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 Tuesday—What Foods to Stock

Like I said last week, you have to prepare for you and your family. It does no good to have a lot of extra stuff, like food you can’t stand. Of course, we’ll all have to make some sacrifices when SHTF, but you may as well try to make things as easy as possible.

Let’s start with breakfast:

For our family of three-plus, granola is a big staple. It has oats, sugar, protein, and fruit. And it keeps really well:

Robin’s Granola Recipe

3 cups rolled oats (regular oatmeal, not instant)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 dry roasted peanuts

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup dried fruit

Mix oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and peanuts. In separate bowl, mix honey, oil, vanilla; pour over oats, mix thoroughly.

Spread evenly on cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes, until toasted, stirring halfway through.

When done, remove from oven and sprinkle with dried fruit. Do not stir. Allow to cool, then scoop into container.

I keep mine in a freezer bag, stays fresh for about two weeks or longer. When you get down to the crumbs, you can eat it just like cereal.

This makes about 4 cups, which is roughly 8 servings.


So, in order to feed my family breakfast—using only granola—for three months, a standard supply, it would take about 32 batches. Sealed properly, granola could last a long time; I’d suggest freezing, which is fine unless the power goes out, or oven canning. I watched a video on this other day, with crackers, and I’m sure it’d work with granola too. In a 225-degree oven, it took 20-30 minutes.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure my preference would be to eat granola every single day for three months. I would, I could, but let’s look at other options:

I buy bacon on sale and freeze it; there is also shelf-stable bacon available. Love bacon! You can, of course, do the same with other breakfast meats. You can also can meat, although I haven’t tried that and not sure I’d want to . . .

As long as you’re buying oats for granola, you could also just prepare oatmeal. Don’t forget the items you eat ON your oatmeal. And, of course, skip the sugary, flavored varieties. That goes for cereal, too.

Bread, coffeecake, and other baked goods can be prepared and frozen. Learning to bake from scratch is important—what happens when the grocery store shelves are bare?

Whatever you do, prepare for three months—and this usually isn’t gathering and cooking and preserving for three months and stopping. You have to rotate, so foods don’t go bad—since you’re now cooking without preservatives, the commercial kind, some foods don’t last as long. But that’s a good thing! It’s much better for you. So you have to keep it up, on a regular basis, for many items.

Look at packaged foods and see what the recommended servings are. For example, two pieces of bread make a sandwich, so for three people I’d calculate six slices per day. There are about 10 servings in a loaf of commercial bread, so for my family of three I’d need 40 loaves of bread for three months—assuming we eat bread every day, which we usually do not. Let’s guesstimate a total of 26 loaves instead, or two-thirds.

Now, I’m obviously not going to bake that much bread and leave it in the freezer, even given the rotation schedule and assuming I had enough space, but if you know how to bake, you can always bake—even without gas or electric power.

I suggest getting started!