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A Prep a Day Keeps My Worries at Bay

October 11, 2012

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Prepping day by day

The following article has been contributed by a fellow prepper and homesteader named Meagan. It has been published with permission of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of PreppingToSurvive.com.

My journey into prepping began a few months into the pregnancy of my daughter.   A little nervous at first about my husband’s reaction, I kept it secret and started squirreling extra food away.  I cleaned out a storage closet we had under some stairs, but after a while I couldn’t see the closet floor and I had to bring my husband up to speed to enlist his help in getting shelves.  I also started watching with him every survival, apocalypse and disaster movie I could get my hands on.  This opened up a lot of conversation opportunities, but my biggest stride occurred when we started watching Man vs. Wild, which he loved.  That show really piqued his interest and with the current global state, he was hooked on prepping.

I am a stay-at-home mom, and my daughter is now 20 months old.  I am lucky enough to be able to sacrifice the luxury of having an extra paycheck in order to stay home with my daughter, something my own mother wasn’t able to do.  This does however make constant prepping a little more difficult.

Having always been a book worm, I jumped right into prepping with vigor through both research and study.  A forum that I came across had a thread, “what was your prep today?”   I jumped at this idea wholeheartedly and decided that I should be doing at least one thing every day to progress steadily.  Some days my only prep is a little research or reading on a blog, but it makes me feel better nonetheless.   Having thought a lot about what I could possibly do for my preps, while spending little to no money, has given me a lot of ideas.  I have also come across a lot of other people’s ideas online and in books that I would like to share with fellow preppers.

My favorite TV show as a kid was MacGyver.  I learned so much from that show, but most importantly I learned to be resourceful not just in making things, but also using any and all knowledge that I can possibly obtain.  Of course the root of resourcefulness is having the knowledge to put to use, so my first prepping priority is to learn as much as possible.

Knowledge Is Power

using the public library for researchThe public library is an amazing resource that is overlooked by many people.  I often wonder if the librarians at my local branch, who know me by name, are ever curious about my book choices.  My research ranges from books on guns, canning, homesteading, wilderness survival, sustainability, green architecture and even the psychology of disaster survivors.  Every piece of knowledge you have opens up more options in any kind of situation.

Another great resource is of course the internet.  Besides the forums and blogs, there are actually some really useful books online that are free for completely legal download.  I have printed these books in particular and they are wonderful additions to my personal prepping library, as they would be to yours.

“Where There Is No Doctor”/“Where There Is No Dentist”/“Where Women Have No Doctor”

These are from  http://hesperian.org/books-and-resources/

These books are wonderful medical resources written for people in third world countries who may not have regular access to medical staff, and cover many subjects in layman’s terms with sketches.  These are the foundation that my medical library is built on.  These books, among many other pamphlets and books are available to purchase, but are also available as a free downloadable .pdf once you register with their site, which only takes a minute and is extremely basic – name, email, city & country of residence.

“LDS Preparedness Manual: 2012 Edition”

This book is available from http://www.ldsavow.com/PrepManualGeneral.html

LDS or not, this book is a wealth of information for any prepper.  I haven’t had a chance to check out this new edition, but I read an older edition cover to cover and found it to be the most in-depth resource for food storage.  Admittedly, the sections on the different kinds of grains get a little boring, but I am grateful to have a resource that breaks down the different kinds of foods to store for different purposes, how to properly store them and their respective storage lives.  If you aren’t LDS, no problem, just skip the scriptures and quotes in the beginning and jump right into all that good food storage information.  This website only requires an email address to download the .pdf.

“Nuclear War Survival Skills”

Available from http://www.nukepills.com/docs/nuclear_war_survival_skills.pdf

This book is THE best resource for one of the scariest SHTF situations possible, nuclear war.  Not only does this book cover all the basics of surviving, it also gives instructions on essential items such as building your own radiation dose meter out of basic items and building an expedient fallout shelter. It covers everything you would need to know, having been written during the cold war, by a person who truly knows this subject matter.  I haven’t had a chance to fully read this one yet, but my husband spent a day going through it, and he doesn’t like to read so what does that tell you?

Others Books

Besides these specific books, there are tons of free books online.  Check out http://www.gutenberg.org/ and http://books.google.com for other free books.  I find these especially useful for older books (think early 1900s) about wilderness survival, which would be next to impossible to find for purchase.

Waste Not Want Not

Yes, research does get a little tedious at times, plus we all want to actually see food and supplies stocking up in our larders, so what can we do to keep adding items even though we don’t have a ton of money to spend?  We have all heard about couponing, although I live remotely enough that it isn’t feasible for me to hit all the sales at all the stores, so I take a different approach.  When I do my twice monthly shopping, I generally save between $20 and $60 from coupons depending on how much time and effort I have invested.  I estimate how much I think I will be saving with coupons and use that to buy prep worthy foods and supplies that are on sale to stretch my money.

I cringe when I see people online state that generic foods are equal in quality but cheaper in price to name brands.  For example, generic canned vegetables are generally $.79 – $1 in my area, depending on the store.  But I prefer Green Giant canned vegetables, which I find are highly superior in taste and quality. I buy these up in bulk when I see them for cheaper than $1.  I have even seen them as cheap as $.39 a can.  This isn’t to say that all generics are inferior; I have plenty of other generic items in my larder, I’m just saying be aware of what you are buying and never assume anything.

So other than the obvious, what other ways can you stock up?  Be resourceful and look for prepping opportunities in everyday situations.

  • Every time I go to a convenience store or gas station, I ask for a free book of matches.  Even though I have multiple fire starters, disposable lighters and Zippos, at the very least, matches can be a nice charity or trade item.
  • Trips to the dentist help add some basic dental supplies such as a freebie toothbrush, floss and sample size toothpaste.
  • When I go to the pediatrician’s office, I check out the sample basket they have. It generally only has lotions in it, but I grab a few each time.  One particularly exciting day, I was basically forgotten in the waiting room for over an hour.  When the nurse realized this she felt bad of course, and loaded me down with sample cans of formula.  I arrived home grinning ear to ear with 15 cans of formula.
  • The occasional trip to KFC yields a pocketful of moist towelettes.
  • When I have a few free moments and I don’t feel like reading, I hit up some of the sample websites and order some free samples.
  • Harbor Freight regularly has coupons in their fliers for free items (led flashlight, work gloves, screwdriver set, or multimeter) with purchase.  When I am in the vicinity of a store, I make it a point to stop in and get something basic for my preps such as duct tape and leave with a freebie as well.  In my opinion, you can’t have too many flashlights.
  • While playing outside with my daughter one day, I had the idea to save some dandelion seeds.  I filled a Ziploc bag and put it in the freezer for storage.  This winter I will do some experiments with growing them in pots, because apparently they have the best flavor first thing in January.  Dandelion sprouts anyone?

Now, admittedly, these aren’t groundbreaking additions to my larder, but they don’t hurt either.  Plus, I find that the sample sized items are great for our B.O.B.s.

Besides samples, what are some ways to add free stuff to your food storage?  My favorite new idea is preservation of gleaned items.  I’m ashamed to think of all the food that I have wasted in the past, because whenever it was given to me, I wasn’t prepared to eat it and it went to waste.  Well, this summer I conquered these failures and have added some very nice items to my food storage.

A friend brought me 2 grocery bags full of extra kale and chard from her garden.  Into the dehydrator they went and now I have a jar full of greens that I can add to soups, casseroles or whatever.  My stepmother gave me 3 giant zucchinis, and another friend gave me a zucchini and a cucumber out of her yard.  I started with 3 batches of zucchini pickles and a couple jars of cucumber sandwich pickles, but that barely made a dent.  Then I made 2 batches of zucchini jam, at which point my husband started begging me to throw the rest away, but I just couldn’t do it.  So with a little internet research, I realized that I could easily shred the rest of the zucchini, peel and all, and dehydrate it.  Now I have 2 quart jars full of shredded, dehydrated zucchini which can easily be rehydrated for zucchini bread or added to any number of things.

Canning fruitI also managed to make 2 batches of blackberry jam out of berries from a friend’s yard.  After all was said and done, I had a handful of berries left which I added to an unopened but past date jar of applesauce and a couple of unwanted peaches that I found to be a bit bland.  Into the blender, then the dehydrator it all went and I was able to add some fruit leathers to my stockpile.  I also dehydrate canned fruits and veggies that are past the date rather than throwing them away, like I used to do.

I like to look for ways to put other unwanted materials to use. Besides the common 2 liter for storing water and/or dry goods, I save glass jars for storing dehydrated items.  Old horse pasture fence boards from my stepmother were transformed into two raised beds, with two more on the way. Someday I hope to source some broken concrete chunks to build some raised beds in my front yard.  If you are open-minded you can build up your prepping by leaps and bounds, you just have to be ready to recognize all the opportunities and be able to incorporate them into your life.  Be resourceful, not just when TSHTF, but in your prepping as well.  Here are a couple ideas I found online, for big ticket items that you can actually build yourself, sometimes out of repurposed components, if you are so inclined. Simple Google searches yield tons of results, the sky is the limit!

  • solar dehydrator
  • solar still
  • solar oven
  • bicycle generator
  • rocket stove
  • smokehouse

One last note, don’t just consider your preps when prepping.  We have a firm bug-in plan, barring an earthquake or house fire.  Something I read somewhere put it bluntly, “Your home is the eye of the storm”.  This helps me to think of everyday chores and projects as prepping.  Every time I want to put off the dishes or vacuuming, I just think about how if TSHTF tomorrow, I would feel so much better if the house is neat and orderly.  I think about how much easier it is to load the dishwasher and run it, than it would be to do it all by hand.  Don’t let prepping stress you out, use it to motivate you and just take it one day at a time.  Make do and use what you have and soon you will be prepping every day.

Got a prepping or homesteading story to tell? Send it to PreppingToSurvive@gmail.com

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8 Comments on “A Prep a Day Keeps My Worries at Bay”

  1. Jeff Says:

    Well said! Great post. Thank you

    Reply

  2. Alexia Says:

    I do the same when it comes to laundry. I always *want* to let it get backed up, but I have to ask myself, “Is it easier to wash it now, with a washing machine, or later, by hand?”. The washing machine always wins, and I have consistently overcome Mt. Washmore! 🙂

    What I haven’t gotten around to, is buying enough ink to print out all the books I downloaded… I really need to get to that! Thanks for the inspiration!

    and thanks for the great article.

    Reply

  3. lfcrossman Says:

    Very nice article, wish everyone could think like this! Although there are days when I want to put things off, when I get them done I feel so much better, and know that I can have ‘free’ time once the chores are done (for the day). I have no shame in dumpster diving for materials-if I see a new house being built I regularly check the dumpster for boards and plywood that I can use around the house. I’ve even found some nice moldings! Another saver, it only takes a little blip of shampoo or toothpaste to do the job, yet the commercials show huge amounts being used. Just not necessary! Use just a blip and your tube/bottle will last a long time!

    Reply

    • Meagan Says:

      Thanks Ifcrossman, I’m all for ideas people have to repurpose things to keep them out of landfills! So much great stuff goes to waste. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

      Reply

  4. seguros baratos para coches Says:

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  1. A Prep a Day Keeps My Worries at Bay | PreppingToSurvive.com – Best Emergency Foods - October 11, 2012

    […] and started squirreling extra food away. I cleaned out a storage closet we … … More: A Prep a Day Keeps My Worries at Bay | PreppingToSurvive.com ← The Homestead Survival: Ultimate Emergency Food – Urban […]

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