August 21, 2014

I Walked Onto the Set of I Love Lucy: Bulk Food Storage

Mar7

It’s posts like this where my blog name comes to fruition. Sheer Bedlam!

Last week, I starred in the latest episode of I Love Lucy. I know some of you think it’s been off the air for over fifty years, but truly, Lucy and Ethel came to life in the form of my friends and me. For those of you who have never seen a rerun of this classic show, in each episode these best friends lie somewhere between sense, nonsense and absurdity.

I had what can only be called a “you had to be there” kind of morning, but sometimes it’s fun to peek into others’ moments and think, “Do things like that really happen to other people?” They do…to me, and it was quite surreal.

It’s no secret that I love to save money, and the number one way I think many can save money is on their food budget. I even shared easy, yet odd ways to save money in the kitchen, but this “I Love Lucy” experience takes the cake.

With food prices on the rise, I’ve really been brainstorming unique ways to continue slashing our food budget, and when I heard of a local storehouse where I could purchase some dried items in bulk at substantial savings, I was thrilled. Needing to stock up on wheat berries, beans, oats, and a few other bulk food storage items, my sister in love (who had the great hutch re-do) and I drove to pick up our order, assuring our children we’d be back in an hour to get going on our school day.

We were meeting two other girl friends there and I knew something was quite array when we sauntered in a tad bit late to find then dressed in hygienic garb, eyebrows raised with smirks on their faces .

Without any introductions, an elderly gentleman insisted we wash up to our elbows and proceeded to lead us through the specific steps needed for sanitation. When I quietly inquired of my friend what was going on, I was chastised for whispering, and told to pay attention. Instantly, the little “rule follower” girl was scared of this man and just kept quiet. ;) But trust me, it only got worse. I now remember why my elementary teachers use to write on my progress report that “Jenny enjoys chatting.”

Remember,  I thought I was coming to a “store” to pick up a few food items, and now I was stuck in the middle of a TV episode, not quite sure of what I was doing. After getting in trouble numerous times for reasons I still can not figure out,  I started getting that deep down giggle feeling. You remember the kind where you know it would be so inappropriate, but you can barely contain yourself?

Oh ladies, it was all too surreal, and I kept thinking, “if they could see me now” they just wouldn’t believe it.

So here is living proof…and those are some dear friends that allowed me to post this. Well, they didn’t really allow me, but I told them right then and there that they knew what they were getting into accompanying me with something like this. Pure bedlam blog fodder.

If you’re all completely confused as to what I was actually doing here to save money on my food budget, well, join the club.  No, in actuality, we were roped into canning hundreds of dried goods into long term storage cans. ( I have since found out our experience was NOT typical, so it makes the story even funnier to us.) Yes, some of my oats (pictured above with oxygen absorber packets) are now sealed so well they are guaranteed for thirty years. I think I’ll be using them a bit sooner than that, but just in case…. ;) (ha ha)

In all seriousness, it was a uniquely memorable experience.

A day which I will tell my grandchildren about, yet one in which I learned more about food storage, food preservation and stock piling (even though that wasn’t part of my plan). Besides the fact that I never did get home for a full school day, (we called it a teacher work day because the teacher worked incredibly hard) it was incredibly eye-opening. Plus, I came home with a van full of wonderful deals on my whole foods and grains. You definitely can not beat $0.48/pound on oats, that’s for sure.

After I stop chuckling about posting these pictures of my friends and debating the ramifications of our friendship, I’ll write another post answering the “whys” behind the questions you are all asking -  Why would I want dried foods for bulk storage, and why am I actually going to go back and put myself through that again…this time, by choice.

But now I’m curious?

When’s the last time you’ve had one of those deep down, can barely hold it in kind of giggles? I realize just how much I miss those.


Comments

  1. I love working at the canneries! :) You’re lucky to love within driving distance of one, there aren’t that many :)

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  2. I was about to ask if this was at the cannery (since the pics don’t show up on the emails), but it looks like it was. I just had my own experience there about 2 weeks ago – it was awesome! But my people weren’t sticklers like your people were. I’ll definitely go back. Here’s my blog post about my experience.

    http://naturalmomnaturalkids.com/?p=71

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  3. Cool! Is this a place where anyone can go to purchase things?

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  4. Susie E says:

    I love getting my wheat berries at the cannery, but I just bring home the 25 pound bags and repackage them into recycled free 5 gallon pickle buckets (that have been washed numerous times and allowed to air out for at least a month!). I bring home mylar bags and O2 absorbers and package up powdered milk on my own. I decided not to use the cans since I’m planning to use everything within 6 months.

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    Jen Reply:

    Yes, Susie…that is exactly what we thought we were doing as well. I think we had “sucker” written all over our foreheads. :)

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  5. Karen Z says:

    This is absolutely hilarious!!! Do you think it was a case of mistaken identity?
    I try to be more sophisticated, but this kind of stuff does happen to me-
    - my kids call it the “blond gene”!

    Love this post – especially the photos!!

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  6. I have always wanted to go to one of these places. I’ve got 40lbs of rolled oats in my deep freeze, because I thought I couldn’t beat .63 a lb. Good job! After (if) we move cross-country I am so going. I know there’s a place 90 miles from here and if I move to UT, I know there are more. It’s sort of a given. :)
    It looks like it was fun, if a bit surreal.

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  7. I need more details how I can get in on that action. I love the idea of canning the dried goods, especially in bug laden North Carolina.

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  8. Awwwwww….I remember my first trip to the cannery. I thought I was being “Punked”…or on America’s Funniest Videos…LOL I did love it when I went to do spaghetti sauce and salsa. The spaghetti sauce is really good. The salsa needs a bit of help once you open it but it is still good.
    Happy Canning!!
    Cricket

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    Jen Reply:

    I would love it they had wet items, but all they offer are dried goods. Salsa would be awesome. We go through about a gallon a week…seriously. :)

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  9. Kristina says:

    Oh. Dear. It’s a good look for you. My mom and I always refer to ourselves as Lucy and Ethel when we work the sorting belt during walnut harvest.

    I have an unfortunate predisposition for inappropriate giggles. I think the last time was at a funeral (great eulogy!). It’s hard to be sure, it happens so often…

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  10. I went to the cannery with a friend once… we canned beef stew… it was hilarious! I went home with like 4 cases of the stuff… my husband LOVED IT!!!

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  11. Was this at an LDS Cannery? The closest to me is about 45 minutes away, maybe more with traffic. It’s my understanding that you usually need to can what you want to buy, or at least can something before you buy what you need. A watched my friend’s daughter while my friend canned, and she brought we back some wheat and oats. Great prices!

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  12. LDS canneries can’t be beat for prices! We’ve been buying wheat, oats and beans by the bag – for buckets kept at home. Too funny that you walked in and they put you to work!

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  13. Larissa says:

    I totally get the I Love Lucy reference and am incredibly jealous I wasn’t able to be in on it with you!!!

    As far as the giggle fit–I had one this weekend, on a day out with my husband, lunch at this adorable place in the mountains of NH. My husband had mentioned to me that he thought it would be fun to do some letterboxing along the way–I had forgotten that part when I got myself all gussied up for him. We’ve had an incredible amount of snow in the NE this winter, and most of it still remains!! Some frozen, some not, imagine me in my frugal fashionista get up with knee high boots and skirt–thigh high in snow where the crust I was walking on gave way!!! I laughed so long and hard–it felt so good!!

    Thanks for the wonderful, informative, really enjoyable blog!! I’m definitely a long-term fan!!!!

    Larissa

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  14. Can I just say we’re thinking on the same wave length? I’ve pondered real food for months and watched Food, Inc. last night and was blown away. I’m posting my thoughts tomorrow at http://momonamission.me/and what I’m doing about it. I’m taking baby steps toward more whole foods. And it was a hoot seeing you in the cap-now that’s fashion. And that would be a memorable experience I would love as well! Glad you were blessed.

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  15. Love that you got to stockpile on great prices! We love our cannery and the people who work there…they are always so interesting and kind! But you always have to watch out because they sure are sticklers…and they do love to work you hard! Being LDS, we have a quite a stockpile of goods from our local cannery in our basement…perfect for times like these when the cost of food is rising. We also buy the wheat and oats and pour them into food grade buckets or seal them up with our food saver for use within a few months. There are some great blogs by some LDS gals that talk about ways to use all of these goods from your beans to your dehydrated apples…www.everydayfoodstorage.net and http://www.dealstomeals.blogspot.com. It is pretty fun to see how you can create a whole meal from food storage and know that you are making great tasting, healthy food for you family at fabulous prices! Have fun if you ever go again, it is a great way to spend some time preparing for the future!

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  16. Our LDS Cannery is a bit different because we live in a small area. We just go in and tell them what we want to can and then we can the items ourselves. What you are describing is actually more of the norm for canneries. You work at a shift and can your items along with others. I have been canning “dry items” for about 13 years. It’s a great way to have bulk items and I love it when I open, say a wheat can, and realize that it was bought five years ago when wheat was half the price! I am so appreciative of the LDS church and those elderly volunteers who make it possible for us to build up our food stock! Joni

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  17. How do I find the nearest cannery? Is there a directory or something? I have been wanting to buy big bulk items of beans, oats, etc for awhile but have not had the know how where to get it! Help!

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    Natalie Reply:

    Leslie- you should be able to find the nearest home storage center/cannery here…

    http://www.providentliving.org/location/map/0,12566,2026-1-4,00.html

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  18. Too bad there wasn’t a video of it all. We could all have laughed along with you. :-) I can imagine my reaction if I walked into that situation. LOL. Can’t wait to hear the “whys” and even “hows” of what you are doing. Your posts continue to inspire and encourage me.

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  19. Awesome! Way to go with the flow! My dad would go to the cannery an fill the back of his truck up with bags of goods, boxes of the #10 cans, and then we’d form a production line around his big work bench and can them with his can press. It was actually a lot of fun! Thanks for sharing the fun pictures, too.

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  20. We have purchased bulk foods at the local LDS cannery before, though never actually gone through the canning process. Our local cannery allows non members to purchase 25 lb bags of goods at cost. We’re very grateful that the LDS church is allowing access to non-members, especially since they make no money for it and it doesn’t cover any costs other than the wholesale price of the food itself.

    Looks like you learned a lot!

    Emma
    City Roots, Country Life

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  21. AHHHHH hahaah! So glad you could have the same experience I have had several times!! So a great secret! IF you can talk the manager into selling you granola, which does not happen often but doesnt hurt to ask, it is the BEST ever! Also, the potato pearls are the very best dehydrated mashed potatos! There are wet pack canneries I just don’t know if there is one near you. You think the dry pack it crazy…try the wet pack! It is a RIOT!~ One of the coolest things we found about living in Utah is that you can volunteer once a week for a few hours and get a free bag of flour! What a great way to build some storage!

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    Jen Reply:

    Granola? Granola? Oh girl…I did NOt see that on the list of choices, nor did I see it on their shelves. I will definitely ask because we are going back a few more times. I wasn’t really ready organizationally and want to stock up for about six months. This is the only dry cannery in the state, but I would LOVE to find a wet one. I may go google what VA has to offer. :) I did buy the pearls, so now I’m off to try them. If they are good, I’ll get a bunch of those.

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  22. I am sooooo curious about what exactly this was, and why on earth you had to actually do some of the work (sounds like that isn’t’ what is typically asked of purchasers!). Love the idea of buying grains and beans in bulk…can’t believe they can be stored for 30 years! That’s kind of nuts!

    The last time I got the giggles like that was when I was volunteering for the John Kerry campaign in Boston. I was working on database entry and merely whispered a question to my friend (a question having to do with our work, thank you very much) and was immediately scolded by the organizer of the entire show (not John Kerry, but the campaign organizer). The ridiculousness of being scolded as a grown woman was too much for me to bear, and I snorted and stifled laughs for probably the next 10 minutes!

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  23. Deborah says:

    We went to the LDS cannery Idaho during the Y2K episode as they were looking for extra volunteers to meet the needs of many. We volunteered to go with our friend and had a wonderful time. It was hard work, but gave us some great memories. Then we found out we could buy stuff there too and we were hooked. Unfortunately we don’t get there any more because my friend at work retired and we aren’t in touch any more. I think you need to go with an LDS person to work there, so we don’t. But it was a blast.

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  24. I love your post! The pictures are great. We went to the Cannery (in SC) yesterday and you really describe it well. Every time I go I am amazed at the amount of work we can get done in such a SMALL space!

    I linked to your post!

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  25. What a fun post! You brought a smile to my face. :)

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