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.”

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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.”

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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/#.

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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.
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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.

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Food. It’s what’s for dinner.

The post Thanksgiving turkey abundance has finally abated. I was in my local Albertson’s and, as usual, I did a quick pass through the meat department looking for bargains. They had boneless turkey breast, seasoned with rosemary or garlic, marked down 30% off the regular price. Hmmm.

“Excuse me. Is the manager around?”
“Is there a problem?”
“No problem, just wanted to ask him something.”
:::she trundles off to get the manager. Manager shows up.:::
“Can I help you?”
“Yeah, you’ve got a dozen trays of turkey breast in the bin there marked down 30%. Would you gimme a better deal if I took all of them?”
“Best I can do is 50%, I can’t…”
“Done.”

20161202_152435So, these will get vacuum sealed and then off to the cryo-nap. Now, lets do some math. Each turkey breast is enough for two people. With the discount, that’s about $1.35#. Add in a box of Stove Top stuffing at $1.00 (purchased in bulk when on sale), add a can of corn (also purchased by the case on sale). And you have a basic turkey dinner for two people at a price of..hmmm…about $1.50 per person. And thats for a not-inconsequential amount of food landing on your plate. It all comes out of storage or the deep freeze, so it’s good to go for the next, oh, five years or so.

We may store ammo & camo, but food is something we know we’re gonna wind up using. You can never go wrong taking advantage of sales like that. And…don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. They’re not gonna throw you out of the store or anything..worst that happens is they say no.

Security, thy name is food.

 

Grocery bargains

Some things just bring me joy….free ammo (it happens), porn sites with easily hacked passwords, puppies, watching liberals discover the world isn’t what they thought it was, etc, etc. But two things that always soothe my soul are a) bargains and b) food. And sometimes, if the gods are smiling, a & b combine in one glorious moment.

Today? Apparently breakfast cereal was on sale. The real stuff, not the store-brand ‘almost as goods’. (Generic frosted flakes? “They’rrrrrrrrrrrrre…okay!”) So, with regular price being knocked down about 50% who wouldn’t stock up?

20160915_191416I know from experience that they’ll stay fresh in their sealed bags well into next year. And I’m the kind guy who, when he feels lazy and hungry, will just have a giant bowl of breakfast cereal  for dinner.

More importantly, its part of the Alpha strategy – buy it cheap and stock it deep when prices are low. Way I reckon it, I’m good on breakfast cereal for the rest of the year.

Need more milk though……..

Article – Bunker Food: Not Just for the Apocalypse Anymore

The “emergency-food” industry has long sold tubs of dehydrated fruit and freeze-dried beef stew to keep until disaster strikes

The selling point is the food lasts for years. For companies, that is also the drawback. Customers can stock up once—a “one-and-done purchase,” said Greg Allison, vice president of marketing for Blue Chip Group Inc., which makes hundreds of different freeze-dried entrees.

So he and others in the business are asking, Why wait for Armageddon?.

There is some truth to this article. Once you drop the coin for a five years supply of freeze drieds you pretty much never have to buy them again. So, the vendors need to find another way to keep the market active. Rather than sell the complete meals, they should focus on the components. FD veggies, fruits, meats, etc, in bulk are nice for making your own meals. That’s where the money is going to be.

The Blue Chip Group mentioned in the article is the outfit we know as Augason Farms … an outfit I recommend for their wonderful variety and convenient packaging.

Yup, freeze drieds (and other long-term foods) are expensive, but after a long day of hanging looters and fighting off UN troops nothing will taste better than those freezedried porkchops, mashed potatoes, corn, and apple sauce.

 

H/T to Friend Of The Blog, http://harryflashmansblog.blogspot.com/