Prepping on a budget – part 7 – getting started
by WRETHAOFFGRID on FEBRUARY 18, 2013 - 5 Comments in food

It’s NOT too late to start prepping! If you are still breathing, and you are reading this, it’s not too late to start prepping! Even though the main stream media is doing its utmost best to make preppers look like the bad guy, that’s not your problem, your focus needs to be on taking care of yourself and your family, the more people you are responsible for, the more you need to buckle down and get ready for whatever may be coming down the pike.

The USA is still considered a prosperous country with lots of safety nets, I’m here to tell you that we are on a very slippery slope, what is at the bottom of that slope? Well, look around at what’s going on in other countries that were once prosperous and see where they are now. With the dollar being devalued quicker and quicker, hint that means the buying power of a dollar is less and less, saving money, ie savings accounts, hiding it under your mattress and such shouldn’t be your top priority right now, unless you already have a major stock of food and other necessities put back.

I’m not saying you should spend down to your last penny on your food stash, but think of it like this, if this week a bag of rice costs a dollar, and next week if it costs a dollar fifty, then if you buy it now while it’s still a dollar, then your money has gone a lot farther than it would if you had hung on to that money (not spent it on rice) this week and bought it next week. You have to balance your money, you have to decide which will get you farther in the long run, if the money you save isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on in the future, then you are worse off than if you had spent it on things you NEED to survive, ie food, water, medicine and other necessities. Either way the money will be gone (or worthless), but in one scenario you have a pile of worthless paper, in the other scenario you have a stash of food and other things you need, which scenario do you want to be in?

We have already seen the price of food skyrocketing, I don’t shop for food on a real regular basis, I shop once or twice a month, sometimes going several months between major shopping trips, honestly in the past I haven’t paid that much attention to food prices, oh I would notice if something went up dramatically, but for the most part I just bought what I needed when I needed it, I have to say that in the last few months I have noticed the price of food, I have put food back on the shelf because I wasn’t willing to spend what they were asking for it. I know that not paying attention to food prices doesn’t sound very frugal, the reason I could be that way was because I don’t buy much in the way of convenience foods, those are what cost so darned much, the more processed a food item is, the more it’s going to cost you. I often buy more staples, basic ingredients and cook more from scratch, that means my shopping list is fairly simple and the ingredients I’m buying usually cost less, a LOT less.

One reason I can shop like this is I tend to buy in bulk, I don’t buy a 5 or 10 pound bag of sugar, I buy a 25 or 50 pound bag, it’s cheaper that way, I only have to buy sugar once every couple of months at the most. The last couple of times I went to the store and wanted to buy a few potatoes, I looked at the price of the tiny bag, even the individual potatoes and noticed they cost nearly as much as buying a large bag of lots of potatoes, I just can’t bring myself to buy just a few. Yes that might mean some of the potatoes will go bad before I use all of them, but I am still saving money in the long run. That’s what I find in my local grocery store, when I go to Sam’s, I can find a HUGE bag of potatoes for what I’d pay for a tiny bag in my local grocery store. Same thing goes for onions, garlic and such.

Buying staples, dry goods in bulk is easy, you just need to store it properly to keep the bugs out and keep things from going stale if it’s an item that can go stale, hint sugar, salt and such do not go stale. Buying perishables is a different story, a bag of potatoes, onions, garlic and such does have a shorter shelf life in its natural state. If you cannot consume it before it goes bad, you can either go in with a friend and split it, or you will need to do something to preserve it, freezing it, canning it or drying it are just a few ways you can make your bounty last. Personally I stay away from freezing, for one I don’t have the power to spare for freezing in quantities, and if the power fails then there goes all of my hard earned money down the drain. Canning and drying are good methods for me, I don’t have to worry about maintaining power to keep those from going bad.

I understand it may be difficult to go from buying just what you need each week to buying less often in bulk, but it can be done if you plan some things out. For me it’s simple because it’s how I have shopped for most of my life. I can remember going shopping once a month or less with my dad when I was younger. We would go to the store and grab 2 shopping carts, we would fill those, stash the filled carts near the checkout lane but out of the way (alerting the staff that we weren’t done shopping) and go back for more, when it was all said and done, we would have 4 to 5 carts FILLED, I remember seeing the look on the cashier’s face, it seemed to shock them. Of course that was to feed a family of 5. That was just at one store, then we would go to Sam’s club, then to a couple of other stores, we would spend the day shopping, then it was the rest of the day putting up that food, then the next few days breaking down the bulk foods into smaller servings and putting that away. The up side to that was we only shopped once a month at the most, usually it was more like every other month. Yes we had to buy milk each week, and a few other perishables, BUT for the most part, our major shopping didn’t happen very often. I know that may sound pretty extreme to most of you, but for us it worked great. Instead of buying one or two of something, we would grab 5-10 of that same item, sometimes more if it was something we used often or if it was a really good price.

OK, now if you are still with me here, how can you start shopping like this? Well you don’t have to jump in all at once, you can start a few things at a time. Sugar is a good way to start, or pick something else if you don’t want to buy sugar, for now I’ll go with sugar. The cheapest sugar I have found is buying a 25lb bag from Sam’s, it runs about 49-50 cents a pound, you can even get a 10 lb bag for the same price per pound. I prefer getting the larger bag just because that means I don’t have to go back for more as often. You can get a 50 lb bag for just a few cents less per pound, but that is a lot of sugar to have to deal with, it’s heavy and you have to find some way of storing it, for me the 25 lb bag is perfect. According to http://www.economagic.com/em-cgi/data.exe/blsap/APU0100715211, the average cost of sugar per pound in the USA in 2012 was between 67 to 73 cents per pound. The smaller the package, often the higher per pound it is going to cost, that isn’t even taking into consideration the cost of your fuel going to buy this if you are shopping more often… Your prices may vary depending on where you live and where you shop.

Once I have this 25 lb bag of sugar, it needs to be stored in some way, I save containers, glass as well as plastic, if it has a good lid and is easily cleaned up, then it gets saved. This is PB’s job, he takes the sugar and divides it into these smaller containers, then we use it as needed, most of it goes into his coffee, he likes coffee, instant coffee with lots of creamer and sugar… I know, it’s terrible, don’t bother commenting on how horrible that is, I already know it, but it’s only one of two “bad” habits he has so I can’t complain too much. :) If you don’t have a bunch of empty containers yet, you can ask around, ask your neighbors, family members, co-workers, church members, let them know you are looking for containers, preferably larger containers with good lids, I’ll bet within a week to a month, you will have more containers than you know what to do with, you can even save those 2 liter soda bottles and store your dry goods in them.

I just have to check our stash of sugar before going shopping to make sure we either have enough to last until the next shopping trip, or to know if I need to get more. I live 3 hours away from the nearest Sam’s club, it would be much easier for those who live closer to one.

So, I hear some of you saying that you don’t have the room to store 25 lbs of sugar in your kitchen… well you haven’t seen my kitchen have you? I live in a very small cabin we lovingly refer to as our sky castle, it sounds more grand than it is. My kitchen area is maybe 8×8, I have to be creative when it comes to food storage. Look around, your bulk storage doesn’t have to stay in your kitchen, if it’s properly packaged with a good lid, you can store it nearly anywhere, and dry goods like sugar aren’t temperature sensitive, so you can even keep it in a garage, attic space or in your closet. You can read more about how and where to store food here: http://www.off-grid.net/2012/10/20/prepping-on-a-budget-part-3-storage-and-security/

Just start adding one or two items to your shopping list that you can buy in bulk and do it, this will save you lots of money in the long run, money you can spend on other food. Here is a good shopping list you can start with that doesn’t cost much, you can get started with as little as $20, while not a “bulk” list, this is a good way to get started with saving money at the grocery store and filling your food stash, do this each payday and you will be well on your way to having a good food stash started, this list was copied from http://www.theorganicprepper.ca/is-it-too-late-to-start-prepping-12252012.

$20 List

  • 2 pound bag of rice
  • 2 pound bag of beans
  • 4 cans of spaghetti sauce
  • 2 cans of peaches in water
  • 1 jar of peanut butter
  • 1 jug of white vinegar
  • 5 gallon jug of water

$50 List

everything in the $20 list and

  • 4 boxes of saltine crackers
  • 4 jars of unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 pounds of sugar
  • 5 pounds of flour
  • 1 liter of olive oil
  • 3 cans of green beans
  • 2 boxes of baking soda

$100 List

everything on the $20 list and the $50 list and

  • 1 canister of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 canister of baking powder
  • 10 pound bag of potatoes
  • 5 pound bag of onions
  • 5 pound bag of carrots
  • 2 pounds of powdered milk
  • 6 pounds of pasta
  • 5 bags of dried spices of choice
  • small assortment of treats (candy, chocolate chips, etc – you have $5 to spend on things that make life more pleasant!)

Look around the internet, there are lots of lists like these that can help you get started, the point here to is to GET STARTED, don’t procrastinate, the longer you wait to start, the more likely it is that you will get caught short.

Here are the links to the entire Prepping on a budget series

Prepping on a budget – part 1 – food
Prepping on a budget – part 2 – book review
Prepping on a budget – part 3 – food storage & security
Prepping on a budget – part 4 – water
Prepping on a budget – part 5 – first aid kit

Prepping on a budget – part 6 – sanitation

Here is a good (and inexpensive) book about shopping and cooking on a budget, the author measures using weight instead of volume (ounces instead of cups), but that isn’t difficult to figure out, in fact measuring ingredients by weight instead of volume makes for a better recipe, it’s more exact. When I first looked at it, I was put off by some of her ingredients, specifically using margarine, I am a butter person myself, I find margarine to be not only fake, but in fact very bad for you, then I found her recipe to make your own margarine and was very impressed, this is something that could be whipped up if you were out of butter and it’s not that fake plastic stuff they sell in the store. The author deals with food much in the same way I do, before purchasing something in the store, it’s good to ask, is this something I can make myself? Chances are, the answer is YES, and not only is it going to cost less, it will taste better and be healthier for you.





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5 comments

1 Corey { 02.18.13 at 7:21 pm }

After a while I decided that storing bulk in/near the kitchen just wasnt sustainable. The great thing about properly stored goods though is they can be stored just about anywhere there is space. Just keep the smaller portions tou are using in the kitchen. 4″ Risers for your bed can add 10 cubic feet of storage space without changing anything that matters. Use Treasuregifts advice, especially for bulk purchases, and then store them whereever you cqn find a little free or underused space!

2 Amanda L Grossman { 02.18.13 at 8:36 pm }

I started receiving a catalogue of emergency preparation products…and started to wonder how frugal it would be to purchase some of your groceries in bulk this way. Obviously not all of the grocery products are desirable, but the dry goods are.

3 Jackie { 02.18.13 at 8:41 pm }

Great advice! Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers can be used for longer term storage and can be placed in Rubbermaid tubs (to keep the rodents out) and stacked into corners or against a spare wall or smaller tubs that slip right under the bed.

Food will never be cheaper than it is today. :)

4 BugOut { 04.08.13 at 2:36 pm }

Before you purchase long term storage foods like Wise, I suggest you get a sample. I bought a bucket and found the food pretty nasty, then I looked at the salt content and it was like 300% the daily intake. So if you would like to promote a heart attack stay away from this.. Just saying, as they market and promote this pretty heavy. Not good for you day after day.

5 Wretha { 04.08.13 at 2:50 pm }

Personally I prefer the staples instead of the ready made meals, I’m talking about chicken, beef, vegetables and fruit as opposed to a chicken with noodles (& sauce)… this way you aren’t dealing with so much sodium.

Wretha

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