Friday, August 29, 2014

It’s Back-To-School Time: Is Your Classroom Storage Ready?

Save Space & Beat Budget Concerns with These Easy Storage Tips

Preschool, daycare, and elementary school classrooms need plenty of space to store supplies and items, especially at the beginning of the school year. The more organized your storage, the smoother your classroom runs—but the costs of storage can add up fast, especially if you’re working with limited space.

These storage tips will help you create more storage room in your classroom for less, and save you time and money throughout the school year.

Save big on large storage items

There are several storage solution companies that offer great discounts for teachers and daycare owners. The Container Store carries nothing but storage options, from toy storage and kitchen containers to wheeling drawers and stack baskets—and they offer 15% off all purchases for teachers. You can also check out Discount School Supply for affordable storage solutions and classroom furniture.

If you have older kids in your classroom and you’re looking to save on storage furniture like cubbies or bookshelves, look for an unfinished furniture store in your area. These stores typically offer drastically reduced prices on new, unpainted furniture, and you can make painting your new storage units into a great class project.

Think outside the (storage) box

You may have noticed that products designated for classrooms often cost more. So when you’re shopping for storage containers for your preschool, daycare, or classroom, look to non-classroom specific solutions. Everyday items like cleaning buckets, laundry baskets, plastic shoe boxes, and hanging closet organizers can be affordable and convenient solutions for your classroom storage needs.

Find free, gently used items on Freecycle

Donation drives can be effective at getting new equipment and storage for your classroom, but there may be a faster and easier way. Check out Freecycle.org, a worldwide nonprofit community network that helps connect people with the things they need for free, while letting people donate unwanted items without the hassle of hauling them to a charity store or throwing them away.

Freecycle is easy to use. Once you join your local community, you can browse offerings for free stuff posted by members, and post messages asking for donations of the items you need. People on Freecycle love donating to teachers, because they know their items are going to a good cause.

Use vacuum sealing bags to increase storage space

Vacuum sealing can be a great storage solution for any classroom. This airtight, compressed method of storage isn’t just for food—you can store just about anything you can place in a bag quickly and conveniently, for as long as needed.

Just a few ways you can save money and space by using vacuum sealing bags in the classroom include:

  • Purchase a year’s supply of soap, sanitizer, and other hygiene products in bulk, and break up the supplies into monthly units. Then, store each unit in a vacuum sealed bag—this keeps the products fresh and ready to use.
  • Buy classroom snacks in bulk, and store them in vacuum seal bags for long-lasting freshness. Vacuum sealed fruits and vegetables enjoy a dramatically extended shelf life, and this storage method also keeps things like crackers and cookies fresh and crisp.
  • Store bulky blankets and spare winter clothing in vacuum sealed bags to save lots of space until cold weather arrives.
  • Vacuum sealing bags are very durable and have a high capacity, so you can use them to store miscellaneous items like small toys, building blocks, and loose crayons, markers, and pencils, and leave them unsealed for fast access.

September is just around the corner, so make sure you’re prepared. With some creative planning and looking around, you can make sure your classroom storage is ready to handle back-to-school time, while you save money and space.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Inspiring Canning Stories



CHEFTALK


Inspiring canning stories




Retort, canning, jarring, bottling, name it as you like, we should add pouching to the list of words for retort don’t you think so.

Retort experiences are quite inspiring when you listen to what people have to say about their canning adventures. Many of them are already canning since childhood, you know that ‘my grandmothers recipe thing’ that you find when people talk about cooking their favorite dish, I found the same experiences when I was looking for retort tales.

From here

                              

To here

                            
Many of them were really very inspiring and I like to share a few of them. If you are inspired after this read, share your story here and inspire others to eat healthy homemade food made with their own retort produce.


Inspirational

In abundance 

I found this story of a lady who says that she has been canning for 45 years now and started when she was with her, now husband, in college, the budget was tight and behind their house was a yard with apple trees, she gathered the apples and made apple sauce and apple butter from it. Canning is work she says, but unlike house work it is very rewarding to have rows of jewels on the shelf that you can pull out in winter and have the taste of summer.

Her favorite canning memory was that her daughter once called her in the middle of the night and asked how to can peaches; because her husband loved the mother’s canned peaches to bits. She gave her the recipe and her daughter has been canning ever since.  


Juicy and Succulent

Another lady said that she loved canning tomatoes, crushed and stewed with onions and peppers. She makes salsa’s, pizza sauce, taco sauce, pickled jalapenos, dill and sweet pickles, soups and apple pie filling from their own green house and garden. She grows a lot of vegetables on their 1 acre land and says ‘Yes it’s a lot of work but I have so much fun doing it’.

Then I loved this comment, ‘A trip to the local farmers market is better than taking a vacation for me,’ working with the herbs and vegetables I bring home with me extends the sensory experience I brought with me from the market.   

‘I can fresh produce and control what ingredients go into my family’s food and that makes me feel good. The reason that I retort, is the sense of accomplishment I feel when I watch my shelves fill up with food that is not only safe and healthy but which is as nourishing to my senses as it is to my body’.  How true

One man said, ‘the amount of money we have saved by canning produce from our garden is hard to say, but it is a considerable sum for sure. It involves hard work but an enormous sense of pride and an incredible feeling of accomplishment and living.

I did not want to waste to excess produce from my garden and started canning for that reason, I can tell you now that there is nothing than to open a packet of your own produced retort in the middle of winter and smell your garden, said another contributor. 
Yes it may be harder work then going to the grocery store but knowing what is in my own produced retort, or maybe more importantly, what is not in it, justifies all the effort.


Homemade

He added that he makes tomato sauce, chili sauce and his own sausages that make to best hot dogs imaginable.

The last one: ‘Best thing is that we do it together, we clean, cut, cook, pack and process everything together, spending precious time together and enjoying every minute of it.
This couple’s favorite product were peanuts, wash them very well, boil for 5 minutes with salt and retort for 50 minutes under 11 LBS pressure.           Worth a try I would say.
   

My immediate assessment after reading some retort stories is the joy and feeling of accomplishment you get from making your own, if you do not have a garden, go to the local farmers market for more inspiration.

I found that some people manage to save up to $800.00 per year which is the icing on the cake.

Pouch retort is pretty cheap, clean, saves storage space and rewarding, go for it!!

www.vacupack.com  for USA and www.vacupack.ca for Canada 

By: Marinus Hoogendoorn