine in there, but when I started this exercise we only had about a half pound of cheese in the bag. I usually put a pound or so into the refrigerator and keep the rest in the freezer in the garage. When the bag empties I put more into it. There's usually twenty or thirty pounds of cheese in the freezer. During this no spending no refrigerator and freezer exercise I did get into the freezer to take out some cheese, which got put into the refrigerator.
If I bought blocks of cheese rather than the shredded I'd be able to store it outside the freezer. You can keep the cheese in 50-55 degrees. It doesn't have to be refrigerated or frozen. The clay pot would work well. The New England Cheese Making Supply Company has lots of good information about this process of storing cheese. http://www.cheesemaking.com/store/pg/245-FAQ-Aging-Cheese.html During the summer I don't know if I'd be able to keep the clay pot cool enough to store cheese. Since I don't make hard cheese, only soft cheese that gets eaten quickly, in a SHTF situation we'd just be out of luck with getting our cheese other than the powdered kind. I'd like to make cheddar cheese but there's only so much time in a day in the life of working full time, raising the grand kids, and running the five acres that it doesn't fit in. Someday when the working full time is removed from the list then I'll have so much more room in the schedule to be more self sufficient.
Has anyone else used the clay pot cooler method or knows of some other way to store cheese?