We Stock up on a Big Shopping Trip

Plenty of meat at Costco
Our visit to Costco on 6/26/20 showed no signs of a meat shortage.

Figuring that there may be lockdowns soon, we took a trip to see some good friends three hours away. We had a good time and had Chinese food for dinner, something that isn’t available in this remote corner of the world.

On the way home, we made a day of it and stopped at Costco, a bee supply store, the pet store, a drugstore, and squeezed in a side trip to a diner for lunch. Again, there are no traditional diners in our area, the where they serve breakfast all day long, so we have to take these small pleasures where we can find them.

I’ll probably write about the bee supply store on another day; this article is about stocking up at Costco and why you should do the same before it is too late.

At Costco, we focused on meat, buying eight pounds of ground beef, five pounds of ground buffalo, two packages of lamb chops, five pounds of beef sausages, and eight pounds of thick-cut bacon. We considered steak, but paying $60 for four steaks was too much for me. We also did not buy any chicken or pork because we have a healthy supply in the freezer. Our entire purchase was $360, far more than we usually spend, and almost everything we bought was edible. While I cannot point to a single product and say “This went up in price,” we felt costs had increased.

We brought a large Igloo-type cooler with us and everything fit inside just fine. It was so hot that we stopped at a convenience store and bought a 10-pound bag of ice. Considering we had $180 worth of meat in the cooler, it was well worth the $1.99 to keep it cold as we drove home.

Few Purchase Limits

I’ve seen some news coverage and YouTube videos reporting on new purchase limits at Costco. For example, they have reportedly limited the amount of paper towels and toilet paper you can buy. We didn’t even look at these items, but we didn’t run into purchase limits on anything that we bought. I also saw little or no empty shelves and plenty of prepper staples on the shelf. Canned goods appeared to be in good supply.

I am not against purchase limits, but that’s because preppers buy slowly over time; it is the unprepared who rush out and panic-buy. In periods of high demand, limiting purchase quantities stops people who want to profit from reselling items, which I am in favor of. (This happened with ammo sales.)

If you are desperate to have four giant packages of toilet paper but are limited to buying one, then the simple solution is to go to Costco four days in a row. Alternatively, after you visit Costco, go down the block to Sam’s Club, BJ’s, or Walmart.  If you find yourself desperate and think you need to stock up before the sky falls, then enlist the help of a spouse or friend and visit as many stores as you can before you bugout or batten down the hatches.

Food on the Shelf vs Money in the Bank

To me, food on the shelf is better than money in the bank. Firewood stacked in the yard is in the same category. (As I’ve said before, it’s unlikely that the government is going to tax or confiscate my firewood, but they can shut down access to our bank accounts.) If we went into a sudden bank holiday and lost access to our savings, as people have in places like Lebanon, Venezuela, Afghanistan, and Italy, we have enough food and firewood to comfortably make it through the winter.

This year, food on the shelf is even more valuable. As inflation heads upwards, every can of food on the shelf or pound of meat in the freezer is one you bought today at a lower price than you will have to pay in a week or a month. Buying now can stretch your dollar, as long as you eat it before it spoils.

Inflation vs Deflation

I’ve finally seen evidence that lumber prices are indeed dropping. I understand housing prices are stabilizing. That’s great, but don’t expect food prices to fall. Food prices are going to keep going up until at least mid-2022 or even into 2023. Drought has hurt corn and wheat harvests, resulted in ranchers selling their stock, and orchards turning their tree into mulch. That means less food, not only today but for years to come. As scary as it is, we have to consider that the globe may have reached “peak food.”

Even when food in the field ripens, there are not always enough workers to harvest it. Once harvested, there may not be enough truck drivers to deliver it to the processor. There may not even be enough workers at the plant to process it quickly and efficiently. Expect a global food shortage that may cause civil unrest around the world.

The time has come to store food for the coming bad times. If you have a pressure canner, go buy some vegetables and pork before the prices rise any higher and can it. If you have a dehydrator, use it to make apply rings, banana chips, and other dehydrated foods. Buy some dried beans, pasta, and other grains, store them in quart or half-gallon size Mason jars and vacuum seal them with your food saver, if you have one. If you are lucky enough to have a food dehydrator, start freeze drying the foods you like most. Buy some garden seeds and grow some of your own food, even if it is just micro greens under a grow lamp in the corner of your bedroom.

The day may come when obesity is a thing of the past and every calorie matters. Prep with that in mind.