Your typical recommendation for food storage goes something like this: buy MRE’s and freeze dried foods and with the constipation both will give you, get a laxative powder. And that is pretty much it. Now, I can already hear you squirming in your seat over in the back row, pumping your arm up and down in a spastic motion, “ooh, Mista Catta, Mista Caata!”. Shut up, little Johnny, no one wants to hear what your little pea brain comes up with. I of course KNOW that all you ever hear from me is “buy wheat, and that’s it”. Okay, that’s not entirely true. If you read the entire last ten years of blog posts I’ve covered plenty of other storage foods. It just seems like all I ever discuss is wheat and wheat accessories. I’m SOOO sorry I’ve focused on the most inexpensive food which is also the healthiest for you. But real Christian Militiamen don’t eat wheat. Wheat is for peasants and besides they have their own freeze dried machine ( that never works and must be hacked and requires a direct line to the companies Help Desk which is all anybody could ask from a unit costing four grand ). And do you ever see wheat being advertised on your favorite Yuppie Scum Survival Site? Just saying.
So now, I’m going to discuss the four completely different food storage plans. Not a “wheat only” or a “MRE/Freeze dry only” plan that is supposed to be a One Plan Fits All Scenarios. Four separate storage plans for four phases of our collapse. The first is the Budget Plan, which is just buying whatever you like that goes on sale. This is for drastically reducing your food budget. The next is the Inflation Plan, which is just really an extension of the Budget Plan but different in that you are stocking the complete menu you normally follow. The aim is to have weeks or months worth of a complete diet so you can then relax and keep expanding it cheaper. The Inflation will merge into the Budget while reducing your regular price items. The Bug-In Plan is the foods requiring little to no cooking for the times you are bugging out or bugging in under noise/light and smell discipline ( the aforementioned MRE/Freeze Dried ). Last is the Mostly Just Wheat menu which is the Collapse Plan. None of this is new or unique, the point is to approach food storage as separate needs and focuses.
Setting aside the fresh produce issue, how long could you go without stepping foot in the grocery store? Just regular food items, nothing Disaster Preparedness about it. Right now, and for a limited time and is subject to end without notice, food is getting pretty cheap in comparison to five years ago. Perhaps not beef, because Texas is mostly out of the bovine business as their aquifer literally dried up after decades of over abuse, but pretty much all other basic commodities. If you aren’t stocking up now you are a damn fool. You should be working on your Inflation Food right now, buying like crazy to offset the coming price increases. And guess what. It has nothing to do with your income. If you are debt free, you can hoard food like crazy even if your income is crap ( I wasn’t taking home more than $500 a month for the last three years, with that last year put mostly into cash savings, and still prepped like crazy in all aspects ). It’s just living below your means. Which isn’t a criticism. I know what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck, also.
Both traditional food plans are flawed. The processed foods might taste yummy and require no preparation but they are insanely expensive and terrible for you. They are a 1950’s TV Dinner quality menu. Commercial solutions failing badly. Conversely, wheat diets, while serving a very useful purpose long term, are pretty poor short term solutions. But having both, that isn’t the worst idea. As long as you realize the limitations. The trick is to spend long on all other three plans besides MRE/F.D. and limit yourself financially on that one. In that way you are maximizing you dollar return. And it doesn’t even have to be $7 each MRE’s or $30 a can Freeze Dried ( F.D. ) beef. As long as the food is ready to eat. Or at least mostly ready to eat. Wet can foods fall under this category. Both convenient but expensive ( yes, ever since the sheet metal was jacked up in price-as clear of an indicator of Peak Iron Ore as you can get with being hit upside the head with a trade magazine-it has been less than ideal to buy wet canned foods ) and despite the claims of the industry, in my opinion not very healthy.
So what we are looking at here is trying to make food storage as frugal as possible, but also investing money to extend food storage from Collapse Only to “right now moving forward“. We might or might not see hyperinflation, it might just be 1970’s inflation ( I don’t bet on it, as discussed with the end of the PetroDollar ), but food prices WILL go up. You need to plan for that now, and I don’t mean by thinking you’ll make extra money ( you’ll just be lucky to be earning any at all ). And since civilization collapses don’t finish up overnight you need to plan on extended periods of clandestine eating. But since civilization collapses aren’t arrested overnight by Fracking Oil, you also need to plan five years out on food storage. All these phases are dealt with differently. Four separate plans for food storage. Don’t focus on one at the expense of another. You can drop all for one at a sale event, but next payday you realign them and get them back in balance. What I propose is to start at the worst case scenario, which is NOT short term MRE’s, and then work on the other three, but that is only because you can’t time the collapse. After that, you balance the three out. Even if one has priority over another, don’t ignore one completely.
FOUR STORAGE 2
I hope you’ve already completed the Collapse Plan ( food edition ). It is the cheapest and long term ( few might believe they need five or ten years worth, but I wouldn’t be comfortable under three years. Plan on harvest failures and Murphy’s Law ). It might be nice to have a stack of MRE’s or cases of chili, but that won’t feed you past a short term natural disaster. Wheat costs you $12 a month. The same calories in chili form cost $70. I’m not saying you can’t have both, just that wheat only is far superior to chili only at the beginning purchasing of your food storage adventure. Get your wheat first and it can feed you in a pinch if the world ends tomorrow ( hey, can you honestly say there CAN’T be a super volcano eruption or solar flare overnight? ). It is like only having a pistol. Less than ideal but it will keep you alive NOW, even if you never get around to owning a battle rifle with crates of ammo and it is a far cheaper option ( the 9mm‘s saving grace is frugality ).
If you lost your job tomorrow, you could eat two out of three meals just on wheat and save 50% on your food budget. If you had to crawl under the house to wait out marauders tomorrow, you could live on wheat if you had to ( eating sprouts ). And you’d have plenty left over for the years following. I’m just saying, if the worst happens and you ONLY have wheat, you’ll survive. You can’t afford enough wet cans, MRE’s or F.D. to come close to that. After, and ONLY after you have a bare bones wheat stash ( a year-add to that after your others plans get some attention ), I’d start worrying about your Budget Plan. Any food you will eat, even if you don’t completely enjoy it, you buy when it goes on sale. I don’t really plan on eating much white flour, but I buy it when the price drops 25% ( it rarely drops 50%, unlike white sugar which can unexpectedly go on sale even if it isn’t the winter holidays ) and I already have storage containers for it. Sugar is also a better return on storage containers. If I have some trash picking containers, like when the NOL throws away her fake coffee creamer super deluxe size container, or even old coffee cans, I can get a LOT of sugar in that one. But it isn’t really worth the trouble of filling with white flour. Less calories per square inches.
Kroger stores routinely have case sales, Albertsons less often. But there are also weekly sales on the items you can buy at less than case quantities at case sale prices. Like when peanut butter goes on sale for a buck a jar. How many jars of PB could you stash in strange out of the way places? Personally, all my PB stash goes to the Bug-In Plan, because I ate too much of that and Top Ramen ( also Bug-In ) during my bachelor/no cook wife/off grid phases of living. My point is that you buy whatever is on sale. This is your first step in the saving part of the plan. Meat is ALWAYS on sale. Yes, sometimes you skip a week and you can’t pick or choose what meat to buy, not at first. And you need to buy a chest freezer. When I started stocking the NOL’s place two years ago ( there was NOTHING at all in the freezer, fridge or cupboard. She lived on homemade McMuffins for breakfast, a huge salad for lunch and junk snacks for “dinner”, meaning while watching TV at night. Not a bad diet-the junk food was usually microwave popcorn, so at least a step up from Dorito’s nutritionally-but there was nothing in the house. You ran out, you ran to the store ).
Well, that certainly couldn’t stand. I was used to going at least a week, if not a month, before needing to go to the store. My first preps ( besides bottled water which she gave me the Stink Eye over ) were not preps at all but just stockpiling the place with every day food items. Nobody can object to that, and that was my foot in the door turning her to the Dark Side of prepping. Now she thinks it’s normal to have all that air dried food and months worth of rice and etcetera ( she still looks askance at my longer term food storage, but I’m even slowly introducing her to that like when I bought a fifty pound sack of wheat to grind up and eat every day. A daily item rather than a storage item, then turning that into longer term storage items ). And that all started with stocking the freezer with meat on sale. At first, the only thing in there was chicken. That was what was on sale. But soon, her buddy had a cheap freezer she wanted to sell and we got a huge chest freezer and soon it was stocked up with 89 cent chicken, 99 cent boneless pork and $1.50-ish hamburger.
And don’t even think about buying a chest freezer if you won’t rotate it. Or if you’ll be putting bread or ice cream in it. Those are a waste of storage investment money. Meat is nutritious calories, densely packed. Sugar is a terrible calories conveyor and bread on sale is false economics if frozen and the space displaces meat. Remember, this isn’t preparedness food. You aren’t concerned if the grid goes down. This is just you eating much cheaper every day. Besides meat, you’ll also buying whatever is on sale that you like eating. The object isn’t to eat more of it because it is cheaper but to stock it so deep you won’t need to buy any more for a year or two and you can cross off another item on your upcoming Inflation Plan list. The budget list is ONLY concerned on buying whatever is on sale. The Inflation Plan must cover all your food needs ( except perishable produce or milk ). The Budget Plan is your first Inflation items, meant to reduce how much you spend with as many items as possible. After awhile, ALL your Inflation Plan items will be bought on sale, just not at first.
Just like at first, on Budget I bought chicken. Pork and hamburger were regular price. Once I started stocking the other meat on Budget, then those items became Inflation items bought on sale. Some things never go on sale. Instant rice, or instant potatoes. You can’t buy them on your Budget plan. But you’re buying them in bulk anyway, on the Inflation Plan. You just buy them twice as often as replenishment rate, for example. Others tell you the same thing when they advocate buying two every time you are buying one to replace. Same difference. After a short time most of your Inflation Plan food is stocked deep. Then it is all whatever is on sale. It is a nice feeling having your six months of regular food all bought cheap, on hand.END
FOUR STORAGE 3
Over time you’ll discover that while never predictable there is a certain range of items that always go on sale at the stores. It isn’t like you’ll be needing to buy fifty different items by the case ( the items total might approach that, but not the items you would eat ). There will probably be more like a dozen long term storage foods that periodically go on sale ( you might think Top Ramen has an expiration date but I disagree. Peanut butter does eventually go rancid, but it has hydrogenated oil which turns it into a shortening type oil. Don’t worry about the official date. Do the smell test as you would for a jug of oil. You’ll smell it if its rancid ). And really, if you look at your non-perishable, non-snack food items ( hard candy stores okay, tortilla chips do not. Only stock snack items that are long term storage, like pudding or Jello or whatnot ), you don’t really eat a large variety of food in your daily menu.
You have a certain range of foods for each meal, and if you are poor and like most, it is only two rather than three meals a day because lunch is just last nights dinner leftovers. Dinner, for most people, is three different meats ( pork, beef, chicken ) and three different starches ( potato, pasta, rice ) and that is pretty much it for your two meals a day. Breakfast is a whole grain and a protein, which is usually an egg but could also be a milk. Other than adding condiments to your stockpile, you don’t have a huge amount of items to stockpile before you notice you’ve suddenly got months worth. Yes, I understand it isn’t QUITE as simple as that, but it is darn close. You go to the store once and see pasta on sale for 50 cents a pound, my bet would be you spend $20 and you have close to a year of pasta ( I’m not scaling up for families, obviously ). Instant rice ( you can make your own with a pressure cooker and an air dehydrator, it is just cooked rice dried ) is $3 a big box ( buy at Kroger, not Wally, for cheap generic ) and will last for weeks.
I tried air drying raw potatoes and had no luck. I think the GMO revolution already hit Idaho because potatoes are no longer a uniform reliable starch but always seem to vary bag to bag even for the same type. Nothing cooks up as previously. I’d hate to go without fresh potatoes in my diet because instant is only good occasionally ( a tasty treat is potato pancakes-I make mine with more potato than wheat. One tablespoon flour to a small bowl of instant mashed potatoes, add the egg to the flour and mix, then add the potatoes and mix. If you have the convection over pre cook. The microwave might also do the trick. This keeps them from falling apart. Then fry in butter on the stovetop ). Eggs and raw potatoes aren’t months long food storage items but they do go for at least a month in storage. And yes, I’m aware there are methods of room temp egg storage, but it seems to me a bit excessive just for day to day eating.
For non-cook foods, you can use many different items besides MRE’s or freeze dried. My go-to’s are Top Ramen ( can be eaten uncooked ) and peanut butter. I also have a few weeks worth of sweet canned milk but that is only because the old boss was cleaning the shelves and she saw no use for it in food boxes. One little can has 1300 calories so it is a great food storage item. It is also about $2 a can. Remember the old minion contributed trail food? Instant oatmeal, uncooked, mixed into peanut butter with Tang powder for flavor. You have your whole grain and protein and vitamin C and it can be eaten without cooking on the go. All these items go on sale, eventually. You might need to wait for the winter holidays for the sweet milk, or the regular canned milk. There are plenty of foods that need to be warmed up but minimize prep time and clean up, for days when you can’t devote hours to cooking ( such as, if everyone chipped in to pre-stock an evacuation point as marauders neared. Or, the coast was clear in your bug-in location and everyone wanted a hot meal as a treat ). Instant rice and canned chili. Cornmeal ( only long term store de-germinated, not whole meal ) and fried Spam, that kind of thing.
See how easy it would be to have six months of daily food items on hand? All you’d need to buy would be root vegetables ( potatoes and carrots ) and cabbage for long term fridge veggies ( for monthly only shopping ), milk and eggs, vastly reducing your food budget through tough economic times ( not collapse times ). Just buying during case sales takes care of the MRE substitutes ( the hot meal items are the occasional treats as they are expensive, but no nearly as bad as MRE’s ). Budget Plan items can vary so you stock variety for all three other plans. Condiments, to include my medicinal apple vinegar, and potatoes/cabbage are about the only things I can never buy on sale. Some items only drop marginally, such as rice, but I can still wait on those to go on sale. I haven’t calculated how long everything will last although just on the meat I’d wager that hypothetical half year. I’m sure we have a years worth of frozen butter ( it takes up so little room and has 3k calories a pound, it is one of the few things worthy of taking freezer meat space ), two of pasta and god knows how many years of white flour and sugar and coffee.
And remember, I’m living in a 400 square foot apartment ( which includes the available basement storage space ). My country palatial estate holds its own food storage, but that is subject to mice infestation so storage is just as limited ( for instance, I can’t store Top Ramen or bags of flour without containers-those bastards get up to the ceiling cabinets ). Anyone can store years of Collapse Plan food ( buckets stacked behind the closet clothes rack ), Bug-In Plan food ( under the bed ) and Inflation Plan food in the normal kitchen spaces ( back when I had a thirty-five foot travel trailer, living in Carson City, we had a chest freezer in front of the secondary door, tucked well out of the way. All the Inflation Plan food was tucked away here and there and everywhere. If I could do it in a trailer, you can do it where you live ).
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We tend to wait for 'Publix' to offer their buy one get one free deals. Usually they limit it to five , thus meaning you get ten for the price of five...ReplyDelete
Then go hit the other Publix stores in the area , which has to be like twenty within ten miles of home lol.
I never much cared for Publix. Do you get a better everyday buy at Sav A Lot?Delete
I use the bogo specials at publics. this week they have 40 oz peter pan 2 for 6.98.Delete
That's 9 cents an ounce. Kroger is 6. Still, not the worst bargain ( and probably tastes better ).Delete
Freezer(s) be needin' 'lectric my pomaded guru...how you be keepin' froze stuff froze if the grid goes down so you don't loose all dat meat an butter?ReplyDelete
This ( the one using sale meat ) is not meant as a collapse diet but a daily cost reduction diet. That is why I said four distinct plans. It makes me sick thinking about the day the grid dies, all that meat. But it is a potential cost of doing business. Hey, just be wasteful like all Americans.Delete
Cook it, smoke it, a little later on (days or weeks, not months) use it to bribe goodwill from your neighbors or local LEO/militia/military. And let them know that afterward you are going to be as hard up as them, after all your freezer is going to be empty... (you can be filling the freezer with container water or bagged ice while you can get it clean, that will keep temps down for a while, maybe long enough not to have any waste.)Delete
Of course, I also have a 25% chance of still freezing it if its winter time. Perhaps I should look into wood for smoking.Delete
I think you need to look at lentils as an adjunct to wheat. Say 5 buckets of wheat to 1 bucket of lentils.. yes they cost a little more per pound, but not horribly if you look around..
you get comparable calories, more protein, less bad carbs, more fiber, easy to cook, and a better balance of vitamins and minerals.. and you can sprout it as well! Lentils also act as the bean portion of making your complete protein..
I bought hundreds of pounds of all types beans/lentils until the price doubled. Not enough, I know. And they are an addition to wheat, not a substitute, unless you have the extra money. Calories first.Delete
I have to have protein in the families diet. Animal is best, so I have traps, but also beans in about a 3 grain to 1 legume ratio. lentils are the best choice for storing and cooking afterward. Split green peas are too hard after 5 years same with chickpeas / garbanzos, 3 years for most other beans in our experience (we do eat our storage food some.)Delete
Have you ever had anything to do with lupins? Sold here in Australia cheap as stock feed but aparently set to be one of the new super foods. Weavils want touch it so it stores indefinatly without any preps and they are tasty to eat raw. AussieDelete
Never heard of it. Sounds like a rare disease.Delete
Consider saving your sugar stash for barter only. Sugar is a major immune system depressant (in any event your immune system will already be compromised due to stress, vitamin/mineral deficiencies, and lack of sleep), and it causes rapid growth of cancer cells.ReplyDelete
On one of the many backpacking trips of my youth, I decided to bring along instant rice to eat because it would reduce the fuel load on my backpacking stove. Big mistake, I never did that again. The instant rice was so unsatisfying that we started starving and had to end our 3-day trip one day early. When I say unsatisfying, I mean it didn't fuel my engine, so to speak, even though I was eating enough calorie wise according to the label. None of the other foods I brought with me on backpacking trips were as unsuitable for work (walking with a load) as instant rice.
I hear you about sugar, but it might also be a comfort food you need to reduce stress, and as we all know from personal experience, stress can potentially kill you a lot quicker than cancer. Instant rice being bad, is that compared to regular rice on the trail, also? I can see the last vitamins being leached out by the cooking. Trail food is funny, your body needs so much refueling and all the food is processed. You need more vitamins and enzymes. Fresh food.Delete
Jim, very good article.ReplyDelete
I've been doing a similar system for almost twenty years (just add in a garden for fresh vegetables and winter root cellaring) and folks, I'm here to tell you - it works.
I figure that I save at least 25% - 50% off a normal person's food bill.
I have enough stockpiled of all the various basics that I can wait for the sales - even if a particular item is only on sale once a year.
I use different terminology but it's the same concept:
Fresh -- stuff like milk, store bread, fresh produce, chips, tortilla shells, soft cheese.
Intermediate Storage -- canned or dried stuff. Things like jars of salsa, pasta, breakfast cereal, cheddar cheese, root cellar vegetables, canned meats. Stuff that is good for 6 - 12+ months without rotating.
Long Term Storage -- stuff good for 20 - 30 years. Wheat, sugar, oatmeal, Freeze Dried stuff, etc.
Regarding white flour. I have found that it stays fairly fresh tasting for 3 or less years when just storing it in buckets. After that is starts tasting (for lack of better words) "not fresh". I can get a longer shelf life by buying the LDS flour canned with an oxygen absorber. So if you haven't checked your older stored flour, you might want to.
I know my flour is going on ten years. Is it still edible? Just doesn't taste good? I plan on adding to whole wheat anyway.Delete
Excellent article. I detect a little Alpha Strategy inspiration.ReplyDelete
My current (non food/firearm) project is my favourite prep topic - illumination.
Using 12v Garden lights (mains connected via transformer) to illuminate my yard (removing places for undesirables (in-laws) to hide). Stage one was proof of concept and entails one LED spotlight (i have a dusk to dawn sensor which switches it on at night), stage 2 is set up the system so it covers my yard where it's needed (I have a small yard so that's cool) Stage 3 is to have a battery back up
The system is pretty easy to set up & wasn't prohibitively expensive.
I like projects in stages. BTN, better, best.Delete
Please ensure this makes it into a Bison Book BatchReplyDelete
Not sure why I never covered this earlier-I should have. I could include it is a BBB, but it is only 3k, a bit short even for a booklet.Delete
By itself it is too short. Add in a couple of related articles and you got yourself a good booklet.Delete
Or a core of a use full book.
This actually seems like the 100 foot view.
There could be more details on each level of the food prep ladder.
And inspiration on how and when to use them.
It might be worth fleshing out. Just doubling it would meet the minimum booklet length. One days work.Delete
Okay, I hear you. Forgot all about this one. I added a note to my "book project" file.Delete