Saturday, 28 June 2014

Economy Frugality and Preps

I've read about preppers who are buying dehydrated food because it keeps for a long time, and "provides more meals per dollar" than tinned meals. This is too many fallacies in one statement for me to pass up. %)

Fallacy 1 - you do "frugal prep" by buying cheap food and storing it so it will survive for the long term.
You do NOT save by buying cheap food. By all means, buy food when it's cheap, but do not buy cheap food. You'll be sooooo sorry you did. Because of a range of reasons, one of which is that there's a simple economic equation that says there are no "magic ingredients" that will make soya flour more nutritious while reducing costs.

You will NOT get a nutritious healthy meal if it's routinely low-priced, and that could cost you dearly if you're in a situation where you need as much health and energy as possible. Okay, so some of us may be Rambo Incarnate but the rest of us are carrying our fair share of anchors already, and having one more thing chipping away at our health is not an optimal outcome.

Fallacy 2 - you do "frugal prep" by buying cheap food and storing it so it will survive for the long term.
What? Again?

Yep. The fallacies just keep on coming up. Second is that you're storing food for the "long term." If you do, you're dooming yourself, for  variety of reasons. I could expand this here, but in a few more paragraphs I hope to demonstrate it fairly simply.

Fallacy 2b is that you should even do frugal prepping. As I'm about to explain, "frugal" should be a way of life already, and your prep foods shouldn't be more frugal than your daily diet. You should already be comfortable at whatever level of food quality you opt for.

Fallacy 3 - preps are for post shtf scenarios.
No. No, no, no. If you treat your preps like this then you're just another prepper that will not last. If you're saving your preps for a mythical and possibly never to come post-apocalyptic time, then you will live wrong in the here and now, and if there ever IS an event, you will live at best miserably afterwards. Anything that you can't obtain more of after a year or two, you're better off learning to do without it now.

Fallacy 4 - preps will carry me after the shtf event, even if there is no recovery or rebound afterwards.
No. Just stahp, 'k? Stahp! It doesn't matter how many kilos of pickling salt you put by in your stash(es) for the future, at some stage you will run out.

If you're not already working on finding a way to extract salt from common weeds, ashes, and other sources; if you don't already have a way to get your hands on more vinegar; if that a pallet of tinned baked beans is the only source of pulses in your diet; then you WILL run out at some stage.

Enough fallacies, already. What can you do to not become a victim of fallacy?  

Here's the simplest way to make your preps frugal, economical, and most importantly - effective. You don' need to spend half as much this way, you don't have to worry yourself about expensive ways to keep your food for decades, and if an event does occur, you'll be able to ease into it much more easily than anyone else. And that's the main purpose of prepping, to reduce the IMPACT of a shtf event on you and yours.

Idea 1 - If your lifestyle will not change much after an event, then you're better prepared to meet the scenario and will survive better.
That should tell you some things.

  • One, that you are really aiming to make it so that your lifestyle that you lead right now, will not be adversely affected after an event. 
  • Two, if you reduce your lifestyle expectations in the here and now in order to accommodate that, then you'll just be unhappy now, and just as unhappy after an event.
  • Three, therefore, the best way to be prepped is to live a reasonable lifestyle now, and try and ensure that you can maintain that lifestyle for a reasonable length of time.

Idea 2 - That in turn should tell you that your prep stashes need to be used NOW, and new stock replace what you took out.

  • There is no point storing a hundred kilos of dehydrated meals ready to eat, if you're not already eating them now. The change of diet will sicken you and reduce your survival success.
  • No point to bottling all your chickens and rabbits now if you don't routinely cook with bottled meat. Far better to let them live until you need them, and saves a lot of botulism anxiety too. 
  • On the flip side of that, get used to cooking with some bottled vegetables and things now, add them to your repertoire now and get used to them. I've julienned carrots, and just put them into a vinegar / salt pickle in jars, kept in the fridge for up to a YEAR and still crisp and healthy. 

Idea 3 - therefore, you don't need expensive, complicated, or unsustainable methods of storing the prep supplies.

  • I use those 3 litre plastic milk jugs for a lot of my dry goods. It's said that they don't last long, but I USE the contents regularly already. By the time a milk jugs goes brittle, I've already got five or more of it successors in my pantry. 
  • I've successfully kept dry goods and apple cider in well cleaned milk jugs for three years so far, and those jugs show no sign of degrading because I am keeping them in a dark place where the temperature stays fairly well regulated.
  • Things like flour are treated with too much reverence. Trust me. To keep it pest free, buy it in 2kg bags, wrap each bag in half a dozen turns of plastic cling wrap, and put them in the freezer for 24 hours, then stash in cheap plastic buckets with lids. 
  • This achieves a few things. It breaks the stash into multiple smaller packages so that you can hide them if you feel so inclined. Pests or thieves won't be as much of an issue this way.
  • Rotate everything  physically each time you take an item or add a new one. Yes it's more fiddly to deal with a larger quantity of smaller units, but that's how life is.
  • Get in the habit of writing in-stock dates on everything. That way, if you notice during your rotation that the shrink wraps from 2017 are starting to look a bit tatty, you can re-wrap or decant to a new cheap milk jug, all the items in storage from that same era. As a bonus, you start to get an idea of how long these really cheap storage ideas last.

Idea 4 - Prepare to replace one thing with another as you go.

  • Don't think that just because you've got seventy kilos of raw sugar, you're set for life. Shit happens, food spoils, a sudden peak in demand sees your stash wiped out. 
  • If (for example) you rely on sugar for making jams, then you need to be prepared to replace your raw sugar with sugar extracted from sugar beets or home grown sugar cane.
  • If the seasons change a bit due to some unforeseen weather pattern changes and your kale all bolts to seed then you should already have a successor crop in mind, and preferably already have tried it. 
  • If a once-numerous weed that was your main source of Vit-C is in decline, have you investigated the newer weeds that will be filling the niche?

Idea 5 - There WILL be curve balls.

  • You can't control that. Things just happen. There may be no definitive "trigger" for shtf. There may just be a gradual slide that becomes your personal shtf point when you realise that you can't afford to buy both milk AND sugar in the same income cycle.
  • There may be a scenario you didn't plan for. What if the 60's nuclear fallout shelter builders were right, and everything should be underground? What about if we find out that there really ARE aliens out there, and they decide bunkers and any structure larger than a tent are potential threats? What if North Korea wins several decisive victories?  
  • If your preps equip you to survive in a particular scenario and that happens to be the one that transpires, then you're lucky. 
  • If something else happens than you planned for, and you can adapt, then you're lucky.
  • What I'm trying to say is that... Sometimes, some of us won't be lucky... This is why it's far better to try and maintain what we have than to invest our efforts trying to prepare for all possible scenarios. Sometimes, you won't survive.

Idea 6 - If you intend to live forever, then maybe prepping is not for you...
This is the other reason I feel that overstocking may be bad. I have chronic illness, I'm in the second half century of life, medicines won't be as freely available - I have a fairly limited use by date if the shtf.

Last thoughts on my preps.

I can't stockpile guns and ammo, being in Australia. But I totally would, if I could. Not because it'll help keep me fed, not because I feel I'm a real chance of defending my location. I'd do it because years after the shtf, when the aggressiveness has settled down, they will be worth a lot in barter. And who knows? In the intervenin g time, I may have found time to go and practice and become a fair hunter myself.

I mentioned that I need some medicines. I can stockpile a certain amount of them, but others just won't keep, and those I need to learn to replace. I'm working on some of those things right now, and I figure that the sooner I can stop paying money for those medicines, the sooner I can buy something useful with that money.

Practice doing a bit of mental triage when you go shopping. Buy those ten dollar superduper food storage buckets and do with one less bag of rice? Buy the cheap dehydrated food and store it, or rely on the fact that there will always be a way to make meals of you're not totally exhausted?

When it comes to equipment you'll need to rely on like cooking pots, tools, fire starting gear, and so forth, you need something that will last a long time but not at the expense of other equally important things like good quality beans and grains.

When it comes to clothing, you need things that will last and put up with a lot of maltreatment, but again, weigh the expensive stuff versus your need to have enough food to fill that survival vest with the solar rechargers and twenty-five compartments and pockets and a Kevlar inner lining...

Most important, I think, will be to be attuned sharply to your environment, and also to the world in general. Learn to tell what sort of a year it's going to be by watching where the local animals make camp at night. If a new weed shows up in your bug (in/out) location, know what it is, try using it, incorporate it.

I guess, remain flexible. Don't let any particular aspect of prepping become a sacred cow, keep an open mind, roll with things, and hopefully survive better.

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