People in the US are already panicking over a 1 month food supply in case of a COVID-19 outbreak. Why? Here is how you buy and store a month’s (or longer) worth of food for a small amount of money.

There are some very basic facts about food that our non-agricutural society simply do not know. Refrigeration wasn’t even a thing until the mid 1900s. Very few things actually need refrigeration. Items such as potatoes actually store better and longer in a cool, dry, dark location such as a box in the basement. Most fruits, vegetables and herbs can be canned or hung and dried lasting for years if necessary. Many expiration dates on canned and packaged foods relate to quality of taste, texture, and color instead of safety. “Best if used by” means exactly what it says. BEST if used by. Food gains it’s nutritional value during the time it ripens on the vine or plant. The nutrients are absorbed from the plant, soil, and water. Soil will affect the flavor of many fruits and vegetables. Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are ripened before picking. “Fresh” fruits and vegetables are often picked before they are fully ripened in order to ship. They contain fewer nutrients. If you are shopping at an actual farmer’s market or market where the produce is picked and brought straight to the market in your area from the farm, orchard, etc., then it is optimal. If it’s shipped to the market, the canned and frozen actually have more food value. Cheese does not have to be refrigerated. Many condiments do not need to be refrigerated. Onions store the same as potatoes. Eggs will actually store a longtime at room temperature and last weeks after the expiration date. Most salmonella is on the outside of the egg. Rinse the egg off under room temperature running water and the salmonella washes right down the sink drain. It is rare to have salmonella inside an egg. If an egg is bad, it will float in water. Throw it out. Wash your vegetables and containers under cool tap water before placing them into your refrigerator or storing area. Germs are removed before storing. The same with canned products. Rinse or wipe them off before storing. Canned food will store for years if stored correctly. Cans with rust, dents, and bulges are compromised. Don’t buy them. A tiny dent in the side of a can is usually harmless as long as the ends of the cans are not bulges or give when pushed. When in doubt, just don’t buy it. A bulged can may be deadly. Anything with a compromised seal should be assumed to be unsafe. Beef that is bright red in the store has been chemically treated. When beef is initially cut, the blood is red. Blood reacts with air and triggers a chemical reaction turning the color brownish within a few hours. Buy your beef where you can see the color changes taking place. The older it is, the darker the color. Bright red beef at the very least has chlorine added. It is added at the meat packing plant or wherever the meat was cut, often your local market. Personally, I’m not interested. This is all basic food safety and should be practiced with or without the looming presence of a pandemic.

Canned food is cheap in the US. You can go to your nearest discount store and buy a month or better worth of canned fruits, meats, and vegetables for very little cost. Clean it and store it someplace dry at room temperature or cooler. It will last for months. Items such as dried beans, rice, and oats can be stored for months if they are stored correctly. Those are all cheap. If you have a freezer, go to a locker plant and buy meat in bulk. It is cheaper. Fresh frozen beef from a locker plant is safe in your freezer for a year if your freezer maintains a proper temperature. Pork and fish do not have as long of a freezer life as beef. Meat can also be dried, stored or canned in your home. Evaporated and dried milk products last for months. Instant potatoes last for months if you do not have storeage for real potatoes. Frozen fruits and vegetables last for months. Vacuum sealed products also last for months. Tuna, salmon, and chicken all can be purchased in vacuum sealed packages for reasonable prices. Milk, cream, and cheese also freeze just fine. Pasta is cheap and can be stored for months. Tomato products are high in acid. This is good and bad. Acid will eventually eat through cans so watch for that in an older can. Acid kills germs and bacteria so tomatoes last a long time canned yourself in a jar, frozen or dried. Lunchmeats such as bologna and salami and hotdogs can be frozen for months too. Bread can be frozen.

The bottom line is that you never know when you will have a financial disaster. Maybe it’s an automobile accident, illness, or employment loss that causes your unplanned crises. It doesn’t matter the cause. Everyone should have basic food stored for an emergency all the time. There is no reason not to. Every year part of my tax return is spent on canned goods and storeable food. It’s come in handy frequently when I overspend somewhere else. If you don’t get a tax return, then you need to just buy a few things to store throughout the year when you go to the store. Buy canned and vacuum sealed items as they go on sale. You will find that you are healthier and have more money when you begin to buy food according to nutrition and safety instead of eating out at fast food restaurants and buying junk food. Maybe I should have just said to start cooking at home instead of buying prepackaged food, junk and eating out. You can buy good healthy food in the US fairly cheaply.

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