How To Start Prepping
(You DON'T start with hoarding)
Controversial, I know, but you should never start your prepping journey by instantly running to the shops. Look, I get it. Sometimes that wave of hopelessness hits you and you're sure that if you just buy all the rice, all the toilet paper and all of the flour, you'll feel better. Well, you might...for all of an hour, maybe two. Then you'll realise that some of that food you impulse bought doesn't have a place to go, you're not particularly fond of how it taste's anyway and now you feel helpless all over again. There was no approach at all, just a panicked reaction. This fear will be your biggest danger, and developing a calm careful approach to everything will be the first and most important way to mentally build resilience.
Now, if that fear is all consuming and you just need to go to the shop to get some supplies, feel free to go and get a week's worth of basic food just to calm yourself down.
I also want to strongly say that you should not buy food that you have not eaten before, or you know you dislike. If you like pasta but hate rice, then buy pasta. There are always people harping on about how food is food, and that in dire times you'll eat what you get, but we're not there just yet. Also, food is not just food. It can be a pick-me-up, or a just-fucking-shoot-me-already dish.
If you dread eating the food you bought, then you'll have mentally given yourself a huge disadvantage. You need to get enjoyment out of life, and removing little things like variety of texture and flavour will scrape away at your will to live like a rat.
Now, when it comes to starting to store food it's really important to start properly. Clearing, organising and planning your approach should come before everything else. Figure out the storage space you have, the clutter you need to tackle and how you intend to organise yourself you can build up your resilience daily.
In my next article I will cover food, what to buy and how to collect and store three months of it for your household. I know you, might be thinking that 3 months doesn't sound like a lot, but I consider this amount the golden amount to aim for. A year's worth of food is a daunting task that requires a considerable amount of space to store. If you have a spare room or garage then it might be possible, but most people don't. I certainly don't have that kind of space! I'm also not fond of a years amount of food for people to start off with because it too often triggers a panic buying spree that is badly thought out, expensive, and often goes to waste.
Also, three months of food will get you through most problems, be they job loss or even a sudden economic collapse. If things get that bad, month one is to just see how everything is panning out, this is the month that will see the most unrest typically. Month two is to plan and decide what you want to do (ie. leave to somewhere safer or stay), month three is when society as a whole has no choice but to find a way to muddle on. Three months of food security is a huge advantage that most people won't have. Your advantage will be enormous.
So, step one: Declutter. Aggressively.
Clear your house from top to bottom. If you only have a room, rent a small flat or have your own home, you need to go through all of it. Every cupboard, shelf, box and unofficial dumping ground. The attic too, if you have one. If it takes you a week to do this all, then it takes a week. If it takes a month, then that's just how long it takes. This serves several purposes:
1. You evaluate what space you have for storage. You will need storage space, even if it's just the wasted space under the bed. If that's all you have, it's still useable.
2. It helps you declutter the shit that seems to keep breeding in every nook and cranny. Look, I'm a pretty hard-core minimalist, but even I find that the most random crap ends up in the boiler cupboard and at the back of my drawers. If you think your house doesn't need decluttering then I guess it won't take you long to do it then.
3. Teaches you to sell your items which are no longer useful or wanted. This is a very useful skill to have and something I want you to try and develop. Doesn't matter if you sell on Marketplace, Gumtree or a car-boot-sale. Learn how to accurately price your items so that you get some cash back and you don't get fleeced. When the price of everything is increasing, so does the value of second-hand items. Know the worth of your items and practice selling what you don't want or need.
4. You will figure out what has no use or emotional value in your life. Either donate it, sell it or discard it appropriately.
(I want to elaborate on emotional value here, because it's important. The emotional value should be a positive one, especially if it's an item you see every day. If it evokes a sad or traumatic emotional reaction then it should not be out in the open. I'm not saying to throw these items away if you want to keep them, but I am saying that what you see out every day needs to uplift you. Keep it in a memory box packed away safely so it's there when you need it again, but don't subject yourself to daily mental cuts. There are enough mental cuts in daily life at the moment, don't add to it.)
Step 2: Figure Out Your Storage System
If you're going to store food, water, toilet paper and other supplies you need to have an efficient way of doing this. Items like toilet paper aren't such a problem since they will never expire, but still, you need to know where they are so you can get it when you (or friends and family) need it. This is the part where you figure out if you need shelving and how you are going to rotate your stuff. The simple rule of food rotation is that the newest stuff is always eaten last. I find the easiest way to do this is to have each self dedicated to one type of food - lets say it's rice, or tinned corn - then I eat the food from right to left.
To keep track of where I am, I have a fridge magnet with an arrow drawn pointing up - indicating the row I'm currently eating from - and another small arrow pointing to the left to show which directing I'll be taking from next.
This method means that I always know that I'm eating my oldest food first, and filling up behind it with newer packs. If you don't have metal shelves then you can either get one of those magnet strips along the bottom of the shelf, or you can blue tac beer/cider lids to the shelf edge so that the fridge magnate will stick.
A quick note on storing food in the loft:
Every so often I hear of people storing their supplies in the loft. If you have it fully converted and remember to open windows to keep it cool in the hot summer, then this isn't the worst. In general though I would advise against storing food, medicine or water in the attic for the simple reason that massive temperature changes can ruin your supplies. Keep your toilet paper, seasonal clothes and other non perishable supplies up there. They won't be bothered if the temperature turns hellish. But tinned cans can explode, bottled water will have more plastic leech into it, and other foods can turn rancid. If you're pressed for space I would strongly recommend that you store food under your bed before you put it in the loft, just because you run such a high risk of ruining your supplies.
There, so you've started your preps properly, organised/cleared your home and you have a good organisation system for the supplies you will gradually be acquiring. You are now ready to move onto the next step; gathering food and water.
(more about this in my next article)
About the Creator
A Very English Prepper
I've been prepping for over 10 years. Now, I want to share how you can get started.
You have potential. Keep practicing and don’t give up!
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