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When Grocery Stores Go Empty – A Back Door Shopping Strategy

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As a prepper or survivalist, we all typically pride ourselves on being prepared for SHTF situations.  At any given time we usually have a good amount of non-perishable foods stored, as well as options for hunting, fishing, trapping, and gardening.  However, not everybody is quite this prepared for a worst case scenario.  Despite our best efforts, many of us will be forced to join the masses and head to the grocery store to stock up for the days or weeks to come.  If that happens, this is your guide to surviving the ordeal and coming out with a good amount of needed nutrition.

How to Avoid the Grocery Store

Before we delve into the chaos of the grocery store, I must emphasize how much more effective it can be to avoid the store completely.  If you have the means by which to stock up on dry and canned goods in advance, please do it.  In addition, my family always has woods for hunting, a pond for fishing, a garden for vegetables, fruit trees for peaches and apples, and even a trap line.  We have grape vines, wild edibles, mulberry trees, and blackberry bushes.  We can vegetables and meat, make jerky, keep hard tack, make pemmican, and keep homemade granola on hand.  If we were to lose the power grid, we would still have food for months if not years.  This is the ideal setup to avoid the grocery store when SHTF.

What to Expect at the Store

Have you ever been shopping on Black Friday?  Imagine that, but add in the variable that everybody is fighting for their lives.  Yes, it will be that insane.  Initially people will assume that power will be restored within a few days, so perishable versus non-perishable will not be a huge factor.  Milk, eggs, bread, butter, meat, produce, and premade meals will go first.  These aisles will either be picked over or will be a war zone, so you are best to avoid them completely. Batteries, alcohol, cigarettes, and toilet paper will also go fast.  After 72 hours, people will start to realize that this problem could be long term.  At this point there will be a larger focus on canned goods and dried goods.  In order to come home with anything of value, you need to have a strategy going into the store.

Related: How To Get The Best Value For Your Items After SHTF

Phase 1

When you make your first pass through the store, you should be trying to target the high value items that other people may be overlooking.  We are assuming that you are shopping on day one of the panic, so you will have some opportunity.   Your first sweep should be focused on non-perishable items.  This includes rice, pasta, beans, powdered milk, juice, powdered eggs, jerky, boxed meals, canned goods, pickled items, dried fruit, nuts, popcorn, cereal, crackers, or anything else which does not have to be refrigerated or frozen.  Also look for any toiletry items that may be overlooked.  Everybody will go for toilet paper, but items like deodorant, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, razors, and shaving cream can make life much easier for you and your family.  Many people will be thinking short term like they might think during a major snow storm.   They cannot comprehend that the disaster could last weeks or even months.  Take advantage of their naivety.

Phase 2

After collecting as many of the neglected high value items as you can, you can move on to the items that almost everybody forgets.  At this point you will be in aisles that are largely devoid of people. Hit the baking aisle for flour, oats, sugar, oil, and spices.  You can make all kinds of different foods with these ingredients.  Go after disposable items such as cups, paper plates, silverware, and paper towels.  With limited water for cleaning dishes, these items can really help.  Pick up cleaning supplies for the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry.  Get medical supplies such as aspirin, bandages, Benadryl, antacid, prescriptions, rubbing alcohol, iodine, chap stick, and petroleum jelly.  Raid the vitamin aisle for multivitamins, protein shakes, energy bars, and supplements. Pick up some chocolate bars for an occasional treat and for bartering with other people.

It may sound weird, but get some wet and dry dog food as a last resort for nutrition.  It is certainly better than nothing if your other food runs out, and you can use it as bait for trapping as well.  There is probably a random aisle that may have charcoal, flashlights, candles, cordage, superglue, and air freshener. Even books or magazines are a good idea to keep everybody sane during your disaster.  All of these are items that are normally left on the shelf when people are panicking about survival.  Go after these items before you leave.  You do not want to make more than one trip to this mad house.

Related: 24 Prepping Items I Don’t Spend Money On

General Caution

Before you enter the store, be realistic about what you are going to face.  There will be fights over a gallon of milk.  People will be trampled.  Someone may even open fire to clear out an aisle.  This is a very dangerous scenario.  As you move through the store, be the grey man.  Blend in and do not bring attention to yourself.  Move quickly, but do not run.  If there is conflict in one area of the store, move to another.  Avoid paying with cash if possible so nobody is tempted to try and rob you.  Bring a way to defend yourself, but do not pull it out unless you have no other choice.  Working through this store will be a bit like escaping from a riot.  With some caution and a little luck, you will get the items you need and get out fine.

While none of us want to think about being forced into this scenario, inevitably it will happen to some people.  The key is organization and preparation.  Do not run into the store and go nuts like everybody else.  Be methodical about the items you target.  If you go after the items that others forget, you will get more of what you need will very little chance of conflict.  Follow this strategy, and your pantry will be stocked to last through the end of your SHTF scenario.

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