Homesteading or Prepping with Very Little Money- Part 1, by M.C.

I’ll readily admit it; I’m a prepper, survivalist, homesteader, or whatever the current term is for someone who wants to be sure in an emergency that I can take care of myself and family. That to me is much better than standing by wringing my hands in the hope that FEMA can get to me with provisions before I (or worse yet– my husband, children, or grandchildren) starve to death.

The Words “Prepper” or “Survivalist”

I know for some of you, the words “prepper” or “survivalist” may bring visions of Doomsday Preppers with the fall-out shelters, bug out buses complete with goats trained to load up on command, discussions of polar shifts, rogue planets, and zombie apocalypses. Well, maybe I’m not in that group. However, I can see possibilities of needing more than a few days, weeks, or months of ability to live off of my food stores and be totally self-reliant.

Many Things That Can Go Wrong

I’m of the mind that there are many things that can go wrong. These range from several day power outages, auto accidents that require long hospital stays and multiple surgeries, an unusually cold winter complete with 4’ of snow and frigid temperatures for weeks at a time (winter of 2016/2017 here), to loss of a job, a nasty flu epidemic where you need to stay home to keep yourself and your family safe, and even up to an EMP missile shot at us from a hostile government. There are many things that can go wrong. So, a little preparation can go a long way to keep you calm, comfortable, and secure.

Lot of Month Left Over at the End of the Money

Some of you may be thinking that you would love to prepare for hard times, but there is just a whole lot of month left over at the end of the money. Many of us can certainly identify with that.

My Journey of Prepping

I really began my journey of prepping when I was unemployed, and getting an unemployment check that covered my mortgage, utilities that had been discounted because I was on unemployment, the few bills I had which were also discounted. The rest went to feed the chickens, rabbits, cats, and dog with none left over. If my mom needed help with her garden or anything, she had to pay for my gas. Otherwise, I stayed home.

Fortunately, I did have a lot of food in my pantry. Some of it was home canned. Much of it was dried ***beans***, ***rice***, and that sort of stuff. Although I had quite a bit, eventually that ran out.

Food Closet

As time went on and the need increased, I swallowed my pride and found a food closet. I drove out to it and while waiting to register for the first time, I noted that the people who were already registered could just come up and get their groceries. Many came and left with bags of breads, sweet rolls, donuts, cookies, and the like. I sat, pretty sure there was nothing I could eat in their food closet, as I am allergic to wheat.

When I finally got registered and it was my turn to get groceries, I told the ladies who were working there I was not sure they could help me due to my wheat allergy. So they asked me what I would like, and I asked for stuff like dried beans and rice and the type of stuff I could make real meals out of. You should have seen the sparkle in their eyes! I was next asked if I only liked white rice. I told them I’d take whatever, but my preference was for brown rice.

Bags of Food that Lasted

Next thing I know they have filled up five huge, heavy bags of food for me. I told them it was just me at home, but they said no one else wanted this type of stuff, and since I did they gave me a lot. It lasted me until after I finally found a job and the three extra weeks while I was waiting for my first pay check. I even had a bunch left over!

One Second After

It was during that time of unemployment that I read the book ***One Second After*** by William Forstechen. It is about a little town in North Carolina after an EMP took down the electrical grid. Being in the middle of my own SHTF situation (unemployment and quickly running out of food), I made a firm resolution to be sure I could take care of myself and hopefully my family as well should a more long-term situation happen, like the EMP in the book.

Surviving and Food Storage

Being unemployed, I had more time than money, so I used it to learn everything I could about surviving and food storage. For example, I learned that the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints (LDS) recommends that everyone have at least one year of emergency food. They recommend, as emergency rations:

  • 400 lbs. of Grain (300 lbs. wheat and/or rice, 100 lbs. oats),
  • 60 lbs. of Legumes,
  • 16 lbs. of Powdered Milk,
  • 10 Qts of Oil,
  • 60 lbs. of Sugar or Honey, and
  • 8 lbs. of Salt.

Daily Ration Per Person

Wow! That sounds like a lot of food, but what does that break down to on a daily basis? When I broke down the years’ worth of food into weeks and then days, the daily ration per person worked out to one cup of wheat (or rice), ¾ cup of oats, 1/3 cup beans, 2 TBL oil, 1 glass milk (2 TBL powdered milk with 8 oz. of water), and 1/3 cup of sugar. That is the amount for the whole day and just doesn’t seem like a lot of food, especially for men and teens.

Actually, it is a little better than it looks. That one cup of wheat, soaked and cooked becomes 3 cups or 1-1/2 cups of flour, if ground. The oats roughly double in amount as does the beans, when soaked and cooked. This ration of food would keep you alive. It would not be gourmet. It would likely not be something you would enjoy for very long, but you would survive (unless like me, you are allergic to wheat).

My Home

My home was at the top of a steep, thickly treed mountain. Northern California has a high fire danger in the summer. Should a fire threaten, I might have only minutes to evacuate. To facilitate the evacuation, I kept all my camping and survival gear and cat carriers in the garage, all together, on the left and right by the door. That way I could quickly load everything into my vehicle without worrying I might have left something vital. I also had one container in the house that I kept all my important papers in (such as passport, birth certificates, and insurance papers, and the baby pictures of the kids), all kept in the same place that I could just grab and load up as well and be out of there in minutes.

Five-Gallon Buckets and 10-Gallon Barrels

In order to do that, I had several ***five-gallon buckets*** with handles, each numbered, and each of which contained one weeks’ worth of survival rations, along with spices, a roll of toilet paper and some personal care items, and a list in each bucket of what it contained, along with a master list of what was in each of the other buckets, so if I needed something that was not in that bucket, I could locate it. I also had a bucket that contained a week’s worth of survival rations for the dogs and cats. A bit later, my son and two grandsons moved in with me, so I changed those 5-gallon buckets to ***10-gallon barrels*** with handles. Each barrel had one weeks’ worth of food for four people, based on the LDS recommendations. Once I was employed, I scrimped and used every spare nickel for long-term food preps.

Ways to Put Emergency Food and Supplies Away

So now that you know my story, let’s find ways for someone (maybe like you), who has lots of month at the end of the money to put some emergency food and supplies away, just in case.

Dried Food With Long Storage Life

The first thing I did was to get as much dried food with long storage life as I could afford. For that, I visited the feed store. Yes, you read it correctly, the feed store. There are 50 lb. bags of wheat, corn, and oat groats, inexpensively available. Yes, you will likely have to clean that grain a little more than you would have for stuff that you buy at a grocery store. However, at less than 1/3 the price, it seems a small sacrifice for a lot of food. At those prices, you could have a year’s worth of survival rations of grains for next to nothing. And while that is not gourmet meals, it is survival and security. Once I had a three-month supply, 6 months, and thenb a years supply of the essentials for myself, children, and grandchildren, I took a few moments to celebrate and feel great about my accomplishment and the emotional security it brought me.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the next steps you might take in securing long-term food preps when you have little money.

See Also:

  • Homesteading or Prepping with Very Little Money- Part 2, by M.C.

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been part one of a two part entry for Round 76 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from (a $240 value).

Round 76 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. The LDSs are a great resource for knowledge and food for long term storage through their online store. I have found no place less expensive to purchase the items they sell to the general public. If it hits the fan and I was unprepared I would go to them first for help.

  2. We buy auto insurance, home insurance, life insurance ( which is really death insurance). Why not food insurance? Because, no big corporation makes billions of dollars off of it !

  3. Another great commodity from the feed store is salt. A 50 lb bag of salt can be had for about 5 to 6 dollars. Non-iodized, I use this product primarily for salting sheepskins but would not hesitate to consume it.

  4. Another great commodity from the feed store is salt. A 50 lb bag of salt can be had for about 5 to 6 dollars. Non-iodized, I use this product primarily for salting sheepskins but would not hesitate to consume it.

  5. I used the LDS pantry to get my first load of long term storage goods as well. They have several forms of packaging, from small bottles of honey, to #10 cans, to 25 pound sacks of red and white wheat. There are cheaper options than the LDS pantry, or Home Storage Store. But for 50 bucks you can pick out 6 assorted cans and put them in an original box.

    One big aspect here is the ease of acquisition and durability of storage. The box of cans is strong, easily stackable or fits under bedstead perfectly, and the cans are rodent proof. One additional step I learned and followed is to put My long term storage grains and beans in My deep freeze for 2 as soon as I got them. It kills any possible insects or mites.

    My first boxes were then labeled with their assdortment: quick oats, red wheat, dehydrated carrots, dehydrated onions, spaghetti bits, red beans, for example. Next month i went back with 50 dollars again. I got 6 more cans of black beans, white beans, wheat, oats, boxed them, got spare plastic lids (10 cents each) and money left over so bought one of their filtered water bottles, and spare filter for another 5 bucks.

    Then I started buying discount store can openers for 88 cents and cans of Treet (low grade Spam-type meat) and added one opener and can per box. Now I know a better option is a bucket of one hundred P51 can openers from Sportsmans Guide for 28 bucks.

    I also was buying canned goods on sales for short term storage, but after a year at 50 bucks per month, I had 6 months of long term food in number 10 cans, all easily stored under my bed, out of sight and out of the way.

    Thanks for sharing here M.C. It is easy for some people to be so intimidated and in denial that they don’t even try to lay something away.

  6. Thank you for the good reminders in your article. I am looking forward to part 2.

    One Second After is a good read. I would recommend researching books by JWR as well. Liberators And Patriots are two of his fiction novels that are always in the living room for a re-read.
    JWR’s How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It is in our bug out/ bug in bag with a Bible. Cannot memorize this stuff so I keep it close.

    I have also very much enjoyed the A. American series that started with Going Home. Fictional series with really good character development. The lead character is a Joe Average with the common sense of people who visit this blog.

    1. JWR and A American are good novels for their technical qualities. Weather it is gear, commo, weapons or tactics, it is quality info that you can use. I get some some good ideas from these books.

  7. An excellent post, and you are to be commended for showing that it can indeed be done, with only a little money. As the saying goes, most do not plan to fail, they just fail to plan. Being aware of what happens a few weeks after it goes sideways is truly the mark of an adult and a good prepper. I especially appreciate the frugal preppers, since they show that they are intelligent even in the face of difficult conditions, which is the definition of courage. I and my wife prep all the time, and learn new skills when we can. We don’t have to be frugal, but we prep frugal anyway, because you don’t know from one day to the next what dawn will bring. I can remember when we first started, and I could only buy one silver dime at a time

  8. Greatly enjoyed and can’t wait for the second part. Never thought of the feed store.
    The only thing I slightly disagree with the LSD recommendations is the amount of dry milk. It use to be a much greater amount, and you would want more if you have small children.

    I’d want more simply to make cheese, cottage cheese and such to break up the monotony.

  9. Most people who read this blog probably already know this, but, make sure any grain you buy in bulk is meant for animal feed rather than for planting. Those meant for planting are often treated with chemicals that protect the germinating seed and would make you sick if you consumed them.

  10. Thank you for a very common sense (which is not so common anymore) article on why it’s good to be prepared for what life ordinarily throws at everyone but too many have forgotten due to the various safety nets. If you ordinarily eat some of that good food, it won’t give you digestive troubles when you switch over to more of it. Something to be aware of for those of us eating mostly processed food. Fiber will out, so to speak.

  11. Great article. Part of my cheap preps are buying things at the grocery stop only when they are on sale. I get Chunky soup for $1.25 or 1.50 a can. That added to rice at about .45 a pound makes a filling and tasty meal for several people for little money. I get the 16oz jars of Jiffy peanut butter for about 1.50 on sale. I only buy sugar when it is between .39 and .49 a pound on sale. That is cheaper than Walmart. I save my Ocean Spray juice bottles for storing the sugar in. Works great, I get almost 4 pounds in a 60 oz bottles. Also using the store rewards card, I saved about $2800.00 last year buying mostly on sale stuff a little extra each time.

  12. GREAT article, MC. You are a jewel and a treasure. 🙂

    I’ve done most of what you mention in the 1st part of your article. I find that having a food saver device that allows me to vacuum pack rice, beans, pasta, and other dry foods is of considerable help in stocking my larder. Adding an O2 absorber or two to each 2-3 lb package is also helpful in getting these foods to last as long as possible.

    Another tip, if available, is to shop for preps at the local dollar store and also at the local thrift stores, such as those run by Goodwill and the Salvation Army. Lots of good things can be had there for very little. My wife found a name brand silk blouse there once for $12. It was brand new and still had the original $65 price tag on it.

    A huge part of prepping for me is to get gardening skills. I helped my folks garden way back when, did a little after college, and then did other things for many years. About 8 years ago, I got back into it and it is a real joy to bring forth really nice looking nutritious food from the earth with my own two hands. It establishes both a physical and a spiritual connection between me and the Earth, which is wonderful. The tasty food that results is also a great benefit. Seeds are an excellent prep and I prefer the heritage type seeds because the plants that come from them will develop plant-able seeds of their own. Such seeds also have good value as a trading item, should the bad stuff hit the fan.

    Last by certainly not least is my own stubbornness. I simply refuse to hand over responsibility for the lives of myself and my family to some uncaring and potentially incompetent government agency. If they want to help and can help, fine. But I would not bet the lives of those I love on it.

    Cheers, all! 🙂

  13. Great article. Just a reminder though that brown rice doesn’t store nearly as long as white rice. I think Brown rice is only good for 6 months to a year. White rice over 10 years

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