The most shameful way to make money is by taking advantage of someone who doesn’t know any better. In the prepper and survival world, that equals almost everyone in the market. Because no matter much you would normally research a purchase before making it, almost all of us rush out and buy “survival food” before just about anything else. I did that myself, and even sent some to friends and relatives. But after a little research, I figured out that survival food is a scam.
In my second article in this series, going all the way back to March of 2014, “Beyond Cat Litter Buckets,” I focused on getting the most for your prepping dollar, but included prepackaged survival food. Is there a place for it? I don’t know, and since I already have some, I don’t see the need to think so deeply about it. For pure value, the correct approach is “calories per dollar.” As you’ll see in the video, most survival food, even in large quantities, comes out to 100-200 calories per dollar. That goes for “recipe” type pouches, and it even extends to powdered whole eggs from Honeyville, that I featured back in 2014.
Supermarket food, or as I suggest in my last article, Survival Food by the Numbers and the above video, Walmart food, is a much better value, and you lose nothing. Expiration dates on things like pasta, rice, beans, flour, flake potatoes, dry milk, and all canned food, are completely false. Stored in an airtight container, all the dried goods will last decades, and the canned goods indefinitely. I have covered “(Mylar) Bags vs. Buckets,” as well as sealing dry goods in steel cans with a home can sealer most recently. Ideally you should include an oxygen absorber with all food storage.
Oxygen is the enemy of food storage, and it is why you’ll see me refer to packing several foods that you wouldn’t normally consider in Mylar bags. Anything that either is oil or has oil will be naturally highly reactive to oxygen. That means you should be able to extend the life of such foods with an oxygen absorber packet, available from the links in the prior articles, Amazon, Ebay, and the Mormons.
If you haven’t seen my video and article on Cheap Survival Food from the Mormons, please check that out first. As you’ll see in the video, my approach is the break things down by calories per dollar, and Walmart flour comes out on top at 4600 calories per dollar. Compare that to #10 cans of flour from the Mormons, which comes in at 1,486 calories per dollar ($31 per case of 6 cans).
That particular case from the Mormons vs. Walmart is not as close as other examples, like potato flakes and nonfat dried milk, and there are several variables that you get extra with the Mormon food.
- Obviously the foods in #10 cans, which are impervious to rodents, which can easily eat through plastic buckets and Mylar bags. #10 cans in bulk cost $2 plus alone, plus the O2 packet and the labor to can them.
- Time! – Time is more valuable than money, especially as we get closer to what appears to be the wire here. Lugging food home from Walmart, when you can even get a decent quantity of it, takes a lot of time. Then putting it into buckets or bags takes time as well.
- Cases of cans stack and store easily. This is a huge benefit that you won’t appreciate until you experience it. I showed in my Bags vs. Buckets article how Mylar bags stack, but it is still night and day.
- One delivery from the Mormons can provide food for years. If you order more than about 20 cases of the Mormon food, they are shipped truck freight. They arrive about a week later shrink wrapped on a brand new pallet, and there is no limit.
- You can also just go pick up the food if you live near a pantry location. This is more discreet than getting a delivery of food, and certainly more discreet than filling up a cart with 100 bags of flour at Walmart.
- Don’t discount the ability to get quantities. Your local Walmart may not have more than 50 bags of flour on the shelf at one time. If you are lucky they’ll have 4 bags of 20 lbs. of beans and 4 bags of 20 lbs. rice. Going back every week is exhausting.
I personally found a supplier for 50 and 100 lb. bags of beans, rice and corn here in South Florida, but you may not be willing to spend that kind of effort, and you are still stuck filling your buckets by yourself, which is no fun I assure you. I can get 50 lb. bags of corn flour right now for $20, so if you are on a tight budget, look into your local restaurant and grocery supply.
Some of the foods that you’ll see me cover in the video are what I would call risky. Velveeta cheese, Pepperage Farm sausage, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and other foods like that may or may not keep for many years inside of a Mylar bag with an oxygen absorber. I looked on the package for warnings about eating the food long after expiration dates and it doesn’t have any. Probably the expiration dates release the companies from any legal obligations, but I don’t know that this is the whole story. I included it to give you the option of experimenting, because in the last year that I have been checking, Walmart keeps Velveeta long after expiration and nobody seems to notice.
Canned food should never be of concern to you though. Modern cannery food will keep pretty much forever. The food may be tasteless, and your body may not be able to use it as well as when fresh, but it won’t be spoiled. Home canning, either in glass or in steel cans with a can sealer I would also have a great deal of faith in, if the food smells ok and the cans aren’t expanded. But it never hurts to heat up canned food to 185 degrees for 5 minutes, which will kill any botulism toxin which may have festered inside the food.
I wish I could tell you that I have a formula for survival, or any answers about what it is really going to take to protect your family, or my family, from the pandemonium that I think is right around the corner. What I can tell you is that freeze dried survival food can be viewed as either a complete scam, or that it is an honest product with a fairly extreme “convenience fee.”
For the record, nearly all the rest of the prepper and survival world is also a scam. I was invited onto a gun oriented radio program once to discuss prepping, and after I explained that the radiation from an EMP nuke was far more of a threat than any electric wave that could fry your electronics, I was not invited back. You don’t need a Faraday cage. You need a high level radiation meter. You don’t need a propane stove. You need a diesel stove. And you certainly don’t need a Boefeng handheld radio. You need a real HF Ham radio and a good antenna. And you certainly should not think that if you have a gun that you will eat, because you won’t. Gardening is also more problematic than you’d think when you actually try to do it.
Some of my original suggestions, like those powdered eggs from Honeyville (150 calories per dollar), and their dried cheese (283 calories per dollar) I’m sure go into the “Mac & Cheese” recipes from the survival food companies, but they are using those same cheap elbows for the bulk of the calories. Selectively buy what you need from Honeyville. Add the cheap Walmart food, and if you can, get some of that Mormon food in steel cans in case you don’t have time to bucket, bag or can your food and the roof comes off of your house.
You need to store food for a long time, and hope you don’t have to bug out without it. Buy as many substantive calories as possible per dollar, and store them as best as you can. If you are on city water, figure out some way to cistern some water if possible. If you read this column alone, you’d be in a lot better shape than the rest of the prepping world combined. Maybe they’ll pull a rabbit out of a hat and we’ll be still talking about this in 2 years, but I doubt it.