For many, this is a no-brainer: be prepared for an emergency, right? But where do you start, and how? And how expensive is it, really?
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be talking about different aspects of prepping and how exactly one goes about getting prepared for . . .
See, that’s part of the problem—you don’t know what that emergency is going to be until it happens. But I promise, if you follow along here, you’ll be a lot better off than most people.
Food and Water
The first rule is “don’t talk about it.” If there’s a problem and people around you have no food and water, but they know that you do, what do you think will happen? They may not be violent, but at the very least they’re going to—intentionally or not—prey on your kindness and sympathy. And you’ll be in trouble.
The second rule is to find a spot for storage: a cabinet, a closet, a couple boxes in the garage or storage unit or barn or wherever you can fit things. Maybe it can’t all go in one location, but it should be easily accessible. To you. Not to anyone else.
Third, you’ll need a gallon of water per person per day for drinking, cooking, and washing. Water is heavy and takes up space, but it’s the most important item you’ll need.
Fourth, you’ll need food of course: protein, carbs, fruits and vegetables, and even sweets. Remember that you need to buy and store things you actually like and things that are easy to prepare. Don’t think about the folly of purchasing full-course dinners, just do the basics.
Fifth, food doesn’t last forever but it often stays good well beyond the expiration date. If you buy food that you like, you can easily rotate your emergency supply on a regular basis.
How much to purchase?
How much do you eat? How many are in your household or would you expect to hole up with you in an emergency? How many are you prepared—no pun intended—to help out?
This part requires some thought and a lot of list-making. First, you need to determine the time period for which you’re prepping: one week, one month, six months or longer?
We do six months. For three people. Well, two and a half, but I rounded up. The kid will be in college soon, but within driving distance if it comes to that. And he’s sort of a junior prepper anyway . . .
Here are some things we store:
Canned dinners like stew, ravioli, etc. (don’t forget a can opener)
Cookies and crackers
Jelly and honey
Sugar, flour, oats, other baking ingredients
Dried and frozen vegetables
Dried and canned fruit
Dried and frozen eggs
Dried and frozen meat
You may notice that I didn’t mention bread—I do a lot of baking, and we grow or will be growing much of our food supply. However, crops can fail for any number of reasons, and so I store some of these things, but less than someone else might.
After you’ve made your list, try to figure out how much of each item you would use during the time frame for which you’re prepping. This is where it gets tricky. Let’s take peanut butter, for example. We have four large jars and six small ones in our supply closet. We could probably eat peanut butter sandwiches every day for three months—which is half our timeframe. But we have other items with protein, so we don’t have to do that.
Look at your food list by group instead of by item. In this case, write down the proteins that you like. Me, I don’t like tuna. Or any fish, really. But we have some because my husband and the kid like it. I might be eating a lot of peanut butter . . .
Your list will be very individualized. Try to always buy on sale, check the ads each week or however often you shop, and pick up a few extra items each time. Since you’ll be rotating your supplies, this won’t be wasted money if you buy things you like.
Think of it as grocery shopping ahead of time.