With all the news about the Corona virus it has amused me to first hear and then see for myself the effects of people panic-buying such things as toilet rolls and hand sanitizer. It brings the news into reality when I actually see these things for myself.
However, I’m also skeptical; just because I hear in the news that “people are panic-buying” and then I see an empty shelf in the supermarket doesn’t mean that shelf is empty because everyone has been panic-buying. Firstly, it doesn’t take many people buying a lot of one thing to clear that item out, and secondly, it’s not uncommon for certain things to go out of stock every now and then.
Since moving into my own place some five years ago I kept a stock-pile of certain things, and then gradually got a little more serious and strategic about my “prepping”. This is one reason why it has amused me to witness people only now stock-piling things. Another reason for my amusement is what they are stockpiling, and I can’t help but think “You’re doing it all wrong!”
There is a variety of things that need to be considered when stockpiling, and going out now, or any time when already in the midst of a crisis and buying a million of one thing is not the right way to do it, neither is it fair on others – it only takes one person to clear out the stock of cheapest hand sanitizer for other people to think “everyone has been stock-piling this stuff!” I can only imagine that such people are going to find themselves with a hoard of hand sanitizer, and bleach, once this event has passed.
“Prepping” doesn’t work on its own.
It is no good stockpiling a mass of certain food (or cleaning products) you’re never going to use unless TSHTF*. Buying a bulk-load of canned and dried food you don’t normally eat will mean you end up with a cupboard full of food that is “out of date” in, say, twelve months time.
- Calculate how much of a particular thing you use, or are likely to use, within a given time-period.
- Build up your stock gradually to avoid buying too much of one thing you don’t actually use (and also depleting your local supermarket and inconveniencing others).
- Rotate your stock; FIFO (first in, first out).
- Continually use and replenish your stock-pile.
- Observe changing tastes.
You may need to adjust your own diet slightly to incorporate more foods that can be stockpiled.
If you’re used to buying and eating a lot of fresh produce (which I believe is best from a health-perspective) then you’re not going to be able to stockpile such things, instead you might need to consider switching to canned alternatives; canned tuna instead of fresh salmon for example. I do this for at least for some of my usual weekly meals.
Changing tastes or diets, or even boredom from eating the same stockpiled stuff can lead to a stockpile not being worked through and things going out of date.
I used to eat a lot of porridge/oatmeal, something that has a long shelf-life, but due to a change in breakfast (and supper) routine I no longer eat this so often, barely once a week compared to twice a day. A stockpile is therefore going to take 14x longer to get through. A bag of oats that might have barely lasted me a week will now last me a couple of months.
Consider the various food groups.
You can’t live entirely off pasta and rice. Dried/canned fruit and vegetables form part of my stock, I also try to include fats and proteins in the form of tuna and a variety of nuts. I also have some vitamin tablets.
While use-by dates should be observed and a stockpile continually rotated (through the act of eating and buying more of), some things will keep beyond these dates.
Check cans and bags for damage and store adequately.
Any cans of food that have received a dent should be used first as the material may degrade and contaminate/spoil the food within. Bags of dried food such as oats, pasta, rice, fruit and nuts should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place, also be careful about the possibility of rodents finding your stash. Bagging and boxing things up may be necessary, or decanting into other storage. I typically avoid opening any packaging for the sake of storage as there is a risk of contamination there.
Can you cook?
Some foods need to be cooked before eating, therefore, should an incident arise where your usual cooking appliances don’t work you will need a backup, such as a small camping stove with a quantity of gas, and matches to light it, of course.
Keep it simple:
Above all, I think the act of prepping or stock-piling (and indeed life in general) works best when kept simple. It is much easier to stockpile enough of a handful of things to last for a number of months, rather than a mass of different things at the risk of running out or not keeping track of things.
*when The Shit Hits The Fan