Before writing “How To Start – A Beginner Prepper Food Supply List” I was doing research on an article called “Food Preservation Vs Buying In Processed Food”. I was trying to place myself in a beginner’s mindset and all of a sudden I found that there was a step missing. There are a lot of things to consider when planning your list and even more when you start making the purchases. A lot of the considerations only come with experience or training so the beginner might need some help.
Start Small But Start Now
A lot of people give up before they start because they find that it is going to cost them a fortune to buy everything that they believe need. It is for this reason that I say that you must start small but start NOW! You do not want to delay your preparing because then you will never start.
Start with what is in your cupboards already. This serves two purposes:
- You have started
- It does not cost you anything.
I truly believe in this because it gets you into the mindset and you have now invested in the project without having to pay out cash. No, you won’t have everything you need. No, you won’t be sufficiently prepared but Yes, you will have more prepared than you had previously. It will surprise you to see how much you can prepare without spending a fortune.
Now, I am going to suggest something that you should do that is truly out of sequence. You should really do it after the next step but it does serves a purpose and it is fun for the whole family. In all situations, you need to have a leader, coordinator,- boss, person in charge. Call that person what you will but it is essential. For this exercise, it is often fun to place one of the kids in charge.
Making a child take charge in these practice situations is important training and experience for them. Mom and Dad are always there to guide and make suggestions. So, are you ready? Let’s go.
The Dry run
In this exercise, the leader will appoint tasks to people to after you have explained the purpose of the exercise and for how long they must pack for (start with 24 hrs):-
- Food store – Mom (& helper if necessary)
- Camping Equipment, tools etc – Dad (& helper)
- Clothes – Everyone
When the time allotted is up, check what was set out. Remember, these items cannot go back into your cupboards, so if they are essential to your day to day life, return them to the cupboard and make a note of the item. You will have to purchase it at a later date.
This phase is a fun exercise and everyone puts their ideas forward. Now when you evaluate the stores collected, you can explain why a 50 kg bag of cement your young son put out for building a shelter might not work if you have to walk. Here you all grow and help develop your list in a fun way. It also teaches everyone what to consider and how to start planning.
Refine Your List First.
So, you have evaluated your possible emergency scenarios, done the risk assessment and decided on what you are planning for. Now, after your practice run, it is time to get serious. You need to plan your food lists. Yes, lists. There will be a few. Everything depends on your personal circumstances.
The easiest way to set out your lists is to divide them up into different periods. For example,
- Survival kit. Called by many names, it is your go-everywhere kit. Keep it in your car when you go out to work or visit, In school bags (cling wrap it so that it stay at the bottom of the bag and cannot be opened without you noticing it. These are often attached to the bug out bag when you use them. If you have to abandon the BOB you just take the survival kit as it is light and will last a day – 2 at a push. Click here to download a list of suggested items for a survival bag.
- Your Bug Out Bag List. Your bug out bag is your go-to bag when there is an emergency and you have to leave NOW When you don’t have time to pack your vehicle with all your additional stores, this bag can sustain you with food and water for 1 – 3 days. It could also hold implements that will help you survive longer at a push. The BoB is usually kept at home at the ready with water at hand. You just run in, collect everyone and their BoBs and leave. For a list of suggested items, click here.
- Long Term. This is a longer-term plan, where you do not anticipate being able to return home for some time. With this list, you need to plan for a long-distance trip which entails carrying fuel to reach your destination as well. If you know your destination, you can arrange for en-route storage for supplies of food and fuel. For this event, you would plan for raw material for making items like soap, bread, semi-permanent shelter, Chronic Meds, school material for teaching the children. You need to try to imagine how you will provide for every need for an undetermined time. For help with this list, you will need to do a lot of research and preparation and this is definitely a longer-term plan. For help with this, you can go here.
Now Raid Your Grocery Cupboard
Now that you have your plan, check your grocery cupboard for the things that you need and which you can spare now. Things that you did not collect when you were practising. It is important to supplement your stocks at every opportunity that you get.
One of the reasons that I wrote this article first is that I was surprised at how many sites are recommending that you buy, buy, buy and usually from them or a supplier that they have an agreement with. They recommend a lot of food that you can prepare for yourself. The food that you make will be lighter than the tinned alternative. The other advantage is that you can pre-pack it in volumes that are suited to your family.
I will show you how to store food so that it does not spoil unnecessarily. I will show you:-
- How to store eggs for up to 8 months (and possibly longer)
- How to stop bugs in your flour and cereals
- how to make hardtack(Army Dog Biscuit). It lasts 20 years and more and was a staple diet during the Civil War and world wars:
- How to make yoghurt and cheese from Powdered milk
- How to make pemmican ( meat that lasts for 2 years without a refrigerator)
- How to make Mozzarella cheese from powdered milk
- How to start sourdough for baking
I will also show you how to make Soap and other things. It is absolutely not a must to buy everything and it is probably much cheaper to make it yourself. Besides, What will you do long term when things start running out? Learn how to make it now and you will be set.
We have digressed slightly……OK, maybe more than slightly. The point I was trying to make is that you do not have to buy everything. There are other solutions.
Once you have done raiding your cupboard, see what you are still short of. It will probably still be a significant amount but that is not a problem. Mark off everything that you have for each list. What you are short of you will have to buy in or make as and when you can.
Concentrate on the first list, then the BoB list and then gradually work on your long term list. I know people that have been working on their long term list for many years and the buy the ingredients and make the food and tools as and when they can.
Plan How Much To Spend Each Month
Only you can determine how much you can afford to spend on your prepping per month. Don’t get pressurised into spending more than you can afford, even if you have to save for two or three months before you can move on. That is fine. You are alive now and need to take care of your current need now and then prepare for the future.
A lot of people save their prepping budget and only buy stuff when it is on Special at the grocery store. That way their budget goes further. I always caution about specials. They usually substitute with cheaper ingredients and this can mean that you will not get the fats and protein that your body needs. Keep this in mind and check the ingredients when you buy specials.
Tins Are Longer Term – Not for Bug Out Bag
Many prepping pages recommend buying tins of food. This is all good and well but you have to consider the fact that you have to carry your bags. You do not want to carry the weight that you are going to discard. The other thing is that tins have expiry dates, so remember to rotate and replace them, especially if they are packed in your ‘trommel’ (trunk or crate) or trailer.
Many people advocate keeping tinned food for 2 years after the expiry date as it is still good for that long. I am not an expert in this regard so I withhold my opinion. What I do know is that I have personally had to throw out food in my PoliceRation Packs when in the field as they have blown up and gone off. This is especially true of the tinned fish.
Grow Your Supplies Slowly
As I mentioned earlier, build up your supplies in stages and don’t try to do it all at once. It can be a daunting exercise. Build up a little at a time and don’t forget about things like fuel, vegetable seeds, animal food if you are taking your pets with, rope, wire, groundsheets spares for your vehicle (plugs, fan belts, puncture repair kits, spar filters, oil and tyre tube).
Before you Buy
Always evaluate your proposed purchases before making them, just as you should evaluate all advice that you receive from “experts” that run sites specifically to get you to buy through them. They are out to make a living from their sites and give you advice “by the way”.
This site has been developed to help people prepare for emergencies, especially in South Africa. That is its purpose. I will always try to find methods of preparing, making or acquiring food and equipment first. I will also show, where I can, alternative sources before showing you my recommended purchased product.
I do make money off this site! That is a by-product of this site. If I recommend a product for purchase, I probably have an affiliate agreement and will make some money off the sale. This will not affect your price as the supplier pays my commission directly. This being said, I will always try to give you recipe, training video or alternate source for the product first.
Planning your list before you buy is a priority. Never prep on a whim or out of panic. If you are unsure of anything, seek help from someone more knowledgeable than yourself and evaluate all the advice you get. Don’t let people advise you to buy, buy, buy when there are alternatives. Start Now! Don’t put it off until you can afford it or “until” because until, like tomorrow, never comes.
I really appreciate other peoples input and thoughts. Please leave your comments or advice in the comment section below.
If you have any questions, ask them here.