Starting a food storage plan with canned goods is a great way to bring non-preppers, family or friends, on board. This tactic allows for families that normally would not have extra food to easily add food to their pantry in a way that is very normal to them. Buying a few additional canned goods while you are at the grocery store is a simple first step, and one that could pay off big time. (Do you know how to open a can even if you don’t have a can opener?)
So, here's your homework: make a list of all the major threats discussed in this guide, alongside with any other contingencies you worry about. For each and every one of them, draft a detailed, step-by-step preparedness and response plan that sounds right to you, and that you can see yourself actually putting into action. Don't obsess over getting all the details right; we'll try to refine your choices in section 4, and even then, it may take several iterations to settle on an approach you are really happy with. For now, simply list all the noteworthy dangers, jot down some initial answers to the following questions, and see where that takes you.
We talk a lot about the 80-20 rule (the “Pareto principle”) on The Prepared. For example, 20% of the total possible work gets you 80% prepared. To go from 80% to 100% prepared requires a lot more work and money. Another example is that you should prepare for the 80% of likely scenarios, not the unlikely ones like fascist zombies arriving on a radioactive alien asteroid.
As for drinking untreated water: contrary to popular beliefs, in temperate climates, you are generally not taking huge risks by drinking from a backcountry lake or a creek; if it looks and smells all right, it's quite likely fine. On the flip side, a bout of diarrhea is probably the last thing you want to experience in such a situation, so it's good to take precautions if you can. Boiling your drinking water is a very robust method of eradicating microscopic wildlife (more about that soon). When boiling is not an option, adding several drops of regular, old-fashioned laundry bleach per gallon of water, then letting it sit for 30-60 minutes, will have a roughly comparable effect. Note that bleach has a limited shelf life; you will need to rotate it every 5 years or so. When on the go, sodium dichloroisocyanurate pills can be more convenient than liquid bleach and work just as well.
You can mitigate this to some degree by throwing some of these types of food into your everyday menus now. I know these things aren’t quite as healthy as the fresh foods we have the privilege to enjoy daily right now, but if you feel like you are truly going to need to rely on some of these items at some point, by sampling the foods, you can find your family’s favorites and stock up on those.
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.
If you just need to cover one person for two weeks in the cheapest way possible, you can buy one bucket for $130 and stretch the 27,330 total calories an extra day or two at 1,900 calories per day instead of the usual 2,275. Or buy two buckets for the cheapest way to cover two people. But we’d recommend a minimum of two buckets regardless, even for one person, just for redundancy and the unexpected.
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.
Read up on the safety rules pertaining to your weekend hobbies and to your daytime job; ask others about their horror stories, too. Be very careful around select power tools, such as chainsaws, table saws, angle grinders, lathes, and nail guns - they have quite a penchant for taking fingers off and eyes out. (Table saws in particular are responsible for about 30,000 serious injuries annually, or about 40% of all workshop accidents.)
If there's another powerful and low-cost burglary prevention tool at your disposal, it's being careful not to attract targeted theft. Be mindful of who you invite into your home, who handles your keys, and how much you signal about your financial status to your more distant family, random acquaintances, or strangers parked across the street. If you have children, teach them about the virtues of modesty, too. If you tell them that the thieves will probably take their game console, they may even listen to what you have to say.
I stored Flour, Sugar (white & Brown) along with yeast, baking soda/powder and crisco. My plan is to use a Bread machine to make bread. I have a large generator to power essential items. I also have a small generator (very quite) to power things during night time hours or my camper that has an oven we could use in an emergency. The best thing you can do now is to sit down and go thru some various scenarios in your head with varying degrees of severity. Then, write it all down on paper in note/bullet statement format. When you’re stressed-out is not the time to formulate a plan.
Gale, you’re right about the bug eggs. I know it’s a little skeevy to think about but *nearly all* grain products (whole wheat berries, biscuit mix, pasta, cornmeal, anything) already have bug eggs in them. That’s what the dry ice is for; it helps stave off rancidity and it also prevents (ew) hatching! Or you can freeze the items for a week and then store long-term, but that’s a lot more trouble than it sounds like and doesn’t help prolong shelf life.
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 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.