If you are considering prepping for the first time or have just started, the thought of trying to store one or two years’ worth of food can be daunting. Then you read you are also supposed to have a medical kit, water, emergency go bags, and on and on and on.
If you are like most of us, you feel that you can barely pay for what you are going to eat this week AND pay the electric bill. You somehow know that now is the time to start putting some emergency supplies away, but how can you afford it? Here are some suggestions that have worked for us. Pick and choose those that apply to your situation, and keep your eyes open for opportunities that I haven’t thought of!
1. Use one, buy two.
This is one of the easiest ways to ensure you are storing what your family will eat. For any non-perishable foods on your list that you need for your kitchen pantry, buy an extra to put into storage. Canned tuna, soup, pasta, and beans are all good candidates. It may seem piddly at first, but you will be surprised how quickly it will add up, and you may not even notice the extra expenditures.
2. Buy extra when things are on sale or you have coupons.
Start paying attention to what things cost. When you see that a store has a significant discount on something you use, buy extra. There are times when it may even pay to buy one or two cases of an item.
3. Try shopping at alternative stores and/or buy in bulk.
Check out discount stores in your area such as Aldi, Save-a-Lot, dollar stores, Costco, and Sam’s Club. In many communities you can find a co-op or other source for bulk items such as wheat and other grains, beans, rice, and corn. The LDS church has warehouses around the country that may be used by non-church members if you volunteer some time.
But here’s some advice—don’t buy bulk whole grains, dried beans, corn, etc. unless you use it regularly. For example, learn and practice how to grind grains and bake your own bread. Use dried beans with rice or corn as a meat substitute. You will save a lot of money by using unprocessed food you have bought in bulk; your storage items will be rotated; and you will be eating delicious, healthy food. Use what you buy, and buy what you use!
For prepping equipment and tools on your list, try Craig’s List, garage sales, and Goodwill. If you pay attention, you can get some great deals on dehydrators, canning supplies, gardening tools, clothes, etc.
4. Buy fresh food in season in bulk and dehydrate or can it.
You will love serving your family strawberries, apples, vegetables, and even meat that you have preserved. By buying it in season, it is cheaper and better quality. By preserving it yourself, you have more control over what additives, salt, sugar, etc. that your family is getting.
5. Stop eating out so much—pack a lunch!
Eat at home more often and enjoy your healthier, home-cooked meals. Make an extra piece of chicken or save some of the salad and pasta in plastic containers for your lunch. You will save enough from one meal out to pay for your weekly food storage items.
6. As a family, create a budget and live by it.
Use a computer program or a yellow tablet, but keep track of what you spend and write it down in categories. You will be surprised by what you find out about where your money is REALLY going!
7. Evaluate the REAL value of potential new purchases against what is on your list of prep supplies and equipment.
Do you really need another Blackberry or computer game? You could buy a good dehydrator for what a lot of shoes cost.
8. Start practicing a more self-sufficient lifestyle now.
Look for ways to start reducing your use of disposables and energy. For example, I put up clothesline poles and now hang all my laundry outside. I have reduced my electric bill, have a way to dry my clothes in the event I lose power (prepping), and my clothes smell wonderful! Use cloth instead of paper napkins or paper towels. You will save money now as well as not have to buy and store replacements for your preps.
Start cooking with whole grains and other unprocessed food. Your food costs will be lower now; you will learn how to prepare your storage food, and your family will be used to it in case of a crisis; and you will be eating healthier food.
9. Grow a garden.
Even if you have a small yard or just a patio, you can grow enough food to put a dent in your food budget. You can use raised beds or even containers for many vegetables and herbs. Use edible plants in your flower beds.
10. Put aside all or part of any “extra” money for use to buy high-priority prep items.
My husband and I used his annual bonus to buy many of the prepping supplies that we could not have afforded otherwise. Other sources of money may be tax refunds, Christmas or birthday gifts, and salary increases.
Start looking at ways you are spending money and not benefiting from it or could sacrifice a bit. Are you paying for a premium cable package for channels you never watch? Stay home and play a board game with friends and family instead of going to a movie and having to pay for a babysitter.
How many other money-saving, prep-building strategies can you think of?
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