We’ve been so busy the past few weeks and Thanksgiving is coming up fast. So today I just want to touch on two topics with little homework. And I’ll add a recap at the bottom of the post.

The last two weeks we changed directions because of the supply chain issues. We reviewed what we needed to buy for the next four months to get us through winter–clothing, shoes, winter wear, food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and household goods. Normally, before we do these things, we’ve already decluttered and cleaned the house. That way there’s plenty of room to bring in new items. But since we stocked up (or are still stocking up) before doing all the pre-work, we now need to figure out where to store all the new things.

For the clothing, check the closets and dressers. When you were reviewing what you had and what you need, did you clean out older things to discard or give away? If so, hopefully you have space to store all the new clothes. If not, do not despair! You could store the new things in a laundry basket that can be tucked within a closet, a canvas bin or milk crate that can be tucked beneath a desk. Or in present boxes that can be slipped under the bed. The key thing here is not to store things in plastic bags as new clothes can get moldy quickly, and please don’t spend any money on storage bins. This type of storage is not a permanent solution. You’re only storing things away until we finish cleaning out the closets and drawers. And now that you’ve bought what you need for the winter, you also know how much space you need.

Depending on your time and situation, you may also want to wash the new clothes before you put them in short-term storage so they’re ready to wear once the weather changes.

Now onto food storage. Again, I could write a book about this but we don’t have time for that right now. If you’ve bought what you need and it fits into the pantry, awesome. We’ll be doing a thorough clean of the pantry this winter so we can clear out what you don’t need then. But what if you have no room for the things you bought to get you through the winter? Again, don’t despair. I have a few short-term solutions that may work.

First, it’s important to remember that the biggest issues with food storage is temperature control and pest control. During the winter, mice (and other awful things) will seek warmth and food. So if you have food stored improperly, they will find it. Also, certain foods don’t like swings in temperature. So that eliminates storing food in garages, attics, and basements that have no climate control. Second, you want to eat what you bought first so you’re always rotating your stock to prevent food from expiring.

So here are a few ideas for short-term food and toiletry storage. (Long-term food storage is another thing and we’ll discuss that in a later post). If you have a spare bedroom, or a dining room you’re not using, or even a large closet (like under the stairs), you could store your non-perishables there. Stack cans on a shelf in an unused closet, or place them in low plastic bins to store under the bed. If it’s truly short-term, place the food in packing boxes and stack them in the dining room. Be creative but safe. And remember—this is a short-term solution so please don’t spend money on storage bins, etc. If you need plastic bins, check with grocery stores or thrift shops. They toss a ton of plastic storage containers that can be cleaned and used temporarily.

For paper products, I often store them under my bed until I can make room in the garage cabinet. Luckily, paper products are not as affected by climate although mice do love to use paper products for nesting. Can you store TP in individual bathroom cabinets? Fit a few rolls of paper towels beneath a sink or in your china cabinet? Again, be creative since we will find a permanent storage solution when we have more time.

Cleaning supplies are a bit harder. They need to be kept away from children and pets, and some of them have temperature issues. First, separate those items that have to be kept at a stable temperature. Second, for those products that are stable, store in the garage or storage shed or attic in plastic bins (see above note about free bins). If you don’t have that kind of storage, you’ll have to make room in a closet. These things can’t be stored beneath beds (fumes do leak and you don’t want to breathe them in while you sleep) and must be secured away from kids and pets. Also, the liquid containers tend to leak so they need to be stored in plastic bins if not on a shelf. You could also store them on a laundry room shelf, or in a bathroom cabinet with a child-proof lock (if necessary). And always store similar products together. Never mix ammonia and chlorine, or baking soda and vinegar. You could end up with chemical reactions that really want to avoid. Like I mentioned above, these are harder to store but I’m sure you can be creative. Again, this is a temporary solution. And, this winter if the shelves are empty you’ll be happy you put in the work now.

Quick note about Holiday Shopping! Obviously we’re concerned about supply chain issues, and you may have already begun shopping for the holidays while prepping for winter. If that’s the case, great! If not, I just want to say you may want to start shopping now. Usually I wait until after Thanksgiving, but I am seeing shortages and long shipping times. So if you can afford the time and money, consider shopping now. Below are a few apps and websites that help you compare prices and sales:

Blackfriday.com ~ Keeps track of all the Black Friday flyers and deals both in stores and online.

Best Christmas Deals Facebook Group ~ Great FB group that discusses all sorts of shopping deals including how to spot scams.

The Frugal Living Website ~ Great website for tips on how to shop frugally.

Freeshipping.org ~ Aggregator site that keeps track of which sites/stores are offering free shipping.

Popcart ~ Shopping extension that pops up a window if it finds what you’re looking at at that moment for a lower price on a different site.

CouponFollow ~ Coupon aggregator site

I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving and I’ll see you after the holiday!

Recap for weeks 1-6:

In Week One, we are using our three legal pads to do our homework. First, we’re doing a whole house assessment. This includes a light clean up/decluttering so we can evaluate the details of each room: how many interior/exterior doors, how many windows, type of electronics, proximity to water/bathrooms, etc. This is an enormous project so please take all the time you need. This first step is crucial to setting up a plan.

Week One’s second assignment was to make a list of all the possible disasters that could happen in your area. Anything floods to hurricanes to blizzards to riots. On the second half of the page, keep a list of the disasters that have happened to you or your family personally. Keep this list on your refrigerator or someplace where it would be easy to add to. This will be an ongoing list we’ll use later on when we begin long-term planning.

Week One’s third assignment was to start a meal list–listing every meal you eat in a month. So this is ongoing homework until you feel you have a good idea of what meals and foods/snacks you eat and drink every day, every week, every month. (this is not a grocery list!)

Week Two’s first assignment was to make a list of all the cleaning supplies you use in every room of the house. And note those products you love and don’t love. 

Week Two’s second assignment was to schedule when you’re going to do a deep review and clean of each room. And don’t forget to set up meals and rewards ahead of time!

Week Three’s assignment: Figure out your menu for the next month or two (depending on the holidays you celebrate and all the things/visitors you have planned). Make an ingredient list and, from that, make a shopping list. Don’t forget to include any cleaning supplies that you might need (from last week’s list), especially any specialty or seasonal items like silver polish and Lysol.

Week Four’s assignment: Review the 

 2021 Thanksgiving Planner and Thanksgiving Portion Planner and decide what needs to be done when. Begin budgeting and food shopping for non-perishable items.

Week Five’s assignments: Think longer term about non-perishable food and household products (cleaning, paper products, etc). Make a list of what you need for the next four months to get you through the worst of the winter. Collect coupons and check prices and make a plan for how and when you’re going to purchase these things before the stores run out.

Week Six’s assignments: Go through the clothes in the house and make a list of what you need for each person and pet for the winter. Check outerwear as well as underwear. Socks, T-shirts, boots, etc. Wash and repair things that need it. Collect coupons and check sales flyers and make a plan for when you’re going to purchase/barter/thrift for these things.

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