High-sugar energy bars. Grocery store brands have limited shelf life, but several prepper-targeted, Mylar-packed varieties can last 5-10 years. Such products are inexpensive (~300 kcal per dollar), convenient, and energy-dense (~2,000 kcal per pound). On the flip side, they are probably pretty nauseating as your primary food. Imagine living solely off Jelly Bellies for a week.
Dry survival rations. Sold under several brands, including Datrex, ER Bar, S.O.S., Grizzly, and more. Biscuit-like, less sugary and with a more agreeable taste than energy bars - somewhat reminiscent of shortbread. In my book, S.O.S. and Datrex taste best. Very inexpensive (~550 kcal per dollar) and should last 5-10 years when stored in a cool place. A tolerable choice for short- to medium-term nutrition in an emergency. Easy to pack, giving you ~2,200 kcal per pound.
Out of all of these foods, kidney beans are certainly the cheapest. Rice is especially affordable when you buy it in bulk from wholesale stores. Peanut butter isn’t cheap per-se, but the calorie per teaspoon value means it will last a long time, which means the upfront cost of a large jar soon balances out in a survival situation. Flour is great for experienced preppers as it has dozens of cooking uses.
While I’m a big fan of mylar bags and 5 gallon buckets, since my family is just two folks (unless extended family make it to the house in an event), I package things up in 1 gallon mylar bags before placing into the buckets. Allows me to open less food at once to the elements. Sure, I have gamma lids to apply afterwards, and the mylar bags I use have ziplock style tops for resealing, but the less I open to the elements at once the better it will last. To further extend shelf life of opened bags, I have a large supply of small silica gel packs that I can toss a few into open dry good bags. Once I finish the bags I can reuse the packs by gently heating in my Sun Oven.
Handheld FRS/GMRS radios. Many preppers obsess about long-distance communications, but in a typical emergency, chatting with people 100 miles away is not a priority. In contrast, a hand-held two-way radio can be very useful for keeping in touch with your friends and family during any prolonged outage. Again, pick a device that accepts the kind of batteries you can stockpile cheaply. Expect a range of 2-3 miles in rural regions, and less than a mile in highly urbanized areas - no matter what the manufacturer claims. With all that in mind, Olympia R500 ($55) is a good choice.
In recent years, survivalism has been edging deeper into mainstream culture. In 2012, National Geographic Channel launched “Doomsday Preppers,” a reality show featuring a series of Americans bracing for what they called S.H.T.F. (when the “shit hits the fan”). The première drew more than four million viewers, and, by the end of the first season, it was the most popular show in the channel’s history. A survey commissioned by National Geographic found that forty per cent of Americans believed that stocking up on supplies or building a bomb shelter was a wiser investment than a 401(k). Online, the prepper discussions run from folksy (“A Mom’s Guide to Preparing for Civil Unrest”) to grim (“How to Eat a Pine Tree to Survive”).
There are only 3 million preppers in the USA and I have met about 1500 of them. They are mostly fearful, confused and disorganized individuals who know nothing about organizing to protect their own best interests through collective efforts. They are a truncated version of typical White citizens who are ignorant of just how insane the US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, European Union, and Vatican really is. Do you agree with this appraisal?

Even though I have a good start on my food pantry, it is always a good idea to look at others ideas. I had not thought of bulk pancake mix. I am a single person and got a great deal on Bisquick shake and pour ($1.00 each) I bought 2 dozen! I don’t really care for pancakes on a regular basis but once in a while… That all being said, I did purchase a vacuum sealer and have made good use of it. I also have a large dehydrator and visit the farmers market often for goodies to dehydrate and seal. When I have purchased these 20 items, I am then on to other needs such as shelter, etc. I have a lot of camping gear but not a good tent if I should have to vacate. Thank you Gaye – keep up the good work.
Awesome article. Really useful tool for assessing where I am in the process. And planning the next step. Once again, Gaye, you give us the important information without the fear. Some walk away from the fear and don’t get started. Some, such as me, rush headlong into the fear and then have a panic attack. So the fear is not productive. I appreciate your style.
First aid: Many of the first aid kits you’ll find in Amazon searches aren’t good enough for survival scenarios (regardless of what their marketing says) because they’re meant for daily use or OSHA work compliance. Invest in a high-quality kit that includes supplies for more serious injuries like broken bones or deep, bleeding wounds. Frankly, we’ve never found an off-the-shelf kit we’re 100% happy with, but a great starter option is this Adventure Medical Fundamentals Kit.
What you are going to get is a list of 20 items that can easily be purchased at your local grocery store, warehouse club and surprisingly, even online at Amazon.  They can be purchased in one shot, all at once, or you can pick up one item from the list each week over a period of twenty weeks.  The choice is yours.  All I ask is that you consider getting each of the items on the list and that you also consider getting started sooner rather than later.  I promise you that this will be easy.
Of all the plausible scenarios, another major oil crisis would probably hit most car-owning families the hardest, limiting their ability to get food or to take care of other, everyday needs. Generally speaking, there is no simple fix: keeping a gallon or two in your garage won't make much of a difference, while maintaining significant reserves of gas for personal use can be done safely (and legally) only if you own a large, rural plot of land. Electric vehicles, especially if charged from rooftop solar panels, can offer a wonderful backup in some parts of the world, but they carry a very hefty price tag. The best workaround may be the least inspired one: if you own a car, you can always keep your tank at least half full (a familiar mantra by now), and have enough food and other essentials to be able to wait out the worst.
I am an engineer by day, but a prepper 24/7. I am an Air Force veteran that developed emergency and disaster plans as an emergency manager and responded to many attacks and accidents as a HAZMAT technician. I have been exposed to deadly chemical agents, responded to biological incidents, and dealt with natural disasters worldwide. Check out my full story here: Rusty's Story

Some of The Prepared’s experts use and love Soylent in everyday life. But there are plenty of people who dislike the taste, and one of our taste testers compared it to oat batter. The Natural flavor was the best received, followed by Cacao. Almost all of the testers didn’t like the Nectar flavor, saying the scent reminded them of perfume, and the flavor was strong and unpleasant.

This is true, Kat. Babe, it doesn’t even need to be a true crisis… There are lots of times your stash will come in handy. Unexpected company. Your kid telling you the night before the bake sale that he needs 3 dozen brownies to take to school the next morning. You get out of work late and are too tired to make a grocery run. Everyone in the family gets the flu and you can’t get to the store. The list goes on but the point is that you should be rotating, using and enjoying your stash as part of normal living. A cookbook you might find useful is “The Prepper’s Cookbook” by Tess Pennington. Lots of ideas for setting up your base stash and great recipes too.
Only a small percentage of those with high blood pressure are salt sensitive and need to limit their intake. For those without high blood pressure or without that sensitivity, salt is not an issue. This is one of those media maintained myths, such as “eating eggs causes clogged arteries” and “low calorie low protein high sugar diet is great for you”.
Where are you going to keep this emergency food? You don't need tons of extra space, but you do need some, ideally in cool, dry place where moisture and pests can't readily get into it. Walk around and check your most-used cupboards, closets, and storage areas. What's in there right now? How much of it do you actually use? Chances are, you have a lot of extra kitchen and home supplies lying around that could find a better home somewhere less readily accessible, like the basement.
Perhaps interestingly, there is a handful of rifles chambered for handgun ammunition. Canonical examples include Ruger 77 series, Henry Big Boy, and some of the modern-day clones of Winchester Models 1873 and 1892 (e.g., Chiappa 1892 Alaskan). In the prepper context, their appeal is that you only need to keep one kind of ammo for two types of firearms. Putting a handgun caliber in a rifle gives you greatly improved accuracy, virtually no recoil, comparatively quiet operation, and somewhat improved range - but going past 100 yards is still going to be a stretch.
The survivalist hard-on (yep, and I'll do it again, too) for prophylactics untouched by chemical pleasure-enhancers is the result of drilling deep (told you) into the magical properties of our latex friends. According to our research, these flexible, durable, waterproof wonders will be as much of a deciding factor in your dystopian longevity as fire and can openers.
Brent prepares his children and grandchildren because he fears an Electromagnetic Pulse, caused by a nuclear detonation will cripple the national power lines, possibly forever. Instead of bunkers, he has built a medieval castle and teaching his children and grandchildren new tactics of defense and survival. This was spun off into its own series, Doomsday Castle. Meanwhile, in Bear Grass, North Carolina, Derek Price also fears an EMP. He is using his privately owned amusement park, called Deadwood, so that he, his friends and family can survive.
If all goes well, your rainy-day fund will eventually grow big enough for you to face a wonderful and important question: how do I keep all that capital safe? Although it may seem like a remote concern, events such as bank collapses, market crashes, and currency devaluations happen all over the world with near-clockwork regularity - and there are few things more infuriating and disenfranchising than finding out that the fruits of many years of your labor have been wiped out by a market panic or an administrative decree.
Last thought. I live in a small subdivision, in a small southern town, and a lot of the stuff I mentioned, are very natural to us, because we grew up around it. I can’t even remember the last time I bought a tomato at the grocery store! Our small community established our own disaster plan in an effort that if there was a great catastrophe or crisis, we can block off our subdivision and go straight into “survival mode”…it is not that hard to do, and remember there is always safety in numbers.
I use a big Swiss Army knife and multi tool and knife. I would add, spoon, fork, small stove, pot, isobutane, light tent, sleeping bag+pad, compass and if in mountains an altimeter and paper maps of where you think you are going to be. Instead of flashlight and candles, a headlamp with spare batteries. Raincoat, hat, gloves, food, Grayl water purifyer instead of tablets……all together about 30 lbs of weight. Fits into a 50 liter backpack. Just sharing my experience. It always depends what the purpose of the emergency bag is.
At seventy-seven, living on a tugboat in Sausalito, Brand is less impressed by signs of fragility than by examples of resilience. In the past decade, the world survived, without violence, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression; Ebola, without cataclysm; and, in Japan, a tsunami and nuclear meltdown, after which the country has persevered. He sees risks in escapism. As Americans withdraw into smaller circles of experience, we jeopardize the “larger circle of empathy,” he said, the search for solutions to shared problems. “The easy question is, How do I protect me and mine? The more interesting question is, What if civilization actually manages continuity as well as it has managed it for the past few centuries? What do we do if it just keeps on chugging?”
In the 90s, it seemed that you couldn't go wrong by getting into professional journalism, opening a video rental store or an arcade, or selling calculators, encyclopedias, disposable cameras, answering machines, and audio CDs. We would be very naive to hope that the next twenty years will not bring similarly dramatic disruption to many of the seemingly cozy professions of today.
It is critical that you be able to control your environment in an emergency.  The place to start is your home.  If you live in an area where it gets very cold in the winter (as in you HAVE to run a heater to survive) then the most critical thing for you is going to be able to heat your home – or rather a section (at least one bedroom) of it.  You’ll want to have a kerosene heater to keep a warm spot in your home.  Here’s a good place to start learning about heating your home in an emergency.
Just as importantly, our innate nutritional instincts can be badly misguided, too: for example, contrary to common wisdom, bananas are not really healthier than potatoes, and the bulk nutritional qualities of a glass of apple juice are pretty close to those of a can of Sprite. Heck, good ol' butter has fewer calories than olive or coconut oil, so a "healthy" bruschetta is not far off from a less-reputable southern delicacy: deep-fried butter on a stick. It gets better: a supposedly nutritious burrito from Chipotle easily packs four times as many calories as a greasy burger from McDonald's, while a loaded coffee at Starbucks is about the same as downing two hot dogs with a heaping side of mashed potatoes to boot. The end result is a truly abysmal track record for most weight loss regimes; the long-term success rate for people who try to slim down is estimated to be somewhere between 5 and 20%.
For personnel who are flying over large bodies of water, in additional to wearing a survival suit over cold water, a survival kit may have additional items such as flotation vests, sea anchor, fishing nets, fishing equipment, fluorescent sea marking dye, pyrotechnical signals, a survival radio and/or radio-beacon, formerly a distress marker light replaced by a flashing strobe, formerly a seawater still[4] or chemical desalinator kit now replaced by a hand pumped reverse osmosis desalinator (MROD) for desalinating seawater, a raft repair kit, a paddle, a bailer and sponge, sunscreen, medical equipment, a whistle, a compass, and a sun shade hat.
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