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There are a lot of other prepping tips for beginners than just those that are included in this article about the basics. We will be posting more "beginner" or basic prepping posts soon. Here, concentrating on food essentials - particularly those with a long shelf life.
This is obviously not an exhaustive list. But let's think about where we are RIGHT NOW - As I type we are at the start of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season. One of my friends came back from Alabama with the good news that she "only" had to go to a tornado shelter once or twice recently - perhaps you've seen some of the crazy weather in the midwest this spring.
The point is, "Mother Nature bats last," as I'm fond of saying. So, let's just look at what you can do TODAY.
- 1 Are You Prepared?
- 1.1 Food...Food and More Food
- 1.2 Health
- 1.3 Ammunition
- 1.4 Emergency Lighting
- 1.5 Sanitation and Hygiene
- 2 Bottom Line
Are You Prepared?
Don’t be one of those people who live in “fantasy land”. The world can certainly be a dangerous place. All it takes is one major disaster- natural or man-made- to send us back to the stone ages. If and when that happens, will you and your family be prepared? My guess is probably not. If a nuclear, biological, or chemical attack were to happen today, do you think you’d survive? How about a mega volcano or earthquake?
If you answered “No”, then the following prepping tips are for you. Below I’ve put together a quick but useful checklist that you can use to begin prepping as early as today.
Food...Food and More Food
#1: Buy five pounds of iodized salt
(I only say iodized because iodine is an important nutrient. If you usually use sea salt for your flavoring and cooking in everyday life, that's fine - but definitley have some iodized salt on hand), five pounds of mixed beans, five pounds of white sugar, one gallon of olive oil, five pounds of oats, and 10 pounds of wheat flour. Note, if you shop at Costco, you’ll be able to get huge bulk discounts on most, if not, all of these items. Be sure to check out my article, 10 Foods with a Long Shelf Life for more information.
Quick note - you REALLY should rotate stock on stuff like the beans, olive oil, oats and flour - these CAN go rancid. So, for us (for example), we keep smaller containers on hand, and go through them, replacing them as we use them. The point is, we actually use and eat this stuff - there's little point of stocking up on foods you would never eat (until the STHF of course, at which time you WILL eat what you've got in front of you).
#2: Buy 20 pounds of white or brown rice, as well as 20 pounds of pinto beans.
It may sound like a lot, but you never know just how long grocery store shelves will remain empty after a natural disaster (in some cases, things may never return back to normal). The reason a lot of experts recommend so much rice and beans is because these foods contain a lot of energy.
#3: Buy a ton of canned food.
By that, I mean buy at least 20 cans of fruit, and 20 cans of vegetables (the more, the better). Again, personally, I think it's wise to invest in something that you already normally eat. And remember to buy a can opener! You’d be surprised by how many people stock up on canned foods with no way to open them. Don’t be one of them.
#4: Buy canned meats.
Pick up a minimum of 20 cans of spam (if you like it - personally I do not!), stews (I DO like stew), or tuna (I DO like tuna). Again, don’t buy something that you don’t normally eat. You should only prep foods that you already eat on a daily or weekly basis. There’s no point in “shocking the senses” when SHTF. What I like about canned foods is that they’re cheap and have long shelf lives. Anyway, you get the picture.
#5: Invest in some peanut butter.
Grab a 40-ounce jar off the shelf and add it to your cart. In fact, grab two of them. Or a bunch of smaller jars. You might be thinking, “That’s a lot of peanut butter!” My reply to that: “Well you might be on your own for quite some time!” Peanut butter has a pretty good shelf life, and is packed with calories and energy. In fact, I might consider it one of the best prepping foods you can buy.
NOTE: Be cautious when choosing a peanut butter. These days, most common brands are loaded with junk ingredients. So read your labels, and choose something that contains nothing but peanuts and salt.
We can usually find "Teddie" brand at our local grocery store. And because it's simple and inexpensive, that's our peanut butter of choice, but not all stores carry it. If yours doesn't carry it, they have it on Amazon.
It's a true staple. In fact, just before typing this article I had a couple of tablespoons with an apple - Yum!
#6: Buy some bulk MREs online.
I know that in the past, they haven't been the tastiest option out there, but they have a long shelf life. When you buy MREs in bulk, you’ll save a ton of money. For anyone who doesn’t know, MRE stands for “Meals-Ready-to-Eat”. Due to their convenience and portability, they’re used by the military. I would recommend investing in quite a few of these as well.
These days, there are far more MREs available, and from what we're seeing in the reviews, they taste a lot better than they used to! For just one example, check out the Mountain House Classic Bucket, along with the numerous favorable reviews at Amazon.
#7: Stock on medicine and prescription drugs.
When STHF, I can guarantee that pharmacies will be one of the first places to get looted. If you’re someone who takes prescription drugs, there will be no way to get them when society crumbles. For this reason, try to stock up on as much as possible before this happens. Your insurance might not cover prescription drugs when your current batch isn’t used up, so you may need to pay more than usual. But obviously, you can’t put a price tag on health.
The same goes for any special supplements that you like. Obviously, if these aren't crucial for your survival, it's a different story - but if there is something that you really like, and have a hard time imagining your daily life without it, get some extras on hand.
#8: Buy a good hydration drink.
Some people recommend buying Gatorade or PowerAde in bulk. But, in truth, I have to personally disagree these choices for this one, because both products contain artificial food coloring, and loads of sugar content - which is fine in certain situations, but not ideal. If you have to buy one over the other, we'd go with PowerAde, because there are fewer ingredients while still containing electrolytes.
Having said that, in recent years we've noticed a whole lot more products that might work better for rehydration, such as the RecoverORS Clinical Electrolytes here at Amazon - and which you can see in the image below.
Coconut water is also a good choice. The point is, when prepping, you’ll want a drink that can quickly replenish your body once you’ve become dehydrated. These are the best drinks for that. I would avoid sweetened water since these are expensive and don’t hydrate as well. For more information, check out my article on the topic. This article is aimed towards hikers, but can be used for preppers as well.
(And don't forget to keep a rotating stock of water on hand, along with a way to filter your drinking water.)
#9: Buy ammo
…a lot of it. As much as I hate to say it, people will become animals when SHTF. They’ll do anything to get food and water, including kill you and your family. Buy a minimum of 250 rounds of ammo for each weapon that you have. Also invest in a universal cleaning kit for your weapons. Don’t skimp out on this.
Of course if you are merely prepping for storms, and aren't into the idea of heavier duty prepping, this may not be what you are looking to do. If you are, however, you will want your ammo.
Note: You might want to check out Gorilla Ammo. They are a very responsive company with their own ballistics lab, and are noted for carrying exceptional quality ammo.
#10: Buy a high-quality LED flashlight.
Buy the best one that you can afford. They’ll be needed for when the power grid goes down. No matter how prepped you are, it means nothing if you aren’t able to see! There are some good LED flashlights for sale on Amazon. I’d recommend reading the reviews and starting there. As of June 2019, this GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight S1000 (pack of 2) is currently their #1 best selling flashlight, and it won't break the bank.
We'll talk more about lighting and flashlights in another post, but no matter what, you will need a source of light. These days, more and more solar-powered products - including lighting and chargers - are on the market, so you might want to invest in some of those as well, not to mention some emergency candles and waterproof matches/lighters.
Sanitation and Hygiene
#11: Don't forget the toilet paper!
This is a "bonus" section we've added. Another thing you can stock up on is in the category of sanitation. Toilet Paper, for example, is something that will likely fly off the shelves in an emergency situation. Keep hand sanitizer and toilet paper in your emergency coffers.
These are only a few prepping tips to keep in mind. There are countless more where that came from. If you’re new to prepping and don’t know where to begin, I’d recommend checking out my article, How to Build the Best Bug Out Bag. It will teach you everything you need to know about building the perfect “escape bag” for when SHTF.