How To Survive: Shop a Year at a Time

Here's introducing another new series here at View From the North: How to Survive.  In this series, I will describe the things Steve and I have learned that help us survive here in the frozen north.  I will start with one of the most important things we've learned: shop a year at a time.

Before we first came up to Shishmaref, Steve and I were fortunate enough to get a letter from Shishmaref veteran teacher Linda Beyer (one of my teaching heroes).  She explained that one of the secrets to success was stopping in Anchorage on our way up to Shishmaref, buying groceries at a (more) reasonable price, and mailing them up to the village at the government subsidized shipping rates.

I am so grateful Linda gave us that advice.  We never would have survived.  Part of our journey back to Alaska includes a couple of days at Sam's Club and Wal-Mart stocking up on necessities.

You can see from the picture above that "necessities" means pop-tarts, spaghetti sauce, salsa, and toilet paper.  This is our load of purchases from our last trip to Sam's Club.

Macho Man

(Sometimes Steve gets a little excited about spaghetti sauce.)

There's Nothing Like Spending $800 in One Grocery Shopping Trip...

This kind of shopping is a little bit expensive up front, but we don't even bat our eyes anymore.  Keep in mind that this was only our first trip of the day to Sam's Club (before we bought all our  meat and perishables) and didn't include our trip to Wal-Mart (where we bought such necessities as ninety tubes of chapstick, canned mandarin oranges, and multiple boxes of Nyquil and DayQuil).

My Fruit

After purchasing our groceries, empty boxes, packing tape, and sharpies, we head to the 24-hour post office.  We pack boxes in the post office parking lot (making sure they don't go over 70 lbs, or they make you pack them over...), and mail them to our Shishmaref address.  (The above is a portion of my annual supply of mandarin oranges.  Sometimes they're the only thing standing between me and scurvy...)


After three years we have almost perfected our shopping and packing routine The first year we seriously overestimated the amount of canned chicken and cream of chicken soup we use in a year and ended up sick of eating the same things for dinner.  We've learned to add a little variety to our shopping (and plenty of snacks).

We will never again have as good of a year's supply as we do now.  We are totally prepped for any major disaster.  If we are ever stranded in Shishmaref, not only will be be able to eat well, we will be able to feed the entire village with cream of mushroom canned chicken green bean casserole.