Basic broad strokes
Unless one is part of a survivalist community that has been putting food by for years, food is one of the first things that folks can expect to run out of. It is all very fine and well to say that everyone should have a full larder …. but here in the real world that usually doesn’t happen.

When the cost of essentials such as food, gas and electricity keep going up, most folks wind up going payday to payday. So how can anyone realistically expect to have some set by for a rainy day?

Helpful Hints     If you are gradually accumulating a “stash”, it is probably wisest not to advertise that! If you have children, you might not want to tell them about your ‘stash’! Why? Even if they don’t talk about it at Show and Tell, odds are they won’t be able to resist helping themselves without telling you!

If you do not have a basement, pick a dry cool closet to use as an emergency “pantry”

Special Note: If you are putting food by for an emergency, at least one or two day’s supply should be edible without cooking. It make take a day or two to line up an alternate way to cook.

How to build a stash

  • Every pay day check the grocery flyers for ‘loss leaders’ in canned or dry goods. These things will keep even if there is no available electricity, eh?
  • Shop local and in season. Not only will that support the local economy, but it will generally cost you less as well. When I was a child, we never ate salad in the winter. My mother used to call soup “winter salad”
  • Don’t stop for groceries on the way home from work. It really is more expensive in two ways … without a list we all spend more money shopping …. and it IS true that we spend more money less sensibly when grocery shopping when we are hungry 🙂
  • Buy in bulk if you can. When i buy a 10 kg bag of rice / lentils / etc at our health food store, I am saving in packaging costs
  • Instead of buying water, why not have a few camping water containers that can periodically be refilled when there is water and electricity available.   In this house, plastic milk jugs are washed out and used to store potable water.   They are already food grade and store easily.
  • For the longer term, anyone with a yard or a balcony can grow their own food. Even a couple of little raised beds or a small garden plot can make a tremendous difference. Although I have not personally tried it, friends of mine with small yards have also had great success with Straw Bale Gardening … which looks to be something that might also work on a balcony

As a society, we generally eat like lumberjacks .. but the truth is that we don’t really need as much meat as we think we do. If you are looking for a more economical way to eat … with ingredients that do not necessarily need refrigeration … it would be worth your while to investigate vegetarian diets. Even if you cannot completely let go of the carnivore rope … you’ll save money by cutting back to a couple of times a week.

There is no shortage of good information out there on vegetarian eating, but for my money the best reference is Diet for a Small Planet, by Francis Moore Lappe

If, like me, you are a fan of the Harrowsmith Magazine cookbooks, there is a dandy amount of helpful information in there for budding vegetarians too! A few years ago, my Mom gave me the beautiful cookbook produced by the magazine Vegetarian Living … and that is chock full of lovely bits like Good Shepherd’s Pie 🙂

Safe food storage

If you are putting food by, some thought needs to be devoted as to what safe storage might be available during an emergency. If electricity is only temporarily unavailable, most of us will be able to keep the food in our freezer if it is relatively full and we don’t open it over much.

What if electricity is not available for the long haul? What then? Dried foods and canned goods will be still be fine … all that is needed for safety’s sake is a dry spot with moderate temperature. Even carnivores can find canned meat to tuck away, eh?

Speaking as someone who has actually eaten dehydrated field rations, they would not be top of my shopping list. Even worse, I find they tend to be pretty high priced … preying on peoples fears that the Big Bang is on the way.

There are lots of tasty, nutritious things that can keep for a long time. Dried and canned soups. Peanut butter. Jam. From pizza mixes to stew to chef boy ar dee and beyond, there really is something out there for everyone … eh?