Link – 5 Apocalyptic Realities In A Country That’s Out Of Food

Mostly  out of laziness I haven’t really done any grocery shopping for the last three weeks.  I’ve pretty much just been living off of what is in the freezer and cupboards. And, unsurprisingly, I didn’t even notice it until the other day when I realized that I’ve used about $25 of my monthly grocery budget and haven’t bought anything other than Coke and a half gallon of milk.

I’d mentioned a few posts back that the bargain meat purchasing has led me to have a freezer full of food and that at the end of the month half of whatever is left in the freezer is carried over to the next month and the other half goes into the deep freeze for that rainy day. Well, it’s been three weeks and my freezer is still full of various bits of dead animal flesh. There is easily another few weeks of pork loin, steaks, turkey breast, pork chops, and such sitting in there.

The point? Clearly theres at least a months worth of meat in the refrigerator’s freezer, and it’s nice to be able to blow off grocery shopping and use the money for something else. Also, its a nice reinforcement that the current policy on picking up and tucking away the bargain meats has been working well.

Contrast with this fascinating piece about how in Venezuela, just having a couple mango trees in your yard can make the difference in avoiding starvation….but can also lead to armed men looting your tree for food.

“I have a mango tree … This tree is currently saving my life, but might also get me killed soon.”

That’s Busteq. He’s a middle-class Venezuelan who lives in a nice neighborhood. In short, he’s a lot like many of you, except his country (which has more oil than any other nation on earth) saw its currency go tits-up when gas got super cheap last year. This, combined with almost comical levels of government corruption, has brought their civilization to the brink of collapse.

Ah Venezuela….it’s like a nationwide Katrina experience that just never ends.

It’s nice to think that just the stuff sitting in my kitchen right now has gotten me through almost a month all on its own. And thats just the stuff in the kitchen cabinets. Once I dip into the long-term storage food I’d probably be right at a year or so, at least. Of course, as the link above demonstrates, having food when your neighbors do not is great for keeping you fed and lousy for keeping you safe. This is where the Venezuelan experience differs from what might happen here. (And, if you’ve been reading about the hurricane-ravaged islands in the Caribbean you can read some pretty scary stories about looters and other opportunists running amok.) In this country, assuming youve got your head screwed on straight and don’t think the world is all peace-n-love, the smart prepared individual will have the means to keep his property his.

What’s it like when a prepared survivalist rides out something like the recent hurricanes? Well, our Friend Of The Blog, Harry,  at Self Sufficient Mountain Living sat out the tail end of it and appears none the worse for wear.

It’s an interesting, but very predictable, time in a survivalists life when the gun stuff fades in precedence and the mundane things like food and toilet paper take the spotlight. On the other hand, having been into preparedness in one fashion or another for about thirty years it’s not unreasonable to think that within that time frame I’ve managed to get the gun needs pretty much met.

Anyway…..

Fun little piece about Venezuela and worth a read. Definitely makes you feel like heading to CostCo or SuperWallyworld to stock up. Oh, and before I go, here’s another piece in the same vein from the same source: My Wealthy Country Became A Dystopia Overnight: 6 Realities.

Remaindered meat

I’ve mentioned before that my local Albertson’s has what I have come to call “remaindered meat”. It’s when the meat is on its last day of “Use By” and the store has to sell it or dumpster it. Since half a (meat)loaf is better than none, they mark it down to either 30% or 50% off to try and blow it out the door. I’ve mentioned this before here , here, and here.

You have to remember, these little sales are, for the most part, completely unpredictable. I could go a week or two without finding something worth buying or I may wind up picking up forty pounds of meat in one week. It’s unpredictable. As a result, when the end of the month rolls around the freezer in my refrigerator might be more than a little full.

A few months back I instituted a policy where all the remaindered meat I pick up goes into the freezer in the refrigerator. At the end of the month, whatever meat is left in the freezer, half of it goes into the big freezer as ‘food insurance’. I’m finding that this little program is working very well for me. When the new month starts I usually have a huge amount of meat still left in the freezer, and my ‘just in case’ supply in the deep freezer keeps improving. As the month progresses, a few more remaindered meat sales wind up in the fridge freezer and at the end of the month half of whats left gets put back.

Today’s score? Bacon wrapped seasoned boneless pork chops, two per tray, in oven-safe foil trays….just remove the plastic and slide ’em into the oven…$5 each marked down 50%, so $2.50. Bought ’em all.

20170821_104729The nice thing is that since it’s all ‘remaindered’ meat, I’m not paying full price for anything. Even if there are no interesting sales for a week or two, there’s still at least that much worth of ‘remaindered’ meat in fridge freezer. As a result, I never have to pay $4.99/# for beef. This frees up money for other stuff, which is part of what survivalism is all about: efficient resource management. I know what you’re thinking “There’s nothing survival related about this! This is a post more fit for a mommy blog about coupon clipping!” No, not really. My point is that you have to eat. Now, you can eat as cheaply as possible by living on a diet of, literally, beans and rice which is exactly what many Third World denizens do. But you are not a Third Worlder. We are meat-eating, gun-toting, flag-waving, moon-landing, Japan-nuking, culture-dominating citizens of the premier First World country. Why live like a Third Worlder if you don’t have to? If you can procure $500 a month worth of food for $250, that frees up $250 to spend on ammo, gear, guns, books, radios, fuel, storage food, knives, gold, silver, etc. And that is most definitely survival-related.

Missoula Cash and Carry opens

I was knda excited yesterday. A new Costco-ish restaurant supply place opened up in town yesterday. Obviously, I don’t have a restaurant but what I do have is an interest in bulk food at low prices. So…off I went.

The biggest problem was that many things are in Costc-size packaging. Sure, it’s a great deal on ketchup but it’s in a 5-gallon bucket that, once opened, won’t stay good until I’m done with it. Lotsa that. But there were a few things that were of interest to the survivalist type. In a display that would make any homeless hardcore-alcoholic salivate, there was a bulk amount of Sterno products:

20170721_094010 20170721_094034There was also a huge amount of paper/plastic tableware…whcih is handy to have when you dont want to waste time and hot water in a crisis.

If you’re a beans-n-rice kinda guy, there was plenty of that as well:

20170721_094556The meat department had the huge cuts of meat all wrapped up in heavy plastic nad ready for cutting. That was a pretty sweet deal. They also had bulk italian sausage, which is always a staple in this household. (especially after this and this ).

All in all, the prices were okay. Some stuff was stupidly not-a-bargain (Coke for example), but other stuff was. There was also a great selection of frozen entrees and appetizers. For my needs, there were a few things in there that were worth making the trip. For a non-survivalist, convenience standpoint there was definitely some good stuff….for example, a few bags of frozen dumplings are nice to have for a quick meal.

If you’re in Missoula, check em out but keep in mind it’s geared more towards commercial kitchens, so you may have trouble with the product sizing.

 

 

Fortune favors the cheap

Kinda been having a hankering for meatloaf this week. Thing is, have you seen the prices on ground beef these days? Outrageous. But, I figured I’d hit the remaindered meat bin at my local Albertsons. And, to my surprise, there was this:
20170430_192730Now, let’s do some math. Those are 3# rolls of ground beef. They are on sale at $5.99 per ‘log’. Let’s not split hairs and call it $2/#. They are marked down to 30% off since they need to get it our before it hits expiration. Hmm… lets see how many there are…1..2…3…..10. So thats 10 x 3# @ $2/#, or, another way, it’s 30# of ground beef for $60. That’s a pretty good deal. But….I bet they’d like to get rif of all of it. I wander to the guy in the butchers apron cleaning the meat case.

“Howdy. Is the meat department manager around?”
“No, he goes home at 4pm. Can I help you?”
“Can you point me at someone who has the authority to change prices?”
“I can do it if it’s on something that we already have marked down and today is the expiration date.”

20170430_194556

Achievement unlocked…..

“Excellent. Let’s talk money. If you’ll mark these down to 50% off, I’ll take all of them.”
“All of them?”
“All of them.”
“I can call the manager at home.”
“Awesome. I’ll wait.”

And thats how you get this:
20170430_193104And to put that in perspective, thats 30# of ground beef at $0.998/#. That’s right, less than a buck a pound for dead cow flesh.

How does this relate to preparedness? Well, for starters, my deep freeze now has another 30# of meat in it at dang near Carter-era prices. With ground beef hanging in there around $3.99/# that frees up $90 to go towards other foodstuffs.  These sorts of deals are out there, man. You just gotta look and you can’t be embarassed to ask the manager (or whomever has the authority) if they’re willing to make a deal if you take a big enough amount.

It’s a rare thing for me to feel pride in anything I do, but I am a wee bit satisfied with myself on this one.

Link – What I Learned Living off a 30 Day Emergency Supply of Food

Interesting series of posts.

My goal was simple: to see what it would be like to live off a basic food storage kit for 30 days. I had no ulterior motives; I just wanted to see if I could eat what was in the box for 30 days. Sometimes I like to experience things or challenge myself in ways some people might think is odd. To me, I just see it as a fun experiment. Might be a bored housewife thing. Might be a quirk in my personality. Either way, I was actually oddly excited to try this. I was curious about so much.

Not all 30-day kits are the same, though. The Wise brand kits turn up in Costco and a few other places, and I’ve not really heard anyone say too many nice things about them. Mountain House makes a few different kits and most people are have neutral/good comments about them. Augason Farms makes a 30-day kit that I recommend as an entry-level way to try a variety of their products. It’s a broad selection of small cans (not pouches) with about 20 different items. I catch these on sale every once in a while and they make outstanding gifts.

Mountain House offers a few variations on this theme…2-, 3-, 4-, 5, and 14-day kits of pouches. I’ve sold the 3-day kits before and they’re an attractive and convenient option. (By the by –$50 Rebate when you buy the 14-Day Emergency Food Supply + Free Shipping!

All these kits, and this is touched on in the link at the begining of this post, are best when you use them to supplement or augment an existing stockpile of food. Rice, pasta, grain, whatever….these kits help stretch things out and prevent appetite fatigue.

In my opinion, where these kits really shine is in portability. If you have just got to go, go, go and it’s a matter of taking whatever you can grab and throw in the back of the truck in five minutes, thats where these things shine.

Anyway, I’ve seen a few people online do similar types of ‘dietary challenges’ and I thought it would be interesting to bring it to everyones attention.

 

By the case? Buy the case….Pt III

So….my daily pass through the meat department looking for bargain meats. And, to my surprise, the spaghetti sauce I usually  prefer is on sale. Hmmm. Ok, I bought about 120# pasta a week ago…I guess I need enough spaghetti sauce to go with it. And it is on sale, after all. Ten cases please.

20170308_125222Annnnnd…another 120 Monopoly game pieces.

On the bright side, a trip to CostCo for a case of Italian sausage and I’ll be ready to have my favorite reasonably-quick comfort meal on hand for the next….mmmm…..two years. On the negative side, even for me, this is a quantity not usually kept…I need to do some re-arrangements of things in the food storage area. But…there is comfort (and economy!) in these sorts of maneuvers.

Link – Mountain House pouches rated to 30 years

According to Mountain House’s website, their pouch products, which previously were rated for around seven years, should be good significantly longer than that.

Mountain House makes a pretty good product, and some of their stuff is pretty good. I’m still a little annoyed with them over their snubbing small-time dealers several years back. But…personal feelings have no place intruding into logistics planning.

I have cases and cases of the Mountain House pouches in storage. Their ‘Pro-Pack’ stuff is just the ticket for stuffing into a 72-hour bag or caching in a bucket somewhere.

I usually figured the product would keep well past the seven year shelf life anyway, it’s nice to see a little confirmation of that.

 

H/T to The Metals Pimp for bring this to my attention.

By the case? Buy the case….Pt II

I may not have a lot going for me, but Crom as my witness…..I will never be hungry.

I like pasta. I’ve cut back on it a bit, but I make a very nice bolognese sauce as well as a very nice tomato sauce. Anyway, the magic number for me for pasta is $1/#. When I can get it for less than that, I’ll stock up. The lower the price, the more I stock up. Pasta keeps quite well, and I use it fairly often…probably 2# a week. So, my  local Albertson’s had the stuff on sale for $.050/#. This was the same sale as they had last June. This time, I was merciless. Last summer was rigatoni, this time – ziti. (Who doesn’t love them some baked ziti????)

20170227_130414You know you’ve maxed out your shopping skill level when they start bringing out your purchases on a hand truck in addition to a shopping cart. The promotion was part of some ‘Monopoly’ themed contest they were having. That’s when it got amusing…

“Ok, 160 boxes of pasta, at fifty cents each…”

“And there’s a 10% discount for buying by the case.”, I gently reminded her.

“Right. So that’s going to be $80 less 10%….so….$72.”

I hand her the cash.

“And here’s your receipt and you get….177 Monopoly pieces.”

“I’m sorry…what?”
“You get 177 Monopoly pieces. Are you playing the game?”

“Uhm..no…but with 177 pieces I think I might have to.”

20170227_132554

So….that happened. Joke’s on me, it’s going to take me *hours* to go through all those and check for winners.

Final analysis? For you numbernerds, the scoreboard looks like this:

Normal price: $298.40
Price with sale: $80.00
Case discount: – $8.00
Final total: $72 or $0.45/#.

20170227_132647

The money shot

Now, yes, I could tuck away all that food but my habit as of late has been that when I find a *really* good deal on something, I set aside $20 and donate the food to the food bank. So, they’ll get about three cases. It’s ‘Karma Helper’.

Yes, there’s some math discrepancies going on. I think thats because they’re factoring a slightly different pricing schedule. Fact remains though: awesome deal.

Cannery trip

So I stopped in at the Mormon cannery the other day. Actually, if you want to be technical, its the Bishop’s Storehouse or Missoula Home Storage Center. What it actually is is a solid example of a group of Like Minded Individuals working together for a common benefit. Say what you will about the Mormons, they take care of their own and are not screwing around about it. Their logistics are amazing.

I hadn’t been up there in several years since they stopped the DIY dry-canning opportunities. Nowadays you can go up there, but instead of canning the stuff on your own you buy it already canned. It’s certainly more convenient, but I really liked the hanging out and interacting with other (somewhat) like-minded folks.

Anyway, I went up there not because I needed anything but because a friend of mine wanted to go and he’d never been there before. He wound up with a few hundred dollars of assorted goodies and all parties concerned were glad to help. The official line, as I understand it, is that the church offers the services and products of their food storage facility because they want to help their fellow man. Good on them. I’ve been told by people with a more pragmatic bent that the more accurate reason is because if they make the food storage available to their neighbors it lowers the odds of the neighbors forming an angry mob and coming to take their food storage.. I suspect there is an equal element of truth to both statements.

If you’ve never been to one of these places, it is an outstanding source to get some staple goods at unbeatable prices to round out your home storage. The place is almost exactly like Costco but smaller and with about 200% more Jesus. In all my trips there I never once had anyone put a religious spin into things except for starting the visit off with a quick prayer. No one tries to convert you, engage you in religious conversation, or anything like that. We all know why we’re there and we get it done.

20170225_090700 20170225_091102What they offer are very basic foodstuffs. Wheat, onions, carrots, sugar, pasta, dried apples, oats, etc. These are things that you could survive on by themselves if you absolutely had no choice, but they’re much better used in conjunction with other storage foodstuffs.

Anyway, it was a nice visit. I always feel a sense of belonging around the poeple there when I go…not because of some religious compatriotism but rather because I’m around other people who don’t think stuffing your basement full of food, ammo, and toiilet paper is a weird idea.

Upcoming cannery trip

Reminder: A dozen 10/22 mags for $104 delivered.
=====================================

Winter continues apace. A good time for indoor things like reloading, inventorying, re-arranging things, etc, etc.

Got together with one of the LMI the other day. He was asking me about the LDS cannery in town. I hadn’t been there in several years and since then they have changed their policy about food canning. See, it used to be you’d get a half dozen people or so, head up there, everyone put on gloves and a hair net, and you took your place in the assembly line process of canning food. Your task might be to scoop rice from the 100# bag into the cans, or your job might be to put the oxygen absorber in the can, or perhaps your job was to seal the can…you get the idea. Anyway, there was a certain amount of ‘sweat equity’ involved and having to work together with strangers. Normally, I do not like working with strangers but since these were strangers who shared my beliefs and goals it was rather nice.

And then, as usual, .gov stepped in screwed it up.

Health and safety, food handling regs, whatever….short version is that because of bureaucratic BS you couldn’t continue doing it the way it had been done. Instead, you go up there now and buy the food already canned. Heck,  you can even head over to the church website and order the stuff online at the same price.

So, I need to get together with my buddy and make an appointment to go up there and pick up a few things. I was going over my spreadsheet and I’ve a comfortable amount of stuff in storage but, for a few bucks, why wouldn’t you pad that stockpile a bit?

Between bulk stuff like rice, corn, and pasta, the long-term stuff like the freeze-drieds and dehydrated, the mid-term stuff like the canned meats and jarred foods, and the shorter term stuff, I think I could pretty much go quite a while without feeling hungry.

I remember reading “One Second After” and somewhere around three months into the story people were eating heir pets and killing each other for food. I recall thinking “Geez, that’s only three months…I wouldn’t be even making a dent in my stockpile at that point.”

As me and my buddy were talking about the tentative upcoming cannery trip, I mentioned that at this point I’m pretty much just ‘maintaining’ rather than ‘increasing’. I mean, the main needs are met, pretty much. All thats really left are the super big ticket items like the happy little fortified Middle O’ Nowhere house, the uber bugout vehicle, and a few expensive high tech odds and ends. But….that sort of thinking leads to complacency and that’ll cause you no shortage of grief in the long run. So….ABC.

75156287