We Find Time to Prep as Food Shortage Looms

Two boxes of Zatarains rice
I have decided to at Zatarains rice dishes to our prepper pantry.

I still have not found any more canned turkey, but I bought three 28-ounce cans of Keystone brand roast beef while visiting a Walmart I had never been to before. Each can was under $7 and the price-per-ounce was below that of the Great Value roast beef in a 12-ounce can. I don’t know whether to be impressed at my good luck, considering Keystone products are expensive, or if it simply means Walmart is raising its prices faster than the Keystone folks.

The 28-ounce cans are perfect if we need to feed more than just myself and my wife during an emergency. If there are six or eight people at the table, a 28 ounce still gives everyone a decent amount of meat in their meal. If there are ten or 12 people, then it will have to stretch further, but everyone will get a couple ounces in their meal. I expect for these larger groups, the meat will be added to a casserole, soup or stew where it will provide flavor as well as an occasional meaty bite.

Rice Dishes

I also bought three cans of chili, one can of Great Value corned beef hash (all they had), two Knorr pasta pouches, and three family size boxes of Zatarains rice-based meals. The latter, which included two boxes of Jambalaya and one of red beans and rice, provide tasty calories at a very low cost. The Jambalaya, for example, serves eight and costs $2.08 per 12-ounce box. Best of all, you can eat it as-is or add meat to the dish. Is this as cheap as white rice? No, but it includes onion, red pepper, green pepper, garlic, spices and other flavorings, so it makes a simple one-dish meal. I may open the box and seal the ingredients in a plastic pouch or mason jar to extend the shelf life.

We ate some Zatarains’ dirty rice a couple of weeks ago, and that’s when I decided their products would be an excellent addition to our prepper pantry. They are a better buy than the pouches sold by Knorrs and other companies. I would recommend it for your prepper pantry or bugout bag.

Compare one of these dishes, which take 30 minutes to cook and require only the addition of hot water, to a freeze-dried meal. A Mountain House pouch of Chicken Teriyaki, which is primarily rice based, costs $9 and serves two. The Zatarain box has 2.6 times as many calories and costs 78 percent less. The chief advantage of Mountain House is you can pour hot water directly into the pouch and it is ready to eat in only 10 minutes. In my mind, that’s not enough to outweigh the lower cost and extra food provided by the rice.

I topped off my preps with another 2 cases of cat food. Our cat has never been so well prepped.

More Bee Supplies

I also bought 40 pounds of sugar. A 10-pound bag was less than $4. That’s far cheaper than the 25 pound bags I have been buying at Sam’s club for more than $15. Funny thing is, it’s also cheaper per pound than the 25 pound bags of sugar Walmart sells. Ten pounds seems to be the sweet spot. We keep lots of sugar on hand to make bee food.

I was at this different Walmart because I headed across the state line to visit a large bee equipment supplier where I bought things I cannot build from scratch, like plastic hive top feeders and metal queen excluders. I made the drive because the shipping cost was almost $100. While I was there, I also bought enough parts to make another 100 frames. I am not out of frames, but the prices for wooden beehive parts have jumped twice in the past year. I figured I had better act before they went up again. Having extra frames will be a big help if the world goes to hell in a hand basket and I need to make more beehives from scrap lumber.

My current plan is to build up the strength in my six hives to generate as much honey as possible. After the summer honey flow concludes, I will split the strongest hives, let them build up their strength in the fall, and plan go into the winter with six full hives and at least two nucs. We’ll see if Mother Nature cooperates with my approach.

Feeding the Bees

While I was refilling the feeders on my new nucs, I checked one nuc into which I had placed a queen cup. The queen had successfully emerged. In another week, I should be able to check inside the hive. If I spot eggs or larva, I know that the queen not only was born but lived through her mating flight and returned to lay eggs. As long as all the brood is uncapped, I will treat the hives with oxalic acid to kill any mites. Without capped brood, it should be very effective.

Unless we get some cold, wet weather, I doubt I will need to feed the bees for some time. The blackberries should bloom before too long. At that point, the bees will no longer need any outside food.