Buying extra supplies as a hedge against inflation and be better prepared

Over the past couple months I have been going through previous articles on The Prepared and updating prices for our product recommendations. It’s probably no surprise to anyone but many products have been discontinued as supply chains have adjusted, some companies (like with freeze dried food storage) cut down their offerings from say 10 products to just their top 3 to keep up with demand and cut down the amount of downtime rotating the machines and such, and the mostly universal thing I am seeing is that the prices for everything are going up and up because of inflation.

For example, in 2020 we reviewed and recommended a #10 can of scrambled egg mix that cost $20 at the time. Now, it is MSRPd at $105. The same goes true for many of the items I am updating such as axes, multi tools, and more. Sometimes it’s just a dollar, other times there is a 20%, 50%, or I’ve even seen things double in price.

I remember reading all these articles when they first came out and had fun day dreaming about using all of the gear recommended. Sometimes I would buy the recommended item, but there was just too much great stuff to buy so I had to put keep adding to my prepping wish list using The Prepared’s kit builder.

For further reading: How to shop for preps without going over-budget or buying fantasy gear

When that food dehydrator I was wanting used to be $250 but now is $325 I can’t help but wish that I had bought it back then. I tell myself though that I am proud that I didn’t overspend at the time or put things on credit, but still… it’s harder to get that same dehydrator now.

It got me thinking though about how I want to adjust my future spending and savings. If a can of scrambled egg mix can increase more than 5X in two years, it might be a good investment to buy more physical items if I have some extra cash at the end of the month, can rotate through things smartly, and have the space to store them. This really is a balance that I need to keep a calm and level head about, I can’t be turning into the hoarder house or having items spoil because I am not using them fast enough, but for some products it might be good to store extra of them.

The first items I am going to work on increasing my stores of are those items we use on a regular basis that are very shelf stable and can sit there for 5, 10, or even 20 years and still be good to use. For example if I spend $10 on a box of 500 garbage bags today and after 10 years of inflation and shrinkflation that company offers a $30 box of 275 bags, I have quite the valuable box there that I use and can tap into. Probably a bad example, but look at the things you usually use such as dish soap, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, toilet paper, air filters, water filters, toiletries, and more and see what would be good to store up. Not only will you have a small hedge against inflation, but if there is panic buying or shortages you will still have some, and if a product becomes discontinued you still have some to hold you by until you can find an alternative.

These are just things I’ve been thinking about over the past few months and I haven’t done all the math or worked out the kinks but wanted to share something I was observing. What are your thoughts, and what items do you store to be better prepared?


  • Comments (23)

    • 3

      One thing I’m glad I invested/increased was stored propane.  The 20lb canisters are a seasonal item at Costco for BBQs (best price I found).  My husband found a local place to fill them at a much better price than swapping at the front of a big box store and that the price varied a lot across locations.  The price of all fuels has risen sharply since last summer when we started this.    

      Given what you’ve learned, I’m glad I got the freeze-dried GF meals for our BOBs a year or more ago. One thing I’ve done during the pandemic was to track our use-rate of items.  I think we have a 20 year supply of plastic wrap because one roll will last that long.  I do watch for Costco sales for shelf stable items like aluminum foil, toilet paper, gauze pads, ZipLoc bags, or bar soap, but also keep to a reasonable amount limited by use rate/duration or storage space.  Storage space is also a cost that we don’t always consider completely.  

      Another area we’ve seen a sharp increase in pricing is building hardware and other materials.  We updated our deck and the price for a box of deck screws and wood went up a lot from last summer to this and that was after an increase the previous year as well.   The super sized washers I’m using as drape weights for the patio curtains have doubled in price now that they’re actually back in stock after months and months of empty bins.  Having these sorts of items on-hand for repairs and ad-hoc disaster proofing is helpful, but also takes storage space.  And I can also say that the mantra that crossed my mine a lot this past weekend “if you can’t find it, you don’t really own it” as I searched for something in vain. 

      • 1

        Good tip at buying a tank from Costco, I hadn’t thought about checking there.

        I have a friend who fills propane tanks at a shop and he says that those propane exchanges only fill them up like 80% full where as he can fill them up like 90% (can’t remember the percentages but it was a significant difference). 

      • 2

        Yes, that difference in filling amount was also mentioned by U-Haul where I had them filled.  And the price difference between filling it and the swap was remarkable.  Then my husband found a huge variation in price per gallon just like gasoline prices at different pumps. 

    • 3

      A lot of the stuff like foul tasting MRE’s and tactical doodahs that articles recommend aren’t going to serve much purpose in real life.

      If we start by buying a bit extra of everything we use and putting it by, making sure we rotate out any perishables that is a good start. Disaster proofing your home with things like first aid kits, fire escapes and good passive security is another positive step.

      Learning, or re learning a lot of old skills that our grand parents and great grandparents used to survive is also going to require investment. Perhaps buying canning equipment or learning about keeping bees or livestock…these require time to learn and a certain amount of equipment that is readily available now, perhaps more difficult or expensive after the crash when everyone else is looking for the same things.

      • 1

        Inflation and the cost of living are set to continue to rise until goods simply become unaffordable at which point we may see rapid deflation which could be even worse as it brings currency devaluation and unemployment, basically a depression. Most of the financial pressures are global so it’s quite credible that the effects of a depression could also be global.

        Going into this uncertain near future with unnecessary excess debt is probably a bad idea. Obviously there are those of us who will be unable to clear their long term debts like car repayments or mortgages but unnecessary expenditure on luxury goods could cause regrets later down the line…

        …it’s going to be a good time for the repo men.

      • 2

        Do MREs really taste that bad? It’s been so many years since I’ve had one.

        I don’t want to fork over $100 for a case of them on Amazon so I’m hoping to go to an Army Surplus store in the future and buying one to try out. 

      • 2

        I’ve had some MREs recently. They were not that bad to me.

      • 2

        I liked MREs as a child, and used to bring them on boy scout camping trips. As an adult, they seem too sweet/rich to me. Not my taste anymore, but I wouldn’t say they taste bad.

      • 2

        When we’re hungry enough, nothing will taste bad. 

    • 3

      This reminded me of the article I shared on the last roundup, about Argentines spending their cash asap as a way to deal with extremely high inflation.

      I have to admit that I feel like I’m in a good place with storing day-to-day stuff like detergents, toilet paper and other household items, personal hygiene items, and OTC medications, etc. Those are the things that I first started prepping and got into a good routine of replacing when used. For example, when Covid hit I didn’t have to buy TP for four months, and when I bought some it was just to add to my storage. It felt really good. If I wanted to improve my storage, it would be with the addition of more shampoo/conditioner, soap bars (I only have a few months worth of it), and face/body lotions.

    • 4

      There are 2 ways to approach preparations for ongoing inflation.

      The first is what everyone is talking about – buying stuff we use or need before the price rises. Most preppers are doing this unwittingly because we have a larder for the times when we cannot buy important stuff AT ANY PRICE. We are preparing for unavailability due to store inventory or we can’t get there – think blizzard or hurricane.

      The second is buying stuff OTHER PEOPLE use or need before the price rises.

      This second kind is not buying 4,000 rolls of toilet paper on Amazon. It’s about buying things wealthy people will want. This gives you much greater bartering power.

      Twelve years ago I was very interested in ‘coming inflation’ after reading Jim Sinclair’s website. At the time, Warren Buffett had recommended that the chiefs of several European banks read When Money Dies: The Nightmare of Deficit Spending, Devaluation, and Hyperinflation in Weimar Germany by Adam Fergusson. A reporter heard about this recommendation and asked Buffett about it and he said he never heard of the book. To me, that meant it was true and I really wanted to read it but Amazon wanted $600 for one used copy. I eventually found it through an inter-library loan.

      It is an extraordinary book about the economics, finance and human experience of life during Weimar inflation.

      It has been reprinted and you can get the paperback for $14 at Amazon. I already ordered my copy.

      The book tells the story, among many others, of 2 women that survived the massive inflation by selling things. In one case, the widow lived on the sale of good wine and liquor from her husband’s collection. Another widow lived on her husband’s cigar collection.

      The lesson for me was to buy pipe tobacco (more useful) and cases of liquor. My wife and I don’t smoke or drink so we won’t waste the profit.


    • 2

      I suppose it depends on how you see the medium- and long-term prognosis, because there is an opportunity cost for the supplies.

      In the case of more major purchases (rather than just overbuying some of those non-perishable household staples), some slight gear splurges now may save money if you will definitely be buying those items in the future. However, when we consider the financial side of prepping, that’s less money available in case of emergency, or money that could have been earning some interest.

      • 1


        Yes, absolutely there is the opportunity cost.

        The examples of the 2 women showed that the value of some ‘things’ kept pace, or in their case, exceeded the actual rate of inflation.  They maintained their standard of living while almost everyone else lost everything until the Mark was established.  The rich; those that owned real assets, stayed rich because exports were booming. And the rich wanted locally sourced pleasures rather than the exorbitantly priced imports.

        I suspect that the value of some skills will keep pace with inflation too. But most of us will lose almost everything if the dollar crashes / loses it’s place as a reserve currency.

    • 2

      The practical side of this question has been driven home by a very nice summary of the risks of the current brinkmanship between China and the US over Taiwan.

      I read this article early today and have ordered Dalio’s book.


      The risk to consumers is considerable if China were to simply blockade parts of Taiwan for a period of time. It would harm their manufacturing capacity, especially chips. At present, there is no easy place to buy chips if Taiwan’s manufacturing capacity was significantly constrained.

      But what do I do now? Gideon’s ideas are all good but I want to find a way to rank the priority of simple actions I should take. Mine may be different from yours but there must be a framework to come up with a plan.

      For example, my wife had surgery recently and she had a ‘wound vacuum’ attached for the first week of recovery. That thing went through (6) AA batteries every single day! My inventory dropped (42) batteries! Thankfully I had them and just as thankfully I can replace them but it got me thinking after reading that article: do I really understand all the things I use that are dependent on batteries? Do I have them prioritized? Why haven’t I bought rechargeable eneloops with redundant charging systems?

      What won’t I be able to do once my batteries run out and I can’t replace them either due to inflation costs or unavailablity?

      And batteries are only an example that occurred to me this morning.

      I work from home full time now. What if my router fails? Can I find another?

      I know having spares is important but I am asking if anyone has a framework for deciding what to buy next in light of rising inflation and inventory shortages?

      BTW, I have written about this before but it bears repeating; Admiral Stavridis’ (RET) book ‘2034’ will give you a very good idea of the Taiwan situation.

      • 2

        “I work from home full time now. What if my router fails? Can I find another?”

        A few weeks ago, my house was directly hit by lightning. The worst part of that was that it fried my “gateway” which is just a router with AT&T’s firmware. I lost internet access for two days while waiting for AT&T to send another, so I needed to miss two days of work without notice. I am now much more consistent about getting all electronics on surge protectors, but that may not be enough for a direct hit like that. I don’t yet have a good solution for preventing this from happening again. One possibility is to have a separate internet connection on standby that I can switch to, such as GoogleFi that I only need to pay for when I need it.

        “The risk to consumers is considerable if China were to simply blockade parts of Taiwan for a period of time.”

        True. Also consider that China has easier options if they want to make trouble for us, such as cutting off exports from their own country. We depend on China for just about everything.

      • 1


        I have worked in IT for a long time and have dealt with too many power distribution problems. Adequate grounding can be a highly complex problem and make lightening strikes an order of magnitude worse – don’t ask how I know.

        No consumer UPS/Surge protector can withstand a lightening hit. Many commercial units would be damaged too. The greater and far more common damage comes from brownouts. A battery UPS will definitely protect you from that. Much greater damage is done by brownouts than blackouts.

        Can you buy another AT&T router on Amazon or Ebay?

        I had a spare router but gave it to one of our daughters. I need to order another.

        My backup Internet strategy is StarLink but I have to wait 6 months before it’s in our area. StarLink and a generator will eliminate a regional power outage and ISP problems. GoogleFi is only 4G in my area. My ISP has WiFi on telephone poles in our town. I need to ask them how they power that gear.

        I think the key backup gear for communication is a Yagi antenna so I can maintain telephony and some Internet connectivity. It’s a bit of a project but may be the most versatile tool for the greatest variety of outages.

      • 2

        “Adequate grounding can be a highly complex problem and make lightening strikes an order of magnitude worse – don’t ask how I know.”

        Do you have any advice for how I could address the grounding in case of another strike?

        “The greater and far more common damage comes from brownouts.”

        What kind of damage are you talking about with brownouts? Just that electronics don’t work properly during the brownout? Or the equipment is actually damaged?

      • 3


        Test your outlet to confirm it’s grounded. Someone in Home Depot can show you a tester to buy to test yourself. An electrician can also do these tests.

        CAUTION. If you have no experience doing this you should hire an electrician and have him show you how to test. SAFETY FIRST.

        My reference to grounding problems was in a commercial setting.

        In one, a powerful lightening strike near a data center did significant damage after a multi-million dollar IT/Power upgrade. My employer had purchased the building a few years earlier and the building was about 50 years old, but in otherwise excellent condition.

        We hired a forensic electrical engineering company to determine root cause. They found that over the years, multiple electrical upgrades and expansions had been done but no overarching review of the building’s power distribution had been done. One of the major problems found was faulty grounding.

        In another, after a new hospital had been built there were ongoing odd electrical problems – like cipher locks would fail on many doors after rain storms. Grounding faults were to blame.

        In that same hospital, we had commercial UPS units in all the data closets throughout the hospital to maintain network uptime before the diesel generators spun up if the power failed. The UPS’ were on the network and reported all power faults. We saw brownouts daily. No damage to our equipment but brownouts will cause significant problems to electrical equipment over time and can cause failure well before the expected lifespan has been reached.

        A brownout is a dip in the power level but not a failure (blackout). Brownouts damage electrical equipment, especially electrical motors and insulation.

        While that hospital had (3) enormous generators to maintain power in the event of a blackout, they did not have a line conditioning system (sometimes called a Liebert system) to filter out the brownouts.

        The root cause of the brownouts was dirty power from the provider. They were not very helpful and the hospital has to build a line conditioning system.

        IMO, the hospital should have known better when they built the new building because line conditioning is well understood.

      • 1

        Today I learned what a brownout is. 

        Does anyone have a recommendation on a UPS? I’ve had my eye on this one for a while to keep my home network running and slightly protected. 

      • 2

        Robert, that picture looks just like the UPS that was protecting my computer when lightning hit our house. The computer survived. I can’t be certain that the UPS is responsible for that, but seems like a good sign.

        The following UPS is Wirecutter’s top pick, and is what we purchased after the lightning strike to protect the replacement router/gateway.

      • 2

        I learned the hard way the some electronic controllers need a better alternating current sine wave from the battery backup than others.  Our gas tankless water heater is one.  I had to get the CyberPower 1500 because the 800 AVR AC output wasn’t a smooth enough.  Also, even though it draws very little current as it’s only to control temp and ignite the gas, the UPS must have a current leak when engaged as it only lasts a few hours even when we use no hot water.  So I know to go turn on the battery backup so I can have a hot shower then turn it back off.  Something my husband forgot and likely won’t again after that cold shower.  

        @Robert Larson, A friend of mine gifted me 3 of those when he moved out of state because the movers couldn’t pack lithium batteries.  I’ve not put them into service yet.  Good to hear from Eric it’s decent.  

    • 4

      I will add one small point to the great info already posted. I think it’s important to have a “staging area” (empty space) in whatever room you’re storing things. Even a 3 x 2 foot empty tabletop makes things easier when sorting or moving things. The floor doesn’t count because bending and lifting can be a pain. 

      I live in an area when contractors are very, very scarce for various reasons. My priority is remediation and preventive maintenance of house issues to minimize the chance of a service call or need for a contractor. The odds are they won’t be available anyway in any reasonable time. In other words, inflation in price and availability of labor is my focus, rather than on materials. 

      Best wishes to everyone in our efforts.

      • 1

        I like that idea of having a clean table in which you can have space to do various projects or organize gear. I should rearrange my garage to have such a space because I usually have to take the gear inside the house, to the kitchen table, organize there, and then move it all back out to the garage.