Saturday, 11 March 2017

10:25 – It was 28.5F (-2C) when when I took Colin out around 0715 this morning. We’re still expecting snow over the next several days, but they’ve reduced the amount forecast. Originally, they were calling for 3″ to 6″ (7.5 to 15 cm) tonight and into tomorrow, which they reduced yesterday to 1″ to 3″, and this morning to a dusting to 1″. They are calling for more snow over the next four days or so, but with only moderate accumulations.

Barbara just left to meet some friends in Galax, VA, where they plan to wander around the craft and antique shops and have lunch and possibly dinner. Galax, like all of the small towns around here, is roughly 30 to 40 miles (48  to 64 km) and 45 minutes to an hour from us. Also like most of them, Galax is three or four times our population, and has a Walmart Supercenter, Lowes Hardware, and other big-box stores that we don’t have here.

I talked to Lori again yesterday morning about food storage, and particularly dehydrated supplemental foods like powdered eggs, cheese, butter, and milk. That got me to thinking that the last time I bought powdered milk was in June 2014 at the LDS Home Storage Center in Greensboro.

Back then, my immediate goal was a one year supply for the two of us and Colin, 2.5 people-equivalents. We hadn’t yet started to store additional LTS food for Frances and Al. So I bought two cases, 42 pounds, of LDS non-fat dry milk, which was marginally adequate for 2.5 people. Since then, we’ve added a couple cases of condensed milk and several pounds of Nestle Nido dry whole milk, but we really don’t have enough dairy for the 4.5 of us. So yesterday I decided to order more.

I first checked Walmart, which has four-pound boxes of their house-brand non-fat dry milk for $14.48, or $3.62/pound. I then checked the LDS Home Storage Center, which has their dry milk at $4.50 per 28-ounce retort pouch, or $2.57/pound. And that’s already packed for LTS, with an estimate shelf life of 20 years. Of course, we’d have to drive down to Greensboro to pick it up, a three to four hour round trip.

So I checked the LDS on-line store, where I found they had cases of twelve 28-ounce pouches for $46.50, or $2.21/pound. There’s a flat $3 shipping charge regardless of how much you order from LDS on-line, but even with that it’s cheaper to have them ship it to us. That gives us a total of 63 pounds of LDS non-fat dry milk, which with the other dairy stuff we stock is adequate for 4.5 of us for one year.

Note that this is all for cooking/baking, not for drinking. By all accounts, LDS dry milk is absolutely horrible for drinking. In fact, seven years ago, Angela Paskett did a comparison taste test among numerous dry milks, and LDS finished not just last, but far distant last. (Speaking of which, if you want a great reference about LTS food storage, order a copy of Angela’s book.)

But it’s fine for cooking/baking and doing stuff like making up pancake mix, and it’s cheap and already packaged for LTS. We like the Krusteaz pancake mix enough that I keep a couple 10-pound bags in stock, but it comes in a paper sack and costs about $0.75/pound, versus less than half that for mix we can make up ourselves from white flour, powdered milk, powdered eggs, and baking powder. Rather than deal with the hassle of repackaging it, it’s both easier and cheaper just to store the components separately.

I often get mail from people who’d like to buy LDS bulk LTS foods, but don’t have an LDS HSC within easy driving distance. (To answer another frequent question, LDS sells to anyone. You don’t have to be a Mormon or even have a Mormon friend go along with you to the HSC.)

LDS prices are generally excellent, although usually a bit more costly than repackaging your own. For example, the last time we bought a 50-pound bag of white flour at Costco, it was $12.50, or $0.25/pound. A #10 can of white flour at the HSC costs $3.00 for four pounds, or $0.75/pound. That’s much cheaper than third-party suppliers like Augason Farms, but it’s still three times as much per pound. Same thing with stuff like oats and beans. But for that higher price, you avoid having to repackage it yourself.

If you compare the LDS HSC price list with the LDS on-line store price list, you’ll find that some stuff is cheaper one place or the other, sometimes significantly. For example, in addition to the dry milk being cheaper from the on-line store, so are the canned onions (at $48.75/case on-line versus $54/case from the HSC). Also, the HSCs carry a wider range of foods than the on-line store, and you can buy individual cans or pouches at the HSC rather than buying in whole cases, which is the only option at the LDS on-line store.

Either way, if you’re building your food storage, keep both the LDS HSC and LDS on-line store in mind. For what they carry, they’re nearly always noticeably less expensive than commercial vendors.

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