So for the past couple weeks, we've put together a simple, low-cost food storage from rice, beans, and some assorted canned goods and shelf stable stuff. It's not glamorous, but it's a month of shelf stable food for $80. The rice and beans will provide the calories, carbs and protein you need, and with the addition of some oils and the assorted canned goods, you should have adequate fats, too.
Unfortunately, you'll be lacking in many other vitamins and nutrients. While it probably won't kill ya, we're going to add a multivitamin to the mix to alleviate any problems that might come from eating rice, beans and canned stuff for a month straight (aside from boredom).
The least expensive multivitamins that I have found come from Costco...the Kirkland brand. They come in big ol' bottles of 500 tablets. If you don't have a Costco membership, don't fear, you can buy 'em on Amazon for about $19. The price at Costco should be a few bucks less - around $15.50. That's dirt cheap for quality vitamins - the Wal-Mart brand is more than twice as expensive.
Of course, you probably won't need 500 multivitamins unless it's a really bad apocalypse, or if you're spreading 'em around a large family. Don't worry, though, multivitamins can make good barter material.
Others will be eating much worse that you will, and vitamins will become pretty desireable things in an extended emergency, which is the kind where barter comes into play. If your teeth start falling out, you'd be willing to trade quite a bit for a handful of vitamins.
Certianly, multivitamins are not the end-all of barter goods, but we want to have 'em on hand anyways, so why buy in quantity.
So, the multivitamins will eat up $15-$20 of our budget this week.
The rest, we're going to roll into barter goods. The best kind of barter goods, in my opinion, meet the following criteria:
- Useful if you don't barter them away--something you will use/consume
- Inexpensive in normal times
- Hard/impossible to reproduce post-collapse
- Long/indefinite shelf life
- Stuff that the average household won't have in quantity
Here's a short list of ideas: lighters, matches, cheap candles, all kinds of medical supplies, vitamins (got 'em!), batteries, cheap knives, tarps, cordage of various kinds, heavy grade garbage bags, fishing hooks & line, rat traps, needles and thread, work gloves, small propane tanks, N95 masks, small candies, chocolates, spices, non-hybrid seeds and the old stand bys of alcohol, coffee and tobacco.
Food and ammo can work, too - but may not want your trade partner knowing that you have a surplus of either, and there's concerns about having bartered ammo used against you. Sugar, honey, and other sweet things would be in high demand.
One special mention item is calcium hypochlorite, which is usually sold as pool shock. It's shelf stable, and can be used to purify water in large quantities (like thousands of gallons). This EPA page has the how-to. If you can't find the right stuff in local stores, Amazon has 6 pounds for $27 shipped.
Here are a few barter item deals - feel free to share others in the comments section:
- 50 lighters for just over $14 shipped
- Boxes of matches from the local grocery store - get 'em in match books or smaller boxes for easier trading. Usually around $2-$4 for 500.
- My DIY survival candles
- 100-packs of tealights from Ikea - if you can survive the rest of the store
- Baby wipes from Costco - not just for the babies! Much more effective and multipurpose than ol' fashioned TP.
- Amazon has some decent, dirt-cheap knives that would make good trade bait or handouts - here and here for two examples that come with firesteels!
Why do we care about barter? Well, you can't plan for everything, and there are some things you will forget, run out of or break and need to replace. You will probably also need help from others at some point--even if it's just for an exchange of information--and they might want some encouragement. Even if you have everything you could possible every need for the apocalypse, sometimes you just want to improve morale or make a new friend.
Got any favorite barter items? Disagree with something? Let us know in the comments sections.