Some people might think stockpiling is unnecessary, but let me tell you: As a Minnesotan, we’ve had more than our fair share of days when we’ve been stuck in the house due to a 36-inch snowstorm or a stretch of 30-below zero winter days.
Have you ever thought about having a stockpile of food set aside for a disaster or time of need, but were scared of taking action due to potential costs? If so, you’re in luck, because there are ways to stockpile on even the tightest of budgets. Go to almost any commercial site on survival food and you’ll find it easy (and highly recommended) to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a 1-to-2 year supply of food for your family. But creating your own stockpile survival is often easier and most always cheaper.
Before you write off stockpiling as only for “preppers”, consider the victims of recent hurricanes and other natural disasters. These poor folks were often stuck in their homes with no electricity and/or no access to transportation, as they waiting for hard-working city officials to restore power and clear streets, of which tasks far outnumbered the number of personnel assigned to the jobs. Residents often had to wait 2 weeks or even longer before they could get to a store or cook food, and with the financial picture of most Americans being what it is these days, leaving town for a sunny destination or even a far away family member’s home that allowed for food and power sources was simply not an option.
Therefore it’s in your own best interest to have at least a small stockpile of foods and medicines on hand in case of a natural or other disaster that might keep you locked in your home. Here are some things you can stock up on and still have money left over to pay the bills if you’re on a tight budget.
Core foods should consist of main meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Here is some of what we try and stock up on. Some needs to be prepared, and some doesn’t. You may be in a situation where you still have power, but can’t leave your home due to blocked roads or extreme hot or cold temperatures. Here are some basics that will get you through if the normal food supply is running low:
Rice (check the big box stores – we get ours for $10 for a 25 lb box)
Pasta – big bags(5 lbs.) go for roughly $6 at the shopping clubs
Beans: pinto, black, navy – whatever your family likes best. You can get a huge bag of beans for about $7
Oatmeal: 2 – 5lb. containers for $7.98
Fully cooked meats, soups, stews, veggies and meals of your liking. (Price, your choice. It depends on how much rice, beans and pasta your family can handle, but these are definitely optional and not necessities, unless you’re stuck without power, so we always like to have at least some on hand.) Let’s estimate $50 for this category.
**Note: This is a crucial part of stockpiling – only get the things your family likes to eat. Don’t waste your money on stuff you hate just to have something in the house.
This is easy. Keep on hand these three basics:
Water (we buy the gallon jugs. One gallon for each family member per day. I would have at least a two-week supply on hand, so if you have a 4-person family, that’s 28 gallons of purified drinking water). $28 at the most for a two-week supply, $56 for a month-supply.
A large box of powdered milk, for drinking and/or baking. Yeah, it’s gross, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Walmart sells generic powdered milk, 64oz. for under $14
Optional: you may want to have on hand some type of powdered flavoring, such as Koolaid, for your water, as a special treat. I wouldn’t spend any more than $5 on this though
We keep a stockpile of 5 basic spices:
Salt $1.50 for 2- 26oz containers
Pepper $7.64 for 18 oz.
Garlic Powder $5.94 for 21 oz.
Chili Powder $5.28 for 20 oz.
Cinnamon $4.58 18 .oz
This may not cover all of your spice preferences, but it will cover the basics. You may want to exchange the garlic and/or chili powder for your own favorites too, but we’ve found that these five basics can get us by for most recipes.
It’s always good to have some basic baking supplies on hand too, for if an emergency arises and grocery stores are unavailable.
Flour $4.76 for a 10-lb. bag
White Sugar $4.79 for a 10-lb. bag
Brown Sugar $3.98 for 4-lbs.
Baking soda –$1.24 for 2 lbs.
Baking powder $5.78 for 60 oz.
Vanilla flavoring $6.88 for 16 oz.
Cocoa $6.78 for 23 oz. (What? Chocolate is not a necessity? I vehemently disagree!)
Butter (can be frozen) 4- 1 lb. boxes for $7.98
Eggs – not especially storable – this is where backyard chickens come in VERY handy. That being said, I have skipped the eggs in things like pancakes and biscuits, and added a bit more water as needed to moisten, and they were perfectly acceptable to eat.
You’ll also want to have at least a basic first aid kit available. What should be in the basic kit?
1 Ace Bandage (for sprains and to use as a tourniquet if necessary)
Benadryl Allergy liquid for kids (faster acting in a liquid form for allergic reactions)
Neosporin or some other antibacterial ointment
Caladryl (for poison ivy, etc.)
Basic first aid instruction kit
Total cost for these items should run you about $30
Total spent on your basic stockpiling supply? Roughly $250. And this food list should easily last your family a month.
That being said, $250 is a lot of money to most people. So how can you get the best bang for your buck and fit your stockpiling supply into an already tight budget?
1. Stockpile a little at a time. Mr. CBB over at Canadian Budget Binder is a pro at this. He always budgets a bit into his weekly grocery budget for stockpiling. Check out his money-saving grocery tips here.
2. Hit the sales. It’s crucial to take advantage of great sales, both for your regular grocery shopping and for your stockpile. When our favorite spaghetti sauce went on sale for 99 cents a jar, we bought 15 jars for the stockpile. Add in the pasta, and we’re talking $1.75 for each meal for our family of six.
3. Stick to the basics. Your stockpiling supply is not meant to be full of gourmet meals. Of course, if you can afford it, go all out. But for those on a tight budget who are simply concerned about being able to feed their families in a time of crisis, stick to the basics. The important thing here is that you have food to eat, water to drink, and basic medical supplies for emergencies that can be handled at home.
Remember that for homes with babies or toddlers, those on regular medications, those with pets, and others with specific needs, you’ll need to stock up on those necessary supplies as well.
What do you think of our basic stockpiling list? Are we missing anything?