Letter Re: Prepping With Limited Funds

Mr. Rawles,
I feel for L. Burton, as I know what she is going through. I’m not a beginning prepper, but I am one who doesn’t have a lot of dollars to throw around. I’ve been out of a full-time job since late 2007 (thanks, Socialists) and have spent the intervening years in combinations of contract work, part-time second jobs and freelance work — just to get by. There are no luxuries in my household, save for the occasional slice of pizza on a Friday night. I can speak to one area of her concern, and that’s food prepping. I’ve bought what I could, when I could, utilizing sales and coupons purchased on eBay. It hasn’t worked too badly; considering that I’ve had very little to spend, I’ve accumulated a year’s supply of eating over the last few years. Not as much variety as I’d like, but I’ve got a little bit of everything (and a lot of some items) — certainly not bad.

I have concentrated a substantial portion of my almost-no-budget food spending into two specific basic foods: Barilla Plus, a high-protein, high-fiber, ALA-rich pasta; and dry lentils. Barilla Plus pasta costs more than regular pasta, but it packs a lot more nutritional “bang for the buck” (See the nutritional profile.) My local warehouse store — which accepts manufacturer coupons — now stocks a four-pack-box of Barilla Plus angel hair and spaghetti for a little more than $6 — about $2 cheaper than at the supermarket. I prefer these pastas, rather than the shaped ones (elbows, etc.), simply because they’re flat and straight — the same weight of pasta stores in less space. Dry lentils, in my opinion, should be the foundation of any long-term food storage — even over the much more popular wheat berries and beans. The advantages are many:

1. Indefinite shelf life if stored properly. Even stored improperly, they last a long time. I had a half-full bag of lentils — simply with the open end folded over — that lay, forgotten, on the back of a pantry shelf for five years. When I found and re-used them, they cooked up just fine — and I could sprout them, too.

2. Cost. Lentils are very cheap, and you don’t have to buy them through mail order or at a health food store. The type of lentils that I like (Goya brand, Pardina variety) costs $1.29 for a one pound bag at the supermarket.

3. Nutritional powerhouse. Very high in protein (20 of the 22 essential amino acids), fiber, some vitamins and some minerals (iron, molybdenum). Combine with a grain or pasta, and you’ve got a complete protein. Some nutritionists include lentils on their lists of “superfoods.”

4. Easy to eat. Easily digestible, even for people who may have problems with other legumes. They don’t require the soaking preparation of dry beans. And they taste good, too.

5. Lentils are really two foods. You can cook lentils in the normal fashion, eating them plain or combining into a multitude of dishes. But lentils are also very easily sprouted — providing a completely different nutritional profile as vegetable sprouts. Lentil sprouts, unlike their dry stage, are a complete protein (all 22 essential amino acids) and have the enzymes and phytonutrients of fresh vegetables. All of this can be obtained for the investment of a clean glass jar, a piece of cheesecloth, and 3 or 4 days of time on a countertop or stove.

I hope that Mrs. Burton can take away some good ideas from my similar experience of prepping with little money. best, – J.C.