1. Something else to consider is a smart phone. My phone has a 32gig memory chip. It can holds LOTS of info. Some paperback books will be good to have. But even off the grid a phone can still access certain apps that have been downloade. I have about 50 books on my phone. A compass. Maps. I can draw a quick map or list with my stylis too. I can easily share documents and file by just tapping my phone on another smart phone. Take pictures and zoom in on them. Great to check progress walking and general references.… Read more »
What research have you done on this? Are you simply making assumptions, because that's what it sounds like. The needs of someone trying to grow a couple tomatoes so the kids can see what they look like growing on the vine one summer are verrrrry different from the concerns of preppers who are thinking in terms of potentially supplying food for their family for many years.
Hi Chuck. Another book you might find interesting is “The Third Horseman – Climate Change and The Great Famine of The 14th Century” by William Rosen. There was a period of global cooling that led to massive crop failures, famine and an outbreak of bubonic plague combined with warfare that killed one eighth of Europe’s population. Depressing as hell but very interesting as it shows how all of these things are interrelated.
18. Freeze Dried Options – Just add water! Nothing beats freeze dried foods & having a nice selection of #10 cans in your storage plan is a wise choice. Lots can be said here, and this option will definitely give you the longest shelf life, but it is the more pricey choice. There are some great food companies that offer freeze dried storage packs. 3 reputable food storage companies are:
7. A selection of non-GMO, heirloom seeds suitable for your climate zone.  Tough times may include expensive produce that’s difficult to come by.  You can grow your own, but there’s a very high learning curve involved.  Stock up on seeds for foods you know your family will eat.  Heirloom seeds are preferred since they haven’t been genetically modified.  Learn how to save seeds from one season to the next, but whatever you purchase,
I don’t care if freezing doesn’t kill the bugs. The flour will be used to cook something. It will go into a baked item or be used to coat something for frying. Now I am not saying we shouldn’t take precautions against infestation. What I am saying is there has to be a balance. At what cost (in money, time and effort) is it worth it to make something absolutely safe? Personally, I don’t want to lose focus.
I am really enjoying this site that I discovered through Pinterest. You make everything simple and so much easier to follow than most the prepper websites I have seen. I have even ordered the LDS Providential Living, and while the information contained therein is great, it is just not really practical stuff easily affordable on a budget. This startup guide is wonderful and I really enjoy the 12 month breakdown you have provided as well. I have added your boards, but it would be nice if you had a Pinterest pin on your site so that all your archives I could store as well. Thank you so much for all you are doing! I learned some really cheap ways to make fire starters from you.
Furthermore, steel shelters, which are typically 3/16- 1/4 of an inch thick, need to be buried DEEP, in order to provide the proper comparative level of protection against radiation. They are typically installed with 8-10 feet of earth covering the top and this presents a considerable number of challenges with regard to the costs for excavating, the need to hire a crane and other issues.
Is this a complete list of everything you will need to be fully prepared food-wise?  Heck no.  Are the quantities adequate to feed a family for a month, three months or longer?  Perhaps a month but not much longer.  Truthfully, for long term storage you need more food and more variety (read about the top survival food brands here) as well as some packaging methods (Mylar bags or buckets plus oxygen absorbers) to insure that your will food stay viable and pest free for years to come.
I had the blessing of knowing my grandparents who lived through the Depression. I was a prepper before it was a ‘thing’. I always had a pantry to rely on. When I actually ‘got into’ prepping, I went overboard, was a bit fanatical, and then I got burned out. Too many ‘doomsday’ articles and sites. I have since changed my approach to more of a ‘homesteader’ mindset. Homesteaders and preppers have a lot in common, and the ultimate goal is the same, to be more self sufficient.
Mel doesn’t subscribe to the “every man for himself” philosophy that is a hallmark of many preppers’ Cormac McCarthy-styled nightmares. “My grand plan is that I will build a community around me, rather than think that I will be in a post-apocalyptic bunker where I have to do everything. You don’t want to be scared of your neighbours and worry about whether they will take your stuff."
Let’s face it, practical and usable space quickly becomes a valuable commodity when you are going to spend a significant amount of time in the shelter before venturing topside, and that environment should be comfortable, healthy and space efficient. You are going to be stressed enough if you are in there, and the last thing you need is the additional stress of a cramped, unfriendly environment.

16.  One large jug of Oil. Choose olive oil, coconut oil or some other cooking oil, but definitely get some.  Oil is essential for good health, fueling our energy stores and providing support for fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients as they work their way through our system. Not only that, but a bit of fat in your diet adds flavor and makes you feel satisfied when you are done eating.
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Just for you to consider, the South was mostly Democratic in political leanings. There were not thousands of lynchings. One is too many, but they never reached thousands. The lynchings in northern cities at the beginning of the 20th century generally were by working class individuals. The Democrats have always prided themselves on the support they got from the unionized working class. If you remember, although I doubt it, your politics from the 1950s and early 60s, it was the Dixicrats, Democrats from the southern states that blocked civil rights legislation and filibustered against civil rights bills in Congress. Although I am not a religious person, there is a lot of good advice in the bible. I think one passage applies here: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Both parties have bloody hands. Neither party can castigate the other for sins of omission or commission.
You just never know what tomorrow will bring, but don’t wait until the time of a crisis to practice some of these skills. Learn to garden, because fresh food is healthier…make it a natural part of your life. Two tomatoe plants can produce a lot of tomatoes! Learn to fish..for fun with the family! Make a mental note of the people around you (or coworkers) who hunt. Learn to milk a cow(I am not kidding). Learn to sew or knit. Learn to cook over an open fire pit…make sure you build a fire pit! These are little things you can do now…without a computer. Hold practice runs with your community with disaster plans. A manual is not going to help you. What you know on a regular basis, will. What good is 20 lbs of rice going to do without knowing how to cook it without a stove or electricity???! It’s not! And for heavens sake, take a first aid class, and invest in a very good first aid kit. That is something you should do anyway.
Thanks for another helpful article, Pat. I’d been wondering about long term food for my preps. I’ve never had MRE’s, although I have eaten “C” & “K” rations (remember those battleship gray-green cans?) an older relative brought home. My question is, how do I determine the best taste/value for my dollar? My goal of having 6 months to 1 year’s worth of food for a family will be significant in terms of money spent. Do you know of any “survival food” vendors who have trial offers for people to taste test BEFORE they plunk down 4 figures for boxes of… Read more »
#4 Knowing the right time to G.O.D is an ongoing struggle for me. I know there is no pat answer to this one. Rather, it takes observation and that “sixth sense” or “gut feeling” we are all born with but don’t always rely on. In fact I’m infamous in my family for saying, “You’ve just got to trust me on this, I’ve got a gut feeling”. Have saved myself & family from a few unpleasant issues with my “gut feeling”. It’s that whole idea of not leaving too soon but yet not waiting too long either that I struggle with.

2. At least two ways to cook food in a power down situation.  I’ve used the Sun Oven for years (visit the official website here) and own the Stove-Tec Rocket Stove.  The Eco-Zoom stove is another version of a highly effective, fuel-efficient stove that weighs less than the Stove-Tec.  If the prices of energy skyrocket, and it looks as though that may happen in the near future, it will be a blessing to have alternative ways to cook food without cranking up the gas or electric range.


I mean, how can you possibly deny the usefulness of one of these? I’ve spoken about it before in my article about staying indoors when the power’s out: having a brick room-sized shed/garage separate from the house and put a fireplace there is pretty much my idea of the perfect prepper space to create. And this is the wood-burning stove/fireplace that would go there. In my dreams of course, because first you need to have the right property, then the right garage/shed, then finally I can grab this sort of remarkably useful kind of thing.
Don’t forget to make a list of any other kind you might need; a spare car battery, perhaps, or ones for a GPS or to power a charging pack for other electronic devices. Think it through. Also, do not skimp on quality batteries! They are not made equal; better brands will typically have more juice and longer shelf lives. Alkaline batteries lose a significant amount of power over time, so rotate these like anything else. Lithium batteries have much longer shelf lives than alkaline but are significantly more expensive.
For Erica Nygaard, an Iowa-based mother of four who started storing and growing her own food after a divorce 11 years ago, the desire to prepare for the future stems directly from the vulnerability one can feel as a single mom. “When you become a single parent, that weight really hits you: I am completely responsible [for my children,] no matter what. No matter what happens, these four people have to be taken care of.”
The secrecy thing, a must. If you notice I haven’t said how many years of food we have stocked up, or how much ammo to defend it. The ammo is mute though. 1 against 1, great. 1 against 100, not so much. And there will still be laws. So perhaps if you are like us, when the dates get close to the end, donate it to people or churches in need. Perhaps the Daily Bread type thing feeding the homeless. That excess is a tool you have to use now for the future later. Just don’t drop it all off at the same spot or the same time. We don’t grow everything we need and have to buy food too.
But this is a situation where we can achieve a lot through a simple ranking system. If we prepare for the far most likely disaster to strike us (for me it’s a tornado or extended power outage during winter time since I live in Alabama in the infamous “Dixie Alley”), we will find a pleasing truth…we will generally be prepared for many of the other types of disasters on our list by default, already.
Then there the question of size. In1962 Anton Geesinck took the judo world by storm at the Kodokan in Tokyo. He won the world championship. The first non-Japanese to do so. He was a giant. The old timers said, “If your spirit had been strong, you would have won. The Japanese judoka who lost to him said, “B.S. if you had been out on the floor with that monster you wouldn’t be saying that.”
Storing food for an emergency can be challenging but it does not have to be a chore.  Eliminate the panic of attempting to get it all done at once and the process can almost be fun and game-like.  Searching out deals – either with coupons or at sales – can be an adventure in and of itself.  Involve the kids by asking them for suggestions and helping them make selections that they will enjoy eating.

I know that in my own case and also with the majority of the readers on Backdoor Survival, hunkering down and bugging in will always be preferred to taking off into the unknown with our stuff.  For many, the choice to bug in has to do with family, health concerns or financial considerations.  That, plus the availability of stored supplies makes bugging in – or staying at home – the choice when a disaster strikes.


Then you would need water, food, composting toilet. There would likely be an EMP, so you’d need a radio protected in mylar bag, and that bag has to be protected from the blast. The radio may be a source of info about how your area was hit. The government would do a survey about the affected area. If you are on your own, you’d need a radiation detector and knowledge to do your own survey. You’d likely need to leave an area eventually, but EMP likely would’ve disabled your car.

With freeze dried foods you can get a good selection of nutritionally balanced foods and they are easy to carry, even if you have to bug out. They have a very long shelf-life of up to 25 years. The only drawback is if you don’t have water, you can’t rehydrate your food. Plus, it is ideal to have warm water so you can have a warm meal, so if there is no way to heat your water, then you will be eating a cold meal.
While I keep almost all of my food in the basement, with only a small portion in the kitchen pantry, 98% of my basement food storage is in sealed cans, or in mylar bags stored in 5 gallon buckets. That way if my basement floods I can wash the cans with disinfecting solution (10% bleach solution) and relabel using markers. Upstairs I keep my emergency blankets since they aren’t impacted by summer heat where if I tried to store food in the bedrooms it would be at risk from summer temperatures. But as I write this I realize I need to move my water filter and water BOBs out of the basement and upstairs so they don’t get impacted by a flood. Thanks for making me think of this!
If you have a bunker in the blast radius of a nuclear bomb, (the usual rationale for a bunker), it won’t survive. And, because you’ll have very little notice, if any, in the case of a nuclear bomb or explosion, you’ll have to be near your bunker when it goes off. Which means those of you who live in a potential attack location probably won’t be saved by a bunker.
I’ve seen a few people saying that an EMP attack would be more destructive than a nuclear war. It wouldn’t. An actual nuclear war would cause unimaginable devastation. Major cities would be flattened and burned by multiple strikes. Airports, harbors and military bases would be hit. Smaller warheads would take out freeway intersections and rail junctions. Parts of the country would be blanketed in fallout. Dust and smoke pumped into the atmosphere by the explosions would block the sun’s light for weeks, adding cold weather to all the other hazards. Then, on top of that, you’d have the EMP as well. Every weapon would cause local EMP damage, and it’s almost certain that high altitude EMP bursts would be included in the strike to maximize the chaos. A major nuclear war would be a lot worse than an EMP. Short of an impact from a slate-wiper asteroid it would be worse than anything I can imagine.
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.
Regarding the 2L soda bottles, how long do you store them before changing out the water with fresh water? Would you say that the water stored in this way would only be good for cleaning clothes, washing dishes and bathing and not for drinking or cooking? I have pondered doing the same thing but wondered how long the water would stay fresh and free of bacterial growth etc. (aka safe to use).

Furthermore, steel shelters, which are typically 3/16- 1/4 of an inch thick, need to be buried DEEP, in order to provide the proper comparative level of protection against radiation. They are typically installed with 8-10 feet of earth covering the top and this presents a considerable number of challenges with regard to the costs for excavating, the need to hire a crane and other issues.

I don’t care if freezing doesn’t kill the bugs. The flour will be used to cook something. It will go into a baked item or be used to coat something for frying. Now I am not saying we shouldn’t take precautions against infestation. What I am saying is there has to be a balance. At what cost (in money, time and effort) is it worth it to make something absolutely safe? Personally, I don’t want to lose focus.
Thanks, Viet Nam Vet. People keep calling us a democracy but that is not our form of government. Our founding fathers were reluctant to have a true democracy because they correctly feared mob rule. It doesn’t bother me that government moves slowly. That keeps it from swaying to and fro in shallow breezes. Congress was supposed to be a deliberative body. The Supreme Court was supposed to be an even more deliberative body. Rapid response is only acceptable in the troops coming to your rescue, not in governments.
@Loonejack That WAS strange weather, wasn’t it. One storm after the other after the other. No relief for those poor people. Good idea not to live on the east coast. There are some saying that we are overdue for an Ice Age and that it could be here in the next decade or so but does any one REALLY know. It really does come down to speculation. There was a mini ice age in Europe from about the 16th to the 19th centuries. They’re not quite sure about the exact times. There were three particularly cold intervals: one beginning about 1650, another about 1770, and the last in 1850, all separated by intervals of slight warming. Everything goes in cycles, especially the sun, and if we do experience a true ice age then we’ll just have to deal with it. I would think in a situation like that people would come together for mutual survival.
Out in Colorado the local merchants were so up with this that they donated most all the supplies. we created fact sheets, handouts, recipes, Q&A, bring in other experts, maybe even offer door prizes ( we gave ball canning books 8.50 as door prize.) hands on folks prepped cleaned and bag. The extension office gave brochures, and goodies. They were held on Saturdays and were about 4 hours long.This can be expanded in many ways… and look how it’s helping. The folks who have to go to food banks don’t want too but don’t have the tools.
Bunkers are either 1,590 or 2,120 square feet, at a cost of $25,000 to lease for 99 years, plus $1,000 annually, and the cost is the same no matter how many residents wind up using the space. One reason the price is so low is because each space is a blank canvas: Each leaseholder is responsible for installing all services and amenities, including plumbing, electricity, air filtration, and exhaust.

With that goal in mind, let me say this:  this is not a list of items intended for deep storage. Nor is it a list of items packaged so that they have a 25 year shelf life.  (And in reality, do you really need your stored food to last that long?)  I am also not going to list items that might be foreign to your palate, difficult to find, or too costly to absorb into your weekly shopping budget.


Cash and Gold/Silver- Cash speaks, and only the direst of calamities will see people forsake the almighty greenback. Assume you will not be able to get any at all, anywhere, after the balloon goes up. Have a good wad hidden away in your stash for a rainy day, and forget about it until it is needed. Don’t raid it for any reason; treat it like the life-saving utility it is.

It turns out that vitamin B12, which is used in most, if not all, of the body’s systems (like neurological, cardiac, etc.) is only found in animal products. All vegans should therefore take supplements, according to the guidelines. If we are in an emergency situation where we can’t get meat, fish, cheese, yogurt, etc., we probably all would need supplementation! It’s critical to have enough, and the effects of not having it are irreversible. (Try dementia, tardive dyskinesia, and on and on.) Yikes! Add it to the list. Oh, well. B12 is small and really cheap.
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