Building a 30 Day Food Reserve on Less than $10 a week

You can build a 30-day food reserve even if you’re on a tight budget.

It takes a little time, but not as much as you might think.

A lot of folks ask me what they can do to prepare for the worst when they are living on a tight budget of a fixed income. My answer is to take small steps each week using whatever you can spare—even if it’s just a few dollars.

It adds up fast.

On $10 a Week Put Enough Food in Your Pantry to Feed One Person for a Month

Here’s how it’s done …

The first step is to find a store that has good prices on canned items and that also sells bulk foods.

Whatever you buy, don’t forget to store it properly. Canned and dried goods will last longer in a cool room that maintains a fairly steady temperature both during the day and throughout the year. (Basements are great, if you have one!) Vacuum-sealing your dried goods will help protect your investment for years to come.

Week 1: Buy bulk rice. Bulk long-grain rice runs about $.50 a pound. Brown rice has more going for it nutritionally, but you also need to take into consideration what you will actually eat. At $.50 a pound, your $10 budget will land you 20 pounds of rice. That’s about 11,714 calories stored in your first week.

Week 2 and 3: Buy bulk dried beans. Dried beans in bulk run about $1 a pound. In two weeks, you’ll be able to put 20 pounds into your food reserves, adding another 32,000 calories.

Week 4: While rice and beans together make a complete protein, you want to have some meat in your stores. This week, invest your $10 in canned tuna. If you buy generic, you should expect to spend around $.75 a can. On your budget, that’s 13 cans. And 2,327 calories worth of healthy, lean protein.

Weeks 5 and 6: Add in fruit and vegetables. You can buy the freeze-dried stuff, but canned vegetables and fruits are more familiar to most people. And remember, it’s important to like what you’re eating. So, as an example, let’s say you buy canned peaches and canned green beans. If you buy generic, you should be able to get at least twelve 15-ounce cans of each over two weeks without breaking your budget. That’s another 2,988 calories.

Week 7: This week buy a 40-ounce jar of peanut butter and three 9-ounce boxes of crackers. (If you stick to generic, you should be able to find this for your $10 budget). You’ll add another 10,096 tasty calories to your food stores.

Week 8: This week buy 10 cans of chili (you might be able to get a couple more than that for your budget, depending on where you live and where you shop) for another 4,500 calories.  

Your total calories: 63,625.

In just eight weeks for right around $80. That will tide a single person over for a full month. Not a lot of variety. But you won’t be hungry. And you won’t break the bank.

Making sure you’re ready to weather a financial crisis, social chaos, or a major disaster like a power grid collapse doesn’t have to be out of anyone’s reach. Think creatively. Look for deals. Spread out the costs. Every small step you take now will be one less thing you have to worry about later.