When Disaster Strikes, Buy Orange Soda

When Disaster Strikes, Buy Orange Soda

Last night, I thought I’d drop by the grocery store for a minute, just to grab some olives and a few artichokes.

Little did I know what lay ahead.

As I walked into the store, I saw a man pumping his hand in the air, in a signal of victory, as he cradled a small object in his palm. “Avocado!!” he yelled.

That should’ve been my first clue.

This wouldn’t be an ordinary visit.


Have you ever seen one of those aliens-attack-and-blow-the-planet-to-smithereens movies? Do you know the grey, gloomy scene in which the survivors wander, stunned, through the charred remnants of their once-bustling metropolis?

This was roughly the scene two blocks from my house, at Trader Joes’ grocery store, on Monday night.

Earlier that day, weather forecasters predicted that one inch of snowfall might reach Atlanta within the next 48 hours.

In Atlanta, this is the equivalent of NASA confirming the Zombie Apocalypse.

The governor declared a State of Emergency in 88 counties. The ABC-affiliated news station’s Chief Meteorologist warned Atlantans to prepare for “massive power outages.” And the governor mobilized the National Guard.

Meanwhile, at the grocery store –

Shoppers were in a panic. Nearly every item had vaporized from the shelves.

But don’t just read my description. A picture is worth a thousand words. And so, for your viewing pleasure, here are 12,000 words.

And since this is a finance website, I’ve added some commentary below about the key skill you need to survive Snowpocalypse 2014 (or any other calamity).

(Hint: It’s not orange soda.)

(Click “Display Images” in your email system if you can’t see these photos)

atlanta Snow Storm - Bread

Here, we see empty bread shelves. That’s a reasonable purchase. Bread is the most basic element of survival.

Atlanta Snow Storm - Heirloom, Cherry, Grape Tomatoes

Next, people raided every type of tomato — heirloom, cherry, grape. I understand. You’ll need Vitamin C to carry you through the brutal winter.

Atlanta Snow Storm - Lone Tomato

I feel sorry for the lone tomato that nobody wanted. If life was a musical, I can imagine it bursting into a ballad of lament and heartache, as the violins swoon …

Atlanta Snow Storm - French Green Beans

Both fresh and frozen vegetables ran their course. Goodbye, French green beans. My casserole dreams have been dashed.

Atlanta Snow Storm - Spinach Tortellini

They yanked the spinach tortellini from the shelves. Nobody wants to relive the Blizzard of 1878, when they lost access to spinach tortellini for 48 hours.

Atlanta Snow Storm - Garlic Hummus Gone

Okay, now we’re getting a little loopy. Garlic hummus? People raided the garlic hummus?

Atlanta Snow Storm - Cranberries

Don’t forget the dried cranberries.

Atlanta Snow Storm - beer

Of course, they need something to drink. Obviously, they took the beer.

Atlanta Snow Storm - Beer Gone, except for Guinness

Like, ALL the beer. (Except the Guinness.)

Atlanta Snow Storm - Orange Soda

Who can survive without strategic orange soda reserves?

Atlanta Snow Storm - Bottled Water

And the latecomers got left with plain bottled water. (Heaven forbid they’re forced to drink that liquid that comes from the tap.)

Atlanta Snow Storm - Dog Food

You can’t forget Fido. Time to stockpile the dog food reserves.

By the way —

Here’s our 5-day weather forecast.

Atlanta 5-Day Forecast

Courtesy weather.com

Dude, our overnight lows are going to dip below freezing. Yeah, you’d be stockpiling, too.    (#sarcasm)

The Finance Lesson Buried Under an Inch of Madness

Longtime Afford Anything readers know that I’m not a “frugality person.”

Time is your most valuable possession. And your power to earn money – lots of it — exceeds the usefulness of pinching pennies.

The Abundance Mindset trumps the Scarcity Mentality.

And yet —

Frugality and Abundance share one trait in common: Resourcefulness.

Resourcefulness is:

And when the skies open up, and Snowmageddon rains down, Resourcefulness is:

  • “Shopping your pantry,” creating meals out of those long-lost bottles of enchilada sauce that have been living in the shadows of your kitchen.
  • “Shopping your closet” when the snowstorm hits, creating “mittens” by wearing socks on your hands.
  • “Shopping your garage,” using a clean trashbag as an impromptu rain jacket. Or using an ironing board as a makeshift sled.

In short: It’s maximizing what you have. The frugal people apply this skill towards saving money; the hustlers apply it towards creating investments. But the underlying principle remains the same.

Resourcefulness is NOT panic-purchasing everything you see at the store.

“Coconut water! How will I survive the Snowpocalypse without coconut water?!”

 “And orange soda! When terror strikes, there’s always orange soda!”


The Resourceful Rebel:

  • Plays it cool (no pun intended). When the storm hits, your natural creativity can carry you through.
  • Never faces the problem that there’s “nothing to wear.” You might have to layer six sweaters under the only light jacket you own, but you’ll find a way to keep your vital organs pumping.
  • Never faces the problem that there’s “nothing to eat.”** There might be a hodgepodge of strange ingredients in the back of your freezer, but you’re creative. You’ll concoct something clever.

**(Assuming you live in the First World and you’re privileged enough to have the Internet access that allows you to read this website).

The majority of people are broke, stuck, and uncreative. Resourcefulness is a piece of the rebellion.

You don’t need Strategic Orange Soda. You just need to transform into a Rebel.

Update 2/12/14: They’re now predicting 3 inches. Follow my images of Snowpocalypse 2014 on Instagram.
Second Update: Nope — only one inch. Confirmed, one inch of snow. Yep.


  1. says

    Buying frozen foods or anything that needs to be refrigerated doesn’t sound like a great item when they are calling for power outages in addition to the storm. Do these people not have any other food? I go grocery shopping once a week so if I couldn’t go for a day or two it wouldn’t be a big deal at all.

    • says

      Perhaps people think it will be so cold that they can leave the frozen food on their porch?

      I actually thought it was the media that was making a big hoopla about the empty grocery shelves thinking perhaps they staged some photos until I saw these pics.

      I grocery shop every 10 days. Bought the bluapple which really extends the life of fresh produce.

  2. says

    This is hilarious!! Our shelves start to look like that when the tourists buy more than the grocery stores expected, over the holidays when it’s harder for them to replenish.
    Even if it lasts for three days, most people have enough food to get by, this is hilarious. I could go weeks if I had to, though the vegetable portion would basically be non-existent by the end.

  3. says

    This reminds me of the “bread map” someone made for the first big snow storm this year in Indiana (it was the weather map, with inches of snow replaced by loaves of bread). Granted, we did get 14 inches of snow, the temperature went below 0, and many people were without power for over a week. It’s been a crazy winter!

  4. says

    Living last minute is the motto of most non-rebels. We don’t fill our gas tank until it’s almost on empty, we wait to shop for groceries until the last slice of bread is gone, and in doing so, we waste time. That time could have been used to plan meals using pantry items and shop only for fresh ingredients as needed.

    But Atlanta is an anomaly. Just a few short weeks ago people were spending the night trapped in their office, running out of gas on the highway and trekking home (several miles, uphill), ‘starving’ overnight in their vehicles, and having babies on 285.

    It’s dangerous out here!

  5. says

    This is a pretty funny to someone who lives in Wisconsin…but thanks for sharing. On another note, we buy groceries every 3 weeks so we get very creative at the end of each cycle. Who has time to grocery shop every week anyway? Talk about valuing your time…

  6. says

    hahahahaha! Though it reminds me a bit of what home depot’s building supply area when there’s a tropical storm headed our way. Brilliantly, Home Depot seizes the opportunity and pre-packs carts full of about $1000-$2000 worth of merchandise (generators, plywood, 2x4s etc…)

  7. says

    This is too funny but at the same time a sad commentary on our society in this country. I figure as long as I have toilet paper and milk, then I’m ok. I have plenty of food in the freezer and pantry to get by for weeks. And I have plenty of toilet paper, purchased on sale of course, and shelf stable milk stored in the basement. Plus, we have a whole house generator directly powered by natural gas. So other than my poor husband having to blow snow, we are pretty much unaffected by snow storms. In fact, I kind of like them!

  8. says

    I had the same experience but with firewood. Could not find a bundle of firewood anywhere in this city to save my life!

    The funniest part of all of this is that everything will be back to normal or mostly normal on Thursday. So to think you need to stock up that much for one day of bad weather is insane!

  9. says

    If the power goes out, you cna always put anything that needs to be refridgerated outside in a sealed container. I do this with drinks in the winter. Winters nature’s fridge.

  10. says

    Any wonder why preppers store food and supplies. Our streamlined food supply is amazing but very fragile. I’m glad you brought this topic up. Independence is more than just debt free, its having the ability to set your own agenda. These shelf scavengers had the weather set the agenda for them.


  11. says

    Wow, y, it does beg the question, “What *will* an actual crisis like a zombie apocalypse or more likely the next pandemic / “Big One” as in the next major earthquake in California (which apparently we’re overdue for..) be like??

  12. says

    Based on these photos, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that people are watching too much television and buying into the alarmist meteorologist! Geez. You’d really think it was the zombie apocalypse or the last delivery ever to Trader Joes! That’s just crazy.

  13. says

    In all fairness, have you ever tried to survive the winter apocalypse of one inch snow WITHOUT garlic hummus? Oh the humanity! :) I love you people in the South.

  14. says

    Hey Neighbor! I absolutely laughed out loud looking at your pictures. I guess I got to the store just in time because I didn’t have the same experience. I think the people who rushed the stores for coconut water (of all things) probably watched a little too much of that ABC affiliate’s coverage. Somewhere in Atlanta, someone was taking a shot every time the word “catastrophic” was said. Thankfully, it was not.

  15. says

    I just don’t understand why no one has FOOD in their houses?? I have been teased before about my pantry project. Basically, I spend the summer preparing for winter. Now, I get that I live in Colorado-but I’m not running around without food in my house. Even if it’s just rice, beans, and shelf-stable almond milk.

  16. says

    A sign I live in an ethnic neighborhood: the guy in front of me had a small basket full of frijoles negros to prepare for the coming of the Great Winter Storm of 2014 (we received ~3 inches).

    I wanted to check out the carnage, so I walked down to the main highway to check out all the abandoned cars and immobile traffic. And wow – the Starbucks closed due to weather. And the yachting supply store! How was I supposed to get a latte and pick up gear for my vessel if these critical stores shut down?

    Snowmaggedon 2014 was rough for us all.

  17. says

    Reminds me of a time I was visiting family in North Carolina and there was about 1″ of snow and the entire bread aisle was empty and a 9am meeting I had scheduled with my realtor was canceled because “the roads were too dangerous to drive”. BTW, the snow melted by 1pm.

  18. says

    Great post as always.

    We store emergency supplies well beyond the 3 days our government (CAN) tells us we should. We buy goods on sale all the time and just make sure we eat it prior to expiry. Makes organic food living hard but that is part of our sustainability / finance / lifestyle challenge we face. Balance is difficult.

    One thing to think about, in terms of finance, if you store food or toiletries, water, fuel (the list can go on and on) is that when you actually use those products 2 years from now you are paying 2014 prices when in 2016 we will most likely be paying much, much more for the same items.

  19. says

    As a general rule, it’s not a good idea to go to the store when you’re worried or pre-occupied. You’re not as able to make good decisions about price or calories. I’m not surprised that alarmed people are making somewhat odd choices, I’m almost impressed that they’re not off in the bakery buying pies.

    The interesting question this provokes is whether you can manage your grocery storage well enough to skip the store for several days around a storm. Let’s assume that we’re dealing with an interesting weather event, something that keeps road and power crews working over time for days.

    If you’re frugal, odds are that you’re picking up some surplus of dry and canned goods when they go on sale. If you run a week ahead, you’ll save a little money, if you run 1-3 months ahead, you might be able to hold out until the next sale. Either approach is enough to also tide most people through emergencies.

    Your water supply should also be covered already. It’s cheap, essential, and it can also be used to save you money. Slowly loading up empty spaces in a fridge and freezer with cheap water bottles will help the temperature in there hold steady. In a short power outage, this keeps you from having to pitch pricey food, in a long emergency, it gives you emergency water, and in the long term, it’ll hold your electrical bills steady. However, as long as you have a few empty bottles around, you can fill up your own emergency supply at home.

    Where it gets tricky is when you’re feeding a family. Little ones are are more likely to be getting fed a lot of fresh foods that don’t keep, may not be ready or able to eat the tuna-salsa surprise you make from the food at the back of the cupboard, and can’t be expected to shrug off hunger like adults. (A healthy adult generally has enough fat reserves to get by on only water for days and days.) A family should have enough on hand to get by for a day, but before a genuinely interesting whether event, they will probably need to shop.

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