I’d like to say hello and welcome our new readers and a big thank you to the existing readers who post our content on Facebook and other social media.
Our readership is climbing sharply, no doubt due to the invasion of Ukraine and the threat of Putin using nukes. If you are just getting started as a prepper, this post is for you. For those of you with experience, consider it a review.
It’s Never too Late to Start Prepping
New readers have asked if it is too late to prep. In my opinion, it is never too late to prep. You might be better off if you had prepped a year ago, but starting today is better than starting next month. You can make up for some lost time by spending more money, but any preps you make, no matter how big or small, is better than no preps.
Keep in mind also that being a prepper is as much an attitude as it is a storage locker filled with goodies. The conscious decision to survive rather than give up is a critical first step. By deciding to prep, you have refused to give in to what some weaker folks might say is inevitable. So congratulations, your prepping journey has begun.
The Big Three
Most preppers focus first on the big three: food, water and shelter. These are the bare minimums you need to survive.
- Water: You need a reliable source of water, a way to transport it, and one or more ways to purify it.
- Food: You need food shelf-stable that does not require refrigeration or elaborate preparation. (More on this below.)
- Shelter is more than just a roof over your head. It covers everything you need to stay warm, dry, and comfortable, including your clothing and footwear. For example, I consider my wood stove and cords of firewood part of my shelter. Under Shelter comes the decision of whether you are going to “bug out” (leave your home and head somewhere else) in an emergency or if you are going to “bug in,” meaning stay at your current residence. Recommended Reading: Bug In or Bug Out
The Next Three
I think it is also important to address what I call the next three: self-defense, first aid, and communications.
- Self Defense: There are so many guns in the U.S. that if you don’t have one in a post-SHTF situation, you will be at a disadvantage. All the food and shelter in the world won’t do you much good if you can’t protect it and your family. This might mean you need to fight, but it could also mean you need to hide. While I am well armed, I prefer to avoid a fight. Avoidance is often easier, less traumatic, and less likely to end in an injury to you. When cornered, however, you need to fight with a ferocity that stuns your attacker.
- First Aid: We take modern medicine for granted. After a disaster, there will be no hospitals, no ambulances or life flight. You need to be able to treat minor wounds to keep them from becoming infected and more significant wounds since there won’t be a doctor to turn to. At the very least, have an ample supply of any medicines you regularly take.
- Communication: If the phones are dead, two-way radios are going to be the best bet to stay in touch with each other. Field phones are another option, but only work between fixed points. In any case, you’ll need something better than smoke signals.
If I had to add another three categories, they would probably be flashlights and other artificial sources of illumination, tools, and some silver coins or barter goods. There is no end to the items you might use after a SHTF situation, but when faced with a limited budget, tackle the big three, and then the next three, in that order.
The Layered Approach to Prepping
If you are new to the site or to prepping, I recommend you read The Layered Approach to Prepping. You may think it’s too late to build your preps in layers over time, but that’s not the case. Look how long we have been dealing with COVID-19. This war could last for years. The supply chain disruptions could last even longer as companies move production out of China and build or seek production closer to home. Just like it’s never too late to prep, it’s never too late to use the layered approach and build some redundancy.
To get you started, here is information on how to build your food storage. Our food storage plan has three tiers:
Your Prepper Pantry: This is canned food, dried food, and other items that can store without refrigeration and can be purchased at a grocery store or warehouse club. Include spices, yeast, flour, salt, sugar and other basics that you would need to prepare your own foods and do some baking. Download our 30-day food supply recommendations, below, for an idea where to start.
This is where you need to start. If you expect to need your preps within a year, just build up your prepper pantry using every day foods available wherever you normally shop for groceries. Here’s a related post: Ten Foods Every Prepper Should Have in Their Pantry
These are basic ingredients in #10 cans or 5-gallon pails like rice, beans, pasta, wheat, diced potatoes, soup mixes, etc. These should be the less expensive dehydrated foods, not freeze dried items. As you build up your staples, add dehydrated fruits and vegetables. Look for items with at least a 7 to 10-year shelf life.
You should only invest in prepper staples after you have three to six month supply of canned and dry foods in your prepper pantry. There are many online stores that carry these products. We have had good luck with Rainy Day Foods and Augason Farms. I would avoid Wise and similar pre-packaged buckets for reasons explained in this post: A Quick and Easy Way to Add Important Macronutrients to Your Food Storage Plan.
Freeze-Dried Prepper Foods
Commercially freeze-dried foods are much more expensive than dehydrated foods, both on a per-serving basis and on a per-calorie basis. They also hold fewer servings per can. However, you can get freeze dried meats, and many freeze dried meals are quick and easy to prepare. While the stables might give you the ingredients to bake a casserole, with a freeze dried meal, all you have to do is add water.
I only have five cases of freeze dried food. I find the cost difficult to justify. New preppers should concentrate on the first two categories and spend your money on the next three items before you splurge on freeze dried foods.
These are things you are addicted to or crave, like coffee, alcohol, or chocolate. I also consider MREs to be extras because of the expense. If you buy a bunch of protein bars, breakfast bars, or meal replacement bars, I’d lump them into this category as well. They are useful to have, but you can live without them.
During World War II, my mother lived in San Diego because her father was in the navy. When she lay in bed at night, behind their blackout curtains, she would worry about Japanese bombers killing her while she slept. As we face the prospects of a potential World War III, my advice is: Don’t be that person.
Worrying achieves nothing. It is a waste of time and energy. Focus on what you can do, like prepping, not on things that are out of your control, like what Putin or Biden might do. Make plans, make lists, run rehearsals in your mind. Pack a go bag if you are bugging out. Think of what you will do and where you will go. Figure out who will pick up the kids in school if the SHTF and how you will communicate if there are no cell phones. Take control of you and yours. That will make you feel better.
Welcome to the world of prepping. If you embrace the prepper lifestyle, the next crisis will be far easier to handle.