8 Preps You DON’T Actually Need (They’re Not Worth the Money)

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you'll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

There are TONS of lists of must-have preps and things that are essential to survive X disaster, but what about the things you actually don’t need? What about the things that are a waste of money, energy, and space?

I’m coming at this from the perspective of a person on a strict budget who has limited space and who lives in a family with no serious health concerns. I’ve always had a very low-tech prepping style. This was initially due to budget, and then later because I think with low-tech, there are fewer things that can go wrong.

As well, I’ve also seen that tons of gadgets aren’t really worthwhile. The prepper industry has tried to fill every single need, and often, they end up preying on the inexperienced, whether they mean to or not. Don’t get me wrong – there are some awesome companies out there. I’m talking about the large, corporate businesses run by non-preppers who are just trying to cash in on the lifestyle. Those are the folks responsible for 90% of the items I’m about to write bad things about.

Also, keep in mind that everyone’s situation is different. What works for my family and me may not work for yours.

Here are some of the preps that I just don’t find worthwhile. In fact, I think you might as well just light your money on fire to stay warm. This is pure opinion, and you may completely disagree with me. It should make for an awesome conversation in the comments.

Whole home generators

I know, I know. Cue the chorus of people who are really unimpressed with me right now. The ones who say, “I stopped reading as soon as you wrote bla bla bla…”

Generators are really nice to have. I lived in a rental once that had a whole-home genny wired in.  It was great during a blizzard that took out the electricity. I have a small solar one that will power my coffee maker, a fan, and a laptop indefinitely. It’s awesome.

But I don’t need it. It’s a luxury item. At least, it is for me.

If you have a family member with a chronic health condition who requires electricity to live, then you may have an entirely different opinion on whether this is a luxury item. For you, it may not be. (Note that a teenager who swears emphatically that she will die without her phone is not actually someone who requires electricity to live.)

A gasoline, propane, or diesel generator that will keep your home operating as normal is very, very expensive. We’re talking about an investment that starts at around 5K and goes up from there. If you can afford this, more power to you.

It’s also important to note that your generator is only good for as long as you can fuel it. Once you’re out of gasoline, propane, or diesel, you have a giant and costly paperweight.

If money is tight, think about how much food you could buy with that same five thousand bucks. I like to play the odds when it comes to prepping. I focus nearly all of my energy and money on the things that are most likely to happen and the things that I can’t survive without.

I’ve long said that our most likely disaster is a personal financial SHTF. Unless you live in an area prone to a specific alternative disaster, money trouble is probably your most likely crisis too.

Ask yourself these questions if you’re debating getting a whole-house generator:

  • Can I still afford to prep otherwise if I buy this?
  • Do I have to use credit to buy this?
  • Does anyone in my house require electricity to live?
  • Do I regularly experience power outages that last longer than a day or two?
  • Do I have the capacity to safely store large amounts of fuel?

If the answer to any of those questions is no, you might be better off spending your hard-earned money on other preps.

Storebought Faraday cages with duplicate electronics

If you don’t plan to survive with electricity created by your own generator, you’re probably not going to have tons of electronics that need to be protected.

If you do want to put a few things in a Faraday cage, there are loads of how-tos out there in Internetland to help you make one inexpensively.

A lot of folks stock large, storebought, and tested Faraday cages as well as duplicates of their normal electronics to store in the cage. That’s a LOT of money, particularly if this is mostly for entertainment purposes.

If you’re one of the people mentioned above who need power for the safety of yourself or a family member, then consider duplicate medical equipment stored in a Faraday.

Collapsible emergency stoves

These things are the freaking WORST. Nine times out of ten, they’re too small and flimsy to actually support a large cooking vessel full of water. Lighting a fire in one can be a nightmare, with you laying on the ground blowing into a teeny little whole trying to encourage that tiny spark to life.

When I took Selco’s survival course for women in Croatia, this was among the most frequently-abandoned item that we found was not worth bringing back home with us on the plane. (Here are the products that did and didn’t work for us.)

Some exceptions to this are high-quality stoves like the Volcano Stove. If you have room in your backpack, go for it, but remember, you get what you pay for.  I personally carry a cooking vessel and lighter and improvise with what I find in my environment for creating a fire on which to cook.

Home-canned water

I often see canners showing off their canned water, and I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade. But you don’t need to can your water and waste the seal of a perfectly good lid. I’m not saying to leave your jars empty. I love storing water in all my empty canning jars, but simply follow the rules of water storage and put the lid on normally.

By processing it, you’re wasting time and lids.

500 pounds of X

Just like you, I’ve seen those lists that tell you to stash away a billion pounds of wheat per person per year. Please don’t do that – or at least don’t start out like that. If you have all your other preps in order, then sure, go for the wheat berry gusto. But there are several problems with focusing the majority of your prepper food strategy on a crapton of one item.

  • You’ll get bored long before you eat it all. You’ll get so bored you’d literally rather die than eat it again. It’s called food fatigue, and it’s a serious issue.
  • It’s not nutritionally balanced. I don’t care how many people swear to you that it’s incredibly healthy to eat rice and beans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as long as you both shall live, it’s not. Humans need variety.
  • If something goes wrong with your ONE item, you’re in trouble. What if someone develops are horrible allergy to the one item you stocked up on? What if pests get to that one item? What if you splurged on a bad batch and disaster strikes, and you open it up to find it’s moldy or filled with chubby weevils that feasting on your wheatberries?
  • It’s a lot of money into just one thing. If you’re buying a massive quantity of one thing, you may not be able to afford the other preps that you need. I’d rather spread that money around.
  • It takes up a LOT of space. If your space is limited, do you want to allocate all of it to just one thing?

This is a classic case of not putting all your eggs (or rice or beans) in one basket. You’re going to be so much happier with a variety if you end up relying on your food stores for a long time.

Low-quality dehydrated food kits for X days

Some of the prepper foods out there just aren’t worth buying. I’m not going to name names, but I’ll give you a description. Imagine you ordered a kit in a bucket that will last you for “30 days” per person. You stash it away and expect that when disaster strikes, all you have to do is boil some water and you’re fed for the next month.

Think again. Here’s what some of these places consider “meals” for 30 days. Imagine you’re ONLY relying on the contents of this bucket.

  • 8 servings of cheesy broccoli rice
  • 8 servings of creamy chicken “flavored” rice
  • 8 servings of creamy potato soup
  • 8 servings of hearty vegetable chicken “flavored” soup
  • 4 servings of fettuccine alfredo
  • 8 servings of Spanish rice
  • 8 servings of strawberry cream of wheat
  • 6 servings of buttermilk pancakes
  • 10 servings of maple brown sugar oatmeal

That’s your 68 “meals,” but you also get these additions, which I assume is how they got to this being a 30 day supply.

  • 20 servings of milk alternative
  • 8 servings of banana chips

And that is THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS. Are you kidding me right now? You’d feel like you were starving to death. There are no worthwhile protein sources. There is only one potential fruit serving and no real vegetables. It’s all carby foods that sound more like side dishes or appetizers than the main event.

Keep in mind that if things go south enough that this is all you have to eat, you’re probably working your backside off repairing, or running, or producing. You’re going to be hungry. That bowl of “chicken-flavored rice” doesn’t sound so great, does it? Heck, it doesn’t even have actual chicken in it. It’s chicken flavored.

For a lot less money, you could get those packaged side dishes from the grocery store to encompass all the things listed above, some cans of tuna, and some cans of fruits and vegetables. You’ll be far more satisfied and nourished, and you’ll have extra money left over to buy more.

If you want to buy buckets, I suggest trying a bucket from Legacy foods that also contains freeze-dried chicken to go along with the typical side-dish-type meals. You can also purchase freeze-dried individual ingredients from them. These will make for far more satisfying meals. Our sponsor, Ready Made Resources, also has an excellent selection of individual ingredients.

Liquid bleach

I keep some liquid bleach, but even though it’s cheap, I don’t go crazy stashing years’ and years’ worth. Why not?

Because liquid bleach loses its oomph. After 6 months it begins to degrade. By one year, it may have lost 20% of its potency. By the next year, it’s lost another 20%. And so on and so on. After five years, you just have little more than a jug of salt water. (source) If you’re relying on bleach to sanitize in a crisis situation, the last thing you want is to use something ineffective. Nobody can afford an infection in times like that.

Instead, I store pool shock in powdered form. You can easily mix up liquid bleach from it as you need it, it takes up far less space, and it’ll remain potent for longer.

Premade first-aid kits

I’ve seen a lot of folks, who aren’t as into prepping as we are, boast about having a “medical kit.” But when they proudly display their kit, it turns out to be a pre-made first aid kit that they bought from Amazon in a nifty bag.

While those can be a decent start, they are not ideal. You can get a lot more for the same amount of money by assembling your kit yourself. Let’s take a closer look.

One such kit contains the following for $100.

  • Blood pressure cuff
  • Stethoscope
  • Gauze pads
  • Burn gel in one-use packets
  • Eye wash
  • Triangle band-aids
  • Multi-trauma blood stop dressing (one packet)
  • Band-aids
  • Individual packs of Tylenol, aspirin, and anti-diarrhea medication
  • Shears

Come on. Let me count the ways that you’ve just been ripped off. You could buy each of those things separately for far less money. You could buy full bottles of medication, boxes of band-aids, rolls of gauze, decent-quality instruments, a bottle of aloe vera gel, and some saline solution. Add in some Quik Clot, and you may still not be up to $100.

That small amount of gauze won’t even be enough to stop the bleeding of one serious injury. You need more stuff. Seriously, don’t waste your money on premade kits. Check out this article and this one for some great lists of medical and first aid supplies that would be far more worthwhile.

What are your thoughts?

Okay, I’ve cut loose on the prepper industry in this article. I may have stepped on the toes of some sacred cows. You may think I’m dead wrong, or you may have other things to add to the list. I want to hear about it!

What are some preps that preppers really don’t need? What commonly-purchased prepper item is not worth the money? Did I write about anything that you want to staunchly defend? Do you disagree or agree? Let’s discuss it in the comments.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media, and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

8 Preps You DON\'T Actually Need (They\'re Not Worth the Money)
Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Add to this list those disaster seed packs, aka “seeds in a can”. Are you kidding me that someone living in Florida is going to be growing the same varieties of plants as someone in Idaho? Far better to buy the seeds of varieties that work for you from a reputable seed company that you have had good luck with and store the seeds properly. And obviously only buy what your family likes to eat!

    • YES – I’m actually bashing those on an upcoming list of things that don’t work unless you practice first – great minds!

    • I live in Florida-south; and indeed they are a waste of money. David the Good is an excellent resource for gardening in the Sunshine state.

  • Where I live, most people who have a Generac have it hooked up to their natural gas supply…. Which is great – until something happens to it (either by accident or by a “planned accident”).

    Also, if nobody has power for mikes around, but your house is “all systems go”, that is going to likely attract some very unwanted attention. Negates the whole “grey man” idea.

    • Those are some good points.
      Flip side, if everyone has a generator, then it is common.

      Around here, dang near everyone heats with wood. It is just that common.

  • I agree completely about financial problems being the most likely. Our family has had a handful of “personal-SHTF” events (e.g. job loss), and in every case but one the most useful prep was cash-in-the-bank. Fortunately we live frugally enough that we had the needed cash available. The one exception? When Covid-19 hit, we already had a case of N95 masks and *months* of toilet paper stockpiled. 🙂

  • I would have to respectfully disagree with the water canning. Most home canners don’t use new lids and can jar after jar of water. Whenever I do not have a full canner load, I fill the space with a jar or two of water. And I use previously used lids. That saves my new lids for new items, and I can easily check if an old lid has gone bad. I keep extra water in the jars because if the power is out, I easily can make a pot of coffee on my woodstove. And I am not going miss out on that!

    • You should look into reusable lids. I was doing the same thing you are with metal ones. I switched in 2017 so I was all set for covid related lid shortages. And I even had extra metal lids to give to my neighbors.
      Tattler is my preferred brand. During covid they were always sold out. I would suggest getting a box and trying them. They do require a bit of a learning curve but its all I use now.

    • I was going to say the same thing. All my canned water was done using an older lid that isn’t suitable for canning food (yes, I reuse my Ball lids in addition to using Tattler lids). If it seals, it goes on the shelf. If it doesn’t, it gets used immediately.

  • We live in a very rural area that has frequent power outages. Our whole-house Generac runs on propane, which we keep topped off to have maximum running time. Every year, we lose utility service during severe weather events, or public safety shutoffs. Lots of people lose everything in their freezers during one lengthy event, never mind several outages in a year. If you have a multigenerational family, the advantages of having the Generac come on automatically when the power goes off is clear. If Grandma is home alone or the school kids home alone when the utility power goes off, everything from the well pump, furnace, AC still works when you have back-up power. As I sit looking out the window at 15 inches of new snow, I know everything will remain operational without me having to do anything. Meanwhile we often are able to loan out our portable generator to neighbors so they can save their food, run their well, or have heat. You are underestimating the usefulness of backup power for ordinary daily life in a rural area. While it obviously a whole house back-up generator is not a SHTF item because it needs fuel replaced (and yes it is expensive to run) it’s one of the best investments we’ve made for our comfort and yes, safety. It’s not a luxury for us. It’s a necessity.

    • Living in a very cold rural area its great to have one for sure. But, depending upon the emergency it will only last so long.
      I still would love to have one. Im looking out at over 20” of snow myself. So I understand.

    • There’s another angle to look at the whole-house generator; familiarity with electricity! Yes, if the power goes out, I have, and can hook up the portable generator, get it running, run the extension cords, and plug in the “must haves.” Trouble is, I commute 35 miles to my job. My wife knows NOTHING about setting all this up and can’t remember from one time to the next how to do it after I show her. This is where the adage “There’s nothing more dangerous than a dull knife” comes into play. That, and I have refrigeration and freezers in both the house and the barn with a couple of hundred feet between the two. Better in my case to have the whole-house generator. Power goes out, the generator starts, self-checks, and brings the house and barn back on line. Power comes back, everything transfers back to shore power, the genny goes into cool-down mode, and then shuts off. My wife doesn’t have to touch anything at all. If I were home all the time I wouldn’t see the need for the whole-house genny. That’s not my reality though, and my family’s safety was worth the cost for me.

      • Laughing now anyway… Dear Hubby hooked up house for large gas generator years ago as we are very rural and north, and lose power often. He always handled getting us up & running, though I did hold flashlight and watched. Well, he passed away ☹ and the 1st time I lost power was in the middle of a cold frigid winter night!

        I pull the generator out, finally getting the wonky puzzle plug plugged into the house at ground level laying on the porch floor with a flashlight (took forever and a royal pain in the rear), go into house turn main breaker off, go back out start generator and plug other end into generator, nope nothing … Duh, have to flip on the alternate breaker box NOTHING, go re-look at alternate box, have to flip all the breakers NOTHING Grrr. Run back out to the porch again look at everything, have to hit switch on generator, okay finally!!! Out of breath from all the running back and forth I go in and get the wood stove going and glad I had it ready to go. Geez, now the generator is smoking like crazy, what the heck? didn’t turn the choke off lol, ran like a champ after that. Now a pro 😊 thinking has to be a better way… seeing the generator is on a large covered screened porch I leave the extension plug it into the house end only (has never been wet there), easier to deal with when the power goes out.

        Point of the long story here is do not make your wife go through what I did… Next time you lose power or even before calmly & patiently make her get it up & running slowly guiding her on what to do next. Right after have her take notes (watch she does not miss any steps on her notes) and post notes next to the electrical panel. Hands on along with her notes will make it easy when the time comes.

        Oh, not a spring chicken here and have COPD and asthma so when I say out of breath, I mean it having to use rescue inhaler which I try to stay clear of. So, if I could do it learning the hard way, she can do it with a little hands on experience & notes (the easy way).

      • You and your wife need to make a notebook of how to’s for her. How to set up the generator, how to change any filters you all use anywhere. How to get the snowblower or snowplow working, etc.
        Write it all down step by step in easy wording, using one page of paper for each thing. Then divide the pages into sections : house, garage, snow, power, etc.

    • 100% with you on the generator, I have a rule of 3’s…..Whole house with the underground tank (getting another tank), jobsite 8500W with a sub-panel in the garage to run the well and furnace and each floor has two plugs. Solar generators, one for freezers and fridge, one for all the small stuff and cpap’s…..3 is 2, 2 is 1 and 1 is none

    • I agree. I physically can’t move our portable generator. Our whole-home LP generator comes on automatically. I have four freezers full of food, and I consider the generator insurance for my food. If the power is out for an extended period of time, I can easily shut off the generator and only run it a couple of hours a day. This will keep the freezers cold and conserve fuel.

      But, to each their own! There are some things that others may consider a necessity that I don’t. I live in a rural area and have farm animals. My needs are different than those who live elsewhere. For instance, I have a pond and a natural spring on my property, and a creek nearby. I also have a water catchment system. I have multiple ways to purify water. Even though there are many things we all need, I think some of these “must have” lists only consider one lifestyle.

  • I SO wish I had known about what a ripoff those “one month of everything you need in one convenient bucket” are back at the beginning of my prepping journey. You are so right about it being a way to profit from the neophyte. My first real prepper purchase – almost 2 years’ worth of those suckers! At least they weren’t as expensive back then as they are now. And I have since added plenty of other more nutrient-dense foods to round out the collection. If nothing else, they’ll provide a bit of variety when mixed with freeze dried meats and veggies. And maybe they’ll turn out to be useful for barter. But we do make an awful lot of mistakes when we are starting out.

  • When I was new to the lifestyle I bought some of those items: two buckets of “food”, a first aid kit, and a seed vault. A kerosene heater with several bottles of K1 too. I did pour some Sta-bil into the fuel and if it does get that cold, the heater will help for awhile but I haven’t been stocking fuel anymore. The food will make a good side but I’ve since stocked my pantry with much better, including a few #10 cans but not in excess. My seed stash is more suited to my area, and my first aid kit has been expanded but only with stuff I know how to use. Why stock an obstetrics kit if I have little idea what to do with one? OTOH I’ve taken some basic first aid/CPR classes. Skills go with us wherever we go.

    One consideration with a gennie is neighbors. If they don’t have power and you do, there’s going to be a line at your door of people wanting you to store their food or just sit in your AC. It won’t be long before they become interested in your stuff. One of my neighbors has stated to my face that he only preps bullets. With those, he can take whatever he wants. Be aware of those kind of people and prepare accordingly.

    • There are many people like that in the world and in life. Let them know that you stock bullets too.
      I think it’s important to have good relationships with your neighbors (if possible, Ive had some shitty ones in the past.)
      I al so blessed to have good neighbors and living in a rural area if anything happens we can form a tight community. There will always be people trying to take advantage. Prepare accordingly.

    • What? You poured Sta-bil into K1 kerosene? You did Not have to do that. And, it may be a really really bad idea to burn that fuel mixture inside. Jmho.

      The two things which affect kerosene are sunlight & moisture. You keep the cans of fuel out of sunlight and sometimes it helps to use a Mr. Funnel Fuel Filter to strain out any water which might have condensed inside your fuel can(s). But, not always.

      Also, do not leave kerosene in your heater between seasons, water will condense inside & shorten the life of the wick.

      Doubt me, then double check at milesstair that guy really knows his stuff.

      Anyway, to add to the thread: I bought an antique center draft oil lamp thinking that would be a useful item, turns out it’s a huge fuel hog and there’s plenty of other more fuel efficient oil lamps out there. Live & learn.

    • “Oh, you prep bullets? So you have firearms at home? And you work how many miles from home? Why would you advertise your security lapses to me?”

  • Personally, I have to agree with most of what you said. My husband and I are trying to produce most of our own preps on our own property. Rather than buying a lot of prepared foods, we are growing and canning a lot of what we eat. We’re learning survival skills that our ancestors knew and used regularly. We live at our bugout location.

    • My Hubby and I created huge gardens, too. I was surprised at how MUCH you needed to create a year’s supply of the food that we prefer to eat. Plus, being able to preserve it is another skill. I succeeded at only part of each.

  • Wife and I go back and forth on the whole house gennie.
    Makes sense if it is a short term power outage, a few days or even a week.
    Long term, grid down? Not sure how long the propane would last. If it is an EMP, which with things between the US and Russia and maybe even China, an EMP or even cyber attack on the grid are looking like a real possibility how would we even know?

    Med kits, yeah, I have been piece meal mine over the years.

    • We had considered a whole house generator at one point to. I installed a transfer switch to our panel about 8 years ago. I originally used a 8,000 watt gas generator for backup. I can keep the important things running. Like the well, freezers, and kitchen. But I also had concerns about fuel for a long term event. My wife and I decided to install a moderately sized solar system to replace the gas generator. So far it has worked well for the last year or so it’s been running. It’s ran through the same transfer switch as the gas generator used. The inverter I have is big enough to run everything that the gas generator did. It also allows the gas generator to be used to help charge the batteries if the sun is not shinning enough. Unfortunately this is not a cheap date. Plan on about 3x the price compared to a whole house generator and that was with me doing most of the work. I could have saved some money by using some cheaper components, but I believe in buy once and cry once when it comes to this type of thing.

  • Dear Daisy,
    My dad (60 years working with AC and DC) and I have been thinking about possibly using a clever positioning of batteries and 12V lamps and bulbs all over the house. This will work not only for the average power grid failure, but it can also be an alternative to whole house generators..which I´ve found too cumbersome and have serious doubts about their efficiency when they are not fed by a renewable source, like a Methane producing system, a wood gasifier or a biodiesel/ethanol engine.

  • I agree with MTNplanner. I live in semi-rural area with lots of trees. The power frequently goes off. At times it has taken days and up to a week for the power company to get to all the downed lines after a storm. My whole house generator (uses propane) has saved my freezers of food multiple times. It has also helped keep my well running so we could have water from the tap.

  • I agree with you assesment. I have stored my own dehydrated vegetables and make my own mixes.I use these and make more each year. Make extra each time until I have a nice little stock pile. I also grow sprouts indoors for fresh nutrients. I bought your book on water storage as I live in the desert and would not want to rely on the Rio Grand river as my only water source, it is filthy. The bulk 500 pounds of anything would not fit in our very small little house. Where would we sleep? We bought a cast Iron habachi and I use it often. We have cinder blocks and if the power goes out I’ll grab a rack from the frig to use as a grate to make a bigger outdoor stove using some of the dead wood. I’m 71 and have lived off grid without water and power before. Once you’ve had to rough it, you learn a lot.

  • We refer to ourselves as “soft preppers.” We are at the end of the line for the power grid and lose power at least once a month. We decided to invest in solar back up. Nobody can tell we have it, as it doesn’t back up the whole house, only critical things – freezer, fridge, well pump, and a few outlets. My husband uses CPAP, so at least one outlet was necessary. We also have our internet router plugged in to one of those outlets. In 2020, we had a big snow storm and lost power for 4 days when it was in the single digits, but we heat our home with a radiant-heat fireplace. We live in a small holler, with a few neighbors, with whom we have a good relationship.

    As for them coming over and asking us to store their food, (again, they don’t know we have solar), we would make extra ice (if they found out we could) and give them ice to keep their food.

    We have purchased some of the “bucket food,” but my husband is an avid gardener, and he preserves food every growing season. Unfortunately, I can’t do a lot to help, because I am paralyzed from the chest down. We also stockpile necessary medical supplies for me.

    I think our best investment was the radiant-heat fireplace – it has saved us multiple times. The solar is wonderful and just kicks in when the power goes out, but there will be another big expense when it comes time to replace batteries.

    And, this is for those monthly power outages. If we have a CMP strike, having power will be the least of our problems.

    Thanks for this article and for all you do to help us prepare the best way we can.

  • I swear by my little STERNO cage, as i call it. I already have boiled a BIG pot of water on that little thing and it held up just fine! The store was closing them out at $2 per item and today they cost around $15, I think. I bought all of them up because the manager told me they had been sitting there for a long time and they were moving them off the shelf the following week.

  • One lesson I learned from a former deputy: starter fluid for stopping bleeds. Also works for wasp stings.
    Another, plain ammonia for insect bites and stings.
    Both cheap and easy to have on hand.

  • Question about bleach. Preppers know that liquid bleach does not retain its potency. What about using the tablets that are available in the bleach section. Could the bleach tablets be used? How would you “reanimate” the tablets and the pool shock?

    • You can use bleach tablets but BUT make sure it has no additives. Example pool shock has algaecide in it ok to clean except food surface… in which case its super toxic.

      Everyone should get a still set up the alcohol is a ready to use in most gas vehicles especially if fuel lines are up graded rule of thumb you lose 10 percent power and distance. Water can be issue.

      Alot of herbal medicine can use alcohol as the transfer medium. (Tinture)

      All the gens are ok but do you have the other stuff like filters and oil spare carb? Gasket materials?

      As far as 500lb of anything bullets and band aids and food um not enough or you can trade.

  • Not that big of a believer in gardening. Bugs, disease, and time. And just poor crop production. The amount of time I spent trying to grow stuff, and the cost of testing soil, I have found it uneconomical. Spend a couple of hours a day taking care of the stuff, could be better spent getting a second job and using the money to buy good freeze-dried food. And I’ll have a better variety of stuff, including protein. And I won’t have to worry about bugs or disease. I still dabble in the garden, but just to find stuff bugs don’t like and give a decent return on the water used. And what if the SHTF disaster is some kind of super insect or plant disease? Or even drought. Takes a lot less water to rehydrate food than to grow it from scratch.

  • We have a generator and a separate electrical box to use with it. Enough juice to run power to part of the house, well, furnace (which is only an issue if the power goes out during a serious cold snap, wood stove keeps us warm). Don’t care it can’t run the A/C – have a basement if the outage occurs during a heat wave (read: humidity). We just went through an outage and didn’t run the generator. Wood stove kept us warm and frig/freezer did fine given the time of the year. One relative does have a whole house generator (which was my vote for hear but compromised on the separate electrical box). Will consider an electric start generator (will be no issue selling the one we have). Like others noted, having enough fuel is the issue.

  • My husband bought 2 of those buckets. He thought he was doing good, and he was, but I look at it as just extras that I plan on adding to when necessary. If I had to, I could gather wild greens to add to make them more nutritionally better.
    And I could also forage some wild berries in our area also nuts.
    I see nothing wrong with having correctly stored wheat for bread and other grain made foods like noodles and dumplings. As long as you have a means to grind it, it’ll be a great help with food fatigue.
    I think new people to preparedness make the mistake of not thinking things through and just panic.
    Everyone’s needs are different, and I’d not say what they have is wrong. It might not be what I’d have or use, but that goes both ways lol

  • Power outages are frequent in my area, and I would not want to be without some kind of standby power. No electricity=no water. Even so, I agree that a “whole house generator” is probably an unnecessary expense for most. I looked into getting one. Expensive. And they look pretty complicated so I bet they are expensive to repairas well.

    So I decided to stay with my 5500 watt portable generator. It lives in a little enclosure I built for it and is connected to a transfer panel. The generator has to be manually started and put online. It will run the essentials: well pump, refrigerator, freezers, sump pump, and a few lights and outlets. (We have a wood stove for heat.) The genny runs on stabilized gasoline. It is also available to use for various projects around the homestead beyond the reach of extension cords. During outages, we usually only run it for an hour or so at a time to pump up some water or chill the freezers down. We get tired of the noise.

    We did buy a few of the “buckets of starch,” as my wife calls them, last year when the store shelves started going empty. After all, we are on the outer rim of the supply system. We tried a couple of the meals and they aren’t too bad, but I wouldn’t want to have them as my only food. We see them as a compact, easy to store supplement to our store bought canned meats and preserved garden produce. We also put together a couple of “baking buckets,” with everything needed to make bread and cornbread, packaged in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers and packed in 5 gallon food safe buckets.

    A longtime lurker, I always learn something here. Cindy’s comments hit home. I think I will put an instruction sheet together for starting the genny and putting it online in case my wife needs to do this by herself.

  • 500 pounds of certain item is a good idea. I love bread and could easily barter with fresh baked bread. Also, I think 500 pounds of BACON is very important, maybe even a necessity. Really, who can live without bacon?

  • Yes, I have lived “Off-grid” for almost 25 years. Have a large house generator, (only 8K) but it is our third one. It runs on PROPANE. While I have a 1,000 gal. tank, plus a 500 gal. rented one, It am aware that while you are not dependent of “land-line domestic” electricity, you are still vulnerable. Plan accordingly! The first generator (different brand) needed a fix, $400, solenoid went out. Had to load it, drive 100 miles one way to leave it for repair when they got to it. Was convinced to get a whole house one, but it needed to be tuned up (and maintained) each year, $$ for the repair person, who retired 2 yrs. ago. So, newer version, still has maintenance and care required. Should upgrade my 12 solar panels, but they work pretty good. My Transformer is “old school” according to the latest, but it works, and I am Grateful. I’m older now, and ready to “downsize” to “easy” and relish my ‘Homesteading’ days, but it is time to move on and let the ‘youngers’ discover the independence and wonder of this Lifestyle.

  • Hermetically sealed seed kits. Eye roll. Seeds need air. They’re alive. Duh. I know people who were buying mylar bags and vacuum sealing them. After 1 year when you go to use them…dead.

  • Trying also to get a wood-powered still up and running for water distillation, vodka for tinctures, and whiskey for a sedative. A friend of mine also has a well and is shopping for a manual pump, which is also very expensive, instead of depending on a generator. I inherited a very nice generator, which runs on gas or propane. The thousand dollars that I get for it will be awesome to have…

  • I agree with most everything that you wrote Daisy, but I have found that my Kelly Kettle is far more efficient than even the $200 Volcano stove that you linked to and I can use any combustible in the area so I don’t have to carry or pay for fuel. It also weighs far less! Additionally a small bag of pool shock can take the place of a warehouse full of bleach, and it doesn’t lose it’s potency after a reasonable storage period. (Be careful not to store near any metal objects as it will cause them to rust and degrade very rapidly.)

  • Almost everyone reading this has a Faraday cage in their kitchen, its called your
    microwave . Make sure you take out your sensitive electronics you want to save before you make popcorn.

  • Regarding the dehydrated food buckets.

    As I read the comments I realize that I am not the only old person enjoying your thoughts and knowledge.

    Those buckets are filled with SALT! Like most prepackaged food.

    For most of us that are older, we take meds for high blood pressure and try to maintain a LOW SODIUM DIET.

    Last thing you want during SHTF is a cardiac event!

    Stay Safe!

  • As always, you are on the mark, Daisy. I’d like to see a follow up with your preps as you are traveling in Europe. I would assume a Kelly Kettle would be in your backpack as they are worth their weight in gold. I think most folks throw money at a situation and think it is handled. Where I live I cannot have a generator of any kind installed because of the noise they make. (Yeah a “select” neighborhood with Karens readily reporting.) To get solar requires a site assesment, the permission of the board, the county, and permits all around. And-of course-it requires that you be grid tied, which defeats the entire purpose. So, I have had to really ponder situations and what alternatives I have. I have several battery lamps with LOTS of backup batteries. I would’ve gone with a fuel lamp, but let the dogs knock one over once……….! I have plenty of warm clothes, blankets and flannel sheets for the bed, a gas cooking stove (oh! the horror!!!) with matches when the electronic ignition goes out, etc. The old adage of bloom where you’re planted. One thing that I never see mentioned in prepping is a tick comb, and a way to kill lice. Micheal Yon mentions this in his latest blog post, as the old typhus disease comes from lice, ticks, and fleas. The homeless camps are getting overrun with them. So really think about your personal situation, what is possible and probable, and prepare accordingly. When I grew up in Los Angeles, the number one concern was earthquakes. Well, I live in Folsom now, so they never happen. But it is colder than hell in winter and hotter than hell in summer-so I prep differently. Great article!

  • Pool shock in your basement will off gas some type of oxygen chlorine gas. Very corrosive. (I learned the hard way.)
    If you’re using this keep it well packaged out side.

  • I agree for the most part. I do stock extra entertainment items, but my son is neurodivergent and the money is worth it with keeping him safe and calm in a stressful situation, but the set up is also fairly basic, and its a way for me to back up documents and resources. Laptop, CD/DVD reader, radios, solar lantern, SD cards, and hard drive in one and I’m working at getting a larger one (or DIY one) for a simple solar set up to run that set up.
    However, in general cases, I agree that it isn’t necessary, but everybody’s situation is different.

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