Someone asked a question about preparing for emergencies—specifically “Do you (or how do you) prepare?”
I started to answer on the thread, but the answer’s pretty long, so I’ll put it here on the Poser Homestead instead.
I got my food storage by accident.
If you’ve been with the Poser Homestead for a while, you know I do a lot of in-season canning. Also, I have been doing more pressure canning, so I have beans, chili, all that stuff so when someone asks me, “What’s for dinner?” I can more easily say “Whatever you’re cooking.”
I don’t consider myself a prepper—some of those people are serious. They’re way more advanced than me. They’ve got hidden stores, root cellars, and escape hatches to survive the zombie apocalypse.
I’m not a real prepper—more of an obsessive skill learner who went slightly nutty after the 2008 crash and decided to live off the land. Then failed. Then went to the grocery store instead. But prefers to eat her own food because processed food is garbage.
I learned enough self-sufficiency so that if the zombie apocalypse does happen, I can invite them in, make friends, and share some canned chili or some minestrone soup made from the Attack of the Killer Zucchini season that always comes slightly before the zombies.
If I were a real prepper, I’d be able to feed my whole town, or at least camouflage my food storage, but I ruin a lot of things I grown and make, and I show mine off, so in a true emergency, you’d be here eating with me.
So, without intentionally prepping, I’d say we can survive on our seasonal food harvesting for a good while. In ration emergency conditions, maybe three to six months. We’d power our generator with the gas produced by all the beans I have downstairs.
Emergencies are no joke, though, and everyone should be as prepared as possible.
I live in a “power gets knocked off” area. Most everyone has a generator, and I always keep all the gas jugs full. If there’s no emergency, we’ll rotate it through the lawn tractor and snowblower, and if there is, we can stay online for about five days.
We’re usually back on first—we’re near the school and state police. So, most of us have an untouchable feeling—“this can’t happen to us.” That changed with a couple hurricanes, the Great Flood of Rhode Island, and Super Storm Sandy, where people were out for weeks. Those of us who went back online ended up looking for open roads to truck ice and food to those who weren’t and we shared our heat and showers.
To really prep, you have to think about your daily routine and make substitutes for that for long term. You don’t want go to your food storage in a longer-term situation and find out you’ll be eating six months of peach jam and forty-two jars of olives.
Here’s what I’d want to stock if properly preparing a food storage and other emergency supplies…
- Generator: you need one. But ideally, you want a backup, because you won’t know the one is down until you need it, by definition. I have a Generac that we roll out and plug into the house. Then we flip the switch. If you have some cash, you can get one that reads the grid and knows.
- Water supply: I have a Berkey pitcher whose filters will last 4 years. This wasn’t prepped-intentional. We have metallic-hard spring water. I was #$%$^ tired of everyone not filing the Zero water pitcher or filling it and I’d spill everywhere when I’d pour a glass. The Berkeys range from 1.5 to a million gallons, and they can pretty much filter dog poop out of swamp water. Problem solved. (I linked to my 2.25 gallon Big Berkey pitcher. They seem expensive but aren’t because the filters last forever… I got mine on eBay from a reseller–saved about $60 bucks. Watch out–some seem cheap because they are being sold sans filters).
- Milk/dairy: You can candle eggs (a method of preserving fresh so they last forever), keep fake powered stuff on hand, like powdered eggs and milk. You can also stock that preserved milk in a box and canned, evaporated milk.
- Shelf stable food: I don’t like preservatives and boxes and cans. So, I can my own. Some people stockpile food in cans, ramen, pasta, whatever. While you can technically eat past expiration dates, don’t stockpile stuff you hate. Rotate your shelves like a grocery store, and actually eat the food.
- Batteries. Every hurricane season and Christmas I go through the batteries and replace some. I read somewhere that cheap batteries are off-brand manufactured by the big companies with the last-forever ads. Don’t know if that’s true. Guess we’ll find out next hurricane or when Santa brings a toy and the batteries stink.
- LED lights. These are way better than they used to be. They used to suck down batteries. Now you could use them for your whole house. I know this, since they’re lighting half my cellar since I can’t find a $%&^%& electrician (remind me why I was a liberal arts major again?)
- Heat and cooking: I have a wood stove. I love it. I cook on it often in season. I also have enough wood to last the zombie apocalypse, which would’ve paid for itself if the boy hadn’t helped with it and crushed his finger yesterday, resulting in our first Obamacare injury… this is clearly negating the cost savings of wood. Still, it’ll be there if Red Dawn Remake 3 or Zombie Apocalypse comes around. In the summer, I’d cook on the grill. No need to light the wood stove to heat a can of beans.
- Dried foods: I salvaged an entire farm store when it closed down for a month. This gave me not only enough canned beets and potatoes to be Slavic or Irish, but since I couldn’t can it all, I dehydrated a ton of potatoes, zucchini, and everything. Can’t say that’s going to win me a Michelin Star when I cook with it, but it’ll go well in a pot of veggie minestrone sometime in my life—either on a normal day or if I ever need to eat it.
- Canned beans: By “canned beans” I mean “beans I canned myself from dried.” This is pretty easy to do. Dried or canned, they’ll last forever. And they’re cheap to free if you buy them in the right places—like the Indian and Spanish grocers. Don’t buy them in the “white person international aisle,” as my former students called it. That’s priced as gourmet food. It’ll cost you 5x what a bean should be. That goes for any global ingredient.
- Coffee: This should be first on my list. It’s supposed to be freeze dried or vacuum sealed for the long haul, but I just stock bags when it’s on sale. Can you imagine going through life having run out of coffee? Not me!
- Dry goods: Pasta, flour, and sugar. This stuff has to be stored right, or you’ll get mice and creatures or little bugs that hatch inside your grains.
- Booze. A real prepper would tell you alcohol’s a barter item since you can’t eat dollar bills. And, since dollar bills have diseases and cocaine on them, you wouldn’t want to. But alcohol’s useful for drinking, disinfecting, and lots of things. It’s nature’s first hand sanitizer.
- Prepper stuff: flints, matches, a crank radio, ropes, fire stuff, a small Coleman stove and propane for it (this will only last as long as the propane, but you’re probably not going off the grid for months.
- “Real prepper” stuff. That’s your Second Amendment reference right there. If you hunt, you need your stuff.
- Miscellaneous things that’ll make you nuts if you forget them. These are things like toilet paper and other paper products. Female items. Things you don’t want to run out of.
- Medicine. Especially if you have key ones. Stockpile that and rotate it. It’s easy to stock aspirin and other things, but ideally, you should have a course or two of antibiotics and if you have life-and-death stuff, get it overfilled so you always have a month on hand. Never let it run low, because when it does, you will have a storm.
- Cash. This is for real emergencies, not just “Can I out-food this storm.” Small bills. A million dollars in a safety deposit box does you no good if you can’t get to it or the bank’s closed. Also, small bills. This’ll help you when your kid needs camp money on a regular day and you forgot, or if you need to barter for something.
That should do it. I don’t go crazy with this stuff, but I do try to rotate in a supply. It’s served me well in the past for storms, outages, or “I don’t feel like going grocery shopping,” times.
Where to start
If you’re starting, pick up a couple cans of things here and there when it’s on sale, or learn to preserve food in season. Pick up some dried milk and routine things as you see them.
Imagine living off the land for a week, and make a list of what you use during that week and check your cupboard to see if you have a substitute, and whether it’s enough for your family. If not, start there.
Even if you don’t get a storm, being prepared means, you’ll have plenty of batteries. If you’re a parent, that’s a life saver any way you look at it.
To learn more…
For extra resources, you can go to the LDS food storage sites. You can order things like 30-year #10-sized cans of food for just this purpose. There are centers in most parts of the nation where you can go and shop. You don’t have to be LDS–part of what these centers do is educate the public on the importance of being prepared. Here’s their storage locator. You can shop online, too, but it’s more expensive. They have things with a shelf-life of 30 years–bunker quality stuff if you’re concerned about the long term.