Food Storage on a Budget, by N.T.M. in Nevada

When it comes to food storage, people that I have talked with have almost always made the comment that they can barely afford to feed their family now much less afford to have food storage.  I am currently working with a few people and teaching them how to feed their family and still put food up for TEOTWAWKI.  There are three things that I tell people to always do, (1) gardening, (2) couponing, and (3) food co-ops.

(1) Gardening.  When TSHTF, you don’t want to be changing the way that your family eats because then you could be facing worse problems.  So the number 1 thing to do is to start a garden.  You are going to want to already know how to grow your own food to be able to replenish your food storage and maintain a constant supply of food.  I always tell people to both feed your family from your garden as well as preserve what you grow.  Start with heirloom seeds so that you can also learn how to save the seeds from what you grow.  Your startup will be more with getting the proper seeds and tools to do the work.  When you grow and preserve your own food storage, you have the ability to learn the art of gardening, seed saving, and know that your family will eat and already be adjusted to the foods that you grow as well as save money.  Fresh fruits and vegetables from your home garden are healthier for you because you are able to control the pesticides and environment that they are grown in.  Once you have all that fresh fruits and vegetables, you need to preserve them before they go bad.  You can dehydrate and can them.  Look at thrift stores and yard/garage sales for canning equipment including canning jars as well as dehydrators.  You would be surprised at what people get rid of, especially in the times that we are in.  Get creative with this, there are so many things that you can do with all those fruits and vegetables.  Tomato’s for examples, you can dehydrate them and then eat them as a snack or put through a blender for tomato powder.  When you can them, you can make spaghetti sauce, chili sauce, tomato sauce, ketchup, barbeque sauce, et cetera.

(2) Couponing.  There are so many coupons out there that no one uses.  Ask around and I’m sure you can find people that will give you theirs that they aren’t going to use.  Check the local library, they usually have a box for people to drop off coupons, and join a couponing group where you can swap ones you will not use for ones that you will.  I was just at the store and had been able to get a total of 28 Heinz Vinegar coupons for $1 off any one.  They were priced at Wal-Mart for $1.12, so after the coupon I only paid out of pocket 12 cents each.  You can get a lot of stuff for storage fast using your local stores sales and combining a coupon.  Not only can you get the coupons from the Sunday papers, but there are lots of sites online that you can print coupons as well such as coupons.com, as well as being able to download coupons on your store saving card.  Watch at the stores, there are always displays that have coupons attached to.  You can either use them then or save them for a sale.  I got some coupons in the Sunday paper for Ball or Kerr canning jars, when I went to the store and bought them, there was coupons on the side of the packages and inside were coupons for the lids, pectin, produce protector, and more.  There are also times when there are coupons put out for items that will give you an overage.  There was a $3 off any Bayer aspirin coupon and at Wal-Mart the regular price for the low dose is $2.22 resulting in a 78 cent per bottle overage.  I had 10 coupons so I bought 10 of them and all of them were free and I got a total of $7.80 off of my shopping trip.  There are times when you don’t have to wait for a sale, but for the most part you are going to want to hold on to your coupons to combine with a sale and if possible a store coupon.  Always remember to check your expiration dates, you don’t want to stock up on a bunch of items that will be expiring in a month. Coupons are everywhere you just have to keep your eyes open for them.

(3) Food co-ops.  My favorite is Bountiful Baskets.  Check their web site as see if they have a page for your state.  I go on and get my basket as well as being able to get fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk at discounted prices as an add on to bring home and preserve.  I have gotten wheat, fruits, and vegetables from there.  Co-ops also give you more of a variety of new things to try and see if your family likes or not.  You can also find food co-ops through any local farmers in your area.  When it comes to co-ops, the sky’s the limit.  My father-in-law has apple trees and my kids and I will go over there during harvest time and pick as many as we can hold.  My father-in-law provides his own canning jars and in exchange, when I am making apple butter, apple sauce, jelly, apple pie in a jar, etc., I can up extra jars for him and get my apples for free all it takes is my time.  Ask around to people that you know that fruit trees and see if you can come over when they are ripe and pick some, most of the time they will let you because they don’t want what they won’t use to go to waste.  I always offer to can some extra for them if they supply their own jars and lids.  It doesn’t take any longer to do up a couple more jars for them and then they will be happy that you are offering to do something for what you are wanting from them.  When people see that you are offering to do all of the work they are willing to let you take as much as you want.  Another place to look is your local farmer’s market.  You can find lots of good prices there as well as being able to get an idea on what items grow good in your area.  You don’t want to stock up on a bunch of seeds that will not grow in the region that you live in.

Go out and talk to people and see what they have and what they do.  Talked to the people that work at your local nurseries, they know what will grow and what not to waste your time on for the area that you live in.  A good rule of thumb is try it yourself.  Everyone told me that you couldn’t grow peanuts where I live and I decided to try it myself.  They are growing good in my garden, I just have to wait and see if they produce.  If they do, then I will be glad that I tried it out for myself.  Listen to what people have to say but also try it for yourself.  It is best to find out now then when it’s too late and you are counting on your garden to be able to feed yourself and family when there is no grocery store to go to.  You don’t have to tell them what you are doing, from my experience when I ask questions people seem to like to show off how much they know they don’t seem to ask to many questions.

If you have a group together that you will be with WTSHTF, working together as a group now will enable you to work together as a group better when it is really needed.  I concentrate more on food storage then I do anything, don’t get me wrong, anything can happen and it is always best to make sure that everyone in the group has everything that they will need to sustain life should you all not be able to make it to your suggested location, however, working as a team to find the best deals will enable you all to get a better variety of food storage then working alone and not as a team.  There are people that I know that know people that I don’t and have access to different fruit trees then I do and just by putting the work out there sometimes you can get more then if you worked by yourself.  A word of caution though, is be careful with whom you talk to.  I don’t go around announcing to people that I am a prepper, because there are too many people that do see a need for it, and those are the people that WTSHTF are going to be either knocking on your door for help or worse yet, trying to by force take what you have worked so hard to get. 

Pay attention to all of the resources out there on how to get yourself your food storage and save money at the same time.  With using the techniques I have described, I have been able to not only feed my family, have a good variety of food storage, but also cut our grocery bill down by half each month.