Camping & Survival

Give it Up or Grow your Own

Photo courtesy of Magda Wojtyra

Inspired by our friends over at Zombie Apocalypse Preparation’s Facebook post the other day, I decided to do a little bit of research on supplying your own “luxury” (read vices or addictions) items. If you like to partake in the occasional drink or smoke, would you be willing to give it up when the SHTF? Could you trade it? If you are a straightedge or a teetotaler, being able to produce said items gives you enormous bartering power. Health Economics found that there is an increase in alcohol consumption when the economy turns sour, in other words, SHTF. I racked my brain as to what these luxury items might be and here is my list:

  • Booze
  • Medicine and pain relievers
  • Cigarettes and tobacco
  • Coffee
  • Sugar
  • Chocolate, candies, and sweets
  • Beauty and skin care


Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

It is illegal to make liquor. So don’t make any now. However, there isn’t anything wrong with storing the ingredients to make it for when we have no law. Yeast and sugar are the two major ingredients in making alcohol. Yeast, kept in its original package stored in a cool, dry place will keep for two years. If you freeze it, it can last five years. Sugar, if stored properly can last almost forever.

You can, by law, make beer and wine in the United States – up to 200 gallons of it each a year. Brew kits and wine kits are readily available. Home brew is very popular, so if you are just starting out you will find plenty of resources online, and most major cities even have home brew stores.

You can make all the hard cider you want, it’s made from apples and tastes very sweet.



Medicine and Pain Relievers

Photo courtesy of Kamstrup
Photo courtesy of Kamstrup

Along time ago, we didn’t have any Tylenol; people used herbs to solve all types of aliments. There is a ton of information available online about plants and herbs for medicinal use, but I will give you just a short list.

  • Aloe—my mom always kept an aloe plant in the house while we were growing up. She would break off a part of it and squeeze the juice out of it for cuts, scrapes, and burns.
  • Willow—the main ingredient in aspirin
  • Catnip—made into a tea it can be calming to people, not just cats
  • Red clover—said to ease PMS
  • Chamomile—sleep aid and eases headaches
  • Comfrey—contains B-12
  • Feverfew—soothes insect bites
  • Wormwood—traditional ingredient to absinthe
  • Peppermint or papaya—helps with mild depression and stomachaches


Cigarettes and Tobacco

Photo courtesy of Jimmy Emerson
Photo courtesy of Jimmy Emerson

Although I could not find a definitive answer if cigarettes ever lose their nicotine content, I did find that cigarettes will go “stale” since the tobacco will lose its moisture, which means you get something that tastes bad and burns quickly. Nevertheless, storing a few cartons in the original packaging in a place unaffected by moisture and humidity for a few years will still give a smoker what they desire. Some people say keep them in the freezer, but I say just keep them with your food supply. A pack of cigarettes is going to be worth more than its weight in gold–stale or not.

An alternative to buying cartons of cigarettes, you can buy loose tobacco, like for a pipe, or roll your own cigarettes. Any smoke shop or cigar store will have loose tobacco. Kept in its original packaging, lose tobacco can stay fresh under the right conditions.

If you really want to, you can grow your own tobacco. The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the growing of tobacco, as long as you don’t sell it or trade it. It takes about five months from planting to drying to have tobacco ready to smoke.

In the book, “Back to Basics” edited by Abigail R. Gehring, I found this interesting recipe to an alternative to tobacco:

Take one ounce of red clover tops, one ounce of coltsfoot, and a pinch of each of lavender, yerba santa, and rosemary–crumble it all up to make something smokable.

Weird, huh?



Photo courtesy of Magda Wojtyra
Photo courtesy of Magda Wojtyra

The country is in chaos, there are lots of dead people, zombies, and no utilities. This is no time to be a coffee snob. I will just give you a low-down on the best ways to store coffee. In this case, I would personally swear by instant coffee. I’ve kept instant coffee in my camping supplies for years and used it and it tasted just fine.


One coffee Web site I found said to remove coffee in its original container for long-term storage, but to put it in a glass or ceramic airtight container and keep it in a dark, cool place. Even then, they say it will only last a few weeks. Another site suggested that ground coffee, in its original container and  unopened, will store up to two years. Like all your other food supplies, rotate your coffee supply. Invest in a French press, as they do not require power, just hot water. Here at Cheaper Than Dirt! we agree that French press coffee tastes the best. writes that the best long-term storage is to get green coffee beans and roast it yourself as needed, but that sounds like an awful lot of work.


Chocolate, Candies, and Sweets

You can make chocolate completely from scratch. It’s a chore, but just think how popular you will be. Purchase some cacao beans and then Google “how to make chocolate from scratch” and you will find tutorials on how to make it. Also, certain candies and sweets have a super long shelf life, so you can add those to your rotating food supply, too. You can find homemade recipes for sodas, too.

I called Coca-Cola and Chris told me that a Coke will never ever make you sick, no matter how old it is. How awesome is that?! You can keep Coke forever! Now that doesn’t necessarily mean it will taste wonderful and it may lose its carbonation, but it will never go bad.

Beauty and Skin Care

This is probably more important than you think. In fact, you can substitute store bought face wash, toner, lotions, moisturizer, face masks, shampoo, conditioner, and shave creams with household items. A quick search on the internet will give you plenty of recipes for homemade beauty and skin care. Beer, mayo, olive oil, banana, honey, salt, pumpkin, aloe vera, oatmeal, and yogurt are all good for your hair or skin.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (6)

  1. Poppy Seeds can be bought at the grocery. They will grow opium poppy plants. Do some research and find out for yourself.

  2. I used to run roasting machines for Starbucks. I worked at their newer SC roasting plant.(Have two licenses or certificates to roast coffee) If you can get green coffee roast it in a copper bottom pot with the lid on. I believe this is the closest thing to a real roasting machine. Coffe will pop like popcorn when it cooks. You want to roast it until it gets to it’s first pop.Coffee usually pops twice. Do not roast it until it pops again. Just be careful(wear safety glasses),lift the lid and see if it is dark and oily.Then you are probably done. Time it so you will know about how long you want to heat it after first pop. Starbucks does not condone anyone roasting their own coffee. They would rather you bought it and just stored it in an airtight container.

  3. Alternative meds – you’ve missed a few, and misidentified ,the uses of some herbs.

    Ferverfew is pretty much a specific for migraines. You can chew a few leaves, but they can be irritating to the mouth. Better yet, brew into a tea.

    Honey can be put on a wound as an anti-infective. It, like sugar, is impervious to mold and bacteria.
    Garlic is an excellent antibiotic and cholesterol lowering agent. Yeah, your breath stinks, but you’ll be healthier.
    Sage is excellent for menstrual cramps.
    Peppermint, placed in a warm compress, relieves sinus pressure and headaches.

    A coffee substitute can be made from ground chickory. Don’t ask me how it tastes – I don’t drink coffee. Y’all are on your own there.

    Personally, beauty and skin products made from household ingredients, are last on my list of luxury. I’m going to be eating the oatmeal and bananas rather than making a mask of them for clearer skin. I’d rather tuck away a few bottles of skin lotion and creams than give up my food.

    ps – I wouldn’t drink Diet Coke that’s older than two years. The aspartame breaks down into its component amino acids and can trigger severe headaches or other reactions in sensitive people.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.