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By Kellene Bishop

As you all know, I’m big into using coupons to build up my food and other emergency preparedness supplies. With the coupon culture comes some unexpected consequences that one may not anticipate. The most obvious consequence is that I buy a lot of the smaller containers as opposed to the large, warehouse size. The good news is that smaller containers are actually a good way to store your food in preparation for an emergency. In an emergency survival situation, smaller is definitely better. Here’s why.

Post Cereals on display in Palo Alto, CA. Photo c/o AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

Post Cereals on display in Palo Alto, CA. Photo c/o AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

Smaller is Better Reason #1: Cost. We all know that you usually get better value on bigger containers of an item. However, when it comes to using coupons, I’d much rather get 5 free small jars of mayonnaise than pay over $5 for a large one. Most coupons do not come with size restrictions on when you can use them. Some do exclude use on trial/travel size, but not all of the time. And most coupons only require that you buy at least their smallest “regular” sized item in order to use the coupon. So let’s compare for a moment. The other day I got 5 boxes of Post Raisin Bran for 88 cents each in the 20 oz. size. The Raisin Bran cost 04 cents per ounce. Now, at Costco, I could get it for 15 cents per ounce. (Keep in mind there’s a membership involved to get that price as well.) So, perhaps now you can better understand why I believe that I can’t afford to shop at the warehouses in most cases. I reserve my warehouse spending to meats, cheeses, eggs, and perhaps some other specialty items like the tarps I like so much at Costco. At least these items can be canned or otherwise preserved. Even then, I still keep my eyes open with the coupon usage in regular grocery stores. I got a gallon and a half of milk for only 17 cents and 2 pounds of block cheese for $2.99 the other day. Costco and Sam’s Club can’t match that.

Condiment Packets photo c/o clubheinz.com

Condiment Packets photo c/o clubheinz.com

Smaller is Better Reason #2: Waste. Obviously in the event of a long-term emergency survival situation, we will be without the luxury of refigeration. This is another reason I’m a big advocate of buying small. When I open a warehouse size of Miracle Whip in the midst of an emergency, I’d better plan on using it all to feed an army or throwing it out due to spoilage. However, when I open a small 15 oz. jar of Miracle Whip, it’s probably just the right amount for a pasta salad or white sauce. I am also a big advocate of saving small condiment packets you are given at the fast food restaruants. I’ve got a lot of salt, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, relish, and other items this way, so when I want ketchup for a sandiwch, I don’t have to open an entire jar. I can just open a couple of condiment packages instead. No wasting. No refrigeration necessary.

Smaller is Better Reason #3: Trade. Just as I advised my clients to only keep small bills of U.S. currency on hand for an emergency, the same goes for food items as well. It’s a heck of a lot easier to trade a small can of tuna for what you may need rather than trying to get the best bang for your buck with a large warehouse size of it. In a time of emergency in which food, water, and ammo is king, you may have a hard time “finding a market” for trading your larger items for something that you really need, and thus you’re likely to “under trade” for it. 

Smaller is Better Reason #4: Portability. I’d much rather stuff a small can of Vienna Sausages and a couple packages of ketchup in my travel pack than a big 24 oz. container of chicken and a large bottle of ranch dressing, wouldn’t you? In an emergency, even if you have to leave your home temporarily during the day, you shouldn’t do it without some food and water supplies on you. You may be able to assist someone you find along the way, or you may get held up somewhere as well. Regardless, it’s obvious that the smaller containers will travel better than the large ones.

Square Bucket Storage photo c/o Preparedness Pro

Square Bucket Storage photo c/o Preparedness Pro

Smaller is Better Reason #5: Storage. It’s easier for me to safely store a lot of little items in containers and place on the shelf rather than large items. For example, when I find a great sale on plastic bins, I’ll take them home and stuff them with toothpaste, or mustard bottles or baby wipes. I’m able to get a heck of a lot more in that enclosed container than I would be able to stack on the shelf or slide under the bed and have them remain there–organized. Given that we’re all struggling to find room for everything, the easier storage component of the smaller items shouldn’t be underestimated.

Dollar for dollar, I’ve discovered that the smaller items make more sense for an emergency. Smaller definitely is better in an emergency. 

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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