This time of year everyone is talking about their New Year’s Resolutions. The gyms are full of people wanting to get into shape. Coworkers are brainstorming ways to spend less money because the holiday spending has really put a strain on finances. Smokers are vaping or chewing nicotine gum in an effort to quit smoking. The first of a new year is when we resolve to make huge changes in our lives. But does it work? No, it really doesn’t. Go to the gym in mid-February and there are no longer crowds of people there. Check out your coworkers in March and you will see that they are wearing new expensive clothes as Spring fashions come out. Walk by the smoking area and all of the smokers are done with trying to quit. New Year’s Resolutions are tough to keep because they put a lot of pressure on you to change something big in your life. Big changes, big moves, with the hope of big results almost immediately. That’s just setting yourself up for failure. In my experience making small changes over a longer period of time is more effective. It is the same with prepping. Often, when people first start prepping, they try to do too much too quickly and end up feeling overwhelmed, then discouraged, then losing interest. If you really want to succeed at prepping (or New Year’s Resolutions) then think of the tortoise and the hare; slow and steady wins the race. Let’s look at a few areas of slow and steady prepping.
Part of the prepping process is stockpiling items that will be required or useful in the future. That means food, water, ammo and many other things. I guess it’s possible to do this quickly if you have plenty of money to burn on immediate stockpiling and storage. But that isn’t reality for most folks. Most of us need to prioritize and make a plan for gradual accumulation of supplies. Try to plan on a special shopping trip every paycheck or once a month to get the things you need.
Think long term. What food items will stay fresh (or at least edible) the longest? Safe bets are canned goods, grains, beans, and pasta. You can buy all of these in your local grocery store, often as “loss leaders” at reduced prices meant to lure you into the store so watch for sales. Build a food rotating system and use your stockpile as a resource in your family meal planning. This will make cooking easier because you always have plenty of supplies on hand, and it will keep your stockpile from getting too old because you are consistently consuming and replenishing the food.
Once you have stocked up on grocery store items, the next food prep is to start looking at freeze dried food. These have a much longer shelf life and are a must for serious prepping. There’s really no need to rotate these items, since they have an extremely long shelf life, are prohibitively expensive for routine meal planning, and probably aren’t a food type that you’d ever choose over fresh or canned or frozen foods. This is a purely prepper (or hiking) supply type. Thrive or Mountain House are the two big freeze dried distributors. They have just about everything you can imagine or need in a freeze dried package. If you would like to just try things out, Food4Patriots has a 72 hour starter package which is really well priced. Slow and steady prepping purchases of food is the way to go.
Water is a little harder to stockpile. You need about one gallon per person per day, which takes up a lot of space. My suggestion is to invest in filtering products, instead. First look at personal fitering products like the Sawyer Mini water filtration system for each individual in your family. Then as funds allow, step up to a larger volume filter like the SweetWater water filter system. The next big step would be a Crown Berkey Water Filter system. Step up slowly.
Ammo is kind of a no brainer. Buy a box or two of it as often as possible. If you practice regularly (like you should) you need to buy a little more. Quantity is not always better than quality. Buy the cheaper ball ammo for practice when you are shooting at targets. But for your long term stash and for hunting you need to buy a bit better quality ammo.
- Fruit/Nut trees – Find out what grows well in your area and plant as many as you have space to grow. Most trees take four to five years to mature before they have plenty of fruit, and they usually just fruit one time of year, but it will be an annual resource that is there long term.
- Berries/Grapes – these grow fast and multiply quickly. Plant differing varieties that fruit and ripen at different times to maximize harvest season.
- Fishing line – Buy large rolls at different strengths. I prefer non braided types. Fishing line is strong and light and, depending on its rated strength, it can be used over over the homestead as a measuring tool, in setting lures, as rope to bind/lift/carry objects, in hanging food to dry… the range of uses for fishing line is boundless.
- Fishing lures – You don’t need expensive lures to catch fish, but they’re small and could be a real lifesaver in an emergency situation.
- Paracord – Another multi-functional workhorse that is invaluable in a survival situation. Plan to have plenty of extra.
- Canning jars – Aside from their obvious uses in storing food, canning jars have many, many uses on the homestead. Lighting is one of my favorites. Canning jars are perfect for making poured candles and oil lamps.
- Homestead/Kitchen Hand Tools – If you have already taken care of the emergency supplies on your list, then it’s a good idea to invest in tools that don’t rely on electricity. Start with the basics like hand saws, axes, hammers, and maybe even a good wheel barrow. Those are all necessary tools to have on the homestead. But don’t forget tools for the kitchen. Think about all the extra work and time you’ll be spending in the kitchen when take-out, delivery, and restaurants are no longer an option. After the initial emergency phase of a SHTF scenario, you’ll (hopefully) have your own food production going with farm animals, gardening, and fruit trees. Bringing those food sources from field to table takes a lot of work. Superior quality knives (and the knowledge about how to sharpen them) are a must. Adding a hand operated meat grinder, food mill, grain mill, blender, and a stove top steam juicer will really increase your productivity in a homestead kitchen. Growing enough food to feed your family through the winter means large harvests and countless hours of canning and dehydrating on top of the days’ routine meal prep. Kitchen hand tools will make a world of difference when it comes to the amount of food you are capable of preserving. Invest in hand-powered kitchen tools, and take time to learn how to use them before the SHTF. Working with human power instead of electricity can be surprisingly satisfying. You might even decide to incorporate these old fashioned tools into your normal food preparation routine today instead of stashing them away for a post-apocalyptic tomorrow that (we hope) may never come.
Slow and steady prepping purchases are the way to go.
Learning New Skills
It doesn’t matter how much stuff you own, if you don’t know how to use an item, than it is a waste of space to keep it. For example, if you own a nice axe but have never felled a tree then you need to learn that skill. The most important part of prepping is to train your brain. Check out our Prepper and Homesteading Skills page and look at a list of possible choices. Shooting, fishing and hunting should be a priority. Find a friend or a family member to teach you what you do not know. If none are available then hire someone. See if there is a local club where you could be exposed to other people who can teach you more. If a person is passionate about a topic, they want to teach others. Find these people and you will learn quickly. Ask lots of questions. Spend your whole life learning. The old saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is a lie!
Slow and Steady Prepping Resolution
Understand that prepping is a way of life. It takes time (years) and it takes money. It really can’t happen fast. Think long term and don’t stop. Chip away slowly at your overall goal.