Letter Re: Relative Costs of Food Storage Approaches

Hi James,  
First and foremost thank you for all of your efforts and wonderful guidance in the art of survival.  I am currently about 70 pages into your novel Patriots and I love it!   I have a quick question that I can not seem to get great advice on with regards to food storage.  Is it better (cost effective, overall nutrition, and space saving) to purchase pre-packaged “kits” like eFoodsDirect’s one-year or six-month supply of dehydrated foods, or build your own storage?  I know that most may say get all you can or do both…but if you had to do one or the other, what would you prefer?   Thank you in advance for your time.   Kind Regards, – M.S.

JWR Replies: In terms of Dollar per Pound of storage food, it is almost always best to pack it yourself. The nutritive value and the space required is comparable. The shelf life is slightly longer for CO2-packed steel cans, but the cost per serving is significantly higher.

All in all, best to pack it yourself, in 5 or 6 gallon HDPE plastic buckets, using mylar liners, and either O2 absorbing packets or the old standby dry ice sublimation method. There is just one exception to this rule: If you make more than $25 per hour, then your time might be better bringing in extra income, rather than in personally filling 6 gallon super pails. But if you are like me and have a modest income, then it makes sense to pack nearly everything yourself. In the Rawles Gets Your Ready Family Preparedness Course I describe where to buy bulk foods, and how to pack then so that they will be safe from insects. The course also has some detailed tables that list the shelf lives for various foods.

OBTW, the one item that I recommend leaving up to “trained professionals” is powdered milk. In my experience, trying to re-pack that at home can be a huge mess. And since the shelf life of powdered milk is critical, the delay created by buying it in bags at a store (where it might have spent weeks or months on in transit or on the shelf before you buy it) could contribute to early rancidity. It is best to buy nonfat dry milk that commercially CO2-packed in #10 cans. Those are available from a number of SurvivalBlog advertisers like Safecastle, Emergency Essentials, and Ready Made Resources. These cans are typically packed six cans to a case.