A Good Time to Stock Up at Sam’s Club

canned meat on sale at Sam's Club in January 2024
canned meat on sale at Sam's Club in January 2024

Because leaving our area means navigating some mountain passes, we can’t do it when there is snow or ice. Now that we are experiencing a brief warm spell, we took advantage of it to head to one of the cities in our area. Since the city is about 90 minutes away, it’s not a trip we take frequently.

It was a day of fast food, errands, and shopping. For example, we dropped two pairs of shoes off at the shoe repair place for refurbishing. With any luck, they will be “like new” at a fraction of the price. The big stop for the day, however, was Sam’s Club.

From a prepping perspective, this appears to be a good time to go to Sam’s Club. For example, both Spam and Canned Chicken were on sale. In fact, their six-pack of 12-ounce cans of canned chicken was on sale for under $12. That is less than $2 per can and cheaper than our local Walmart. It’s not yet back to our pre-COVID price point of $9.98, but it is on the way there.

The 8-pack of Spam was on sale $19.98, or 2.50 per can. That is very close to the $2.41 per can we saw prior to COVID. The savings on Spam is good through mid-March, making this a good time to stock up.

Spam—Love it or Hate it

I know a number of people who hate Spam or are disgusted by it. (My wife is in this group, but it doesn’t stop me from eating it.) My guess is they didn’t eat Spam as a kid. It was a staple on our camping trips. We would fry it over a campfire, usually to serve for breakfast with eggs. If we went on an overnight fishing trip, Spam accompanied us as a fallback meal plan if we didn’t catch anything.

I still eat a can of Spam regularly. When I finish package of bacon, I open a can of Spam. I started doing to protect our wallet this when the cost of bacon soared, and I continue to do it now to rotate out canned foods.

Spam and eggs cooking on our wood stove.
Spam and eggs cooking on our wood stove.

Regardless of how you feel about Spam, it is an excellent choice for your prepper pantry. Not only is it inexpensive when you look at the cost-per-calorie, it is calorie dense. I expect the trade value of a can of spam will be high after the SHTF. We talk about using junk silver as a method of payment in a post-apocalyptic world, and many have referred to .22LR as “ballistic wampum.” We need to add Spam to the list. I can see trading a box of 50 .22s for a can of Spam.

With silver having dropped back below $23 an ounce, you could buy approximately three cans of spam for a pre-1965 half dollar coin. In a post-SHTF world, I expect Spam will appreciate more than silver.

More Canned Goods

Sam’s Club also had Butterfield canned beef for less than $4 per can, which is nice to see, as there have been times when it is not stocked. Then there is tuna, salmon, sardines, corned beef, Vienna sausages, cans of chili, and other canned foods with lots of protein. They had plenty of canned vegetables, canned fruits, multiple soups, Chef Boyardee pastas, canned tomatoes, etc. In dry goods, there were multiple varieties of pastas, crackers, nuts, meal bars, cereals, baking mixes, and a wide variety of banking ingredients suitable for preppers.

If you need to jumpstart your prepper pantry, you could do worse than going to Sam’s, Costco, or a similar wholesale club.

Rice and Beans

Sam’s Club appears fully back up to stock on rice and beans, with large plastic bags of black beans and pintos on display. They had four varieties of rice in large bags, more than I have seen for some time. This included Uncle Ben’s converted rice, Basmati rice, Jasmine rice and long-grain rice. There were boxes of Minute Rice elsewhere in the store. I don’t recommend Minute Rice for long-term storage, but it can be useful in self-made soup mixes or bug out bags where its quick-cooking properties are useful.

There was plenty of rice and beans on sale at Sam's Club in January 2024
Black beans, pinto beans and four kinds of rice were available at Sam’s Club, giving preppers some variety.

Whether you are trying to save money or save your life, rice and beans is a cost-effective long-term storage food. You can store them yourself in mason jars, Mylar bags, or 5-gallon pails. Vacuum packing or adding oxygen absorbers is best, but even stored as-is, they should keep for a few years.

If you prefer canned beans, Sam’s had at least two varieties in 8-packs plus baked beans. We keep some of these on hand, but for long-term storage, we prefer the dried. You can, of course, can your own beans.

Is Food Inflation Slowing?

I spent about 50 percent more at Sam’s Club that I did three years ago, but this may be because we shop there less frequently, so we buy more. I purposely kept my shopping to “needs” and did not buy three “wants.” Prices seem to have stabilized with select items falling from recent highs. For example, like the canned chicken, bacon is more expensive than it was prior to COVID, but has dropped from the peak during the COVID-inspired supply chain problems. While the shelves are well-stocked, variety seems to be down. I wish I could see data on how many SKUs Sam’s Club offers in the grocery category today versus four years ago.

My guess is that when prices were rising, Sam’s Club over-compensated to remain profitable. After jacking their prices up, the rate of cost increases slowed, so Sam’s uses these “Instant Savings” specials to pull back their retail pricing while leaving the option open to revert to a higher charge. They may also use specials to move items with too much inventory or where they want to increase sales.

As we are seeing in the larger retail world, inflation is slowing its rate of increase, but we are not going back to the low-low prices of 2020.

Why the Emphasis on Food?

During and immediately following COVID, I concentrated on building our food storage. At some point, however, I reached capacity and my purchases slowed. Not only were we running out of places to store food, we could barely keep up with our rotation.

I am now back to restocking, and since we regularly make chicken salad using the canned chicken, I bought 12 cans. We recently restocked two 28-ounce cans of Turkey from Walmart, where I was surprised to find it in stock. I also bought 10 pounds of oatmeal at Sam’s because it was on sales, only to come home and find we had a full box. (I thought we had only 5-pounds left.) This is in addition to some 5-gallon pails of oatmeal in our deep storage. Thankfully, my wife likes oatmeal, and with any luck, she’ll make oatmeal cookies.

I have to admit, war boiling out all across the globe is all the encouragement I need to top off our food preps. I encourage you to do the same. Food is the foundation of a comprehensive prepping program.