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How to Have a Well Stocked Food Storage Pantry  RSS feed

 
gardener
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Lucrecia, I do what Anne’s husband does, once the jars are cool. A sealed jar sucks the lid down tight; there is no flex to it. If there’s give in the lid when you press on it ... especially if you can make it buckle with a soft touch .. it’s not sealed.

Or you can do the spoon test, which helps you measure the same thing with your ears instead:



If I were in that kitchen I would be pressing on that one unsealed jar lid with my fingers and it would be going boink-boink, boink-boink, boink-boink until somebody threw me out or took away the jar.
 
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Anne Miller wrote:
I saw on the Sheriff's facebook page that our Ranch Road is closed at both ends due to flooding of the low water crossings.  We were not going anywhere and now we can't if we wanted to.



Do you have a raft or a boat? I realize it may not be practical for crossing fast moving waterways but if flooding is a concern I would seriously consider getting one just for emergencies. Price wise there are quite a few very inexpensive inflatable rafts, heck even modest sized fiberglass or aluminum boats only run a few hundred dollars.

Just last week Hurricane Michael popped up out of nowhere (most had no clue it was going to be a severe storm until a day before it hit). When I found out it looked like we would lose power for a week and our roads would likely be shut down for 2-3 days. Not having to panic or do a quick inventory of what I need to buy is why we prep. I knew without even checking that I had everything already.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Dan Boone wrote:
Or you can do the spoon test, which helps you measure the same thing with your ears instead:

If I were in that kitchen I would be pressing on that one unsealed jar lid with my fingers and it would be going boink-boink, boink-boink, boink-boink until somebody threw me out or took away the jar.



Just tried the spoon test and yes, the unsealed jar sounds much much different. Thanks that is a very neat tip!  Now I am wondering if I checked the seals the day after canning. I know I checked the 12 chicken jars (one didn't seal and went in the fridge) but I don't recall if I checked the pork.
 
Dan Boone
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Lucrecia Anderson wrote:Just tried the spoon test and yes, the unsealed jar sounds much much different. Thanks that is a very neat tip!



Glad I could help!
 
garden master
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Lucrecia Anderson wrote:Do you have a raft or a boat? I realize it may not be practical for crossing fast moving waterways but if flooding is a concern I would seriously consider getting one just for emergencies. ..
Just last week Hurricane Michael popped up out of nowhere (most had no clue it was going to be a severe storm until a day before it hit). When I found out it looked like we would lose power for a week and our roads would likely be shut down for 2-3 days. Not having to panic or do a quick inventory of what I need to buy is why we prep. I knew without even checking that I had everything already.



Lucretia, thanks for your concern.  We are high and dry at over 3000 ft.  Having evacuation plans are good for all folks as you never know what will happen.
 
pollinator
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Dan Boone wrote:
If I were in that kitchen I would be pressing on that one unsealed jar lid with my fingers and it would be going boink-boink, boink-boink, boink-boink until somebody threw me out or took away the jar.



LOL
 
Anne Miller
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I like this one though I don't buy soda or aluminum cans:




How to Make a Can Organizer Out of Cardboard

https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-can-organizer-out-of-cardboard/





 
Dan Boone
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Nice! If anybody here is old enough to remember when laundry detergent was sold mostly in powder form in cardboard boxes like cereal boxes, only slightly heavier...

The above post reminds me that my mother’s silverware drawer organizers all the time I was growing up were cut-off boxes of Tide laundry soap that she had covered on the inside and most of the outside with Contac™ paper (the heavy decorative washable one-sided sticky paper). These days they sell extruded plastic bins at DollarTree for the purpose; I’ve seen quite expensive metal and wooden trays at fancy department stores too. But we had Tide soap boxes with Contac paper.
 
pollinator
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Something i did recently because of hurricane harvey. I am canning dry goods-rice, cream of wheat, grits, oatmeal in serving size Mason jars and vacuum sealing them. I keep them at my beach shack at the coast.

They are premeasured to how we eat them (1 cup rice, 3/4 cup cream of wheat, etc). It really helps with coastal moisture.

Along with that i can finally unplug the refrigerator there, which is wasteful. Canned deer chili. Chunked canned lamb. New stuff added as i harvest. One meal may be combining cooked rice with canned lamb and canned carrots. Instant homemade stew. Works well.
 
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wayne fajkus wrote:Something i did recently because of hurricane harvey. I am canning dry goods-rice, cream of wheat, grits, oatmeal in serving size Mason jars and vacuum sealing them. I keep them at my beach shack at the coast.



Could you explain this?  Sounds like something I would like to do.
 
wayne fajkus
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A foodsaver vac sealer has an optional attachment to suck air out of mason jars.

You put the lid on the jar (no band,) put the vac attachment over the lid, plug the lid into the foodsaver and hit the vac/seal button.

Remove the attachment and screw your band on.
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Trace Oswald
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wayne fajkus wrote:A foodsaver vac sealer has an optional attachment to suck air out of mason jars.

You put the lid on the jar (no band,) put the vac attachment over the lid, plug the lid into the foodsaver and hit the vac/seal button.

Remove the attachment and screw your band on.



Thank you, I hadn't heard of that.  Seems like that would work really well.
 
Anne Miller
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One very important strategy when doing food storage is to keep an inventory.  I have a loose leaf notebook to keep records and information sheets.  There are forms that can be printed out to make this inventory easier or you could just use a spiral notebook.  I find that the spiral notebook for me is easiest.  I have a page for each location where I have things stored.  Like: laundry room, then I name what I have there such as green beans, carrots, corn, pumpkin, etc.  each on a separate line.  Out beside each Item is the number of cans or jars that I have.  

I use a marksalot to put the expiration date/best buy date where I can easily see it.  One of the nice things about the wall system like I showed in the picture is there is not a need for rotation as the oldest cans are at the bottom and the newest are at the top.

Having a system where you can easily rotate your items is very important.  I don't have a problem with eating outdated foods but some people do.  I have a problem with food going bad before it can be eaten.  I have thrown many cans away that are bulging because they got shoved to the back of the shelf or someone reaches for the newest can rather than the oldest.
Since we are shut off from the world due to the flooding I have been rotating my food supplies.  I am also find some things I have been looking for that I knew I had bought.  I am also rearranging items like putting all the chili on one shelf, all the stews on another.

This might help:




I like to make my own forms because that is something I like to do.  Here are some forms that might help give you some ideas:





 
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I don't have a proper pantry, although I definitely crave one.

I came across this ingenious design for can storage.

 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Trace Oswald wrote:

wayne fajkus wrote:A foodsaver vac sealer has an optional attachment to suck air out of mason jars.

You put the lid on the jar (no band,) put the vac attachment over the lid, plug the lid into the foodsaver and hit the vac/seal button.

Remove the attachment and screw your band on.



Thank you, I hadn't heard of that.  Seems like that would work really well.




For those without a food saver some foods can be dry canned in an oven. You heat up filled jars in a warm oven, then when the jar cools it creates the vacuum seal. I wouldn't dry can flour in an oven though, it can cause really serious oven fires.

I did a little dry canning using mason jars but switched to mylar because it is cheaper and takes up less space (cheaper if you have to buy mason jars, if you have a ton of jars already then its free).

Another fun thing to do with mason jars (if you have a small household) is make bread in a jar. You grease a wide mouthed mason jar and pour bread dough (like banana bread, zucchini bread, carrot cake etc...) in it then bake it jar and all (with the lid off). When it comes out of the oven slap the lid on and it vacuum seals and stays fresh/moist for several weeks without refrigeration. It slides out of the jar in a little round loaf and is a perfect sized serving for one or two people.






 
Anne Miller
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When the time came that we felt it was time to start thinking about long term food storage, I put a lot of thought into how I wanted to do this.  What foods I wanted to store long term, how I wanted to store them, and what were all my options.  I decide to go with a company that package the products for long term and where I could get the best for the cheapest amount of money.  Since many of my friends were LDS and I was familiar with their thoughts and feelings.  I chose to go with LDS.  They offer several options:

The Home Storage Centers (aka Canneries) are operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and are available to help anyone obtain food storage at low costs. They have been operating for decades and have provided affordable resources to help families become more self-reliant.



What can I buy at a Home Storage Center?  https://providentliving.lds.org/food-storage/home-storage-center-locations-map

Where are they located:  https://providentliving.lds.org/self-reliance/food-storage/home-storage-center-locations

Since there were no locations near me I decided to go with their online store.

Online Purchases:  https://store.lds.org/lds/CategoryDisplay

I also put a lot of thought into what to purchase.  I decided to buy flour, rice and pinto beans since this is for long term only.  Each case contains 6 no. 10 cans. The estimated shelf life of these products is 30 years if stored in a cool, dry place.



LDS Link for White Flour



LDS Link for White Rice



LDS Link for Pinto Beans

 
master pollinator
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Definitely don't try to dry flour in the oven. Doesn't take much flour dust to make a very big boom. It could destroy your house. A quote from the Mill City museum wikipedia entry...

The first Washburn A Mill, built by Cadwallader C. Washburn in 1874, was declared the largest flour mill in the world upon its completion, and contributed to the development of Minneapolis. On May 2, 1878, a spark ignited airborne flour dust within the mill, creating an explosion that demolished the Washburn A and killed 18 workers instantly. The ensuing fire resulted in the deaths of four more people, destroyed five other mills, and reduced Minneapolis's milling capacity by one third. Known as the Great Mill Disaster, the explosion made national news and served as a focal point that led to reforms in the milling industry. In order to prevent the buildup of combustible flour dust, ventilation systems and other precautionary devices were installed in mills throughout the country.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Mike Barkley wrote:Definitely don't try to dry flour in the oven. Doesn't take much flour dust to make a very big boom. It could destroy your house. A quote from the Mill City museum wikipedia entry...  



Something similar happened 4-5 years ago at the Dixie Crystals sugar plant in Savannah, Georgia. Airborne sugar dust  ignited and it caused a serious explosion/fire. I believe it killed some workers and left others severely burned.
 
Anne Miller
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Mike and Lucretia have brought up the dangers of dealing with flour and/or sugar in large quantities, like when you purchase a 50 lb bag to be divided.  While I have never done this with flour, there maybe people that do.  

Here are some videos and information on what could happen when dealing with the dust off the flour or sugar:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_explosion


Why Do Flour Mills Explode? (Mr. Wizard)




Flour dust is blown into a can with a candle. The mixture explodes.




Inferno: Dust Explosion at Imperial Sugar



 
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Anne Miller wrote:When the time came that we felt it was time to start thinking about long term food storage, I put a lot of thought into how I wanted to do this.  What foods I wanted to store long term, how I wanted to store them, and what were all my options.  I decide to go with a company that package the products for long term and where I could get the best for the cheapest amount of money.  Since many of my friends were LDS and I was familiar with their thoughts and feelings.  I chose to go with LDS.  They offer several options:

Online Purchases:  https://store.lds.org/lds/CategoryDisplay



I spent quite some time on their site, but I did not see a FAQ, or anything about shipping charges. Do you know what they charge for shipping?
 
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Lucrecia, do you have more information on the bread in a jar?  It looks like a great thing to do with our girls for them to give out to friends at school this holiday season.
 
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Joylynn - When I was looking at it, it seemed to have two columns for pricing, one for in store, and one for shipped. The shipping charges were per item, not dollar total, likely because the heavy things cost so much more to ship. Seeing the difference, I'll likely purchase from a store before I leave the Bay Area.
 
Anne Miller
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Joylynn Hardesty wrote:  I spent quite some time on their site, but I did not see a FAQ, or anything about shipping charges. Do you know what they charge for shipping?



It has been a long time since I ordered.  If I remember correctly, I had to put the item in the cart to see the shipping cost without finalizing the deal.  I compared their cost with some well known bulk suppliers and since the products are already sealed, I felt this was the easy option for me.

Like Stacy said you might have a Center near you.

I would try calling,  weekday business hours: 1-800-537-5971  or  help@store.lds.org  


Some of the options they use at the Lab might work better for you but I did not know about them and when I found them they don't deliver here.

https://permies.com/t/47239/kitchen/thrive-market-wholesome-organic-food

https://permies.com/t/26147/permaculture-projects/food-drink-project#212704
 
Sonja Draven
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Stacy Witscher wrote:Joylynn - When I was looking at it, it seemed to have two columns for pricing, one for in store, and one for shipped. The shipping charges were per item, not dollar total, likely because the heavy things cost so much more to ship. Seeing the difference, I'll likely purchase from a store before I leave the Bay Area.



Stacy, if I'm remembering right and you are the one who is planning to move to the NW, I suggest looking into local Azure or Hummingbird buyer groups after you get here.  They are both great buying co-ops for bulk.  In Portland, you also have access to Bob's Red Mill which has great grain and related products.  If I'm remembering your plans wrong, please disregard!  :)
 
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My mother used to say that it takes seven years to get a garden right. This is year eight and I am still adjusting, still wondering how our pioneer ancestors survived on what they could produce.

Preservation has lent me a measure of security. As noted, some years we get a lot of a couple of things and not so much of something else. Next year we get great something else. So canning helps me save whatever we get when the getting's good. And now I have enough canned food to survive for many months, maybe years unless the kids show up.

Because I live in an earth sheltered house with an accidentally large garage (another story for another time) I have great cool storage for my many jars, squash, etc. I like cabinets with drawers that I can pull out and see what's there. I raw pack chicken when it's on sale and it makes it's own broth. And you can pickle about anything. Whatever I am gleaning from the garden at the end of summer gets pickled together (onion, zucks and cucks, carrots, cabbage, ...) . You just need lots of vinegar and a water bath.

It's hard to grow a significant amount of beans in my raised beds in our 90 day growing season so I buy canned beans whenever they get really cheap at the grocery. Who can resist a $.49, or less, can of black or chilli beans? Problem being that I tend to forget how much I have already and now I have canned beans to last through 2050. Note: big jars of honey from our local hives are reasonably priced and will keep forever.

Although my fruit trees aren't producing much yet we sometimes pick a lot of plums, apples, or cherries for people who don't want them to attract the bears. When I get tired of pitting plums for jam  I just can them whole in light syrup. The darn cherries do have to be pitted but they are worth the work. They are so pretty. I have a real appreciation for pretty things in jars and am adding marmalades and conserves to my collection. A lot of that gets given away at Christmas.

Dehydration is on the list to do more of. Neighbors are freeze drying things, mostly fruit, also some cute little marshmallows. That requires expensive equipment, more than I am willing to spend at the moment so nevermind that.

Enough said. I seem to have what I need and most of what I want, except for a way to grow coffee.
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Garden on the roof.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Casie Becker wrote:Lucrecia, do you have more information on the bread in a jar?  It looks like a great thing to do with our girls for them to give out to friends at school this holiday season.



There are several sites that discuss it online but it is pretty basic. Use a wide mouthed jar, grease it up well, and fill it 2/3rds or so full. If the bread rises over the top you can just cut off the excess when it comes out of the oven and slap the lid on. Probably best to experiment by baking a couple of jars to see how much your recipe rises, then filling the next batch to the appropriate level.

One thing though, the pretty photos all show bread that JUST came out of the oven. Since the jar seals as the bread cools/shrinks in reality it pulls away from the greased sides of the jar a little and doesn't look as pretty as the pics imply (but it tastes great). In fact sometimes it looks a little nasty.

Make a small batch to try it out. If you want to give it as a gift I would probably put wrapping paper around the jar.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Reminder for those folks that don't regularly watch their store sales; lots of stores have turkey on sale for about .39 cents a lb (sometimes with a small min purchase). Just picked up a 10 lb bird for $4 and may get another tomorrow.

Great deal for canning or for the freezer. Since I cook for one I cut the bird up, will cook the breast for myself, put the legs/wings in the freezer for later, and the rest is being pressure cooked for the pups. From now on I will buy whole birds even when I just want to cook the breast for thanksgiving. Problem with store bought breast is there isn't enough skin/fat to make really good stuffing/gravy, but if I chop the bird up myself there is plenty of skin and fat plus it is much less expensive.
 
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The bread in a jar might look cute and seem like a nice gift, but it can harbor botulism (as well as other bacteria and molds).  It's basically the same as oven or open-kettle canning, which exposes the food to air before sealing; once sealed it creates an anaerobic environment that, when combined with a low-acid food, makes it the ideal environment for all kinds of nasties.  It might be okay for a few days (like any other bread stored at room temp), but not long-term storage.  That Boston Brown Bread you can buy in cans is manufactured under specific conditions that can't really be created in the home.

And I know I'm late on this, but about the jar lids not sealing--I've been having more trouble this year with the new Ball lids than I ever had before; I've been canning for 15+ years and rarely had bad seals, but for the last two years it seems like every batch of canning I do has at least one or two lids that don't seal right out of the canner or loosen up after a day.  I don't want to be that guy, but I don't think all the problems I've had are strictly user error.  I've emailed Ball and got no response.  I would call, but I have terrible social anxiety and the potential stress isn't worth the money lost so far.  

Past that, other causes of no-seals, false seals, and broken seals are:
-using old and slightly deformed bands.  They don't apply the correct consistent pressure to the lid while in the canner and after the jars are removed, which can cause the seal to be very weak or not form.  Rust spots inside the threads can make a jar feel fingertip tight when it's not actually tight enough to make it seal.  I try out every band I'm going to use every time, even the brand new ones.
-cracks or chips on the rim of the jar.  It seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes you don't even notice them until it's too late.  Cracks are especially insidious because they can hold a seal for months until enough air gets through to cause problems.
-Tightening the band of a jar right out of the canner.  The bands usually loosen up and that's fine, it's supposed to be that way.  If using Tattler lids, the opposite is true; they need to be cranked down tight as soon as they're out of the canner.
-dirty jar rims.  I wipe mine with square of paper towel dipped in white vinegar.  Sometimes liquid (and fat) comes out during pressure canning, but I've never had that leakage be the cause of a seal failure.  Yet.  Anything's possible, I suppose.
-not properly cooling jars, especially when pressure canning.  I always put a towel over my jars straight out of the pressure canner and let them cool slowly, usually at least 12 hours under the towel and another 12 before I put them away.  Drafts can cause the jars to crack, but there's also the metal lids and sealing compound to think about.  Also moving them when too hot can cause the seal to break.
-lid/ sealing compound temperature.  Used to be a bigger issue when the compound needed to be warmed to soften; it's now formulated to be used at room temp (for Ball/ Kerr/ Jardin brand, at least).  I've had most of my seal failures when I pre-warmed these new lids in simmering water, which is still supposed to be an acceptable thing but not best-practice.  For me, simmering is a hard habit to break and I still do it like 90% of the time, which might or might not be the actual cause of my problems.
-extreme temperature changes, especially rapid ones, or cycles of extreme temperature changes (also see below point about resealing).
-storing jars with bands on.  Never do this.  Temperature changes can make the metal expand, putting pressure on the lids that loosens the gasket.  It can also make a false seal undetectable; a lid that would normally pop and blow off in storage stays in place and may even reseal with temperature changes (and resealing is bad, as you've lost your sterile environment).
-related to the above, stacking jars or storing them with weight on the lids.  Not only can it cause a seal to loosen and break, it can also stop spoiled food from being detected (and cause broken seals to reseal, etc).  You might even lose a jar if too much pressure builds up and causes it to break.

The spoon test is great for jars, though some lids never sound right even when the seals are intact (at least to my ears; Orchard Road is a decent brand but they don't ping and the tone is off when tapped).  And it doesn't really work for Tattler lids.  The best test is to just pick the jar up by the lid (without the band) once it's fully cooled.  If it has a bad seal, you'll know it (you might also have a mess if you're a little too enthusiastic about the process; don't lift the jar more than 1/4" off the counter).  This won't weaken or otherwise affect a good seal.
 
Casie Becker
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It sounds like you have experience with the different lids out there and are still using ball.  I've been eyeing the tattler lids, in you experience are they a poorer choice?
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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S Tonin wrote:The bread in a jar might look cute and seem like a nice gift, but it can harbor botulism (as well as other bacteria and molds).  It's basically the same as oven or open-kettle canning, which exposes the food to air before sealing; once sealed it creates an anaerobic environment that, when combined with a low-acid food, makes it the ideal environment for all kinds of nasties.



Right, the bread in a jar is NOT for long term storage, most people just store it for 2-3 weeks or so. It does keep it fresher longer than out in the open though, the bread/cake stays very moist and doesn't grow mold.  Botulism likes a low-oxygen environment and bread has a lot of air in it so I am not worried about botulism especially if it is eaten within 3 weeks.

I like using it for things like banana bread because it stores 1-2 portions at room temperature (vs the fridge or freezing) so when the urge for a snack hits it is ready to be slathered in butter with no thawing or heating required.
 
S Tonin
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Casie Becker wrote:It sounds like you have experience with the different lids out there and are still using ball.  I've been eyeing the tattler lids, in you experience are they a poorer choice?



I'm still on the fence about the Tattlers.  I don't use them often because they're kind of a pain (getting the lid and gasket just so, remembering to crank down the band, trying to get the damn things off the jars without damaging anything, too expensive to give away to people who won't return them), but I do like how they've performed so far.  I've never had one not seal or lose a seal (though much smaller sample size than with regular lids) and I have jars of jelly that are 3+ years old with strong seals.  I've been using them for 4 or 5 years now (but only one or two at a time, on jars I know won't leave the house and that I'll be the one opening) and the gaskets are still looking good--no dry rot or anything.  I always intend to use them more, but we all know what the road to hell is paved with, so.  

Basically, I'm glad I have them as an option, and I wouldn't discourage anyone from investing in a box.  I don't remember the math I did when I bought them, but I don't think I've personally broken even just yet (edit: I did a quick search and it takes about 8 uses/ lid to break even with the cost of Ball for the widemouth lids and I didn't look up regular mouth).  Personally, I'd like to have a few more boxes for a worst-case scenario (not even a SHTF situation; Ball is owned by some megacorp and if they close up shop we'll all be left in the lurch), but it's a relatively low-priority want.

Oh, and I do have to say I'm not impressed with using them just as a regular (non-canned) jar lid.  They don't keep out moisture as well as a Ball lid and I'm pretty sure you can't use them with a vacuum sealer (though haven't tried it).  I wouldn't use them on like, dehydrated or dry food in the pantry for any length of time, especially if it's humid--drastically shortens the shelf life because the seal just isn't good without heat and pressure.
 
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