> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Prepping on $40 a Week: Food Storage week #1

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10/10/12

Prepping on $40 a Week: Food Storage week #1

The point of view of this series is getting someone who has nothing off to a solid start with a capable baseline of gear and supplies, without breaking the bank. As we've seen, it's very possible.

With that budget stretching point of view in mind, we move into food storage. Having some additional food kept at home is a wise thing--gets you out of that "3-meals-from-anarchy" demographic for starters.

You can get really fancy with food storage and spend hundreds, thousands on freeze dried stuff. But, that doesn't need to be the case--there are some really great deals out there on foundational food storage stuff (staples!) if you know where to look and who to ask.

For long term, ready-to-put back staples on the cheap, it is impossible to beat the food storage offerings of your friendly neighborhood Mormons (I'm one!). We've been doing the food storage thing for a long time, have our own network of packing plants (canneries) and don't need to make a profit off of what we sell.

These days, you don't even need to talk to anyone or go into a cannery (though don't be shy if you'd like to talk to members about food storage or visit a cannery)--you can order the basics via the LDS.org website, no Church membership needed and shipping is free.

You really can't beat the prices for stuff packaged for long term storage. Here's some examples:
  • Case of white rice: $30.75 ($5.12 per #10 can)
  • Case of white flour: $32.00 ($5.33 per #10 can)
  • Case of quick oats: $21.25 ($3.54 per #10 can)
  • Case of pinto beans: $40.75 ($6.79 per #10 can)
They will add on your local tax, so expect a few bucks on top of that.

The actual canneries have a greater variety and should cost a little less (no shipping costs), but for online ordering, I don't think anyone is going to beat these prices.  But, for long term packed food, you'll have a hard time beating those prices, even if you do it yourself. And they also sell oxygen absorbers and mylar bags if you want to DIY stuff, too!

As mentioned, I'm a Mormon (we prefer Latter-Day Saint, but whatevs), but I understand some apprehension around ordering from the LDS.org website. It's not a missionary tool for the Church, and you won't have young guys in suits, ties and a message for your family appearing on your doorstep. If you call a 1-800 and order a free video or whatever, yes, you will have missionaries show up at your door. But food storage in general is not used as a missionary tool. I served a full-time 2 year mission, so I should be fairly savvy to the methods.

On a side note, be nice to those guys & girls, too!  They're good, helpful, generally hardworking, and many of 'em are future preppers! If you need help moving something heavy, the guys (Elders) are usually good for that, too. They especially love pianos--and tell 'em I told you so.

Food storage, personal responsibility and self reliance are central teachings of the Church, which is why there are a lot of us in the survival/preparedness community, why there are a dozen food storage companies based out of Utah, and why the Church is glad to offer food storage stuff at cost to whoever wants it. The Church is not out to make a buck, they're out to promote being prepared for hard times (amongst other things of course).

For those starting out, I'd recommend picking up a case of white rice. There's about 5.5 pounds of rice per can, so that gives you 33 pounds of rice to start with. 33 pounds of rice has roughly 54,000 calories in it (yup!). So that's 27 days worth of 2,000 calories per day for one person on rice alone!

Cost is going to be around $34 shipped and with tax. In #10 cans and stored at room temperatures, white rice is usually quoted at around a 10 year shelf life. You can open up individual cans and eat as you need to rotate, and the other cans remain intact.

Here's a link to the Self Reliance page on the LDS.org store. Lots of other stuff at good prices, too.

With whatever cash you've got left over, mosey on down to the grocery store and spend it on protein-y things that would mix in well with rice. Dried beans are obvious (and cheap), but they can be a hassle and fuel intensive to rehydrate, so take that into consideration. Canned beans are open-and-go...Goya red cans are good stuff if you can find 'em. Lots of other good stuff too--canned meats, etc.--that are options.

If you hate rice, look into wheat or just good ol' white flour. Both are about as cheap as rice. Wheat will store longer and can be sprouted, white flour is familiar, easier to use (no grinding) and will store for several years if kept in good conditions.

If you don't trust me and the LDS.org website, mosey on down to the local Costco/Sam's Club/etc. and pick up a 50 pound bag of white rice. Should run you $20-$30 last I checked. Start eating, buy a 2nd bag when you're halfway through the first. Keep rotating, store in a decent place, and you should be fine.

14 comments :

  1. While I'm not Mormon, I do volunteer to help can the food when we order. Talk about a workout! This is an excellent (and inexpensive) way to prep. I highly recommend it.

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  2. The local LDS shops are a great resource for food stuffs and canning advice. They are open to non LDS certain days of the week so please call ahead and make sure to come on the right day. Some locals around me meet up there and shop together to split cases and such. The people operating the warehouses are some of the nicest people on the planet, so feel free to chat them up a bit on the subject of prepping. The LDS church is one of the few organizations that use and preach a common sense approach to self sufficiency.

    While I'm not an LDS member, many of my immediate neighbors are and they are faithful members of the community. Please volunteer in the warehouse if you can, it's a great opportunity to give back to those in need. People of great faith and conviction are to be admired, and all the LDS members I've met fit the description.

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  3. I'm not close to one of the shops but I have found I like to order one of the starter cases each month. I have got a years worth of storage already and now to stock up I order a starter case each month. I figure if I ever have to give out food or help someone since the starter case has beans, rice , oats, and wheat they can at least not starve. May need to know how to cook but it will get a family thru a couple weeks.

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  4. Wow that IS a good deal. Roughly $1/pound SHIPPED and its in nice easy to store cans. Leave it to the LDS Church. I wonder how the quality is--we eat an awful lot of rice and not all rice is created equal. I think we pay roughly $1/pound and we are getting the fancy jasmine style rice. But at the same time you gotta buy about 50lbs worth to hit that price point, and then you're dealing with a giant heavy bag whenever you want to cook rice. Not conducive to storage, rotation, easy use etc. I can't tell you how many times I've accidentally spilled a bunch of rice all over the floor. Plus you gotta open the whole bag up to cook just a little. AND while rice pretty much lasts forever, I imagine a #10 is better at keeping rice fresh and protected than a giant bag. After reading this I think I'll order some and see how it stacks up to the rice we normally eat. If it passes the taste test I'll be buying as much as I can store.

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    1. I've overcome the big bag issue. Start breaking it up into one gallon or smaller Mylar bags with your food saver. I like to make single use packs that are measured out to feed a single meal for the family. This makes a waterproof, vacuum sealed portion without the mess of a huge bag and possible vermin or bug contamination. A 5 gallon food grade pail and gamma lid is another option but it makes it harder to store and access.

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    2. Agreed. After a week with no power "test run," I discovered that having opened packaging and/or unrefrigerated leftovers are a big loss.

      I have begun converting my entire dry food storage into single and two-serving mylar packages. Everyone who will shelter here will arrive in twos, and although this adds a little cost (and a little space), I feel that it will more than pay for itself in unwasted food. I really had to throw out quite a bit of prepared food for lack of refrigeration. It also avoids menu fatigue because you don't feel like you have to eat thru 10 pounds of beans before you can open something else.

      I'm also converting many of our family recipes to use only dried ingredients (just add water). Water storage is not an issue for me, so it makes sense. Rather than storing "ingredients," I pre-mix the proper dry ingredients and then store in two-serving packs. Think "rice & beans" with 1/2 cup of precooked beans, 2/3 cup instant rice, tablespoon powdered butter, dry seasonings, and 1/4 cup of freeze dried ham. Feeds two; just add water and cook. I'm up to around 30 recipes so far.

      This also avoids having opened cans that can go bad. It takes a long time to work through a can of powdered butter one tablespoon at a time...

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    3. Sounds like a fantastic idea. Wish you'd post a blog/link to your recipes... :::::: hint, hint:::::::

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  5. The cooking time for beans can be reduced by soaking them in water overnight and then heating them up. This will also remove some of their musical qualities.

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  6. Sooooooo.... What now that we now know that Rice is full of Arsenic? Are we to throw out all our stores because Consumer Reports says rice has "detectable" levels of Arsenic?

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    1. Personally, I think that our ability to detect chemicals (in the parts per Billion or parts per Trillion with a T) far exceeds our understanding of whether those chemicals are harmful at those low levels.

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  7. I don't know about anyone else, but "store what you use, use what you store" is the idea that tends to bite me in the butt, most often.

    I do buy, store and swap out the big bags of rice, dried beans and cans of cooked beans and tomato products (BPA-issues notwithstanding), and oats, pasta and flour (maybe, 2 lb a year, maybe - a loaf of bread in 2 weeks is a lot and haven't made or eaten sweets in 15 years - flour is for roux when I do something Cajun) and dried herbs and spices.

    In the past, I have choked down MRE's, C-rations, and even old surplus K's as a Boy Scout, SPAM, cheese in a spray-can, and a lot of canned soup and vegetables as a kid. As long as I have a warm place to live, a job and an income, do I want to do it again? H*ll, no. The Food Bank gets it all when the expire dates get close.

    Other than a few fermented items like Kosher Dill Pickles and Kimchi, home-canned items are about a half-step above what's on the grocery shelves. They'll keep you alive in bad times. I don't have a root-cellar, yet. It would annoy the landlord if I dug one...

    If I tried to stockpile what I actually cook/eat where I am, in a non-SHTF situation, (fresh meat, fresh fish, fresh veggies, fresh fruit), I'd end up with a really bad stench, and if I was really lucky, maybe compost for my postage stamp-sized veggie garden.

    It's definitely something to consider.

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  8. I bought from the LDS website thanks to this post. The transaction was easily done, and so far nobody has shown up at my doorstep (it has been a while). :)

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  9. My husband and I did the LDS Cannery thing once. Once only because we havent had enough time on our calender to get back up there. But, I do have to say we were very pleasantly pleased with the friendliness, non-preaching approach that they take on the food preparation aspect of their efforts to help people prepare for hard times. We definately want to go back. Their hot choc mix is wonderful. will not buy from grocery store again. Or at least until we run out of the LDS stuff and cant get anymore. If you have a cannery near, it is worth checking out. We do wish they had a bigger variety, but what is there will certainly keep one from starving.

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