By Timothy Gamble (Originally published May 11, 2016)
We all know that having lots of food storage, as well as medicine, first aid supplies, tools, ammo and other useful "stuff" is a good idea, especially if we ever face a long-term, grid-down scenarios like an economic/political collapse. But most of us don't have a lot of money, and are left wondering how to afford all those wonderful supplies.I have no magic solution to offer. I know of no free piles of money being given away. Preparing for disaster is going to take work and sacrifice. It is up to you to decide if it is worth it or not. However, for those of you willing, I do have some suggestions and tops on how to afford all that food storage and other prepper supplies.
Don't feel you have to buy everything at once. Start small, even if its only $5 or $10 dollars a week worth of supplies. If you can do more, great. Do what you are able, as you are able. Don't get discouraged that you not "doing enough" or not getting ready "quickly enough." Frankly, as long as you are doing something on a regular basis, you are doing better than at least 80% of your fellow Americans.
How to find extra money for your food storage and other supplies:
1- If you don't yet have a year's supply of food set aside, but own a boat, snowmobile, dune buggy, ATV, motorcycle, sports car, recreational vehicle, or other big-ticket luxury items (antiques, jewelry, that Michael Jordan rookie card...) that honestly aren't part of your long-term survival plans, then sell it and use the money to get prepared quickly.
2- Have a yard sale! Its a great opportunity to unclutter your house and make some extra money in the process. Some great items to get rid of: Clothes and shoes that your family has outgrown or simply don't wear, kitchen gadgets you don't use, decorative nick-knacks that just take up space, books you no longer need or want, old CDs and DVDs, old toys, exercise equipment you don't use, and even furniture that you no longer want or need...
3- Decide as a family to forgo this year's vacation. Have a "staycation" instead, where you stay home for vacation, perhaps visiting local parks and museums, fishing at a local lake, or even camping out in the backyard. You don't have to spend money to have fun. Use the money you save to fast forward your food storage and other supplies.
4- Decide as a family to cut Christmas in half. Most families spend lots of money on gifts, decorations, extra & special foods, hosting parties, and even travel to visit distant relatives. But Christmas isn't really about gifts, food, parties, and other stuff. Its about celebrating the birth of Jesus. We don't need to spend lots of money to do that. I suggest cutting your holiday budget in half, and have a simplier, more meaningful Christmas.
5- Cut the amount of money you spend on recreation by 50 percent. This will probably mean eating out less, less trips to the movies, and maybe even cutting down on your cable TV package. Libraries and local parks & museums are great sources of no-cost or low-cost fun.
How to get the most bang for the buck:
1- Many basic canned goods (beans, veggies, soups, tuna, chicken) and dry-goods (oatmeal, beans, a, rice, sugar) can usually be purchased most cheaply by shopping for generic and off-brands at discount grocery stores such as ALDI. The next cheapest option is probably non-name brands at Wal-mart (Great Value and Sam's Choice are Wal-mart store brands and usually are the cheapest brand they sell). If there is an Ollie's in your area, it is worth a visit.
2- Be wary of Sam's Club and Costco. The problem is that they typically only carry name-brands that, while cheaper than you can buy the same name-brands elsewhere, are still more expensive than generic and off-brands at other stores. However, I have found some good deals on some bulk items such as 50-pound bags of rice, 10-pound bags of pintos, 4-pound boxes of salt, 13-pound bags of baking soda, and 10-pound bags of just-add-water pancake mix, among others. (These stores can also be good sources of flashlights, camping gear, first aid supplies, and other prep items, just don't assume they always have the best price - sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.)
3- Be smart in your grocery shopping. Plan ahead. Use coupons. Compare prices. Shop sales. Make a list of foods you need and stick to it with little flexibility.
4- If you are on a tight budget, don't be a food snob. Having any food to eat during an emergency is more important than having organic food to eat. Since organic food can cost anywhere from 50% to 300% more than non-organic, you might have to "settle" for the non-organic if you want to build your emergency supply. Same thing goes for name brands, which are more expensive than generic and store-brands.
5- Don't be a store snob, either. Supporting your local Mom-and-Pop store is a good idea, but to be able to afford your emergency food supplies you might have to buy much of it at ALDI, Wal-mart, and similar large chain-stores, or even online through Amazon. Just being realistic.
6- Meat can be expensive and difficult to store over the long-term. For your emergency meals, plan on other sources for much of your protein, such as beans, rice, nuts, cereals, grains and leafy-green vegetables. For my long-term storage, I include canned meats such as tuna, salmon, and chicken. Spam, or a cheaper off-brand, might make another good meat choice for long-term storage.
7- Don't get caught up in the freeze-dried, long-term storage hype. Yes, many of these foods can store (under the right conditions) for 10 years or more. However, on a per serving basis they are way too expensive, in my opinion. I believe you can put together a 3 to 5 year supply of food using regular canned foods and dry foods for much cheaper (and with more variety and personal choice in what you're getting). But, hey, if you have several thousand dollars extra burning a hole in your pocket, and are willing to take whatever food combos the manufacturer puts together... Well, its your choice.