The Organic Prepper has an article on Last-Minute Preps on a Shoestring Budget. No one knows what’s going to come next, but you can still be prepared for the unexpected. Recently I spoke to a friend whom I hadn’t had a chance to talk to since before the pandemic. She lives and Portland and recounted the very hectic 2020 she experienced there – particularly the pandemic and the rioting. Said friend had some preps put away in case of earthquakes and found herself digging into them with the combined problems of lockdowns, supply chain disruptions, and safety issues attendant to going anywhere during the street violence. She had no problems but she did realize that she wished to have more appealing foods stored, primarily to keep up her morale during difficult times. Even substituting something as simple as more white beans instead of less liked lentils was the type of thing she meant, but keeping morale and occasional treats should be kept in mind. It doesn’t have to be expensive.
…This piece will present you with some ideas for cost-effective preps to help round out your stockpiles and give you an extra edge. We’re all feeling the “bite” caused by the price increases everywhere: at the grocery stores, the gas stations, the drugstores, and the hardware stores. It’s only going to get worse before (and if) it gets better.
There are plenty of long-term food supplies and companies you can use for foods with shelf-lives of twenty-five years or more, I understand. I also understand that many of us can’t afford them. First, let’s put out one precept I hope you’ll adopt as your own:
There’s no shame in not having enough money for something: you do the best you can with what you have and keep a positive outlook on it.
There! Now, let’s get into it!
Regarding food supplies, there are different camps and different schools of thought. I’m a big believer in cans. Yes, I can my own stuff (always in wide-mouth Mason jars to better resist a freeze here in Montana), but this doesn’t stop me from stocking up on canned goods packed in good-old-fashioned cans made out of steel. I recommend canned goods for long-term storage on a budget.
Dried stuff (such as beans, rice, etc.) will keep for a long time, but they don’t really give you a lot in return, not to mention the fact that you have to prepare them.
Here are some basics about macronutrients for you to keep in mind:
Protein: The basic building block of life and absolutely essential for tissue repair and recovery. Protein has a high thermogenic factor. It takes more energy to digest, but you get more return on your investment.
Fats: Also very important as sources of energy and also as macronutrients that the brain (and other organs) rely heavily upon.
Carbohydrates: Believe it or not, you should stay away from these as much as possible, but they do have uses when not consumed to excess. One example is after you perform strenuous activity. It is good to replenish your body with protein, but also with some carbohydrates. This prevents catabolism, which occurs when your body is starving for sugar. Without carbohydrates or simple sugars, your body will “cannibalize” your muscle tissue.
The protein in your muscles is then converted into glycogen, which your body burns for energy. It can be devastating because replacement of protein lost in this manner is neither quick nor easy. This is a “deep” subject that I can go further into in another article, but I think you grasp the point.
A couple of references to help you on these topics: Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, and Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas. The first book will take you into topics such as glycation: how excessive sugars and carbohydrates in the diet disfigure proteins and cause them to form blockages in vessels. The latter work details the differences in the way our ancestors ate and how our “system” of food production is causative, not curative, of problems.
Cans can take a beating, handle a freeze, and most contain foods that are cooked. Go with organic stuff as much as possible, and if that can’t be done, “sift” the ingredients. Buy (in this order) generic brands and then name brands. Compare them. The store brands are sometimes much better in quality and at half the price.
- Prepared “dinners” in a can: Most of this stuff is not optimal for your body, but this is about survival, plain and simple. My objective here isn’t to recommend any brand but just to give you a “feel” for what you’ll need. Look closely at the ingredients. You’re searching for the least amount of preservatives, artificial ingredients, or “substances” that are unfamiliar. You’re searching for high protein, moderate to low carbohydrates, and moderate fats. Canned chili is good, as are some of the soups and stews. Think beef stew with high protein content. Think lentil soups, bean soups, and pea soups. These all have protein, and you can augment them with the next category.
- Canned meats: Canned chicken is your best bet. It’s already cooked, and you can either add something to it or add it to something (such as the soups mentioned in “item 1”. Once again, make sure it’s really meat, without a whole bunch of “fillers,” such as potato-starch, or some other grains. Tuna fish, sardines, fish steaks. All of these you can find even in the dollar stores.
- Canned fruits: Avoid the ones in the high-fructose corn syrup. Go for things with high vitamin C content and some fiber. Canned grapefruit, pineapples, and mandarin oranges are among your best bets. Incidentally, bromelain is a chemical constituent found only in pineapples. It stimulates the production of hydrochloric acid in your stomach and enables you to digest meats more easily…
You can obtain these for reasonably-low prices and store for fairly long periods of time.
- Summer sausage, beef jerky, and fish: They can be good for years if protected from light, changes in temperature, moisture, and pests. Once again, go for quality, but an eight-ounce stick of summer sausage can be split between a family of four and lend protein for a quick meal when the lights go out and the music stops playing. There are also Mylar pouches of tuna fish and salmon, good for single servings. Make sure these pouches are made entirely out of Mylar; some pouches have a transparent plastic “bottom,” and that won’t cut it in the end.
- Dried fruit: Raisins, apricots, banana chips, pineapple. The ones in mylar pouches will give you some longevity for storage. Dried fruits will help alleviate cravings for sugar. Make sure you drink plenty of water when you eat them, or else they can “rob” your body of its fluids and dehydrate you in the course of digesting them.
- Nuts and seeds: Peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds. The “buttered” forms will keep longer, and remember, they all tend to become rancid after prolonged storage, but they’ll help. You can store peanut butter for a fairly long time. They’re high in protein. Once again, drink plenty of water when you eat them.
The reasoning behind everything I’ve mentioned thus far is simple:
In a grid-down survival situation, you don’t want the whole, hungry neighborhood to smell that tasty stew you’re cooking on the Sterno stove. You want to crack open those cans and pouches, eat that meal, and seal up anything left over. Don’t leave any signs or signatures that let others know that you’ve stored food, or your “popularity” will suddenly rise, and “company” will drop by…uninvited, of course.
You can eat all of this stuff “as-is” without resorting to a stove.
Food storage: If possible, try to buy some of those large, three or 5-gallon food-grade buckets from the bakery department of your local food store. They only run about $5 a piece or less. Get the ones with rubber gasket rings on the inside of the lids. These “clamp” down into place. If you can’t get the gasketed ones, don’t despair. Use the ones you can find. Seal your cans and packages into these, and then make sure you store/stack them raised up off the floor. Mark the outside of your buckets so that you know their contents at any given glance.
With an absence/shortage of buckets, you can use bins, but I recommend Rubbermaid “Roughneck” bins, the 10-gallon size. They usually run about $10 to $12 or so. They’re worth it. The reasons: they’re durable, stackable, and each bin won’t weigh so much that it makes it impossible to move if the need arises. They’re also dark-colored and will block off light and sight (if you should have to move things, and being spotted by neighbors is possible)…(story continues)