How Much Interest Has Your Food “Bank” Earned This Year?

By: Tom Chatham

In these days of declining paychecks and rising prices, people are hard pressed to get the most for their money. With every new dollar that is printed the value of your hard earned savings decreases and much buying power is lost. The conventional way to offset this decrease is to invest your money where it can earn interest and increase your holdings in real terms or at least keep up with inflation.

If you put your savings in the bank you might get .25% these days if you are lucky. This is at a time when real inflation is running close to 9% annually. In order to earn a better return on your funds you must put them in increasingly risky investments that have counter party risk that many may not fully appreciate until something happens. Just ask those fleeced by the MF Global bankruptcy.

There are few things one can place their money in these days that will maintain value or even grow. The normal safe haven in times like this are usually precious metals or investment grade collectables but those things must be sold in the marketplace in order to utilize the value of those items. What the average person needs is a safe haven they can hold and use at will and still reap the full value of those items.

When you earn interest on investments, your Uncle Sam will be standing there with his hand out when you liquidate that item so he can get his share. This just adds insult to injury when you loose buying power through inflation. There must be a better way to store wealth on a small scale that average people need and can use. That way is through commodities that you use every day.

When you buy a can of soup for .50 cents and put it on the shelf for several months and finally use it after the price has increased to .65 cents, you have effectively earned 30% interest on that can of soup. Where can you earn 30% interest these days with no counter party risk?

What makes this even better is that you pay no tax on that 30% interest. Can it get any better than that? This type of investment plan will work for anyone because everyone buys food on a regular basis. Not only that but the other things you use at home such as hygiene supplies, paper products, cleaning products, and hardware supplies will likely go up in price as time goes on and offer you the opportunity to save on your future needs. This also applies to things such as ammo, clothing, auto parts and energy supplies.

Some may say this is a waste of time because many of these things will have to be used within some time limit, but you will need to buy these things anyway at some point so why not increase your buying power by making purchases in a different manner than you normally do.

If you store a years supply of food at home and the real inflation rate is 8% annually, when you replace those goods that you use you may pay more but you will essentially be eating at last years prices. If inflation gets even worse in the future you will have more available purchasing power than others because you will not have to buy necessities every week like everyone else. You can wait for specials, deals on bulk purchases or seasonal fluctuations.

In a serious situation you would be able to stop purchases for up to a year and use that money for other things such as equipment to grow and can your own food. In the event of unemployment, it is also one less expense you will need to worry about. While food is a natural for this type of savings plan other household products may work even better due to longer shelf life.

Just imagine if you had everything you would need for the next ten years stored in your basement. How much would you save in inflated prices over that time period? With a real inflation rate of 8% prices would almost double every ten years. It is unlikely that your paycheck would increase at a similar rate. This type of savings plan is better than putting money in the bank because a bank can go out of business or outright steal your funds because of new laws that are now in place. The amount of money you spend on everyday necessities over several years can run into the thousands of dollars and that is sufficient to preserve a lot of money.

It is important for each person to analyze their financial position at regular intervals and you must be aware of the real inflation rate in order to devise a plan to get the most from every dollar you spend. This will become ever more important as the economy becomes more unstable as time goes on. In the end it is up to you to protect your hard earned money from loss due to economic conditions that are controlled by those that wish to destroy it.


Posted on November 11, 2014, in Economics, Preparedness and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.


    Wow! Just wow! I’m have never thought of this part of prepping and here i thought I was pretty smart.

    What an interesting take on inflation which leads me to another thought. With the detrimental drought in CA which provides almonds, citrus and other veggies during the winter for us Midwesterners, we had better stock up and can up now on the food that is grown in CA while the gittin’ is good. Prices are going to skyrocket in the next year.

    Here N Ohio we produce all kinds of dairy, meat and stuff like corn and soybeans but CA and FLA produce the stuff we love year round.

    Personally, I buy lots of long term storage food ( canned veggies, fruit and meat products ) . As a consultant to manufacturing or engineering firms my income is either feast of famine. When times are tough, I eat and rotate the current stock of food I have and when times are good I stock up to replenish my preps. This method saves me a lot of money on food products due to inflation. And of course I garden like a madman and have lots of canned food prepared from my own soil ( and toil!):)

    I had never really considered the inflation factor in food though and am super glad that you posted this article!


    Snake Plisken

  2. Usually the government figures out a way to tax your gains, but I don’t know any schemes they have out to tax last year’s food. Nicely thought out post.

    • That may be another reason the government does not want people storing more than two weeks worth of food. They know you are circumventing their inflation policies.

  3. “Just imagine if you had everything you would need for the next ten years stored in your basement.”

    While it is fairly practical to store a year (or more) in the form of canned and frozen foods, ten years isn’t….unless you’re a big fan of freeze dried stuff ( and it has it’s place, of course ).

    What IS way more practical, and falls right in line with beating the govt hidden tax (inflation), is to spend money now on improving your food raising ability. It serves two purposes. 1. You beat inflation with a stick. 2. You are more secure and sustainable in case the lack of food down the road becomes an issue. Hard to imagine the ‘shelves of plenty’ at your local food superstore might someday contain only dust, but it could happen.

    We have been improving our food growing abilities for many years now, last fall adding a 20×40 ‘hoop’ house to extend our normal outside garden season from late February until early December….more with cool weather crops like lettuce, spinach, broccoli, carrots. This fall, I added a solar water heating system to it so we would have to depend less on inside frost blankets when outside dips into the low teens.

    Outside gardens, we are always improving the soil, (money in the bank) adding sand to combat the local heavy clay, animal manures (I can get a 20 ton load of chicken manure delivered for $400), growing green manure cover crops (have winter wheat sowed on it now that will plow under in the spring).

    We’ve invested in buildings/fencing for chickens, pigs, cows, built a couple ponds to raise catfish, and so on. All that takes time and money, but it’s effort well spent, as we’ve raised our level of home grown food use to around 75% of what we eat. My wife will often look at the newspaper food ads, especially for meats, and say “who can afford this ?”

    Along with the food raising, you can spend plenty on food preserving/home processing as well. We’ve bought 3 pressure canners over the years, including a huge American brand one that will do 20 quart jars at a run. Nearly a thousand jars (pint-qt-1/2gallon), and MANY thousands of lids. Got 5 freezers now We like small, Energy Star rated chest models. Wife keeps a good inventory, and as we eat out of them, we condense and turn off one, then another. If one dies, you spread your risk too, rather than one or two large models. Even built a walk-in cooler, powered by a window AC, (Google “CoolBot”) that lets us butcher our pigs and cows right on the farm.

    The way to beat the bankers and the tax guy is simply withdraw from their game as much as possible.

  4. It was while researching Coolbots that I found your blog today. I’ve seen two CoolBots in use at local small organic farms, which they use to store food in walk in coolers between harvest and distribution. They build a stand alone insulated room with lots of foam board, shelter it with a roof and hook up the air conditioner with CoolBot to maintain cool. I have a modest root cellar now with a JennAir Oven fan pumping the outside cool air in through a 4″ PVC pipe. Bubel’s Root Cellaring book was my guide. The difficult time is from late summer till now when temps are too warm or variable to keep temps low enough to keep produce fresh. Once carrots sprout, it’s over for their long term storage, but keep them below 35 and they’ll keep till April or later. Over the last few years I’ve had really good results with all manner of roots, cabbage, apples, and know there are many clever tricks possible like forcing cruciferous to head up in storage. I work hard to preserve foods. This year I tried surrendering the task of growing my own food to a CSA farmer in order to hang out with my family. Either I’m a born cheapskate or every fiber of my being is screaming at me to be self sufficient, because it was very frustrating to trust in someone else to provide for my family. There were too many moments when I thought “I know a lot more than this farmer!” But there’s no substitute for endless acres managed by large equipment (and they got a battery operated tractor!!!) Also, the volume of food a family needs exceeds the storage capacity of most conventional options. CSA volumes or private garden output can easily exceed several bushels in a day. Pick it, wash it, bring it inside… then what? I’m about to add a second kitchen for processing these loads because my family can not function in our main kitchen with piles of vegetables or fruits on every surface, in every pathway. I’m considering building an insulated area beneath a countertop which will be cooled with a coolbot and have enough space to handle several bushel totes of produce. This will be far more convenient than having to go down to the rootcellar to get it, and be useful all year long for whatever I need to keep cold. This is so unconventional I’m not sure anybody would even think to look there for my food! They might steal my frig but miss this entirely. Do you suspect that we need to disguise our long term food storage sites in order to prevent government seizure? Does theft by other desperate individuals rate consideration, if we’re going to the trouble to prepare for bad future scenarios? I’ll do some reading on your blog now that I’ve found it but would appreciate your reply. You might like this blogger’s comments on raising local food / small farmer economics. Thanks!

    • Storage under the counter is a good idea. Anywhere you can store bulk supplies away from prying eyes is good. In a national crisis, the government does not have the food supplies to feed a substantial amount of the population for any significant amount of time so they will likely take what they need from farmers. Depending on where you live, the most likely problem you would face would be unprepared neighbors or local police going house to house looking for anything they could take. A root cellar separate from the home is best if you have the room to do that. Even better is if you could build it to act as a storm shelter in addition to storing supplies. That would give you a shelter in case your home was destroyed or damaged in some way. A hidden entrance is also preferable for something like this.

  5. Suzane,

    I built a root cellar several years before the walk-in cooler/coolbot deal. I find the same thing here……in the summer, the temperature is simply too high (into the low 60’s) for storing much in the way of anything fresh, so we don’t try. I also put a couple of 6″ PVC pipes in it for ventilation, and in one, put a small “duct booster” fan designed to move more air in 6″ heating ducts (Home Depot). This time of year, I’ll run it, and with outside temps dipping into the 20’s, the inside is now down to mid 40 range. That will keep stuff, and I can get it on down in the high 30’s as winter goes on.

    My view of a root cellar is it is to be used for fall crops, into late spring….NOT as an attempt to hold stuff year round…..because unless you live WAY North, that simply isn’t possible…..normal ground temps in most of the lower 48 are simply going to get you in the 50-60 degree range. We store potatoes, apples, onions, etc. We also pressure can potatoes and apples so when they DO start to go, we have canned as backup until the new stuff comes in. The ‘typical’ American eating pattern has changed from our forefathers…..THIS is how they ate. Today, we’re conditioned that we can have fresh ANYthing ANYtime of the year, because it’s imported from a place they can grow year round, or pulled from refrigerated storage. What we need to do is go back to the way things were……because eventually, things will go back to the way things were…..ahahahaaa…..either due to cost, or breakdowns in a very fragile supply system of today. I love a fresh banana as well as anybody, but also accept that may not be possible down the road.

    Adding a ‘hoop’ house ( plastic over hoops, no heat ) is an excellent way to extend your growing seasons on either end of the normal outside garden season. We ate the last green beans out of ours today, with outside high about 30 degrees. Still growing are broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, kale, carrots…will be setting potatoes this week…..and they will grow all winter with no extra heat as long as you cover them in extreme night cold (like into the mid teens or lower)

    On adding another kitchen. That’s exactly what we did. Knocked a hole in the back wall of the garage, and added a 12×22 room on the back. One end contains our walk-in cooler (6×6), along with a walk-in pantry with floor to ceiling shelving in a U for home canned goods. The only thing we used the walk-in cooler for is meat processing…..chilling it after slaughter, then cut, wrap, freeze or can it. So the cooler only sees about a month’s use out of a typical year. The rest of the time, I store my meat bandsaw (on wheels), cutting tables, trash cans, etc in there.

    The CoolBot is really meant to do exactly what it does…..use a window AC to cool a room…trying to scale it down for an undercounter version probably isn’t practical.

    Instead, IF you want to run a small version of this for year round use, you might consider an external thermostat ( ) where you can turn a chest freezer into a HIGH efficiency refrigerator. You can use a 15cuft chest freezer for example, and get your power use down in the fraction of a kwhr per day range……5 to 10 times less energy than a conventional upright refrigerator of the same size. A small chest freezer (7-9cuft) will run on 100-200watthrs/day….that is 1/5 of a kwhr, where even a small, standard, refrigerator will run 1-2kwhrs/day. I keep a couple of these thermostats around in case I HAVE to come up with some really low energy use electric refrigeration down the road (like grid down, and you only have a small amount of solar power, for example)

    The remaining 12×16 space is our meat cutting and work room. I put a used commercial deep 2 compartment sink (Craigs List), along with some counter top. Also built a chimney on the gable end, and installed a used wood cook stove (CL). We use the room mainly to process pork and beef off our place. When not in use, I roll one or two of our 5 freezers from the garage into the room also….mounted them on plywood platforms with casters so they can be easily moved. Also keep a Weston 2300 vac sealer set up permanently on the countertop, so we can easily vac seal all kinds of foods going in the freezers, or whatever.

    As far as the govt taking food, I can’t really see that happening…..takes a lot of manpower, for one thing, and there would be a lot of resistance….I know I would view it as any other type of thievery, and respond accordingly.

    More of a problem is going to be your neighbor. People KNOW who gardens, who has livestock, and so on. And you have to sleep sometime. My plan is to pull my little bit of livestock ( couple pigs, 2-5 cows, 12-30 chickens) into an area very close to my house so as to guard them best we can. We store enough food to get us thru a year, minimum, so if we don’t garden for an entire year, we can still make it.

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