Stockpiling food is an essential preparation for any sort of emergency, whether it's a short-term inconvenience or a long-term catastrophic event. However, it's important to be wise with your money — there's no sense putting large quantities of food aside for the future if you're just barely scraping by in the present. It's easier to prep when you have more discretionary income, but residing somewhere with lower cost of living can help you make the most of your financial resources.

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Cost of living varies wildly throughout the United States, and this can be illustrated through looking at the cost of basic groceries such as food and toiletries. The following infographic from Coupon Follow illustrates the variance in food prices for 30 items across 263 cities in the contiguous U.S. For each item, it shows the city where that item was most expensive, least expensive, and the price differential between the two. Click here to download a full-size version of this graphic.

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It's not surprising that the most expensive city is Manhattan, or that Seattle, Brooklyn, and California's Bay Area cities are also very costly. However, it's interesting that four of the five least expensive cities are in Texas. It's also helpful to know which items have the most consistent prices (i.e. tuna) and which have the widest variation (steak, pizza, and alcohol) — for the latter items, you may want to shop around to find the lowest prices.

If you're curious about food price variance on a global scale, check out the Big Mac Index. It measures the number of McDonald's Big Mac hamburgers you can get for $50 in each country around the world, in order to reflect the average food purchasing power in that country.

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