Saturday, January 24, 2009

Post SHTF shopping guide

Thought I’d put together a couple pointers.

1) Become a discriminating buyer
This is pretty much the core to your new mentality.
Regarding everything.

Do I NEED another box of 50% saturated fat donuts?
K, it tastes good. But how much do I need it really? Compared to some beans/rice/lentils/meat that could go into the freezer that would provide real nutritious value.
Donuts, cookies, chocolates and junk food in general. Not only are you wasting money but you are not doing your body any favors.

Sounding a bit like a flavorless terminator here. :)
Man, we like brownies as much as the next family, cookies and ice cream too and a nice glass of cold coke.
Just learn to rationalize it to a) save money b) not eat junk that slowly ruins your arteries and ads more fat to your body.
Try your best to find alternatives that don’t have saturated fat. That stuff is the worst thing you could eat.

So for example, when I’m buying food, I estimate we’ll be having 2 or 3 junk food meals. Say, brownies one day, ice cream for desert a couple days more. Otherwise its fruit for desert.
Yes, that’s 3 junk meals per week.
Sounds like too little to most, given the average person’s diet. But once you start adding up other things like soda drinks, you see how much “damage” you are doing to your wallet and your body.

Point here is, there must be some kind of control. If you don’t one day you’ll stand in front of the mirror and you’ll see Jabba the Hutt .
If a 2.5 L soda bottle disappears each dinner, that’s a lot of sugar you are eating ( nearly 1/3 of the bottle is pure sugar) and money you are wasting.
I go for one small glass, another one later on during the day.
Lately we’ve been drinking too much ( summer here right now).
I think 2.5 liters should last us ( 2 adults, my kids don’t drink it) two days.
And cutting down to 2 bottles a week or none at all is something we’ve done in the past and were darn glad about it.
Tang is something we drink a lot of.
Cheap, has vitamins, less sugar, and way better for you body than soda pop.
Keep this in mind guys. Soda pops should be a controlled substance, not by the federal government but by each parent. Uncontrolled consumption of soda will make your kids obese in no time.
So, learn to tell the difference between food and junk, and be honest with yourself regarding how much junk you are actually eating.
Food in my book means meat ( the chunk of bloody flesh, not a can or microwave meal) rice, potatoes, lentils, tomato sauce ( careful those of you with high blood pressure, lots of salt there), vegetables, canned tuna, pasta, fish, and pizza made by myself.
Generally speaking, processed foods and ready meals will fall on the junk food side, full of salt, saturated fat and hydrogenated God knows what else.
Add to that that they tend to be much more expensive. Doesn’t take a genius to figure how much of this should be in your shopping cart ( little or none at all)

2) Discounts and sales.

Discount days, sales, coupons, promotions of any kind, anything goes.
You lucky guys living in wonderful USA, you can even print them out

you think this is common in other parts of the world? Its’ not.
Take advantage of these things while you have them guys.
Of course, buy in quantity when you find good deals. This saves the most money.

3) Become an informed client.

Here we are entering into more “post SHTF shopper” territory.
Quick version. The government that is supposedly in charge of quality control in general lacks the time resources or is too corrupt to care about what actually ends up in the shelves. The economy crashed, they have crime and social disorder to take care of. Quality control is something that isn’t even in the picture.

You need to know yourself what you are eating.

Just as an example. Tomato sauce.
I buy the known brand, called “Campagnola”, which is the most expensive you can get. Also lasts for well over a year, so that’s a bonus.
Why? Because I learned that nearly all other sauces are made out of a huge load of tomato sauce that the chinese sold to the companies in the country. Later they found out that quality was worse than they expected but since they had it, they have to sell it, mixing it up with the more expensive stuff produced locally.
In this case, its worth buying the safer product.
But in other cases, quality and price does not go hand by hand.
I’m always asking for references to others, take note of any good comment regarding a lesser known brand ( old ladies usually know better, talk to them when on the line :) ), try some product out and compare it to what I’m already using. This usually leads to some great finds that can cost less, and sometimes even cost less for a better quality.

4) Careful where you shop.

Another post SHTF classic.
People have little to no money and are looking to maximize profit.
Some guys figured they’d save some bucks by turning off the fridges at night, hoping the temperature would stay low enough until the next day.

Do this during summer, specially with milk, yogurt, cheese and meat, and you might end up intoxicating the clients, even killing them like we’ve seen here in some cases not long ago.

How to know if the chill cycle was broken at some point?

The cup or pack should obviously be cold, less than 5 ºC. The packaging, it should not be wet or water at the bottom of the fridge, or ice formed. That’s a sign of defrosting, meaning temp went up at some point.
Frozen products should be as hard as a rock.
Yogurts and other cups, and soft packaging, look for swelling and inflated containers. IF you feel it’s a bit more tense than it should be, better leave it here.
Also, take an overall look at the place. A dirty grocery store is a sign of a cheap owner that probably tries to save some bucks by turning off the fridges at night.

This is no guarantee though. I’ve shopped in “Disco”, which is a well known brand of big supermarkets ( our equivalent of Kmart, one in every neighborhood) and the chicken I was about to buy had gone bad and smelled once I poked the film with a key.

How do you tell if a chicken or other meat has gone bad?
Smell of course, but also take a good look at the bones. The cut bones leave the medulla exposed. It should be bright red. If it’s dark it means the blood is going bad.
If there’s no bone visible in the meat you are buying, look for small arteries and spots of blood. Again, you want bright red blood, and good smell.
Eggs? That’s a bit more complicated, but once you are home you can tell by putting it in water. A good egg sinks, a bad egg floats.
Also regarding sales. Is it really cheap?
Sometimes “Disco” supermarket will announce a sale for next week... but raises the prices a few days before.

There’s are some commonly known tips, but they are even more important after the SHTF because no one else will be controlling things, at least not the way they should.

5) Checking your change AND ticket.

Most people I see don’t even bother to check the change... nuff said.

But also something that has happened to me, the price I saw does not correspond with the price at the counter.

I don’t check every single thing, but I do look overall for anything that looks odd. A couple times I paid more than I metal estimated I would. A quick check showed that I was being charged several bucks over the price displayed.

This happens a lot, specially during the worst months of rising inflation. So guys, check that you are paying what you should. A notepad and a calculator is a good idea.

Guys, just a few tips for shopping after a delicate economy.
Other than that;
Careful when going back home and getting the bags out of the car.
If you buy any expensive gadgets, destroy the box, don’t leave it out there.

Take care guys and have a good weekend.



Anonymous said...

When checking change...look for pre
1964 coins...sometimes dimes and
quarters get mixed in with the new
worthless coinage...I found 2 64
guarters that way!!! :-)real
silver!!! at least 90 per cent!
just a thought...az1

Anonymous said...

Saw your blog on calculated risk--wow--this may be u.s.a future. Thanks for your work