Let me preface this post with a thumbs-up kudos to PJ for his prep examples. If you are new to prepping, that is a great place to start culling ideas that fit within your own budget. It’s always all about lists, isn’t it?
When it comes to food preps, you have a few basic decisions to make right off the bat that will precede any purchases you might make towards stocking up for the long haul. First of all, the most basic of questions: bug out, or bug in?
If you intend to bug out, you will be forced to consider the weight and overall volume of food that you carry. You will want to focus on lightweight, easy portable and easy to prepare foods and meals. You have to also consider the number of family members you intend to feed, and whether or not you will plan on having 3 meals a day, or 2 with a light snack thrown in to save on resources.
Conversely, if you plan on bugging in – or in other words, staying at home or your main alternate location – you will have more choices for a larger variety of foodstuffs and the amenities than are commensurate with those choices.
For the next series of articles that I intend to write, I want to put forth the following concept of disaster preparedness. Let’s all agree that there are different tiers, or levels of disaster preparedness that might occur that would compel you and your family to engage in a more serious level of food prepping, prior to these events.
Different levels of disaster preparedness:
Level 1 – Power Outage (temporary)
Level 2 – Storm (Hurricane, Tornado, heavy Thunderstorms)
Level 3 – Critical event (Earthquake, Flash Flood, Forest Fire)
Level 4 – Civil unrest due to economic collapse, governmental hostilities, etc.
Level 5 – SHTF event – FEMA camps, NATO / UN troops, Pandemic viral event, Nuclear winter, EMP event, Asteroid impact, MCE (Mass Coronal Ejection), etc.
Additionally, you might want to be properly food prepped to go hiking / backpacking / hunting / fishing / camping with no actual disaster occurring.
Level 1 could last as little as a few hours, on up to a full day or two without power. Level 2 could leave you at several days without power, and possibly no phone service as well. Level 3 might mean loss of power, phone and water service for many days, or even several weeks. Level 4 & 5 could mean loss of all utilities for many months, possibly even years.
For the handful of naysayers that might be reading this, let me remind you of the hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. In both cases, thousands of people were left with no power for many weeks. In fact, hurricane Sandy’s damage has still not been fully repaired, as of the writing of this article in late 2013. It’s been over a full year now, and homes, power, water and phone lines are still down in some areas of NY and NJ. This gives you the impetus for a family discussion about food preps.
Take it from me, my wife has been the toughest customer to convince about all of this prepping business, but another hurricane that occurred back in 1989, named Hugo, helped give me the edge and final word in my own family discussion. In that particular case, I had been actively monitoring the news and weather for the several days preceding the landfall on the Southeast region of the U.S. I quickly bought up a Coleman 2 burner stove, two cans of liquid fuel, a Coleman camping lantern, four bottles of propane for the lantern, assorted flashlights, tons of batteries, cans of soups, blue ice and a few extra coolers with regular bags of ice. Throw in extra matches, candles, propane for our grill and a few other miscellaneous items, and I was ready for bear in my first bug-in prep!
Frankly, my wife thought I was completely nuts, until Hugo hit land. It destroyed our state and left us with no power for two full weeks. We were still able to function due to my preparedness and with the sole exceptions of cold showers and having a difficult time finding a Laundromat that was open and functional, we survived with flying colors.
Back to our topic at hand. One item worthy of mentioning in all levels of disaster preparedness is OPSEC, which stands for Operational Security. This becomes more important as the level of disaster escalates. Once you have set forth with a plan that is not only within your budget, but also sufficient to sustain your family throughout the duration of a crisis, you need to consider that perhaps your neighbors and others in your area might not be quite as prepared as you are. That being said, hunger will drive people to do strange and violent things, up to and including murder.
I strongly suggest that you don’t ‘keep your eggs all in one basket’, to cite that old axiom. If you have stocked your pantry, perhaps you have an additional closet, a basement, a garage, an attic or crawlspace that you can store some of your food preps, in case your home is invaded or looters overrun your position. As bad as it would be to lose the bulk of your foodstuffs from your pantry, it would be a lifesaver if a third or maybe even half of your overall supplies remained in a hidden cache. It’s definitely worthwhile to consider a stash location or three as a backup plan.
The second part of OPSEC is to not discuss your food prep plans outside of your direct family. The worst offenders in a crisis are often those whom we know personally, as they will seek you out if they are aware of your food supplies. Like I said previously, hunger does strange things to people. Said more simply, don’t advertise your stash.
The third part of OPSEC is having a defensible position within your location, regardless if you are bugging out or in, having weapons of defense and being trained and able to use them if necessary. There are plenty of other articles here on those topics by PJ and other great guest writers that are worthy of review. Some interesting OPSEC ideas can be found here.
In part 2, we will discuss specific food storage options within the pre-packaged food industry, as well as real-world do-it-yourself solutions that will fit within your budget.