greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

If you are like most folks, after you pay your regular bills there aint much money left for other things. To survive the coming crisis, you need to get the most value you can from the few dollars you have left to spend.

There are only four major bases you need to have covered: food, water, shelter, and safety. If you can provide your family with these four necessities, then your family can weather whatever hard times might come your way. In previous posts I have talked extensively about water (see links at the end of this post). In this post I would like to chat about food.

Three Options for Feeding your Family:

2. The second option is finding edible wild plants growing in the forests just waiting to be harvested. I dont personally know anyone that could survive for very long just on the food mother nature has to offer. Please dont deceive yourself into believing that there is plenty of wild food out there just waiting to be picked. There is a little, but it aint much.

3. Now that we have those two illusions behind us, lets look at your third option. In todays economy, store bought food is very cheap and it has a shelf life of six months to ten years. In some parts of the world people survive on \$10 to \$20 worth of food per month. Here in the United States we laugh at the idea of living on \$10 a month because we spend \$10 just taking our little family to McDonalds for one meal. We have money so we spend money. In places where money aint as easily made as the United States, folks have learned how to stretch a dollar. Thats what Id like to share with you now. How to stretch every dollar youve got to get the most value out of it.

Calorie to Dollar Ratio:

Some of the foods in the following table can be eaten straight from the can or box. Some taste better if they are warmed. Others have to be cooked. Before you invest a lot of money in food you need to evaluate your situation and determine if you will have a source of fuel for cooking (or warming foods) during the coming hard times. It takes a lot less fuel to warm food than to cook food.

The following tables are divided into major food categories. I have listed some of the most common foods in each category, along with a normal package size, the price of the package, and the total number of calories in the package. On the package label you will find how many servings are in the package and how many calories are in each serving. Multiply those two numbers together to get the total calories in the entire package.

Finally, the last column in the table shows the cost per 1000 calories. To compute this number divide the cost of the package by the number of calories in the package and multiply by 1000. In my opinion, 1000 calories is the minimum number of calories a person can consume and still remain in decent health as they lose some weight (assuming the calories are spread out among the major food categories so you get the proper nutrition and vitamin balance). You can add a new column if you wish by multiplying by a number other than 1000, such as 1800. The important thing, however, is to note the difference in cost between the different food items based on the cost per calorie. For example, white rice costs \$0.27 per 1000 calories. Green beans cost \$7.14 per 1000 calories. If you are on a budget, then rice is the better value and it takes up less storage space.

Protein
 Item Container Size Cost Calories Cost / 1000 Calories Navy Beans 15 Oz. Can \$ 0.50 490 \$ 1.02 * October Beans 15 Oz. Can \$ 0.50 455 \$ 1.10 Kidney Beans 15 Oz. Can \$ 0.50 400 \$ 1.25 Northern Beans 15 Oz. Can \$ 0.50 390 \$ 1.28 Pinto Beans 15 Oz. Can \$ 0.50 390 \$ 1.28 Pork & Beans 16 Oz. Can \$ 0.40 285 \$ 1.40 Chili With Beans 16 Oz. Can \$ 0.90 700 \$ 1.29 * Chili No Beans 16 Oz. Can \$ 1.69 420 \$ 4.02 Mackeral 16 Oz. Can \$ 0.89 540 \$ 1.56 Salmon 16 Oz. Can \$ 1.79 630 \$ 2.84 Vienna Sausage 5 Oz. Can \$ 0.50 300 \$ 1.67 Spam 12 Oz. Can \$ 1.99 1,020 \$ 1.95 Tuna In Oil 6 Oz. Can \$ 0.65 275 \$ 2.36 * Tuna In Water 6 Oz. Can \$ 0.65 150 \$ 4.33 Roast Beef 12 Oz. Can \$ 1.99 350 \$ 5.68 Chicken 5 Oz. Can \$ 1.59 150 \$ 10.60

Complex Carbohydrates
 Item Container Size Cost Calories Cost / 1000 Calories White Rice 10 Pound Bag \$ 4.00 15,000 \$ 0.27 * Minute Rice 14 Oz. Box \$ 1.59 1,440 \$ 1.10 Rice-A-Roni 6.2 Oz. Box \$ 0.99 600 \$ 1.65 Instant Potatoes 13 Oz. Box \$ 1.69 1,280 \$ 1.32 * Canned Potatoes 15 Oz. Can \$ 0.55 150 \$3.67

Dairy Products
 Item Container Size Cost Calories Cost / 1000 Calories Instant Dry Milk 4 Pound Box \$ 9.00 6,500 \$ 1.38 * Evaporated Milk 12 Oz. Can \$ 0.79 480 \$ 1.65 Velvetta Cheese 32 Oz. Box \$ 4.99 2,880 \$ 1.73 Cheese Whiz 8 Oz. Jar \$ 1.99 630 \$ 3.16

 Item Container Size Cost Calories Cost / 1000 Calories White Flour 5 Pound Bag \$ 2.00 7,500 \$ 0.27 * Corn Meal 5 Pound Bag \$ 2.00 7,500 \$ 0.27 * Spaghetti Noodles 16 Oz. Box \$ 0.59 1,680 \$ 0.35 * Spaghetti Canned 15 Oz. Can \$ 1.09 540 \$ 2.02 Elbow Macaroni 16 Oz. Box \$ 0.59 1,680 \$ 0.35 Ramen Noodles 3 Oz. Bag \$ 0.16 380 \$ 0.42 * Frosted Flakes 25 Oz. Box \$ 3.19 2,760 \$ 1.16 Mini-Wheats 24.3 Oz. Box \$ 2.99 2,400 \$ 1.25 Raison Bran 20 Oz. Box \$ 2.89 1,900 \$ 1.52

 Item Container Size Cost Calories Cost / 1000 Calories Macaroni & Cheese 7.3 Oz. Box \$0.60 780 \$ 0.77 *

Vegetables
 Item Container Size Cost Calories Cost / 1000 Calories Spaghetti Sauce 26 Oz. Can \$ 0.99 360 \$ 2.75 * Spaghetti Sauce 26 Oz. Jar \$ 1.69 540 \$ 3.13 * Tomato Sauce 15 Oz. Can \$ 0.59 105 \$ 5.62 Corn 15 Oz. Can \$ 0.50 280 \$ 1.78 * Peas 15 Oz. Can \$ 0.50 210 \$ 2.38 Mixed Veggies 15 Oz. Can \$ 0.50 140 \$ 3.57 * Carrots 15 Oz. Can \$ 0.50 110 \$ 4.55 Spinich 15 Oz. Can \$ 0.50 105 \$ 4.76 Green Beans 15 Oz. Can \$ 0.50 70 \$ 7.14

Fruits
 Item Container Size Cost Calories Cost / 1000 Calories Pie Apples 21 Oz. Can \$ 1.19 700 \$ 1.70 Applesauce 48 Oz. Jar \$ 1.79 990 \$ 1.81 Pie Cherries 21 Oz. Can \$ 1.19 630 \$ 1.89 Peaches 15 Oz. Can \$ 0.99 350 \$ 2.83 Pears 15 Oz. Can \$ 0.99 315 \$ 3.14 Fruit Cocktail 15 Oz. Can \$ 0.99 315 \$ 3.14 * Pineapple Chunks 20 Oz. Can \$ 1.19 315 \$ 3.76

Protein / Carbohydrate / Vegetable
 Item Container Size Cost Calories Cost / 1000 Calories Beef Stew 24 Oz. Can \$ 1.79 690 \$ 2.59 *

Soups
 Item Container Size Cost Calories Cost / 1000 Calories Cream of Chicken 10.75 Oz. Can \$ 0.85 325 \$ 2.62 * Tomato 10.75 Oz. Can \$ 0.65 200 \$ 3.25 Chicken Noodle 10.75 Oz. Can \$ 0.65 175 \$ 3.71 Cream of Pototo 10.75 Oz. Can \$ 0.99 225 \$ 4.40

Miscellaneous Items
 Item Container Size Cost Calories Cost / 1000 Calories Crisco Shortening 3 Pound Can \$ 2.99 12,430 \$ 0.24 * White Sugar 5 Pound Bag \$ 1.99 8,500 \$ 0.24 * Confectioner Sugar 16 Oz. Box \$ 0.69 1,800 \$ 0.38 * Brown Sugar 16 Oz. Box \$ 0.69 1,695 \$ 0.41 * Pancake Syrup 24 Oz. Bottle \$ 1.99 2,520 \$ 0.79 * Grape Jelly 32 Oz. Jar \$ 1.79 2,250 \$ 0.80 * Chocolate Syrup 16 Oz. Can \$ 0.99 1,200 \$ 0.83 * Cocoa Powder 8 Oz. Package \$ 2.19 900 \$ 2.43 Honey 16 Oz. Jar \$ 2.19 1,320 \$ 1.66 *

* The items with asterisks are my recommended best buys for variety and balanced nutrition. If you dont enjoy some of these foods, then dont buy them and pick something else instead.

I didn't try to list every possible food in the above tables. You should add to these tables as you see fit. Prices in your area may vary so it pays to shop around. Also, the number of calories in an individual container will vary between brand names. Read the labels on the containers and do a little math on your own.

Spaghetti noodles without sauce can be a little bland. You only need a little sauce to coat the noodles. One can (or jar) of sauce can be used for two boxes of spaghetti. Metal cans of tomato sauce last about one year in storage. Glass jars of sauce last about two years because the acids in the tomatoes dont react with the glass. However, glass jars of sauce are usually a little more expensive.

In the above table, the cost of the instant potatoes is for Idahoan Premium Mashed Potatoes which only require the addition of water. (Some types of instant potatoes are cheaper but they require the addition of milk and butter. Read the preparation directions on the back of the box before you make your investment.) Tuna in water will start to get soggy after a few months in storage and it does not have the calories that tuna in oil has. Plus the oil in the tuna is a valuable necessity that your body requires. Consume the oil with the tuna - dont throw it away.

Taste is a very individual experience and some folks might not like some of the foods listed above. You know what your family likes to eat and what they dont. If possible, focus your purchases on foods that your family currently enjoys. Also buy some salt, pepper, yeast, baking powder, baking soda, corn starch, spices, syrups, sauces and hard candies that your family really likes. (Appetite fatigue is something that needs to be avoided as much as calorie deficiency.) If you have the money, invest in some powdered drink mixes, such as Kool-Aid, tea, and coffee.

Sale Items:

The costs listed in the above tables are average costs based on the area where I live. Depending on what type of store you visit and whether you buy a national brand or a generic (or store) brand, you will probably spend a little more or a little less than the amounts I have listed. However, the relationships among the items will remain relatively stable. In addition, many of these items go on sale every few weeks. My recommendation is to decide how much you can afford to invest each week (food for future consumption) and then visit all the stores in your area and note what they have on sale. After you have made a list of what is available, buy more of the items on sale and less of the items that arent on sale. Nobody knows how long prices will continue to be normal and it would be a mistake not to buy some of the foods in each major food group each week. About half the food in the store should have an easy to read expiration date on the package. However, some of the dates are coded and are difficult to interpret without some guidance. Look through the items on the shelf and pick the ones with the longest shelf life.

Where to Store that Extra Food:

Freeze Dried Foods:

My final comment concerning food is that folks on a small budget should ignore long shelf life foods such as the special dehydrated or freeze-dried foods sold by survival companies. Folks that began buying their food in 1997 and 1998 had a good reason to invest in these types of foods because it was going to be a long time before they ate their food reserves. Now, however, we are six months or less away from the time when you will be needing to eat your food and you dont need to pay the premium charged for these long shelf life food items. Remember, most canned vegetables will last 2 to 3 years, most canned meat will last 3 to 5 years, white rice will last ten or more years, dry noodles will last two years, dry milk will last two years, and white flour will last 9 to 18 months. (Self-rising flour has a short 9 month shelf life and regular flour has about an 18 month shelf life. Brown rice and seasoned rice only has a shelf life of 3 to 6 months.) Whatever you buy between now and the end of the year will probably be eaten before it starts to go bad.

Conclusion:

Food is easy to purchase today and it is very reasonably priced. When the hard times arrive, many foods may be in short supply and their price may be really high. Take action now so your family doesnt become one of the many casualties next year.

May God Bless.

Grandpappy

-- Grandpappy (Grandpappy@old-timers.hom), July 26, 1999

Some other things to consider. Supposedly medival peasents subsisted on 3500 to 4500 calories a day, mostly from cheap grains. That number of calories would make us desk chair warming, paste eating geeks big as blimps. That's because we don't do much physical activity. If you're expecting real trouble like prolonged power loss, you will have to replace those things powered by electricity with muscle power. Meaning you chop wood for the wood burning stove rather than have the furnace warm you, walk rather than drive, etc. Plan on burning alot of calories if you find yourself a suddenly low tech society.

Which brings us to being able to provide muscle power in the worst case scenario. Can you? If not, now is the time to start exercising. Build strength up now.

And calories are not the only thing you get from food. There's vitamins and minerals to consider. Store those canned veggies, and use the water packed in the cans to cook with. It's packed with vitamins. Plan on using vitamin supplements as well.

Thanks for a great post Grandpappy.

Watch six and keep your...

-- eyes_open (best@wishes.net), July 26, 1999.

Grandpappy,

I enjoyed your thoughtful and well organized recommendations. But I might add that one shouldn't be surprised if your Costco receipt for one month of canned foods, etc. (that is meant to feed 6 people for 30 days at 1,500 calories each person and per day) comes out to about \$600. Sometimes, the bill may come out a few hundred dollars more. My last big trip was closer to a thousand, but that seemed high to me.

One case (twenty four cans) of Roast Beef at \$1.99 comes out to \$47.76 (not including tax) and makes about four meals (say, once per week for six people during that 30 days) with each meal consisting of only 350 calories for each person. So you'll need to eat some bisquick biscuits with that roast beef and drench the biscuits in that caloric wonder, honey.

You will also find that canned vegetables may be high in vitamins, but low in calories. I think one entire 16 ounce can of french cut green beans has some insignificant number of calories (90?), but if you fry them in oil, you can pump the calories to a few hundred per serving.

If you were well off enough to buy a lot of dehydrated canned foods, you know that the calories in these #10 cans is also insignificant. I thought I had three months of dehydrated canned food for four people (according to the literature and recommendation of various retailers). After doing the calorie count, I found that I only had one month for four people. It was very disappointing. Read the labels, do the math.

After much and great resistance to stocking up on buckets and bags of wheat, rolled oats, corn, rice, and beans, I now find that they are the only foods that are cost effective and afforable for last minute prepping and long term prepping-- unless you have thousands of dollars in your pocket. I am led to assume that even if you were to buy a country living mill for \$250 to grind up your many hundreds of pounds of grains, this would be cheaper than if you had tried to match the calories and nutrition in canned food.

Again, honey and oil (olive oil and vegetable oil) will add critical calories to your diet (whether canned, dehydrated, or bulk grain and beans). Buy them by the case or make your own cases when grocery store specials beat the Costco prices. I am even tempted to recommend 20 pounds of honey per month and at least 4 gallons of oil per month (2 vegetable/2 extra virgin olive oil). Pasta is also a caloric miracle. You might consider stocking up five to six pounds of pasta per month.

Keep an eye out for the specials. I never did before, but when you are buying 48 cans of something (for example, a case of safeway brand stewed tomatoes), a savings of \$1.00 per 3 cans is a savings of \$16.00. If you save \$16.00 on two cases, that's a total of \$32.00 and you can buy two more cases! If you and your partner don't mind going separatelu through the line 12 more times. (grin)

Finally, if you are bargain hunting, do pay attention to the price per calories and nutrition as opposed to the price per unit. One 16 ounce can of baked beans may cost 50 cents and another 16 ounce can might cost 89 cents. If the 89 cent can has twice the calories and nutrition than the 50 cent can, go for the 89 cent cans. Bring a calculator too!

One last thing. I know some people are using software to keep track of their stored food, but I'd like to recommend that if the program doesn't also count the calories that you should keep track of the calories and do the math, yourself. Also, if you stray some from the program, you may get yourself into a situation where you have much less than you think you have. If you are told to get 15 cans of eight kinds of fruit and vegetables for each person and you start doing something different, you will need to pay careful attention to the calories and nutrition... don't substitute in an inferior manner.

Sincerely, Stan Faryna

-- Stan Faryna (info@giglobal.com), July 27, 1999.

Grandpappy,

Thanks for a great post. I'm bookmarking the url to send to others that I run into whose minds are boggled about all this.

For those who might need some recipes regarding what to do with all this bulk food, I have an on-line cookbook at

-- robert waldrop (rmwj@soonernet.com), July 27, 1999.

Robert, What a neat web site! I have book marked it for later review. Thanks.

-- smfdoc (smfdoc@aol.com), July 27, 1999.

Suggested Grocery Lists for Different Low Income Levels:

The original purpose of this post was to provide information on how many calories you could buy for a dollar. When some folks go to the grocery store they buy whatever products happen to be on sale in the belief that they are getting good value for their money. In some situations this is true. In others, it might not be. The deciding factor is how well off you are financially. If you have plenty of money, then the sky is the limit. But if you are on a fixed income that barely provides for your current needs, then it requires a little more effort to squeeze every ounce of nourishment you can from each of your hard earned dollars.

For those of you that have already figured this out, I ask your forgiveness for stating the obvious. However, for those of you that might still be a little bit confused on this subject, let me offer the following hypothetical grocery lists as examples:

Grocery List for Poverty Level Income
 Quantity Item Description (Container Size) Total Cost Total Calories 10 Chili with Beans (16 Oz. Cans) \$ 9.00 7,000 2 White Rice (10 Pound Bags) \$ 8.00 30,000 2 White Flour (5 Pound Bags) \$ 4.00 15,000 1 Corn Meal (5 Pound Bag) \$ 2.00 7,500 10 Spaghetti Noodles (16 Oz. Boxes) \$ 5.90 16,800 3 Spaghetti Sauce (26 Oz. Cans) \$ 2.97 1,080 10 Macaroni & Cheese (7.3 Oz Boxes) \$ 6.00 7,800 10 Mixed Veggies (15 Oz. Cans) \$ 5.00 1,400 1 Crisco Shortening (3 Pound Can) \$ 2.99 12,430 1 White Sugar (5 Pound Bag) \$ 1.99 8,500 1 Grape Jelly (32 Oz. Jar) \$ 1.79 2,250 - - - - - - - - Grand Totals - - - - - \$49.64 109,760

For about \$50 a person can buy about 110,000 calories in a variety of food groups that will provide both good nourishment and vitamin balance. That averages out to approximately \$0.45 per 1000 calories. In my opinion, that is a very good deal. In some parts of the world there are people who would consider the above diet to be very desirable but out of their reach financially. The above list includes items that have a long shelf life and which dont require any refrigeration. It doesnt include any expensive items like canned shrimp, roast beef, or chicken.

The next question is: how long will the above \$50 worth of food last. We can determine that by looking at different average daily calorie intake levels.

Days of Food for One Person at Poverty Level Income
 Calories Per Day Number of Days 2500 44 Days 1800 61 Days 1500 73 Days 1200 91 Days

For \$50 one person could easily maintain their current life style and their weight for 44 days (about 6 weeks). At a more relaxed pace of life, one person could maintain their weight for 61 days (about 8 weeks). If they didnt mind losing a little weight while staying in decent health, they could survive for 91 days (12 weeks).

Or if you look at it slightly differently, in an emergency situation a family of three would have enough food for one month if they accepted the fact they would lose a little weight. They would be alive, healthy, but a little slimmer than they now are.

Now lets look at a grocery list for someone with a little more money but not a lot more.

Grocery List for Lower Middle Class Income
 Quantity Item Description (Container Size) Total Cost Total Calories 10 Navy Beans (15 Oz. Cans) \$ 5.00 4,900 10 Chili with Beans (16 Oz. Cans) \$ 9.00 7,000 5 Tuna in Oil (6 Oz. Cans) \$ 3.25 1,375 2 White Rice (10 Pound Bags) \$ 8.00 30,000 2 Instant Potatoes (13 Oz. Boxes) \$ 3.38 2,560 1 Instant Dry Milk (4 Pound box) \$ 9.00 6,500 2 White Flour (5 Pound Bags) \$ 4.00 15,000 1 Corn Meal (5 Pound Bag) \$ 2.00 7,500 10 Spaghetti Noodles (16 Oz. Boxes) \$ 5.90 16,800 5 Spaghetti Sauce (26 Oz. Cans) \$ 4.95 1,800 10 Ramen Noodles (3 Oz. Bags) \$ 1.60 3,800 10 Macaroni & Cheese (7.3 Oz Boxes) \$ 6.00 7,800 5 Corn (15 Oz. Cans) \$ 2.50 1,400 10 Mixed Veggies (15 Oz. Cans) \$ 5.00 1,400 5 Fruit Cocktail (15 Oz. Cans) \$ 4.95 1,575 3 Beef Stew (24 Oz. Cans) \$ 5.37 2,070 1 Crisco Shortening (3 Pound Can) \$ 2.99 12,430 1 White Sugar (5 Pound Bag) \$ 1.99 8,500 1 Pancake Syrup (24 Oz. Bottle) \$ 1.99 2,520 1 Grape Jelly (32 Oz. Jar) \$ 1.79 2,250 1 Honey (16 Oz. Jar) \$ 2.19 1,320 - - - - - - - - Grand Totals - - - - - \$90.85 138,500

For about \$90 a person can buy about 138,000 calories in a variety of food groups that will provide both good nourishment and vitamin balance. That averages out to approximately \$0.66 per 1000 calories.

The next question is, how long will it last? Lets take a look:

Days of Food for One Person at Lower Middle Class Income
 Calories Per Day Number of Days 2500 55 Days 1800 77 Days 1500 92 Days 1200 115 Days

In this scenario, a family of four could eat for one month if they didnt mind losing a little weight. And they would have a wider variety of food to eat as compared to the first list above.

In both of the above examples I did not include the cost of the following items: salt (\$0.40), pepper (\$1.49), yeast (\$0.99), baking soda (\$0.50), baking powder (\$0.99), and hard candy (\$1.99) which equals another \$6.36 and should be included in the budget.

For you folks that havent done much baking, the yeast will give you a nice loaf of bread the day you first make it. Pinch off about one handful of the risen dough and save it for the next day. Mix it with the new dough and wait for the old yeast to rise the new dough. Pinch off a handful after the first rise and save it for the following day. Your yeast will stay alive and healthy for a long time this way and you will have fresh bread each day.

Finally, I did not factor in the impact of buying these items on sale. If you look for sale items or generic (store) brands, then you could easily reduce your costs from 10% to 35% or more. Its your decision and you should make it based on what your family will eat. If they turn their noses up at generic brands, then you should probably stay with the national brands they are already accustomed to.

May God Bless.

Grandpappy

-- Grandpappy (Grandpappy@old-timers.hom), July 28, 1999.

-- Grandpappy (Grandpappy@old-timers.hom), July 28, 1999.

Us old coots can't get anything done with just one "please" anymore. So I'll say it again. Bold print off pretty please.

-- Grandpappy (Grandpappy@old-timers.hom), July 28, 1999.

This thread just keeps getting better and better. Which is good, since I am writing another one of my printable flyers (this one for distribution before y2k disruptions) about preparing on a budget.

Robert Waldrop

-- robert waldrop (
rmwj@soonernet.com), July 28, 1999.

I decided to add another footnote to my originial post.

I would like to second the recommendation made by Stan Faryna above. Bulk grains are cheap, they have a long shelf life, and they are extremely high in both calories and vitamins.

Several of the regular posters on this forum have already mentioned that they have purchased grains from Pleasant Hill Grain with very good results. I decided to place a small order with them based on those recommendations. Ten days after I phoned in my order I had the grain in my garage. The grain was in perfect condition.

Depending on where you live, it will cost about \$5 shipping per 50 pound bag to have the grain delivered. That brings the price of a 50 pound bag of wheat to about \$15. Corn about \$17. Oats and soybeans about \$20 per 50 pound bag. In my opinion, a real good deal for quality food. (Your actual shipping cost may be a little more or less than the \$5 per bag.)

A link to their web site is below. Send them an e-mail and they will send you their phone number.

Other folks on this forum have done business with the following company and they recommend it highly. I do not know their prices or shipping charges.

If you are in the market for bulk grains, then perhaps you should contact both of the above companies and compare their price quotes.

May God Bless.

Grandpappy

-- Grandpappy (
Grandpappy@old-timers.hom), August 11, 1999.