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January 2012

Building your food reserve at 26 cents an item!

By Mike Thayer

Whether you trying to build up a 72-hour emergency supply, a one month supply, or you want to beat inflation or maybe just save some money this week, you can find some great deals right now at HyVee locations in Iowa City/Coralville.

If you can still find a Wednesday edition of the Iowa City DePressed Citizen, HyVee has a coupon sheet in there for eight items for just 26 cents each.  Here's what I bought, with intended use in italics:

  • HyVee tomato sauce (canned) - food storage
  • Jiffy brand corn muffin mix - food storage
  • HyVee macaroni & Cheese - food storage
  • HyVee aspirin - medicine storage
  • Paper Towels- misc. storage
  • Ketchup - money saver
  • Sour cream - immediate use
  • Bananas - immediate use

Now the items marked for storage (except the paper towels of course) all have expiration dates of March 2013 and beyond, so I'll just rotate those out accordingly when the time approaches.

For a little more than $2, I bought all that stuff.  

Oh, and I bought a one gallon jug of HyVee drinking water for 69 cents.  Remember, one adult needs a gallon of water a day in emergency situations; most of it to drink; some to cook with; some to wash/brush teeth with, that kind of thing.

Last week, I wrote about how to build up your food reserves over time by spending just $1 a day.  That's usually good for the purchase of one item.  Today, by taking advantage of a sale, I got five items I can store for an emergency, for just 26 cents each. 

Related story:

Did you add to your food storage today?

Did you have a grandma and grandpa that had a cellar or basement full of canned goods and food supplies? 

Ball_jarI did, they were the parents of six kids, a farming family, living the hard life through the Great Depression.  They used their life skills to get through some very tough times.  Lessons of preparedness practiced during the Great Depression continued in later years even during good times.  Keeping a food reserve came in handy for example when bad weather affected the corn harvest and money got tight.    If it wasn't a bad harvest one year, it might have been low prices in another. 

I have fond memories of my grandparents home, grandpa's chair, the cuckoo clock, the pictures, and the open basement which included shelves stocked with those Ball canning jars packed with cucumber pickles, assorted vegetables, jams, etc.  My grandparents were always putting a little bit of food aside for whatever tough times might come down the road.

My gut, and it's substantial, is telling me that we're going to go through some very tough times again.  Don't take my word for it, do some homework and see what's coming for yourselves.  I sincerely believe things are going to get much worse for this country economically and politically before it gets better.  I hope I'm wrong, I really do.  But I was taught to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

So today, like I do everyday and since I don't can like my grandmother did, I made a small purchase to build my family's food reserve.  I spend at least $1 a day on something, be it canned vegetables, a bag of rice, a box of salt.  If I'm out to buy a newspaper, or running an errand or two, I stop at a store and pick something up. 

Today I didn't 'can' though, I bought a gallon of drinking water at HyVee for 88 cents.   Tomorrow when I'm running some errands, I might stop in at Fareway and get a couple cans of corn or green beans.  Friday it might be a small bag of pasta I pick up if I'm doing things in the Walmart neck of the woods.

I treat my family's food reserve like a savings account.  It needs to build, it's not something to select ingredients from for tonight's meal.   It's for emergencies, for tougher times.

Why did I buy water when I've got it coming from the tap courtesy of the city?  Because you never know when a boil order or some other emergency might come.  In the flood of 2008, a lot of area towns issued boil orders.  It's comforting to know that you've got bottled water already on hand because guess what got sold out first at the grocery stores in 2008?  Yep, water.  

Most of the bottled water on the shelves are good for about one year after purchase.  A person needs about a gallon of water a day.  Most of it to consume, a little to prepare food, a little to wash with, brush teeth with. 

Stocking up on water saves money, prevents hassle 

When it comes time to take a vacation, my family always packs bottled water.  We'll take some jugs and bottles of water from our food reserve with us so we don't have to buy the pricey stuff on the road.  Hotel water usually tastes like crap and you have no control over the quality.  With bottled water and a brand you trust, you know you have good water.  And here's an ewwwww factor, sometimes those rest stops or gas station restrooms aren't the cleanest..... Once in awhile you run into one of those "Why the heck is that clerk twiddling thumbs behind the counter when the restroom looks like this?" situations and guess what, their sink isn't working to boot.  Or how about attending a carnival or festival and the sanitizer gizmo is empty in the Johnny On The Spot?  So it's nice to have water on hand at all times in your vehicle for drinking or washing....  Using it like this is a good way to rotate your water stock too.  You take water from your food reserve nearing its expiration date with you on your travels and replace it with a fresh supply after vacation.

So what did you add to your food storage today?

Related story:


Review: Adele 21

By Mike Thayer

It's been a long time since I've listened to an artist's entire CD/DVD. 

My son John bought me Adele 21 for a New Year's gift.

It's awesome.  I can't get her songs out of my head. 

Watching her music video and first hit off this album Rolling In The Deep on VH1 with my oldest son Daniel some months ago before school one morning, I became a casual fan.

Then her second hit, Someone Like You came out.  I was lukewarm to this song, but it grew on me.  Her voice, her range, the relatable lyrics....  I found myself turning up the radio or the TV, when that song/video came on.....

Then the third hit off the album came out, Set Fire To The Rain, this put me over the top with Adele's music.


My range of music is kind of all over the map, going from BTO, to Earth Wind and Fire, to Metallica, to Dwight Yokum, to U2.  My favorite album of all time is AC/DC's Back In Black.  Adele 21 gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Her first album is called Adele 19, I'll be buying it.

Building up your food reserves for $1 a day

By Mike Thayer

There are a lot of programs out there offering storable food packages, various types, sizes, prices....  I encourage people to use a program I utilize myself, GoFoods Global.  I think it's a great progam, it's a good company, the food is reasonably priced, easy to prepare, easy to store and it's delicious.

But buying dehydrated, freeze-dried, or MRE style food isn't for everybody.  Buying things in bulk isn't for everybody either, and not everybody has an unspoken for $100 or $200 laying around to do that.  So I've come up with a way for you to start building your food reserves starting tomorrow, for about $1 a day.  It's a plan that's really quite simple to do, all you need is a grocery store.

"But Mike," you say, "We already buy groceries, what are you talking about?"

Sure, you're buying groceries, but are you building a food reserve?  It's kind of like a savings account.  A food reserve is the stock of food you have on hand in the case of emergency, or it can be food you buy now, so you're not fighting inflation later - an investment if you will.  

According to the Department of Agriculture (USDA), beef prices were up 9.8 percent last month compared with the same month in 2010. Pork prices were up 6.9 percent, poultry was up 3 percent, eggs were up 10.2 percent and dairy was up 8.7 percent.

Food reserves aren't just for emergencies.  You actually save money building one.  That can of corn you buy today for 89 cents is probably going to cost you over $1 in 2013, $1.25 in 2014, you get the picture.  Aside from a temporary sale, can you remember when your overall grocery bill went down?  I can't.   Food prices continually rise.

So start building your food reserves, for whatever reason that motivates you.  Maybe you want to stop buying so much delivery pizza.

The next time you're at the grocery store, pick up an extra can of green beans, or pears, a little bag of rice, something like that.   I do this every morning when I venture out to get the daily paper before work.  One day I get a can of black beans, another day I might get a box of instant potatoes, the next it might be a bag of lentils.   If you're not a morning person, this can be done on your lunch hour.  If you usually eat out for lunch during your work day, take an extra 10 minutes or so and stop at the grocery store on the way back to work.  Pick up something simple.  There are plenty of things you can get for under a buck.  Gravy mixes, salt, macaroni, tomato sauce, etc., all these things are needed to build your food reserve, it starts to build up much quicker than you might think and you don't miss the $1!

Look for sales, or buy store brands

I'm not a coupon shopper, but this can come in handy for things like specials on canned meats and/or some of the pricier items you may want to include in your food reserve.  After all, there's no sense in stocking up on things you really don't care to eat just to save a few coins.  Buy things you enjoy, eating a bland meal is a downer.  Store brands are another way to go.  Not always the best quality, taste test the store brand product(s) to see if you like it well enough to stock up on it. 

"But Mike," you ask, "How much food do I need to buy for my food reserve?"

Good question.  A lot of households are surprisingly short on pantry items (folks that don't like to cook and end up eating out or ordering in a lot), at a minimum you need a 72 hour supply of food you don't touch, or at least rotate out by keeping an eye on the expiration dates.   For a single person that's nine meals and three gallons of water.  Put another way and for those of you who live in University Heights, that's three breakfasts, three lunches, three dinners.  So we're talking some items like store brand cereal, about four cans of assorted veggies, a bag of rice, a bag of pasta, a couple cans of soup, perhaps a can of tuna.  Along with three gallons of store brand bottled water, you now have an emergency 72 hour food supply and you spent about $14.  That's it.  

You may have spent that $14 on Chinese take out last night.  Tasty, but one, perhaps two meals.  The thing is, spending about $1 a day at the grocery store over the course of two weeks easily translates into building a food reserve that will get you through a rough three-day period.  Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.  And don't forget that you've beat inflation to boot.

Ideally, you should try to build your reserves in steps.  Once you get the 72 hour mark achieved, it's easy then to keep going and build it up to a couple weeks, then a month.   It's a matter of spending $1 a day is all.

SuperdomeThe best part is, you won't need government assistance if crap hits the fan.  If some type of emergency happens in your area, you've provided for yourself and your family.  Think Hurricane Katrina.  Some people were told to leave their homes and go to the Louisiana SuperDome.  Homes were flooded, damaged, power went out.  In many cases leaving a home was a must.  But a lot more people went to the SuperDome only because they weren't prepared.  They didn't have food on hand, the neighborhood grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants - all closed either due to evacuation or damage.    Many people's homes were fine to stay in, perhaps no power, but otherwise not flooded out or damaged.  Yet those people still went to the SuperDome because they didn't have any food, bottled water and a few candles on hand.  They weren't prepared.  They exercised poor judgement and relied on the government to help, and we know how bad that turned out.

You can prevent having to put yourself in that kind of situation.  Be prepared on $1 a day, that's it.

Coming soon....  A list of essentials for your food reserve.

Getting prepared for an emergency

By Mike Thayer

You never know when an emergency is going to hit.  It could be a tornado, a blizzard, a flood, power outage, your vehicle could get stuck.  You should have something on hand with a few items in it that can get you through up to a 72 hour period of emergency.  Even if it's not a 72 hour type emergency situation, let's say you get stranded in your car somewhere for 2, 4, or even 8 hours....  Time spent waiting for help to arrive is much more comfortable with an emergency backpack on hand.

Do you have one?  Are you ready for that emergency?

Corny as it sounds, the Boy Scout motto applies:  "Be Prepared."

It really doesn't take much, here are a few things to consider putting aside somewhere and many of the items needed - you probably already have in your house.  Whatever you don't have can be purchased inexpensively.  I don't know about you, but I'd rather be safe than sorry, to plan for the worse but hope for the best.  The following items can help you get through a 72 hour emergency situation.

  • Backpack - Have one laying around the house somewhere no longer in use?   It could be your kid's third-grade backpack with Spiderman on it.  So what.  No backpack?  Not a big deal, a large plastic storage container will work.  I like backpacks, you can hang them up, they're easier to carry, easier to stow in a vehicle.
  • 72-hour food supply - It doesn't have to be fancy freeze dried, or dehydrated, none of that 'survival' type stuff is necessary...  they're good and you don't have to worry about spoilage, but they're not necessary.  Granola bars work, so do protein bars, fruit roll ups, those individual boxes of cereal, beef jerky, a can of chicken soup, a can of chili, a can of tuna.  Pick things you enjoy eating, keep the heat in mind when selecting if this is for your vehicle (don't pick chocolate for example).  Just make sure you have a good expiration date if you decide to pack your backpack with off the shelf items.  TIP:  Put some kind of tag on the outside of your backpack indicating the expiration date...  Write a note, put it in a little zip lock bag and rubber band it to one of the backpack straps.  If you're using a plastic container tape the zip lock to the lid.  And don't forget to pack the salt and pepper!  Who enjoys bland food?
  • Reusable heat source - Those little sterno cans work great for this.  If the power goes out in your home and you're an electric stove user, you can still heat up some food with sterno.  After you're done cooking, you simply recap the can and save it for another time.   Available at places like Sam's club, Costco, and major sporting goods/outdoor recreation stores. 
  • Water proof matches - These are nice to have, in lieu of that, get one of those inexpensive disposable butane lighters.  You probably already have one in the house.
  • Cooking tin - You need this if you're away from home.  It's hard to cook over a sterno can without one.   A soup can works in a pinch.
  • Katadyn-hiker-proWater filter - You can pack a few water bottles in your backpack, but this can get heavy real quick.  A person needs about a gallon of water a day.  The major sporting goods stores carry a range of water filtering devices.  Hopefully you never have to use it, but I wouldn't want to be without it.  Prepare for the worse, hope for the best.
  • First aid kit -  If I was a betting man, you already have everthing you need to make a pretty decent first aid kit in your home.  Bandaids, a bottle of aspirin, tweezers, scissors, bandages/gauze, some all-purpose ointment, tape, a nail file, some fishing line, a needle.   TIP:  If you take medication, get one of those little pill boxes and stash away enough medication for three days.
  • Flashlight -  You've probably got one in a drawer somewhere not getting any use.   Those glow sticks work nicely too.  If your flashlight is battery powered, pack some extra batteries.  The best thing to have are those hand crank or motion charge lights, no batteries required. 
  • Small radio -   You can listen to your car radio, but when the power is out at home, you really need this, not just for informational purposes, but entertainment too!  And yes, another reason to pack a few extra batteries in your backpack.
  • Dust mask -   Pack some, let's hope you don't have to use them.  They're inexpensive, the simple cloth ones will do.  If you don't want to take the time to buy some, a handkerchief is better than nothing.
  • All-in-one tool - This can be as simple as a swiss army style knife.....  Blade, corkscrew, screwdriver, can opener, you get the idea.  You can even get these things equipped with scissors and pliers! 
  • A fork and spoon - You need something to eat food with don't you?
  • Plastic bag(s) -  Truly all-purpose and adaptable to a variety of situations, plastic bags can be used for storage, as a tie, rain gear, and yes, a trash bag.

So there you have it, a list for an emergency backpack.  Look around your house for these items, I bet you can check most everything off the list and fill your backpack with things you already have on hand.  And the best thing about it - you'll be prepared!