This is an updated version from an article I originally wrote for Survival Dispatch back in August 2018. It includes a link to a resource guide page for subscribers with a large (and growing) collection of manuals, guides and resources related to food storage, canning, cooking, etc. As with all documents on this site I strongly urge you to download and then PRINT them and keep in a binder with your food storage or other preps that they related to.
Usually when someone hears the word ‘prepper’ they think of a ‘survivalist,’ but they are very different.
Prepper is defined as a person who prepares something or prepares for something.
Survivalist is defined as; a person who practices survivalism. Survivalism is defined as; an attitude, policy or practice of survival. Survival is defined as; the act or fact of living longer than another person.
So while they are related, a survivalist is more of an attitude, whereas a prepper is someone who has prepared. Both require a plan, both require training and skills.
This page is an overview, a getting started. On this web site you will find sections and pages that go into more details on each of the areas mentioned below. As the pages get built I’ll add links.
So how do we begin?
Well, first we must have the right attitude, we must decide that we are going to be prepared for. This will depend somewhat on where you live; tornado, hurricane, or a power outage could impact anyone. You should start small, plan on having enough food for 5 days. You can easily accomplish this by adding an extra box or can of something you normally eat each time you go shopping and putting it in a separate box of cupboard.
Adding water can be done a number of ways, Mylar water bags that go into a cardboard box, a water bob that you put into your bath tub and fill, gallon jugs or cases of water. For six plus months don’t rely on water in plastic bottles as some can leach chemicals from the plastic into the water.
As you start moving to six to twelve months a useful tool is one of the 12-month food prep calendars, usually found on web sites associated with members of the LDS church. These recommend what to buy each month to add to your stores, including non-food items such as toilet paper, soap, etc. If you are a coupon collector then these can help you build supplies and save money.
One challenge you can face when aiming for a year’s worth of supplies is storage. You might have to get innovative, but if you are using shelves make sure they are heavy duty. I’ll be writing an article specific on ideas in the near future.
Gardening and Canning
If you have a garden choose to grow things that you can freeze dry or can. While you can freeze some this should not be your main plan in case of loss of power.
Almost all vegetables can be canned. Canning is not difficult, just invest in a good pressure canner (not a cooker) and get the Balls Preserving book and follow instructions. Balls has a number of other short guides in pdf and I’ve collected them on this page together with other resources.
Make sure the jars are cleaned well before using, a dish washer on hot and heated drying works or you can use a large container and a hot water ‘bath.’ It’s easy to determine if a seal on a jar has worked, as the lid will be sucked in and won’t ‘pop’ when you push on it. Canned food will keep almost indefinitely. If the lid ‘pops’ out do not eat.
Some areas have farms or orchards where you can pick your own vegetables or fruit, saving you considerable compared to store bought goods, and much fresher. You can also look at farmers markets. You can also can meat, good way to store meat long time without getting freezer burn, plus it doesn’t matter if you loose power.
For longer storage you are looking at having items packed in cans or sealed in mylar bags. Items in store bought cans will last long after their ‘use by’ date, again as long as the can isn’t bulging it should be good. Buying case lots at bulk stores such as Costco, Sam’s etc. can be a good way to add to your stores. You will find #10 cans of tuna and some vegetables at the warehouse stores.
Another, often overlooked, place for #10 cans of goods is the LDS Home Storage Center. Every large city has them and anyone can go and purchase from them. They carry #10 cans of carrots, apple slices, several types of beans, flour, nonfat milk powder, macaroni, oats, sugar, wheat and other items. You can order on line and have items shipped or go in person, which is much cheaper obviously. The list of items they carry and prices for pick up can be found here. You can by individual #10 cans or by the case (6 cans per case) and is an easy way to quickly build some food stores. Their site also lists storage duration and other useful information. There are also cookbooks that people have put together with recipes using basic food storage items available from the Store House.
The ‘next level’ for food storage is bulk buying items such as rice, grains and legumes and repacking into mylar bags for 20-30+ years of storage. If you have a membership to Costco, Sams, etc. you can pick up 25lb or 50lb bags of rice and beans and 20lb boxes of oats fairly cheaply. You can get mylar bags and oxygen absorbers from places like www.dicountmylarbags.com or even the LDS Home Storage web site. You should use bags that are at least 5mil thick, so read carefully when you see deals on Amazon or other sites, the ones I’ve seen are only 3mil thick. You do not need an expensive heat sealer to seal the bags; place the bag over a piece of 2×4 wood and use an iron. Make sure you have got most of the air out before putting the oxygen absorber in and sealing the bag. Do not use an oxygen absorber with sugar, you will end up with a very large sugar ‘brick.’
Before buying mylar bags decide what size you want and what you are going to store them in. Many people use 5-gallon mylar bags placed into 5-gallon food grade buckets. When stacking put 2×4’s across the top to spread the weight of the next layer, otherwise the lids will break as they are the thinnest.
The disadvantage with 5-gallon buckets is that you are opening 5-gallons worth of food. If you are a small family, or single, you might want to consider 1 or 2-gallon bags. You can place several in a 5-gallon bucket or use a heavy-duty plastic bin. Another advantage of the smaller bags is that you can give away a small bag to someone in need without giving away that you have 5-gallon bags stored. One important note: use a permanent marker to write the contents and date packed on the bags BEFORE you start to pack other food or put them away.
Obviously, we’ve only looked at food and water storage in this article, there are many other areas that we should consider to be prepared for situations that we may encounter or that could impact where we live.
Knowing what specifically to prepare for comes from doing a threat and hazard assessment. A detailed ‘how to’ will be coming soon.
In the mean time check out other articles under the FOOD category.