Friday, August 30, 2013

Sponsor Unveiling: Meal Kit Supply - Delivery Review

I am happy to reveal that our new sponsor for my humble blog is Meal Kit Supply. They have generously provided our family with a full case of their premium MREs in which to do reviews. In exchange, we'll be doing full MRE reviews for our readers. I'll also be placing an ad space onto our blog so that anyone can quickly and easily click onto their website.

Our order was shipped late Saturday evening and it arrived at our house on Thursday evening in good shape.

The twenty-two pound package arrived well packaged with two bands around the box for added strength. The corrugated cardboard box could take a lot of abuse during the entire transportation cycle.

You'll also notice that each box is dated with a Julian Date Code on the bottom for easy food rotation. The first number, the one in the thousands place, corresponds to the last digit of the year that it was manufactured. So, the "3" means 2013. The remaining 3 digits correspond to the day of the year that it was manufactured. These were manufactured on Jan. 18, 2013.

This box of MREs, if stored at 70 degrees F, will have a shelf life until July 18, 2018. The shelf life can be extended beyond that date by lowering the storage temperature. The side of the MRE box gives you a chart based on shelf life versus storage temperatures. I would not recommend storage temperatures below freezing.

These MREs are fully self-contained meals that provide around 1300 calories per package. It is a generally accepted rule that people need at least 1200 calories per day to survive on a starvation diet. Theoretically, this case could feed our family of four for three days in a long term disaster scenario. While I hope to never test this theory, it is nice to know that this case can easily be tossed into the vehicle for an evacuation. The individual meals can also be taken out of the box and stored in small spaces like under the seats and other small areas typically neglected when packing.

I've also provided a link about the recommended daily caloric intake allowance from the USDA for those wanting more information.

These MREs are self contained meals that don't require any additional equipment, but you will need water for the flameless heater and drinks.

There is no wasted space in this box of 12 different meals.

Each MRE menu plan is packaged in a sealed pouch.

Each individual MRE is also date coded like the outside of the box. These were manufactured on Jan. 17, 2013.

The ingredients and nutritional information are also listed on the back of each MRE pouch.

Final Thoughts:

First and foremost, the cost for a case of 12 full MREs is $129.95. I know that it sounds steep, but I'll give you my thoughts. I regularly order MREs from various sources and they are usually about 2 years old when I receive them. I don't know the storage conditions that they were stored, so I really have no idea as to the shelf life that I can expect. Under ideal conditions, I've already lost two-fifths, or 40%, of their shelf life. With this company, I have an excellent idea as to the expected shelf life of my MREs rather than an uncertain two years of storage with another company.

Now for my mathematical breakdown: The entree ($2.75),side dish ($1.80), dessert ($1.50), bread ($1.25), spread ($.60), 2 drink mixes ($1.20), and heater ($1.10) have a combined retail of $10.20 on average. These prices are on the lower end to account for sales and bulk purchases.

Each MRE meal from Meal Kit Supply cost $10.83. So for an added 63 cents you get a prepackaged MRE in a waterproof container with an extra 40%, or two years of added shelf life. Upon closer examination of the pricing, and adding the freshness factor, the Meal Kit Supply is a bargain. But what about the shipping cost? It's already included in the price.

If the $129.95 is still too rich for you, they also have a six meal case that includes an entree, dessert, and drink for $39.95 (free shipping too!) and has around 600 calories per pouch.

Keep Right On Prepping - K

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Just a Thought

If you are able, it might be a good idea to top off your gas tank, and your gas cans. You do have a few gas cans, don't you? With the Syrian crisis threatening to go Archduke Ferdinand, and the oil markets already jittery, this means you will save a few bucks in the short term.

I'll be heading to the pump to top off a gas can or two, depending on the budget envelopes.

Keep Right On Prepping - K

Monday, August 26, 2013

MRE Monday - Asian Style Beef Strips With Vegetables And Sauce

This week's MRE review was selected because of my love for Chinese food and it begins with the letter 'A'.

You can click to enlarge so that you can read the ingredients.

Nutritional Information:

Serving Size: 8.0 oz.
Calories: 220
Calories from fat: 90
Total Fat: 10g or 15% DV ( Daily Value )
Cholesterol: 60mg or 20% DV
Sodium: 1080mg or 45% DV
Total Carbohydrates: 13g or 4% DV
Dietary Fiber: 2g or 8% DV
Sugars: 4g
Protein: 22g
Vitamin A: 10% DV
Vitamin C: 0% DV
Calcium:  2% DV
Iron: 15%


I really had no preconceived idea about the taste of this MRE since we haven't had any MREs with an Asian influence.

The entire pouch of 8 ounces.


Row, the second grader, got a small portion of mainly meat in his side dish. He enjoys going to Chinese buffets, and I didn't want to bias him against an Asian MRE by loading up his dish with the vegetables. He took his usual small bite, and waited a few seconds before saying, "Mmmmm, Good". It also got a thumbs up from Row, and he took another spoonful into his side dish. This is a solid endorsement from our seven year old.

Row's first sample is on the right.
Red Ant, the Pre-K four year old, took a very cautious bite and said that he didn't like it. I tried to question him further on the hows and whys, but got only the "I don't like it" response.

Mother-in-law was once again available for an older person's opinion. While she doesn't get voting rights for  the star rating system, her comments are also included. She noticed a smoky flavor, and quickly noted that it was okay. She approved of the "level of saltiness" in this MRE and agreed with the other adults about the Asian flavor.

Sweetheart liked the bamboo and water chesnuts, and noted that the MRE didn't have any real Asian flavor that was detectable. She thought that the MRE was a tad too salty and comically noted that the only Asian flavor in the MRE was the vegetables. Sweetheart commented that she would definitely eat it again, and said that "once again this would be another MRE good over rice".

Your host, K, liked the attention to detail with the noticeable grill marks on the meat strips. The MRE had a nice flavor and the meat had a good texture. Again, the lack of Asian flavor was jokingly noted, and closer examination of the label revealed that indeed there was a touch of ginger. The ginger was located at the very bottom of the ingredients list, which means that it has the least amount of all the ingredients in the MRE. I mistakenly thought that watercress was in the MRE but was corrected by my MIL who happens to have cooked with a lot of water chesnut in the past. I was surprised by the crispiness of the bamboo and water chesnut, and that made the dish much more enjoyable.

Final Thoughts:

The only real Asian flavor in these MREs are the vegetables, which are pleasantly crisp. This MRE with a little added flavor kick, could easily make it into our top 5 MRE Hall of Fame. We would easily consider this entree to be on the A-list of reorders, and would be pleased to find this for a dinner entree after a long day of bugging out, camping, hiking, or canoeing. I could easily see my wife happily adding some Sriracha sauce and dumping it over some rice.

Stars: * * * (3)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Story Time and a Sponsor

Today was the last day of my 5:30 in the morning clinical rotations. The mobile x-ray team gets an early start for the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) babies so that the daytime nurses can get an up to date report on their patients. Plus, the white coats make their rounds around eight to nine in the morning, and they need the most accurate information for the babies.

After the NICU patients, the three of us headed to the fourth floor for our adult patients. We walked into our last room and I greeted the RN. We got the image receptor,which receives the x-rays, in place behind the patient. (FYI: The worst place to get scattered radiation is at the head and feet of the patient because of the direction of the primary beam.) I walked towards the door, called "X-ray",and put some more distance between myself and the x-ray beam. About this time I heard the x-ray tube rotoring up. This is when the x-ray tech holds the trigger button half way down to rotate the anode, which is going to receive an electron stream to create x-rays on the anode disc. The "rotoring up" allows the x-ray tech to time the x-ray beam, with an inspiration or exspiration of the unconscious patient, and allows the technologist to get a good image.

I noticed that the RN hadn't moved so I quickly moved to stand between her and the patient, effectively shielding her from a radiation dose. As soon as the machine beeped to let us know that the x-ray had been taken, she turns around and asks, "Did y'all just take an x-ray?!"  I told her that yes, we had taken an x-ray and that I had stepped in between her and the patient. At this point, she drops her needle and medication that she had been preparing, and stomps out of the room.

Later on during the day, a male RN from the same floor told me that she was extremely mad at me. Really? I told him, and I quote,"Well, here's the rest of the story...' and proceeded to tell him the same story that I just told you.

I guess that no good deed does go unpunished.

As a tidbit, remember TDS, like touchdowns for radiation protection.  

Time - spend as little time around radiation as possible.
Distance - The greater the distance between you and the source of radiation, the better. The Inverse Square Law link, if you want a deeper understanding.
Shielding - The more mass between you and the source, the less radiation dose you'll receive. 

I've got some big news about my first sponsor for Planning and Foresight. The details are in the works, and I'm really excited about doing reviews for this new sponsor. The reviews will be MREs for an established company that is looking to expand their market.

As always, Keep Right On Prepping - K  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

My New Joke

This week I have been on portables during clinical rotations. Portables means pushing around a 500+ pound portable x-ray unit to the patients room so that you can take their "picture". This stock photo should give you an idea of what they look like:

There is a pecking order according to the color of the scrubs at our hospital, The cleaning people and kitchen help wears black, the OR surgeons wear a light blue, x-ray students wear an awful Caribbean Blue, and doctors wear white. My theory is that the lighter the color, the higher the achieved status among the hospital employees. It never fails that the white-coated doctors congregate, or walk four wide in the hallways, and help us all if they are politely asked to step aside.

While we were waiting on the elevator, I asked the x-ray tech:
K: If a group of whales is called a pod, what do you call a group of doctors?

X-ray Tech: I don't know.

K: In the way.

Maybe, one day I'll have to accidentally run over a few doctors.

Keep Right On Prepping - K

Monday, August 19, 2013

MRE Monday - Brisket

After a two week break, I'm really excited about trying this MRE with the family.

Nutritional Information:

Serving Size: 8.0 oz.
Calories: 230
Calories from fat: 40
Total Fat: 4.5g or 7% DV ( Daily Value )
Cholesterol: 60mg or 20% DV
Sodium: 1470mg or 61% DV
Total Carbohydrates: 16g or 5% DV
Dietary Fiber: 1g or 4% DV
Sugars: 1g
Protein: 30g
Vitamin A: 2% DV
Vitamin C: 2% DV
Calcium:  10% DV
Iron: 20%


I have really high expectations for this MRE. A good brisket is worth it's weight in gold when you're hungry, and it is shaped like bacon!


Row skeptically looked at the little side dish, and took his usual small bite. After his bite he said "Hmmm, if this is what Alpo taste like, then I like it. It tastes good even with ketchup!" He asked for more after his side dish was gone, and that rarely happens.

Red Ant, the four year old, decided that it was not good. We asked why, and he said that he just likes the regular ones.

Sweetheart: "It'd be really good with rice. It has that standard brown gravy flavor, oh and it's tender, but no so much that it falls apart." She also thought that it had an excellent texture and it got two thumbs up. She would "definitely eat it again!"

The brisket was very meaty tasting. It had a good texture, but a tad too salty for my liking. I personally would have preferred a few chunks of fat on the slices of brisket, but fat doesn't preserve very well. That being said, it is an excellent MRE. The gravy is decent and very sop worthy. I don't image any of the gravy would go to waste in the field or campsite. My plate was wiped clean with homemade bread...

Final Thoughts:

This MRE is one of my favorites, and I can see the fickle four year old wanting more of it after a long day of running through the woods. While it only officially gets three stars, I could see Red Ant's taste changing in a few years. Of course, if I ordered them today, they would still be good in five years. These are without a doubt a home run entree from the Armed Forces.

Stars * * * (3)

My New Second Home

This is my new second home. Third floor of the campus library, far away from the staircase, and closest to the bathroom.

Keep Right On Prepping - K

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Free Calendars (Just Print)

The above average student uses their time to their advantage, and the frugal student finds free printable calendars. This is one of my favorite time management websites that allows me to print a hard copy for school work. I'll pencil in quiz dates, test dates, assignments dates, and study group meetings. My advice for any student is to make your calendar a good friend, and use your time to your advantage.

My calendar from my first full semester at Radiography school.

Here's the website to print your own calendars!

Of course, you can print various calendars for your homestead. A garden calendar would be useful reference to look back and see when you started your fall garden last year, weeding, mowing, harvests, and other garden information. Plus, a hard copy is useful during the winter months when you are planning next year's garden, and it's EMP proof!

Keep Right On Prepping - K

Friday, August 16, 2013

Ruts, School, House, and God

Five days seems like a long time to be away from blogging, but things have been in flux. School has started, and vacation has ended. The hardest part of any vacation is returning to work, and finding your rut. 

The house has moved up in priority. The daycare that Row attends has stopped their after-school care, which means that we don't have a legitimate reason for a school transfer. We have been paying the daycare a small fortune to transport Row to and from school since we both work and have a "transportation problem" with getting Row to his assigned school. Our "assigned" school  is mostly minority (80-90%), on government food assistance (95%), and scored the lowest possible grades for educational success among the students. The daycare has provided us with a valuable service of a better educational opportunity for our oldest son.

Next January, when we start the yearly paperwork for a school transfer, we won't have the legal documentation necessary. We have been window shopping in the area of Row's current school, and the house are about the same price range. The big problem is selling our current house with a lot of houses on our street for sale, and affording the new one in the better school area while all on one income. We currently owe only $40,000 on our current house, but the problem is affording two houses while the old one is on the market. In the spring, I'm on track to take 18 hours next semester, with the additional senior level class, studying for my national certification for radiography, and moving the household across town. I've thought about putting the extra class on hold, but don't want to put my MRI certification behind a year. I am. I'm taking 16 hours while trying to get the house in marketable shape. My wife is working 2 extra nights a week so that I can get an education without going into debt. I'm "working" (read: no pay intership/clinicals) 24 hours a week while studying for four classes. Two of the classes are going to require at least 10 hours a week to get a B or better, and of course, I want the A.

The world's smallest violin

I know that God isn't supposed to put any more on a person than they can handle, and that does give me comfort. It still doesn't stop the worrying, or a few sleepless nights. When I started school, our pastor had a sermon on getting out of your comfort zone, and I felt God's tugging at my heart to get out of the restaurant business, and use my brain that He gave me. I took a step of faith, and started school. The restaurant that I started working at 24 years ago closed their doors about a week ago. They almost made their 25th year anniversary by three months. The smaller original Grill that I worked at remains open, and helped support the larger albatross of a restaurant. While I don't want to talk bad about my former boss, he has been too kind-hearted to a lot of people that should have been gone a long time ago. Of course, other things come into play such as increased competition, demographic shifts, and city expansion away from the restaurant, but not insurmountable if they had been dealt with early.

My scholarships have miraculously appeared when they were needed, and other things have fallen into place at the appropriate times. All of these things have encouraged me, and leads me to believe that He has a plan for me.

Anyways, I wasn't my intent to unload on the unsuspecting visitor, but rather put my thoughts into written form. Thanks for listening reading.

Keep Right On Prepping - K

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Back Home Again

Well, we made it back home, and the bed will feel soooo good tonight. There's nothing like your own bed. I'll leave you with a little humor, and no, these aren't my kids.

Melatonin works very well too.

Keep Right On Prepping - K

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My Favorite Part of Vacation

Okay, not really. The family photo night is a necessary evil, as far as I'm concerned, and it keeps the wife happy.  We have five family units staying at the same condo complex. Row & Red Ant's great grandmother had a total of seven children, and the family has stayed closer than most through the years. The annual beach trip to Orange Beach, AL has been a tradition for quite some time.

In addition to my broken toe (?), I've also developed a case of acute sinusitis. For the non-medical, it's a sinus infection that feels like a hangover every morning, but without the alcohol. I brought a twelve pack of beer, and it looks like I'll be bringing all of it back too. Allegra, and aspirin have been my friend, as well as an afternoon nap.

We started taking photos almost at sunset, the lighting was perfect!

Row and Princess

Row chasing an egret while flapping his arms. He got really close a few times.

It's K!

My favorite time of sunset, after the sun slips below the horizon.

A favorite moment during the photo shoot.

K and Red Ant going to the car for some Dairy Queen.

Wish you were here.

Keep Right On Prepping - K

Monday, August 5, 2013

This little piggy...

Okay, the little piggy that had none, got stubbed really hard at the hotel pool in North of Jackson. I could've sworn that the toe was broken, but after a few days of swelling, bruising, and tenderness, it has started to feel better.

This is how I start my vacation! The bruising on the medial side of the toe actually looks 100% better in this picture.

Well, I gotta hobble down to the pool with the kids. Take Care - K

Sunday, August 4, 2013


The WiFi signal at the condo is spotty, and likes to play hide-n-seek between the various routers around the buildings. So, I'll be posting a whole lot less this week.

I'll try to post tomorrow if possible with an "awesome" photo.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Evening Stop

Embassy Suites Jackson-North/Ridgeland

This is our home for tonight. Expedia will lie to you and tell you that you are booking adjoining rooms. A little explanation of the situation, some verbal sympathy as to "what they can do", and I magically got upgraded to a suite for Sweetheart and myself. The staff has been really helpful, and the manager's reception starts very drinks and  Hors d'oeuvres ;-)

Whoever booked this place did a great job! Swimming, and a good meal after the reception, and in the morning a free cooked to order breakfast.

Gotta go - K

UPDATE: It's 7:30pm and we are headed to the pool, then dinner. Our next meet and greet will be at the Caribe, at Orange Beach, on Saturday.

Thursday, August 1, 2013