If you have been reading my blog for awhile you know my focus is self-reliance. I do consider myself a prepper, but that is only a means to an end not an end to itself. I know many people recommend having a month to 12 months of food. Like wars, droughts, disasters and economic collapses can only last a short period of time. Our own great depression lasted over 10 years, the dust bowl drought about 7 years, hyperinflation tends to last 3-4 years for the worst of it though it takes along time for society to recover. New Orleans is still recovering from Katrina and it happened in 2005 in a modern first world country. Why it takes so long to recover is irrelevant, the fact is 1 month of food is not enough for anything but getting started as a short term goal or perhaps your own little disaster of the car needs a new transmission or a major appliance bites the dust. It’s just one last worry when you are scrambling to make ends meet.
I started preparing because of my own little disaster becoming 100% disabled, no work or paycheck for almost 9 months and I did not have food in the house. But, I was “Living the Dream” in debt up to my eyeballs. I paid off over $32,000.00 in debt and got quite most of my daily needs handled for some time. I prepare because I’m trying to stack odds in my favor. Not because it’s a “get out of Armageddon alive” card. Though I think some people think if they just buy enough crap that they will survive. It’s still the “consumer” paradigm not the thought of a free person. IMO it’s still slavery to stuff or debt, just a new product being sold.
I started seeing a real benefit to prepping when I had about 6 months of my daily needs on hand. It dramatically changed how I shopped. I could wait for sales because I didn’t need anything when I shopped. When items went on sale I might spend most of my budget on buying case of coffee or 48 rolls of toilet paper and paper towels. I will want and need those items in the future because I didn’t need to get anything short term it really made a difference how I could get the most bang for buck and shop loss-leaders most of the time. I can skip shopping a month and not be concerned at all except for the sales I may miss. It took a lot of work just to get 6 months stored before I started seeing a positive outcome. What is your ultimate goal? You must define it and then work towards it. A personal disaster might be covered by a few months of stored basics. A drought, economic collapse or a hurricane might take a bit more storage space. If you can’t imagine, do or think ahead and have a trade, skill or something of value after the SHTF all the preps in the world won’t save you.
I started to make my own bread, stock, soup, stews and freeze and can the extras. It’s amazing the amount of money you can save just baking your own bread. It’s simple though it takes some practice but if you are buying Artisan bread at the store for $3.00 a loaf and you can make the same bread at home for under 50 cents including power cost. You can see how making your own food can save you a lot of money. Making up a big pot of beans, rice and stew on the weekend and freezing them will save both time and money because they can be reheated on the stove or microwave and you know it’s real food. I think this is a skill that is very underrated making food that fills both body and spirit is truly a wonderful thing. Talk about your aroma therapy what smells better than baking bread, cinnamon rolls and a fresh pot of coffee? Or real oven baked mac&cheese made with real cheese, milk and butter and not something made with orange powder and water.
I’m not fudging my numbers when I say I have been able to knock my food shopping costs under $125.00 per month and that is counting extras for the future. I don’t coupon much nor hunt and fish though I want to add those in next year. I have a small garden and fruit and nut trees but they are not big part of my food plan. I basically take the weekly sales ads and check off the things that are on sale, if it meets my price point and I will need in the future I buy. I could not do that with turkey this year as it never went on sale for a good price. But I stashed back a little cash and got the best deal I could and still have turkey for Thanksgiving. New price point went up a lot for turkey compared to last year.
This drought has been going on for a couple of years and it’s not expected to get better in 2013 so how far is that 1 month of food going to last you when prices really start to jump for meats, grains and anything made with corn starts to skyrocket?
How you can mitigate the costs and continue to eat well….
- Buy all you can afford right now and for the next couple of months. Prices on flour, sugar salt and the basics are okay. Rice seems to have had a good harvest and easy to get 50 pounds for $20.00 and under. Beans are going up but still offer a lot of servings per pound. Cheese, eggs and dairy products seem to be a good price for now but you want to take advantage of that and store them now! Get all the meat you can if you like eating it as the ranchers cull the herds and the price is low. Meat prices will be going up a lot in 2013. I think all food prices will be jumping up quite a lot so get what you can now!
- Think outside the box and start a garden even if it is just a little herb garden or a few plants like tomatoes or lettuce in pots. Get heirloom seeds and set up a small garden for cheap food and practice. If fruit trees are not getting harvested offer to pick the fruit and give the homeowner a cut for the privilege. If you don’t have a canner, freeze or dry the harvest.
- Learn your local wildlife and fauna. Mushrooms, dandelion greens, local berries and nuts might be just free for the picking in the wild. Heck pine needles can make a tea rich in vitamin C.
- Go ethnic in your cooking Central and South America is a great place to start learning how to cook food in new ways and I got a great new to me but old authentic Chinese cookbook I get to try out some recipes that look really easy to convert using canned meats.
- Indian and Mediterranean cooking looks darn fun. Especially since Turmeric and curries look like a great spice mixes for health. All of these diets tend to be meat light a veggie/fruit heavy. I’m not knocking the paleo or caveman diets. But they are great for a prepper and the ingredients tend to store safely for a long time.
- It’s a bit hard to store for a native American diet as the recipes tend to be somewhat small because we lost so much of the knowledge civilizing them. But pemmican has all kinds of potential and perhaps we may recreate those recipes in hard times.
I got a few recipes I want to recreate based on old Pioneer diaries. Especially one with cooked meat preserved by covering it in lard. A real interesting one for drying fruit. I’m in good shape food wise so I can afford to take a risk and see if it works and is somewhat safe. I’m going heavy on trying out 1800’s tech so we will see how it works out.
Wild Cookery was less than impressed by folks that call themselves prepper and mostly I have to agree. But some are doing all kinds of great work homesteading and becoming self-reliant instead of just stashing a few items away. If you do the work yourself, I think you start to pick up the difference between those that talk a good game and those that do the hard work.
I know in the Army there is a saying Train as you will fight. But there is a corollary You will fight as you have trained. How’s your training looking? Remember the more you sweat in peace the less you will bleed in war. You sweating enough yet?