Prepping can be overwhelming; I know it has been for me. Where to start? What to buy? How much is enough? Am I missing something my family will need in a crisis? These questions circulate through my brain constantly, and I have been prepping for a while now. I remember how intimidating it was in the beginning. That is why I came up with a plan and would like to share it with those who might need a simple method for organizing your efforts. I give you my thought process only to help you get started with yours, and be able to personalize my plan to fit your family’s needs.
Trying to think of everything you will need is the hardest part of the whole process. But please just jump in and get started. As you go along, you will learn more about what you need and can adjust your plan. Keep a running total of what you buy on a spreadsheet or piece of paper or in a notebook, and after a while you will see what items you are short on and need to beef up, as well as where you are “good” and can cut back. When I see we are ok on an item, I cut back on that and double up on items we are somewhat low on.
First, I should explain that “plan” is a 4-letter word in our house! I knew the only plan that would work for us would have to be simple, not too detailed, and most importantly, flexible. I thought about what we would need, and mentally categorized the items. Food, of course, but also first aid, hygiene, vitamins, clothing, alternate fuel sources, and lighting are just a few of the things I knew we‘d need in an emergency. I also wanted to be buying food we already eat, which this plan is designed to accomplish.
A natural way for me to organize my shopping emerged, and I decided to shop by category rather than by listing individual items. I broke down my plan for food acquisitions into our nutritional requirements for protein, carbs, and fat, so I would be automatically buying in the correct proportions. Then I put non-food items into categories as well so I could be sure I was accumulating the other items we would need along the way.
Our household consists of two adults. Basic research reveals that on a daily basis adult humans need to eat 1 part protein to 2 parts carbs to 1 part fat. After I determined the ratios of protein, carbs, and fat, I made a 4-week guideline that looks like this:
Week 1 – protein, carb, fuel, and a pharmacy item.
Week 2 – fat, carb, fuel, and a hygiene item.
Week 3 – protein, carb, fuel, and a seasoning item.
Week 4 – a case of canned fruit, vegs, or soup; fuel; a non-food item; and a misc item.
Here are the categories I use, and some sample items in each category. I’ve included basic daily amounts for protein, carbs, and fat, recommended on various websites. I also lumped sugars, vegetables, and fruits into the “carb” category to keep things simple. These are not exhaustive lists, and of course you can, and should, come up with your own:
Protein [50 gm per day per adult, more if you’re doing lots of physical labor] – canned meat, dried beans, lentils, tuna in oil
Carb [appx twice the protein requirement] – canned vegetables and fruit, pasta, pasta sauce, sugar/syrup/honey/jellies, rice, dried beans (they are both protein and carb), grains (wheat, oatmeal, etc), pancake mix
Fat [50 gm per day per adult, appx, based on 1600 cal diet] – Crisco, oils, coconut oil, peanut butter (can also be a protein in a pinch), margarine (needs no refrigeration, as far as I know)
Seasoning – The obvious, but also soy sauce, bouillon, canned green chiles, Tabasco, Worcestershire, gravy/seasoning packets, vinegar, anything used for flavoring
Fuel – small propane bottles, Coleman fuel (Walmart has it pretty cheap), also charcoal, wood pellets, whatever you’d use for cooking or heat
Hygiene – deo, toothpaste, floss, razors, soap, wipes, hairbrushes, alcohol/hydrogen peroxide, insect repellant, clippers/files, etc.
Pharmacy – vitamins, first aid, cold/allergy, tummy meds, fish antibiotics (online), lotion, cortisone cream, calamine, contact lens stuff, wound care, etc.
Non-food – tp, plastic bags, alum foil, utensils, paper plates, pots/pans, bleach, liquid laundry and dish soap, etc.
Misc – matches, oil lamp/oil, batteries, lighters, booze, heirloom seeds, tools, water filters, extra clothes, anything else you think you might need that’s not in the other categories
If you have children, you will need to do a little research to make sure you will be able to meet their changing needs. If you do an internet search for “protein (fat) (carbohydrate) requirements for children” you will get lots of results.
A couple weeks ago I sat down and figured out the daily protein, carb, and fat requirements for two adults so I could compare that to what I have on hand. It took a few minutes to convert ounces to grams and figure out how many days’ worth I have but my calculator took care of the only difficult part of that task. My goal is to have a year’s supply on hand. What a surprise when I saw how close I am!
That’s it! That’s my plan. I hope it helps you get a handle on what can be an overwhelming task. Just think about what you want to have on hand for your family, put the items in categories, make your plan as detailed or loose as you want, keep track, and re-evaluate along the way. You would not believe the sense of security it brings to look at your “inventory“ list and realize you can sustain your family through just about anything.