I was reading the book “Alas Babylon” from 1959. If you haven’t read it it’s about the USA getting nuked and how some folks dealt with the aftermath. Some of the social conventions are a bit dated but overall I think it did a good job. One thing that struck me was was even at that time people didn’t know how to bake bread or did much salting/ smoking or preserving. I supposed that was perceived as something “poor folk” do and they were middle class in a rich country and didn’t need to know such things. They could buy what they needed and the stores would always be open and full. This book was written less than 20 years after the Great Depression, Victory gardens and the rationing of WWII. I doubt most of the folks in the USA will do better after nearly 40 years of plenty and a couple of short recessions.
I think bread especially white bread is going to be a good barter item. The no-knead Artisan bread is perfect for barter because the ingredients are so simple. Just flour, salt,water and yeast that’s it, along with some time. Now I have no idea what can happen to the economy but if you already have those ingredients on hand and a way to bake it. You could have a good little barter item at the “farmers market”.
Traps and snares spark a few ideas in a small city or suburban area. If you have not done so, take a look around any park or golf course and you see all kinds of rodents and birds that love living in these areas. Some are considered quite a nuisance and live traps can be bought for $10.00 and up. It might be an option for some people as a part time job to trap these animals and dispose of them in accordance with all laws and regulations 😉 At the very least you could practice your trapping skills for free or make a little money on the side. I have read and heard that stringed musical instrument wire makes the best small animal snares. Those wires are lightweight, take up very little space and are available at all music stores. Most of those strings have a built in loop and are very strong which makes them just about perfect for snares.
BB/air guns and a slingshot: I got a little Crossman 760 pump that shoots both pellets and BBs on sale this year. While not as powerful as some air rifles it does not require anything besides ammo and a little muscle to shoot. This little rifle will allow me to practice my shooting fundamentals and I know from experience that it will kill a pigeon around 40-50 feet. You might surprised just how meat on a pigeon breast and the pigeons I shot as a kid on the farm were good eating. I’m not advocating breaking any game laws but if the SHTF things will change fast. Same thing goes for a sling shot probably one of the first long range defense and hunting weapons and the “Wrist rocket” types can be bought for under $10.00. The ammo for a slingshot in the store is basically a steel ball bearing about 3/8 of an inch is size or you can just pick up a small rock to use as ammo for free.
Vermin control will be a high priority if the SHTF and all of the above don’t need poisons and are all cheap to buy and use. You can probably imagine how you could add some cheap protein to your diet as well as scaring away those critter that will want to sample your garden. There a couple of books that can help with learning to set traps but I prefer the SAS survival guide that you can buy for about $15.00 almost any bookstore or Amazon. Plus the SAS survival guide has great info from advanced 1st aid to identifying toxic and non-toxic animals and plants. Trust me you don’t need to be a commando or Rambo to gain a great deal of info from this book.
I’m noodling an idea for a small homemade 100 hour lamp/stove setup along with a metal water bottle that you can use for cooking, heat and light. It will be small, fairly light weight and somewhat “idiot-proof” for a non-prepper. I want to combine a few ideas of the Rocket stove, Kelley kettle and a few little ideas of my own to make it multi-fuel capable but fit in the space of a small shoe box. I still have a few basic items to buy next week and then start building and testing.