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  • #16
    Re: Just beginning to prep? Please start here

    Originally posted by JJackson
    And now we come to Where.

    I think the best arrangement would be a group of about a dozen, out of town with some land. If you can find a suitable place this seems a good size to provide a range of skills, some protection and some variety. The key thing now is talk to those around you about what they plan to do, make sure everyoneís preps are complimentary and progressing.

    Good luck & post your tips or questions.

    Spending time in the countryside was how Isaac Newton rode out the major pandemic of his time. It was what those with means (money, friends in the countryside) tried to do. Cities were bad news.

    Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" is about a party (in both senses) of wealthy folks riding out the plague in a country manor. My namesake's "The Decameron" is about just such a haven in the countryside.

    I happen to live in a semi-rural area, on top of a hill with one access road, a steep hillside on three sides, a 25,000 gallon tank of water (shared with others, however, and likely to empty in a week or so of normal usage if not replenished from the well--ergo, in a longterm power outage, it will be gone unless emergency rationing is done, which I'm not betting will work).

    The house is on a septic system, so sewer backups are not an issue. All that is needed is water. (And the surrounding wooded areas and hilly areas are fine for other waste disposal--I have a bunch of 6-gallon buckets and a toilet seat that fits them called "The Throne"--combine this with garbage bags (everyone should have boxes and boxes of these) and maybe some kitty litter and this provides another option.)

    Power is possible with a couple of generators, though the idea wouldl be use them sparingly, and then only in the first weeks of a disruption (it's probably not a good idea to use them with most neighbors in the dark...I might gauge whether to use them based on how many others I can hear in the distance, and on any reports of raiding parties or "requisitionings" by local government). Details are not too important, but they are a nice 2.2 KW Honda with overhead valve (OHV) engine and a cheaper 5 KW Generac with "lawn mower engine" (Tecumseh). These will keep my chest freezer going for a few weeks. And in the winter, most importantly, my furnace blower (propane, from a 500-gallon tank on my property).

    Not wanting to count on generator power except in the first days-weeks of an outage, I've added an 18-watt solar panel and trickle charger and deep-discharge battery. (Another 7-watt panel will be wired in parallel, for a total of 25 watts peak. This should give me about 25 WH x 6 hours of "good" sunlight per day = 150 watt-hours of stored energy. Enough to power a laptop for a few hours per day, charge some NiMH AAs and AAAs, for LED headlamps and radios, etc. Even enough to feed through a good inverter and run my furnace blower for a short time per day (I've measured the starting amps and running amps and a battery-inverter can provide this, albeit not for many hours. But getting the house warmed up can be done in small bursts.)

    I also picked up a couple of portable propane heaters, including "indoor-safe" versions that attach to either small 1-lb tanks or, with an adaptor, the larger 20-ib tanks. (I also use the 20-lb tanks for an outdoor grill, for a turkey fryer rig which works well with woks, and for a Coleman stove which can be used indoors with some normal caution--"bottled gas" was the norm in many indoor kitchens for decades, so the moderns dire warnings about using bottled gas indoors are somewhat overblown.)

    The propane also runs Coleman lanterns. (However, in all recent power failures at my house, of which there have been about 3 in the past year, my LED headlamp has been my primary source of light. The rest of the house may be dark, but I can walk around, read, see what I need to see, etc. A true modern marvel.)

    Power, water, waste disposal, food...

    (Security I won't talk about, in deference to Florida1's recent statement that this site is a pacifist site.)

    In these weeks, months, years, or even "never" before a pandemic hits, my general preps are the same ones I've been making for most of the past 10 years (since I moved to my semirural place). Namely, the same ones that would be useful in a major earthquake (my house is about 3 miles from the San Andreas Fault, in California of course). Though my house survived the 1989 Loma Prieta quake with no significant damage, a larger and more disruptive quake could affect water, power, and even civil order. (A 7.5 Richter quake is likely to hit the LA area sometime in the next quarter century or so, experts estimate, and the effects could be "Katrina-like" in terms of people stranded and cut-off.) Having preps is good for earthquakes, pandemics, even other events.

    In the back of my mind is always a thought of how something might be useful in some emergency. In this way I've accumulated water filters (Katadyn, FirstNeed, tablets), radios (shortwave, conventional Walkman types), alternate power sources, shelves of canned goods, several hundred pounds of rice (some of it several years old, so it'll be my food of last resort!), FRS walkie-talkie radios (useful for communicating with others in the house, and for giving one or two of to neighbors further down the hill), and a variety of other little gadgets. My LED headlamps have turned out to theb

    If BF goes H2H in a big way (more than just isolated cases), my "shelter in place" plans go into effect:

    -- make about 2-3 last-minute runs to Costco, Target, supermarkets for more supplies (I have about 3 months's for 3 people of canned goods, packaged goods, rice, beans, etc...more if we eat mostly rice, and buying another several 50-lb sacks of rice is cheap enough...a pound of rice per day per person is more than half the people in the world basically subsist on)

    -- top of gas tanks on both vehicles, fill any unfilled gas cans. Ditto, exchange any empty propane cylinders for full ones.

    -- fill every available water holder: nonfunctioning hot tub (350 gallons), two bathtubs, every pot and pan I can dig out, my water heater (70 gallons), various Rubbermaid containers (about 100 gallons), 5 50-gallon drums (bought for $20 each), collapsible water bladder called "The Bag" (200 gallons), several collapsible water carriers (about 40 gallons), all available empty water jugs (some already filled, some empty, awaiting filling with fresh water), and, then, finally:

    -- inflate the el cheapo "child wading pools" bought for $10 each at the end of summer, several years ago. This water may not be safe for drinking (due to chemicals in the plastic, notably PCBs), but will be useful for washing and flushing (a septic system)

    (By a rough count, about 1000 gallons of drinkable water (with some minor filtering or treating) and about 500 gallons of nonpotable water. Plus whatever I can rig to collect from my roof (probably not drinkable due to asphalt chemicals, unless I set up a food-grade tarp, etc. According to some of the wisdom on water usage, the drinking water should last 3 people for at least 6 months (1 gal/day/person), with cooking needing the rest for this time. (I don't plan to use the "gnarly" water from the wading pools or other suspect containers for even cooking, due to the PCBs.)

    (Further planning for water collection will likely happen during those long weeks or months of being cooped-up at home. Which is why I've bought rolls of plastic sheeting, extra drain pipe, a few other things which might figure into schemes for diverting rainwater.)

    -- plug every single battery charger in and get all batteries topped-off

    (NiMHs self-discharge a few percent per day, so this is not all that useful in an extended outage...but every little bit helps)

    -- contact the people I expect to stay at my house and coordinate with them--advise them to bring prescription drugs, food, security items, etc. (they will not have as much as I have, for obvious reasons...but if they can each bring several boxes of canned goods, dry goods, etc., this will be a help)

    -- take pictures of house and contents for insurance purposes, in case anything happens to my house during the disruptions (I usually keep digital photos, so this is really just a last minute addition thing)

    -- back up all computer files, a couple of times, and place the back-ups in a few different places

    -- make more lists of things which _might_ be needed, once the urgency of a pandemic is upon me (such an event will likely "have a way of concentrating the mind," as the old saying goes) and then decide whether ONE LAST BUYING TRIP is safe to make.

    By the way, I got a few boxes of N95 masks (about 60 in total). But my main gizmo is a woodworker's dust respirator, a Triton unit with a full face shield attached to a safety helmet, with a Tyvex-type flexible hood with drawstring, and a belt-mounted, battery-powered blower which sucks air in through a pre-filter and then through an N95-rated inner filter. A flexible hose between the blower and the helmet. This has some advantages: the shield is full-face, covering eyes, nose, mouth. Beards are accomodated. There is very little "backwash" (outside air pulled in around the hood), depending on how tightly the drawstring is pulled. The air intake is low and to the rear of the wearer, so this may have some small effect on the number of virus particles filtered out from a contaminated person one is facing.

    (Also, I can use this Triton unit for ordinary work around my house, such as when installing insulation in my attic, working with drywall, even cutting pollen-laden brush. Or any grinding or sanding work.)

    As for Tamiflu, I have none. And no prospects here in California of getting any. My main strategy is to avoid the virus for as long as possible....conceivably a treatment of some kind (either antiviral, or a better system for hydrating, sedating, etc. a sick person) will be available later in the cycles. Also, later in the cycles the hospitals may be partially running with recovered healthcare workers, presumably now safe from repeat infection (assuming another virus mutation has not happened and spread).

    So, that's my plan.

    In other fora where I have mentioned these plans, sometimes in even more detail, people have responded with comments good and bad. One reaction is: "I can't afford those kinds of preparations, and I don't have a place to put water tanks and pools and all that."

    Well, we all do what we can. Apartment dwellers are more constrained in their options, but even they can do things which will make a serious pandemic situation more survivable:

    -- they can fill Rubbermaid containers, bathtub, etc.

    -- waterbeds are legal (and safe) in nearly all apartment buildings, and they can easily store 200 gallons or more (beware the algicides and fungicides!) (People who question whether water can be stored in volume on upper floors of buildings should calculate how much weight a typical party of people puts on a floor: 6-8 people standing in a small group can easily put a 1000-1500 pound load on a small patch of floor, more even than a waterbed puts on the floor. Floors are well-designed to not sag or collapse under these kinds of loads. Most times we hear about building collapses under loads of people it's because they were crowded onto a cantilevered balcony or deck. Ordinary floors can support many thousands of pounds of load--people, furniture, refrigerators, and, yes, water storage.

    -- they can rig coffee tables made out of stored items. My 6-gallon buckets of rice would make a nice, if rustic, table: stacked 2 high, by 3 long, by 2 wide, this is 12 buckets of rice, beans, other items. With each bucket of white rice weighing about 50 pounds (if I recall correctly from when I weighed them several years ago), this is about 600 pounds of rice. A half pound of rice per day per person is a LOT of rice (got to have other stuff, too, else beriberi, scurvy, and other problems). So, do the math. The point is that even apartment dwellers can easily store a year's supply for a few people in a relatively small space, if they are creative about it.

    -- total cost of the rice mentioned above is small: a few hundred dollars

    (Do I recommend storing this much rice? Not for an apartment dweller. I use rice for the storage volume/weight and cost calculations because it makes the point that rice feeds most of the world and can easily feed pandemic avoiders. Other items, for variety and for diet, will likely cost more, but the calculations are straightforward to do.)

    So, this takes care of water and food, as the bare basics.

    Heat depends on location. For many, a major issue. Apartment dwellers in a cold locale, with power and gas cut off, may face serious problems. Options such as wood stoves are probably not available to them.

    Sewage backup in apartment buildings is often cited as a problem. One possible fix is to find the master shut-off valve, assuming it exists, and turn it off. (Someone said recently it's now "code" for all residences to have such a shut-off or isolation valve, but probably many residences lack them, or they're rusted open, etc.)

    Light is the easiet problem to solve. Either use natural light or small lanterns or LED flashlights and headlamps. I favor the LED headlamps, one for each person, plus a few spares.

    A small radio, maybe even a small LCD television (Casio). Katrina folks cherished their radios, allowing them to hear what was being done to help them. (In a pandemic, the news will not be about the outside world riding in to the rescue, of course, but news will still be good to hear.)

    Defensive measures as one sees fit. Extra deadbolts on doors are almost always a good idea anyway.

    Sorry for the long message. Writing about preps is partly a soothing action, partly a stimulating action (as it stimulates me into thinking about things I may have overlooked).

    One thing I'm NOT doing, and this was a controversial topic over on Flu Wiki, is _talking_ to my neighbors about bird flu. Most people are dismissive of such fears, as the lack of preparation for earthquakes clearly has shown over and over again, and there are significant downside risks of being known "as the guy who has stockpiles of food."

    The downside for me and those in my house of being known for having stockpiles is MUCH GREATER than the upside of having, at best, 3 or so of my 10 nearest neighbors slightly prepare. (In a community of several thousand, not counting the town of 25,000 about 10 miles from me, having a few neighbors with extra preps is no upside for me. The downside is all in the dozens or more of the utterly unprepared who may _hear_ about those who have food to "share.")

    I suppose there is a scenario in which my several nearest neighbors, even all 15 households on this particular hill, all get together and decide to jointly set up a security system, or even a communal stockpile of food (ugh, but that's a political point of view, so I'll say no more on this), or spend the necessary $$$ to have our main well pump fully backed-up with a large generator (though that entails the usual generator noise issues in a pandemic situation).

    Well, this scenario ain't gonna happen. Knowing my neighbors, it just ain't gonna happen. And anyone who lobbies hard for it is first, not going to get people to attend any such meeting, second, not going to face any favorable reaction, third, will be dismissed as a "survivalist nut," and fourth, will be remembered as "the guy with the stockpiled food" if anything actually DOES come to pass.

    Telling people about one's personal preparations, especially those living within walking distance, is a disaster waiting to unfold. Talking about preparations in a _general_ way, such as on fora like this, may help a few people, maybe a few dozen people, and maybe even help spread the preparedness meme....though years of exhorting people to have a 72-hour earthquake kit has shown that most people won't have such kits.

    If there were some good way of communicating with my actual neighbors that didn't mark me as a survivalist and didn't hint to them that I have stockpile and that cut through their normal "don't bother me with this stuff" filters, I might try it. I haven't found it so far. (And, no, sending them an anonymous letter likely would have no effect. Those receptive to such a message are probably already preparing, as the bird flu and earthquake stories have been out there for long enough. Some of them may even be on this forum, one never knows.)

    Again, sorry for the length. I'll shut up for a while.

    -- Boccaccio


    • #17
      Re: Just beginning to prep? Please start here

      Very useful post Boccaccio, Thanks.

      Do you remember where you got "The Bag" and what sort of cost? That sounds like and excellent storage option if they collapse and dont cost too much. A row of those in my cellar would go a long way to solving my water storage problem.


      • #18
        Re: Just beginning to prep? Please start here

        On fuel.

        For fuel, if you have the means of burning wood but limited storage wood brikets are excellent, they store very tight, in 1/5 of the space firewood does.

        If you donít have a fireplace, you can improvise, the main concerns of safety are carbon monoxide and fire with makeshift devises, but in a cold climate heat is a must.

        A good source of makeshift fireplaces can be found looking at how apartment dwellers in Yugoslavia had chimneys sticking out of every balcony after electricity and other heating sourses were shut of.

        Brikets burn slow, usually about 2.5 hours but can be made to burn slower so you can use a radiant heat fireplace, you donít need one that weighs a ton to store heat, by cutting draft you can have heat for 6 hours, this kind of slow burning does get some soot in the chimney and It must be cleaned up every week, compared to burning hot, but you have the advantage of using a cheep fireplace to keep heat till morning, the barrel stoves etc.
        In Finland there is a descent radiant heater like model at
        (This is no advertisement, just to give you a idea of a small radiant heat warmer using wood or any other burnable fuel.)

        Click image for larger version

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        I know of a case where the luck had totally departed this fellow and he heated for one winter by squashing up milk cartons 10 squashed ones stuck in one open one, collecting them from recycled paper bins and never was cold, this makes up to a lot of ash as paper does, but heat is esental and daily chores are different in a crisis.

        You donít want to burn newspaper as is for it makes a mess, not to talk about glossy paper.

        And here is a link to heat
        Last edited by Sally Furniss; April 16, 2007, 04:07 AM. Reason: attachments


        • #19
          Re: Just beginning to prep? Please start here

          Originally posted by JJackson
          Very useful post Boccaccio, Thanks.

          Do you remember where you got "The Bag" and what sort of cost? That sounds like and excellent storage option if they collapse and dont cost too much. A row of those in my cellar would go a long way to solving my water storage problem.

          Yes, I got it from, a company in the greater San Diego area (though I bought it online). I think it was $100 or thereabouts. This was back in 1998-99. It's a vinyl bag that folds up into a box about 18 inches on a side. Mine is still in the box. I never filled it, figuring I'd do all that stuff if and when I had to. (Ditto with the children's swimming pools...there's a chance they are leaky, but duct tape or rubber cement can handle most small leaks.)

          I looked for "The Bag" on this site a couple of months ago and didn't see it--the site is still there, but I didn't see mention of The Bag. Inasmuch as they are primarily a reseller, I'll bet someone else is selling one like it. After all, this bag is a lot like a water bed bladder. Searching around with Google may turn up something.

          Good luck on the cellar storage. And, by the way, storage in an attic is also possible, though be real careful about leaks! (This is the main reason apartment rental managers used to be--and maybe still are--leery about people having water beds. Sometimes, I recollect, they yammered on about the weight of the waterbed, which is not really an issue, as I showed.)

          My plan is to have this bag in my yard, filled if and when I think I may need it. (Even in nuclear war, not that I think this is even remotely likely anymore, there would be plenty of time where I live to use my existing water supply to fill all sorts of storage containers.)



          • #20
            Re: Just beginning to prep? Please start here

            Originally posted by Florida1
            Boccaccio - Great post. Welcome and thanks for participating.

            Thanks. Looks like a good site. The software is quite a bit better than the Flu Wiki site's forum system. Not their fault, for the actual software, but it was a struggle to use it. Your system here has an abundance of features, probably more than I'll ever learn.

            I was trained as a physicist, and worked in the 70s and 80s for a chip company. I did spend a couple of summers working in an immunology lab, but only as a technician while in high school and college, so I don't know much about biology, as the song goes.

            So my interest here is unabashedly in the "preparedness" aspects. I'm not qualified to judge evidence about sequencing, mutations, etc. I figure it'll become clear at some point whether H5N1 has mutated to H2H on a wider scale than some of apparent H2H cases in Indonesia showed.

            As a physicist, I can speak about things like solar panels, alternate heat and light systems, and a little about food storage (this is well-trod ground, though, and many Web sites have excellent FAQs on shelf-life of various foods, storage methods, etc.).

            I wish I could say I were more positive about influencing others, though. I just don't see any way to do it locally, in my neighborhood, without "showing my hand" in a way where the downside risk is far greater than any upside benefit to me. I can easily see that a public figure, a Walter Cronkite type, or a t.v. producer, or even a celebrity, could have a major effect by speaking out.

            And people within companies can have some effect (I'm no longer working, so not me) by carefully speaking up. Even they face the downside of being branded an alarmist, a Chicken Little, a survivalist, a nut. Were I still at that chip company, I doubt I'd say anything except on the issue of telecommuting options to limit travel, to limit large meetings, to reduce travel to Europe and Asia (*), etc.

            (* I realize the "travel to Asia" point can be misunderstood. I'm not saying Asia will be a source, once the jump to H2H has occurred (if it does). The chance of any particular traveller being early in the H2H cycle is small, and if and when the virus goes H2H, Asia qua Asia will probably not be an important vector: the virus will be springing up everywhere. My point about Asia is that travel on jets is bad for a lot of BF reasons, and companies will likely make much greater use of telecommuting and advanced video conferencing. A pandemic could actually massively spur the deployment of very sophisticated "telepresence" systems, beyond the simple webcams of today.)



            • #21
              For Newbies in need of Pandemic Preparation help-

              For those new and wondering where to Start-

     will be a good place to go. Thought it might be a good idea to mention that.

              A website by the members of the flubie community.


              • #22
                Re: Just beginning to prep? Please start here

                Start your food storage
                on $10 a week

                By Alan T. Hagan

                If Old Mother Hubbard had had a food storage program before she went to her cupboard her poor dog would have gotten his bone. Given the fact that her cupboard was bare it was probably because she didn’t have the wherewithal to fill it. Finding the resources to put food by against troubled times is a common problem, but it is solvable, even for those of us on tight budgets. In fact, over the long term, the food storage program you start now will save you money. It is like starting a savings account. You earn interest through greater savings in your grocery budget.

                Despite what many believe, you don’t have to spend large amounts of money on specially packaged foods to put away a sizable food store. You certainly can do this if you like, but what you’re doing is trading money (and a good deal of it) to save effort and time. Turn that equation around and you can save a lot of money if you’re willing to spend a bit more time and effort to get what you want.

                Depending on what you decide is important to you, everything you will need for a complete food storage program can be had from your local grocer and, perhaps, some other local businesses.

                Preparing for what?

                Before buying anything you should sit down at the kitchen table with paper and pencil because you have some decision making to do. Ideally, everyone who’ll be depending on the food storage should be at the table as well, but the person who will be responsible for the program can do it alone, if necessary.

                Your first decision to make is “what are you storing food for?” What situations and circumstances do you think might occur which would cause you to need your food stores and prevent you from easily being able to get more? Make a list of everything that occurs to you which you think has some significant probability of happening. Just jot them all down as they come to you and then on another sheet reorder them according to how likely you think they are to occur. While you are doing this, make a note beside each one of whether or not you will have some means of cooking or preparing food should it come about. You’d really hate to have stored away hundreds of pounds of food only to find yourself with no way to make it into a meal. This process is called “scenario planning.”

                Once you have your list, write next to each scenario the length of time you feel it might last. Chances are, the situations that will concern you most are weather related and some of the more common man-made disasters, but may also cover long term unemployment, Y2K (the millennium computer bug), severe economic depression, war or civil insurrection, or threats even more exotic (cometary impacts, anyone?).

                Now that you have a list of probable scenarios and the length of time you think each may last, you are ready to plot the course of your program. Plan your food purchases to meet the needs of the shortest duration scenarios on your list first. As you accomplish each goal set your sights on the next longest and work towards covering that one. In this way you are steadily preparing for one scenario after another while making progress towards your ultimate goal of meeting the needs of your longest lasting concerns.

                How do I pay for it?

                Right off the bat, I want to say where you should not get the money to pay for your food storage and that is by running up debt. This means that you should not put your food purchases on credit cards. The money lost to credit card interest rates is self-defeating in the long run and will just get you further into a problem rather than getting you out of it. If you are the type who can and does pay off their credit card purchases every month when the bill comes due, then using one might be a real convenience; otherwise it’s a temptation to be avoided.

                white rice 5 lbs./$1.79
                10 lbs./$3.45
                20 lbs./$6.90
                (Makes six quarts) 21 oz./$2.99
                white sugar 5lbs./$1.99
                powdered milk 25.6 ozs./$4.39
                64 ozs./$9.99
                (20qts@3.2 oz./qt.)
                canned carrots 14.5 oz. can/50¢
                canned pumpkin 15 oz. can/$1.09
                pinto beans 2 lbs./$1.00
                10 lbs./$4.49
                all purpose flour 10 lbs./$2.10
                5 lbs./$1.19
                vegetable shortening 5 lbs./$2.39
                canned tuna 6 oz. can/50¢
                canned spinach 13.5 oz can/69¢
                canned turnip,
                kale, mustard or
                collard greens 14 oz. can/50¢
                Fortunately, the financial outlay need not be so great that you must spend your children’s college fund or sacrifice your retirement account. With a little forethought and research it might be so little as to represent the family foregoing one restaurant meal a month or renting a video to watch at home rather than paying full admission to see a first run film at the theater.

                As a matter of fact, unless you are compelled by special circumstances to do otherwise, you are better off to not spend a lot of money at first. Like many other long term projects, there is a learning curve involved with building a good food storage program. Your initial purchases will most likely be small while you’re learning more about what you need to do. In this way you are less likely to make expensive mistakes that will have to be corrected later.

                If you can afford to spare as little as ten dollars a week then you can make a solid beginning in putting food by against time of need. Just today I made a trip to one of my larger local supermarkets, Albertson’s, and wrote down a few prices. (See table.)

                Rice, flour, beans, milk, sugar, shortening, Tang, canned greens, carrots, pumpkin, and tuna will make for a pretty bland diet, but for only $40 and a month’s time it will give you a solid start on a good program. In the second month you can begin to expand the variety of foods in your program.

                The specific types and amounts of food I’ve listed are not meant as rigid rules, but as illustrations of what can be done. Your personal tastes and the circumstances of the scenarios you’ll be planning for are what should determine your specific purchases. It is important to only purchase those foods you are presently already eating or are willing to learn to eat starting as soon as you purchase it. Otherwise, there will be the temptation to leave it in its container and not use it. This is bad planning because it leads to failure to rotate the foods out in a timely fashion as they age or lose nutritional content and palatability. By not using the foods in your storage program you also do not get the experience of how to make them into tasty, attractive meals your family will want to eat. This will leave you at a severe disadvantage when the crunch comes and what’s in your larder is all you’re going to get.

                As I cover each purchase I’ll give some considerations you should think about such as: If you don’t foresee having a way to bake bread, then buying a lot of flour might not make much sense, but you might make flat breads instead or learn to do your baking in a Dutch oven. If some of your short term plans call for removing to another location on short notice, then the food for that part of your planning needs to be of a type that can be eaten with little preparation or cooking being required. If safe water will be in short supply, then foods that require a lot of it to prepare them might not be a good idea.

                The foods that I have chosen all have excellent storage characteristics for the short to medium term, up to about two years. Detailed information and instructions on storing foods may be found in my Prudent Food Storage FAQ. If you have Internet access you may download a copy free from the Providence Cooperative web site at or from one of the host sites that also carry it. Many of them may be found by searching on the term “prudent food storage” using most any search engine.

                The first week

                Your first $10 storage food purchase buys 10 pounds of rice, 2 pounds of beans, a jar of Tang, and 5 pounds of vegetable shortening. The 17 cents change is carried over into the next week.

                This amount of rice and beans gives a ratio of 5:1, a perfectly acceptable essential amino acid balance (commonly called “making a complete protein”) for most healthy adults. An extra $3.45 expenditure will double the amount of rice and another $3.49 will buy five times the amount of beans. Purchasing the rice and beans first means you have food that can be made edible with no other foods having to be added to them and needing no preparation other than boiling. If cooking fuel is short, split peas, lentils, and black eyed peas cook quickly. Pre-soaking and/or pressure cooking is even more economical.

                The Tang orange drink provides 100% of the US RDA vitamin C requirement in every 8 oz. glass (6 qts. = 24 8-ounce glasses), lesser amounts of other important nutrients such as vitamin A as well as some sweet taste since we have not yet bought anything else with sugar in it. Vitamins A, C, and D are the major nutrients typically lacking in most storage foods. Don’t assume that any drink mix or canned juice has vitamin C in it. Read the nutritional facts label on the side closely to see what the manufacturer claims it contains. An appalling number of juice products, even some canned citrus juices, claim no vitamin C content at all.

                The last purchase is the can of vegetable shortening. Fat is actually a necessary nutritional component even if we do tend to eat too much of it in the present day U.S. The shortening allows you to make foods such as biscuits, fry breads, refried beans, pancakes, fried rice and pan breads, and contributes flavor. In a survival diet, fat is an important source of vital calories. This is an important consideration for small children, pregnant women, the elderly, and the ill who might otherwise have trouble eating enough bulky beans, rice, etc., to gain sufficient calories to stave off weight loss and possible malnutrition.

                The second week

                Your second $10 nets you 20 pounds of all purpose white flour, 5 pounds of granulated white sugar, 3 cans of carrots, and 3 cans of spinach. The 24 cents left over is carried over into the next week.

                You now can make bread to give some variety to your rice and bean diet. If you don’t have any store-bought yeast to raise your bread, you can do what your pioneer forebearers did and learn to make “sourdoughs” to leaven it. If you have a grain mill or can acquire one then you may be able to find a local source of whole grains at a reasonable price to supplement or replace the white flour. The sugar allows you to make sweet breads, puddings from the flour or rice, adds calories, and greatly contributes to taste.

                Of all the canned vegetables to be had from the grocer the dark green and the orange vegetables give the most nutritional value for the money. Canned greens such as turnip, mustard, collards, spinach, and kale range in value from 50-110% of the RDA of the important nutrient vitamin A (in the form of carotene) per half-cup serving. Many of them also include a fair amount of calcium and vitamin C as well. The carrots have 100% RDA of Vitamin A per half-cup.

                The third week

                The third ten spot buys you the 64 oz. box of dry milk. The slim remaining penny is carried over into the next week.

                Sixty-four ounces of non-fat dry milk will make 20 quarts of skim milk to provide essential amino acids, necessary calcium, along with vitamin D (30% of the RDA of calcium and 25% of vitamin D per 8 oz. glass of reconstituted milk). Unlike fresh liquid milk, the dry powder is shelf stable and can be stored for long periods of time. It may be drunk as straight milk or used to enhance dishes made from the ingredients purchased in the other weeks. Dry milk can also be used to make excellent yogurt and even non-fat cheese.

                The fourth week

                Your last purchase of the first month’s cycle brings in 10 cans of tuna, 2 cans of pumpkin, and 5 cans of turnip, mustard, kale or collard greens. The remaining 32 cents is added to the surplus from the prior weeks, now totaling 74 cents.

                Although the grain, beans, and milk provide all necessary amino acids, most of us will rebel at a purely vegetarian diet, so at least a little meat three or four days out of a week can go a long way towards making matters tolerable. Other canned meats can be substituted, but as a general rule tuna is leanest and cheapest per ounce. Beware of paying canned meat prices for fillers like pasta, rice, or potatoes. They can be added much more cheaply after the fact rather than buying them already in the can with the meat.

                The pumpkin (plain solid pack, not pie filling) can be used like any winter squash, carrots, or sweet potatoes and carries a tremendous amount of vitamin A in the form of carotene (300% of the RDA per half-cup). A friend of mine has developed a pumpkin biscuit that I’ve grown quite fond of. It makes a good baked dish and is very versatile in casseroles, soufflés, puddings, and as either a sweet or savory vegetable. There’s more to pumpkin than pies.

                The 74 cents left over seems trivial but it will buy 2 1-pound cartons of iodized table salt, or yeast to make bread with, or baking soda for leavening and other uses, or a small can of pepper to season food. You can also hold it over to combine into the next month’s surplus.

                The purchasing cycle could be repeated month to month until you reach the amounts you desire, or varied to broaden the selection in your cupboard.

                If you can afford to use the economies of scale that making larger bulk purchases gives you, then the price per pound of the foods you buy will drop considerably. By taking advantage of sales, bulk food outlets, warehouse groceries such as Sam’s Club and Costco, local restaurant and institutional food suppliers, or ethnic grocers (Asian, Hispanic, etc.) you will do considerably better than what I’ve outlined above.

                If you have the time and resources available to you, much of the fruit and vegetable portion of your storage program can be economically acquired by growing it yourself. Not only do you get wholesome food, but by putting it up yourself you get exactly what you want in the way that you want it. If being frugal is of paramount importance though, growing your own will need some careful analysis to be certain you’re not spending more in time, labor, and equipment than the value of the food will make up for. This is especially true when it comes to food preservation, but you can at least partially offset this by choosing appropriate preservation methods. Pressure canning requires quite a bit of expensive startup equipment (canner, jars, lids, rings, etc.) which may make the operation uneconomical. However, if you dry the food instead you can often do this at a much lower cost.

                One area of home preservation that generally will be worthwhile to do yourself is canned meats. Beef, pork, and chicken often go on sale and can be had for quite reasonable prices, so even with the price of the jars and equipment necessary to process it, home canned meat will usually be cheaper per pound than any commercially canned meat of equivalent quality.

                There are two cardinal rules of successful food storage: The first is store what you eat and eat what you store. The second is to rotate, Rotate, ROTATE! Follow them always, keep a watchful eye on your local grocer’s offerings, and be willing to make a moderate investment of time and effort. Do this and you’ll have a successful food storage program that your family will look forward to eating in good times or bad without sacrificing your financial well being to get it.

                There are many more articles at the magazine where this was published.

                Two more from the author's site.
                PRUDENT FOOD STORAGE V 4.0

                Water treatment FAQ


                • #23
                  Re: Just beginning to prep? Please start here

                  Here are other things to take into consideration:

                  How will food be cook or refrigerated if the power is out?

                  If prescriptions require refrigeration how will they be kept cold if the power is out?

                  Is there adequate medication on hand for the duration of the emergency? Is it safely and properly stored? Are they in date?

                  In a cold climate/season how to keep warm and dry?

                  In a hot climate/season how to keep cool?

                  If there is a shortage of potable water how will:
                  Drinking water be replenished?
                  Proper sanitation be kept up?
                  Toilets be flushed?
                  Dishes and clothing washed?

                  How to communicate if the phones lines are down or circuits are busy?

                  Having alternative preparations in place for when an emergency occurs and knowing how to use them safely and when is also part of prepping.
                  We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.