Storing food and supplies is a hedge against inflation, economic chaos, disruptions in the supply chain and the modern just-in-time inventory & distribution system. It also a safety issue, making it less likely you will have to venture to the market to buy needed goods during dangerous times (bad weather, civil unrest, violence).
A disruption in the supply chain for food and other goods will mean the shelves at Wal-mart, Target, Lowe's, Home Depot, and your local grocery, hardware, and clothing stores will quickly be emptied. Depending on the cause of the disruption, those shelves may not be re-stocked for months, if ever. Stock up now for an extended period of time in which you will not be able to buy what you need.
My recommendation: As soon as possible, acquire at least two weeks worth of food & supplies, then work towards building a month's stockpile, then six months, then a year, then two years worth of food and supplies.
You'll avoid the affects of hyperinflation (at least while your supplies hold out) and you will be spared any shortages that may occur. Food, water and medicine are the obvious choices to stockpile, but just about anything can be stocked up on.
Cleaning supplies, first aid supplies, batteries, clothing and shoes, as well as personal hygiene products such as toothpaste, razors, soap, shampoo, and deodorant are other good choices to stock up on. You might even want to get your next set of tires now instead of during an environment of hyperinflation and shortages.
Wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove can be stacked up in your backyard. Don't forget matches. Composted cow manure, bone meal, hummus and other soil amendments can be stored and used to improve your soil for future use. Most non-GMO seeds have a shelf-life of 3 to 5 years (possibly longer if stored under the right conditions).
Basic Guidelines for Stocking Up
The following comes from an earlier article I wrote, with some minor changes.
1) Don’t stock up on items you won’t use. Don’t stock up on cans of tuna fish if you hate tuna fish. Stock up on cans of chunk chicken instead. If you are allergic to tomatoes, don’t stock up on tomato soup. If you don’t eat English peas, then it doesn’t make sense to buy extra cans of English peas no matter how cheap they are. Only stock up on items you actually use.
2) Decide what you actually use on a regular basis, and then buy extra. Stocking up really isn’t complicated. In fact, it can be quite simple. If you normally buy two cans of tuna every week, simply buy four cans a week instead. If you normally buy two five-pound bags of sugar a month, buy four bags next month. If you normally by a can of baked beans every week, buy two. And so forth. In a few months will have accumulated a nice extra store of food for the tough times ahead.
3) Remember: Food eventually goes bad. Most canned goods have a shelf life of anywhere from two to six years. Properly stored (kept airtight in a dark, dry, cool place), most dry foods can last even longer. Frozen foods last only two to six months in most cases (besides, you don’t won’t to stock a freezer full of food and then have the power go out for a couple of days after a bad snow storm). Refrigerated goods typically last only few days to a week or so at most. Therefore, concentrate on canned and dry foods for your long term storage. Develop a rotation method to make sure you are always eating your oldest food first (I use a black sharpie to mark the purchase month & year on the top of every can or box of food I buy).
4) Stock up on ingredient foods. When stocking up, most people remember the main veggies and meats, such as green beans and tuna fish. But don’t forget the items you often use as ingredients in recipes – chicken or beef broths, tomato sauce, tomato paste, canned mushrooms, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, herbs & spices, and so on… Go through the recipes you make on a regular basis to see what ingredient foods you need.
5) Stock up on condiments. Catsup, mayonnaise, mustard, salad dressings, vinegar, peanut butter, jellies & jams, jars of pickles, peppers & olives, soy sauce, salt, pepper, and spices can all typically be stored (unopened) for long periods of time. Many of these are often among the first and hardest hit by inflation, so make especially useful items to stock up on.
6) Don’t forget coffee and tea. Tea, and especially coffee, are both typically hard hit by inflation, so stock up on them if you are a big coffee or tea drinker. Also, they could become scarce if the worldwide supply chain gets disrupted for any length of time.
7) Stick to the basics. Your kids might want you to stock up on pop-tarts and chocolate syrup, but they really can do without them despite their whining to the contrary. Stocking up is about surviving. Surviving means basics like tuna and beans, not luxuries like chocolate syrup and pop-tarts. Stick to the basics.
8) Stock up on non-food basics, too. Personal and hygiene items like toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, soap, feminine products, razors, shaving cream, and mouth wash can usually store indefinitely and therefore are great items to stock up on. Same goes for sanitation and cleaning supplies. You should also stock up on basic home first aid supplies (bandages, rubbing alcohol, anti-bacterial ointment, aspirin, etc.), and batteries (for flashlights, radios, smoke detectors, etc.).
9) A little at a time goes a long way. Most folks don’t have $500 that they can use to stock up all at once. But most can probably scrounge up $10 a week. At that rate, they will have accumulated over $500 worth of food & supplies in only a year.
Smart Shopping Tips for Affording Your Food Storage
- Use coupons.
- Shop sales.
- Compare prices.
- Make, and stick to, shopping lists.
- Give generic and store brands a try.
- Avoid impulse purchases. Think before you buy.
- Sam's Club, Costco, and BJ's Wholesale Club aren't always the cheapest option. Often times a generic or store brand elsewhere will be just as good and less expensive than a name brand at the warehouse store.
- Don't be a "Store Snob" - shop stores like Wal-mart, Aldi's, Ollie's, Big Lots, and even Amazon.com, in addition to your regular grocery store.
- Don't use credit cards to stock up. Going into debt creates a host of other problems. Reduce your expenses in other areas, or make some extra money with a yard sale, if you need to come up with extra cash for your purchases. Need help with your budget? Check out my Finances - Get Back To Basics article for lots of great info and tips.
A great book on this topic that I recommend is Peggy Layton's Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook. I wrote a review of it in 2104.