Preppers Survive gets quite a few emails each month. My favorite emails are from newbie Preppers because they have an intensity and an urgency in their comments and questions. This intense urgency is how I felt when I first started prepping. I laboriously looked for articles on prepping for beginners. It felt like it haunted my every waking thought for months. I have been prepping for many years and have learned many lessons over the years. Perhaps a universal lesson I’ve learned is that there is no magic formula!
Why There is No Magic Formula for Prepping
- Each person and/or family’s eating and living habits vary widely.
- We live in different locations with varying environmental hazards, climate concerns, and population density.
- We each have different skills and areas that we are both strong and weak in. Our lack of talent or skill in a particular area plays a factor on what preps are important to us.
Although there is no magic formula for prepping there are still many ways we can learn from each other. I may not be able to tell you what’s the fastest and cheapest way to get every prep you’ll need but I can tell you how I started and the things I learned along the way.
The Story of a Newbie Prepper
I had one of those terrifying END OF THE WORLD dreams, three months in a row, each a different dream. After the first, I started getting really serious about prepping. After the third, I had an intense urgency to get my preps in order. My prepping began by stocking up on the things we frequently used. We had five meals that we regularly ate so we stocked up on those food items when I first started prepping which was a couple of years before the dreams. After the dreams, I realized that having some food wasn’t enough. I needed at least a year supply of food, water, light/heat, first aid/hygiene supplies, protection supplies, communication supplies, and a financial plan. I also wanted to become self-reliant in all of these categories.
Prepping for Beginners – Planning Saves You Money!
- Decide what preps are important and create a checklist of essential preps. Here is a link to a Preppers Supply Checklist that helps me to stay organized, set goals, and see areas in which I need to improve.
- Set a budget. I was able to scrape together $500 with the help of a tax return. We also turned off our cell phones and got a Vonage home phone which saved us $70 a month to spend on preps. We got ride of subscriptions, memberships, and TV choosing instead to utilize our local library more.
- Find a place to store your preps. My husband and I lived in a two bedroom apartment and space was limited. As you can see in the photo above we used one of the walk-in closets to store our preps. Having a designated space for your preps is very important. I know some preppers that store preps randomly all over their house. In many cases, they forget where they stored it or even that they have it so they keep buying the same preps over and over again. I know this is hard to believe but I have seen it numerous times. Keep your preps in one place so that inventory and bugging out are easy. Related Article… 4 Easy Ways to Rotate Canned Food
- Create a food storage meal plan! It’s a common newbie mistake to purchase a lot of canned goods only to throw them away after they expire. Canned food can lose flavor and change in texture as time passes. Determine a variety of meals your family would enjoy over a two-week period. Create a meal plan and then build up your food storage based on the recipes in your plan. Related Article… 9 Printable Food Storage Cook Books
- Food storage cheap – Shop around. Since I had a meager budget, I wanted to maximize every dollar that I spent. This is where urgency can get you into trouble. The more patient you can be the better the deals you can find. First, investigate the stores in your area. I was amazed the stores that I had shopped at for years had bulk items I never noticed before. Second, check local store prices against online prices. Third, get creative. If you are working on getting cheese and powdered milk for your food storage see where the closest cheese factory or dairy is and how their prices compare. I lived 35 mins away from a ConAgra Food Company (they make my favorite spaghetti sauce) and didn’t even know it. I learned about it after moving to Idaho. The more you research food storage items the better the price you will get for it.
I spent most of the $500 on these food storage items: brown rice, white rice, pasta noodles, pinto beans, black beans, potato flakes, popcorn, buckwheat hot cereal, oats, cornmeal, flour, salt, and sugar. The rest of the money I used on freeze-dried meat & veggies. I also used some of the money to buy 5-gallon buckets to store the food in and 5-gallon water containers.
- Prepping is not a sprint (or even a marathon) it is a continuous journey. Even after spending $500 on food I only had a four-month supply of food. So enjoy the journey, as you continue to use and add to your preps you will go through a learning curve and develop prepping skills.
- Use mylar bags when storing bulk items. After about four years the pinto beans started growing mold. It was hard to get the stink out of the bucket even after using bleach. I didn’t have a mold problem with my black beans or other food just the pinto beans. I trashed them and bought more storing them in the same bucket. After two years they became moldy again. I now use one-gallon mylar bags to help:
- protect the buckets from lingering smells.
- protect the food – by separating the food into sealed smaller bags it protects them from the air and contaminates each time I open the bucket to get food out. I’ve noticed that the bulk popcorn gets less fluffy and a little crunchier over the years as there is more air in the bucket as the popcorn gets lower. When I buy new popcorn I will seal it in smaller bags to keep it fresher longer.
- convenience – I label each mylar bag with how many cups are in it, I can fit 10 cups of flour in a one-gallon mylar bag which is the exact amount that fits in the Tupperware container I keep in my kitchen for easy access to flour for recipes.
- Don’t store food in containers that are not food grade containers. Plastic buckets and plastic bags that are not food grade are made with different plastics which contaminates the food. My mother threw out flour and beans because they tasted like plastic. It not only tastes bad but some plastics have health hazard warnings.
- Only buy preps that you use on a regular basis. I have heard of people throwing away their old out-dated food storage because they can’t give it away to the food bank since it has expired. There is a psychological factor if it looks old and not as appetizing as the new stuff then most of us won’t eat it. I have a friend that was diagnosed with a terminal illness. After the diagnosis, she was very particular about what she would put in her body. All expired foods were given away and who can blame her. Rotating your short-term food storage and not buying extras of the things you don’t eat regularly can keep you from wasting money.
- Don’t put oxygen absorbers in with sugar or salt! It clumps together and gets hard as a rock.
- Get started today. The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, the second best time…today. It is easy to get overwhelmed and get paralyzed because there is so much to do. There is a peace that comes from just getting started and once you get some momentum you will find better and easier ways to continue this journey.
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