A. Stockpiling and storing food
Buy about 12 weeks of supplies per person in your household: Think of foods like 20 lb bags of rice, oats, beans, soybeans, etc. Powdered milk and soybeans (or soymilk) have complete proteins that are needed by the body. Purchase cooking oil, sugar, salt, a few spices, and multivitamins.
Bulk food can often be purchased at a restaurant supply store. (Not all of them require you to own a restaurant.) Oriental markets often have bulk rice in 25 or 50 lb sacks.
My attitude toward this food is that you probably won’t use it, but like other forms of insurance, it’s a practical necessity. So buying comfort foods is not necessary. Some people will choose to rotate and use the dried foods (saving money, and in most cases eating a healthier diet), while others will never use the food except in a crisis situation.
Make sure the food is stored in a way that prevents infestation by bugs or mice, or corruption by mildew or mold.
The following chart shows you how many days you could survive on 20lbs of different foods, assuming 2000 calories per day. Obviously you couldn’t live on one food alone.
Most bulk products can last 2-3 years at least. (Optional: You can make dry goods last 15 to 20 years if you store in airtight plastic five gallon pail, fill them up to the top to decrease the air space, and then add oxygen absorption packets, available online relatively cheaply.)
Until preparation is widespread, there would be a danger of home invasion and theft after a grid collapse. So think about where you would hide your food if the grid goes down.
Buy and store food for your pets, too. Usually dry pet food is best kept in the bag. Expiration dates are usually several months away, so just have a 3-6 month supply and rotate.
Learn or download some basic recipes, if you don’t know how to cook.
Here are some options for how to cook your foods:
Solar oven. Use a $4 car sun visor with shiny metallic surface, a roasting bag on a raised grate, and a disposable aluminum baking dish, set-up so that the light can get underneath. (In the picture below, the grate is sitting on a brick.) Aim open side toward the sun. This DIY oven can heat food to 350 °F. It probably would not work so well on cold or winter days because of lack of strong sunlight. But it’s great in warmer, sunnier locations.
Do-it-Yourself Rocket Stove that burns twigs and sticks. (An alternative is a portable wood-burning camping stove that can be purchased online.) The pictured stove is made from a paint can, a spaghetti sauce can and a smaller can. Insulation between the inner can and the paint can to boost the efficiency of the cooking. Sticks are fed in through the side. This requires power tools so it needs to be made ahead of time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQyU4lokVe4
Propane or charcoal grill. If you already have a grill, purchase and store more charcoal or propane.
Kerosene camping stoves. The stoves pictured below must be primed with methanol (denatured alcohol) but they burn kerosene. There are kerosene stoves that use wicks and don’t need methanol. $35 to $90. Of course, you must store kerosene safely. Kerosene keeps a lot longer than gasoline.