So…my wife and I were sitting watching TV the other night. We decided to get up to speed on a couple of issues and watched a number of reports on the food supply chain, food production (i.e. farming), and food availability outlook for next year. Yeah, call it a date night!
I wrote some time ago how we completely revamped our pantry and organized it much better. That led us to assess the quantities of some of our items and improve in that area a bit. But, we now started talking about the probability of “severe” food supply chain disruptions and its potential effects on us. We felt pretty good about our situation but it made me think of the crazy question, “What if we knew that everything was going to fall apart (i.e. grid-down) and we had only one last trip to town to buy food supplies with our pick-up truck. What would we buy?”
Let’s call it our “last minute food shopping list” from now on.
What a wonderful conversation to have in the evening between two people who love each other while on a date at home. I must say…a truly romantic evening!
As I like to do (i.e. OCD) I had to set parameters to work with, so they were:
- The most needed items.
- The least ability to produce or the most difficult to procure.
- Current supply of each item; includes freeze dried, frozen, and pantry supplies.
As we talked it started to become clear that it was:
- Salt – It is needed for all kinds of cooking and preserving. We have no way to produce salt and no idea where a local supply would come from. Remember, throughout history empires where built and fought over based on salt alone.
- Sugar/Honey – OK, I would just roll over and die without sugar (i.e. chocolate chip cookies). Seriously, we have no way to produce sugar on our own. Yes, I understand about locally supplied honey. But we don’t know anyone in the area that has hives and sells honey. And even if we did, can local honey producers produce enough honey for the area populace and what would the cost be? Could we survive without sugar? Maybe, but it would be a dull world.
- Fruit – Ever hear of “scurvy”? Eating fruits gives you a long list of nutrition that can’t be provided any other way except pills. Yes, we planted fruit trees…and no idea if and/or when we will ever have a crop. While there are some apple orchards in the general area…none of them are commercial in size.
- Cooking Oil – Used a lot in baking and cooking. No practical way to produce it and no known source of procurement.
- Flour – Used to bake things like biscuits, pancakes, bread, and most importantly…chocolate chip cookies.
- Milk – Great source of protein/nutrition and great with chocolate chip cookies. And yes, used in baking and cooking. No way to produce it and no known source of procurement.
- Peanut Butter (nuts) – This is a great survival food due to it’s a great source of protein and oils/fats. It tastes great and stores a long time. I included nuts with this because it is fairly easy to make peanut butter from nuts. No practical way to produce nuts and no known source of procurement of nuts…and/or peanut butter.
- Jelly/Jam – Great in combination with peanut butter! Source of fruit and energy. While we are starting a berry patch, we have yet to harvest and no idea what a harvest will look like or when.
- Protein Bars/Granola Bars/Trail Mix – GREAT source of quick, easy to eat food packed with protein and energy. Can be eaten without preparation, can be eaten on the move, and is simply a great food. While we can produce it and can procure some of the ingredients to make, it is a great food to have on hand for a rapidly deployed source of food.
- Cocoa Powder – This is a sub-category of a primary food group…chocolate. It essential for life to continue on earth, without it all life on earth will perish. We obviously can’t produce it and it can’t be grown anywhere near us…maybe not even on the North American continent. This is a must have for the survival of the human race!
- Multi-Vitamins – Self-explanatory. This can help fill in the blanks when eating a less than balanced or healthy diet.
- Canned Beef Stew – First off…I like it…Dinty Moore is unbeatable. And it has meat and vegetables in it already…along with a really tasty gravy. Serve it over rice and it goes a long way. Serve it with biscuits and it is hard to beat on a cold night. While it can be made, it is very convenient to have a supply on hand for ready meals that are very comforting.
- Canned Meat – Hard to beat source of protein. While meat may be able to be procured, don’t count on it. And while you could raise meat animals yourself, it uses up a huge amount of resources to do so.
- Maple Syrup – Pancakes are easy to make and helps prevent food boredom. And to eat pancakes a person MUST have maple syrup. And yes, it can be used in baking and cooking. No practical way to produce it and no known source of procurement.
- Pet Food – I don’t want my animals to starve. I don’t want them eating my beef stew or chocolate chip cookies. Table scraps and food preparation scraps may not be available in sufficient quantities for them. And you may be keeping a potential alternative food source alive by keeping them fed.
So there you have our list in case we are forced into a last minute shopping spree. And it is in priority order. The quantity of each is another subject altogether. First, are the items even on the shelf? Next, do we get greedy or not, vs “need” alone? Then comes our ability to pay for the items. And lastly, how much space is in the truck vs the sheer quantity of the items being purchased.
Only you can answer those questions. For us, we can’t control what items are on the shelf but you can bet your bottom dollar that if we don’t see them, we will ask someone who works there for them. Who knows for sure if we can pay for them or not is a big question. Are they still accepting cards? Did we bring enough cash with us? Do we need to bribe the manager with gold/silver to get the deal done? We would keep buying until the truck was stuffed full.
I purposely avoided one of the questions…”do we get greedy or not vs ‘need’ alone.” That is a tough one. I would hope that we would buy what we felt was absolutely needed…maybe a bit extra. I would hope and pray we would live our Christian faith and not buy simply to be greedy or to take advantage of others later. I would also hope we wouldn’t buy for bartering or trading later. There would be families with immediate needs and my future business (barter/trade) doesn’t trump their need to survive. I would hope for reasonableness and humility…I wouldn’t want to see anyone’s kids starve while my carts were packed to the max.
We would go to multiple stores…and we would definitely include Dollar General, Family Dollar, etc.
And one more thought…I would try to have a 4-person team to do the shopping:
- One person to watch/guard the truck and have it ready to move once we were done and ready to load. Yes, armed…with a sidearm and a long gun such as an AR, possibly a shotgun.
- Two shoppers working the list in coordination with each other. Both armed with a sidearm.
- One person to guard the shoppers while shopping and while moving the carts to the truck. Their sole job would be SA and protection. For sure a sidearm, and if appropriate a long gun.
- In the parking lot no one would be allowed to approach the shoppers, the carts, or the truck…especially during loading and departing.
Well, there you have it! Now, will you and your spouse, maybe your whole family, sit down and do the same…come up with your “last minute food shopping list”? I sure hope so!
Feel free to share what your list contains if you feel so motivated.
If you would like a printable PDF shopping list <click here>
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I love this article! I live 2 hours from any decent shopping, and each time I drive those 2 hours, I think, this may be my last time! However, I need to sit down with spouse and do what you have done…make a better plan. We have lots of food stored, but no inventory.. thanks again!
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Thank you so much for your comment. This is exactly what I was hoping for…prompting folks. I don’t have the answers but I know my site visitors do…for their situation. I just need to prod a little from time to time…or maybe some food for thought once in a while.
Could you let us know how it turns out?
I read through your last minute shopping list, and understand your intent, but I don’t understand why most of the items are on a ‘last minute’ shopping list. My ‘last minute food shopping list’ is blank.
1. Salt Salt will keep almost forever, and is plentiful currently. Why not stock/store as much as you think you will need, before hand, and save the last minute rush for items that doesn’t store long term?
2. Sugar/Honey Again an item that will keep forever. My mother once bought a 5 gallon can of honey, at a yard sale, that the people had for over 20 years. She paid $5 for the can and when she got it home she opened the can and started spooning the sugared honey into smaller jars. These she slowly heated until the honey re-liquefied. Granted it was very dark honey, but it was usable and tasted just like new honey. Sugar is the same way. It will keep forever. Store it up now and save the last minute rush for items that don’t store long term.
3. Fruit. Fresh fruit will be in short supply within a few short days. Canned fruit will keep for years if stored properly. The same goes for fresh vegetables and canned vegetables. My personal feeling is that we will be needing these items very soon, so a one or two year storage life of canned fruit/vegetables is something that can be stockpiled now, when it is still available, and save the last minute rush for items that don’t store long term.
4. Cooking Oil. Cooking oil doesn’t store very well for long periods, but it will store for a year or two. Even rancid cooking oil can be used in an oil lamp. This is what the 10 virgins on Bible fame were using. Stock up now and save the last minute rush for items that don’t store long term. If you rotate your supply you’ll have an idea how long it can be stored, and if needed you can get some more during your last minute rush.
5. Flour. Flour, properly packaged and stored, will keep for a lot longer time than most believe. The Bishop’s storehouse sells flour in gallon cans that they claim will last 5 years. In addition to flour, wheat berries will store for many years, and can be ground into flour using a hand grinder. Stock up now and save the last minute rush for items that don’t store long term.
6. Milk. Powdered milk had been around for many years. My mother made us kids drink powdered milk back in the 50’s. Powdered milk doesn’t keep forever, but it does keep for years. It even tastes better than the old version we suffered through in the 50’s. Stock up now and save the last minute rush for items that don’t store long term.
7. Peanut Butter (nuts). Peanut butter doesn’t store much longer than a year, but neither do nuts that you might try and make into nut butter. This item might be something that you would want to have on your ‘last minute purchase’ list, but at least store and rotate a years supply.
8. Jelly/jam. Jelly and jam are mostly ‘fruit flavored’ sugar, and as such will store for a long time. If you are going to try and use your own fruit to make them, make sure you have the extra sugar stored before hand. Stock up now and save the last minute rush for items that don’t store long term.
9. Protein bars/ Granola Bars/ Trail mix. These can be per-stored for about a year, so these are another item to pickup in your last minute rush.
10. Cocoa Powder. This one I don’t know anything about, so I am going to give this one to you to pick up at the last minute. I at least would have some on hand and supplement that with the last minute purchase. I do know that chocolate candy bars won’t store for long. If they were kept frozen, they might last longer, but I tried vacuum packing a few and the heat made them go bad. One way around the heat problem would be to store Butterfingers and Baby Ruth candy bars. They are made with imitation chocolate, and you can’t even get them to melt in a microwave. They might be a partial solution to long term storage for the sweet tooth. I vacuum pack sugar based candy, in glass jars and that will last a long time. I’ve got cinnamon bears that are going on 5 years and they are still eatable. I like to buy the 75% off candy after a holiday and vacuum pack it.
11. Multi-Vitamins. These will also keep for a few years. Stock up before the rush, but supplement during your last minute rush, if you can find them.
12. Canned Beef Stew. I like it too. However it will store for a long time and should already be in your pantry. Stock up now and save the last minute rush for items that don’t store long term.
14. Maple Syrup. Syrup and Maple Syrup are another heavy on the sugar item and will keep for a long time. Stock up now and save the last minute rush for items that don’t store long term.
15. Pet Food. I have a cat, so I do store a supply of both dry and canned cat food. If push comes to shove, the cat will get some of my beef stew, and will outlive me as I am not going to eat him. That being said, if he out lives me, he might be eating me. He’s welcome to all he can chew down.
Aside from the few things that don’t store for a very long term, most food items can be per-purchased and stored right now. I would go so far as to say that if you don’t already have these things on hand, it is time to do your ‘last minute food shopping’, and save your rapidly inflating money for the things you don’t already have stored, like gasoline and fresh batteries and ammunition, and maybe some lumber to build an outhouse…….
Just my $.02
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Awesome information and thought provoking. So much so that I turned my response into an entire post that comes out in the morning. Thank you again!
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