Now that you have begun your prepping with very little money to buy the basic survival rations, let’s make your food a little more varied and palatable. You may be surprised how you can do this.
Go to the library and find a book on the edible weeds in your area. Collect them, and dry them. You can use a window screen to dry them on, after spraying it with water to remove dust and debris and allowing it to dry. Those dried weeds will add flavor and nutrition to your meals. Some, like Lambs Quarters which grows almost everywhere, are absolutely delicious and in pretty much unlimited quantities every year. To a couple cups of boiling water, you could add some dried “weeds”, a handful of rice, and some salt (or any other seasoning you have), and you have soup.
Also, don’t forget to add water to your stores. Save your gallon or liter bottles and store water in them. Store purified water, if you can get it inexpensively or purify it yourself, but tap water is better than none. Water can be purified in #2 plastic bottles (like soda bottles) in the sun for several hours. Here, we have well water. What do you think happens with my well pump when the electricity goes out for an hour or a day (or two)? Yep, there’s no water. So, yes, I keep several gallons of water in the house, and more bottled water in the well house. Additionally, I managed to find one of those food grade 275 gallon totes real cheap, and we use that to store water as well.
Prepping is as much learning new skills as it is storing food for emergencies. Gardening might be one of those new skills. Make sure you have a garden and plant it, even if it is tomato and pepper plants in 5-gallon buckets. Maybe it’s lettuce or kale in window boxes or planters on your deck. Even though I now have a very large garden, it gets bigger every year. (It grows by baby steps.) Each year I add beds to my garden, and I experiment with new types of plants to see if I can grow them. I live in the Pacific Northwest right up against the mountains, where we have a very short growing season.
I grow my potatoes in cages that are wrapped in black plastic. Growing potatoes this way is easy to do, even on a small porch, and also so easy to harvest. I just dump it over. No digging is required. One year, with no place to garden, I just grabbed a couple bags of organic soil, punched a few holes in it, watered, and planted a few seeds. I had zucchini and tomatoes grow out of soil bags on my deck.
Note that the survival garden seeds that say they plant an acre are mostly lettuce. Lettuce is for fresh eating and does not store well. You would do better to purchase and grow heirloom (open pollinated) seeds for the foods you like and that grow well in your area.
Next, either get a current book on canning and/or find someone who loves canning. You might also check into your local agricultural extension classes and learn how to preserve that extra food. You will likely be amazed how much food you can get from even just a few plants.
During canning season, many stores have supplies on sale. Take advantage of those sales, or search thrift stores year round and for ads for free or inexpensive canning jars. Just be sure there are no nicks in the tops that will prevent the jars from sealing. Otherwise, use jars with small nicks in the rim for storing dry goods. You will need new lids each time you can. (These are new flat lids, not the rings that can be used over and over.)
Back when I was struggling to get by, I also had to think about how I could handle diapers and the “unmentionable” stuff. When my children were babies, disposable diapers were just being made. They were pretty worthless items, not to mention that my baby’s sensitive skin could not handle all the nasty chemicals at all. They not only broke into rashes, but they even became a very painful, bleeding mess, just over the time of their nap. So our choice was cloth diapers.
When my children were babies, more than once, I did not get to the laundry and have diapers washed and dried before I ran out. So, I used dish towels as a temporary stop gap until the diapers came off the line. Yep, you’re thinking the same thing; those towels could be diapers as well.
When I looked back on washing those diapers, it hit me: “toilet paper” could be ripped up towels or wash cloths and handled the same way as cloth diapers. No, they’d not be pleasant to wash but manageable. I kept a bucket with water and a tiny bit of bleach to store the diapers in until it was time to wash them. You could keep a small bucket by the toilet in the same way.
I know you’ve probably heard people saying to stock a year’s worth or more of toilet paper. That’s a nice idea, but get your food first. Try eating a year’s worth of toilet paper. It would be great for fiber but not terribly tasty and certainly a little low on life-sustaining nutrition. Also, should your personal SHTF situation last a little longer than you hoped and planned for, having those rags available is a good backup plan.
Feminine Hygiene Products
I am now old enough that I no longer have to worry about feminine hygiene products, but my daughter and granddaughters do. Before my time, women used bits of fabric for that time of the month. (Why do you think they call it “on the rag”?)
All those things had me digging out old towels, and I even convinced the local thrift store to bundle up old towels that were not in good enough condition to be sold and that they would normally throw away. They sold them to me for $3 for a big trash bag full.
So, you now have some ideas for how to start stocking up for an emergency inexpensively; however, storage is a concern. Where do you put it all, if you live in a small apartment?
Boxes full of food and supplies under the bed are way better than dust bunnies, any day. Fill taller boxes several boxes high with food. Cover them with some lovely fabric (or a sheet), place a lamp on top, and you have useful end tables. The same applies with using boxes with a board on the top or old trunk full of food and supplies for your coffee table. Also, what about behind or under your couch?
What About Guns?
First of all, don’t talk about your food stores to anyone! If, God forbid, something really bad happened and people get hungry, they will remember you have food, and they will expect you to feed them. It will not matter to them that you scrimped and saved to buy your preps, did not go on vacations, or buy a new car or boat like they did. They are hungry and you owe that to them (by their logic anyway). I often remind Christians that Noah told people about the coming flood for 120 years while he was building the ark, provisioning it, and loading up the animals and his family, and then ‘the Lord shut him in’(Gen 7:16). Noah was not expected to continue to feed and clothe all the people who had refused to listen to his warnings and neither are you.
Mistake to Talk About Putting Away Food
I made that mistake when I first started prepping, and very shortly after I got a job. To save money for prepping, I found someone to carpool with for my one-hour commute. They lived within a few miles of me and worked nearby as well. I was excited about prepping and the strides I had made, and I talked to “Mark” about putting away food for his family as well. One day Mark told me he didn’t have to store food for his family. If things went bad, he had bullets, which have a pretty indefinite shelf life, and he could get food for his family. My food preps took a back seat for the next few months while I saved up to purchase a shotgun and shells.
A Shotgun, As a First Weapon
For home defense, a shotgun is the best thing you can get as a first weapon. They do not have a long range (limit of 100 yards, though 50 yards is probably the most effective range), but they scatter a bit, so you do not have to aim as carefully, which is a good thing if you are scared because someone is coming at you. Because shotguns have quite a kick, you also have the option of holding it down closer to your hip to fire. This is especially nice if you are a slight framed woman. Further, the sound of a shotgun being racked is almost universally recognized, and it is likely you will never even have to fire it. Most people hearing that noise will immediately stop, raise their hands, and start either backing up or outright running for the hills. Anyone who does not immediately leave is out to do you and yours serious harm, and you must, in that case, be prepared to use it.
Many More Things
There are many more things you can do to prepare your family for a short- or long-term disaster, but those are not in the scope of this article. This article is mainly just to get you started with very little money.
The really great thing is once you start and begin to feel more confident and secure, it just seems like the universe/God adds to your efforts and more ways will come to you, from unexpected places, to allow you to add to your family’s security. Rejoice and be grateful for your little and your big milestones – a week or two, a month or three, a year’s worth of food and security.
Just Do It
The most important thing that you can do is just do it. Start now… today. Start small and build up, but mostly, just do it.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part two 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:
- 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.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- 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,
- 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),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- 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,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- 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,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (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.