Cooking from scratch is the best way to save money in your family budget, but it can be time-consuming when you don’t have a plan. If you can do one week of food prep in one day you will be ahead of the game at dinner time. I’m excited to have my daughter Allison Easterling, […]
Keeping backyard chickens is a great way to begin your journey toward self-sufficiency, but the term “backyard chickens” implies that you have a backyard. What if you’re living in a small apartment, hoping perhaps one day to move to land, but wishing you could get experience to try your hand at it before you commit?
Quail are a great and easy way to get started with poultry and experience the independence of raising your own eggs and meat, without the need for anything more than a small bit of indoor space. Simple rabbit hutches with wire floors and solid trays beneath make excellent quail housing, and can be kept indoors anywhere you could keep either rabbits or a domestic bird such as a parakeet. There’s even the occasional story of a country farm kid keeping quail in their college dorm room because they missed the fresh eggs and company of poultry.
Housing & Space Requirements
Quail are very small animals, and the average bird is only 3.5 to 5.5 ounces (roughly 1/4 pound) and about five inches tall, though some commercial meat breeds can be as heavy as 12 ounces (3/4 pound). They’re mostly a ground foraging bird, and need floor space rather than high ceilings, which makes short but wide floored rabbit hutches an excellent housing choice. Shorter cages are actually preferred, as the low roof keeps them from trying to fly when startled, with may result in injury.
Wire floored cages with removable trays beneath are generally preferred because the droppings fall through the wire, keeping the quail clean and healthy. On solid floors, quail tend to stand in their feces and often eat them, spreading disease and parasites. To keep quail feet healthy, use no more than ¼-inch square wire for the floor. Quail are also often reluctant to use nesting boxes, so wire floors make it easier to find the eggs and keep them clean than with solid floors and bedding.
As a general rule, each quail needs 1 square foot of floor space, and should be kept at a ratio of 4-5 females to each male. Some people choose to keep their quail in lower ratios in smaller cages, and will put 3 females with 1 male in a standard 18 x 24-inch rabbit cage without issue. Keep in mind that at least 1 square foot is ideal, and smaller conditions could lead to stress for your birds.
Quail egg incubation varies based on breed, but the most popular breed, the Coturnix, incubates for 16-18 days. Once hatched, the chicks reach maturity for meat or to begin laying eggs at 6-10 weeks. This compares to 21 incubation days for chicken eggs and no eggs laid until roughly 20 weeks. That means that your female quail will be laying for as many as 12 weeks while a chicken started at the same time is still growing and maturing.
It’s easy to see how they could be quickly reproduced to yield a large flock from just a small number of initial hatching eggs, with only roughly 12 weeks between generations.
Quail tend to live 2-4 years and can produce 200-250 eggs per year.
Quail are not common enough to have their own commercial food mix, but their nutritional requirements are similar to turkeys. They’re commonly fed turkey feed based on their life stage. Adult quail only need about 15-20 grams of food per day. Quail keepers commonly supplement their feed with small seeds (flax, etc.) and leafy greens to improve the nutritional quality of the eggs and encourage good health in the flock.
Quail tend to lay eggs at roughly the same rate as a heritage breed chicken, producing as many as 250 eggs per year starting at 6-10 weeks of age. They require 14-16 hours of daylight per day to lay, which is easy to provide indoors. While the main benefit of quail is the small size, which allows them to be kept indoors, it also means that their eggs are very small. It takes 5 quail eggs to equal 1 chicken egg in volume, although quail eggs are slightly more nutritious. Still, quail eggs peel easy as hard boiled eggs and make adorable deviled eggs or fried eggs on top of hamburger sliders. What they lack in size you’ll have to make up for in culinary creativity.
Quail dress out at roughly 75 percent of their live weight, and the yield will depend on the size and breed of your original bird. Though they’re more attractive roasted with skin on, plucking is very time-consuming for the amount of meat produced; for small-scale home consumption it’s generally recommended to skin the birds rather than pluck them. Since they’re so small, a single serving is generally considered to be 2 birds per person. This may seem like a lot, but remember that they only take 6-8 weeks to reach harvesting size, meaning that even incubating eggs in small batches you’ll have plenty of meals.
Have you ever owned quail? Share your tips on raising them in the section below:
I recently got a few samples of Backpacker’s Pantry freeze-dried meals to review, and I was very excited to try them out, because Backpacker’s Pantry is one of the few large-scale freeze-dried meal producers to not just feature, but promote and develop a large variety of gluten-free and/or organic ingredient options. Backpacker’s Pantry, based out of Boulder, Colorado, offers a huge selection of meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snacks. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, no nuts, no soy, low sodium – it’s all there. A huge selection of different meals is available for people or families with dietary restrictions, or selective diet through personal choice. I was particularly excited to try these out, because my wife is viciously gluten-intolerant. This makes life tough not only for her concerning her daily diet, but also for the guy who gets to try to stockpile and save long-term food supplies.
Trying to find a variety of foods that can keep over the long haul is definitely a challenge, and I’ll take all the help I can get; so color me tickled pink to see some decent gluten-free options available.
When rooting around in the box of sample meals, the first Backpacker’s Pantry meal I came upon that was gluten-free was the Persian Peach Stew With Chicken. The combination of flavors sounded interesting – definitely different – so I pulled it out of the box and read the package. The ingredient list was straightforward, with no 26-letter-long names of made-up ingredients I couldn’t pronounce, no preservatives, no “other natural flavors”. There are two servings per package, each 290 calories, with 9 grams of sugar, 12 grams of protein, 47 grams of carbohydrates, and – the Achilles heel of freeze dried food – a heavy dose of sodium at 660mg. Everything looked on the level and up to snuff, so I decided to take the meal for a test drive.
Related: The Survival Food Pyramid
Upon opening the package, you’ll find the standard-issue oxygen/moisture absorbing package, as well as a small package of organic extra virgin olive oil (a new one to me), and the dried contents of the meal. When you’re ready to whip up the meal, be sure to pull out the oxygen absorbing package out of the meal before installing the olive oil and 2 cups of boiling hot water, right in the packaging the meal comes in. Reseal the package and set aside for 13 minutes.
There is a note on the package that states “rehydration time doubles every 5,000 feet of elevation gain. Our directions are set for 5,000 feet.” Since my homestead elevation is about 400 feet above sea level, I went with the standard 13 minute cook time. If you live/bug out at above 5,000 feet elevation, you’ll want to adjust the cook time accordingly, lest you have crunchy rice.
Once the timer went off, I opened the package to find that the long grain white rice actually looked like rice, and all the rest of the food had nicely reconstituted from nondescript-looking chopped matter into a delectable-appearing meal. The aroma was promising as I dumped some of the contents into a bowl for its taste-bud audition.
And you know what? Backpacker’s Pantry Persian Peach Stew With Chicken was surprisingly good! The peach flavor hits quickly, along with a hint of cumin. But the flavor medley plays nice with the rice and chicken, and the meal is really not bad considering 13 minutes ago it had been completely dried out and sealed in a package meant for long-term storage. Granted, it’s not homecooked, but it’s every bit as good as any off-the-shelf seasoned rice meals you can pick off the shelves at your local grocery store. The rice was a bit mushy and the small cubes of chicken were rather devoid of taste – to be expected, but all things considered, I was pleasantly impressed, especially compared to other freeze-dried meal packets I’ve tried.
Perhaps the greatest compliment that I can give to the Persian Peach Stew With Chicken is that my uber-picky 16-year-old son tried the meal and approved. Normally you couldn’t get him to eat rice if his life depended on it, but he actually said that he would eat this anytime as a side dish to a main meal. He was surprised when I told him it could be considered to be survival food, and said we should keep some on hand for camping chow. My wife wasn’t available for the sampling, but I’ll make sure she tries the next gluten-free sample from Backpacker’s Pantry.
Further Reading: Mountain House Freeze Dried Food Review
Overnight gastrointestinal implications were nil – while everyone has different gastrointestinal reactions to freeze-dried foods, I did not suffer any “morning-after” races to the toilet like some preservative-sodden offerings do to me. The high sodium levels (probably combined with the tasty Narragansett Lager I had with the meal) made me a little parched the next morning, but otherwise there were no personal ugly side effects. Always a bonus, especially when toilets are a long ways from camp or the tree stand.
All things considered…
The Backpacker’s Pantry Persian Peach Stew With Chicken definitely would be a great addition to a bug-out bag, or your long-term storage plans. It isn’t available in #10 cans (yet), just 5.1 ounce freeze-dried vacuum-sealed foil packages. The food quality was very good (say 4 out of 5 stars compared to other freeze-dried foods), uniquely tasty with its peach flavor, and has good amounts of protein to help keep you moving when you’re on the trail. The one-half package serving size was acceptable, but if you’re on the move or expecting lots of sustained movement for the day, you might want to chow down on the whole package. The price tag per pouch is a touch higher than other freeze-dried offerings, but I’d rather pay a couple more bucks and know that I’m not getting lambasted with preservatives and unpronounceable ingredients.
I’m looking forward to trying a couple of the other packages in the sample box; maybe the Multigrain Buttermilk Hotcakes for breakfast? Keep an eye out for further reviews of Backpacker’s Pantry products by the SHTFBlog/Survival Cache crew.
Preparing the chicken coop for winter should be at the top of any homesteading to-do list. A well-maintained coop will help prevent illnesses in your flock and keep your chickens happy enough to continue providing eggs for your table.
Winter often finds us with frozen water buckets, more cleaning than usual and cranky hens, but taking care of a few fall chores can make overwintering much easier – and make it far more likely your flock will continue producing eggs.
1. Prepping the coop
After every snowfall I am reminded there is a slight gap in the hinged door that rests on top of our coop’s nesting boxes. That results in a small snow drift that materializes and scares the hens from using the far west nesting box until I clean it out. A few minutes with a caulking gun will ensure that doesn’t happen again this winter. Seal crevices, tighten screws and make sure doors close flush with the coop walls.
Now is also the time to clean the vents that allow air to circulate through the coop and clean debris off the outside walls and roof. In addition to general cleaning and maintenance, determine if your building would benefit from extra protection from the elements in the form of wind breaks, wraps or extra insulation.
2. Cleaning the coop
Start winter with a fresh, clean coop. Remove old bedding from the entire coop, roosting areas, nesting boxes and runs. Before loading the hen house with fresh litter, dust the interior with diatomaceous earth (DE). This will deter unwanted pests from finding a home with your flock.
Some homesteaders choose to use sand in the winter as bedding, because it is easier to spot clean every few days. Others opt for the traditional straw or wood shavings that need to be replaced weekly during the more confining winter months. A few poultry owners choose to use the deep-litter method, which works by adding a fresh layer of bedding on top of the old to act as an extra layer of insulation and requires fewer full cleanings. Those using the deep-litter method must be sure the enclosure is well-ventilated. Decomposing droppings release ammonia, which can cause blindness and other illnesses if levels remain high inside the chicken coop. No matter which method you choose to use during the winter months, you must be certain that the enclosure remains dry. Bedding that is retaining high amounts of moisture will cause your birds respiratory issues.
3. Watering the flock
Keeping the flock healthy throughout the winter months has much to do with water. Too much water in the litter will cause disease in the birds, but too little fresh drinking water will do the same. Chickens will not break through the ice with their beaks, so you must provide water containers that are free from ice. For the busy homesteader, heated waterers are quite a timesaver. A heated pet bowl with a pet-safe cord will keep your flock drinking throughout the day, although the shallower pet bowls may need more frequent cleaning. For those who do not have electricity in their building, or choose not to risk a fire, changing the water frequently, two to three times a day when temperatures are below freezing, should be sufficient. Use thick plastic containers to delay ice build-up.
4. Lights on or off
There is much debate on whether you should provide a light for your chickens, whether for the sake of heat or the sake of artificial daylight for egg production. Much of the debate stems from the risk of fire that arises when heating or lighting a hen house. It takes just a few moments for a heat lamp that has been knocked over to start a fire inside the coop. Heat lamps, or brooding lamps, should not be used in most chicken coops. They produce too much heat and also can stress the birds in the colder winter months.
In most areas, adequate lighting can be achieved with one 40-watt bulb with a reflector for every 250 square feet. Using a timer to achieve 10 hours of daylight will encourage your flock to keep producing eggs while also providing them adequate time to rest.
5. Boredom busters
Poultry cooped up in the coop all day will quickly become bored. That’s where the trouble starts. They will begin pecking at each other, to the point of death in some instances, while others will find mischief in the nesting boxes by destroying precious eggs.
Keep the boredom at bay with a few additions to the coop. A produce bag filled with fresh greens hung from the ceiling works as a healthy treat as well as a distraction from pecking at each other. Similarly, broccoli crowns, cabbages and other vegetables can be hung as a treat as can more traditional suet bags and seed blocks.
What advice would you add for taking care of chickens during winter? Share it in the section below:
People have been canning at home for years … decades actually. With all of this experience, you would think we all would know what can be canned in pressure cookers. We don’t.
In fact, many people are under the very wrong assumption that fruits, vegetables and things like jam and soup are the only things they can home can.
The reality is that you can home can just about anything you serve your family today. You aren’t limited to eating mushy veggies and fruits if you are relying on your food storage.
You are in for a real treat when you see the following list of foods that can be canned and stored for years. Check out nine things you can preserve in your pressure canner so your family will be eating like kings for years down the road.
1. Hamburger patties. Imagine being able to have a juicy burger, perfectly seasoned, after a blackout. The next time ground beef goes on sale or you get a great deal on a side of beef, you don’t have to put it all in the freezer. It isn’t just patties you can preserve. Ground beef, in general, can be stored for years on your pantry shelf – as can meatballs.
2. Chicken legs and thighs. Eating your favorite cut of chicken cooked the way you like is a pretty common comfort food. You can bake it, fry it or put it on the barbecue with your favorite sauce. Your family will love the idea of their favorite meal, just like they used to eat, when things were normal. You can buy packs of chicken legs and thighs for just a few dollars. This is an excellent, inexpensive way to stock your food storage shelves. Chicken breasts are also an option.
3. Fish. Going fishing is a fun activity and instead of wrapping up your catch and popping it in the freezer, can it instead! Salmon, steelhead, halibut and trout are all excellent tasting after the canning process. You can fillet the fish or dice it up. You don’t need to add any salt or preservatives to the water in the jar. Let the fish do the flavoring. Add a little vegetable oil if you like.
4. Pot roast. It often goes on sale and the next time it does, buy a bunch and home can it. Cutting the roast into small chunks, adding a little salt and then processing it in the pressure cooker is all you need to do to add some nice red meat to your food storage.
5. Bacon. This is something few people want to live without. Canning it and adding it to your food storage means that, during a blackout or crisis, you will be able to make Sunday breakfast like you used to, bacon included.
6. Hot dogs. OK, it may not be the healthiest food, but imagine being able to grill up some hot dogs or whip up a batch of corn dogs for your little ones, even if the food in the freezer is spoiled. Hot dogs are cheap and often go on sale during the summer months, which is a perfect time to load up.
7. Butter. This is another staple you won’t want to live without. Load up on butter when it goes on sale and melt it down to put into your canning jars. It is important to note that the USDA does not have any approved methods for canning dairy products, and actually discourages it. However, any seasoned homesteader or canner will probably tell you many stories about eating canned butter without getting sick. Ghee, which is basically canned butter — regularly used in foreign countries.
8. Cheese. Cheese, glorious cheese in all styles like mozzarella, cheddar and even cream cheese. Again, this is another one of those items that people have been home canning for decades, but there is no official approved method. There is always some concern about bacteria growth, but if you go through the canning process the right way and store the jars in cool areas, you reduce the risk of bacteria growing and making anybody ill.
9. Cake. This is something nobody wants to live without, but baking a cake during a blackout or emergency could be difficult. Having jars filled with your favorite flavor of cake ready to eat when you get that craving will be an appreciated luxury. Cake mixes are easy to make or buy in bulk and you can fill your shelves with lots of cooked cakes to make any occasion a little more special.
What foods would you add to our list? Share your tips in the section below:
Casseroles. Love them or hate them, they are definitely a comfort food to many and a super-convenient main dish to others. I grew up on casseroles, from the classic Tuna Noodle Casserole to my Nana’s Shlumgum, so I’m a fan.
The casserole can become the best friend to any busy mom or dad, and if you’ve been working on building a food storage pantry, you’ll fall in love with the idea of a No-Recipe Casserole. This is more of a concept than a recipe with specific measurements or even ingredients, and for that reason, it’s the perfect food storage companion.
The building blocks of any casserole
Just about any casserole recipe you find is made up of 5-7 of these building blocks:
- A base
- Additional liquid
- A topping of some sort
Once you get these 7 components in your head, along with a few more bits of information, you’re equipped to rummage through your freezer, fridge, and pantry shelves to produce a casserole totally unique in the world! And that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
Let’s take a closer look at these 7 building blocks and the individual ingredients for each:
The base of a casserole acts as a binding agent to hold all the other ingredients together. The base of your casserole could be as simple as a can of “Cream of…” soup. Cream of mushroom soup is a classic casserole ingredient, but if you don’t want to use a processed food product, try making your own “Cream of…”soup mix and use that. Another option is leftover gravy or a couple of gravy packets. For added creaminess, add 2-3 tablespoons of cream cheese or 1/2 of sour cream.
A source of protein
There are many wonderful meat-free casseroles recipes, but if your casserole is going to be a hearty main dish, you should add a protein, even if it’s just a can of rinsed beans. Any meat or poultry will do, and, in fact, try combining different types of meat, especially if you have leftovers. The secret to my amazing chili is that I combine ground beef, cooked bacon, chopped kielbasa — almost any meat I have, and the results are delicious. You can do the same with this No-Recipe Casserole. Chopped/shredded chicken or turkey, ground beef, tuna, venison — it’s all good. Be sure the meat is cooked and drained before adding it to your base, and figure on 12-16 ounces or so.
I’ve found that freeze-dried meats work wonderfully in casseroles. They are already cooked and diced and only need to be rehydrated. I use freeze-dried diced chicken in my family’s very favorite Sonoran Enchilada Casserole, and you would never know that chicken wasn’t freshly cooked. Home-canned chicken or beef is another option for quickly adding a source of protein.
The beauty of adding a carbohydrate to your casserole is that it will increase the amount of calories and the amount of food at the same time. Extra calories are an important consideration in times of emergency, since these typically require more physical activity from us, and just by adding a handful of rice or macaroni, a recipe that would have normally served 6 people, can suddenly serve 8 or 10.
Carbs that work successfully in a casserole are white and brown rice, macaroni and rotini pasta, wheat berries, quinoa, and beans. These should all be cooked first to an al dente finish (they’ll continue cooking just a bit once added to the casserole and heated), although uncooked rice can be added as long as extra water or broth is also added to the casserole.
It’s with veggies that your unique casserole really begins to take shape. The veggies you add can be frozen, canned (rinse first), dehydrated, or freeze-dried. Add whatever veggies your family likes, although it’s definitely permissable to sneak a little something in for extra nutrition, such as this dehydrated spinach. If anyone asks, tell them the green stuff is just “herbs”.
I typically add chopped onion, celery, and bell peppers to many of my dishes. If you’re adding these to a casserole, which only needs to bake for 20-30 minutes, these veggies will need to be sauteed in a bit of butter or a healthy oil before being added to the casserole dish. This is true of most other fresh veggies.
Diced potatoes can act as a meal stretcher, a veggie, and a carbohydrate. Keep a can of dehydrated potato dices handy just for this purpose. They are wonderfully affordable.
At this point, you will need to add more liquid. Assess the amount of protein, carbohydrates, and veggies and then add extra liquid. This can be water, beef or chicken broth, a vegetable broth, or milk. Salsa is another nice addition if you want your casserole to have a Southwest flavor.
If you’re adding uncooked rice, you’ll need to add even more liquid. Typically, the ratio for uncooked rice and liquid is about 1 cup of rice to 1 1/2 cups liquid.
The classic casserole will be seasoned with salt, pepper, and a few dashes of garlic powder. Additional herbs, such as basil and parsley add some flavor, as will a teaspoon or two of dehydrated minced onion, if your newly invented recipe doesn’t contain onion otherwise.
A teaspoon of basil and oregano will give your casserole a bit of an Italian flavor, and a Southwest flair comes easy with a teaspoon of chili powder, a dash of cayenne, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cumin.
When I was a kid, it was the casserole topping that was always my favorite. Come to think of it, it still is! The toppings on your No-Recipe Casseroles can be crushed potato chips, Fritos, Doritos, or crackers of any kind. It could be 1/4 to 1/2 cup of bread crumbs mixed with a 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt, and sauteed in a frying pan with 2 Tablespoons of butter. Grated cheese is another excellent topping and if your casserole screams “Italian!”, by all means, add a grating of Parmesan cheese as a topping, on its own or mixed with the buttery breadcrumb mixture.
Learning to cook without a recipe is an excellent preparedness skill. It challenges you to use whatever you happen to have on hand, without relying on that quick trip to the grocery store, which inevitably turns into a far more expensive outing. It’s also a great way to incorporate new “food storage” foods into your family’s diet, without them ever knowing, and a casserole is the ideal dish to cook in a solar oven.
As you begin creating your own No-Recipe Casseroles, you’ll want to do one final thing: jot down the ingredients of any casserole that is truly outstanding. If your family cleans their plates and then asks for seconds, you have a winner, and if you’re like me and your memory is a little iffy, you’ll be glad to have a written record of that new family favorite.
Try this no-recipe method with soup, too! Here’s my tutorial.
Today’s recipe of cooking chicken with vinegar is a pretty basic cooking skill. This of method cooking meat “Adobo” is a cultural cooking process from the Philippines, where meat is marinated in vinegar, browned, and then simmered in the marinade. This process is worthwhile for preppers, homesteaders, or outdoorsmen to know because leftovers keep well without refrigeration because the vinegar inhibits bacteria. In my experience it softens up tough meat, and I especially like using this process with rabbit. As a matter of fact, I make “chicken with vinegar” far more often with rabbit more than I do with chicken.
How to Build a Chicken Coup
If you’re wanting to start building a chicken coop and keeping your own chickens, you’ll first need to know what makes up a chicken coop. There are lots of different designs you can choose from but the standard coop will have; a run, some nesting area, a perch, insulation, food and some protection.
Stage 1: Understanding the Coop
When people refer to the ‘run’ they are talking about an open area where the chickens can run about and stretch their legs! Generally, this area is open to the environment except for some sort of protection such as chicken wire. We will get to that later!
Within the house you will need to have a nesting area. This is where the chickens will lay their eggs and it must be warm and protected. It’s common to make the nest out of straw or other soft materials like cotton, in a bowl shape that will collect the eggs.
Chickens really like to perch, you’ll see this once you’ve got your own. So most coops will have a branch or beam across the housing, where the birds can rest and perch.
The insulation of the coop has two major parts. Firstly the bedding material and secondly the material of the housing. The level of insulation required will obviously differ from state to state so use some common sense when it comes to building the coop. People often use straw as a bedding material because it is absorbent, cheap and provides warmth. Another alternative that is used is wood chips, although some people believe that this can cause damage to chickens feet. I would suggest using straw although you will have to change it sometimes.
Food and Water
Just like any other animal, these birds will need a good supply of food and water. It’s advised that you keep the food and water in the run rather than in the house because it makes it easier to replace and also allows you to monitor them more easily.
I also believe that its better to keep their water raised from the floor. This can prevent spillages and accidents. One example is to hang a plastic dish from the coop roof with a chain, which allows them to drink. If you’re feeling confident you can then hook a hose up directly to the dish.
Stage 2: Getting Some Good Quality Plans!
If you’ve never made a DIY chicken coop then I would highly, highly suggest that you buy some good chicken coop plans. Skimping on the plans isn’t going to do you any good. The last thing you want is to get halfway through the build only to get stuck because the plans aren’t detailed enough. Buy some good quality plans!
I would recommend these plans: ChickenCoopGuides.com
They are the best in the business. These plans are extremely detailed, with simple and understandable diagrams that will allow you to quickly assemble your coop without any issues. Free coop plans really can’t come close, these blueprints are what you want. Trust me on this, I’ve heard of enough issues with free plans for one lifetime. Buy these plans and forget about it, they’ll do the job better than any others.
Once you’ve got those plans you’ll want to look through them and pick out a coop design or idea that you like, that fits well with the space you have and is within your skill level.
No matter which design you choose, you’ll need some form of protection to keep predators away from your birds. The most common form of protection is chicken wire, which is just a thin metal mesh that you can place across the outside of your coop to keep attackers away. Unfortunately, depending on where you live this might not be enough. That’s why a lot of coops are also raised from the ground, with a ramp going up to them. This will help keep larger predators at bay as they will struggle to climb the small ramp.
Another thing to consider in your plans is the ventilation. You’ll want to ensure that you have some air flow through the coop otherwise the smell will become very strong. You can solve this by simply adding some small windows covered with chicken wire.
Lastly, you’ll need some way to get into the housing and get the eggs. This is normally solved by having a removable side the coop, although different plans may have different ways to solve the problem.
Please include attribution to Gardenaholic.com/chicken-coop-plans with this graphic.
Stage 3: Make Sure You Have All The Materials!
Most of the materials which your coop require should be easy to find. Things like wood, nails and screws can be bought from a hardware store like Home Depot or Sears.
Other things like straw and the chickens themselves can be found at local farms. You should be able to buy straw from garden centers if you don’t have any local farms.
Stage 4: Building!
Actually getting down and building your project is one of the most exciting and frustrating times. If you have a good set of blueprints then you’ve got a significant advantage, if not you should be prepared to spend much longer (and more money!) on the actual build. This is because you’re likely to make more mistakes which are costly in terms of time and money.
The build itself isn’t always easy, so we’ve added some extra information and tips down below.
Types of chicken coop
While there are as many chicken coop designs as your brain can imagine, only a handful are regularly used. Each of the popular designs has their own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s up to you to decide which design fits your needs and capabilities best.
The A-Frame is one of the simplest and most common homemade designs. It’s simply a triangular prism, generally with a raised housing section, causing the ‘A’ shape. This is probably the easiest design to build, so if you are worried about the building process and aren’t the best carpenter then you might consider choosing the A-Frame. The main disadvantage to this style is that it isn’t very space efficient, meaning that it won’t be home to very many chickens – often only 2 or 3.
That’s sort of a name I’ve come up with myself because there aren’t many clear cut names for different styles of coop. ‘The House’ is basically the standard chicken coop that you see in nice magazines, with a housing area for the birds to rest and lay their eggs and then a ramp down to a run which is protected with wire mesh. The reason I refer to this as a house is because it has everything that the birds need within one enclosed area, and the housing areas are often decorated to look like real homes.
Lastly, we have the shed which is mainly used by people who let their chickens roam freely during the day. The shed is simply a large box shape with a small ramp up, keeping the building raised from the wet ground. This is another simple design and is often home to a large amount of chickens.
Tips for Building a Chicken Coop Yourself
One of the best things you can do is to take your time, especially if this is your first time building something of this size. Most people will make a mistake at some point, so recognize that it’s common and try not to let it overwhelm you. Sometimes, taking an extra minute here or there can make all the difference to the final product.
Plan Everything Out
Even if you are using the plans I suggested above, I think it’s a good idea to plan everything out with regards to materials. You may consider laying the wood and parts out on your lawn in their correct positions to picture the final design. You should make sure that all the wood is the right length and you have the correct screws and drill bits before starting.
I would personally advise that you try and make the coop as lightweight and portable as possible. This means that if you do need to move it, you can do so easily. Some people even install wheels on one side of the coop so that they can simply lift it and roll it to a new location.
Don’t Use Pressure Treated Wood
If you have the option then you shouldn’t use pressure treated wood. This is because this wood has been treated with chemicals, which as you can imagine is not good for your chickens who will peck at the wood.
There are many skills that have been lost over time. Things your great grandparents did in their daily lives that are now left to machines in some far flung factory. Many of us raise chickens, but how many of us take them from pasture to plate?
That’s right, how many of us would have any idea of how to slaughter and dress a chicken? In this really amazing video the host shows you just that, how to catch, humanely kill, and dress a chicken. It’s really an amazing must see video.
The post Lost Arts: Bringing a Chicken from Pasture to Plate appeared first on Preparing for shtf.
Of all the freeze-dried meats on the market, chicken is the one I use the most. It’s such a part of my everyday cooking that I was a bit surprised to hear someone say just this week that they weren’t entirely sure how to cook with it. Well, let me tell you.
How many recipes are there in the world that call for “one chicken breast, cooked and chopped?” Usually when I see something like that, I immediately think of the overhead required to thaw the chicken, cook it, and chop it up before I can get to the rest of the recipe. When I only have 45 minutes to throw a meal together for a hungry family, that’s the last thing I want to do. Freeze dried chicken takes out those extra laborious steps. Just rehydrate it and you’re golden. Specific instructions may vary, depending on the brand you’re using, but typically rehydration involves letting one part freeze dried chicken chunks stand in 2 parts water for 5-15 minutes. After the requisite time, I use my handy kitchen strainer to pour off any excess water.
Because it’s already pre-chopped and pre-cooked, freeze dried chicken is excellent for quick casseroles, chicken salad, and chicken noodle soup. Here are 3 of my tried-and-tested recipes using this handy food.
Layered Freeze-Dried Chicken Enchiladas
This is one of my family’s most favorite meals. It’s not terribly authentic because it is more of a tortilla lasagna than anything, but it’s still tasty and doesn’t take a lot of time to make.
1 1/2 cup freeze dried chicken, rehydrated
1/4 cup dehydrated onions
1 1/2 cup freeze dried cheddar cheese, divided
2 cans enchilada sauce -or- 2 cup homemade enchilada sauce, divided
1 cup sour cream
green chiles – optional (My kids just pick them out, so I tend to omit them.)
tortillas (whole wheat is best – usually 10 store bought, or anywhere from 6-9 homemade ones using the tortilla recipe found here.)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine chicken, onions, 1 1/2 cup enchilada sauce, chiles, 1 cup cheese.
In a 13 x 9 inch pan, put down a tortilla layer, breaking them in pieces in order to cover the whole bottom.
Spread a thin layer of the chicken and cheese filling, then cover with another layer of tortillas. Alternate layers until you run out of filling, ending with tortillas.
Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the pan, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 25 min or until bubbly.
Freeze-Dried Chicken Salad
Chicken salad is many things to many people, which is the primary basis of its appeal. All chicken salad has chicken and mayonnaise as the primary ingredients. It can be easily customized, according to preference and availability of ingredients, by adding:
- chopped apples
- chopped celery
- pecans or walnuts
- minced hard-boiled egg
- chili powder or paprika
- red onion or scallions
- shredded carrots
Here is where experimentation is truly king. If you don’t already have a favorite way to make chicken salad, I encourage you to add or subtract ingredients until you find one. If mayonnaise isn’t really your thing, you can also use sour cream or even plain yogurt instead.
Freeze-Dried Chicken Noodle Soup
Making soup with freeze-dried chicken is even easier, because you don’t even have to rehydrate the chicken ahead of time! Just make your soup as you normally would. Add 1/2 cup or so of chicken chunks into the pot once other ingredients are cooked through. Since the chicken doesn’t have to actually cook, just rehydrate and heat up, it’s okay to add the chicken toward the end of the cooking time. This is usually about when I add noodles as well.
NOTE: It’s okay to make soup without a recipe! It’s super easy with this tutorial.
Some people might think that freeze-dried chicken is one of those fluffy “luxury foods” for emergency preparedness – too outer-spacey and high tech for every day use by actual people. Not so! I like to keep a can on hand at all times. After you get used to cooking with freeze-dried chicken, you’ll start to think of fresh or frozen chicken breasts as a waste of time and motions (at least when it comes to making a quick dinner).
A quick word on taste: I used to cook with a lot of canned chicken for the same reasons I now use the freeze-dried version. The thing with canned chicken, though, is that it doesn’t have nearly the shelf-life. Also, and I think anyone who has eaten chicken out of a can will agree with me, it does have a residual taste that you don’t usually find when eating fresh chicken. If you’re worried that freeze-dried chicken will have a weird taste that can only be described as “ugh,” don’t. This very week I made a freeze-dried chicken meal for my family, and I was pleasantly surprised by how normal it tasted. You never would have guessed that this meal came from a can!
If you don’t already have freeze-dried chicken as part of your food storage, I encourage you to change your ways. You won’t be sorry!
Predator populations in many parts of the country are on the rise. That means the chances of a predator finding and preying on your chickens is high if you don’t take every precaution to keep them at bay.
First, realize that predators are lazy opportunist. Most attacks on your flock will be because something was too tempting to pass up for a hungry critter. Predators that actually work to break in and steal chickens by chewing through the side of the hen house or digging for hours etc., are rogues that must be exterminated.
The best practice for predator control is to never give them an easy opportunity to dine on your chickens. Yet there is no one tactic that is all-encompassing. It’s more like a lot of little things all working together to keep predators away from your chickens. Here are some tips to help keep your flock safe and sound.
1. Inspect daily.
Do visual inspections daily for holes, loose wire and generally anything that looks out of place or in need of repair to keep predators out of your chickens. In addition, keep your eyes out for any signs of animals prowling around, looking for an easy meal. This could be tracks, scat, signs of chewing or digging, feathers scattered about, or anything that looks out of place. With larger flocks, predators can get a chicken a night and you’re none the wiser until you realize your flock is shrinking.
This could be tracks, scat, signs of chewing or digging, feathers scattered about, or anything that looks out of place. With larger flocks, predators can get a chicken a night and you’re none the wiser until you realize your flock is shrinking.
2. Keep a rooster with your flock.
A good rooster is the first line of defense against predators. If a hawk, owl or any other flying menace comes into view on the horizon, my rooster immediately spots it and sounds the alarm that sends everyone running for cover. Over the years, I’ve lost a few good roosters to predators because they typically will sacrifice themselves to allow the hens to get to safety. I’ve even watched roosters discipline hens for not taking cover when the alarm was sounded. If you don’t see this kind of behavior in your rooster, it may be time to replace him with one that takes his job seriously.
3. Teach your chickens to roost in the coop, not outside.
Training your flock to return to the henhouse each night is as simple as keeping them inside the coop for a week or so when you first get them. Be certain to provide plenty of roosting area. This reinforces to the birds that the coop is home and where they should roost. With an older flock that has never been accustomed to roosting inside the coop, you also can establish the habit by keeping them inside for a couple of weeks. It usually takes a bit longer with older birds that have bad habits.
Rogue birds that will not cooperate should be culled. If you allow a few birds to roost outside, it creates temptation for predators that would otherwise leave your birds alone. They eventually get one of the rogue birds and then become a rogue predator that goes out of its way to kill and eat chickens.
4. Don’t tempt unwanted critters.
Open feeders, garbage cans, animal carcasses, or any other type of food will draw unwanted attention to your farm. If a chicken dies, dispose of it immediately, preferably where no other animal will find and eat it.
5. Create an environment that discourages predators.
Predators aren’t fond of wide-open spaces. Keep hiding places to a minimum around coops and buildings. Weeds, piles of junk and lumber all give predators a place to hide that makes them feel more secure. Avoid it.
6. Keep a farm dog.
I have never been without a farm dog. Over the years, that has been one reason we have avoided coons, coyotes, foxes and other creatures of the night. Some dogs can be trusted with livestock … but others can’t. I’ve had both. If they can’t be left out with the flock running loose, I keep them contained until the chickens roost and then let them run the property for the night. Even a dog tied to the doghouse at night near the animals is a big deterrent to predators.
Finally, consider controlling the population of predators through ethical hunting and trapping, or invite someone else to do it for you.
Remember: Predator control is something accomplished daily – and not in a day.
What advice would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below:
As a permaculture design consultant and homesteader I am always looking for ways to integrate different elements of the homestead to work together synergistically. Chickens are one of my favorite homestead elements.
They provide so many different and useful functions: entertainment, garden preparation and clean up, tilling of the soil, pest (bugs and mice) control, fertilizer spreading, food forest management, of course eggs and meat, and heat for a greenhouse!
Normally, our layers are either paddock shifted or free ranged throughout the growing season from spring to fall. During the colder months we take a different approach for wintering over our hens. We integrate our greenhouse with chickens and sometimes rabbits.
Since I cannot stand chipping ice, I want a simple system designed to prevent the water from freezing. The chickens generate enough heat to raise the temperature in the greenhouse. During the day, when the sun is shining, the greenhouse benefits from solar gain.
Interested in the best self-sufficiency solution during a food crisis? CLICK HERE to learn more!
We use the deep bedding method for the floor. We do not muck out the coop but continue to add carbon material, mostly straw. The nitrogen from the manure and carbon from the straw provide the raw material for the microorganisms to do their work. Deep bedding becomes another compost heating element. This triple combination largely prevents water from freezing.
In permaculture, the idea of integrating a greenhouse and chickens is not new. The chickens (and rabbits) expel carbon dioxide which benefits the growing of plants. Winter is a great time to grow some microgreens, lettuces and kale.
Even though chickens do not require heat in the winter they seem to have a higher quality of life and lay better in this setting.
Discover how our grandfathers used to preserve food for long periods of time. CLICK HERE to find out more !
The design for this multi-functional structure is very simple and was made from basic lumber, cattle panels and greenhouse (10 mil plastic) remnants. This greenhouse cost us approximately $300!
We are located in Northern Idaho and our winters get cold but nothing extreme so this basic design works out very well for us. If we were in a very cold climate we would have to make our base greenhouse a cold climate greenhouse where we would insulate the structure except for the south facing side.
Source : www.motherearthnews.com
About the author :
Sean and Monica Mitzel homestead with their family on 40 acres and are using permaculture techniques and strategies for the property. The property is a demonstration and education site where they raise dairy goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits, chickens, turkeys and ducks. The Mitzels have planted more than 200 productive trees, and bushes and enjoy wildcrafting, propagating plants, and raising livestock. They enjoy teaching and equipping others towards self-sufficiency through consulting and hosting workshops. To learn more visit them at The Prepared Homestead
Making bone broths should be an activity in every home. Our great-grandparents made these nourishing concoctions regularly, and by doing so used every part of an animal and stretched their food resources.
Bone broth contains many important nutrients that support good health. Some benefits include:
- Bone broth is one of the best sources of absorbable calcium, especially for those who cannot tolerate dairy foods or who do not consume dairy as part of their home culture.
- Beef broth, chicken broth and fish broth are good sources of magnesium.
- Bone broth is a good source of sodium. Sodium is important for many body and cellular functions, such as adrenal gland health, water balance regulation, muscle contraction and expansion, and maintaining a proper acid-alkaline balance in the body.
- Bone broth that includes chicken or calf feet is a good source of silicon. Silicon is a very important nutrient for supporting strong and flexible bones, healthy cartilage, connective tissue, skin, hair and nails. Silicon also helps to protect the body from aluminum toxicity.
- Bone broth is a good source of iodine, potassium and other important trace minerals that are easy to assimilate.
- Bone broth helps to support the immune system and provide the body with resistance to infections diseases.
Broth Versus Stock
For the most part, the words “broth” and “stock” are used interchangeably in culinary applications, but there is a difference. Broth often incorporates leftovers of various kinds, such as from a roasted chicken eaten for dinner. Stock requires more of a prescribed formula, and is made regularly in the traditional kitchen to become the base of sauces and soups.
Other differences between the two are that stock generally incorporates more bone, and broth incorporates more meat. Stock has a more gelatinous texture and will be clearer in appearance. Broth is thinner and has a cloudier appearance.
It might be tempting in busy times to buy canned stocks and broths from the local grocery store. But these usually contain many unhealthy ingredients that you probably do not want to be ingesting or feeding to your family. These include MSG and other excitotoxins that are harmful to the body, especially to the brain.
Tips for Making Bone Broth
- Always begin with cold water. This allows the fibers of the ingredients to open slowly and release their flavorful juices into the broth. The broth should be simmered after reaching an optimal temperature to promote clarity of the broth.
- Be sure to skim the liquid as the impurities float to the top during simmering.
- Adding vinegar or acidic wine during the cooking process helps to draw out important minerals, including calcium, magnesium and potassium.
- Boiling down stocks will concentrate their flavor, producing a sauce that is useful for many culinary applications.
- You can tell if your stock contains enough gelatin by letting it chill in the refrigerator, where it should thicken into a gel-like liquid. If it is not thick enough after chilling, you can boil it down to reduce it further.
Stock will keep in the refrigerator for five days (it can be re-boiled if you have passed this time frame by a few days), and in the freezer for several months. Any containers of stock should be labeled with the date made and a description of contents.
Chicken Broth Recipe
- 2-3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings (free-range chickens are best)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 celery sticks, chopped
- 1 bunch parsley
- 4 quarts cold water
- Optional: ½ teaspoon thyme, 1 tablespoon salt, and 12 peppercorns
- Place the chicken into a large pot, along with the rest of the ingredients (except for the parsley). Adding 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the ingredients at this time will yield more minerals from the bones into your broth.
- Bring everything to a boil and simmer uncovered for 2 hours.
- Skim off all scum as it rises to the top of the liquid throughout the cooking process.
- Add the parsley approximately 10 minutes before the broth is done cooking.
- Once the stock is done, place a sieve over a large bowl (line it with some clean cheesecloth if needed), and carefully pour the broth into the sieve so that it drains into the bowl below. The cooked chicken meat can be used for salads or ethnic dishes. Discard the remaining solid matter.
What are your best tips for making bone broth? Share your advice in the section below:
How to package chicken in bulk Recently I was able to jump in on a wonderful bulk buy that has filled my freezer and saved a bunch of money in our grocery budget. I purchased 40 pounds of chicken for $65.00. That’s $1.62 a pound! We eat a lot of chicken at our house. I’d […]
If you raise livestock for meat, naturally part of that process will be learning how to properly euthanize the animals. However, even if you only keep a few loved pet hens for eggs, you still should understand how to put down a chicken in the event of a severe injury or other emergency.
People who are very sensitive about these things may prefer taking a severely sick or injured chicken to the vet or ask a knowledgeable neighbor to dispatch the animal, but remember that having someone to help you isn’t always going to be possible. If you take on the responsibility of caring for a flock of chickens, you also take the responsibility of having to put down a suffering one if such an event does occur. That goes for any type of livestock and, for some people, even pets if they live in a rural area very far from any veterinarian.
Methods of Putting Down Chickens
Do a simple Google search for how to humanely put down a chicken and you will find a whole slew of different answers — some of which work very well while others shouldn’t be used.
First off, if you are someone completely unfamiliar with euthanizing a chicken, it is easy to fall under the assumption that a “brutal” method must not be humane. For example, using a sharp knife or hatchet to lop off a chicken’s head is often seen as gory and even torturous by some, simply because of the blood. I’ve found many threads in forums about the subject of “humane” euthanasia where the person seems instead to be looking for the best way to kill a chicken with the least participation on their part — even if the method they choose isn’t humane at all.
Here are a list of a few of the most humane methods:
Probably one of the oldest methods used, decapitation is a quick death for a chicken when done swiftly. You will need a very sharp, heavy knife/cleaver or a sharpened hatchet, plus someone there to hold the chicken. (You also can use what is called a “killing cone,” which requires only one person.)
Typically, people will use a tree stump as the chopping block. You will want to hammer two nails into the stump, just far enough apart that it will hold the chicken’s head in place. The purpose of the nails is that you can stretch the chicken’s neck slightly (this won’t hurt the bird) so you can get a clean cut. This should all be done very quickly but quietly to ensure the bird isn’t stressed. Have your helper pick up the bird, place the head gently between the nails so the neck is straight, and then chop.
It isn’t a pretty process but this method is quick and humane. It is also fairly fool-proof if you use a sharp knife/hatchet and swing down hard.
2. Cervical dislocation
Cervical dislocation, or simply breaking the chicken’s neck, is another method that is humane when done correctly but requires more knowledge and confidence to do correctly compared to decapitation. I cannot stress enough that you must be confident in your ability to use this method correctly. There are many people who actually don’t break the neck completely and this just leads to a painful death for the animal.
There are a couple of ways to do this:
- Snapping the neck by hand – This is obviously a very hands-on approach and therefore not suitable for some people. What you will do is hold the chicken in your left arm, grasp the chicken’s head at the base of its skull (you can feel where the skull meets the neck) and snap the chicken’s head in a down and out movement. This is difficult to describe to in text, so I recommend you watch a video on how to do this or ask for an experienced neighbor or fellow chicken owner to show you. I’ve seen people do this on full-grown chickens, but I am not a very big person so I have only used it on young chickens and older chicks.
- Using the “Broomsticking” Method – The broomsticking method is done by placing the chicken down on a hard surface between your feet, placing a broomstick behind the chicken’s head (just where you would place your hand), stepping down on the broomstick while simultaneously pulling up the chicken’s back legs to snap the neck. Again, please watch a video or have someone show you before trying this to ensure you do it properly. I haven’t used this method on chickens, but it is what I use for rabbits. It is quick, humane and does allow a smaller person to dispatch an animal that may be too large with the above technique.
Cervical dislocation is easy to learn and does have the benefit of being a bloodless method. However, please refrain from trying to just “wring” the chicken’s neck. There are some people who try simply to grab the chicken’s head with both hands and fling it about or over their head in an effort to break its neck. This is incredibly stressful and painful for the chicken since more often than not this fails. Please use one of the two above methods instead!
3. Use a gun or pellet gun
Another humane method is to use a gun (like a .22) or a pellet gun to dispatch the bird. A pellet gun is often more than enough as long as it is powerful enough. The pellet handguns are quite useful. Typically what I will do is wrap the chicken in a towel, place it on the ground and kneel down over the bird.
I will then use a pellet gun close to the chicken’s head to dispatch the bird. This is a very easy method but not doable from those who don’t have a gun/pellet gun.
4. Using a CO2 ‘chamber’
This final method is better suited for chicks, bantam or young adult chickens. It requires more work but some people do prefer it for one reason or another. I recommend reading this article for more information. Some people also use a paintball CO2 canister as well.
Another method that seems to get passed around that is not at all humane is placing a chicken in a bag or box which is attached to a car’s exhaust. This is not humane like CO2 and is a very painful death, with the combination of heat and chemicals. If you are going to use anything, go with the above CO2 chamber or use a different method altogether.
Putting down a loved hen or favorite rooster isn’t an enjoyable process but it is important to know how to do it properly – and is necessary if you are raising chickens for meat. As mentioned before numerous times, it is best to watch educational videos or have an experienced person help you. Some rural vets will even give you advice on how to properly dispatch a chicken at home.
What is your preferred method to kill a chicken? Share your advice in the section below:
Survival Food Ordering Made Easy
If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have ordered wheat germade at all and would have ordered far more #2.5 cans of cocoa! Yes, we prefer brownies to hot cereal!
From years of experience, I pass on to you a few simple ways to determine what to order from survival food companies, such as Augason Farms, Thrive Life, and Emergency Essentials.
My 8 Tips For Placing Your First Survival Food Order
Another great one by Chaya Foedus:
Okay, this is the world’s shortest blog post; I just had to divulge my nerdity with someone so that I might feel less alone in this forever-fascinating world. Do any of you just get curious? I mean, to the point of spending 2 hours online searching out the answer for your own mental satiation? I…
Wow! It’s been way too long since I’ve shared a recipe! You probably think I never cook (and depending on who you asked, you might be right 😉
I may not have time to make a gourmet meal every night (or ever), but I can always whip up this Swiss Cheese Chicken in no time flat! I thought this meal was great for Thanksgiving too since it uses Stuffing Mix, and even more importantly leaves you plenty of time to shop those Black Friday Sales!
You’ll notice below that along with showing you how to turn this into a freezer meal, I’ll also show you how to incorporate it into your food storage plan – because after you make it once, you won’t ever want to go without!
I’m a part of a freezer meal group in my area, and they’re probably ready to kick me out because I bring this meal to exchange all the time – but it’s just soooo good I can’t help myself.
I feel like I’m cheating a little, because it’s almost too easy to make! This week we held our exchange and I made 8 of these meals in less than 30 minutes (yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s cheating)!
Swiss Cheese Chicken is also one of those meals that’s great to take to new moms or picky eaters, because it doesn’t have any of the common “I HATE THESE” ingredients in it – like mushrooms, onions, sour cream, or anything green (the things my kids complain about most). But don’t let me stop you from throwing broccoli in or anything else that makes you feel healthy!
All right, let’s get cooking…
Swiss Cheese Chicken
This meal consists of just layering ingredients! If you have a few kids hanging around, have them join in and form an assembly line! You’ll be done in no time!
- Cover bottom of pan with Chicken. You can leave the breasts whole, or cut as small as you like. You can even make this with about 2lbs of canned chicken – it’s not as scary as it seems 😉
- Layer 6 slices of Swiss Cheese on top of the chicken (I actually tried out Pepper Jack this time, so feel free to mix it up too)!
- Mix the Cream of Chicken with 1/4 cup of Milk – You can also add more milk to have more of a sauce, whatever you prefer.
- Pour the Cream of Chicken Mixture over the Cheese.
- Sprinkle Stove Top Stuffing Mix over the top!
- Drizzle 1/4 cup melted Butter over the Stuffing mix!
That’s it! Now you throw it (or place it gently) in the oven and bake it uncovered at 350 for 45-60 minutes (or until the meat is cooked through).
Once it’s done cooking, serve over rice and eat until your tummy’s happy!
Make it a Freezer Meal:
If you want to turn this into a freezer meal or be a super-mom and give it to someone, make sure to STOP after you put the cream of chicken mixture on top. You don’t want to put the Stove Top Stuffing Mix on or it will get nice and soggy while it sits in the freezer.
If you’re an over-achiever make sure to add some rice to the meal with the directions on it 😉 Nothings more annoying then making a meal and realizing you’re missing a key ingredient.
You could also substitute the rice for noodles, or even omit it completely.
Quick Tip: If you make freezer meals a lot, I love these disposable pans & lids! They stack great in the freezer, are the perfect size, and look great too!
The ones I use are:
- 4 Pound Aluminum Oblong Pan – 11.5″ x 7.5″ x 1.5″
- 4 Pound Foil Board Lid – You can’t forget the Lid, that’s what makes them stackable (and of course pretty)!
P.S. Please ignore the fact that my freezer needs a major defrosting party (unless you’re volunteering)!
Don’t forget to attach the cooking directions so others can make Swiss Cheese Chicken too!
Or even better, print off the recipe below and tape it to the pan – otherwise they will be hunting you down for it 😉 – That’s what I had to do to get this recipe in the first place!
This post was originally shared on Or So She Says.
- 4 Chicken Breasts (or enough to fill pan)
- 6 Slices Swiss Cheese
- 1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
- ¼ cup milk
- Stove Top Turkey Stuffing (about ½ box)
- ¼ c butter
- Cover bottom of pan with chicken.
- Lay Swiss Cheese over chicken.
- Mix 1 can cream of chicken soup and ¼ cup milk.
- Pour mixture over chicken.
- Top with ½ bag (or more) of Stove Top Turkey Stuffing.
- Drizzle ¼ cup butter on top.
- Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes.
- Serve over rice.
Make it a Food Storage Meal:
With a few minor adjustments, you can incorporate nearly any recipe into your long-term food storage plan. Here are some suggestions to make sure you can eat Swiss Cheese Chicken all year long 😉
First, know the shelf-life of the ingredients you are storing, or ways to extend it. My rule of thumb is I look for alternative options for anything that won’t last me at least 3 years.
Second, figure out which option or method you will use to store your food. It doesn’t have to be just one either, you can combine a few different options depending on how often you are rotating through your food.
Ingredient Options With Longer Shelf-Life:
- CHICKEN –
- CREAM OF CHICKEN
- Use Instant Powdered Milk (25 year shelf-life)
- STUFFING MIX
How to Calculate a Year Supply of Ingredients
for Swiss Cheese Chicken:
Now that you know what ingredients you want to use, it’s time to figure out how much you need of each!
Depending on the amount of mouths you are feeding and how often you want to eat a particular meal, be sure to customize the amounts to your family’s needs and tastes!
I don’t want to eat the same meal more than once a month, so I get enough ingredients to make each meal 12 times, but you could do more or less – totally up to you!
|A Year Supply of Ingredients for
Swiss Cheese Chicken
How it’s Stored:
|Shelf-Life:||1 Meal||12 Meals||24 Meals|
|3+ Years||2 lbs||24 lbs
(24 pint jars)
(48 pint jars)
(FD #10 cans)
|20 Years||2 cups||24 cups
(3 #10 cans)
(5 #10 cans)
|Cream of Chicken
|3 Years||1 can||12 cans||24 cans|
|25 Years||1 Tbsp||12 Tbsp||24 Tbsp|
|3 Years||1/2 box||6 boxes||12 boxes|
|3 Years||1/4 cup||3 cups
|30 Years||2 cups||24 cups
(2 #10 cans)
(4 #10 cans)
Once your list is finished all you have left now to do is go shopping!
Are there any meals you have in your food storage that you love?
P.S. Want other simple and easy meals like Swiss Cheese Chicken? Those are the only kind I know how to make 😉 Feel free to check-out my FAVORITE RECIPES – the best part is most of them can be made from ingredients already in your pantry!
The post SWISS CHEESE CHICKEN: A Must-Have Meal for Your Freezer & Food Storage! appeared first on Prepared Housewives.