I’ll never forget it.
It was a beautiful, sunny Los Angeles Friday in March.
I took a half-day off at work. My wife picked me up and we went to Trader Joe’s to do a little grocery shopping.
I love going to Trader Joe’s.
But this would be no ordinary shopping trip.
You see, an ordinary shopping trip is when the store has…things you can shop for.
But this particular sunny Friday in Los Angeles happened to be the Friday before we all learned the lie, I mean phrase, “15 days to slow the spread”.
Or was it stop the spread?
Flatten the curve?
Who the heck knows, none of it was true anyway.
People had just started to freak out and buy up everything they could.
So we went into the store with our little list of TJ’s favorites and staples and we quickly discarded and replaced it with a single item:
If it was food, it could go in our cart.
Because that was the state of choices in the Trader Joe’s that day.
No time to be picky.
Interestingly enough, people were good-natured that day.
I’m normally fairly reserved in public, but on this day I made more conversation with strangers than I ever had before.
For whatever reason, people were likely so astonished that all they could do was laugh.
I bought so many odd items that I had never bought before that people would randomly come up to me and ask me about them.
“Hey, what is that? Sticky mango? How is it? I’ve never had it before.”
“Me neither,” I answered. “It was the only food they had, so I figured I might as well try it out.”
The answer, by the way, is it is delightful. You might find this little treat in the TJ’s frozen section by you.
Anyway, the employees would stand up on chairs to speak to the entire store to playfully ask for patience as the lines of people who had grabbed whatever they could began to pile up like I had never seen them before.
We all smiled, shook our heads, and had a pretty good time.
The problem is, that will not always be the case.
Shock supply shortages in a novelty stage are rarely the case, and the novelty wears off.
Longer term supply chain issues that could turn worse at any moment are no laughing matter and could lead to great distress for those caught unprepared.
Now 18 months after that first shock of COVID-induced empty shelves, stores look somewhat back to normal.
But if you look closely, and not even all that closely to be honest, they’re not really all that normal.
Bare shelves that weren’t bare pre-COVID are still everywhere to be seen.
And although you can get things like toilet paper, bottled water, dry foods like pasta and rice, I still see the most bare shelves in these areas.
Now, is that due to production issues or is it due to people who are being diligent?
I certainly hope it is the latter and suspect that to some degree it is.
But as we see stories such as the following, stories that we rarely if ever saw before, it brings home the importance of prepping, no matter what things look like on the surface
Cargo Ships Continue To Multiply Off LA, Long Beach Ports
The world is different today
Regardless of what the cause is, and we will not get into that here, whether it is temporary or systemic, we have all seen that things are different.
And that should be reason enough to inspire us all to at least take some reasonable steps to prepare.
I’m not talking about building bunkers-type of preparation. Just simple, effective preparation that anybody can and should take right now, regardless of the circumstances or your pocketbook.
Let’s go back to that pre-pandemic day at Trader Joe’s, the one with the bare shelves and the shocked shoppers.
There were at least two shoppers in that store who were not shocked and were able to shop patiently and kindly.
And those two were me and my wife.
Because we had already been following my preparation plan for a very long time and had no need to panic, nor take up any drastic, last-second preparation measures.
The preparation plan is very simple
Every time we go to the store, we add a few items outside of our grocery list to stock up on.
Nothing fancy and nothing overwhelming. Just some non-perishable foods with a long shelf life. Some bottled water. Toilet paper. Paper towels. Etc.
Not a lot all at once, although you can if you like. Just a few extra items here and there.
Soon, after just weeks or months of doing so, you’re in a permanent state of being prepared and you didn’t have to break the bank all at once to do it.
So, that day at Trader Joe’s, we didn’t scratch and claw or fight for anything important.
And, most importantly, we didn’t worry.
We were able to sit back and let the people who had need go after the staples.
We just plucked a couple obscure items that no one seemed to want, in this case a sticky mango frozen dessert, and went on our merry way in the hopes that everyone else would find what they needed and get through.
We dropped in at a couple other stores later that day, just to see what the vibe was and if they had any zinc, and the good-naturedness seemed to be starting to slip away.
It didn’t take that long for stress and worry to begin to take over.
Which is all the more reason to prepare. Not just so you are not in that position, but also so you don’t have to be in the mix with those that are, draining resources that could go to other people in need or even dealing with potential confrontations over scarce food and water.
Anyone who is following my simple advice, however, would not find themselves in that position to begin with.
Simple, inexpensive prep anyone can follow right now
So, to that end, here is a simple list of foods that you can toss into your cart before you head to the cashier the next time you’re at the store.
These are cheap, easy to make, and you probably like them. At least enough. So no matter your tastes or your budget, this can work for most of you.
- Dry pasta
- Dry beans (great money saver right here)
- Canned beans
- Tuna packets
- Canned fish
- Canned vegetables & fruits
- Peanut butter
- Bottled pasta sauce
This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a cheap one, almost entirely whole food-based, low on the preservatives and non-food ingredients. It is largely in descending order of the most important bulk items to the items you can keep in lesser quantities.
For example, bottled pasta sauce is great, but if you don’t have any, tossing your pasta in olive oil, garlic powder, and salt is delicious, and maybe even better.
Oh, get salt. Imagine this list without any salt. You’re not an animal.
Items like pasta, rice, and dry beans are all still inexpensive even in today’s inflationary environment, can be made in large quantities, and can build an inexpensive foundation of emergency food that you would likely eat in normal times anyway.
And dry beans are super easy to make and will save you a lot of money over canned beans, which are not the most expensive thing in the world either.
These foods will give you some inexpensive bulk and protein, and adding something like olive oil to your dishes will give you some healthy fat, so you will keep yourself from becoming terribly deficient in any of your “macros”.
Then you can fill in those missing nutrients, some more healthy fats, etc. with some of the inexpensive items further down the list that will act more as your dietary supplements, so to speak.
Tuna packets and canned fish are amazing, inexpensive ways to get fats (including omega 3s) and protein into your diet. The packets in particular can give you some flavor variety that might be missing. They are also pretty filling so you don’t have to eat a lot of them, which means you don’t have to spend a lot of money on them.
The same goes for peanut butter. A spoonful or two will not only give you a good amount of fat and protein that you don’t find in foods like pasta and rice, but it will also help you feel full, quickly, and gives you something different to eat that could even substitute for a “dessert” to help satisfy a sweet tooth when nothing sweet is found.
Then you can fill in with canned fruits and vegetables. (Canned in water, not syrup, if you can.) These will help you get some of the micronutrients found in fruits and vegetables that are important to your health and can help keep you thriving in an environment where you don’t have much variety.
So on your next shopping trips to the store, if you’re not prepared yet, toss in a few bags of pasta and a couple pounds of rice to start. Maybe a bottle of sauce and some beans or fish. That will cost you about ten to twelve dollars and could provide a few days or so worth of emergency food, right off the bat.
Keep doing this every week until you feel you have a comfortable stash.
You don’t have to break the bank, and you don’t have to break your mind with stress.
A supply chain shortage or a shock run on food may or may not ever come again.
But there’s nothing wrong with being ready.
If you like this article, you will love my gratitude journal!
I wrote the introduction to help guide you and provide you with motivation to start your mindset shift and contribute to your growth, then watch your growth compound over time and your life change for the better.
Having something – anything – to serve as a motivational reminder to be grateful can help a great deal. Whether it’s a gratitude journal or something else.
I like a gratitude journal.
Stay consistent and watch your life change positively.
You have the power to decide what you believe and who you will be.
So believe in the best and believe in you!