A while back, I wrote an article for folks that are brand new to prepping. If you missed it, click here to read it. Anyway, I got some positive feedback on that article, but I also received a few emails asking me to be a bit more specific. They wanted to know where and what they should start with first.
In particular, one email from a lady told me she was on a fixed, very tight income. She had very limited resources, and was asking me what should be the priorities for her, even more so than in the above listed article. I could tell from her email she was feeling a bit overwhelmed. She wanted to be more prepared, but could not spend very much each month.
That’s understandable. Beginning preparedness can feel like a daunting task. You can also look at everything you might potentially need, and feel concerned because your funds are limited. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
I have decided to break down that beginning prepping article a bit more, and go into detail as to what I believe should be your top priorities if you are on a budget. Keep in mind that these are the top priorities in almost every disaster scenario, NOT just a huge SHTF event. As always, I stress that you need to start with the most probable scenarios, and work your way outward.
For this article, I’m assuming that you already have developed emergency plans. That to me is your obvious #1 priority. Failing to plan is planning to fail, and hope is not a plan. Instead, this article will focus on what resources you should be collecting first. (For more info on preparedness planning, click here.)
These categories are listed in order of importance (in my opinion). For each category I list the basics for that category that you should work on first. Once you have the basics in that category covered, move on to the next. Or if you can, try to cover more than one category at a time! For example, I list water storage over food storage. (3 days without water/3 weeks without food.) But if you can cover both categories at the same time, you are that much further ahead.
At the end of each category I will list “additional” items. These are items that while I feel are important, they are areas/items that you can come back to once you have all of your basics covered.
When outside companies ask me to do a review of their products, I sometimes have just a little bit of trepidation. For example, what happens if the company sends me their product and I do not like it? That could lead to some awkward moments. So I have tried to be selective of what products I review. There have been products I have turned down for this very reason. Anything that I recommend on this site are products/gear/supplies that I have, own, use, and would stand behind.
So when Valley Food Storage approached me to do a review some of their long-term food storage products, there was a bit of anxiety. What if we tried the food and didn’t like it? What if the product was not up to standards?
Still, having stored a lot of beans, rice, and flour, I also knew that if the grid went down for a long time, food boredom is a very real problem. Valley Food Storage has a pretty wide variety of foods. So I decided that I’d give it a try. I agreed to trying it and writing a review. The fact that their products have no MSGs, GMOs, and that they have a gluten-free options was a big reason I decided to give it a go.
So on a Sunday afternoon, my mother and I sat down in her kitchen, and cooked everything they sent us. From almost the get-go, I realized that my apprehension was completely UNFOUNDED! Just smelling the food as we opened the bags help to set my mind at ease. I was not disappointed!
Valley Food Storage sent me 4 entrées and 3 fruits to try. 3 of the 4 entries came in a thick Mylar bags that are vacuum sealed. We noticed that all the bags are resealable. If you only use part of the contents, you can “zip-lock” the bags shut to help them stay fresh. Unopened, the food is guaranteed for up to 25 years. But being able to reseal between uses is nice.
For this review, both my mother and myself will be adding our comments. For Cheryl L’s part of the review, it will be in quotes. Also note that she has purchased long-term food storage similar to these from other companies. So she will be comparing Valley Foods to the other companies products that she has.
I see A LOT of prepper videos and articles out there talking about bartering in a post TEOTWAWKI scenario. They encourage you to get gold, silver, cigarettes, ammo, etc. so that you can trade it after everything goes to hell. But I wonder if that is really a good idea? Is it a good use of your current resources to buy items solely for barter after SHTF?
I tend to think the belief and use of barter gets over-played in people’s’ SHTF scenarios in their minds. That’s not to say that barter might not happen on occasion. Barter has been around since the dawn of man. The zombie apocalypse won’t stop that. But I think in a true grid down situation, folks will be more worried about security and survival than they are trading things like gold and silver coins.
God forbid that if the grid goes down for good, there will be a time when the focus will be on merely surviving. Food, water, shelter, etc will be what is important. Having the tools and abilities to survive will be king. Those times will be the most taxing, the most trying.
Not until society has had time to “reset itself” and stabilize will barter actually come into play. Without a decent social environment and a somewhat stable economy, barter is not going to be likely. And in the rare chance it happens, it will not be without tremendous risks and peril.
Even when things may eventually begin to normalize, barter will not be as frequent or as common as many people want to believe. I think there are way too many variables that would make barter a rather rare occurrence.
With no more “Grid” there is no more Craigslist or Ebay. So finding other groups of people in your area that might actually want to trade with you may not be all that easy. I mean, I guess you could go wandering the country side looking for those groups, but that obviously comes with risks. And even if you find another group, chances are very high that they may not trust you or even want to trade with you.
For many preppers on a budget, the ability to stockpile goods and supplies might be limited. They may have to stock just a little at a time. And in that case, I hope that they are not stockpiling items which maybe they shouldn’t.
I wanted to take a look at some items that you may NOT want to stock pile long-term and the reasons why. I also try to have some alternatives available as well.
Many of the items listed below are items you SHOULD have in a disaster, so do NOT think I’m saying not to have these items. Instead, I’m saying that in your long-term planning (i.e. the grid goes down for an extended time) these are items you should think about having alternative plans and options for.
Now hear me out. NO ONE out there understands the importance of good, quality toilet paper more than I do. I always have several weeks’ supply on hand. But there is a big draw back to trying to hoard toilet paper long-term.
The problem is that large amounts of toilet paper are bulky and take up a lot of room. For me, in an urban setting, I have trouble storing more than a month’s supply for my family. So if a true long-term disaster struck, beyond 3 to 4 weeks I’ll be in a crappy situation.
The average person uses over 100 rolls of TP per year. Now multiple that times the number of your family members/group. That’s a lot of room for a hoard of TP! And yes, my family goes through AT LEAST that much TP.
Hopefully, as a prepper, you will have some food set back and stocked in case of a disaster. You will have water stored, as well as a few purification methods. You might have a weapon or two stored, and some extra ammunition. (Click the links to find out about water storage, weapons for SHTF, and storing ammo long-term). You might have extra gear and supplies on hand. But could there be items out there you haven’t thought about stockpiling for a long-term, grid down scenario?
In this article, I want to cover some items that you might not realize you should have plenty of in case of a long-term disaster, and some reasons why it might be a good idea.
So let’s jump in.
Being clean (or at least feeling clean) is a great boost to morale during a SHTF situation. And during a grid down scenario, you might not have enough water (or fuel to heat the water) for a hot shower. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep yourself clean. So having some extra hygiene items is probably a good idea.
Things like toothpaste and shampoo have a shelf life of about 2 years from the date of manufacture once they are opened. (They can last around 3 years if unopened.) Things like soap, mouthwash, and deodorant have a 3 year or so shelf life.
Keep in mind that the shelf life listed is for items stored at room temperature. Things like temperature extremes and direct sun light can degrade these products much more quickly.
If you cure your store-bought bars of soap (by removing the wrappers and letting them sit in the air for about 6 weeks) they will harden and last much longer.
Chances are that as a prepper, you most likely have those family members or friends that you love and care about who are not completely on board with the idea of being prepared. Maybe they see preppers as “kooky”. Or maybe they just choose to live their life with their head buried in the sand, thinking nothing will ever happen to them. Whatever the reason, they are still a part of your life. So maybe you “prep” for them.
That’s what I did. I have a fiancé (now wife) who was a non-prepper. I built her a little “Go bag” and told her to keep it in her car trunk “just in case.” A month later, she used her bag during a tornado. After that, the “light went on” in her head so to speak. It had a big impact on her life, and she is now doing things to be more prepared.
Fortunately, she was receptive to the idea of having the bag. I prepped for her should the unfortunate happen, and it paid off. So maybe you would like to do the same for those people in your life.
But what if you have family/friends that are not as receptive as my fiancé was? They may not like the idea of prepping, and any sort of “prepper” gift from you will be met with an eye roll and the obligatory “fake smile.”
Or maybe they just don’t know about prepping, and you are not sure how to bring it up. Either way, holiday gift giving may be the perfect time to “prep for them”.
I tend to use holidays and birthdays as a way of helping to prepare the “non preppers” in my life. There are gifts out there that you can give them that will help them be more prepared should SHTF, but without having the “prepper stigma” they might attach to it.
I have given each of the following items below as gifts: