What's the best way to hoard food on a budget?

So I’ve decided that keeping a supply of canned food wouldn’t be a bad idea. Now before anyone makes fun of me, I’m not talking about joining a survivalist group or hoarding weapons or anything. I want some canned food around just in case. Heck, I’m betting people who were in New Orleans in 2005 were wishing they’d done the same thing.

I checked and a year’s worth of MRE’s is in the $5,000 range, which is nothing I can afford. So, I need canned or otherwise non-perishable food that’s cheap and that would provide a basic level of nutrition. What’s the best way to go about this?

Beans & Rice. Cheap, easy to store a lot of meals in a small space, and reasonably nutritious.

To hoard food on a budget you have to be ready to buy whatever a store is drastically reducing in price and buy it.

Add some canned tomatoes.

Remember that canned food frequently tastes like can after a bit.

Honey, on the other hand, lasts an eternity.

Have you priced it lately? It’s gone through the roof.

Buy what’s on sale, and remember to rotate the home stock on an annual or semi-annual basis. Using a sharpie to write dates on cans is a good idea, as the store will be selling for cheap what is almost expired.
Remember “on sale” = “throwing away money” is you are not willing to eat what you’ve bought.
If you have a clean, dry space that’s free of bugs; buy dried beans and rice, as Oakminster suggested. You can live on it. Lentils also store well.
Pack yourself some treats, such as canned fruit, as well as soups and beans. Jam keeps for a really long time.

You might also want to store a few cans of Sterno, charcoal, or other camp-stove fuel. (And a camp stove/grill of some type). The most likely scenario for needing stored food is one where the power is off for a longish period of time, like after a hurricane or winter storm.

Raman noodles. Oh wait, I guess you want something with nutritional value…

And canned stuff does expire. Just ask the person who opened a can of soup six months past the expiry date.

I wouldn’t even bother with canned food. Rice, beans, pasta, maybe some powdered sauce mixes. Those get hard and they’re not very nutritious, but I don’t think they go bad, and you’ll want some flavor in your beans.

Dry cereal – oatmeal, cream of wheat, etc. – do those go bad?

And don’t forget salt. You’ll want salt.

I HATE those things…

Having said that, they are pretty damn good with canned chicken soup. Chicken soup usually has a nice broth but mushy noodles. Ramen has pretty nice noodles but weak ass broth.

Both together are better than either alone by far.

And a non-electric can opener, if you currently use an electric one. And a few candles and candle holders.

The electricity in my neighborhood goes out frequently enough that we have and sometimes use a portable generator. It’s noisy, it stinks, but it’s enough to get us by for a day or so.

Yes. Depending on the packaging and preparation, grain products can be quite susceptible to infestation by mites, weevils and other arthropods, not to mention rodents.

The fat content in processed grains can turn rancid.

Spam, although quite high in fat, is quite nutritious for a survival situation, where you may need more energy.

Spam, like dwarf bread, is a test to see if you’re truly hungry. If you’re really hungry, you’ll eat Spam or Treet and enjoy it. Otherwise…well, I have to fry Spam, and then doctor it up considerably before I can eat it. As a result, I just don’t buy the stuff any more. I’d rather stock cans of tuna. Not only can I make a tasty meal of it, the cats will also appreciate getting the tuna juice.

Some good suggestions here already, I think.

Ramen noodle packs are not that cheap for what you get out of it and most of the broth is nasty. Just get plain dried noodles instead - great for soups and stir fries.

Bouillion cubes are cheap and last well over a year. Dried spices are always useful - but you want to have those in the kitchen anyway.

The above mentioned rice and dried beans, lentils and I would add chickpeas. What about dried pasta? You could also make your own fresh pasta if you have some flour salt and water (eggs not needed). You can also make your own bread with nothing but salt, flour and water (but you may need a day or two to get a starter culture going, or store some dry yeast packets).

I’m not sure how well it works in cooking, but some milk powder might be useful. In an emergency and all that.

Depending on what you expect, you may want to stack at least some meat and frozen veggies in the freezer.

How long exactly are you expecting to use your stash? You may want to make sure you’ve got an extra bottle of oil and such things in the house at all times. It’s hard to fry your beans and rice if you haven’t any fat. :slight_smile:

There are going to be many disappointed people when they find there is no good water source to waste boiling pasta or that the stove broke. Buy stuff you can eat directly out of the container without cooking. You can’t always prepare food. Pudding is a treat and has liquid. Yum pudding and it’s cheap.

Someone asked about scenarios. I was actually convinced by this web comic. I’m thinking that if the actual experts on sustainability fear a crisis, I should too. A couple of months worth of food can’t hurt.

I keep canned foods around. I have a selection of vegetables that we will actually eat, as well as some canned ham, tuna, chicken, and corned beef. The cans are rotated periodically via using the food to make quick dinners from time to time. I buy canned food at Aldi’s, which has the cheapest canned goods in my area. Some of these I’d be willing to eat cold in an emergency.

I keep several varieties of rice and pasta around. Again, the stock is rotated via normal cooking duties. Basically, I buy rice and eat it a couple months later.

I keep spices and condiments on hand. Many will remain edible/safe without refrigeration, but not all.

I also have a bottle of Vitamin C on hand. If you wind up living on canned/dried food for awhile that’s the vitamin you’ll run short on first.

You’ll want sturdy storage containers for the pasta/grains. I usually leave it in the original packaging, but sometime repackage it if the original container is flimsy. Then I put all that in a big, rubbermaid bin for additional protection. Cans should be in a cool, dry place. Shelves are nice for this.

Comments about emergency lighting and cooking also apply, even if you didn’t ask for those specifically. You’ll want some stuff that can, if necessary, be eaten as-is regardless.

I happen to like Spam, so we always have a supply in the back of the pantry. But to echo what others have said…buy what is on sale, get a goodly supply of dried beans, rice and pasta, and make sure you have a weeks worth of stuff that can be eaten straight from the can. You really don’t need more than 2 weeks worth on hand. Get a gun. If things collapse so much that you need more, you can scavenge from those who didn’t prepare. :smiley:

Learning to can your own food is fun and interesting. You need to buy the equipment: a pressure cooker, water bath canner, a few tools, jars, lids and rings. But after you are set up you can reuse the jars and the rings and just buy new lids each year.

Then you can take advantage of produce sales at harvest time or at farmer’s market or buy bulk. It is very reassuring to walk into the closet and see shelves of green beans, peaches, corn, whatever.

Canning is not hard and is a great skill to have.