Smart Survivalist: Low Cost Prepping – Your Survival on a Budget

Getting prepared at a low cost has always been a popular topic. Now that people have started to worry about the looming coronavirus pandemic, those who are unprepared are looking at getting prepared for the possibility of being quarantined for two to four weeks. Some have looked into their cupboards and realized (especially those living in big cities like New York) that they have nothing stashed because they are used to just hopping out and picking up what they need. Some have more money than others, but if you’re trying to stock up in a short amount of time your budget is limited. Here is The Smart Survivalist with Low Cost Prepping — Your Survival on a Budget. Canned beans, rice, and pasta are low cost staples. Make sure you have access to water and store some if you have space in case of power outages or other interruptions to your home water supply.

If you are only preparing for a 2-4 week quarantine, you can get by without having a full array of nutrition. For a short duration, you’re only worried about getting enough calories to survive through the period. For example, a 25 pound of oatmeal provides about 37,000 calories (not including adding milk, sugar or other toppings) or enough for almost 19 days at 2,000 calories per day. But you’ll need to eat almost seven cups of dry oats per day to get that many calories. So think about how much you’ll need to eat to feel full and how many calories you’ll have per day. Canned  beans tend to be rather high calorie per volume, so if you had oatmeal sometimes and beans other that would be more manageable from a caloric intake and fullness perspective. You may need to be creative to get a good variety of foods that fulfill your needs. And finally don’t forget hygiene products, too.

Low cost prepping is actually a doable task. We all should be prepared for the worst outcomes of today’s reality, but we don’t have to spend thousands of hard-earned dollars on survival equipment. It’s completely possible to just walk into Walmart, or Walmart’s counterpart in your country, and fill your survival list on a very small budget.

I’ve done my own research on this topic, and came up with a list of items that can make a big difference in disastrous events – yet each and every one of them does not cost more than five dollars. The items can be sorted into five important categories. I even took this research a few steps further and outlined ten of the cheapest and most useful of such items. And finally, I also discuss what necessary survival steps and techniques you can take without spending another penny…

All items on the low cost prepping list can be divided into 5 categories: first aid, water, food, hygiene items and emergency supplies. You might ask, do I need all of them? Well, a person can survive for 3 days without water, and as much as 3 weeks without food, but it would be a painful and probably lethal experience. And what if you are injured or running a fever? What if you are stuck on your roof for many days as your neighborhood is flooded?

As you can understand now, being fully prepared is a necessity. You will need the items that I am about to list, and trust me, I do not intend to suggest redundant or luxury items. These are the items that can be utilized when an actual disaster strikes, and all of them are on a budget. Just make sure you stock enough to last you at least a week. Also, before deciding on quantities, see how many members there are going to be in your group, and who they actually are. A child might need less food than a grown man…

s I mentioned earlier, you cannot survive for a long time without water. Fortunately, bottled water is cheap and non-perishable. You can stockpile as much as you need. You will need approximately 2 gallons for a person per day, which includes both drinking and sanitary needs. I would recommend buying even more than that, because you never know what might happen.

There is always the option of water purification, and I have written a thorough article about the best ways to purify water. Keep in mind, however, that some of the methods require additional investment, of time and/or money, while bottled water is always on a budget.

You can also stock on other low cost consumable liquids. Powdered milk costs less than $5, and one package is enough to prepare two gallons of milk. You can mix it with coffee and boiled water. Instant coffee and cappuccino mixes also cost under $5. This might not be your dreamy latte, but it’s something that can get you through a challenging day.

The total cost of products in the water category is no more than $30.

The most affordable and most reliable water filtering item is definitely LifeStraw (on Amazon). This award-winning tool has been globally recognized as a highly efficient water filter that allows you to drink any water directly. It’s ultralight, can be easly carried anywhere and nullifies the need for iodine tablets, as it removes 99.9999% of bacteries, parasites and pollutants. A trusty companion for every prepper and survivalist!…

Just like in case of water, you cannot survive without food. You need energy, nourishment, nutrients. For low cost prepping and for successful survival, we need to stockpile on food that costs less than $5 each and can last for years. It is also preferable to collect food that can be mixed with other food in order to create new dishes and break the monotony of identical dinners.

So first of all, there are cans. Canned goods can be your savior. You will need minerals and vitamins, but fresh vegetables and fruits expire quickly. The canned ones, however, can be consumed even if they are opened 2 years after they were packed. And these are the cans that I suggest to purchase:

  • Assorted beans. These can be chick peas, kidney beans, and several others. They fill you quickly and have tons of necessary protein.
  • Carrots (sliced)
  • Peas and carrots (a popular combination, and again a lot of protein)
  • Oranges or mandarins
  • Tomato sauce
  • Sliced potato
  • Lasagna
  • Mac and cheese
  • Cheese ravioli in tomato sauce
  • Italian pasta beef ravioli

In addition, there are foods that are not necessarily canned, but they can last for a very long time.

  • Pasta. This is an underrated food. Sure, it might seem boring, but it’s very cheap, very filling and can be prepared in minutes. You can always mix it with sauce or other goods. All in all, it’s a great source of carbs and energy.
  • Instant pudding (get several packs)
  • Flour – really inexpensive, you can make bread from it.
  • Sugar and salt – just keep them in dry places, don’t let them get wet!
  • Sardines
  • Ham
  • Chicken breast
  • Quaker
  • Raisins. Some don’t like them, but they are very nutritious.
  • Meatballs for pasta/spaghetti
  • Chicken pot pie soup
  • 5 pound bags of rice. Rice (particularly white one) can be stored away for a long period of time without going bad. It is very filling, very cheap and has tons of carbs to energize you when you most need it.
  • Peanut butter – a great calories source. Your body needs certain fats, and peanut butter has them. It’s delicious, and it provides you with additional energy that is needed for your survival.

The total cost of food mentioned here is no more than $175

Click here to read the entire article at The Smart Survivalist.

Related:

The Organic Prepper: How to Build a 30-Day Emergency Food Supply…Fast

Pantry Chart with shelf life (large image 1.5MB)

Organic Prepper: Off-Grid Cooking Without Electricity

Resilience homesteader Kara Stiff has written a nice article for The Organic Prepper – Off-Grid Cooking Lessons: How to Prepare Food Without Using Electricity – in which she writes of the effort made to reduce electricity use in order to make going off-grid affordable, and how she cooks during winter and summer.

Much of the remaining usage is cooking, so we got set up to cook mostly off-grid.

I say mostly because we still have a crockpot, a toaster oven, and an electric kettle to help us integrate our schedule with that of the outside world. The wage-earner can have his tea when he leaves before the morning fire. The family can have a hot dinner after a day away, or simmer broth overnight. These are convenience devices; we don’t rely on them for our main cooking needs.

Winter off-grid cooking

For winter cooking we use our wood stove, a Vermont Bun Baker. It has an oven and a cooktop. Ours is also set up to make hot water in an open-vented thermosiphon loop. That heat is transferred to the pressurized plumbing through a setup that works surprisingly well, though it was prohibitively expensive. I was nervous about planning a house with a wood cookstove because while I’d cooked on a few, I hadn’t lived with one long-term. But there wasn’t room in our 725-square-foot house for two stoves nor was there room in our tight budget. It was one or the other.

In reality, I adjusted to cooking on a wood stove fairly quickly and easily. The oven only gets good and hot when the stove runs for a while, so I only bake in the coldest months, which is fine because I’m not really into baking. Shorter fires are enough to roast peanuts for homemade peanut butter, or eggshells to crush for the chickens.

Surprisingly, I burn dinner less often on the woodstove than I did on electric or gas stoves, probably because it just takes as long as it takes. There’s no way to impatiently turn the heat way up like on an electric, only to regret it when the food blackens. It doesn’t really take longer to make dinner, though, because I use the heating-up time well. I also burn myself on it less often, probably because the woodstove is hot not just on the top but down the front as well, so it’s impossible to forget that it’s hot. The children have great respect for it and have not come close to even a minor burn.

If you care about environmental damage as we do, a wood stove is not the most environmentally-friendly choice. I did some math and discovered that the one and a half cords of home-grown and salvage wood we burn per year is definitely environmentally worse than using electricity to accomplish the same tasks, but not by that much (see a more in-depth discussion here). Though my family carefully considers environmental concerns in every decision we make, we also care a lot about resilience. In the end, resilience won out for the critical tasks of winter heat and cooking…

Practical Self Reliance: Pine Bark Bread

Ashley at Practical Self Reliance has written a good, long post on making bread from pine tree bark., at least in part. The ratio of wheat flour to pine bark flour is about 3.5 to 1. We live where pine trees are some of the few trees that will grow without irrigation, so I’m always on the lookout for ways that they can be used to supplement food in an emergency. Most people are aware that you can get pine nuts from appropriate species. Fewer may be aware that you can make pine needle tea which is high in vitamin C and A. Ashley documents the harvesting of the bark and bad effects on the trees themselves, grinds the bark into flour, and then makes some bad-tasting crackers and some good-tasting yeast bread.

Having the option to add pine tree bark would help in the less likely scenario where you are faced with a major TEOTWAWKI style disaster that occurs past the time that you can grow or store more wheat for the year, and you need to stretch your food reserves until foods can start growing again in the spring. Ashley also has a post How to Eat a Pine Tree for using other parts of the tree. You may just find that you like the flavor. My first taste for pine-flavored food came from drinking Retsina – an Aleppo Pine resin infused white wine – at Greek restaurants. Some can’t stand the flavor, but it goes well with some strong flavored dishes.

Bark breads are a staple of Nordic indigenous cuisine.  The Sami of northern Sweden harvested pine bark and mixed it with reindeer milk in their traditional breads.  Since the richest sami had the most reindeer, they’re also the ones that harvested the most pine bark.  It wasn’t out of desperation, but out of a quest for flavor.

In the case of birch bark, the historical evidence is clear that the papery outer bark was used to make food storage vessels, while the nutritious inner bark was ground into birch bark flour.  In the case of pine bark, the records are a bit less clear.  There are some sources that say only the inner bark was used, and others that claim only the outer bark was used.  Since I’ve been able to find recipes using both, I’ll share them all with you.

The outer bark of a tree is mostly there to protect the tree from the elements and doesn’t contain much in the way of calories.  Calories aren’t the only reason to eat something, and pine outer bark seems to have other benefits.  Pine outer bark may contain compounds that help keep food from spoiling or important nutrients that were scarce in a northern climate.

According to Nordic Food Lab,  though pine outer bark is not calorie rich, it does “contain condensed tannins called procyanidins that are being researched for potential health benefits. Aromatic hydrocarbons such as terpenes and phenols which give pine its distinctive warm, woody scent also deliver antimicrobial properties, perhaps useful for blending with other flours to preserve their shelf life.”

These days, nutritional supplements are made from pine bark, and you can buy bags of powdered pine bark online which claim that “Pine Bark is used worldwide for its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. When used regularly, pine bark may support healthier cardiovascular and circulatory function.”

The outer bark was harvested from a section of the tree to create a “window pane” of exposed cambium.  Over time, the bark slowly healed over the wound, and since the inner cambium was not harvested the tree continued to grow.  Such trees could be harvested multiple times over the course of their life.  There’s evidence of window panning on 700+-year-old pine trees in northern Sweden.

Obviously, if you’re going to harvest the bark of a tree, know that you are damaging the tree in a way that will impact it for hundreds of years.  This particular pine tree has a partially dead top, and it’s very near our wind turbine.  It’s going to be cut in the spring, so it’s a good candidate for bark harvest.

I started out using a draw knife, but it’s actually pretty difficult to use one just on the surface without really digging into the cambium.  Since I only needed a small amount of pine bark flour, I was able to just use my hand to flake off chunks of shaggy exterior bark from a large pine tree growing on our land.  No need to window pane a tree and cause it damage in any case.

Initially, I tried to grind the pine bark flour in a food processor, but it was in vain.  The exterior bark is quite hard, but not brittle enough to fly apart.  After several minutes the motor was heating up and had almost no pine bark flour to show for it.  The bark, even exterior bark, needs to be dried out thoroughly before grinding.

I put the bark chips in the oven at 350 for about 45 minutes.  The house smelled nice and toasty, like the warm scents of the high desert pine forests of my youth.  Once the bark was toasted it ground much more easily.  It would be possible to dry the bark out over a low fire in a similar way, which would make it much easier to grind by hand.  When the pine bark was dried, I put it back into the food processor for grinding…

 

Woodpile Report: Food, Famine, Civil War

The Woodpile Report today has a lengthier opinion piece than usual. Remus has some opinions on prepper enclaves, food, famine, and civil war. In the past week there has been a surge of violent protests and rioting in both Europe and South and Central America.  Will any of them turn into a civil war in those countries? There were already problems with food distribution in the Ecuadorian civil unrest. Is the recent capitulation of the Mexican government to the Sinaloa cartel after said cartel took control of and terrorized the city of Culiacan a sign of the failure of that state? And of course many people have expressed fears of a civil war here in the USA. Who knows what will come or when.


Posters from World Wars I and II

The US has historically used food as part of carrot-and-stick diplomacy, or said differently, bribes. During the Second World War, Great Britain and the Soviet Union relied crucially on American food, assuring a measure of their dependency in power negotiations. Germany, and particularly Japan, were nearly US territories after the war, both would have starved without prompt delivery of American food in quantity.

Wars are generally about food. Ancient Rome imported its food and fought epic wars to develop new sources and keep the ones it had. Medieval fiefdoms were agricultural enterprises, raiding their neighbors was common. The westward expansion of America in the nineteenth century was about food and the means to move it, as was Japan’s expanding empire in the early twentieth century. Germany explicitly cited food production to justify its aggression in the east. Their rants about fighting Bolshevism was pep rally stuff, Nazism itself was excessively patriotic Marxism.

History and cold calculation suggest food would be a weapon in a Civil War II, one of many, but of prime importance long term. Civil wars have long gestations, go kinetic suddenly and get complicated in a hurry. We have no firm knowledge what would set it off, who would be actively involved or how it would end. But the outlines are repeated well enough to guide our preparations.

The ruling class already treats middle America as this century’s Untermensch. Nothing is off the table in a civil war. Seizing the nation’s food would be an obvious move. Expect them to deploy troops to secure big ag and the necessary transportation facilities, destroy anyone who got in their way and terrorize potential troublemakers. But there’s a limit to even the deep state’s resources. Prudent survivalists in the far hills wouldn’t warrant their attention, they’d be more likely to trade shots with desperados than find themselves in a firefight with regular forces.

Food is the indispensable survival prep. At minimum this means a secure long-term stash of high calorie food sufficient to outlast the initial violence and privation without relying on resupply. Call it a year, maybe two.

Preppers are kidding themselves about large, elaborate enclaves. Such communities with their gardens, livestock, solar powered utilities, weapons, comms, storehouses, workshops, tools and supplies would be fatally attractive. Training with light infantry tactics and weapons is understandable, but repelling serial attacks by gangs and other armed opportunists would include attrition, i.e., the worker bees would win battles but eventually too few would remain to run the place. And when it became unviable, so would they.

Such redoubts have their place when the meltdown eases, but in the initial phases, less is more.

Well placed and practiced survivalists could get by on a onesey-twosey basis. Two may survive where one wouldn’t. Three or four may be better, assuming an adequate reserve of food and supplies. With more than four the liabilities are likely to outweigh the advantages. It assumes the deepest of deep larders, extensive supplies and harmonious wisdom in all things. Unless each make an irreplaceable contribution of critical value it’s probably too big a footprint for this phase. Loosely allying with similar small groups for mutual benefit may be the better choice. Five or more is a crowd, a danger to itself.

Famine is a given in contemporary civil war. Those embedded in interior cities have no chance, so, next item. The ruling class would continue to work against middle America’s existence. As said above, they’d confiscate local stores of food on a continuing basis, seize major food producing areas intact and grab the needed transportation facilities. Make no mistake, their hirelings would be granted license for absolute ruthlessness. Free fire zones and minefields are not off the table. Skilled labor, if otherwise unwilling, would be arrested and compelled to work.

Feeding their base would guarantee the loyalty of supporters, inflict mass death on the deplorables by ‘no cost’ neglect and keep armed confrontation largely confined to flyover country. But note, as said here before, this is a precarious solution. The coastal megacities are fed from the outside by vulnerable arteries passing through what would be hostile territory. In the end, feeding them would stutter and fail. Even now they’re cauldrons of seething hatred, barely repressed, often organized. With real scarcity and hardship they’d fall on each other and tear the place apart.

Privation, disease, hunger, murderous chaos and high intensity combat would likely peak in the second year. This is the knothole which would separate the survivalists from dabblers and hopeful idealists. In the years that follow, when the maelstrom had largely exhausted itself and the situation clarified, those who made good use of their resources could be largely self supporting, coalescing into tribes, forming families with neighbors and partying like it was 1319.

Be a survivor. The who and what of a civil war would matter only occasionally. Food would matter every hour of every week. Stack food high, wide and deep where it’s secure from looters and confiscation. Backup your stash with an “iron rations” fallback stash. Stack seeds, garden tools, fishing and hunting gear to be prepared for self-resupply opportunities. Calories are life.

Remus added an update to the above:

The phrase “deep larder” means very long term storage food. Decades, not years. One example is whole wheat, in Mylar bags, with oxygen and moisture absorbers, sealed in airtight five gallon buckets. Freeze dried food is a deep larder’s high end. Also long lasting is dehydrated food vacuum packed in Mason jars or Foodsaver-style plastic pouches.

Your shelves of commercially canned and home canned food are intermediate storage foods—a few years. The food in your cupboard, refrigerator and freezer is short term food. Some a few months, some a few weeks.

In the military, “iron rations” is ready-to-eat food to sustain troops away from a field kitchen. They’re currently called MREs, formerly known as C Rations and K Rations. Iron rations are a temporary expedient—a few days. MREs are not intended for long term storage. For the survivalist, iron rations is an emergency cache of food accessible when the main stash isn’t. Bugout backpacks are typically stocked with iron rations, either ready-to-eat or quickly prepared.

“Supplies” means ammunition, medicine and medical items, water filters, batteries, repair kits and spare parts, shoes and boots, clothing for all seasons and the like. Supplies are casualty items, in time they’re either used up or worn out. “Equipment” is different from supplies. A canteen is equipment, water is supplies. Good quality equipment with routine maintenance, hand tools for example, will outlast the user.

A partisan may use survivalist techniques, but a survivalist is a combatant when self defense is the only alternative. Militants would have you believe you’re so extra special you’ll be stalked by DC’s death squads while tending your secret potato patch. Unless you’re out sabotaging bridges or ambushing convoys they aren’t going to hunt you down with drones or trackers. They’ll have better uses for their time and resources than chasing you around in the hills. It’s the desperados you’ll have to worry about.

Prudence and a sense of proportion will see the survivalist through. He’s of no interest to the warring parties if he stays away from them and their stuff. And if he blunders into them, he’ll escape rather than shoot it out. Chances are they’ll make a big show of running him off and let it go at that. In their mind they’ve done their duty, why turn it into a confrontation? If they pursue him, then it’s decision time.

Hello Homestead: How to Prepare a Raised Garden Bed for Winter

This article from Hello Homestead includes a step on adding season extenders like the cold frames discussed in an earlier post. Getting that garden properly put to bed for the winter (or keeping it working over winter) is not accomplished by stopping gardening for the winter, much though that might appeal.

How to prepare a raised garden bed for winter

Photo by Gabor Degre

When the gardening season comes to an end, it is easy to get distracted from the pre-frost clean-up. Learning how to prepare a raised garden bed for winter, though, is essential to prepare for the season to come, even when spring is months away.

Throughout autumn, gardeners with raised beds should take several steps to ensure their garden beds are ready for next year’s seeds and seedling transplants.

“It’s an ongoing project,” said Kate Garland, horticultural specialist at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. “I just always think of it as a to-do list for the fall.”

Properly caring for raised garden beds before winter settles in will promote soil health, ward off weeds and prevent diseases in next year’s crops. Here is how to prepare a raised garden bed for winter.

Step 1: Remove weeds

Photo by Gabor Degre

Weeding is essential well into the fall, even when the majority of your crops have stopped growing. Not only can untended autumn weeds harbor disease, but they can lay the roots for future weed problems.

“This is when people are ready to be done with weeding, but this is probably one of the most important times of year to be weeding,” Garland warned. “A lot of our weeds are setting seed right now. Some of the seeds can stay viable for 30 to 40 years or longer.”

For the parts of your raised bed that’s simply carpeted in weeds, cover them with black plastic or a layer of cardboard and leave it in place through the winter season to choke out existing weeds and suffocate sprouting weeds.

Some gardeners will till the soil to prevent weeds and expose harmful pests, but Garland suggests avoiding tillage in your raised beds as much as you can for the sake of soil health.

“There are some scenarios where [tilling] can make sense, but it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense in raised bed settings [unless the soil is really compacted],” Garland said. “If you can avoid tilling as much as possible, your soil and your gardens will thrive in the long run.”

Click here to continue reading at Hello Homestead.

AmPart: Living Off the Land – Gardening

JohnyMac at American Partisan is starting a series of articles on living off the land. His first installment is on the topic of gardening.

…This series of articles will cover gardening, protein raising, spirits making, among other fun things that you and your group will need to do to survive. Since we are now in harvesting time the first item will be about gardening.

I know the topic of gardening isn’t as exciting as the new XYZ carbine review however, if you think you are going to survive a job loss, economic downturn or even a SHTF scenario without food you are truly mistaken…

Let’s first talk about hitting the mountains and living off the land, ala Jeremiah Johnson. I will use my AO area as an example because it is truly rural.

We are located in a small hamlet surrounded by thousands and thousands of miles of woods among mountains and more mountains. The town of 500 or so is about 5-miles away and the residents are made up of farmers, blue collar workers, retired, and unfortunately living off Uncle Sugar too. If things went south everybody would be hunting and fishing. You must ask yourself, “how long would the critters living in these mountains last?” I remember one of the old timers here telling me that the deer and bear really didn’t come back into these hills in any kind of quantities post the Great Depression until the late 1960’s.

Once the deer, bears, and other four-legged critters were hunted out what will one do? …How many of us could gather the needed vegetables from the surrounding area? Once someone learns that you can eat cat-tail roots everybody will be digging around the ponds in the area. Again, how long will cat-tail roots last before they go the way of the game.

My point is that you nor your family will not survive. Therefore we have a garden. Not just for food today, but to practice growing food tomorrow…

Our garden is approximately 1,800 sf and is made up of raised beds with seedlings, and seeds planted directly into the tilled ground. The research that I have done is it takes about 900 sf at our latitude per person to grow enough veggies for one person. The current goal is to grow 80% of the veggies that we eat within a year. The best to that goal has been 70% due in part to the fact the vegetable garden is self-tending. We do not spend a lot of time weeding, watering, or general maintenance. I know though that if our garden was the only source of food, we would be in that garden every day weeding and doing general maintenance…

Click here to read the rest of the article at American Partisan.

Related:

Gardening KNow How: Survival Garden How To

Vegetable Gardening with Lorraine: Survival Gardening

AskAPrepper: Post Apocalypse Gardening

John Mosby: Guerrilla Gardening

John Mosby: Permaculture