Some of the most important things you can do to prep can be done for little or no money.
Being prepared isn’t about how many MRE’s or firearms you have; it’s about having a realistic and tested plan that you can revert to in times of a disaster.
Today will be the first of several posts where we talk about how to prep for free. There are a few articles out there that talk about free ways to prep, but I wanted to give you guys something more than just a short bullet point article and go into a little more detail. So, we’re going to split this up over a few days.
This series of articles is in no way a complete list of different ways you can prep for free and I encourage everyone to leave a comment below with more ideas of how we can all be better preppers for little or no money.
Planning a food storage system
There’s a big difference between stocking up on long-term storable food and building a useful food storage system that you integrate into your day to day life. Anyone can throw some rice and beans in a bucket or pick up a case of green beans at the grocery store, but it takes quite a bit of planning to be able to go off the grid for a month and still eat as well as you normally would with modern utilities and refrigeration.
I feel the best way to set up a food storage system is by storing the same kind of foods that you are eating now. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to store a bunch of food that you don’t really like or rarely eat. That’s just going to be one more thorn in your side if you really do have to use this food in a serious disaster situation. Think about some of the meals you’ve eaten recently and start storing the ingredients to make those meals to start building up your food storage.
Sounds simple right?
There seems to be a pretty glaring flaw with this plan; not everything we eat stores well. You’ll need to get creative with the types of ingredients you’re using or find ways to preserve those ingredients. You’ll have to substitute things like fresh meats, vegetables, fruits and dairy products for alternative ingredients that will store long-term or find ways to preserve those fresh ingredients yourself so that they will store without refrigeration.
I actually think the best option for food storage is by preserving foods yourself. Substituting a fresh ingredient for one that’s been commercially packaged for long-term storage can be really tough to do sometimes and personally I think canning and dehydrating foods yourself is a better option.
For example, with meats; commercially canned meats are just a poor substitute for a real cut of meat and it can be really hard to find something that will work for your recipes. Personally, the idea of living off of canned tuna, chicken or (dare I say it?) SPAM during a disaster is terrifying to me. That being said, pressure canning meats at home is a great solution for storing meat without refrigeration. The meats I’ve canned myself taste just fine even after months of storage, which is why I use them for the bulk of my food storage instead of commercially processed meats.
Whether you want to get into canning, dehydrating or prefer buying pre-packaged long-term alternatives; there are a lot of options out there for alternative ways to turn everyday perishable meals into long-term storable food.
Obviously a balanced diet of fresh foods is always preferable to eating stored food. Unfortunately, if the grid goes down for any length of time, you’re probably not going to have that option for long. A properly stocked food storage system is really one of the main foundations of prepping…and it won’t cost you a dime to start planning yours.
Bugout and evacuation planning
There are probably thousands of potential disaster scenarios that could force someone out of their home. Anything from a wildfire to widespread civil unrest could render your home unsafe; and unless you’re prepared for it, you could easily wind up as a disaster refugee.
It’s vital to start planning an evacuation as soon as possible in case you’re ever in a situation that requires it. There are several key points that you must address for a bugout or evacuation plan, including:
Location: Bugging out or evacuating doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you know where you’re going. It’s important to have several different bugout locations depending on the severity of the disaster. It’s also a very good idea to print out maps and directions (multiple routes) to these locations.
Communications – A reliable communications system is extremely important for a bugout or evacuation plan. This could be as simple as making sure you have your cell phone and charging cables with you at all times or as in-depth as setting up a 2 way radio network or HAM radio system in order to communicate off the grid. I suggest not only having a backup for your day to day cell phone packed in a bugout bag, but I also encourage everyone to look into alternative communications systems like HAM in order to have another option should a major disaster strike.
Resources – Depending on the severity of the disaster and where you will have to go, you may need to take considerable resources with you like food, water, defensive tools, shelter material or other supplies. You’ll also have to find a way to get all these resources to where you are going. Using a vehicle is always preferred but you’re also going to need to develop a plan to evacuate on foot if the situation calls for it. Obviously, this means that you’re going to have to have a backup plan that includes provisions for walking long distances.
Security – In the majority of disaster scenarios you’re likely to encounter, security concerns will be no different than any other time. That being said, a major disaster is a breeding ground for violence and crime. Even though major disasters arent very likely, the risks of being caught unprepared for a situation like this are dire.
The severity of the disaster at hand will really tell you how much you need to prepare security-wise. A good rule of thumb I would follow for bugout security is to just assume that the larger of a disaster it is, the better armed you need to be, simple as that.
Tomorrow we will be going over 2-3 more ways to make you a better overall prepper for little or no money. Stay tuned!
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