Prep Monday—How Much is Too Much?

Is there such a thing as over-prepping? Yes, particularly when it comes to food.

I finally got my supply closet a bit more organized and was a little surprised to discover 12 bottles of ketchup. Twelve.

Now, when there were three of us or even five of us, I think we went through a bottle maybe once a month. Since we’re down to just two, I’m estimating that bottle would last two months.

Which means I have two years’ worth of ketchup, an item that I can make myself if the tomato crop is good. And I’m not even sure how it happened, but I’m guessing it’s for the same reason that we have two jars of Miracle Whip in there too:

My husband doesn’t look in the cabinets or closet before he goes shopping.

To be fair, he used to call me like ten times—okay, five. Seriously. During a shopping trip my phone would ring off the hook. So to speak. And the reason he was going, and not me, was because I had a lot of things to do already. So he’d call.

I broke him of that habit, but the trade-off is that we have extra stuff that he might think of at the store and just grab “in case.”

I think, though, I have a solution:

I hung a whiteboard in the supply closet to make a list of things needed. Take a picture before you go, and voila, you have the list to pick up any sale items. Plus, of course, the regular grocery list.

IF SHTF happened any time soon, we’d be ready. And ketchup is a vegetable, right?

Just kidding. But we’re nearly fully stocked for a good six months—for two-three people. And this is how it should be.

The other side of prepping is this:

For example, I have a couple packages of store-bought cookies in that supply closet. Now, of course they need to be rotated like everything else, but they’re “emergency” cookies. My husband and I have very different ideas of that word. “Emergency.”

I’m all for cutting back and toughing it out—even with food. I cook a little less; not less often, I’m talking about portion size. It’s something we’re trying to get back to, particularly since as one ages, one needs fewer calories. Yes, I take the workload into consideration. But the typical diet in the US consists of overinflated portions, restaurants and at home alike.

So if I feel like having a Chips Ahoy cookie, and I know where they are, I might or might not take a stroll and grab that package. But only if I happen to being going that way anyhow—I’ll wait and maybe remember to get it.

See, when SHTF, you’re not going to be able to run to the store just for a cookie, and you might really NEED that damn cookie. The heck with your appetite or calorie intake, your emotional health is important too. And cookies make a lot of things better.

And this is the other side of prepping: your mental and emotional preps. Get used to doing without or doing with less now, and if it happens, you won’t be caught by surprise. It’ll be just another day as far as your habits and health are concerned.

But you can always make oven fries to use up all that ketchup:

Oven Fries

Scrub potatoes

Slice to your preference

Toss with olive oil

Season with whatever you like: garlic, onion powder, pepper, anything in your spice rack/cabinet.

Bake at 425 for about half an hour or so, stirring once or twice, until as crisp as you like.



Prep Monday—How to be a Prepper

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: 


Peanut butter

Canned dinners like stew, ravioli, etc. (don’t forget a can opener)


Cookies and crackers


Jelly and honey

Sugar, flour, oats, other baking ingredients

Tomato sauce


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.